Do you have a home office or alternatively, are you intending to set one up soon? Here we discuss various tips for organising your home office for peak performance along with suggestions on how to go about choosing your desk, chair, lighting, computer and even what decorations to consider! Make your workstation the best it can be to accelerate your productivity while working from home.
1. Tips For Organising A Home Office
Working at home as a virtual assistant, freelancer or online service provider offers a great deal of ease and flexibility with scheduling. While sitting on the couch in pyjamas to work might be tempting, a home office provides the structure and quiet that a person needs to complete important tasks.
A Separate Space
Setting aside a spot in the home for the office is necessary. Individuals who have a spare bedroom may wish to consider allocating this area to their work tasks for peace and privacy. Even if an additional room is unavailable, securing a spot in a part of the bedroom or den will make do. The worker should have enough space for a computer, telephone and any other work-related materials. The other family members should know that this space is dedicated to work only.
Scrambling to find important documents or phone numbers in the middle of an office is unprofessional, and the same is true for those who work at home. Individuals must prioritise their documents and equipment. A computer desk with shelves or drawers on it is optimal since the individual will easily be able to access all of their work-related supplies. Having a phone near the computer also ensures that conference calls or order submissions don’t go awry.
If an entire room has been dedicated to the office, the individual should try to set up a couple of different workstations. For example, having both a coffee table and a love-seat near the computer allows the worker to move around a bit during the day. People who work from home might even wish to set up a computer on an elevated platform so they don’t have to sit all day – a bit of standing work can be great for variety!
Even if the work isn’t directly related to reading and writing, the worker likely has some sort of manual or supplementary material that he or she needs. Stocking the bookshelf with these most important items will help to ensure that everything is in the office. Furthermore, the worker can use these shelves or file cabinets to keep track of receipts, orders or other pieces of important information that are related to various clients. Of course, this bookcase will also serve as an element of decor for the office.
Decorating The Office
Just as people like to decorate their offices at work, individuals should have no qualms about adding a little bit of character to their work spaces at home. Photographs around the room or pretty elements of decor like mirrors and plants help to remind the individual that this space need not be one of stress and frustration. They have the ability to work from home and, therefore the ability to decorate the office in any style that they see fit.
Organising a home office is a task that requires some diligence and patience, but the effort will pay dividends for both the worker and his or her business.
2. What’s The Best Computer For Your Home Office?
For home office work as a virtual assistant or online service provider, the first basic choice is between an Apple (Mac) desktop or laptop. As portability isn’t always important and desktops are generally faster, have more storage capacity, allow for component updates and replacement of faulty parts more easily, desktops will usually offer better overall utility and value.
Most Mac internal components are the same as those of personal computers (PCs). Component definition and terminology are consistent, so essential information on key components applies to both groups. Apple offers desktop computers with entry, mid-range and high end components built in or which can be customised specifically for their computers. In Apple’s desktop range are the ultra-compact Mac mini, the all-in-one iMac and the Mac Pro desktop, which is a revolutionary cylinder shaped tower. Each of the three desktops has two to four base models which can be customised somewhat with components on the Apple website.
The Mac mini is a small (7.8 x 7.8 x 1.4 inches), portable desktop that suits those with limited space and low budgets. With its 2.5-inch laptop-sized hard drive, the mini isn’t as powerful as the iMac but can become a mini-powerhouse with special-order upgrades. The latest model customised can offer up to 16 gigabytes of memory instead of the standard 4, a very fast hybrid-style Fusion hard disk drive, four universal serial bus 3.0 ports, and a high-definition multimedia interface port that qualifies it as a media hub.
The all-in-one iMac, the most popular Mac desktop, is available in 21.5 and 27-inch screen sizes with keyboards and clickers – the magic mouse and trackpad. The latest models feature ultra-slim screens but no built-in optical drives. As Apple’s most versatile computers, iMacs are suitable for home and business users. Their super-slim all-in-one design allows only very limited user upgrades, so it’s best to specify the highest affordable configuration at the time of purchase. Users can install additional memory for the 27-inch but not the smaller model, which essentially cannot be upgraded at all after purchase. An optical drive, if needed, is an available option as the Apple Superdrive at extra cost.
The Mac Pro is the Apple counterpart of the PC tower. Although limited to Apple components, an extensive list of options allows considerable customisation. Mac Pros can be customised and upgraded far more easily than iMacs, for instance with faster processors, more memory, extra hard drives and even additional graphics chips. As a practical matter though, this capability is mainly for tech enthusiasts and multimedia professionals. While suitable for home as well as office use, for most users the Mac Pro offers marginal benefit over the iMac. In general, Mac Pros are for professionals who do extensive 3-dimensional work, graphics or video editing. Most consumers will probably do just as well with an iMac at a significantly lower price point.
Apple computers use OS X, their own operating system based on Unix. The current version OS X 10.9 is the Apple equivalent of Microsoft Windows 8. For many Windows programmes, there are now corresponding OS X versions, but of course in different file formats. Moreover, the bundled OS X programme Boot Camp enables installation of Windows in a separate partition on newer Macs, giving users the choice of either operating system far more cost-effectively than the alternative of a separate purchase of another PC for Windows. Also, if you find youÕre working in OS X on a daily basis and you need to use Windows simultaneously – if you’ve enough RAM installed – ideally 16GB or more for a seamless experience, you can even launch a programme called Parallels, which you can get at http://www.parallels.com/ to virtualise the Windows operating system.
3. 6 Tips For Lighting The Home Office
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of any office, but it’s particularly crucial for virtual assistants or other online service providers who work from home. Not only can the right lighting increase productivity and assist with reducing documentation errors, but through choosing carefully you can even find an option that will help stimulate brain function, keeping you awake and focussed.
So how should a virtual assistant go about choosing lighting for their home office? Here are a few tips from bulb to outlet.
Map The Space
Where will the lamps fit? Where can pendant lights hang? Will they require redecorating and rearranging the room, or will they accommodate the existing layout? Pay particular attention to incoming natural light from the windows. Sunrises can cast glares and reflect light on computer screens that haven’t been angled with due consideration.
Determine Energy Requirements
For small offices tucked away in the corner of a home, a few simple lights will be enough for efficiency. When it comes to larger or multipurpose rooms however, it’s wise to consider wattage. Is the room best decorated with an assortment of 40-watt bulbs or one large overhead light with 1800 lumens of power? How will all of this look on an electricity bill?
Pick A Theme
Many people report feeling happier and more satisfied with their workspace when it “flows.” Rather than haphazardly adding lights that may or may not complement what they already have, they prefer bringing everything together with a specific theme. For example, some people build themselves sleek chrome offices with florescent lights and geometric floor lamps. Others may use natural skylights or yellow-tinted shades to give their office a warm, comforting glow.
Choose The Right Bulbs
Stop wasting money on cheap bulbs that burn out quickly. Instead, invest in more energy-efficient compact florescent lights (CFLs) for illumination that will last years and shave a good percentage off monthly electric bills. Solar power is another option for the budget-minded worker; it’s even available for purchase through LED lights that absorb daytime rays and project them back once night falls.
Blue lights have been shown to improve cognitive function in the brain. Internal photo-receptors are stimulated by it, firing up neurones and increasing activity from one neurological pathway to the next. A few blue lights around the office can serve as an excellent jolt for workers who need a boost during late nights or post-lunch drowsiness.
Have Fun With Fixtures
What’s the use in escaping a cubicle when home office lighting reflects the same boring standard? Say goodbye to dull desk lamps and hello to the many different fixtures available through contemporary design. Light bars, for example, can liven up any bookcase or file cabinet; accent lighting across doors and windows will illuminate even the shadowiest corners; spotlights on the desk will ensure that no “i” is left un-dotted, so to speak! Not to mention wall sconces as well, which will add personality to the whole room.
Lighting an office isn’t like lighting other areas of the home. It takes thought, precision and commitment to create a worthwhile workspace, so use these tips as a guide for getting things done even from the comforts of home.
4. How To Choose The Best Chair For Your Home Office
Many people, especially those who work from home such as virtual assistants and online service providers in general, will spend a great deal of time sitting in their offices. Because of this, it’s critical to find the best chair available; something that’s literally just right for the individual in question. There are a number of different elements that need consideration when choosing a desk chair for any home office.
Height of the Chair
A chair should either be the perfect height for the person who’s going to be using it, meaning that it’s tall enough for a person to sit with his or her feet resting firmly on the ground, or its height should be adjustable. Most people will need a seat that’s between 16 inches and 21 inches off the floor. Obviously, the “sitting test” is the best place to start!
Width and Depth of the Seat
Another factor is how wide and deep the seat of the chair is. A standard office chair is between 17 inches and 20 inches wide. People who exceed these dimensions will need a larger chair, while those who are far below those dimensions could obviously use a smaller one. The depth of the chair should be enough for a person to sit with his or her back against the back of the chair with 2 inches to 4 inches of space between seat of the chair and the back of their knees. Once again, sit down and get a good feel for it!
Lower Back Support
Lumbar support, or lower back support, should always be a factor that’s considered when choosing a home office chair. Because the bottom of the spine is naturally curved, sitting for a long period of time without having this curve supported can be very harmful to a person’s spinal alignment and as a result, cause pain and general discomfort. Slouching tends to occur if adequate support isn’t provided. The best chairs should have a natural curve that will provide this support and can be adjusted to optimise the entire feel of the chair.
The backrest of a chair should be between 19 inches and 21 inches wide, with an adjustable curve. If the backrest and the seat are connected as one piece, it’s very important to be able to adjust the backrest separately in order to ensure maximum comfort and perfect support.
There ought to be enough material on the seat to provide a sufficient cushion on which a person will be able to sit for an extended period of time without becoming uncomfortable. In most cases cloth materials that don’t absorb sweat are preferred and also tend to be more comfortable than hard materials.
It’s critical that a person makes sure that the chair fits within his or her budget.
The last thing that should be considered are any prominent reviews associated with the chairs you’re considering. People who work from home, such as online service providers and virtual assistants, should read these reviews carefully to help them find the absolute best chair available.
5. How To Choose The Best Desk For Your Home Office
Working from home is a flexible way to earn a living. The right desk is obviously very important for a freelance writer or artist, virtual assistant, online service provider, or any other work-from-home professional. This is where a person ends up spending the bulk of their time. Thus, it’s important to consider everything from the size of the desk and design to its functionality. Investing in the right furniture for a home office increases productivity, happiness and efficiency.
Decide on the Desk’s Layout
First off, it’s important to choose where this desk is going. Some people work from their bedrooms whereas others have a specific home office set up. Professionals need to consider the room’s dimensions, accessibility to electrical outlets, and if it will be near windows. Smart people will avoid placing the desk too close to vents or other pieces of furniture. Also, it’s important to account for the desk chair’s dimensions and if the printer or filing cabinet will be close by. Once the perfect location has been identified, it’s time to measure the space!
Consider Office Needs
A virtual assistant may need space on the desk not only for a laptop or desktop but also for a phone, headset, writing surface and printer, among other items. The buyer’s profession and workspace requirements dictate the furniture’s specifications. For example, a writer may need a drawer for files whereas an online service provider may need a compartment for a printer, scanner or fax machine. People who balance different tasks may need an L-shaped desk whereas someone who only needs space for a computer can go with a streamlined workstation.
Design of the Desk
Aesthetics matter a lot when it comes to selecting office furniture. There’s a big difference between a light oak desk, a dark mahogany piece or a brightly painted option. Buyers need to think about whether they want a sleek metal desk, vintage piece or something more modern. The room’s decor can help guide this decision. There are glass-top options, wooden ones, plastic desks and classic wood materials to choose from. Exploring the options helps a professional choose the best desk for him or her.
Supplies and Accessories Matter
The best home office is fully equipped with pens, paper, paperclips and other necessary supplies. This helps people make the most of their workspace. A person’s profession and organisational style will help them decide if they need a lot of drawers or overhead storage or if underneath storage is more important. Some desks come with a locking file cabinet built into the furniture whereas others have holes for wires to help people keep their technology organised. It’s also important to keep in mind that adding shelves to a home office desk can often make a huge difference, overall.
Choosing a desk for a home office is an important decision. Smart professionals should carefully assess their work requirements, preferences and available space before shopping for office furniture of any kind. Put simply, the right desk only enhances a professional’s work, happiness, productivity and the results they achieve.