Setting up a home office is one of the most important tasks you will face when you make the decision to work from your own home. Your home office can be a corner of your kitchen or living room or, if space permits, a former spare bedroom.
Size is less important that functionality. When deciding on where to set up the nerve center of your business, there are some factors you need to consider.
Is the area well lit?
Proper lighting is extremely important. Spending hours at a time in a dimly lit work space can create eyestrain which, after long periods of time, could lead to more serious problems with your vision.
Are there plenty of electrical outlets?
Take into consideration what appliances you will have in your work space. Your computer system will require an outlet for your cpu, monitor, scanner, printer, speakers (sometimes) and other ancillary equipment you may have.
Is the area well ventilated and dust free?
All of that computer equipment needs to “breathe” to remain cool and functioning properly. If you have ever “fried” a computer you know how important it is to keep the fan clean and dust free.
Do you have telephone access?
In addition to having a telephone handy for business purposes, you will also require telephone access for your modem. You may also consider a separate telephone line for your business. It is much easier to track telephone business expenses for tax purposes if you have a separate phone line. It’s also important that your clients can reach you. If your clients have to compete with your teenagers telephone habits, chances are they will call someone else. Make certain that this separate line is set up to receive phone calls while you are online. Most major telephone companies now offer that service. You may pay a few extra dollars a month for it, but it will pay for itself over the long haul.
How much “foot traffic” will there be?
You want your office to be as isolated as possible. Can you imagine trying to speak with a client or figure out html code with kids screaming in the background? Not a very professional picture. If you have no choice but to have your office in a high traffic area, adjust your work schedule to coincide with family activities. Sit your family down and explain the importance of your work and why you need their cooperation. It won’t always work out that way but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
Are your supplies well stocked?
It goes without saying that you need to have normal office supplies. Even if your work is online you still need the pens, pencils, note pads and so on.
Have you set the ground rules?
One of the stickiest challenges you may encounter comes from your friends. People who do not work from home seem to think that if you do, you have all the time in the world to visit. This can become a major problem if you do not set the parameters. Setting out the ground rules is important to the overall health and well being of your business. Let your friends and extended family know your business hours and explain to them that you are not available during those periods of time. The sooner you do this the better.
Do you “dress the part”?
Conduct your business in a professional manner. Just because you work at home does not mean that you should throw out the rule book. Maybe you have read the humorous comment about “working in your pajamas.” It sounds good in sales messages, but the truth is you are much better off if you awaken in the morning and prepare yourself for your work day as if you were still trekking off to the office, because you are.
You will be much better prepared to focus and get down to business if you dress the part. That doesn’t mean that you need to squeeze into the normal “office” attire. It does mean that you set the standards for your business and much of that has to do with “mindset” and self-image. Dressing comfortably is a one of the serendipities of working at home, but you will be much better prepared for business if you dress the part.
Lastly, and most importantly…
I have one final word of advice for the new work at home entrepreneur. Having your office right down the hall can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse. Remember to take time out for yourself. Most people believe that working at home comes with certain privileges, and it does. However, it can also become all-consuming and take total control of your life.
Don’t allow that to happen. Create your schedule and live by it. Make sure you turn off the lights, shut down the computer and “go home” at the end of your work day.