Your home office may be a room, or just space that you've set aside for working whether it's for your job, business or personal life. The most important thing is setting aside enough space for your home office to serve you well and then organizing the multiple items you need to work comfortably … with enough space to meet your personal needs like eating breakfast (my oatmeal) in your home office.
Today many home offices are organized around a computer which might be a desktop, laptop or even today's tablets are getting powerful enough to handle most of your home office tasks. It's also possible that you'll have multiple work spaces and want to share printers among family members, e.g. do you really want a printer in each child's bedroom?
Take Inventory on a Home Office Needs
Our checklist will help you identify what most home offices need today. Remember things are changing rapidly and today's home office is very different than five years ago, so allow flexibility to update your office as tools change. Your family's lifestyle will also change, e.g. children grow up and move out freeing up space you might want to repurpose.
- All offices, not just home offices, need more power today. Power strips and extension cords are meant to be temporary solutions. If you're setting up a new home office, consider having an electrician add circuits for your home office and other rooms with lots of electronics, e.g. living/family rooms.
- Equally important is the need to protect all your electronic devices with surge protection and uninterruptible power supplies.
Figure out how many devices you're plugging in today and double it to cover future power requirements.
- Desktop and laptop computers plus extra monitors that take power.
- Printers, scanners and productivity devices like business card scanners.
- More portable devices like tablets and smart phones that need to get charged up … and let's not forget traditional phones which are critical for many home offices although I just migrated to Vonage as it's more reliable than my phone company.
- Consider where your Internet router will get installed, and how you'll run wiring from the router to devices that need to be plugged in. You once needed Cat5 cable to connect your computers to the Internet but today, most devices are wireless. If you're building a house, for maximum flexibility you probably still want to install this wiring.
- Decide if you want to invest in cabinets and cable raceways to keep wiring accessible but organized. There are many different approaches so you might find one you like at CableOrganizer.com.
Home Offices Include More than Electronics
While I love my computers, there's still something special about working with my hands. I always want lots of white board space for sketching ideas out visually and bulletin boards allow me to view things that give me inspiration as I work.
- Furniture can be specific for home offices or you can save money by using things you already own. As I've moved a lot, my desk is nothing more than a piece of melamine resting on 2-high file cabinets. Your chair is the most critical piece of furniture and you'll need a hard plastic mat to roll on if your floor is carpeted.
- Lighting is also a critical requirement to work comfortably in your office. Try to use space that has good natural lighting and then add ceiling and task lighting as needed.
- Storage is key to making home offices work efficiently. Read our article, Making a Home Office Work for You to learn the different types of storage you should plan for.
- Last and equally important, a home office needs a personal touch which might include family photos, plants and items that have a special meaning in your life.