A home office is a room or section of a residential residence that is used to conduct business. The space may be solely dedicated to carrying business transactions or serve multiple purposes. It commonly provides space and equipment for one to ten employees.
Prior to the industrial revolution of the 19th century, most people employed as professionals or service providers operated out of home offices. At the time, there were no office buildings or business parks designated as spaces for people to conduct business. The local doctor typically had a desk and a file cabinet set up in a private room at home, usually with an adjacent examination room. Attorneys, trade merchants and other prevalent business persons of the time traditionally conducted businesses from home offices.
Around the time that factories were springing up in most of the world’s industrialized nations, the concept of commercial office buildings was developed. Just as the blue-collar workers needed a place to congregate and be more productive as a group, the executives who ran the financial and logistical side of commerce found it more advantageous to work in offices located in one place rather than scattered throughout a region.
The next few decades spawned high rises and complexes dedicated to providing office space for the growing numbers of white-collar workers. Some professionals still maintained offices at home, but they were generally used only occasionally to process overflow work on nights and weekends. Home offices became less common.
When large, mainframe computers became a major part of businesses, the trend began to change. Office computers led to the development of personal computers. Soon most households had one or more personal computers and working at home started to once again gain popularity.
Today, having a home office is almost commonplace. Entrepreneurship and personally owned home businesses have experienced significant growth in recent years. Small business owners frequently find a home office adequate to meet their needs and eliminate paying for external office space. Large companies often permit employees to work from a home office.
A home office generally has all the amenities associated with an office in a corporate setting. Besides having a computer or network of computers, the office normally has dedicated business and fax phone lines, photocopying equipment and package and mail services that offer free pick up and delivery. For business people affiliated with large companies, a home office computer frequently has specialized software to accommodate online teleconferencing and 24-hour accessibility to corporate resources.