Whether you live in a castle. mansion, a flat, an apartment, a chalet, a split-level, a ranch or any other type of dwelling, for many, a small home office isn’t just a want, it’s a must. If you love to craft, want to write, coach others to greatness, launch an empire or just have a quiet space to reflect, a small space to call your own is just what you need.
It doesn’t matter if your small office space is a place to run a business, a small nook just for paying bills and organizing your day or the occasional telecommute, you deserve more than a hard metal folding chair and a cold metal desk stuffed in a cramped corner. Why? Your office design is a reflection of your home. It needs to be a comfortable and inviting place, a place where you’ll want to burn the midnight oil.
Here are 7 steps to help you design your small space.
1. Your budget
We’ve all heard the first rule of real estate; location, location, location, and that is true, but living and creating within your budget should top the list. Your budget will be your guide to setting up your own small office. Budget isn’t a bad word. Budgets force creativity and that’s where your own unique piece of small office real estate will shine. It won’t be cookie cutter. It will be your own.
2. Location, location, Location
The location of your small office is an important decision, one to consider carefully.
It’s likely that you’ll spend many hours in your home office, so make sure you have adequate space. Don’t stuff your yourself into a windowless closet or a dank basement. Make it a place where you’ll look forward to spending time.
Before deciding where your office will be, make a detailed list of your basic needs. This is your must-haves, not wants, the basics that you will need. Your list should include first and foremost your office furniture: your desk, a chair, a computer, printer and a telephone, if needed. If you are a writer for example, you may need extra space to work on story boards or to edit your printed work. You also need to consider your filing system. Will you require basic or fire proof file cabinets? Will they need to be locked? Make your critical needs list according to how you plan to use your small office.
3. Your Small Office – Professional vs Personal
When you work from home, it is important to keep the professional side of your work nd the personal side of your life separate. First, set up a business account with your local bank or credit union. Keep all receipts that can be used for business expenses such as travel, gas, supplies etc…in a safe place. Scan them as well, and have them on a back up system separate from your paper copies.
If possible, secure a separate area or room for your mail. Keeping your professional and personal life in different areas can really help alleviate headaches at tax time. Tax deductions for home business are under increased scrutiny and the clearer your records are and the easier you can prove that your office is a completely separate and dedicated area, the better in terms of meeting the IRS guidelines and definitions of a home office.
4. Small Office Equipment – Selecting the Right Furniture
First and foremost, your office equipment needs to be ergonomic. It’s a fancy word meaning designed for efficiency and comfort. And when designing your home office, big or small, the right equipment is essential. It’s sad but true, that it can be tempting to skimp on that which is most important-key equipment- and splurge on impulse or unnecessary items, such as an old-fashioned gum ball machine that reminds you of days gone by.
Although things like that are nice, the money is better spent on a quality desk with a proper work space and a comfortable chair that will provide back the correct back support and a good computer with sufficient memory and performance, a fast, reliable internet connection and other specialized products that are key to your performance in your area of expertise.
Other things to consider when searching for items for your small office are your day-to-day activities and how you will use the furniture. Things to consider before purchasing your office equipment:
Do you need a desk with built in storage? Do you need deep drawers to store files or just standard drawers for small office supplies such as pens, notepads, sticky notes and paper clips?
What type of shelving do you need? Will they hold knickknacks or your printer and office supplies? Do they need depth? How deep will the shelves need to be to accommodate your needs?
If using your shelves for electronics, is there an electrical outlet close by to plug your equipment into?
Will you be conducting meetings? Will additional seating be required?
Does your desk need to be able to hold just a laptop or will you need room to review product samples, charts or blueprints? Will you need an additional table to make your work easier?
These are but a few of the questions to ask yourself before purchasing your office equipment and supplies. As you decide where your office will be and what you will do there, more questions will arise that will help you decide how to build out your unique office space.
5. Small Office Lighting – The Right Way
Lighting is critically important when considering where to place your small office. Be sure to choose a space that allows plenty of natural light. It’s not only better for your eyes, but it will also help boost your mood. Direct lighting can also enhance your works pace. General overhead lights that fit most of the work area are optimal. There’s also task lighting such as desk lamps, swing lamps and floor lamps, just to name a few.
Finally, no matter the lighting you choose, make sure that your computer screen is positioned to prevent glare, the object being to create balanced lighting that is comfortable and minimizes undue eye strain.
6. Small Office Organization – The Basics
Often times, a home office can feel cramped due to limited amounts of space, but proper organization is essential to maintaining a professional office. A well planned works pace will include a few key elements. Plenty of room for storage (files, supplies, etc.), an ample work area and easy access to your office essentials. A general rule of thumb is that anything that you use frequently such as the printer, supplies and other materials, need to be within easy reach. Again the overall goal is to create and organized and comfortable office space that meets all of your basic needs and allows for functional efficiency.
7. Small Office Inspiration – Uniquely You
So moves you? Do quotes get you going? Do you like summer, winter, spring or fall? What are your favorite things?
It’s your office create it the way you like it. It is your space and you will be spending a lot of time there, so pick things that motivate and challenge you, images that move you. Surround yourself with them.
Do you have a special collection hidden away that’s begging to get out? Or how about trinkets and prizes from contests, parties and other special occasions that you want to remember? These are but a few of the many ideas that can make your office your inspiration, your place that is uniquely you.
No matter where you live or what type of place you call home, a small office (or any kind of office space) should be comfortable, organized and a place to get things done. Use these 7 steps to get a head start on your small office ready for business!