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Setting Up a Home Office That Is Ergonomically Designed
According to The Success Factory International, “America is in the midst of a remarkable transformation in the workplace … the home-based business phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down … the number of US households that having a home-based business currently exceeds 12%.”
IDC (a leading national research company) claims that there are between 34.3 million to 36.6 million home office households in the US alone!
It is said that every 11 seconds, someone starts a home-based business.
In the 1990s, buyers of new homes rarely listed a “home office” among their requirements. In 2006, however, it was high on the list. If your guest bedroom or in-law apartment is designated as a dual-role of “home office”, you will increase the ‘desirability factor’ of your home many times over.
Now that they can link corporate branches around the world through IT, employers save overhead by allowing staff to work from home. And it seems to be working (pardon the pun).
Adding to the growing number of home offices, we now have a nation of “Baby-Boomers”, most of whom are at their peak of health and productivity, and show no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, many enjoy “re-births” as entrepreneurs, putting their many years of experience in various fields to work in new, creative ways. And yes, they, too, work from home.
Life has really changed, and this time, for the better!
Working at home brings great joy. We all function better in a beautiful, organized workspace. Productivity improves when the atmosphere is conducive to concentration.
In your own private office space the scissors stay where you left them. There is usually an uninterrupted silence, which allows work to be completed in a fraction of the time it takes in the chaotic, communal atmosphere of many offices.
Planning a functional, ergonomically sound and efficient workspace/office in your home only requires a little “home-work” on your part. This is your chance to marry beauty with function so you’ll want to spend more (quality) time at work. A well-designed workspace pays huge dividends on many levels. It’s worth spending a little extra time thinking it through.
Your home office is personal and specific to your profession, to your individual needs. Planning your space is not a “one-size-fits-all” project, and it needs your input.
The following is a general guide to get you started planning your “Dream Office”.
Once you have completed the necessary “scoping”, you can leave everything to a professional interior designer or space planner. But you need to do some hard thinking first so you can give your “pro” a “wish list” of your personal needs.
Sit down with paper and pencil and make a “punch list” of:
1. Type of Equipment Your Work Needs, such as personal computer, printer, FAX Machine, answering machine, telephone, copier, desk (how big? Do you need space to spread out?), desk lamp ( using overhead recessed lights for general lighting but have a desk lamp on your desk for close work – besides, lamps are friendlier), corkboard or whiteboard, conference table with chairs ( how many?), desk seat, stone seat (for thinking by the window?), bookcase ( s), file cabinet(s), wardrobe(s), work table.
These are suggestions only. You fill out this list based on your needs.
2. Things That Make Your Workday More Fun, such as:
• Music (Sound equipment?)
• Beautiful scenery
• Color (What color(s) do you want to see every day?)
• Comfort (Tip: A GOOD desk chair is #1 in importance!)
• A small refrigerator?
• A rebounder (for intermittent workouts?)
• A fully organized filing system? With room to grow?
• Too many work surfaces to allow work-in-progress to be abandoned?
• Smart use of overhead space? (This one isn’t always possible… how high are your ceilings?
Again, this is YOUR list. You put what makes you happy.
3. Next, write a thoughtful critique of your previous office space. List what you like about it, and more importantly, what you don’t like. How would you improve it if you could? Consider light, working space, flow, storage facilities, comfort, aesthetics.
For example, there is an office planning guide that specifies one 4-drawer file cabinet per person, per year. Is that a guide that works for you?
These are just a few of the details you’ll want to consider as you begin your planning. When setting up a home office, you will definitely think of other ideas that fit your work style and personality.
4. Now that you have a pretty good sense of what you want from your home office, we must look at the space itself and start working with it.
On another sheet of paper, answer these questions:
• What is the shape of the room?
• How many square feet do you have?
• Will this room be air-conditioned in the summer? Central air? Window model?
• Is there a window suitable for installing the window model A/C?
• How many windows are there? What direction are they facing? Is the room naturally warm or cool?
• Is there enough natural light in this room?
• Where are the electrical outlets located? How many are there? You need more amps (15 or 20) in a separate circuit.
• Should you install the above with a grounded plug?
• Where are the phone jacks? Do you need to install one?
• Do you need to install cable for PC, phone, TV?
• Where are the heating vents or radiators?
• Do you need a separate client login? If so, does it already exist, or do you need to install one?
• Is this room away from noisy areas in your home?
• Is your orientation right-handed or left-handed? Your answer will influence the placement of your desk, phone, and many other devices.
• Is there close access to the bathroom?
• Is there already wiring for overhead lighting? (Convert a central light fixture into some recessed cans!)
5. Make a Quick “Thumbnail” Sketch of the shape of the room, indicating the location of the door(s), window(s), cupboard(s), and radiator(s). Measure the total length and width of the room, then go back and measure the perimeter of the room, starting at the door (write down the width of the door), then move clockwise around the room… door to corner, corner of the window, window width, corner window, etc, etc, in the whole room. You can transfer these measurements to 1/4″ scale graph paper if you like, but otherwise, just bring this sketch with you when you shop for your furniture, or just ask your designer to measure and make a scale drawing for you. .
If you do it yourself, there will be a lot of measuring to make sure everything fits correctly. So bring your measuring tape when you shop!
Congratulations, you now have a comprehensive guide that will serve you well in the design of your new office!
Make several copies of the room sketch, and use them to start blocking out a general layout that you think you want. In your sketch, pencil on your desk, computer, printer, etc., wherever you think it will work best for you. Be mindful of sizes. In my work as a designer I often try many layouts until I find the best one. Sometimes a room offers only one practical layout. Sometimes there are two good ones. Trial and error will help you find the best solution for you.
Be patient and use your imagination. Imagine yourself working in a perfect situation, and note where everything is placed in your “daydream”.
Color For Your Home Office
You didn’t think I could forget the color, did you? This is the most exciting part of your home office! After all, in a corporate setting everything tends to be “blah” and office-like. Here’s your chance to go out and really create YOUR own environment, no need to please anyone but yourself.
Now, if you want a “blah” color, that’s fine.
But if you want the sun to come out all winter, consider orange juice colored walls.
If you’re a nature lover, maybe a soft shade of sage-y green will make you feel like you’re working in a sylvan glade every day.
Maybe a soft shade of robin’s egg blue is your thing, or sandalwood, or taupe.
Just remember that you will be spending a lot of time here, and you want to feel GOOD in this environment. Avoid colors that are too dark. Paint moldings Linen White from Benjamin Moore. It’s a beautiful, creamy white, and works with every color.
Try several colors before you settle on one. For more help with this, see the article about paint colors in the SHOPSICLE Tips and Articles section.
Before moving your cabinets, tables, files, etc., patch, prime, and paint the walls, install wall-to-wall carpet (it’s soundproof and it’s comfortable for the feet), and have any electrical or wiring work.
Personalize your space even more by hanging art or photos that feed your soul.
Setting up a home office is an enjoyable experience. You are about to embark on a dynamic new journey, a new chapter in your professional life.
When the office is fully installed, be sure to break out the flowers and champagne to launch a beautiful new season.
May you and your business live and prosper!
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