Setting up a home office

Are you sitting comfortably? Or perhaps the question should be – are you sitting comfortably, correctly and in a dedicated office?

Working from home can often be a compromise. Much will depend on why you are facing the prospect of becoming a homeworker. Is it that you are starting a family and want to juggle motherhood and career? Are you being made redundant and want to start out for yourself? Or do you simply no longer want to be part of the commuting rat race?

Hopefully, whatever the reason behind the move, you will have time to plan. Questions to ask yourself include: How much time will I spend working? How often will I be sitting at my desk? Will I be sitting at a desk at all?

You will need to think hard about these basics before considering where the office should be. For many of us there are few options – we are tied by existing space – but try not to compromise.

If you were in an office, health and safety rules would determine much about the space in which you would be working. Try to apply the following to your own space:

  • Give yourself room. It is amazing how quickly you can fill a space up. And it is equally amazing how difficult things become once the office is untidy. Projects can get completely buried in piles of paper and you can waste hours digging out that vital note.
  • Think about the equipment that you will need. Health and safety officers enforce strict rules about electric cables running across office floors – you don’t want to break a leg by tripping over the wire to your computer either.
  • Consider the mechanics. Check that there are adequate power points for the computer, fax, printer, telephone and all the other equipment that you will need. Also, check that you have adequate telephone lines. It is easier to have a second line dedicated to the business than to risk your toddler answering the call from your top, but very sensitive, client.
  • Allow for plenty of light. Working from home can often mean much longer hours at your desk and often at odd hours of the day and night, so adequate light is essential. Good daylight is also important. It can be very lonely working from home and at least seeing the seasons change can help.
  • The view may be important. Spending hours at your desk on your own can be very boring – and not very inspiring. So, try to sit somewhere with a view. It can help with the feeling of being connected to the rest of the world, as well as with inspiration.
  • And finally, think about visitors. Will you have clients or business colleagues calling at home. If so, do you have space to accommodate them? Will you have any staff working from your house? If so, there are a raft of implications, starting with planning considerations, cost, health and safety and compatibility.

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