The number of people working from home for all or part of the working week continues to increase. Advocates of home working point to the savings in commuting and the subsequent reduction in congestion, energy and time. It can offer flexibility, which is useful for parents fitting work around school runs. Companies benefit by requiring less office space which saves costs.
Business owners can save on office rental costs.
Effective home working needs a suitable work environment. Making do, using the kitchen table is not a long term option. You need to minimise home distractions such as noisy children and ringing doorbells.
Take a look at our simple guide to make your home office a professional and productive, personal environment.
Location and space
Firstly, you have to decide where your office will be;
- adapting an existing space such as a spare room
- adding extra space with an extension
- buying a dedicated home office for your garden
Before you start planning, consider your needs, usage, property and available funds. What features will provide you with the most beneficial working space?
If you’re simply after a quiet secluded workplace consider using a spare room or convert your basement/loft. These will provide plenty of space without the cost and inconvenience of an extension that could drag on for months
If clients/customers will be visiting the premises consider extending the ground floor of your house. Ideally include a separate entrance directly into your office
Ensure you have the important features of an office. Ensure you have enough electrical outlets, heating, suitable lighting and ample storage or filing
Maximise a good-sized office by setting desks up in a U-shape so that you are able to reach all three surfaces without having to walk across the room
In a smaller office, use a table just big enough for your computer system and place two more tables either side resembling a V-shape. This enables easy access to all three surfaces without taking up floor space
Home-workers need to ensure they have the correct home insurance in place. Protect yourself from accidents in and around the home while in work time, including potential damage to your equipment or loss of data, otherwise a relatively small accident could put your business under threat.
Don’t waste money on expensive furniture and designer paintings. Make sure you cover the essentials first:
Sound proofing the room is going to be the most effective way to reduce noise however it will also be one of the most expensive To reduce noise at least 25 per cent of a room should have a soft surface, including carpeting and upholstered furniture, as these absorb noise. Seal door and window frames to reduce rattling and outside noise when closed
Spend money on a quality desk chair and suitable lighting, as these make a long day in the office a lot more comfortable. Be sure to buy a chair that enables you to sit at eye-level with the computer and fully supports your posture.
Ensure you install a ‘work-only’ computer, including business only phone line and broadband, into your office. This reduces the likelihood of damage, and makes it possible for you to claim back the running costs as a business expense for tax purposes
Large rubbish bins to stay tidy and professional– you’ll be surprised how much paper and packaging you get through in just one week.
A magnetic board/pin board.
You may also require a printer/fax machine and a shredder.
A landing spot for incoming mail. Important documents, and even cheques, could easily get swept up with everything else.
Keep your business facilities separate from your home and family. Young children who use the same computer as you during the evening could easily put it out of action simply by spilling a drink over the key board
Creating a barrier between your office and your home life is the key to a successful move. Don’t be tempted to install anything in the same room as it may reduce productivity levels
Remember not to live in your office. Make it feel homely by adding colourful plants and photos of your family but don’t be tempted to work overtime just because it is down the hallway, aim to discipline yourself by “going” and “returning” from work in the same way if you were commuting
If you do decide to build an office extension consider designing it in such a way that it can be utilised as a bedroom or dining room in order to add considerable value to the property if/when you come to sell
Creating a home office doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive and the savings made can make a huge difference to your overall quality of life. Flexible working hours are an advantage for parents with young children, and hopefully with our basic guide you can create an office space perfect for your business needs.
Photo supplied by UYE Home