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Creating a Professional Home Office

Whether you are a telecommuter, freelancer or entrepreneur, if you primarily work out of your home, your workspace should be professional, comfortable and conducive to productivity. While working in your pajamas on the couch in front of the TV all day may sound tempting, it is important to draw a line in the sand and set up a professional space for working from home.

Below are some tips for creating a professional home office.

Establish your space.

If you are fortunate enough to have an entire room to dedicate as your office, consider yourself lucky. You’ll have more flexibility when it comes to furnishings and things of that nature. However, if you don’t have the square footage luxury, you can still make do. Declare your office space by sectioning off a room in your home with a screen or curtain to create a separation between your personal and professional space.

Furnish and decorate.

Furnishing and decorating your home office can be fun even if you’re on a limited budget. Often, you can use things that you already own, like that lamp that’s been in your attic for ten years or that old table you picked up at a garage sale but never use. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family if they have any furniture they’re willing to part with, or check out Craigslist or your local thrift shops for great items on a budget.

Remember: Comfort is key. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in your office, and will need furniture that is comfortable and isn’t going to cause any strain or health issues. It is worth it to invest in a nice office chair, gelled wrist support pads and other ergonomic equipment.

And, if you work for a company, be sure to ask if you can expense your furniture and equipment!

Get the requisite office supplies and equipment.

Make a list of items that you’d normally find in an office, and start with the basics. You may not need a fancy three-hole punch machine, but you will likely need things like post-it notes, pens, notebooks, a calculator, paper clips, and a stapler.  Once you’re telecommuting for a while, you’ll be able to determine if you need to pick up additional items.

When I first started working from home, I started with the basics, going without some of the luxuries found in my previous office jobs like a printer/scanner and an additional monitor to create that “dual” monitor, multi-screen work station. That didn’t last long once I realized that I’d have to snail mail my onboarding documents to our human resources department and my productivity was diminished by not having an additional computer screen.

Again, ask if your company will purchase these items for you or if you can expense them. If not, save your receipts. You can likely write them off as unreimbursed business expenses when you do your taxes, but be sure to check with a tax professional first.

Create a good filing system.

If your job requires you to work with a lot of paper, you don’t want it cluttering up your space. What’s the adage? Cluttered space, cluttered mind? Invest in a filing cabinet, folders and even a label machine if you’re really OCD and like things extremely neat and organized. Check out these Priority Paper Piling tips for more information.

Even if your work doesn’t involve a lot of paper, a digital filing system is just as important. If you’re going to be sharing documents with coworkers, use a cloud-based storage system like Dropbox so that you and your distance-based coworkers can all retrieve files quickly and easily.

Do you have or are you planning on using a home office? Leave your tips in the comments section below!

Be sure to check back for our next post, “How to successfully work from home.”


16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gayle G. Hansen #

    Don’t forget a good paper shredder…

    June 4, 2013
  2. Mark Duva #

    If you have home office but also live with others i.e. wife, husband, kids, let them know that it is NOT ok to talk to you all day now that you work at home. If you are just making that transition to working from home, frequent interruptions can get extremely frustrating. Avoid the distractions by clearly voicing your work boundaries, perhaps by stating “If I am at my desk, I am working and only to be interrupted for emergencies”. If anyone needs to speak with you have them schedule an appointment during work hours.

    June 4, 2013
    • I agree with you Mark. Working from home if not properly monitored is not too good

      June 20, 2013
  3. Great advice. I don’t currently work from home, but in the next couple of months I’ll have the option to work two or three days a week at home. I think it will be strange at first. I have some space to work with to create an office environment. I’ll have to dig up some old furniture or find some on Craigslist, like you suggest. Thanks for the tips!

    June 20, 2013
  4. I have been working from home for 12 years now and have just about got it figured. The trouble is my large family have’nt quite worked it out. I get constant requests for one thing or another, especially when the kids are on a school break, but I have to ignore them at times because if I stop work, they don’t eat.

    August 13, 2013
  5. I have a home office for myself, and the biggest challenge I run into is trying to separate the home from the office. I’ve found that a solid filing system – I use HomeFile – really helps keep everything organized. Plus, I’ve moved so much online to the cloud that I don’t have much more beyond the computer to worry about.

    September 2, 2013
  6. Pete, I recognise and sympathise with your plight. I have been working from home for a good few years and my dear wife still leaves me with lists of things to do around the house and bits and pieces of shopping to get while she goes off to her teaching job.

    Having said that, although self discipline is paramount for the home worker, taking breaks away from the desk is essential, particularly for those engaged in creative activities such as writing, website building and graphic design…and anyway who says you can’t write in Starbucks (other coffee shops are available).

    Robert, I find that that the best way to separate the home office from the home is to be able to close the door on it. Working at the dining room table is a poor second best to having a dedicated room for working. And when the door is closed and I’m inside, I am not to be disturbed.

    October 8, 2013
  7. Agree, separating home from business becomes difficult when you are not home alone. There are so often interruptions and other family members often don’t realise the time and distraction involved. It can be difficult to set rules and stick to them without seeming like the bad guy!

    October 15, 2013
  8. i appreciated about this, some time how to make home have beautiful is dificult and need much money.. so i try give some design …small-modern-bedroom-bedroom-designs-ideas-interior-design!

    October 21, 2013
  9. Modern furniture is the way to go when “establishing your space” isn’t an option. When space is limited, products like storage ottomans can be very convenient for filing cabinets, etc.

    March 21, 2014
  10. Thanks for the tips ! separating home from business becomes difficult when you are not home alone.I think it will be strange at first. I have some space to work with to create an office environment.

    March 24, 2014
  11. Sometimes it is a blessing to work at home. But you need always the choice: yes or no .
    With traffic difficulties or other (winter) difficulties it is a blessing. But we need also the social life from our work.

    March 25, 2014
  12. The hardest part sbout having a home office is strictly designating your work time! it is very easy to get distracted at home with the family or internet or television. I find making a strict schedule for my home work time does me well!

    March 28, 2014
  13. Thanks for the tips.

    March 29, 2014
  14. Wonderful idea. However no matter how great you make your home office, it is very difficult to motivate yourself to provide the best results in your work when you’re at home.

    April 3, 2014
  15. Thanks for the advice. I don’t currently work from home, but in the next couple of weeks I’ll have the option to work three or four days a week at home. I think it will feel a bit wired at first as i will have to be very disciplined to stay focused t my work.

    I have some space to work with to create an office environment and get a new desk lamp + furniture – Thanks for the tips!

    April 14, 2014

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