Though it may not take the highest spot on your bucket list, building the perfect home office is something that many entrepreneurs can appreciate. At one point or another, most of us have been stuck in a bland cubicle or positioned amidst the havoc of an office fishbowl. You know, the sort of situation where you feel you are half as productive as you could be.
Well, the home office is your opportunity to make your workspace the ideal place for no one but you. Whether you’re a creative freelancer or a management consultant, you need a place to think, get organized and, of course, get stuff done.
In order to optimize the inception of your home office, here are some strategies that will help you set up an office that is built for success.
1. Create a Different Vibe Than Your Home Design
When you step out of your living room and into your home office, you should be entering a different headspace. Both sides of the threshold should provide comfort, but in their own unique way. The relaxed feeling of your bedroom or den is not suited for a work mentality.
You want to be certain to design your home office in a way that keeps you focused on what you need to accomplish, whether it’s meeting clients or finalizing documents.
2. Think Outside the Cubicle
It’s difficult to make your workspace truly yours at another organization. But your home office is a chance to be a bit rebellious. There may be certain artwork that inspires you and frees your mind. Maybe it’s a Banksy piece or childhood comics. Maybe it’s a water fountain that would’ve driven the rest of your office mad.
Whatever you choose, make sure that your chosen pieces serve some sort of productive purpose and won’t become a distraction.
3. Construct Multiple Workspaces Within One
Unlike a restricted office that most people are familiar with, the home office is most beneficial if you construct it into multiple distinct working areas. Obviously, the main area will be for your desk, which is where you’ll hunker down and get business done, but you can and should get creative with the other sections.
Another important but often-overlooked section of a home office is a place to think freely. Think of a couch or a chair with an ottoman. This is where you’ll do your brainstorming or reading. Having these two distinct areas will allow you to maintain a productive flow to your day.
4. Acquire the Right Furniture and Decor
Instead of spending money on things that look nice, building a practical workspace should be your priority. A chair with proper back support, a desk that can sustain your materials and abundant storage options are crucial. After you’ve locked down the practical elements, then you can think about aesthetics.
Additions like plants or artwork can add life, but too much of anything can become a distraction. Will that cool orange wall color ultimately hinder your workflow? A good way to think about finding a balance with color schemes is to incorporate the colors you desire within rugs or pieces of art.
As for furniture, think about your desk and your chair. Consider getting yourself a standing desk, which is a great way to stay alert and healthy. Or if you’re on a budget, you can build your own desk to your own specifications.
5. Let There Be Light
When considering the location of your home office, think about what setting will lend itself to the most natural light possible. If your situation allows it, position your desk near a window. Placing your desk against a wall can make you feel like you’re back in a cubicle.
Additional lighting, such as lamps and overhead lighting, is next on the agenda. Though most rooms will have overhead lighting, don’t rely strictly on it. Consider lamps, floor lights and track lighting with dimmers. You should be able to create a controlled lighting situation that you simply can’t wait to work within.
6. Choose a Noise-Controlled Environment
This is an often-overlooked aspect of setting up your home office, but it is very important. Consider the phone calls you’ll have to make and the quiet time you’ll need for brainstorming. Don’t just opt for the room with the best layout; also think about the noise factor.
If you don’t have any other options besides the noisy room in the back, placing a running water fountain closest to the source of the sound could be a solution. Additionally, freemium music-streaming services, such as Pandora and Spotify, offer fantastic playlists to help keep you focused.
7. Lights, Camera, Action
With services like Skype and Google Hangouts allowing free videoconferencing, you’ll want to be mindful of your office’s background. Your clients and associates should see an environment that is nothing short of professional. If one wall is your family photo shrine or your playful comic section, make sure the other wall is fit for your videoconference backdrop. Lighting is also an important factor to consider when videoconferencing, which will be something you’ll have to tweak and then tweak again during your setup and testing process.
8. Deduct Your Home Office
One of the many benefits of having a home office is the ability to deduct expenses for the business use of your home. And as an entrepreneur, you need as much financial help as you can get.
The IRS provides two methods for determining your deduction:
- Regular Method: Determine the actual expenses of your home office. This could include mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs and depreciation. With the regular method, deductions are typically based on the percentage of your home used for business purposes. This exhausting method led to the IRS offering another option.
- Simplified Option: You don’t need to determine actual expenses. Instead, you simply deduct $5 per square foot of your home used for business, capping off at a maximum 300 square feet.
It’s worth noting that deducting a home office can increase your chances of being audited by the IRS. This is because your home office can be deducted only if it’s used exclusively for business purposes. This means that you can’t use the same space as an office for eight hours and as a bedroom for the other 16.
The solution to any IRS problem is to keep immaculate records of your business and personal expenses, and many software options allow you to track and maintain these expenses. If you do this properly, there is no need to worry, since you’ll be able to prove that your home office is for business purposes only.
Not only will you have more money in your pocket, but you can also deduct many of the business-related expenses of your home office, such as equipment purchases and supplies, which can only be deducted if they’re used exclusively for business purposes.