We all know that working from home comes with a lot of benefits: cost-savings, flexibility, and comfort. But lost amid all the noise on the subject, is one simple, yet extremely important idea: The success of your work-at-home experience will significantly depend on the space that you create within your home to do your work.
Our Work Environment Affects How We Work
It is common knowledge that our environment can affect how we feel and function. But "environment" can mean a lot of things: the physical space we are in, the people around us, the clothes that we are wearing, the sounds we hear, and even the memories, thoughts, and feelings associated with the particular place.
Because of this affect, it is extremely important when deciding where in your home to work, that you choose a space that brings positive thoughts and feelings and makes you feel physically comfortable. Don't forget to consider other mood affecting factors such as lighting and ventilation.
In addition, your work space needs to be functional, accessible, and with enough ascetics and professionalism to suit your individual needs.
Converting Those Closets and Unused Nooks into Office Space
Turning your unused or under-used living space into a home office may seem like a great and frugal idea for your home-based business. But since these spaces are often smack dab in the middle of your living area, they may actually be less than ideal in practice- especially if you are a work-at-home parent and susceptible to "little intruders." In this case, you may want to invest in some screens or room dividers. There are many different kinds out there, with various materials and features. There are also many moderately priced options, such as this aesthetically pleasing wooden shutter screen divider.
Some other factors to consider:
Prepare the premises.
Clear the space of shelving up to 6 feet in height. Now you can seek out the right kind of furniture while still maintaining storage space above you.
If you don't have that much space to spread out horizontally, build your office upwards. That means taking advantage of existing shelves and storage space over your head. That's where you can store items that are not used on a daily basis.
Buy furniture that fits in.
You can buy a basic tower design workstation or even a computer armoire that will fit into the available area. If you go for an armoire, remove the doors and use the built-in storage places to prevent clutter. Go for a double expandable tray that you can pull out. That will be adequate to store the keyboard and provide you with a writing shelf.
Getting the Right Furniture for Your Home Office
Where space and cost are issues, you should look for business furniture that is multi-use, compact, and where necessary allows you to pack it up and fold it away. Some notable space-saving options include:
- Tables and desks that can be mounted onto the wall
- Chairs that can be neatly folded away or can double as storage space
- A whole office space that sits within a closeable, standing closet
- A "mobile" self-contained work area on wheels, that can be closed up and moved about
A Few Words About Shelving
One of the most flexible elements of your home office is shelving space. You'd be amazed just how much stuff you could fit onto a well-placed shelf. From my own work at home experiences, I suggest that you first decide on the space where you will be working and the essential furniture that you will need, and then think about how to fit shelving space around it. One creative example I found was of this company Heidi Shelves that can put a functional bookcase in the unused space behind your door.
Multi-Purpose Equipment and Less Paper
There are other ways to save money and space that go beyond office furniture. When setting up your home office, don't forget to think about your equipment. Where possible, look for compact and multi-purpose devices, such as a multi-function printer that provides scanning, faxing, and copying capablities. You should also consider where you can get away with not having a physical device in the first place, such as by using an efaxing service. Finally, save on paper printing, storage, and delivery by using an online invoicing service, email, and scaning financial documentation for storage online.
Some neat home office furnishing ideas from around the web (click on the thumbnail to see a larger image):