5 Home Office Essentials
by Niall Roche
Once you've settled into the idea of running a business from home you need to make a choice. What type of office setup do you need? It's beyond the scope of this article to detail each and every item required for the perfect home office. Instead we will focus on hints and tips for creating a more ideal home working environment:
Those newspaper ads always prompted you to "start a business from your kitchen table". While this works well in newspaper adverts it's not nearly as practical in real life. A good home office desk is a basic requirement and should be quite basic. Avoid desks with keyboard trays and nooks and crannies spread all over it - this just gives you more places to lose things. The ideal home office desk will have a large, flat working area, at least one deep drawer for files and preferrably be L-shaped to allow for a more ergonomic home working environment.
Anybody running an online or other business from home is going to spend a considerable amount of time sitting down. It's absolutely critical that you have a good office chair. Many people make the mistake of using a kitchen or spare household chair as the chair for their home office. This is a bad idea because using an insufficient chair can and will lead to lower back and shoulder pain and also looks unprofessional. The ideal home office chair has the following features:
* Adjustable backrest
* Swivel base
* Adjustable armrest
* Deep cushioned seat
A great home office chair can be purchased for as little as $60 brand new. The moral of the story is - don't skimp on your home office chair.
There are 3 key factors to having a suitable home working environment. Noise, Light and Heat.
Noise - excessive noise (above say 45 decibels or a really loud office fan) is counter productive to your work. You'll have trouble focusing on anything or thinking clearly for more than a few minutes. Your home office space needs to be as quiet as you need it to be. So avoid using laundry rooms or other areas with excessively noisy equipment.
Light - the light in your home office needs to be controlled. Too bright and it will produce glare on computer screens and documents. Too dim and it will cause eyestrain. Natural light is ideal because it gives diffuse (soft) light. To achieve diffuse lighting at nighttime set up your desk lamp off to one side of your desk. Adjust it until you have enough light to read conformtably.
Heat - this is simple. Your work space should be neither too hot nor too cold. Any extremes of temperature in your home office will lead to decreased work performance. Room temperature is 37 degrees celsius so aim for something in that region.
There's no need for your home office to be sterile and boring. Plants are one healthy addition. The colour green has a positive affect on our way of thinking and the fact that plants will filter out the toxins in the air around you is another plus.
Also consider using some motivational posters in your home office. This might seem a bit cheesy but if you choose a message that inspires you personally it can be very effective.
Last but not least consider having your mission statement printed out, framed and on your desk in front of you. Your mission statement is the reason you started your home business - make sure you are reminded of this every single day.
This is where you need to be very honest with yourself because of the potential expense involved. A home office does not need an all singing all dancing computer and printer. You need functionality and not tons of features. Buy what you need for your business. Do not buy what you want for yourself.
When buying your home office computer take these tips into consideration:
* Mid-range processor power.
* 512MB of RAM.
* 20GB+ hard disk.
* Advanced 3D graphical capabilities are not essential.
* CDR or DVDR backup (must have).
* Avoid extended warranties - sales people make large commissions from offering these.
* Generic brands use the same components as and are therefore equally as reliable as the big name brands.
* Consider buying a refurbished system if you're on a tight budget.
* Check with friends who have purchased computers recently. What problems did they encounter when buying their PC? Who did they buy from? What was the aftersales service like?
Printer - you don't need a top of the range color laserjet printer for your home office do you? I didn't think so. Questions you should ask yourself when buying a printer:
* Do you need color printing capabilities?
* How many pages per minute do you actually need to print?
* What is the cost per page for color and black printing?
* How much does replacement ink cost?
* How many pages of black text can you get from each cartridge?
* How much desktop space will the printer require?
* Are updated drivers for this model readily available?
Niall Roche has worked many jobs over the years. Everything from working in a shop selling third world goods to managing a large computer retail outlet in my hometown. His most recent stint with corporate life was as a customer services trainer for a large American multinational.
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