For those considering working from home, you’re going to need an office. It’s the only way to separate your business life from your personal life. You need somewhere functional to get the work done, yet at the same time, you don’t want to be living in your office.
For a functioning home office, there’s a lot of things that you are going to need, which will be essential, but common stuff that you’ll know about. Such as your computer, access to the internet, and a telephone. That’s a few of the obvious stuff you’ll need, but there’s other things that are going to be essential for you to have a functional home office.
This is the first thing you’re going to need to have, to ensure you’re in good health. When you’re working on a computer, perhaps out your spare room, lighting can create health problems.
Sitting staring a computer for most of your working day, without efficient lighting is going to run the risk of you developing headaches. That’s going to lead you into downtime, which brings with it non-billable hours and a pile up of work that needs caught up on.
The stress of your backlog will wind up giving you more headaches. Make sure you’re working in a well-lit room and try to have natural light as much as possible. For the darker days, a desk lamp works best.
You’ll have your computer, but you’ll need to equip it with the software you need to run your business. The first piece of software essential for you is your internet security software. You’re going to have business files, and client information that’s confidential material and needs to protected.
Besides security, you’ll need some specific business related software. That can be your Microsoft Office package, which you can use for invoicing clients, while creating and maintaining spreadsheets and other financial data, needed for your business records.
Depending on the type of business you’re operating, you may need industry specific software too.
Examples of industry specific software:
· A graphic designer may need to be running Photoshop™
· A web designer may need Dreamweaver™
· A bookkeeper might need to be using Sage accounting software
Whatever tools you need to help you run your business, should be included in your computer software, to increase your efficiency.
You’re going to need to print out documents. Some will be for your records, others for your clients, and some needed for printing out legal documents if you’re filing your own tax returns online. You should print out important documents for your own records.
You’ll also need the right supplies for your printer, depending on the type of business you’re operating. If you’re running a direct marketing business, or a publishing company creating promotional flyers, then you’ll need the right paper, that’s of the highest quality.
You may also want to be using professional labels for sending out your mail. Letterhead paper for your official business documents, such as invoices etc.
The benefit of having the multifunction printer is that you have the ability to fax documents that need sent over in a hurry, but more often than not, it’s faster and more convenient to use the scan feature. You can simply scan the document onto your computer, and then send it via email, and it is sent to the recipient much faster than faxing documents.
The whiteboard isn’t always considered essential, but you should think of it as being an essential. It can be the best investment you make in your home office. When you first start out you can write your goals on it, then as you reach them it serves its purpose by letting you organise your day either in advance the night before, or before you start in the morning.
Seeing tasks, goals, and perhaps motivational quotes for inspiration in front of you, help you to stay organised.
A magnetic whiteboard can work even better, as you can put pictures that motivate you, and help you to visualise your goals, acting as a constant reminder of why you’re in the office doing what you need to do to reach the goals you’re aiming for.
Magnetic whiteboards are handy for visualisation exercises, and that’s a powerful tool for any business owner.
There’s nothing going to affect your working day more than working in cramped conditions. You need sufficient space to get your work done. You need your workstation to be as organised and clutter-free as possible.
Somewhere with enough space to have your computer monitor, keyboard, telephone, notebook, post it® notes, stationary and workspace to write as well as type.
If your business needs you to be drawing graphics, painting or crafting, then you’ll need work space fort that too.
If you’re on a budget and need a massive amount of space…try taking a door and putting it onto a sawhorse. That will give you a workspace of 6 x 8 for fairly cheap.
Once you have your desk space, you’re going to want somewhere to keep your documents organised. That’s your in and out tray. As you print out documents, envelope them and stamp them, don’t let them get buried under other paperwork.
Put them in your out tray.
For the mail you get in the morning that needs you to follow up with a telephone call, email or written communication, but not needing done urgently, then drop in the in tray to deal with later.
You can also keep stuff there if you’re expecting a follow up call from a client, regarding any written communication they’ve sent you.
It’s also handy to put unpaid bills into your in tray, so you don’t forget to pay an outstanding bill. When it comes to paying bills and updating your financial records, it’s easy to put it off until later. You could wind up burying it with other documents, and find yourself later hit with a late payment charge.
That’s why the paper tray is an essential item for your home office.
You don’t want to be working among clutter. It’s a major distraction and will affect your focus. You’ll be stressed trying to find anything. The way around the problem is to get as much storage as you can and organise it.
A good way to do that is with a bookshelf and some storage boxes to place on them. If you’re limited for space, you can even use stackable plastic storage boxes, just to keep documents to hand, while maintaining enough space to work efficiently.
Among your storage solutions, you will need to have a filing cabinet. Preferably a secure one for your confidential business documents.
Within that filing cabinet, even if it is the smallest, you should have two dividers/folders in there. One will be for the projects your currently working, and the other will be your archives.
You should be able to open your filing cabinet and immediately have to hand, the files you need for whatever job you’re working on. Even it is a printed spreadsheet of the tasks you have to do on any given day.
You’ve got to love the post-it® notes. The phone rings, it’s right there for you to take the notes you need to in a flash. No messing around scribbling on the back of envelopes, then losing it later. Scribble your messages, post it on your desk, or to your computer screen and it’s right there as a reminder.
Use them to serve your own productivity too. Leave yourself reminder messages. Just don’t use them to write your passwords down for any account accesses you need.
They’re great for convenience, and you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle, just by keeping a pad beside the phone, along with a pen to scribble notes when you need to.
A tidy station is just a tower you can sit neatly beside your monitor, phone, paper tray, and have all your stationery neatly stored for convenience.
Saves them being scattered around your desk, in a messy fashion. They’re essential for keeping your work area clutter free, and can be picked for as little as a quid or two. Definitely a wise investment.
Your pens, pencil, sharpener, eraser, and paper clips, all in the one place for you whenever you need them.
Beside that, be sure that you have your stapler and a sticky tape dispenser. You don’t want to be stuck licking envelopes that won’t seal.
It may also help to have a financial calculator on your desk too. Don’t forget to have some spare ink cartridges either. You never know when you might need it.
With those 10 essential items, along with your necessities, like your computer, chair, and seat to sit at, you’ll be set to have a professional, and functional home office that helps you stay productive and organised, throughout your working day.