Setting Up A Productive Home Office

Remote work looks increasingly attractive in an age of video conferencing and cloud storage. In 2016, 43 percent of Americans reported working remotely on occasion, with many working from home at least four days per week. But while telecommuting is more popular than ever, many people lack the dedicated space and equipment needed to achieve peak productivity. A home office, while challenging to set up, could spell the difference between professional success and constant procrastination.

Not sure how to get started? You're certainly not alone. Keep these key considerations in mind as you establish a functional, yet attractive home office.

Choose the Right Home Office Location

Arguably, the most important factor in your quest for a productive home office: location. Your office could be equipped with the most sophisticated furniture and the fastest computer, but it won't matter if you're constantly distracted by loud noises or the temptation to procrastinate.

First: choose the right room. The largest room in your home isn't necessarily the best. And don't settle for whichever room happens to be empty — depending on your circumstances, rearranging could prove valuable in the long run.

Consider traffic flow; will spouses, children or roommates consistently wander past your office? Can you handle noise from other residents? If not, choose the quietest, most tucked-away room possible. If, however, you regularly meet with clients at home, aim for an easily-accessible room that provides ample space for productive consultations.

Invest in the Quality Equipment

Don't skimp on technological tools. Your computer and internet connection should be fast and reliable, especially if you intend to download large files or use video conferencing. Other equipment, however, is negotiable. How often do you really make copies? Is your tablet a business tool, or a source of distraction?

Don't Forget About Lighting

The American Optometric Association reports that American employees spend an average of seven hours staring at computer screens per day. As a busy freelancer, small business owner or remote worker, seven hours probably seems laughably short. No matter how much screen time occupies your day, you need correct lighting to minimize glare-induced squinting.

Ideally, windows or recessed light fixtures should be positioned alongside your desk and computer — not in front of or behind your workstation. Feel free to include a supplemental desk lamp, but don't shine it directly at your computer; this will only increase glare. Instead, reserve lamps for paperwork and other non-screen activities.

Incorporate Personal Style

There's a difference between distraction-free and bland. Your home office doesn't need to be a soulless cubicle; this is your opportunity to infuse your workspace with warmth and style. Personal touches such as paintings, awards or cherished photos can relax, inspire or energize you.

Set Up a Dedicated Phone Line

Your smartphone is your map, your camera, and your connection to the outside world. As a business owner, however, you need something a little more permanent. A dedicated phone line provides much-needed separation between your personal and professional life. Equipped with a business line, you need never worry about busy signals or dropped calls. If possible, make your home office a no cell phone zone. This will prevent you from checking your text messages or Snapchat Stories.

Don't be afraid to play with your office's layout or design. Like any room in your home, this space will evolve with time. Assess your workspace regularly to determine whether it meets your needs, or whether a few small tweaks could spur professional success.

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