Business As Usual

7 Essentials for Setting Up a 21st Century Home Office

Do you have an office set up in your home? 

With the rise in telecommunications and more Americans starting their own business over the last few years, many people are setting up home offices.

Think about how much has changed in what is required in a workstation, be it at home or in an office.

  • Gone are the days where computers and accessories took up half of all our desk space.
  • Now, most of us have lightweight laptops that we can carry with us wherever we go.
  • Digital files have replaced paper files.
  • Most reference materials can be accessed online.
  • We don’t even need a desk clock because our computer screens and phones let us know what time it is.

What do you need in your office to make it a productive and comfortable environment? You want to make sure your workspace is conducive to getting your job done and minimizes distractions.

1.     Phone System

Whether you are a solopreneur or an employee of a business working from home, you will need to have access to a phone system.

Even if you rely on emails as your primary source of communication, you will at some point need to use a phone to talk to someone.

Having access to systems such as VoIP or similar small business phone systems that offer virtual receptionists and conferencing enables owners to show their professionalism to potential and current customers.

If you are using a mobile device for your calls, make sure it is charged and always has good coverage.

2.     A Dedicated Space

Converting a room such as a den or extra bedroom into an office would be ideal. Working at the kitchen table or on your living room couch is not a good idea.

It is too easy to let your mind wander to other things you usually do in those rooms.

For example, if you are in your kitchen, you might be distracted from dishes in the sink, a dishwasher that needs to be emptied, or a cluttered counter-top.

On the flip side, when you are not working and relaxing in your living room, seeing your computer next to you might make you feel that you should finish up a task you didn’t get to while working.

By keeping your work-space separate from your living space, both your personal and work life will benefit.

Psychologically, a dedicated office space will help you identify that area as a place to work and not just another room in your house.

Also, when you are done working, you can leave that room and your workload behind until the next day.

3.     A Desk

If your office is a dedicated room in your home, you will likely have enough room for a traditional desk. 

You can keep your computer, files, and office supplies on your desk and in the drawers so you will have easy access to everything you need while working.

Be sure that the desk you choose meets your workplace needs.  You will want to keep up with 21st-century technology by putting it in a location near plugs for your computer, laptop, phone, and printer.

Get creative with ideas for your desk, especially if space is an issue and you don’t have a dedicated room.

Foldaway desks that can be opened when used and put away when not working are a good option. 

Or, you can put up a shelf at the right height for a desk in the room that you can use during working hours.

4.     A Computer

With a computer and access to the Internet, you can work anywhere at any time. Therefore, it makes sense that an essential item you need for your home office is a computer.

If space is an issue for you, consider getting a laptop (if you don’t already have one.) If you do your research and choose a computer system that meets your specific requirements, you will be able to get your work done.

5.     A Comfortable Chair

Don't underestimate the importance of having a comfortable and ergonomically-sound (minimizes discomfort and maximizes efficiency) chair design.

Find an office chair with adjustable seat height, backrest, and armrest features. Being able to adjust the height and angle of your chair provides lumbar support and can help your lower back.

You will be spending most of your day sitting at your desk working. If you are comfortable, you can be more productive and feel better at the end of the day.

6.     Creature Comforts

To create a stimulating and motivating work environment in your home office, surround yourself with items that make you comfortable.

Your office space should inspire you and be an environment in which you want to work.

Houseplants, family pictures, artwork for your walls, and scented candles or incense can reduce stress and increase productivity.

7.     Proper Lighting

Whether you spend your day working on a computer, doing paperwork, or a combination of both, not having adequate lighting can be a problem.

Make sure that you are not straining to see your screen or read documents. Having the proper lighting in your office will reduce your chances of eye strain and headaches.

The items described above are not intended to be a comprehensive list. However, they should give you a head start.

The nature of the work you do may necessitate additional items that you will discover over time.

Image Pixabay CC0 License