11 quick tips for setting up an office at home
The pandemic saw more of us working from home than ever before. If you're looking to make it a permanent arrangement (or even a semi-permanent one), check out our invaluable tips for setting up an office at home.
1. Make sure you're up to the job
This is the first consideration as it'll obviously influence the size of space you need and the type of equipment you'll be filling it with. So make a list of what you need to achieve your work objectives, - including equipment, software, hardware and furniture - and then work out which space in your home is most suitable. It may be that you'll need to convert a loft or garage, if so that bridge will have to be crossed in step two...
2. Stick to your budget
Once you know the space and equipment you need, you need to set yourself a realistic budget, and if your venture looks like it's going to be too expensive, try to work out where you can make cutbacks and maybe scale back your plans - not too much though, you need to be at full capacity as soon as possible. It's important to make sure all the key components are covered and then cover any less important or decorative items if there is still room in your budget. And don't completely rule out decorative items, it's important your home office is a space you feel comfortable working in. If you're not going it alone, you may be able to get equipment or software from your employer as part of any flexible working package.
3. Consider sharing office space
Although you'll most likely want your own office space, this may not be an option if your house isn't big enough or you can't afford a loft or garage conversion. So if you do have to share a workspace or the office functions as a part-time utility room, make sure it's dedicated to what you need it to be during 'office hours',
4. Don't skimp on sockets
This may sound like an obvious one, but the last thing you want to do is move in all of your office equipment and find there aren't enough electrical sockets to plug anything in or there aren't any phone sockets for telephones or routers. And getting miles and miles of extension cord and plugboards isn't an option as you don't want to be overloading electrical outlets. If you do need extra fixtures and fittings then make sure this is factored into your budget.
5. Check your tech
Once the logistics have all been sorted, it's time to get down to the finer details, starting with the tech you need. For instance, will you need a desktop computer or will a laptop suffice - a laptop and portable external hard drive might be a better bet if you're short on space, particularly given the amount of free storage you get with many cloud-based services.
You'll also need to work out whether you need printers, scanners, shredders and other hardware and consider the space they'll take up.
6. Make it yours
Designing your office should be one of the more pleasurable aspects as you can really put a personal stamp on it and make it a space you enjoy being in - taking into account everything from office chairs to wallpaper and posters or paintings.
7. Get your connection up to speed
If you already have internet access at home, bear in mind it may not be sufficient to deal with the extra demands placed upon it as a result of your business needs. Compare the deals that are currently on the market - bearing in mind bundled packages aren't always the most cost-effective - and take on board an extra business broadband plan if necessary.
8. Keep it tidy
Once you have everything sorted and in its right place, make sure it stays there and that you stay organised - a home office can quickly descend into chaos, especially if its a shared space. So will you have lots of paperwork that needs filing away in banks of cabinets, and will everything be tidied away at night if the space has to be used for something else of an evening? If so, where will it all fit and have you got suitable storage space?
9. Keep it secure
With all that extra equipment knocking about the place, you might want to upgrade your home security system to include extra door and window locks, an alarm or even CCTV. And make sure you're fully insured - you'll most likely need additional business cover as home office equipment probably won't be insured under the terms of your buildings and contents insurance. If you've clients coming into your home, you might also need public liability cover.
10. Give it personality
Once everything is in its right place and set up for business, it's time to put your own personality on the place and make it a space that inspires you to work and is somewhere you want to spend your working hours. So think of colour schemes, artwork, additional furniture and lighting.
11. Stay in touch
If you're working from home - particularly if you live far away from your company's main office - it can be difficult to make it in for meetings. The easy way around this is to hook up with a conference call provider so you can do meetings over the phone.
ConferenceCall.co.uk is the UK's simplest conference calling service - you need nothing more than a landline or a mobile to set up a conference call with up to 100 participants, anywhere around the world.