Working from home is considered a blessing or a dream come true by some and a terrible burden by others. No matter how you see it, working from home gives you the chance to design and decorate your home office the way you like it. Ideally a home office should be a comfortable place, in a familiar and personalized environment where you would spend your work hours.
The main problem is how to find a healthy balance between your business time and your own personal time, which can be made difficult by the fact that they are conjoined like a strange pair of Siamese twins in a circus freak show. Here are a couple tips on how to make this separation easier.
Finding the right location
All other thoughts aside, the first thing you have to consider when setting up a home office is the location. This depends a lot on the type of work you will be doing and the equipment you might need. However, remember that even though they may get the job done, a laptop and a couch are not a long time solution for a home office setup.
Consider the space you have available carefully and remember that perfect positioning is paramount. You would want a place that is away from the smells and temptations of the kitchen and is safely isolated from other noisy family members. Also, consider whether or not you would be bringing clients in for meetings and which parts of your home you are going to allow them access to. Choose a room that has good sound isolation to avoid any distractions from outside noise.
Finally, be careful how you position your desk and computer screen. If you decide to place them opposite or directly under a window, the sunlight will make it impossible to see the computer screen (a problem easily solved with the right kind of window blinds).
The equipment you use defines you and your office
Let’s start from the basics, shall we. Every work space, whether it is a tiny cubicle, a corner office on the top floor of a large corporate building, or a small home residence/office, needs a desk, a chair, and a computer. When choosing these for your home office you will have the liberty of picking out that which suits you the best and you ought to capitalize on that.
When it comes to commercial furniture, the size of our desk will undoubtedly be limited by the shape and size of your room, but even if you have the space you don’t have to go all out here. Those bulky and heavy desks are commanding, eye-catching and fit for a supreme court judge or a stern executive, but entirely unnecessary for a home office. Instead, choose something lighter, easier to move, but still sturdy and eye-pleasing. Make sure it has enough drawers for all the files you might need. Those of you who suffer from inspiration blocks, should consider a desk with wheels that you can move and reposition with ease when you get tired of your environment.
Next off is the chair. You will most likely be spending long hours (if not all of your hours) glued to this chair so for your back’s sake choose an ergonomic chair with arm rests, which can rotate around (for easier access to the entire room). It’s a good idea to look for office furniture online – it’s easier to find bargain prices, and the choice is close to infinite. I bought both my desk and chair online, and I couldn’t be more pleased.
When you are buying a computer you have to consider whether a laptop will be sufficient or not (I personally feel more comfortable with a desktop, it feels more powerful) and be sure to align the screen with your eye level (if you are working on a laptop I recommend attaching an additional keyboard and mouse to give you more maneuverability). Consider where all the wires and cables are going to go, as they tend to get all messed up, especially when you use additional equipment like a printer a scanner. If you have more devices than USB ports you can always use a USB hub that gives you additional ports, but keep in mind that it reduces the available power (always buy a powered USB hub). Finally, be sure to update your OS and your antivirus software regularly, it can save you a lot of trouble and lost files down the road.
Balancing your office hours and your private life
Time management is as important as everything else. It is easy to get lost in your work and pull off an all-nighter, or get distracted by house work and everyday things and let your job suffer. The key to a successful home office is finding the right balance between your two worlds that are so nearly colliding. Plan your day as if it was in an office somewhere downtown and not your home. Do all your morning rituals and have breakfast before you start working. Make sure you define your work hours during which you will devote all your attention to the job (calculate in a lunch break) and you will be unavailable for personal issues. After your work hours are done move your attention onto your family and private life without thinking about your work. Keep all distracters away from the desk and never ever mix cooking with your office work (you don’t want to get caught up in work and burn your lunch to a crisp).
Finding the right setup for your home office and making it work is not an easy process and requires a lot of experimentation and is based on a trial and error basis. Don’t be afraid to try out new technology or redecorate the office from time to time. It may be time consuming and stressful, especially if on a tighter budget, but when you finally manage to get it right you could be in for a ride of a lifetime.
Olivia Still is a freelance writer, blogger and business consultant. She is currently working as a consultant for ROF, Australia’s best commercial furniture store. In her free time Olivia also enjoys reading, hiking, fishing and travel.