What Are the Best Tips for Setting up an Office at Home?

K. Testa

There are several points to consider prior to setting up an office at home. First, one should decide on the specific purpose, location and basic layout of the home office space. Then, one can invest in furniture, computer equipment, and other hardware and software products. The next step might be to acquire standard office supplies and accessories. When planning one's home office, it often helps to include these expenditures in a budget, calculating any additional startup costs and anticipated long-term expenses.

A printer for a home office.
A printer for a home office.

When working at home, the purpose and location of the home office can help determine its design and layout. For example, someone who will be working at home alone might have different needs than someone with a business partner. In addition, many people meet with their clients or customers in their home offices, necessitating a dedicated space for conducting business. Identifying and addressing these variables can help determine the overall appearance of the home office space.

Filing cabinets are essential pieces of furniture in any home office environment.
Filing cabinets are essential pieces of furniture in any home office environment.

Typically, setting up an office at home is similar to having an office in a traditional business setting. Common furniture needs usually include basic pieces such as a desk, a chair, and possibly a large bookshelf for books and other items. Using a file cabinet, if space allows, can help organize paperwork that would otherwise clutter the area.

Desks and computer chairs are necessary home office furnishings.
Desks and computer chairs are necessary home office furnishings.

The equipment needed to set up an office at home generally consists of a computer, a phone, and a printer or copier. Depending on the type of business, a fax machine might be useful as well. When outfitting a home office, one should remember that the owner is responsible for most equipment repairs that might otherwise be handled by professional support staff members in a traditional office setting. As a result, investing in warranties is often recommended when setting up one's office at home.

A home office should have a desk with enough tabletop space to accommodate office accessories.
A home office should have a desk with enough tabletop space to accommodate office accessories.

After furnishing the home office with the basics, the next consideration might be office supplies and accessories. Comfort and functionality are usually important as well, so ergonomic factors, such as the desk position and the chair and monitor heights, should be considered. People with certain work styles might prefer to be surrounded by modern conveniences, with everything they need positioned within arm's reach. Others prefer to work with few distractions and choose to minimize clutter in their surroundings. At this stage, many people also choose to decorate their offices, depending on their individual budgets and personal tastes.

Headphones that are noise cancelling will come in handy in households with a lot of distractions.
Headphones that are noise cancelling will come in handy in households with a lot of distractions.

In addition to organizing the physical office space, setting up an office at home usually requires attention to other details, such as incidental expenses and payments for services. If one is self-employed, the initial planning stage should include the formation of a budget as well as a plan for keeping track of expenditures that might be "written off" as business expenses when computing one's taxes. In the case that someone is employed by a business but telecommutes from an office at home, he or she should consult the appropriate human resources staff members or fiscal officers with logistical questions related to working at home.

Home offices should be setup in a quiet space to promote productivity.
Home offices should be setup in a quiet space to promote productivity.
Photocopiers may be needed for a home office.
Photocopiers may be needed for a home office.
Calendars can help people working from home to stay organized.
Calendars can help people working from home to stay organized.
Individuals setting up a home office should keep plenty of copy paper on hand.
Individuals setting up a home office should keep plenty of copy paper on hand.
A wrist rest might be a good addition to a home office.
A wrist rest might be a good addition to a home office.
Pushpins may help with organization in a home office.
Pushpins may help with organization in a home office.
Vendors may offer discount office supplies to repeat customers.
Vendors may offer discount office supplies to repeat customers.
A clock should be easily visible in a home office so the worker can keep track of time.
A clock should be easily visible in a home office so the worker can keep track of time.
Many home offices utilize a bookshelf for organization.
Many home offices utilize a bookshelf for organization.

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