There are plenty of great reasons to set up a home office. It’s convenient, inexpensive, and for many “virtual workers,” a home office is really just a place to connect to their digital worksite.
Whether you own a home-based business, manage an e-commerce site, or simply need a place to handle the managerial duties of your off-site business, establishing a home office not only cuts your commute down to zero, it can help you balance your personal life and your work obligations.
Don’t forget that although work is a necessity, working from home is a luxury.
But as your business expands, you might begin to feel a little cramped in your home office. If, for instance, your “office” is little more than a desk packed into one corner of your living room, then it won’t be long before your freelance life—printers, paperwork, contracts, and file cabinets—begins to invade your personal space.
In the end, it is important to remember that your home is just that: it’s where you live, not an office, and it’s set up to accommodate your personal life. Don’t forget that although work is a necessity, working from home is a luxury. You need to protect your private life and professional life by maintaining a healthy distance between the two. Here are some tips to help guide you as you grow.
1. Designate an Office Space and Stick to it
Clear out the guest room, clean up the basement, empty the garage—now that your business is growing, you need a dedicated office space, not just a desk in the den. Wherever you set up your office, make sure that you erect a mental divider: inside the office zone, you are “at work.”
If you want to waste time on the Internet, or make a personal phone call, then get up and leave the office. This will help you distinguish between your personal life and your professional life, and it will prevent you from getting distracted during your work day.
2. Establish a Meeting Place Outside of Your Office
I like to think of it as the “satellite office:” Choose a second location, such as a coffee shop, library, or a co-working space that rents offices by the hour, to use for meeting with clients. There is nothing wrong with working from home, but a client might feel uncomfortable discussing business in your living room—it’s a little too personal.
A dedicated satellite space should feel comfortable, but professional. Make sure to go there a few times by yourself so that you know what to expect when you take a client there.
3. Establish a Separate Phone Number and Email Address for Your Business
Sometimes, making your home office more efficient is just a matter of keeping your personal life out of it. By setting up a separate telephone number and email contact for your business, you can more or less ensure that when you are “at work,” you will only need to think about your business.
Many smartphones allow you to host multiple numbers on a single device, just make sure that you set your phone to “ignore” calls on your personal line during working hours.
4. When in Doubt, Move Out
If working from home has become a burden, then it might be time to think about moving out and setting up a dedicated office space. A lot of freelancers set up shop at Starbucks, but there are other options for business owners who prefer to have more peace and quiet.
Get online and see if there are co-working spaces available in your area. For many solopreneurs a co-working space offers an ideal solution: you get privacy, a kick in the pants (everybody else is working, shouldn’t you?), inspiration, and convenience.
Co-working spaces typically provide a kitchen, conference rooms, Internet, printing facilities, and parking as part of your rent, so you can have all the amenities of an office without the hassle of co-workers and bosses bearing down on you.
If you plan ahead, then it may be possible to work from home indefinitely. But if you do need to get out of the house, then there are plenty of affordable options available to freelancers.