How to Organize Your Startup Office at Home
Working from home is becoming increasingly common for many company employees as well as entrepreneurs who are launching their own business. A vital part of your path to success is establishing a well-organized home office.
There is no prescribed pattern that works for everyone, but key features are fairly common to many people setting up shop in their residence. Here are some things to do that can make your home office more effective.
Create a Clean and Neat Environment
If your business has employees or customers coming to your home, make sure the house looks great to make a positive first impression. Here are some tips from home expert Catherin Galvin to make your space spotless and ready.
Clear the lawn of weeds or debris, and spruce up the landscaping with neatly-trimmed shrubs and manicured flower gardens. Rent a pressure washer to scrub the outside of your home and remove mold, dust, or bird droppings. Accent the entrance with a door wreath or porch décor to make it attractive and welcoming.
Inside, keep the floor swept and tidy. Install adequate lighting, and ensure the windows are clean with attractive blinds or drapes. Eliminate cooking odors or pet smells by using natural, subtle air fresheners like flowers or spices. Any background noise like music should be minimal.
Arrange Your Workspace
A desk and computer will likely be the center of your work operations. Set up a desk with a place for your computer and the necessary accessories, such as a modem and router. Depending on your job, these might include paper clips, pens, pencils, a stapler, post-it notes, and similar items. More substantial supplies like copy paper and printer ink cartridges should have a storage area that is accessible but not in the way of your daily work. You will also need a place for your printer and/or copier as well as seating for clients if applicable. Get yourself an ergonomic chair or a standing stool with comfortable support. Adjust the lighting over your work area, so that it is neither too dim nor too bright.
Avoid distractions by keeping your bouncy pup in the other part of the house during your work day, and make personal calls during your lunch break.
Set Up a Filing System
Although your work files may be mostly digital, you will probably also have print purchase orders, receipts, and other business documents that need to be organized and maintained. A small volume will not require excessive effort to arrange, but a heavier amount of paperwork might benefit from a file cabinet or a credenza with drawers. There are plenty of filing systems to organize your documents, with chronological, alphabetical, and numerical among the most common. Use a closet or wall shelves, possibly in an extra room or the basement, for inactive files like business tax returns that should be kept on hand for several years.
Install Security Measures
Your computer should have up-to-date antivirus and malware protection. A backup system for extra digital copies of key documents and records is also essential. Get security features like alarms for the doors and windows of your home office as well. You may want to get professional insurance to cover all aspects of your home business; sometimes this type of coverage can be included as a rider to your home's property insurance. Talk to your insurance agent about the extent of coverage you might need for the work you do.
Include a Calendar
Your iPhone might be helpful enough to remind you of appointments, meetings, and deadlines. Some people working from home use a large desk calendar for visual reminders. If you are juggling numerous projects at any given time, you might want to mount a whiteboard on the wall or on an easel, and use a marker to list and track each project through completion. At a glance, you can see the status of each one along with progress to date.
Keep Workspace Separate from Living Space
Although a few personal effects will add a home-like feeling to your office, it is important to maintain a professional environment to help you stay focused on the job. A few photographs, a cozy armchair for breaks, and a mug for your favorite beverage help to personalize your workspace. Avoid eating at your desk or letting the kids play in your office if possible. An accidental spill or a misplaced file could take valuable time setting things right.
Your home office should support your professional work in a manner that is similar to a company environment. While you can relax and set up things the way you want, remember that you are on the clock during your work schedule, so plan your office accordingly.