For a long time, earning a decent living meant daily commutes to a 9-to-5 job. But these days, more and more workers are drawing paychecks without joining the rat race, opting instead to engage in a home-based business or occupation.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans who worked at home rose by nearly two million, from about 9.5 million in 1999 to about 11.3 million in 2005. The figure is expected to rise, driven by the growth of the service and outsourcing sectors, availability of computers and laptops, access to broadband Internet, and technological advances.
But while being one’s own boss has many benefits including personal freedom, savings in travel and clothing, and reduced stress, it is not for everyone. The feeling of isolation and lack of a regular paycheck are a few of its setbacks. For professionals who believe these hurdles can be overcome, the first step is to establish a home office that is well-planned, organized, and efficient. Here are some home office basics.
Select the Site for a Home Office
A makeshift home office – the sofa or kitchen table – will not do. An improvised work station in high-traffic areas of the house will not be useful to an entrepreneur or freelancer who is really serious about putting up a home-based enterprise for the long haul.
Bring in Work Essentials
Now it’s time to bring in the furniture and equipment needed for the home office to hum efficiently. A work table of the correct height and a chair that provides solid back support can enable hours of working in comfort without posture problems.
For a small area, choose a table that has built-in drawers and shelves. Have shelving fitted on the wall to keep stuff off the floor. In addition to a computer or laptop, consider a multitasking printer that can fax, scan, and copy. Other furnishings a home office requires will depend on the particular work or business.
Install Proper Lighting and Ventilation
Windows and enough space will allow light in and air to circulate. Having adequate lighting can reduce eye strain, headaches, and body pains. Sit at the work station and assess how much illumination it needs and where additional lights should be placed.
Practice Home Safety
Make sure that the home office’s circuitry can handle the higher electric load. Do-it-yourself enthusiasts should not try to do electrical work themselves to lower the risk of overload and household fires. Instead, hire a professional electrician to check for faulty wiring and install more outlets or replace old ones.
Add Individuality to the Workplace
Working from the house is no excuse to let the home office run to seed. Be sure the work area looks professional, neat and clutter free, with the pathway not strewn with dirty laundry or children’s toys. Be well groomed and dressed professionally when visitors come calling.
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