Working from home offers several benefits – flexibility in schedule saves time, comfortable environment, saves money on your daily transportation are few to name. However, if you are a freelancer and have a business to run, being successful in a home office requires setting-up an office space that is as efficient and functional like a traditional office environment.
To help define a professional working space set at your home, careerlancer has come up with these essential tips. These tips will give you an idea of how you can start about setting up your home office from scratch and in less time.
1. Prepare a List of What You Need in Your Office
Make a detailed list of the most basic, but important things needed to set up a home office. Before you claim a corner of your house, create ‘The List’ and go as per plan. The list should contain fundamental office needs, such as desk, chair, telephone, computer etc.
For example, if you are a photographer, you would need a bigger desk for your photograph printer, albums, equipment and so on and a smaller desk for your laptop or pc. If you are a consultant or HR, you would require additional space for cabinets and extra chairs for your clients. Your list should be elaborate as well as have a place to fill in miscellaneous.
2. Choose a Very Comfortable Area of Your Home for Office
Once you have created the list, you have a better idea of how much space would require for your office. With that in mind, choose a dedicated room of your home. Typically, your home office should be set in a quiet, well-lit and well-ventilated area. This is especially important if you share your home with children, spouse, parents or roommate. A spare room with a door and attached bathroom should be your best bet. However, if you would be having clients visiting you frequently, then you should choose a space near the entrance of your home.
3. Get Creative with Your Organization
Since your office will be limited to only one single room, it can feel cramped up with only a desk and chair. However, the way you set it up professionally highly depends upon your organizational skills. You may have to get creative to plan a space that has plenty of room for both storage and work area.
You can build a desk that has file cabinet under it or you can build cabinets within your walls to increase space. Whatever your strategy is, ensure that all necessary items are accessible easily. Your space should be tidy and organized.
4. Use a Separate Phone Connection for Your Office
You cannot use your personal phone connection for your official purpose. It is not only unprofessional but also can add up to your cost. An official phone number adds legitimacy to your business, which in return helps clients to trust you more.
One of the common problems of using a home phone is sharing the voicemail that receives messages from family as well. You can also use a cell phone or a VoIP phone and eliminate the risk of someone else attending your calls.
5. Invest in Right Equipment
Your home office is going to be as permanent as the other parts of your home. Not just the phones but setting up your office with right equipment and furniture is also essential. Don’t splurge on cheap and unnecessary items such as decors, artificial lights, fancy stationeries etc. Spend your money on the good desk, great gadget or laptop and a chair that provides ample back support. Also invest in a fast internet connection, software, and tools used for your performance elevation.
6. Lit your Home Office Well with Good Quality Lights
Choose a space for your office that provides ample amount of natural light, which basically means a window or two to start with. Bright working space and well-ventilated rooms habitually act as a mood lifter. When there is no access to natural light, your lighting fixtures become even more important. Consider adding overhead lamps, desk lights, and floor lamps. Make sure computer screen doesn’t create a glaring effect so as to minimise eye strain.
7. Keep a Few Formal Procedure in Your Home Office
Determining a formal system of operations for your home office can be useful in the long run; that doesn’t mean you will come up with a handbook of office rules. Certain elements that you can include are standardized record keeping, office timings for customers, business trips mileage etc. This will help your office to stay organized and information easily accessible.
8. Don’t allow Personal Life Spill-over Your Professional Life
One of the biggest problems work-from-home freelancers face is balancing their professional and personal lives. Setting up a business bank account should be your first step, especially when your personal account is a joint account. Fully segment these two lives, including separate storage for office cheques, records, bank details, bills and even emails. This will help you immensely during your taxation, to meet the terms of home office determined by IRS.
9. Establish an Office Hour
Although flexibility is a gift in a freelance career, it still requires you to put a fair amount of time and set up a typical schedule for working in your office. This is very crucial when you are a homemaker as well as a freelancer. Managing children, spouse, parents etc. while managing a home office simultaneously can be very tedious.
An established set time pattern will let your client know when you are available and can be reached. You can also limit your office hours to 2 – 4 hours and set the rest for your creativity and artwork. And, don’t forget to set some time aside for family, leisure, and friends too.
10. Work According to Your Office Schedule
Once everything is set – time, equipment, desk, phone, computer etc., don’t forget to hang a large wall clock and work your day according to its ticking. This may seem laughable but we have seen poor time managers before they know it, worked 14 – 16 hours a day. Even though it’s a home, there should be a limit and you should know when it is time to shut the home office door.
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