Truth be told, I spend most of my work time sitting in a reclining chair in our living room with my laptop on my lap. Of course, there are times when this is not practical and I still need and enjoy using my office. Whether you’re deciding to work at home as an employee or start a business for yourself, there are many business practicalities to consider. One of these considerations is establishing a home office. You have to think about how and where that office will be established and, for this, there is no fixed answer as to which is the best one because the office environment is determined. The information provided to you addresses the elements that will influence how you set up a home office environment and will help you determine what is most likely to work best for you.
The first step
Often when I meet with people for the first time to discuss their office layout, they’ll lead me around their office or home and proclaim ‘this is where it goes, but I just need to figure out how’. Can you see the error? Often, a manager assumes that he will simply occupy the largest office with the best view and the work-at-home parent assumes that he will occupy a space designed to be a smaller office or bedroom. This, of course, is not always the wisest decision, so the first step is always to open your mind to the possibilities that are out there for you. A home office environment can be in a living room, kitchen, and even the master bedroom.
Choosing an office environment
The first thing to do when setting up an office environment is to determine which areas of the home are environmentally conducive to a healthy and productive work environment. The most obvious consideration is the illumination immediately following the ionic state. It is essential to increase the levels of negative ions in a workspace or you will feel tired and claustrophobic.
Ions are molecules that have gained or lost an electrical charge. They are created in nature when air molecules are broken down by sunlight, radiation, and moving air and water. Examples of places I love to experience the power of negative ions are visiting waterfalls or walking on the beach, as well as being outdoors enjoying a thunderstorm from a sheltered location. While part of the exhilaration of this experience is simply being close to these wonderful surroundings and away from the normal pressures of home and work, the air circulating in the mountains and on the beach is believed to contain tens of thousands of negative ions, which is much more than the average residential or office building. In fact, d that generally, at most, contain hundreds and many register a flat zero. This, of course, can be counteracted with increased ventilation and air circulation, more light, powering only essential electrical devices, or investing in an air particulate filter with an ionizer unit.
Having the right lighting for all times of the day and night when you are at your desk is critical to being effective and maintaining your visual health. With concern for our environmental impact, it’s important to first consider which rooms get enough natural lighting so that you minimize your need for artificial lighting solutions. Having some light exposure is also good for the skin and the feeling of well-being. Once you’ve thought about natural light, you need to plan your artificial lighting, whether it’s for those dark winter months, working late, having personal time online, or, in my case, getting up before dawn for virtual client meetings. . Consider having overhead lighting that allows you to move safely around the room, as well as task lighting from a desk lamp or spotlight directed into your workspace.
With those two things in mind, you also need to consider what else is going on while you’re trying to work. You need to be able to create a productive space that allows you to manage the distractions you need to deal with, as well as ignore the ones you don’t.
If you have children at home at the time you work and there is no one to supervise them, you may want to settle near where they play. An example of this would be Brindabella Baby’s Emma Davidson. As a work-at-home mom who runs an online store that sells baby supplies, she has set up a desk in the corner of her living room and installed cabinets in the dining room. Having your desk in your main living space is very practical because children often want to be close to their parents when they are at home, it is a space where they can play freely with toys and games, as well as make use of electronic entertainment. In Emma’s own words,“…helps keep toys and chaos in a room.”
However, if you need a place where you can focus for an extended period of time without distractions, a separate workspace may be better. Often this can be a separate office or even a space right next to the kettle in the kitchen. You may also want to have your office in or near a larger room or garage, especially if your office setting is combined with a work area for a craft or craft. Annette Piper is a jeweler who uses a studio in the back of her house. She has lots of handy shelves, as well as a workbench with her desk next to it. “The room is big and airy and you have a good feeling about it”, it was his own thoughts in his workspace.
Choosing office furniture
The office furniture you invest in must always strike a balance between personal taste and practicality. As for me, I love those big redwood desks with the faux leather insert. I envisioned the large desk with storage to match the wall of an office. Like the library I saw in the South Australian Governor’s Estate, it would have a whole wall with two rows of filing cabinets at the bottom and a ceiling-high bookcase at the top. It would be lovely but totally impractical for my needs as someone who spends eighty percent of work hours in front of a computer. In the same way, practicality should influence how you set yourself up.
In practice, your desk should have enough space to allow you to complete the tasks you need to do on a regular basis. Within arm’s reach of your chair, you should be able to access all the files you constantly need to access, as well as your regularly used stationery. I found that this can usually be limited to postage stamps, sticky notes, pens, pencils, a highlighter, a pair of scissors, and a stapler. Most other items can usually be stored elsewhere.
Of course, you’ll need to select your office chair, keyboard, mouse, and monitor. I’m sure when shopping for these you’ll also consider the ergonomics of your selection and keep in mind that what fits one body shape may not necessarily fit another. However, it is important to consider the space you have available. What will increase the space required by a chair is not only the size of the seat, but also its size. Often, chairs that have four or more cup holders require a larger space allowance than a chair with four fixed legs.
When selecting storage, look for storage items that make your office area look uncluttered. Cabinets and drawers that hide larger items are a good start, followed by practical and aesthetically pleasing storage. Before you go looking for storage, be sure to consider the size and shape of your electronic equipment you want to store, as well as any existing storage boxes. You want anything you buy to not result in these items becoming homeless and creating clutter in a space meant to allow you to work. Also consider storage solutions that are not ‘designed’ for the task. My own closet houses a printer, a scanner, the connector for my digital camera, and a fax machine. All of these devices have wires involved and with the hundreds of dollar savings we made on the unit we splurged, all thirty dollars, on a set of circular cutters for our drill to cut a wire hole in the back of the cabinet as well as on the shelves.
Ten years ago, when I was in my first business, I discovered that the only electronic computer I needed was a computer with speakers, a scanner, and a printer. Today, however, we’re packed with specialty camera printers and many desk accessories, including cables and stands for iPods, phones, digital key fobs, headphones, and more ‘unique’ items like USB power supplies, fish tanks, and mug warmers. There are several ways to manage these items and you should take them out and examine them carefully.
Job one is to give away the items you will never use. Charity shops may not accept them, but a pawnbroker, electricals dealer, or electronics recycling group often will. Your second task is to isolate those items that you rarely use. You can put them in a zip-lock bag with their manuals and store them in a box or drawer out of the way. The third set of items are those that are not needed on the desktop. With the use of a USB hub and USB extension, most devices can be moved away from the desktop and placed in a cabinet or storage shelf that is convenient to reach when you need it. Finally, there are those things that you use at least once a week that should reside on your desktop. Select their location carefully so they don’t interfere with your normal work space.
If you are looking to purchase additional equipment, consider your practical requirements for both the item you wish to purchase and the space it is required to fit into. Make sure your final purchase meets both requirements and you’ll never be disappointed.
Once you’ve taken care of your surroundings, your furniture and electronics, office supplies should be easy to care for. Just save all the materials you access regularly. Vendor order forms, customer related details and their orders at your fingertips. Then put other records a little further out of reach, where they’ll be accessible when you need them, but leave room nearby for all the things you really need within arm’s reach. To keep records under control, be sure to file old files away every year, and be sure to destroy those boxes when you’re done for the day. The general rule of thumb is to keep them one year longer than is legally required, just in case!
With all of these elements taken care of, you should have established a refreshing and effective workspace. Now, with your new office space, it’s time to consider your communications systems.