More and more people are working from home. Almost 5 million people work from home at least half the time and that number is only increasing. The amount of people working from home regularly has increased by 173% since 2005.
This has lead to a corresponding increase in the number of people in need of a home office. People are converting rooms of their houses into full-on work stations. This means more than just a desk and chair. For a true home office, people are seeking out peaceful and productive spaces where they can concentrate and feel productive.
If you are thinking about setting up a home office, check out these 5 tips for making your own at-home workspace. And read on to learn what kinds of industries are switching to remote work and what kinds of scenarios might require remote work. With this practice becoming so much more common, it never hurts for everyone to be prepared!
1. Pick The Right Spot In Your Home
When you work from home, you get to decide exactly where you work. Unlike in an office building where you may have to sit in a bleak row of cubicles, at home you can pick whatever location suits you best. You have your pick of an entire house. And you can go even further and customize your office space to your heart’s content.
All of this means that the nice big windows and natural lighting aren’t just for the boss. You’re the boss at home. Consider placing your home office next to a large window so you can get natural light all day long while working. Natural lighting can help you feel more refreshed and energetic at the end of your workday.
You can even curate your view. If your windows are obstructed, look into tree trimming services that can improve your view. If you are working from home, there’s no reason not to make your working environment exactly what you want it to be.
Be careful about being too close to a window, however. Enticing as that natural light sounds, it can also come with some drawbacks. In summer, sitting right next to a big window can mean you’re hot and uncomfortable. Conversely, in winter, a window might be a slightly colder place to sit all day than other places in your home.
You also should consider the effect of natural light on your computer set up. Know which way the sun moves around your house throughout the day. If there are parts of the day when sunlight streams directly through your windows, that light can obscure your computer screens and make it impossible to work. Your home office needs to be functional as well as comfortable!
2. Consider Some Home Upgrades
If you are really serious about your home office, consider some residential renovations that can make your house ideal for an office. These renovations might be simple things such as adding some storage space and cabinets. Or they can be major home upgrades and larger products.
If you have an extra room such as a spare bedroom, you can renovate it to make it better suited to being an office space. You may want to add more cabinets or other storage solutions so you can keep all your important documents in your home office.
You may even look into completely changing the room. Some interior painting can give a former bedroom a fresh, professional look.
Decide how much of your home will be used for an office or how much of a specific room. This determination is important for more than just how and where you work. You can deduct some of the costs related to having a home office, but it will take a little work to figure out what exactly is deductible.
In addition to the office itself, some home costs like heating and cooling, mortgage payments and internet access might be deductible if they are related to business uses. Figure out what portion of your home and expenses are deductible before tax season rolls around.
If you are planning to make renovations to your home for an office, you may also need to look into some local laws. The law will change from state to state or even city to city. Some places will be stricter about what counts as a home office and what kinds of renovations you can make to your home.
Some common legal concerns when upgrading a home include breach of contract, damage to the property, boundary and zoning disputes, and poor quality work from a contractor. Especially if you are a renter, you may not legally be allowed to do certain things to the property where you live. Check with your landlord before making major changes to your home office.
3. Make Your Home Office Comfortable
Your home office should be comfortable as well as functional. Once you have space and lighting, thin about the things that would make your office a pleasant place to work all day. This will change from person to person, so prioritize the things that matter the most to you.
For example, you might want specific types of lighting. Look into lights that have softer light that you find more pleasant to work in.
You should also invest in a high-quality desk and chair. These expenses may be deductible. But even if they aren’t, this is where you’re going to spend a large amount of your time every single day. If your chair is uncomfortable or your desk isn’t right for you, this could be a health concern and not just a problem for your work efficiency.
In general, computer screens should be set at or below eye level. You don’t want to crane your neck up all day to look at your screen. And your chair and keyboard should be ergonomic to help keep your back, wrists, and hands healthy if you do a lot of typing all day for work.
Make sure you have reliable access to high-speed internet. No matter what industry you work in, if you’re working from home, reliable internet access is absolutely essential. You can’t go about your workday without this crucial piece of your work station.
Also, consider decorations. Pictures, family photos or even plants can make your workspace cozier. Your home office is still part of your home; it shouldn’t be a place you dread. When you aren’t working, it isn’t going to disappear, so make sure it’s a pleasant piece of your overall home.
If all of this sounds like a lot to think about, and purchase, investigate some finance options for home office furniture and accessories. Many places will let you pay for your furniture in time so you can invest in a great desk now and pay it off over several months. This is even more reason why you shouldn’t wait before getting ergonomic and comfortable furniture for your home office.
The best part about all these upgrades and renovations: They can increase the value of your home. When you go to sell your home, you can and should include the renovations you made for your office as part of the selling points. A home office may even be a feature you want to brag about to increase your home’s appeal to buyers.
4. Build In Space For Breaks
No one can work all day, every day. When you go to a conventional office building, there are things like coffee and snack machines, gyms and outdoor areas for taking a quick walk.
Consider this when you are building your home office as well. You will likely need calm, comfortable places to take a break. You might even keep something like a yoga mat near your desk. A yoga mat can be a good place to stretch out and ensure your back doesn’t hurt from all that sitting. If you keep your mat near your desk, you will be more likely to use it.
Also, consider your coffee setup. You might be accustomed to having free coffee from work, but with a home office, you will need to make your coffee yourself. Investing in a decent quality coffee machine and a good brand of coffee will make your entire workday better. Also consider additions like cream, sugar, and milk.
Finally, spare a thought for entertainment. In an office building, many people use headphones to listen to music through their workday. At home, there is no need to do that. You can set up speakers and play music in your home while you are working. Decent quality speakers will last a long time and are a great investment if you plan to work from home in the long term.
5. Get An Assistant
Even if you work at home alone, you don’t need to do it all by yourself. Look into an assistant that can help you with scheduling and organization.
These days, some of the best assistants are electronic. When you work from a home office, you still need to respond to calls, meetings, and deadlines just like you would in a conventional office. But that’s a lot harder to do when you’re on your own.
Digital assistants like Alex and Google Assistant can keep track of meetings, due dates, to-do lists, and appointments. Some of these devices are almost as good as having a real live assistant right there with you in your home office. This investment can ensure you always are on time and look professional to your clients and co-workers.
The Types of Industries Where People Are Working From Home
The days when everyone has to go to an office building or warehouse for their jobs are quietly going away. More and more industries are allowing workers to do part of all of their jobs from home. Some businesses are offering part-time work from home, while other jobs have become entirely remote.
Some of the jobs you can do from home are not surprising. This includes things like freelance writing, being a virtual assistant, and doing data entry. Often, these professionals will get a home office and take on their work from home. They don’t need the direct supervision of a manager and can turn in tasks remotely without any trouble.
These are all careers that are traditionally freelance roles, however. They have involved at least some amount of remote work for a long time.
Other industries that are shifting toward remote work are a little more surprising. You might be surprised to know that your lawyer, call center representative and travel agent are all working from a home office at least part of the time.
For these professionals, the needs of a home office are a little more complicated. They may also need a dedicated phone line or a place where they can occasionally meet with clients in person. Still, even with jobs like these, more and more work is moving out of the office and into the home.
Sometimes You Have To Work From Home
Sometimes, working from home and having a home office is not a matter of choice. There are situations where you have to work from home. You may want to be prepared for this by having a space that could serve as a home office within your home.
Things that may force you to work from home could be situations that come up in the ordinary course of business. Sometimes an office building will close for the holidays or a vacation period, but some people will need to continue working anyway. In a situation like this, it helps to have a desk and workplace set up at home so you can quickly shift gears.
Sometimes the reason is a little more unusual. For example, there could be legal concerns that force you to work from home. Even something like drinking and driving can result in a complicated situation where you need to work from home at least sometimes.
Whatever the scenario may be, it’s a good idea to be prepared if you should find yourself in a situation where you need or want to work from a home office.