As more and more people opt out of the rat race and set up a business at home, spare rooms are being redesigned and turned into home offices. In order to make the most of this workspace, it is essential that a home office is organised.
It is important to separate a home office from the rest of the household. If a physical division is not made, the line between work and home life can become blurred. A home office should be comfortable, but not too comfortable. It should motivate its owner to work, as working at home has the potential for far too many distractions.
When setting up a home office, think only about what is essential to the business. A photocopier may come in handy, but is it really necessary? No business can function without a computer, and this must have an internet connection, email facility, and enough data storage for the business’s needs. Also necessary is a large desk to accommodate the computer, a filing tray, a desk lamp and a pen pot. A separate telephone line is also desirable, as nothing sounds more unprofessional than the children answering the phone to a prospective client.
Another essential for a home office is adequate storage. If the company will not function as a ‘paperless’ business, this is likely to mean filing cabinets and shelving. Small storage boxes are also useful for stationery items such as pens and pads. Storage will keep the work area tidy and help to focus attention.
Working from home means that a choice can be made to make the office as healthy and safe as possible. There is no need to compromise on uncomfortable desk chairs or inadequate lighting. Optimise as much natural light as possible, as it is better for the eyes than artificial light, and invest in an ergonomic chair to avoid back problems. If a lot of time is going to be spent on the computer, consider an ergonomic keyboard and mouse to avoid conditions such as repetitive strain injury.
Making it personal
As the office usually only has to suit one person, it can be decorated to suit their personal taste. Colours have a psychological impact, so decorate the walls in a shade to suit the working environment. Blues and greens are considered ‘cool’ and can induce a relaxed mood, so may not be best for a work setting. Red is considered an energising colour, but should only be used as an accent colour. A neutral colour palette of white and beige may be the best overall choice, as this can be combined with bolder colours to create accents.
It is important to take a break when working at home, just as it is when working in an office. Install a comfortable seating area to get away from the computer for 15 minutes. Single-colour chairs look best in a work area, and seating such as black sofas are ideal. It may not always be necessary to work at the desk; take advantage of an unobserved work life and take work to the sofa when appropriate.