As an ever-increasing number of professionals are striking it out on their own as entrepreneurs, many choose to work from home whenever possible. After all code and zoning ordinances have been researched, if you feel that it is more cost-effective to work from home, here are some fantastic tips for creating a professional home office that will be a source of pride.
1. Begin with Location
The very first item on your list of considerations when creating a professional home office is location. This is one mistake that so many professionals choosing to work from home make. If you will be receiving clients and/or colleagues, where your office is located in the home is of vital importance. Never choose a room near high-traffic areas where there will be constant distractions from family members.
This means that you probably won’t want to choose a room near the kitchen, family room, or kids’ rooms, because outside distractions will almost always filter in. Some professionals choose to build or repurpose an outbuilding for their office and, if your family is active, this might be the best location if you ever intend to get work done in a professional setting.
2. Plan How You Will Be Using Your Office
Next, consider exactly what you will be doing in your office. This is important because you can’t move forward until you know what you are looking at in terms of space and equipment that you’ll need on a daily basis. While there are some things you may not use regularly, those items that will be at the heart of your work should be placed strategically in your office space.
Also, consider wiring when determining how you will be using your office. Are you going to have equipment that requires high voltage? Will a computer be a key element in your work? Any equipment, from copiers to fax machines, needs to be placed in easy-to-reach locations but not in areas that will obstruct movement within the room. Nothing wastes more time than getting up and moving around if it isn’t absolutely necessary.
3. Focus on Design Elements if Receiving Clients and/or Colleagues
If you have any intention of receiving clients or colleagues in your home office, interior design is of utmost importance. You do, after all, want to create a professional office much like you would work from in a corporate setting. Consider things like attractive frames for graduation diplomas and certificates to highlight qualifications and honors.
Think about the last time you visited your accountant, attorney, or physician. All those framed diplomas and certificates are on display for at least two reasons. Not only are they required by law if you are a licensed or certified professional in many fields, but they let anyone entering your office know that you are not simply a fly-by-night startup. You are a professional in your field, which they can clearly see by all those framed diplomas and awards.
4. Work Office Equipment into Your Design
Here is another big mistake many people make when designing home office space. You probably know from the very beginning what kind of office equipment you will be using on a regular basis. Just as mentioned above, plan those pieces of equipment into your interior design scheme. For example, if you will be video conferencing often, ensure that what appears behind you has a professional appeal.
You will want everything to have its proper “home,” not only for accessibility but also for aesthetics. Office equipment strewn haphazardly about the room is anything but professional. Bear this in mind, especially if you expect clients to visit on a regular basis.
5. Avoid Unsightly Wiring
Speaking of aesthetics, here is one final tip you may not have considered. Avoid unsightly cords and wiring at all costs. Instead of using lengthy extension cords or USB cables, why not hire an electrician to add an extra outlet or two so that there are no cords being run along walls and across floors?
Not only are these loose wires dangerous but they’re simply not what you’d expect to see in a professional office. Does your doctor or lawyer have cords running all over their offices even though their computer and other equipment are vital components of what they do? You can bet they don’t!
Key Points to Remember
Keep in mind that both professional appeal and productivity are at the heart of how you design your home office space. While you probably already knew you’d need a space removed from all the activity in your home, you may not have considered just how important design elements are. It’s altogether too easy to get distracted if you are not in an area designed only for work. You’ve made the decision to work from home, so your home office should put you in a frame of mind to work. That’s the key point to take away from all this, so remember it well.