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Home Office Planning

Home Office Planning:

In order to get the most out of a home office, here are our 10 suggestions for set up.

  1. Location, Location, Location!- Don’t “make do” with a spot at the kitchen table or living room couch. Designate a room or area of the house where you can truly concentrate, communicate and efficiently manage your tasks. We strongly urge you to separate yourself from the everyday distractions of home life and plan for a quiet, remote area where you can maintain an professional setting and state of mind.
  2. Furniture- Choose furniture and a layout that will suit your needs. Allow for enough work surface to hold all desktop equipment, paperwork, supplies materials, etc… Think about storage, in order to maintain organization. You will want sufficient storage and perhaps even lockable features or the opportunity to add pieces later on. Select furniture that is long lasting and safe. Also, take a few moments to read about ergonomics in the office space and investigate chair and accessory options.
  3. Electrical Outlets- We are operating in a wireless world, but you will require some access to power for computer, phone, fax, etc… Make sure you think through placement of your equipment in relation to outlets in the space. Be careful not to overpower any electrical outlet, spread it around and make sure it’s not all on the same circuit breaker. Your home office area may require additional outlets which is a safer bet than too many extension cords.
  4. Organize those cords and wires- Just because you have a lot of office equipment doesn’t mean your work space has to look like a rattlesnake den. Plan your office design to put as much of your wires and cables as out of sight as possible. If you have long lengths of cable running from room to room (or down a hallway), consider drilling holes and lifting baseboards as necessary to get them out of sight. If you can’t put cables and/or wires out of harm’s way, make sure you tape or staple them down as necessary and close to walls so people aren’t in danger of tripping over them. Consider furniture with wire management features.
  5. Security -Minimize the risk of equipment theft with doors, windows, drawers and cabinets that are lockable and in good working order. Secure  your computer after work. Ensure computers and other devices are passcode protected. Keep all software, especially anti-virus and anti-spyware up to date and make sure there is have a firewall installed. Create and maintain a back-up schedule.
  6. Lighting- Proper lighting is very important and should not be overlooked.  Create layers and angles of light ideally with a combination of natural light and desk top, ambient or lamp lighting around the work area. Glare, dim light or too-bright light, can put strain on your eyes and leave you feeling exhausted. You may want to consider your schedule too, are you a night owl who stays up until 2am working on a project or an early bird that sits down with coffee in hand ready to begin the day at 5am?
  7. Ventilation- Many people overlook the importance of ventilation in office design however, both you and your office equipment need it. First, the more office equipment you have operating, the more heat will be generated and excessive heat can damage office equipment such as PCs. Secondly, if your home office space isn’t adequately ventilated, working there can be extremely uncomfortable for you.  In basement offices especially, you may want to have an air quality test done prior to setting up your space. Be sure there are operational smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  8. Noise – Productivity requires concentration – avoid working in areas that promote distraction. Consider kids, televisions and appliances, household traffic, road noise and pets when setting up a home office. Put the workspace in an isolated area, preferably with a closed door to reduce sound. If necessary, use headphones to help eliminate outside noise.
  9. Fire hazards- Keep combustible materials to a minimum. Have a functioning smoke detector and fire extinguisher in the work area. Keep portable heaters (with a tip over switch) away from combustible materials.
  10. Clear the paths and the clutter- Because you may be situated in a room that was originally designed for other uses, some home offices resemble obstacle courses. Just because that bed or plant stand has always been there, doesn’t mean it has to stay there. You need to be able to get up from your desk and walk around without banging your shins.And don’t forget to check the floor- for instance, make sure all area rugs are securely tacked down.  Get rid of all unnecessary furniture and clutter in your home office space. To reduce clutter, separate personal from professional paperwork. Employ the “touch it once” rule: once you touch a piece of paper, either act on it, file it, or throw it away.