Congratulations! You are now ready to create your home-office setting. Welcome to the ranks of the homeschoolers who also are working from their home. But before you head to Ikea to buy a lot of furniture, there are a few things that you should take into consideration.
After choosing what type of business you will be building, setting up your home-office is the most important thing you can do on your road to prosperity. So, only begin setting up your home-office if you have made a definitive decision about your business field.
Why? Because your business decision will affect where your home office should be placed. And who wants to rearrange things over and over again? I know my husband doesn’t … :-)
The Perfect Office
Unfortunately, most of us don’t live in a 5,000 sq. ft. home complete with a maid, chef and groundskeeper. Actually, my dream office would be like Nero Wolfe’s office. His office was very large with ample seating for clients. His walls were lined with books (I love books!) and his giant globe that his clients were drawn to spin at least once during the story line.
“Wow!” I think, “If I had an office like that life would be perfect.”
But then my son starts crying, his sisters are squabbling, the cats are racing through the house and the dog is barking. Yep, I am back to reality. And you know what, reality really isn’t that bad.
The Real Home-Office
Back to real life scenarios now. Actually, the minimum home office space requirements are a lot easier to obtain (and maintain) than Nero Wolfe’s setup.
Actually, all you need is space for a chair, and a desk large enough to handle any paperwork you’ll be handling. Of course you need enough room on your desk for you laptop (or desktop) computer, and a place to put your printer.
I know that sounds spartan, but you don’t want to make the mistake of spending more than you’re bringing in. Remember, you are working from home. Unless your business includes receiving clients into your home office, no one will know (or care) what your office looks like.
Some people have found that their unused dining room table provided enough space for all of their needs. My personal favorite desk is the all-in-one cabinet.
The all-in-one cabinet (also called an armoire or workstation) looks like a simple armoire when it is closed. When you open it up you end up with a complete office. A side table comes out, there are shelves, a small bookcase, a place for your printer, telephone and a small file cabinet.
The only downside to the all-in-one-armoire is that you might feel a little claustrophic because it kind of wraps around you. However, in a well lighted area, this affect is minimized. And newer armoires (I purchased mine over ten years ago!) allow the doors to fold into the structure, giving you more light.
There are also more traditional desks, desks that fit into corner neatly and I saw a really neat laptop desk at Ikea that is attached to your wall and flips down when you’re ready to work. It also has room for CDs and other small items.
You definitely need a filing cabinet to put your receipts, client information, etc. A place to store your reference books and work materials. These things will keep you organized, which is important not only for your work, but for your end-year taxes. If you have very small children I highly recommend filing cabinets that have a built in lock.
One of my headaches revolves around Michael’s (my son) “need” to rearrange my files. One day he’ll be a great worker, but right now he’s just making new jobs for me to do. I bought my file cabinets because I thought they were cute. My girls weren’t interested in opening and closing drawers, so I thought I was in the clear. But now that Michael’s on the scene I really wish I had purchased the set with locks!
You’ll have a choice between vertical and lateral file cabinets. Vertical cabinets are good if you’re primary use is to store records such as invoices, business receipts, previous tax returns, etc. — papers that you may not use on a daily basis. Since vertical file cabinets s are deeper than they are widemake sure that you don’t put anything you might want to get your hands on quickly towards the back of the cabinet.
I discovered that lateral files worked better for me when I was was working as a home-based travel agent and other virtual assistant jobs that required a lot of referencing of client materials. Because the file is longer than it is wide, it’s easier to find what you want. The lateral files cost more than the vertical ones, but the convenience is worth it.
Setting up a comfortable home-office will cost you a few dollars, but you should not skimp when it comes to your desk chair. You’ll be in that chair innumerable hours so it has to be comfortable. I suggest that you audition your chair by going to the store at the end of your day. You know, when you’re tired and just want to relax. If you find a chair that is comfortable and soothing grab it!
My first chair seemed like it would work perfectly. The price was right, I was comfortable in it and it swiveled (okay, I’m really a big kid!). My fatal error was that I tried out the chair in the morning when I was rested.
What I found out after I got it home is that it’s not very comfortable after hours working on the computer. I didn’t pick a chair that had adequate lower back support. And that was really dumb because I have lower back problems (duh!) so I ended up having to purchase another, more expensive chair to fix the problem. What a waste of money!
And now three children later, my chiropractor and I have an on-going relationship. So I’ve been using my exercise ball as a seat instead of the standard chair (and my two cats really appreciate me not using “their” favorite sleeping place).
The exercise ball improves my posture, keeps me physically active (without being aware of it) and is a lot of fun to bounce on when my computer is determined to make me insane. Try it, you might like it …