Working from home requires a delicate balance. When you work from home, you’re combining your personal life with your professional life. The perfect home office will highlight the benefits of working from home such as being able to design a space that suits you perfectly. It will also minimize the downsides, which can be a lack of focus and too many family interruptions.
By following the right pattern you can create a home office setup that helps you find the right balance for working at home.
Create Your Home Office For You
There is no “one size fits all” plan for home office space. It’s vital that your home office space is personalized just for you. Where do you start? What do you need to know as you design your space?
Make A List Of Needs (And Wants)
We suggest starting with a list of needs. What do you need for your office to function well for your business?
Of course, you’ll want to start with a desk and chair. What other equipment do you need? A printer or printer/scanner? Do you need a separate landline or do you operate from your cell phone? Is there good internet access to the space?
Consider the space itself. If you make frequent video calls you’ll want to make sure you are controlling what your client sees in the background. Also, how’s the temperature and lighting? Planning for a space heater or fan will keep you more comfortable. Placing your monitor to avoid glare from the window, or getting a desk lamp if it’s dark will save your eyes.
Consider all that you do in your business, and from there draft a list of needs. Needs are items you simply cannot do without, like a desk and a chair. However, wants are important too. What items would make your home office have that extra touch? Perhaps a radio for some soft music, an espresso maker, or a mini-fridge?
Don’t forget your furry friends. If your pets like to join you in the office having a designated spot for them is nice.
Your needs will come first, but you’ll want that list of extras in case your budget allows it.
Choose The Right Space
Now that you’ve established a list of needs and a list of wants, it’s time to choose the right space for your home office. Maybe you’ve already determined the space.
Or, maybe you’ve got a couple of options such as a spare bedroom or some space in an unfinished basement.
Which area best fits your needs? For instance, if you choose the basement, is it a space you can bring clients? Or if you choose a spare bedroom, will it invade the privacy of your family members?
Consider all the logistics issues. Think about the time and money it will take to get the space ready. Then decide which space best fits your timeline, needs, and budget.
Remember, not having a clearly defined working space is a big drawback of working from home. Choosing the right space will be a big factor in how productive you can be. It might feel like being close to family is doing them a favor. A sort of blend between being present and still working, but trust me, setting strong work boundaries is healthier for everyone.
Choose A Theme
Next, it’s time to choose a theme. This might seem like a “fluff” decision, but know that the theme of your office can make or break the workflow and feel of the space.
Creating a space that feels good to you and makes you eager to work is important. You’ll want to create a space that makes you happy to come to work.
Pinterest is a great place to start for home office decor ideas. This article from Real Simple will give you some great ideas as well.
Think about the tone you’ll create in your home office space. You can choose:
- An artistic space with lots of bright colors and pictures
- A minimalist space that’s clean and calm
- An industrial look that’s rugged and strong
- A modern office look with a black and/or steel focus
You really do have a plethora of choices to work with. Create a space that fits your personality, the mood you want to set and the image you want to give to others.
Balance Personal Touch With Professional Space
Even if you choose a simple theme like a minimalist theme or a modern black theme, you’ll want to include some personal touches. It’s important to appear professional while still appearing relatable.
You can balance personal with professional with a few different steps. Adding some personal pictures of you, your family and/or your pets is always a nice touch.
Or, you can put some of your favorite mementos in your home office. How about a bulletin board with ticket stubs to concerts or sporting events you’ve attended?
Or framed photos from trips you’ve taken? Choose items that will tell your clients–and remind you–about the person you are and what matters to you.
Creating a space will a personal touch is important, but so is creating a professional space. A home office that has an appearance of professionalism is vital if you entertain clients in your home office.
It’s important for clients–especially potential new clients–to feel confident they’re dealing with a true professional in your field. However, a professional feel to your home office space is important for you too.
Create An Environment That Gets You In The Mood
Creating a professional environment in your home office space will help get you in the right frame of mind for maintaining and increasing productivity. It will help you get motivated to get to work.
One way to create a professional environment is to add pictures or other decor items that reflect your business. For instance, if you work from home as a midwife you could have pictures of babies in your office.
Or, if you work from home building furniture, you could have some of your pieces on display–in full or mini size. The goal is to have your office space remind you of why you do what you do, and show clients what you’re passionate about.
Use The Right Equipment And Services
Using the right equipment and services matters too. What type of equipment do you need to run your home office efficiently?
Are you a consultant that needs multiple phone lines or the ability to conference call? Are you a home builder that needs a good CAD program? Maybe you’re an animator or graphic designer that needs a powerful computer system and accompanying computer programs.
Or, maybe you need a high-end laser printer. The point is to ensure you have all of the equipment and services you need to help your business function top-shelf in your home office.
It’s important to incorporate the right services as well. For instance, you might need access to an experienced repair service if your home office houses a laser printer or other high-end equipment.
A quality accounting service can help the financial end of your business get–and stay–organized. A virtual assistant can help you manage social media, website content and more. As you organize your home office, think big picture about the equipment and services that will help you function at your best.
Also Read: How To Hire An Assistant
Consider Establishing Office Hours
Having set office hours can be very helpful when it comes to work productivity. Working from home can be a bit on the addicting side.
When your home office is in such close proximity, you may find yourself with a desire or obligation to spend more time there than you want to. You’re right there. The work is waiting. Why not just spend some extra time getting it done?
This is okay on occasion, however, in order to keep a healthy work/life balance, you may want to consider establishing set office hours for your business.
Your family will also appreciate knowing when you are available to chat and when you are busy. You may want to set up some kind of system to let your family know you are not to be disturbed. In my house, a closed office door means I’m on a call and can’t be disturbed. An open door means I’m working, but if they need something important I’m available.
Your Home Office And The IRS: What Makes Your Home Office Deductible?
This is an important subject you may not have thought about: Is your home office deductible? Having a space in your house that is designated as a home office can be a cost-effective way to reduce your taxable income. However, certain rules need to be in place in order for you to deduct your home office space on your tax return.
- Your home office needs to be used regularly and exclusively for your business (i.e. telecommuters don’t count)
- The room should be a separate room, however, if you have it in a room used for other purposes and there is a clear defining partition, you could be okay to deduct the space
- Your home office needs to be your principal place of business; if you have an outside space you use for business you can’t deduct your home office space
If you have questions about your specific space, contact a CPA or tax professional.
Create A Healthy Space
Creating a healthy space for your home office is just as important as creating a workable space. These tips will help you create a home office space that is conducive to productivity and peace.
Create An Ergonomic Space
There’s been much talk these days about ergonomic working spaces. The word “ergonomic” refers to comfort and efficiency in the workplace. For instance, ergonomic chairs help you sit more comfortably and maintain better posture.
A standing desk is another example of an ergonomic improvement. Prolonged sitting has been shown to decrease health and contribute to disease.
Spending some of your working hours at a standing desk might help you work more efficiently and not sit for too many hours during the day. However, if you’re going to purchase a standing desk, be sure to have a sitting space too. Most people can’t–or won’t want to–stand for their entire workday. I’ve heard more than one person say that they prefer to sit for deep thinking work and stand for calls, answering emails, etc. Plus, standing all day can be tough on your spine, feet, and knees.
Use Proper Lighting
Having the right lighting is another important factor as you create your home office. In an ideal work, plenty of natural daylight is best. If you can create your home office in a room with lots of windows, great!
If not, lights that work to replicate natural daylight are best. Use high-quality task lamps, and use bulbs that are meant to replicate natural daylight.
Note that you may need to experiment with bulb wattage and light intensity. Dimmer switches on your overhead lights could help with this.
Use The Right Colors
Color choices are important in any area–including a workspace. Colors come in warm, neutral, and cool shades, and the tones you choose could affect how you work in your home office.
For example, in this article on the best colors for an office, the writer addresses the color red. Red could be a great color for a home office that focuses on sales. However, if you work at home as a masseuse, an urgent, energy-provoking color like red could be a business disaster.
Discover the meaning of the different colors, and design your office to use colors that align with the message you want your business to send.
Add Some Cozy
While your home office is meant to be a place for you to work, it can also be helpful to have some perceived living space in the room. For instance, imagine a cozy chair in the corner where you can take a short break and browse through the latest edition of your favorite magazine.
In a similar vein, consider adding some greenery bring some life to the room. Even rooms with no natural light can house plants that do well in shade. No green thumb? Pick up some realistic-looking artificial plants or flowers to bring life to your home office.
The decor in your home office is important too. Place pictures or posters that inspire and motivate you. Have a picture or two of your family or close friends on desks or walls. Hang a favorite art piece. Rotate pictures regularly to keep the feel in your office fresh and new.
Another idea would be to incorporate attractive storage containers. Buy storage bins, cabinets, and shelving that fits in with the theme you want to create.
Dealing with unattractive features in your home office, such as unfinished walls? Cover them up. Unfinished walls could be covered up with cotton or canvas materials in varying colors. Room dividers could be used to hide unattractive items that have to be housed in your office, such as utilities.
Think about what is in your visual space when you are at your desk. Use that space wisely. If there is information you need to constantly refer to, consider a whiteboard in your line of vision with that info on it. Or maybe a large calendar would be better, where you can plan your upcoming weeks. You can even put up an inspirational quote or a print out of a funny meme to keep your spirits up.
Keep The Peace
Designing your workspace as a peaceful place is important too. A peaceful workplace is organized and clutter-free.
Be sure your workspace gets tidied up every day before you leave for the day. Use proper storage tools that are attractive and help you to store items efficiently. Remove garbage and clutter as soon as possible. Using these tips will help you to maintain a professional-looking space that promotes peace.
Stay Within Your Budget
And last but not least, it’s important to create your home office within the budget you’ve determined will work for you.
Determine Your Budget
Start by determining how much you can or need to spend on your home office. Set aside the budgeted amount you think will work, then add 20% for unexpected expenses. This will give you what you need and a little more, just in case.
Rank Needs and Rank Wants in Order of Importance
Take your list of needs and wants and rank them in order of importance. Use a numbered system that makes it easy to refer to.
Start pricing out each need and want to determine what can stay on your list and what may have to wait for another time.
Use What You Already Own
As you begin purchasing items for your home office, start with what you’ve already got at home. Do you have unused storage containers or file cabinets you can use for your space?
Is there a cozy chair that is in your living room or family room that never gets used? Search your house for items you have that aren’t particularly useful in your living areas, and use them for your home office if possible.
Look For Deals
Now that you’re ready to actually shop for home office items, consider these options for finding deals on what you need.
- Use eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace to find lower prices on what you need
- Scour clearance racks to get deals
- Hit garage sales and dollar stores for low prices
- Ask family and friends if they have items you need that they may want to give rid of
Bottom line: Don’t pay full price for anything unless you have to. There are deals to be had on just about anything if you’re willing to look.
Keep A List Of Wants And Needs To Save Up For And Add Later
And finally, keep that list of items you can’t add to your home office right now. Designate a portion of your business income to save up to purchase those items in the future.
Work toward the goal of making your home office exactly how you want it to be.
Creating the perfect home office is possible. With a little research, patience, and creativity, you can design the perfect home office space for your business needs.