Making the decision to work from home is relatively easy for many people, especially when taking into account the advantages of saving on a daily commute and being able to set a schedule that suites you. In order to make a successful transition to a home-office you need to plan your space carefully, both for productivity and a clear distinction between work and home. Follow these tips to make this process easier, and less stressful.
-1- List Your Office Needs
Regardless of what industry you are involved in, there are certain basic pieces of furniture and equipment your office will need before you can begin working. From a desk and office chair, telephone, computer and multi-function printer, through to items specific to your field. This might include filing cabinets, an extra desk or draftsman table, not forgetting extra seating if you will be meeting with clients in your office.
-2- Choose Your Space
Knowing what furniture and equipment you are going to need helps you to determine how much space you are going to need. You will be spending a fair amount of time in your office, so you want it to be comfortable and not too cramped. Avoid sharing your office with any other room, it should ideally be away from busy areas of your home, with a door for added privacy and noise reduction.
-3- Plan Your Space
A home-office can easily become cramped without careful planning, so take some extra time to organize everything in a way that optimizes space and efficiency. If you have a large amount of paperwork and filing, keep only the essential documents in your office for easy access, and put the rest into storage. Don’t be afraid to explore creative solutions, cleverly using free space below your desk for extra storage, for example.
-4- Keep it Bright
Even if your office space has large windows that allow in a generous amount of natural light, you will need to enhance this with artificial lighting. A desk lamp is great for more direct light, but it is not enough; you need to add overhead lighting, and maybe even a floor lamp, depending on space. Poor lighting causes eye strain, and can even affect your posture as you lean in closer to your computer or paperwork.
-5- Install a Separate Phone Line
You may be working from a home-office, but you are still operating a professional business. Don’t create the wrong impression by sharing your home phone with your business. It seems cost effective, but comes with too many disadvantages, including the question of legitimacy.
-6- Buy the Proper Equipment
Office decor is secondary to having the right equipment, and you should always invest in quality items that benefit you and your business. Choosing the correct desk, and an ergonomic chair for yourself, will save you from having to buy new furniture 6 months from now because what you have isn’t sufficient. The same principle applies to your computer hardware and software, printer and other key items for your field.
-7- Keep Work and Home Separate
You are working from home, but it is important for you and your family to remember that when you are in your office, you are at work. Keep business finances separate from personal finances, and this includes never mixing documents and mail. Keep everything that relates to your business inside the office, and everything that relates to your home and family outside the office.
-8- Follow a Set of Rules
Think back to when you worked for someone else, and how everything you did was guided by policy and procedures. Implement similar processes into your home-office to ensure you maintain proper standards in terms of how you complete certain documents, record mileage and time spent with clients, and manage your business finances.
-9- Work Office Hours
Working from home does give you more flexibility with your schedule, but working specific office hours helps both clients and family to know when you are and aren’t available. It also prevents you from putting in too many hours, while still keeping you focused on what needs to be accomplished each day.
-10- Hang a Wall Clock
This point links up with keeping regular office hours. Hang the clock where it is easily visible to you so you always know when it is time to shutdown the computer and leave the office for the day. Without this you will almost certainly lose track of time, either missing appointments, or working 12-14 hours a day without a break.
These steps are all designed to make your home-office functional and efficient, without affecting your personal life.
About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:
At Out of the Office, we are committed to providing earth-friendly administration and offer ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, and offering creative solutions for your business success.
Image credit: small office home office by Clive Darra | CC BY-SA 2.0