It gives me great pleasure to introduce Kaitlin Krull to you. Kaitlin is a writer and mom of two girls living the expat life in the UK. She enjoys writing for Modernize.com with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on eco-friendly home projects with confidence. Kaitlin wrote a cool new post for our blog today. Hope you enjoy it!
Making the decision to work from home is a difficult one for most freelancers and small business owners. It can be tough negotiating the potential pitfalls of working outside of traditional corporate office buildings—including lack of space and materials, skewed work/home balances, and low productivity levels. Thankfully, we at Modernize think that you can overcome these hurdles and create a stellar home office that suits your needs and maximizes productivity at the same time. Here are just a few of the benefits of working from home, and how we think you can turn your at-home office into a super-efficient business machine without even stepping out of your front door.
Draw a Line Between Work and Home Life
One of the most important elements of working from home is establishing a clear boundary between your workspace and the rest of your home. Start by finding an appropriate place in the house for your office. Ideally, a converted spare bedroom, backyard shed, or other unused room where you can work in private works best for a home office. If this is not possible in your home, find a quiet place with little or no through traffic where you can set up your desk and storage area.
After you’ve found the best possible space for your home office, set your own work hours, break times, and office rules. By mimicking the office environment as much as possible, you can significantly increase your productivity and reliability during working hours. If it helps, close the office door and put up a “do not disturb” sign when you are at work.
Finally, make your office rules and boundaries clear to the rest of your family by sitting down and having a chat about what you hope to achieve with your new work-at-home regime. Privacy, working hours, and respect are all important topics that, when discussed frankly, will help you to get the most out of your home office.
Limit Distractions from Coworkers and Other Commercial Office Noise
Although distractions in your home office will still be present, there are significant benefits to working from home as opposed to working in a traditional commercial setting.
Having the freedom to keep your office space exactly as you like it and minimizing outside distraction is one of the great upsides to working from home. Whether you prefer silence, ambient noise, or loud music, a well-suited home office will neither distract you from your work nor bother co-workers or other employees. Just remember to keep your office’s noise levels within reasonable volumes, because productivity will slip if the environment is too loud.
Freedom to Organize Your Work Space to Best Suit You and Your Business
Many small business owners and freelance employees choose to work at home because home offices provide a kind of freedom that commercial spaces just can’t.
When you organize your home office, you can spread out independently around the room, using a variety of work spaces and organizational techniques in order to maximize your efficiency. This is especially beneficial for people with small businesses that involve crafting, merchandise, and other forms of e-commerce.
Choose a large desk with a computer and/or tablet that works for you and your business’s needs in order to complete social media, web design work, and correspondence. Storage space for your documents, paperwork, and other supplies is a must as well.
Finally, your home office can also house additional shelving or desks for creative projects, models, and any additional work space you and your business require. The obvious bonus to all of this freedom is that, since you work from home, there is no need to share or compromise on space!
Choose Office Furniture and Appliances for Your Own Comfort and Needs
Uncomfortable office furniture and lack of appropriate materials and supplies can be detrimental to productivity, but if you work from home you can cut out the office middleman and be your own supplier.
Start by choosing furniture that suits your particular office needs and desires, selecting pieces that will maximize your work output. A large desk, computer, tablet, safe for money storage, storage units, and a comfortable chair will cost you initially, but you can score deals on office furniture by searching nearly-new sale sites and finding sales in office supply stores. Your initial monetary output will also be worth it when your bespoke space gives you better productivity than any commercial space could provide.
If your business or work relies heavily on materials and supplies, working from home also means that you can source and purchase these kinds of items exactly when you need them and in the quantity you desire. Always remember to stay mindful of your budget and keep track of spending levels, of course!
While working from home can be tough on productivity, having your office on your doorstep means wasting no time commuting to work. This is, of course, a positive for your small business, but convenience also comes at a price.
Having an at-home office without an appropriate work/life balance can actually be detrimental to efficiency. Too much time spent in the office and a balance tipped towards your business harms your family relationships, which in turn affects your working hours as well. The same goes for too little time in the office, of course, because what is the point of having an office if you never use it? Find a happy medium and you will see a dramatic increase in your efficiency at work.
Contour Your Environment Without Worrying About How Others Feel
After you’ve determined the location and layout of your home office space, selected your furniture and appliances, and organized your work space, it’s time to make your office as productive as possible. Choosing the right lighting, temperature, music, and decorations are all important parts of office design, so finding the right combination is key here.
Natural lighting, or cool artificial light that mimics daylight, is best for productivity, so open the curtains and blinds or get shopping for cool colored (actually high temperature) bulbs like the ones typically used in commercial offices and retail stores.
Most people work best in cooler environments, as hot temperatures slow down our body’s natural rhythms and encourage sleepiness. Open the windows to let in the breeze, turn down the thermostat, or invest in a tabletop fan to keep your office temperature well regulated.
As discussed above, the right kind of ambient noise in the office varies from person to person. Choose the right kind and volume of music or sound for your own personal taste and, as with everything, find a happy medium that will keep you on track.
As far as decorations are concerned, remember that less is more. A few subtle and inspirational pieces of artwork and decor will make you feel happy and motivated whenever you step into your office, but too much clutter will overwhelm and distract you from your work.
Things to Remember
When all is said and done, you should be satisfied with your new, more productive home office, but there are a few final things you should remember when working from home.
Organization is key: both for your office and your calendar. Keep a place for everything and everything in its place and you can’t go wrong.
Keep it tidy: remember that regular cleaning and decluttering increases productivity.
Be strict with yourself: stay conscious of your work/home life divide and working hours, deadlines, tasks, and communication with suppliers/ clients/ coworkers/ employees.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help: from an accountant, payroll manager, administrator, cleaner, seamstress—you name it! Small businesses become big businesses by succeeding at the first few levels, and the natural progression of a successful business is to grow. Someday you may no longer be able to work from home, so make the most of it now and plan for a successful future!