Easy and inexpensive ways to set up a home office
More and more of us are working from home, either part-time or full-time, but setting up a comfortable and practical place to work isn't as easy as it seems. There are lots of things to consider - space for a desk and chair, computer equipment, phone lines, stationary and filing for accounts - when you tot everything up it can get expensive and eat up a lot of precious space in the home. Here are some tips from personal experience.
A room of your own - but which room?
We don't all have the luxury of a spare room that can be fully kitted out, so making a room "multi functional" will be the only option for many of us. A corner of the dining room, lounge, or even taking over the kitchen table can work well.
But, don't be pushed into a corner or think that sitting on the sofa with a laptop will work out, realistically you need your office area to be permanent.
Choose a room that is neither too hot or too cold and enjoys natural light.
Whichever room you have decided to turn into your office, do make it your own. If you are in the spare bedroom that is used for laundry, tidy it away as much as possible and remove it from your eyeline.
Working from home can be brilliant, but it is very easy to be distracted from the task in hand - cut out as many distractions as possible!
Desks and chairs
Are you sitting comfortably? I do hope so, it is incredibly important if you're planning on spending several hours in your office that you have support for your back and arms, otherwise you are at risk of developing RSI or joint problems.
It is definitely worth investing in a proper office chair with arm rests and a solid frame. Luckily these can be picked up relatively cheaply with a number of supermarkets offering them at a low price. As long as you don't mind a bit of self-assembly you should be able to find a decent office chair for less than £30.
Desks can get quite expensive however, especially if you buy one with built in drawers, even if you buy a flat-pack MDF version. It is easy to spend £100 on a relatively basic desk.
It might sound like an off-beat suggestion, but a plastic garden table can work just as well - and they are much cheaper to buy.
As long as the table is the right height for you to sit comfortably at and the surface is smooth enough for the mouse to work, a basic oblong barbecue table can work really well for you! And once you've got all your computer equipment, papers and other working paraphernalia spread out, your humble table will look like any normal office desk.
Laptops are much cheaper and easier to use than desktop computers, especially as they are portable for when you do need to move around. Investing in a desktop computer with a separate box will simply take up a lot of valuable space.
Even a small netbook computer or tablet can work as your main technical hub. If you need more screen space, invest in a second computer display. These are relatively cheap and easy to plug in. Having two screens speeds up simple tasks too, making you more efficient.
If there's any chance that you are going to take business calls at home, it's worth considering a dedicated line, or another method of identifying callers - you don't really want to answer a potentially important business call with a casual "hello"!
There are lots of different solutions. Getting a business account for your mobile phone will bring immediate benefits - you can usually have more than one phone line working through a single mobile and sign up extra users (if they "work for you") under one account - often with free calls between these users. Also, customer service is far better for business users than for individuals.
If getting an extra landline will be problematic, or expensive, to add to your home, a phone number that re-routes to your mobile phone is a great option. Easy to set up and you get a professional looking 08 prefix for your business number too.
- Check that your contents insurance covers your expensive office equipment!
- Keep a regular tally of out-goings. If you are self-employed as a sole-trader your taxable profits are balanced against expenditure and this includes a nominal fee for running a home office. It's worth taking professional advice from an accountant
- Ban partners, children and pets from your office during working hours - maybe you could get a sign printed up for your door
- Be inspired - a corkboard collating inspirational pictures and quick quotes is a fun way to brighten up your office and keep the creative juices flowing
- Stay tidy - you will certainly appreciate the mysterious cleaners who smarten up offices up and down the country now you're going it alone. If space is limited, concertina files are a good alternative to bulky filing cabinets
- Create headed paper and templates for all the documents you send out
This post was written by Jenny Simpson on behalf of Telecoms World, the UK’s leading supplier of non-geographic 0800 numbers and 03 numbers. They specialise in providing cost-beneficial call solutions to small businesses across the country.