your home office
Home offices have left
the basement. The Small Business Administration
reports that more than half of the nation's
small businesses are home based. U.S. Department
of Labor numbers show 20 million people now
work at home. Add to that millions more occasional
telecommuters, and the home office becomes
an important part of even the smallest apartment.
It doesn't matter whether the
home office is used for paying bills, doing
homework, scheduling the family or running
your business, some basic things are in order
for an office to work exactly how you need
it. Obviously, a computer, monitor, printer,
fax machine, Internet connection, a work space
(counter or desk) and a chair. Some home offices
add a copier.
Before you decide to create a home office, whether by yourself or with the help of an interior designer, you must identify the space you want for the home office. Is it a separate room? A large closet? An area off the kitchen? (Consult your tax expert. If you plan to deduct, the IRS has specific rules on space and use.) It is also important that you make a list of all the items you will need to work comfortably and efficiently -- the right technology, lighting, telephone, window coverings, a workstation, bookcases and the type of flooring you want. You will need a place to keep files for taxes, monthly bills, and for running your business. Your work surface is very important, so decide how much space you need as well as the type of chair you want to sit in.
It's also important to recognize
your own personality. Do you fill up every
inch of space and drawers with letters, papers
or magazines? If you do, consider separate
baskets or containers, such as in-baskets
and out-baskets. Do you keep a to-do list?
If so, where do you want to keep it, in a
computer program, on the calendar or on a
bulletin board behind the computer monitor.
Some people want information at their fingertips,
while others are willing to make more of an
effort to look for it.
"You have to anticipate today's technology
as well as tomorrow's technology," says
designer Deborah Reinhart of Design Odyssey
in Wilmette, Ill. Lighting is very important
to a home office. Standard home lighting isn't
sufficient. Instead of placing lamps everywhere,
an office needs task lighting, which has a
narrower beam and a brighter light with less
reflection. People on a budget can find these
lights in many home improvement stores.
The second key element is determining
the window treatment. High-budget home offices
can have a remote control to raise or lower
shades. Inexpensive window treatments can
consist of horizontal blinds in faux or real
wood. Reinhart says that faux wood blinds
give the very best light control. If the sun
goes up or down, just tilt the blind to get
light without glare. "It is very important
to cut the reflection on the monitor while
you are working," she says.