- How often will you work from home? Will you work for a couple of hours at night or are you planning a full-time venture?
- What work will you be doing? A communications consultant may simply need a computer, whereas a financial planning consultant may need space to meet clients, spread out financial plans, or assemble direct mail campaigns.
- Do you need to meet clients or vendors? Most consultants venture out to coffee shops, restaurants or the client or vendor’s office. But your needs may vary.
- Do you share your office or home with others? Although it’s nice to be able to shut out disturbances by closing a door, many consultants find that they can manage by working when other members of the household are at work or school (or even napping!).
- Do you need to separate work and home? Some people find it distracting to be unable to leave the office. A door, screen, curtain or armoire can help you separate work and home life.
- Do you use video conferencing? Whether your using Zoom, Skype, or others…
Setting up your home office for all your functions
Before you start shopping and organizing your space, define your home office needs. You’ll want to make sure you have:
- A designated workspace. You need a place to call “home” for your home office. But this doesn’t mean you need a separate room. Millions of home business owners work from their dining rooms, living rooms, closets, stair landings, attics, or even a corner of the bedroom. If you own a service business, like consulting, you probably don’t need to store merchandise or other supplies – you don’t need a lot of space. Just pick somewhere that has good lighting, ventilation, and minimal noise, if possible. Make the best of what you have.
- Somewhere to sit while you work – even if you’re using the dining room table, make sure you have a flat surface, chair and lighting. Make sure the furniture is at the right height for you, so that you don’t later waste time and money on physiotherapy and massage!
- A system for managing and storing paper – if you previously worked in an office, you may be surprised by the amount of paper you’ll now need to manage. You’ll need to keep receipts for everything related to your business and your business use of home – mortgage interest, utilities, meals and entertainment, supplies, auto insurance and more. You’ll need filing cabinets, bankers boxes, stacking inbox/outbox trays, working file storage, file folders and more.
- A way to connect with business contacts. In the old days, this just meant a telephone. Nowadays, this typically means you’ll need a computer, cordless phone, cell phone, Internet connection and multifunction printer. You probably don’t need a dedicated fax line when you’re starting out. Most documents come by email or courier.
- A few things to make your office seem comfortable. Depending on your space and budget, this could mean paint, photos, a framed inspirational quote, a funky mousepad or anything else that helps you feel like you’re in a comfortable workspace.