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Rules for Setting up a Home Office

Working from home has its set of advantages – you have lower start up costs and lower financial risks, enjoy a control of space and your working hours, save upon commuting time & money and can grow you business efficiently. Lack of discipline or following wrong approach can have adverse impacts on any business and this also applies to home based businesses. To ensure that your investment in the venture bring really good returns, it is important to understand and implement the right tactics.

Here are a few tips that can help you to define the professional working space for your new business:

Make a list of critical home office needs – First things, first! Before you claim a room in your house, the basement or the garage for home office, it is essential to make a list of the hardware and equipment that you will need for work. Your list must include working desk, computer with Internet access, printer, fax machine, telephone connection, and basic office supplies such as paper, printer cartridges, post-it note pads, and other stationary. If your business would involve face to face interactions with clients, you may need to plan out special furnishings for the place.

Balance workspace and storage requirements – Typically, a home based office has a small space and you may feel cramped with only a few piece of furniture in the room. However, it is important to give it a professional look. So plan out an area good enough for storage (files, supplies, etc) and space to spread out and work. The general rule of thumb is that any files or supplies that you use frequently should be stored at a place where you can easily access them. Your goal should be to create an organized office space that meets all of your basic needs. It is good to maximize the layout of your home office space with the aim of promoting efficiency of operations foremost in the design. Make sure your things are arranged to help you function better.

Brighten up the space with proper lighting – Home office space should be away from disturbance and noise caused by activities at home. The space should ideally be in an area that gets plenty of natural light. For artificial lighting you can begin by providing general, overhead lights that fill most of the work area. After this, add ask lighting, desk lamps and floor lamps that can give concentrated lighting to your specific work area.

Use a dedicated phone line for your business – Less of overhead costs is one of the chief advantages of a home based business. But the initial savings from sharing a home phone line for your business may affect your business prospects adversely. Home phone is less professional and may cause clients to question the legitimacy of the business. A voice mail that receives messages from both family and business can confuse customers. You also run the risk of a child or any other family member answering the phone and this gives an impression that your business may not be genuine.

Segregate professional and personal life – While working from home you need to segregate your personal life from business life. By setting up a new bank account for your business, you can avoid mixing personal expenses with your business expenses. For further efficiency, store your personal checks, records and mail in an area separate from your office space. You would also have to work out tax payments and deductions separately for your business.

Computer Equipment for Home Office

Besides your PC or laptop, you need to have a printer, photo copier, scanner and fax machine for your home office. A multi functional machine that has all three facilities is an ideal and practical choice. Besides such hardware, you may also need to have a data back up system on your machine for the security of the data stored. Some USB drives should also be purchased to store data effectively.

Communications Equipment for Home Office

Maintaining ideal set of computer peripherals and communication devices is integral to the efficiency of your business. Telephone and Internet connection are basic requirements. As per the facilities in your area, the Internet connection can be broadband or dial up connection. If you prefer to work on a laptop and need flexible access to internet from anywhere in the house, a wi-fi router will be the right choice.

You do not need to have a formal employee handbook or a printed list of rules for your home office but determining a standard system of operations is essential. This involves everything from standardization of record keeping and payment of invoices to determining of work hours and planning of business trips. Keeping a few formal procedures in place for standard business functions ensures that your office stays really well organized and any information that you or your customers need can be easily accessed.  While setting up working hours for your office, it is good to keep standard hours – this makes it easier for clients to interact with you. If your business involves more of creative work and you do need to meet customers frequently, you may choose to work in the evening.

With a little discipline and ability to manage different aspects of a business independently, working from an office established at home can certainly bring in good returns!

About the Author:Frank Johnson is a regular editorial contributor on technology products and services and business operation tips that help small to mid size enterprises.  To know more about setting up a home office you may interact with him here

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