Tips on how to create & maintain a home office, that is efficient & stress free.
Updated: Feb 24
People also ask:
How do I create a workspace at home?
What do you need for a home office?
How can I make my home office look professional?
How has the working environment changed?
More than 1.54 million people now work from home for their main job - up from 884,000 ten years ago, according to the ONS Labour Force Survey. In addition, many people have flexible working arrangements whereby they work from home 1 or 2 days per week. This can be good for a person’s overall wellbeing, as it reduces the challenges of a long commute which some people have to contend with, can also provide time for focused uninterrupted work.
As a direct result of the above factors, people are finding the need to create a home office space to cater for both their work & household requirements.
Where to start
The good news is that a home office does not need to occupy a large amount of space, if carefully thought through.
The image above is my entire office space for managing both my business & household work. It occupies a total floor space of 175cms x 49cms. The advantages of digitisation, are that we no longer need to keep reems of actual paperwork, which is a great space saver & also good for the environment.
What you will need to get started:
If you are starting from scratch
· Natural Lighting is always preferable
· Choose a colour scheme that appeals to you
· A space saving desk + comfortable desk chair
· A good desk lamp for evening work.
· High-Speed Internet Access
· Network Router
· Printer/Scanner/copier or Multipurpose Machine
· Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
· Wall shelving &/or a filing cabinet
· Systemised paperwork & digital filing systems
In my home office the shelf above the desk holds the files that relate to my home. All files are divided into alphabetical labelled sections:
File No.1 - contains Instructions/guarantees for all the key household items, such as fridge & washing machine etc.
File No. 2 - contains anything related to health.
File No. 3 - contains all paperwork related to my personal annual tax return.
File No. 4 - contains all bank & financial statements from past years. More recent ones are now held digitally.
File No. 5 - contains all my Utility bills, council tax, home insurance papers etc.
File No. 6 - is currently a spare empty one.
The filing cabinet below the desk is fireproof, has two drawers and a lock.
· The top drawer is for business paperwork. Under GDPR rules, any paperwork to do with business clients must be kept under lock & key. The drawer contains alphabetically labelled drop-down files, and is also used to store my client book, which I use on home visits to make notes related to a client, their home & the job in hand.
· The bottom drawer is for personal paperwork, again with alphabetically labelled drop-down files.
The red chest of drawers:
· On the top is a printer, photocopier & scanner which is connected to the internet and thus can be accessed from any room in my home. The model I have is a:
HP ENVY 5530
· It is managed by HP Connected and is very cost effective. I currently pay £3.49 per month for 100 printed pages. It also prints on both sides of the paper. The price includes free ink cartridges, as well as free returns of used cartridges for recycling, so all in all, it is pretty efficient & cost effective.
· Three of the drawers contain all my stationery items, plus printer paper, spare notepads & business cards.
· The three remaining drawers contain personal non-related office items.
My office is situated at the end of my spare bedroom. The desk slides up against the wall to create more space, if I have a house guest and need to use the room as a bedroom. The rest of the room is shown in the image below:
You can see a wall mounted desk option here but if you simply search the phrase 'space saving desk options', there are a lot of choices online.
I can help with home office design to create something effective in the chosen space in your home. As illustrated by my home office, it does not need to take up a lot of space!
Today much of our filing can be done digitally, however this also needs to be managed efficiently. Below is an image of my laptop desktop screen:
On my desktop I have 3 folders:
· Pleasant Homes Folder - holds all my digital business files
· General Folder - holds all my personal digital files
· 'To Do' Folder - holds articles, presentations etc. that I am still working on.
I share this, as it is equally important to be ordered about how we organise our digital files. As with paperwork, we need to maintain it on a regular basis. Just as my paperwork filing is systemised, so too is my digital filing:
· Within each of my desktop folders listed above, are alphabetically listed folders.
· At the end of each day, I file away any items that I have finished using, or place them into trash, if I no longer need them.
· Each morning as well as checking both my business & personal emails, I also check my 'To Do' folder & delete the items in both the junk & trash boxes for security purposes (see below for why).
It is a very simple system, but it works. Just as I can locate any of my paperwork easily, it is the same with locating any digital files.
I have seen some horrendously cluttered desktops, similar to the image below:
The problem with a desktop like this, is that when you save something to it, it is very difficult to locate....... this leads to stress & time wasted in searching for the item, just like rummaging through a disorganised pile of papers, such as in the image below:
How do I minimise the risks of being hacked?
A number of years ago I was hacked via my Sainsbury's online shopping account:
· It was a Bank Holiday & purely by chance I saw an email come in to confirm an order. Just as quickly as it had arrived, it disappeared from sight. I had however seen the delivery address & postcode. The order was for £346.00 and mainly for expensive alcohol such as brandy....!
· I notified Sainsbury's, the police and cancelled my card with the bank immediately.
· The police & my bank (First Direct) were fantastic, but Sainsbury's was woefully inadequate. I closed the Sainsbury's account, & changed all the passwords for my bank.
· It is advisable to regularly update your passwords and to make them as strong as possible.
· First Direct also advised me that hackers can hack you via the junk/spam/trash boxes. They told me to delete both the junk & trash on a daily basis. I have done this religiously since then (NB: before you delete the messages, scroll through 1st to make sure that there not any emails in the junk ox which should not be. Simply mark them as 'not junk' and they will be moved to your 'in box').
· This is an invaluable piece of information, so please do pass it on.
Finally, if you already have a home office, but it is cluttered, difficult to manage and thus stressful you need to:
1. Make a decision to declutter and get rid of paperwork that you no longer need. do this securely by either shredding or removing your address details. While the latter may take longer, it is more environmentally friendly, as currently shredded paper cannot be recycled!
2. Hold as much information as possible digitally.
3. Create simple filing systems that work for you.
4. Maintain them rigorously by doing daily filing and desk clearing.
We are not all naturally organised, so If that applies to you, give yourself a break & get a Professional Organiser like myself, to work with you to get started and help design your office space, or to refine and reorganise an existing home office space.
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THE WAY FORWARD = DECISION - ACTION - MAINTENANCE
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07775 728447 if you have any questions