A Guide For Setting Up A Professional Workspace At Home
Working from home has become more prevalent in the last couple of years & for many it's preferred over the daily office commute.
Some people may be an employee, but still able to do their work from home.
But many are now venturing into creating their own income & starting a home-based business.
Home-based businesses are becoming more popular, so not only is it important to create a comfortable & healthy environment, a professional work space is also a must.
3 Considerations Before Setting Up A Home Office For Business Purposes
For those that run their own business, there's generally 3 types of home-based offices that are needed.
1. You're working alone & the office is solely for yourself.
2. You also have a team & the office is for you & your employees.
3. Whether it's just yourself or working with a team, you have clients visiting your office.
Working out which category you fall into will help you decide what things will be of importance.
It's also prudent to think about the future, if you feel your business will eventually grow, then maybe it's better to build an office to accomodate those needs.
In the long run, it may save you time & money.
There's also many types of enterprises that can be run from home & each can have their own unique requirements.
Whichever home office you require, let's explore how best to create a wonderful working environment.
13 Tips For Creating A Truly Professional Home Office
1. Where To Set Up A Home Office
If you're going to spend the best part of your day in an office, then it's location will make a huge difference to not only your productivity, but your health as well as the impression you make on visiting clients.
I love the image above, but not all us may have such a space available, plus it may be impractical depending on your business & the options for creating your office will depend on you home layout of course.
If you're working by yourself, certain requirements won't be necessary, but will still contribute to a more pleasant work day.
The main point to consider when choosing a location for your home office for business use is privacy & avoiding interruptions.
This leads us to the next consideration of avoiding disturbances ..
2. Avoiding Distractions For Better Productivity
Sometimes you can be stuck on a problem & the best thing is to take a break & come back later with fresh eyes.
It's also rejuvenating to get up from the computer occasionally & take a walk outside or make a cuppa.
But it's also all too easy to get distracted.
You know how it is, just quickly check your social media to find you've just wasted a half hour or more.
Unless social media is part of your marketing, best to avoid having these apps on your computer.
It's also a good idea to have separate computers for personal & work use.
Also, do you need your mobile phone whilst you're working?
Distractions can also come in the form of noisy family members who may be home during the day.
So finding a space in the home where you won't be disturbed is important.
Depending on your business, you may need to work or make phone calls that suit other time zones.
So being able to work at hours that won't disturb the rest of the household may be needed too.
Having tea & coffee making facilities in your office will also prevent needing to walk to the kitchen & possibly running into chatty family members or getting roped into doing something else.
3. Accommodating Clients & Employees
If you have employees or entertain clients, then more consideration & possibly expense, may be required.
A shed, garage or even a granny flat that's separate from the main house is going to be ideal, but this could be costly to renovate.
Installing a bathroom may be necessary, as well as some sort of kitchen facilities.
Perhaps an existing room, or space in the home could be sectioned off that has access to these facilities.
Parking will also need to be taken into consideration, especially if street parking is all that's available & more so if it's metered.
A potential client won't be happy having to throw some coins in a parking meter.
Neighbours are going to get frustrated very quickly too if once available spaces are now taken up.
4. What Size Does Your Office Need To Be?
Again, it depends on which options are available to you.
If you're working solo, a smaller office could actually be beneficial as everything will be within easy reach.
No need to take a walk to the printer when you can simply lean across & grab the paper you're after.
A smaller space can be organised in such an efficient way to make your work day a breeze.
An office space can be created in a corner of a room or even under the stairs.
There's plenty of clever fold-out desks & storage ideas which are fantastic if you live in a smaller apartment, as you can simply pack your office away at the end of the day.
If there's more than one of you, then extra desks will need to be accommodated for.
If you're planning on holding meetings or presentations, then space is going to become more important.
But if you're just entertaining a single client at a time, then a smaller office can still be made to not only be very accommodating, but functional too.
5. Choose Furniture Fit For Purpose
Having the right furniture suitable for purpose will make an enormous difference to your productivity as well as comfort.
Having the right size desk will also make your work day so much easier.
This doesn't mean you need the largest desk you can find, again it depends on your personal needs.
If you have employees, don't scrimp on cost as they'll also be more productive if they're comfortable & have an ergonomic work environment.
Storage is also an important aspect of an efficient, as well as tidy, work space.
A desk with plenty of draws can be appropriate if you have lots of paperwork & office supplies that you need on hand.
Other times, a more minimal desk is required.
Filing cabinets, shelves & cupboard space is so much more efficient than having paper, office supplies & products simply stacked in a corner somewhere.
If you're entertaining clients, they'll appreciate a comfy chair or sofa too, rather than sitting on a hard & cheap chair.
6. Create Your Office Identity
The office space not only needs to reflect the type of business you're running, but create a sense of purpose aligned with your style & values.
Certain workspaces require a calming & relaxed atmosphere, whilst others may benefit from a more energetic approach.
If you're into personal development, health supplements & other related industries, a more natural office décor using textiles or earthy tones will create the appropriate feel.
Other industries may require a more modern & even minimalistic approach, so the use of newer styles of office furniture & décor will be more appropriate in representing your companies values & goals.
It's also good to create a totally different feel & look from the rest of the home, which leads us to the next point ..
7. Do You Have To Sacrifice Style For Functionality?
In a word, no!
Whether you need an ultra modern & minimalist office space or a more contemporary feel, there's an amazing range of office furniture, décor & accessories for styling your office so it will look fabulous.
Being creative with your office décor doesn't mean it won't look professional either, quite the opposite.
A funky & colourful office can make a wonderful impression if you're into the arts, music or design.
A warm & cosy office could be just the feeling needed if you're a counsellor or therapist.
Styling your office will only help to impress clients & show off your companies values & vision.
8. Staying Healthy In An Office Environment
There's been many studies showing the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle, but when the bulk of your work is computer reliant it can be tricky to keep moving.
A good office chair shouldn't be underestimated.
Whether it's a standing desk chair or one that's opulently upholstered, make sure you're going to be comfortable as well as a chair that's going to take care of your posture.
Office chairs can be pricey, but it's one of the best investments you can make in the long run.
Other ways to look after your well-being is to make sure there's good air circulation.
As well as letting in natural light, windows can be opened to fill your office with fresh air.
Having a window view also gives the eye somewhere to rest on occasionally, as to prevent eye strain it's recommended to look up from the computer every 20 minutes or so.
If there's no outside view, having artwork in the office environment has also shown to have a positive impact on well-being.
Good lighting is important too, which is covered in more detail in the next chapter.
Indoor plants are also fantastic at not only filtering the air, but oxygenating a room.
Having greenery also helps to lift our moods & has many positive impacts.
There's usually music played in the office, I either have on my favourite radio station or restream certain shows.
Thing is, you can't listen to anything too interesting or distracting or no work gets done!
How about listening to solfeggio frequencies & other music created with certain Hertz to illicit better concentration, relaxation & other beneficial moods.
This can also put a client into a better mood.
Working from home can be a distraction as it's tempting to make a cuppa & grab a snack more often than you would in a regular office environment.
Before you know it, you've gained a kilo or two!
So make sure to have healthy drinks & snacks on hand rather than heading for the kitchen.
9. Setting Up Quality Lighting
A space with plenty of natural light will be far more beneficial than working under artificial lighting.
Not only does daylight lift our mood, it's far better for eye health than solely working under artificial light.
A well lit & airy office space will create a more professional impression for potential clients too, rather than them walking into a dingy basement or garage.
That being said, the garage or basement may be the only option available, especially if you're just starting out & don't have the budget to convert a room in the home.
Many basements will have upper or street level windows & these can be utilised to make the best of the available light.
But artificial lighting may be necessary & it's still possible to create a healthy well lit work environment.
The blue end of the light spectrum is known for lowering melatonin, which is what our body produces to put us to sleep.
Although blue light helps to keep us awake & alert, the red end of the spectrum creates calm & relaxation, which may be preferable if you're meeting a new client or having a staff conference.
But lighting is a topic which could be a whole article in itself, so here are some studies if you wish to explore in more depth.
10. Taking Care Of The Environment
As well as our own well-being, the well-being of our Mother Earth also needs to be considered.
It's difficult to be totally green, but recycling paper & any other materials is a positive step.
So too ink cartridges can be reused or recycled.
Rather than simply throwing away old keyboards & other equipment, either donate it to a charity shop, men's shed or somewhere where someone will appreciate it rather than landfill.
If these items no longer function, most local tips have a section for electronic equipment to be recycled.
All your paper & carboard products can even be placed in your regular household recycling bins.
11. Optimizing Internet & Phone Connections
Having an office set up at home may mean you're sharing a phone line, Internet connection or Wi-Fi.
This could cause issues such as slower Internet due to shared bandwidth.
If you need a landline phone, it could be embarrassing or unprofessional if a household member answers the call before you get to it.
Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George tells the unemployment office he's working at Vandelay Industries!
Vandelay! Say Vandelay!
So it may be necessary to run a dedicated phone & Internet connection.
Running more than one computer off a single modem can also slow things down as they'll be sharing bandwidth.
So depending on your Internet needs, you may need to look into extra modems or routers.
Not my line of expertise I'll admit, so here's a great explanation on how & if you'll need to go down that route (another unintentional bad pun!)
12. Safety Concerns With Power Outlets, Wires & Cables
I must admit, I have a few untidy wires & cables in my office space, but I'm the only one using it.
But if you're running a professional business from home, especially with employees, these things can become a hazard as well as an inconvenience.
Not having enough power points means running extension chords all over the place which not only looks messy, but if you're plugging in a number of electrical items into one power outlet, it can also be quite dangerous.
So in the long run, calling in a qualified electrician may be a good call.
Setting up a charging station is fairly cheap & simple too, rather than having cables everywhere.
A tidy office also let's a potential client know you're efficient & professional.
13. What's The Cost For Setting Up An Office For A Home Business ?
I always say "last but not least" when it comes to budget, as the amount available for setting up a home based office can vary widely.
The expense for getting a home based business off the ground can also differ, leaving less budget for the office set up.
So before diving into creating your work space, it's probably a good idea to look at what funds you have available, what equipment you'll need & how necessary certain items may be to begin with.
There could be costs involving the installation of extra power points, phone lines & possibly even structural work such as needing a wall, or actually building a separate office space.
Prioritising is key here, as much as having that Italian designed wall clock & custom filing cabinet may make the space look incredible, if you're conducting your work on a slow computer or frustrated by not enough desk space, then you won't be working as effectively as you could.
Even if you need to create a modern & highly professional looking office from the get go, there's many good 2nd hand stores & auction houses dedicated to office furniture & equipment.
Really good computers & other equipment can also be found 2nd hand or refurbished, either from dedicated computer stores or online market places.
Like any decorating project, it can be quite exciting setting up an office.
Having a professional home office is more than just having the right equipment, it's also a creative outlet to show of your personal or business style.
If you are entertaining or meeting clients, then your home office is also like your shop-front.
It's a wonderful opportunity to create a wonderful 1st impression.
I hope this article was helpful for you & as always, please fell free to share if you feel someone else may find value in it.