How To Set Up A Successful Home Office

Ten years ago home based franchises were new and rare; today there are thousands of them to choose from in every industry you can imagine. Seen primarily in service business, these franchises offer many benefits including the reduction of operating costs and the convenience of not having traffic on your way to work! But having a home office can be more of a challenge that an external one unless you implement some of these important rules.

A home office takes dedication and commitment to creating a professional “office” space in your home, not a corner of your dining room table, and to mentally prepare yourself to go to work everyday. It is essential to have dedicated space that is organized like a “real” office. This means devoting an area, ideally a separate room, or a secluded space with a door or where screens that can be used to delineate the office boundaries. This is where you go to work everyday and the space must be equipped with all the tools an office needs to run a proper business from that space.

This includes everything from filing cabinets to folders to sticky notes and paper clips. You should have a proper desk and big comfortable executive chair as well. The desk should have drawers for you to store your desktop materials as having a clean organized desktop is the key to success. Other equipment such as a fax machine, copier/scanner should be of good quality for commercial use. This is not being bought for school projects so a good quality output is required. Paper documents go into desk drawers if you are working on that project at the time while projects that are finished go in the filing cabinets. Keeping your desktop clean assists the subconscious mind in solving problems, creating solutions and generating different points of view. The saying goes “an organized desk is an organized mind”. Then have fun decorating it and personalizing the space to make it a happy and supportive place to be with kids artwork, pictures of your goals or exotic places to travel.

The biggest challenge in making the transition is in the realization that the only thing that changed is that there is no drive to work. Working at home is not a license to work in your pj’s. Business owners fail for 2 main reasons; (1) they don’t take their home office as seriously as an external one and/or (2) they fail to create a structure and procedures to differentiate between home and work. In the latter case, they get mixed together and quality of life goes out the window. It’s critical to establish a routine whereby you get up in the morning, shower, have breakfast and then get dressed “for work” before “heading” to “the office”. Clothing has a large emotional effect on productivity and psychologically, it changes your mood and makes you feel more professional. This doesn’t have to dressed to the nines as for an external office but more like a casual Friday. When you enter the physical office, you are at work, period. No laundry or chores: if you couldn’t do them from an external office would you do that from a home one? This is how people get lose their productivity. Working hours are working hours.

At the end of the day have a meaningful action that signifies that the work day is over, such as turning off the ringer on the phone or simply closing the door behind you. This differentiates work from play and is what determines your quality of life. Anything work related, other than reading, is to be done strictly in that space. This is so essential since this alone determines your quality of life. If you’re home, be home.

There are other important issues to consider.

  1. Make sure you have a back-up of your computer files. Losing all your information in a crash or from a virus is every computer user’s worst nightmare. There are great online backup service providers that back up to a cloud and are not expensive.

  2. Home office contents are not generally covered by a standard home insurance policy and is often included as a separate rider. You will need to check with your insurance provider to see if extra coverage is required.

  3. You will also need business interruption insurance against loss of income in the event of a house fire for example.

  4. If that inventory is jewels or something of great value you will most definitely need a separate rider to cover these since they are not normally found in a home.

  5. Make sure you always have the latest virus software. A virus can shut you down for good.

After 20 yrs of working in executive office space I created my home based consulting practice. Luckily I am (somewhat) disciplined by nature and set up a fabulous office that supports me and I enjoy spending time in. I can't say that I have never worked in my pj’s, but I don’t do chores and when I leave this room, my time is all mine and I have a wonderful quality of life.

Home offices can be a challenge but if you have the discipline to do it, there is no better place on earth to work!

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