Working from home sounds like an appealing concept, but before you jump in head-first, you need to set up a functional work space for yourself. After all, you will be spending a substantial amount of your time there, so you need to make sure your home office is comfortable, organized, and arranged to encourage productivity.
If you are working from home for a larger company, zoning shouldn't be an issue. However, if you plan to run your own business from home, you should check if that is permitted in your residential area, and if so, what the specific regulations are.
Photo courtesy of In 30 Minutes Guides.
Location, Location, Location
If you are fortunate enough to have a separate room available for setting up your home office, that is usually the best option. Most houses don't afford this luxury, so you'll have to find the optimum solution with the space you do have. Find an unused spot somewhere in your house - your attic, your basement, the corner of a room - and situate your office there. As in the picture above, you could even convert a closet and use it.
When you are deciding where in your house your office should be, there are a few factors you should keep in mind:
Do you have enough space to get work done?
Are there available outlets close to your work space? Are there enough to accommodate your needs, or will you have to invest in additional equipment, such as an extension cord or power strip?
What is the typical noise level of this part of the house? Will you be able to concentrate?
Will distractions be abundant or limited in this space?
How will your space be lit? Will you primarily take advantage of natural lighting? Will you need to purchase any lighting?
What is the temperature in this part of the house? Will your working conditions be comfortable?
Photo by Flickr user Dylan.
We already discussed some things you may need to shop for when assembling your home office, such as lighting and provisions for extra outlets, but what else will you need?
One obvious necessity is a desk or table that has a large enough work surface for your needs. In front of this desk or table, you should place a comfortable chair. Dragging a chair over from the kitchen or dining room may be a temporary solution, but in the end it may give you aches and leave you feeling stiff. If you don't already own a chair that will work, don't be afraid to buy a new one. Your back will thank you later.
No matter if it's a desktop or a laptop, you will need a computer with access to the internet. Including a printer in this space is a good idea as well. When shopping for a printer, consider the level of functionality your job calls for. Will you be printing in strictly black and white, or would a color printer be a worthwhile investment? Would there be any benefit in buying a printer that has a fax machine, copier, or scanner built-in?
You will also need a way to store important documents and materials associated with your business, such as a file cabinet or shelves.
Photo by Flickr user jnyemb.
Any other equipment you could need all depends on the nature of your job. Will one filing cabinet or shelving unit not suffice if you have a collection of books, several products, or an abundance of papers to store? Will you ever need to jot down notes by hand? Will you be sketching out ideas on paper, requiring plenty of surface space, or will you be using a more sophisticated graphic design program, which could be better navigated with a larger computer monitor?
Make one list of all the furniture and supplies you can gather from around your house. Then make another list of everything you need to buy to complete your office.
If you're running your own business, this comes with its own unique considerations. Many sources recommend getting your own phone line for business purposes only. They also suggest that the phone you designate should come with speaker phone capabilities.
Finally, don't shy away from bringing a few personal items or decorations into your home office. They will help you customize your space and make you feel more at ease.
Okay, so you've put together the perfect home office… now what? Here's our follow up post about how to successfully work from home. It's a list of tips for you about managing your working environment, scheduling out your day, balancing your personal life and your job, and much more!