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Are you one of the millions of people who have moved their offices home over the past couple of years? Whether you’re working for yourself, or working remotely, setting up a successful home office can make a big difference in your productivity and success in working at home.
Whether you started working from home to eliminate a long commute, increase flexibility, or improve your work-life balance, the right home office can also help you increase productivity and profitability as well. A dedicated workspace that is well-appointed and designed for your specific needs is a key consideration in setting up a successful home office. Here are 7 steps to follow in setting up your successful home office that will be both functional and comfortable.
Determine How Your Office Will Be Used and Who Will Be Using the Space
What type of work will you be doing in your office? Will you be primarily working at a computer? Do you need a worktable for other types of projects? Will you be creating physical products or digital ones? Will you be able to work alone in your office or will you need to share it with other household members, including a spouse, partner, or children? Do you need a setup that can accommodate more than one person at a time?
Knowing what type of work and what you will spend the majority of your day doing can help you to choose the right furniture and features, and help you to arrange them most effectively. Also, will you meet with clients in your office? Will you be conducting video meetings? Both will impact your design choices.
One of the things to consider is your type of desk: is a traditional desk better or can you use a sit-stand desk for your work? If you work on physical projects, you may want to consider a large worktable with equipment and supply storage underneath. If you meet with clients, you should plan for a meeting table or at least additional comfortable chairs for them to sit in, as well as professional décor that will put your clients at ease.
Locate Your Office Wisely
The right space for setting up your successful home office will vary based on your work activities and your home environment. If you plan to meet clients, it may be better to have a home office in the front of the home so your clients do not need to trek through your entire home, and especially up or down stairs. If you don’t see clients at home, having an office in a less busy part of your home may be more conducive to productive work.
Does your office space have a door you can close for privacy and to separate yourself from it at the end of the workday? Having a door you can close when you need to work without interruptions can make a significant difference. If you’re doing video calls, a dedicated space will certainly look and feel more professional than setting up in the corner of a bedroom.
Light Your Space Well
Lighting is a critical but often overlooked component of setting up a successful home office. Many home offices use only the standard overhead light found in many homes, but this may not be ideal for your work needs. Access to natural light can make a tremendous difference in your productivity and mood, but if your office is in an interior room or a basement, that may not be a possibility.
Your space should include a mix of ambient and task lighting, depending on your specific needs and uses. You may want task lights at your desk or your worktable. If your natural (window) light includes some direct sunlight, you may wish to add blinds or cellular shades to control the glare at certain times of day.
Select Furnishings That Work for You and Your Space
First, your furnishings should be functional. They should also be comfortable. You need a workstation (whether a desk, table, or other workspace) that is big enough to accommodate your most used supplies and your work habits.
A comfortable ergonomic office chair is a critical piece of your workspace. If you plan to spend many hours a day at your desk, the chair you sit in will not only impact your productivity, but also your health. Again, if you are seeing clients in the office, you may want to choose fewer pieces that give your office a more professional, polished feel.
Consider Your Storage Needs
What kind of storage does your office need? You need storage, not only for frequently used items, but also for other work materials, and for important documents and records. Do you work best with your most-used materials close at hand or do you prefer everything neatly stowed out of sight?
Be sure to consider vertical (wall-based) storage as well as cabinets, armoires and bookshelves. If your space or your budget is limited, you may need to get innovative. Instead of a fancy cabinet, you can store supplies in boxes or bins on the shelves of a bookcase. A dresser can be converted into office storage by using drawer dividers and containers. Setting up a successful home office does not necessarily require dedicated office furniture or specialized equipment.
Invest in the Right Equipment
While budget is nearly always a consideration, especially when first setting up a successful home office, cutting corners on essential office equipment may end up costing you more in the long run. Take the time to consider what equipment is most critical, and which features are essential. For example, you may need a computer with a certain amount of memory, specific graphics capabilities, or processing speed. Budget for your critical pieces first, and then determine what you can start less expensively with now, and upgrade as you go along.
Separate Personal and Professional Uses
While some aspects of your home office may need to be shared between personal and professional uses, it is important to separate your business and home life whenever possible. Keeping your client files and projects stored in dedicated spaces, and put away at the end of each workday will help protect their privacy as well as keeping important documents and supplies from getting lost or damaged.
If your office does double duty as homework space or personal project space in addition to your professional space, having clearly designated storage for each use will help in creating a successful home office. When office space is shared, clearly labeled and designated storage and supplies eliminates confusion and conflict.
As more workers move into home offices, whether full-time or part-time, the set up and equipping of home offices are more important than ever. Many of us spend little time considering the setup of our home offices initially, but putting a little advance thought into setting up a successful home office can make a tremendous long-term difference. Not only should your home office be a functional space, but you also want it to be a comfortable one to maximize both your productivity and your enjoyment when working from home.