Setting Up Your Home Office

With the growing popularity of telecommuting, many more people are working at home. Whether you work from home on a daily basis or you just want a quiet place to work on occasion, you need to know how to design a home office. Careful planning is the key to having a flexible, efficient and multipurpose setup. After all, the quality of your work may depend on it.

Choosing an Area for Your Office

Think about the following when searching for an area to suit your needs:

  • How much time will you spend in the office? Full-time businesses require a dedicated office area designed for comfort and function.
  • What type of work will you be doing? An interior designer, for example, needs a lot of flat work area to spread plans and books out. On the other hand, a web designer needs much less desk space.
  • Will the office center around the computer system? Equip the area to handle a computer desk or table.
  • Will customers or vendors be visiting you? If so, you need a door with direct access to the outside to avoid taking visitors on an unsolicited tour of your home.
  • How much privacy will you need? Less outside disturbance equals more productivity.
  • Can the area be closed off by doors, screens or even a curtain that can be tied back? Being able to close off your office from other parts of the house helps to separate your business from your personal life.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the kind of area you need -- where do you find it?

  • A large, empty walk-in closet or a spare bedroom is an ideal place for an office that does not receive visitors on a regular basis.
  • An attic office offers possibilities. Renovations and improvements (such as adding skylights, electrical outlets, etc.) will be necessary to accommodate an office in an attic. Check with your local building inspector on any restrictions associated with moving living quarters up to the attic.
  • The basement holds many possibilities, especially if privacy is an important factor. Unfinished basements will require some renovation. Possible problems are humidity and mildew that can wreak havoc on computer equipment, documents and furniture. Use a dehumidifier and pick flooring that will repel moisture, such as stone or tile, to help with these problems.
  • Your bedroom is a possibility since it is essentially unused during the day, but working late at night and sharing the bedroom with another person may not be ideal. Also, being confronted with your work first thing may not be appealing. Consider purchasing a desk that can be closed up when your work is finished for the day or place a decorative screen in front of the area.
  • The corner of a large family room can accommodate an office -- as long as you do not mind a little clutter. Filing cabinets and desks can easily be painted or purchased to blend with your family room.
  • Many people already use their kitchen as the family business office. It is suitable for paying bills, but due to high traffic, establishing a professional office in a kitchen may not be a good idea. If you have eliminated all other options and must use the kitchen, establish ground rules concerning office hours and privacy to control some of the traffic.

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