Hugh Hefner, outfitted in his pajamas and iconic smoking jacket, and perched atop his bed may have been one of the first entrepreneurs to pilot a wildly successful business from his “home office,” but his example may not be the best fit for most freelancers and telecommuting employees who work in the internet age.
You’ll be far more productive if you take a somewhat more conventional and deliberate approach to planning your home office. Here are five tips that will help you get off to a great start in your new home office:
- Make it private
- Give yourself good lighting
- Be comfortable
- Provide adequate storage
- Start with a plan
Tip #1: Make it private
To get into “work mode” you need some kind of boundary between your living space and your home office. Find a way to give your home office a degree of privacy. A spare bedroom is the perfect choice. (You can deal with visiting in-laws later.) If you don’t have the luxury of a spare room, find a way to carve out a corner of your living room and use something like display shelves to give you the boundary you need. You won’t feel closed in, yet mentally you’ll still have your separate office space.
Tip #2: Give yourself good lighting
How much of the work day is spent either reading, typing, or writing? I don’t have the exact statistic, but it is likely nearly 100% for many workers. Without good lighting you’ll soon suffer eye strain and maybe even headaches. Indirect, natural light is great, but if it is too strong, or located at an angle that causes computer screen glare, it can be a problem. Use light from windows wisely. If you don’t have a source of natural light, strategically placed lensed lights can give you even, indirect lighting.
Tip #3: Be comfortable
As you’re reading and writing all day, you’ll be sitting at your desk. Invest in a good ergonomic office chair. Don’t go down to the office supply store, point at one that’s on sale and say, “I’ll take it!” Try them out. A well designed ergonomic office chair will allow you to adjust the arms, the height and both the tilt and vertical level of the back. Even though it’s a chair, you should be able to dial it in so it fits like a glove.
Tip #4: Provide adequate storage
Before long, you’ll find that you’ve acquired a fairly big inventory of miscellaneous office supplies. You need to put all those things somewhere. A couple of shelves in a storage closet are ideal. If there isn’t a closet available, buy a storage tub. Your home office also requires shelves or a bookcase to hold the items you only occasionally need and a quality file cabinet. Finally, invest in some good desk organizers to keep your most important workspace de-cluttered.
Tip #5: Start with a plan
Now that you have a feel for the kind of space you need as well as what will go into that space, it’s time to think about the layout of your home office. Plan it out on paper. You might want to opt for the classic L-shaped desk setup. Less frequently used items can be placed to the side while you keep the gear you use all the time within arm’s reach. It’s a lot easier to work with a piece of graph paper and cutouts to match the size of your office furniture than it is to be pushing your desk, file cabinet and shelves around your house. After all, you don’t want to start your new home based business with a worker’s comp claim against yourself!
David Ching works at EQA Office Furniture, a company that not only offers top quality office furniture but also provides free 3D virtual design services. Visit www.eqaofficefurniture.com for prices on cubicles and other quality office furniture.