10 tips for setting up a home office
Setting up a home office is not only a great way to save costs on business overheads, but you can also cut back on the time spent travelling to and from a workplace. So you don't even need to get out of your dressing gown to conduct your day-to-day business.
Whether you take a formal or casual approach to home-working there are some simple steps you can take to help yourself become established.
1. Separate business from personal
The transition to the home office is not without its challenges. Perhaps the biggest one is to maintain the boundaries between work and home activities. It's very easy to let business talk filter into your home life or the demands of your personal life to interrupt a working day.
Setting up a home office space that clearly distinguishes between the two worlds will help you to switch off when it comes to down time. Space is a significant factor in determining how effectively you can separate your work from your domestic domains.
For example, if you have a desk in the corner of the living room it can be more difficult to switch off from anything that's going on around you.
If possible, you should set up a separate studio space or room specifically to house your home office. This could be in a loft, a spare bedroom, or even a well-insulated shed with an electricity supply at the end of the garden.
Make sure to agree boundaries with anyone you live with about when you can and can't be contacted by establishing some core working hours. Be sure to stick to these working hours as closely as you can to ensure that work doesn't dominate and impose on your leisure time.
2. Treat yourself
Just because it's an office, doesn't mean it can't be an aesthetically pleasing environment as well.
In fact, working somewhere pleasant can help to improve concentration, reduce stress and inspire creativity. So make sure that your home work space supports your way of working and promotes creativity.
This could mean investing in a comfortable chair or sofa to recline in for more reflective moments, buying a nice coffee machine or getting some nice artwork for the walls.
3. Let there be light
Having the right lighting for your home work space is crucial for both your productivity and your health. So you need to make sure you have enough natural light coming in to yours.
Working too late on screens can impact the quality of your sleep. So allow for a good screen-free buffer zone before bed.
If you're undertaking close or precise work like jewellery-making then good direct lighting from an anglepoise lamp that you can manipulate is sensible. Consider the strength of the bulbs you use too.
Above all, don't be afraid to experiment and find the lighting solution that's right for you.
4. Watch your back
If the work you do from home is heavily desk-bound, then one of the best investments you can make is in a good chair.
Although there aren't the same health and safety measures in place for home workers as there are in company offices, you shouldn't underestimate the importance of ensuring that your home office is set up to correctly.
If you're setting up a home office on a budget it can be worth looking at second hand office furniture companies as you can often find ergonomic, adjustable secondhand office furniture at reduced prices.
However; this doesn't mean that you should choose the cheapest option available. It's important not to take your back for granted, so you should treat your office chair as an investment and choose the best one for your needs.
5. Hang a clock
While you may depend upon your technology to alert you to important meetings and phone calls, there will be times where you'll want to step away from the screen.
In these situations, a clock can come in rather handy, while also acting as a design feature to help put your personal stamp on your work space.
6. Install a business phone line
While not essential for every business, having a business phone line installed can be a great way to ensure that you keep the boundaries between your personal and professional lives intact. By having a separate line (and as such, a different contact number) for your business, you can be sure that any calls coming in to it will need to be answered immediately. So you can ensure that your business remains as productive as possible.
If your business deals with clients or business associates on a regular basis, having a separate business line will be particularly helpful as it will mean that they won't get a busy signal when trying to call you.
If you decide to get a separate business phone line installed for your home office, make sure that any new phone that you get for business purposes has strong conference calling, messaging and speaker phone functionality.
7. Set up storage and filing systems right away
Setting up a home office in a small space has its challenges. Luckily there are a number of creative solutions available to the increasing population of home-workers.
For many businesses – particularly if you haven't yet graduated to a paperless office, or if you have a lot of craft supplies or resources for instance – having good storage in place is paramount.
This means archiving anything that you don't refer to regularly in a clearly named file to reduce clutter in your home office space. Installing under-desk shelving or filing can really help to maximise the amount of space available to you when working from home.
Read our article on home office accessories for some more workspace storage inspiration.
8. Stay flexible
As a small business owner, you don't need to ask permission to experiment with your working space, so make the most of your flexibility and change your setup if it isn't working for you.
Explore Pinterest for inspired home office design tips that will help you to make the most out of your work space at home.
9. Check your background
It's crucial that you make sure to have at least one part of your home office looking clean and professional.
Even if you don't plan to bring clients into the spare bedroom for a meeting, there's always a chance you could be video conferencing with them. So you'll need to minimise details like washing hanging up to dry to maintain a professional image at all times.
10. Add some greenery
From improving focus to noise control, there are many reasons why bringing in a little plant life to your home office is beneficial. All you need to do in return is remember to water them!
Find out more about working from home.
It's great to feel set up and ready to get on with business. But be aware that standard home insurance is unlikely to cover you against mishaps that result from your business operations, so you may need to take out a home business insurance policy. Find out more about our small business insurance options here.