6 Steps to Setting up a Home Office by Jessica Hodges
Tired of office work cluttering the kitchen table?
Do you want to expand your bill-paying center at a makeshift desk into a workable home office? Working at home is not just a lifestyle decision, it’s a business proposition. That means you’ll need more than a computer and desk, but a renewed focus and approach to how you work at home. To help you concentrate with work in your home office and ensure productivity, consider the following tips when setting up your home office.
- Stake out a space. Many homes today have areas specifically designed for home offices, located either off the kitchen or in a nook in the upstairs hallway overlooking the family room. If that doesn’t describe your home, it is time to consider the possibilities. Unused bedrooms make good home offices as does a corner of the family room or basement. Depending upon how neat you are or how easily you’re distracted, you’d probably want to choose an area with a door that can be closed off from the rest of the house. Some people want to be far away from the kids or have a door to close out the children while others want or have to be able to see and hear their kids, especially, if they are working from home during the day with a toddler.
- Look for light and ventilation. Don’t make do with the glow from your computer monitor. You need good task lighting to work efficiently without eyestrain. Windows are a big plus. They provide natural light and ventilation. However, if you’re setting up space in a downstairs family room or finished basement, you’re going to need lots of light to offset the lack of natural lighting and a vent or fan to keep the air circulating. Consider investing in an overhead light, floor lamps or full-spectrum bulbs that simulate daylight. Task lighting is also very important.
- Determine a floor plan. Once you get yourself a desk, a comfortable chair and some file cabinets you’ll need to determine a layout. If space is limited, purchasing a folding table (keeping the legs folded inside) or a piece of butcher block and laying it over two file cabinets makes for a space efficient desk, complete with file storage. An L-shaped or U-shaped desk configuration works for most people and includes plenty of space for a computer set-up as well as a good work surface. Depending upon what inspires or distracts you, you’ll want to set up your desk to face a window, the wall or look into the room. Your room size and your own personal preferences will determine what is best for you.
- Organize your supplies. Arrange your supplies in a way that promotes efficiency. If you want to keep some files on your desk for easy reference, you’ll need a vertical file rack or a horizontal in and out box. For your file cabinets, invest in hanging folders and colored file folders that can be labeled and organized based on the topic. Store supplies that you do not need everyday such as extra rolls of tape and piles of copy paper in a closet or in a rolling storage bin that can be wheeled out of sight when not needed. Keep a small stash of supplies within reach, perhaps in a desk drawer so that they don’t clutter up your desktop, such as paperclips, rubber bands and Post-It notes. Stack extra supplies under your desk or in a closet.
- Free up desktop space. If space is at a premium, invest in equipment that occupies minimal space, such as a flat panel computer screen, a laptop computer, a multi-purpose machine that will copy, fax and scan and a cordless phone.
- Keep it clean. Limit what comes into your office. Don’t overlap home-based stuff with office gear. If your kids come into the office with their toys, make sure they leave with them as well. Likewise, don’t let coffee mugs, newspapers, books or clothing items accumulate in your office. It is difficult to work in an area that is cluttered. By cleaning up, you’ll streamline your workflow and keep your mind on the task at hand.