Technology, furniture and a desire to spend more time with family makes the transition from a traditional corporate office to a customized home-based office an easy choice. However, when putting it into practice there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your new workspace is a place you can be both productive and comfortable in.
1. Consider a few factors before you decide where to set up your home office.
- Will you actually work in this area?
- Will distractions be kept to a minimum?
- Is there ample lighting and are there enough electrical outlets?
- Is there enough room for all of your equipment, files, and supplies?
- Could you run a phone line and internet service in the space?
2. Invest in functional furniture that fits the décor of your home.
Remember that your home-based office doesn’t have to resemble your corporate setup, and you can keep this space from becoming an eyesore compared to the rest of your home by taking advantage of the many home office furniture options available to you. Whether you want a simple writing desk with a lap drawer for supplies or a large desk with a few drawers, first determine whether the piece is functional, and then decide if it matches your décor.
3. When buying furniture, look for attractive storage options.
If you have limited space in your home-based office, or you need to “close your office doors” at the end of the day, an armoire with enough space to house your office equipment is ideal. But remember to plan ahead by measuring your space before you buy any new furniture.
4. Be creative with file storage.
Don’t feel you have to use the standard drab metal file cabinet to store your files; there are lots of other options to choose from. For instance, you can store files in a wooden or wicker ottoman, below a window seat with file frames inside, or inside a decorative wooden trunk. One option for storing your important files is to use a desk that has at least two deep file drawers. Set up an easy-to-use filing system with hanging folders for main categories and manila folders inside of those folders for sorting sub-categories.
5. Find the best office arrangement to fit your home office space.
The arrangement you choose depends on the size of your home office, the type of furniture you have and how much work surface you’ll need. The L-shaped and U-shaped work areas get your office equipment off your desk and onto a secondary surface so you have more room to work.
6. Save space within your home office by investing in machines that perform multiple functions.
Multifunction, or all-in-one (AiO) machines perform several functions, such as printing, copying, scanning and/or faxing. And just because they serve several functions does not mean that all AiOs are big and bulky and going to take over your entire office space. There are several AiOs on the market that cater to home-based office and small business owners by creating compact options to choose from, such as Brother International Corporation (Brother) and its latest compact inkjet AiO, the MFC-J615W. In addition to its small footprint, this machine includes many other valuable features that home-based and small business owners can appreciate, such as: easy to setup wireless (802.11b/g) or wired Ethernet networking; the ability to scan directly to media cards, PictBridge-enabled camera, or USB flash memory drive; and easy editing with the 3.3″ Widescreen TFT color LCD display. Also, the Brother Creative Center provides users with additional tips and tools to help develop professional, creative promotional materials for their business, such as posters, mailers, or brochures, at absolutely no cost.
7. Plan your office around your daily activities.
If your office isn’t carpeted, add an area rug to reduce echo. For privacy and to minimize the effects of direct sunlight, add window treatments. Don’t forget to provide task light for your desk and overall lighting for your office.
8. If you’re going to meet with clients in your new home-based office, set up a professional looking space.
If your home-based office isn’t big enough to host client meetings, a dining room or formal living room will work as a substitute, especially since most people rarely use these rooms and they already tend to be clutter-free and readily available.
9. Get on a schedule each day, but make it flexible.
The time may change daily, but if you don’t target a certain start time, it may already be the afternoon before you actually get to work. Common household distractions – chores that need to be done, errands that have to be attended to, familial obligations and taking personal calls – all make it easy to get sidetracked on your way to work, especially if your home-based office is in the main flow of your home. Keeping a schedule – much like when you were based in a corporate-office setting with set times for meetings and other appointments – will make it easier for you to get work done, while keeping a good work/life balance.
Moving from a corporate office to a home-based office is challenging, but definitely not impossible. When you keep in mind the benefits of flexible work hours, a comfortable office, and a short commute down the hall, you can get excited about putting your working-from-home theory into efficient practice.
Have you had any experience transitioning from a corporate to a home office? Any additional tips?
This is a guest post by Lisa Kanarek, a home office expert and author of Working Naked.