Whether starting a new business or deciding to telecommute, a well-designed office space in the home can be a real advantage. Offices do not have to be huge; a small section in an existing room can be screened off to make a separate space for work. Alternatively, an unused room can be transformed very easily to make an office that is both functional and comfortable.
Find a space
Deciding where to set up an office is important. Ideally, a home office should be a clearly defined space, used only for work. This will help focus activities in the office area and avoid distractions from the TV, garden or kitchen.
If the only place an office can be located is in the corner of a room already in use, try screening it off with a moveable partition for privacy; this can double up as a bulletin or display board for company information or as a wall of inspiration to help with creativity. Keeping the office out of the home is as important as keeping the home out of the office and a moveable partition can be placed in front of the office space at the end of the working day to help the telecommuter to ‘clock off.’
Furniture and equipment
A good desk/workstation and chair will help make working from home comfortable and safe; purchasing the correct chair will help prevent repetitive strain injury in the wrists, shoulders and back, which is always a risk with long periods of computer use. Having a comfortable area in which to relaxaway from a screen is a sensible idea; a corner sofa, with a low table, ensures an inviting space for a ten-minute coffee break or even for entertaining clients. Having a relaxing corner will make it easier to avoid the temptation of eating or drinking at the desk; this is not only unhygienic, it is also a safetyissue, as liquids and computers are rarely a good combination.
Keeping computers and other electronic equipment, such as phones and printers, clean and well-maintained is vital to keep home office workers safe. Equipment should be correctly installed and cables should be kept out of the way, in order to avoid tripping hazards. Electrical goods should be shut down properly at the end of the day.
Make the room bright with natural light if possible, or use daylight bulbs in overhead fittings and desk-lamps to give the illusion of natural light. Avoid direct sunlight, which causes glare and eye-strain; do not place computer workstations directly under windows, a 90˚ angle works best. Pale colour schemes help to reflect light in dim corners; positioning a mirror or a glazed framed print, so that it reflects light onto the desk can maximise any available natural light.
Shelves and drawers, in the desk or on the walls, are essential in order to avoid clutter. A deep filing cabinet will help with organisation, keeping work surfaces clear and important documents easy to find in a hurry. If space is limited, clear out or archive old documents regularly to avoid being buried under a pile of paper. A tidy space will promote an efficient attitude to business and give visitors the impression of professionalism in even the humblest office area.