Home Office Set-up Checklist 151

working from home

Working from the comfort of your own home may sound like a dream. But if you don’t have all the right elements for your home office, it can have a detrimental effect on your productivity and even your health and happiness.

No two home offices are the same. But regardless of the size and layout of your space, there are some elements that can help make it a more productive space. Here are some of the most important elements.

1. Location, location, location. You'll likely spend many hours in your home office, so don't stiff yourself on space (e.g. squishing a tiny desk into a windowless closet to preserve the rarely-used guest room). Also consider traffic flow and your ability to withstand distractions. Do you work best in the thick of activity, or should your office be tucked away in a quiet space? If clients will be stopping by, a private space with ample seating is a must.

2. Invest in a great chair. You spend hours parked in your office chair; a beautiful, ergonomically-correct, comfortable seat is worth every dime.

3. Get an Adjustable Desk. Consider getting a height adjustable table so that you can either sit or stand through out the day.

4. Desk Location. Consider moving the desk off the wall. Give yourself a good view!

5. Good lighting is essential. Ideally you want as much natural daylight as possible. If your space has a window, it will enhance the lighting. Daylight is the most evenly balanced source of white light available, in that sunlight has an approximately equal proportion of each color of the spectrum. This light, however, never has a constant color and its beauty comes from the way it is reflected and from the way it is refracted by the earth (as in differing times of day). The color of natural light also differs based on geographic location. It is always beneficial to have as much natural light as possible in the working area.

If no daylight is available, a combination of general and task lighting will be required. A high-quality task light will be essential for late nights or cloudy days. If your home office is in a basement or a room without windows, check out daylight-replicating light sources that will provide energy-efficient, full-spectrum lighting. Many ergonomic task-lighting fixtures have dimmer switches so you can control the amount of light.

6. Add Plants. Adding a touch of green to your work space carries proven wellness benefits, from boosting productivity to purifying the air.

Working from Home Tips for Success 61

Over 30 million Americans work from home. Telecommuting has a lot of benefits for both the employee and the employer. One disadvantage maybe having trouble with distractions. If you're worried about productivity in an impending telecommuting position or you'd like to squeeze in more contracts as a freelancer, there are a few tricks. They won't necessarily work for everyone, but they just might give you the push you need to work a little harder.

1. Separate work life from home life.

Believe it or not, a common mistake at-home workers make is working too much. Without that commute to and from work, it can be hard to break away from your home office and call it a day.

That’s why it’s critical to set boundaries, experts say. You should arrange for childcare if you’re kids aren’t in school during the day. Trying to pay attention to your kids and your job at the same time is never a good idea, and both will suffer as a result.

Establish ‘do not disturb’ guidelines, work hours, break times, and a policy on handling personal matters.

2. Get “ready” for work.

Although it may be tempting to lounge around in your pajamas, experts highly recommend showering and getting dressed as if you were heading to a workplace. As far as attire goes, you probably can get away with shorts and a T-shirt in warmer weather or heavier clothes in colder weather. During video conferences dress professionally.

3. Establish “office” hours.

While telecommuting offers lots of flexibility, you’ve still got to stick to a schedule. If you don’t create a window of time for your job, you’ll either work around the clock or put off your work. Post your hours of operation on your door.

4. Divide up your day.

Break up your workday into chunks. Example: Wake up around 6:30 a.m., eat breakfast, and then work from 7:30-10:30 a.m. After that, go to the gym, grab lunch and work from 1:30-6 p.m. With this sort of schedule, you are “not stuck behind the desk for long periods of time” at home.

5. Set up a separate office space.

Carve out a space in your home that’s your dedicated workspace. Ideally, the space should have a door so that you can shut out noise or interruptions. Your workspace shouldn’t be at your kitchen table or in your bedroom, experts say.

Related: How to Design the Ideal Home Office

6. Keep the lines of communication open.

If you’re an off-site worker, be sure to check in at least once a day by email, online chat, phone or videoconferencing with your on-site managers and coworkers, Fell said.

You also should set up regular face-to-face meetings with managers and coworkers who may or may not be telecommuting. “Like it or not, relationships develop more quickly in person, and remote workers can be forgotten or overlooked for promotions or career development if they are not top of mind,” Carreau said.

7. Don’t constantly monitor your cellphone.

Set your phone to silent or turning it off altogether when work demands most or all of our attention. Time can be wasted by frequently checking it for no apparent reason.

The same advice can apply to checking Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media networks throughout the day, unless that’s a key part of your job.

8. Stay out of the kitchen.

Telecommuters soon find that they need to have discipline to avoid the kitchen. If not, it can be constant snacking!

9. Get in-person time with co-workers.

You will have conference or video calls throughout the month, but it is always good if possible to have a monthly in-person meeting. A lunch meeting is always great!

10. Reward yourself.

Pay yourself the money that you’d normally budget for commuting expenses.

Use it to pay off bills or, better yet, put it toward your house payment. This small amount will add up quickly over time.