Create a Productive Home Office

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 24, 2021 | Published April 3, 2020

Updated March 24, 2021

Published April 3, 2020

Whether you're telecommuting or self-employed, creating a home office provides a quiet workspace that helps you stay focused and productive. Even if you don't work from home for your job, a home office gives you a place to focus on any administrative tasks or side projects in your personal life that you want to complete.

In this article, we explain the benefits of a home office, common items you need to create an effective work area within your own home, and tips to create a workspace that boosts your productivity and work quality.

Related: Q&A: What Is Telecommuting?

What is a home office?

A home office is an area in your house designated for work or business purposes. Though you can also consider a home office to be the headquarters of your own company, for our purposes a home office refers to a workspace in your residence. Telecommuters and self-employed individuals often create home offices so they can focus on their work. They furnish these offices much like company offices, but they can customize their space to maximize productivity, with fewer limitations than they might face at a typical corporate office.

Related: Everything You Should Know About Working From Home

Benefits of a home office

No matter your job or industry, here are some benefits of having a home office in your residence:

Increased productivity

A designated workspace can help you stay focused on your work by giving you an area free from distractions of sight and sound. The privacy of a designated space at home for working only can improve your efficiency and the overall quality of your work.

More time

When you work from home, it gives you the opportunity to start your day earlier instead of waiting in traffic. This is especially beneficial if your company's office is far away from where you live. Your kitchen is only a room away to get meals, coffee and snacks, instead of a drive away in your car. This allows you to spend much more of your time on actual work. You also don't need to spend time on the process of getting to a shared company restroom.

Tax deductions

If you have a designated workspace that is physically situated apart from your household's living quarters, you can receive a tax deduction. This deduction accounts for your office-related expenses and the size of your home office.

Customization

Having a home office allows you to customize your workspace to fit your preferences and lifestyle. For example, if you prefer a larger desk or you want your desk to face a window, you have the option to make modifications as you please.

Adjusting your workspace to fit your lifestyle, such as creating a coffee center next to your desk, can make work time go smoother. Organizing your home office to fit your preferences allows you to stay motivated and inspired throughout your workday.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Work-Life Balance

Common items for a home office

When you create your home office, you need certain supplies and items to perform your work, including:

  • Dedicated business phone

  • Computer, tablet or laptop

  • Workstation accessories

  • Internet connection

  • Printer, copier, scanner and fax machine

  • Office furniture

Dedicated business phone

Many employees opt to use their personal cell phones for professional business. If you prefer to separate your personal life from your professional one, consider investing in a dedicated business phone for your home office. An office phone also allows you to create a more professional voicemail, lets you take business calls without interruption from others in your home and helps increase your productivity compared to using a smartphone that can cause a distraction.

It can also be beneficial to have a speakerphone or headset to remain hands-free. This can improve your multitasking skills, which allows you to make better use of your time.

Computer, tablet or laptop

Since many work-from-home jobs require technology, you need a computer, laptop or tablet. Your employer might provide a laptop that you can use at your home office. If you're self-employed or solely telecommute, you need a device capable of handling your workload.

Also, a large monitor—or even two—can help you perform your job more easily. For example, if you're a programmer or accountant, a large monitor allows you to have multiple windows or applications open at once instead of switching back and forth to view everything on one screen. It's also important to consider whether you need a webcam on your computer that allows you to make video calls for remote meetings.

Workstation accessories

Accessories at or near your desk can help you create a workflow system that keeps you structured and organized in your home office. Get items like supply containers for pens and highlighters, trays for file folders and important documents, a filing cabinet or drawer unit for archiving, as well as accessories for your computer like a comfortable mouse, mousepad and keyboard.

Internet connection

You need a reliable internet connection to maintain communication with coworkers, clients and any company programs or networks. Depending on your industry, you should opt for an internet speed as high as your budget allows to ensure a strong, solid connection to the internet since working remotely depends on it. You can set up your computer to connect wirelessly with a Wi-Fi router in your workspace, and use an Ethernet cable as a backup in case your wireless connection ever gets interrupted.

Consider getting a dedicated business internet package with your local internet service provider, such as your cable or phone company, if it is more cost-effective. Doing so helps separate your business internet service from your personal household service for tax purposes.

Printer, copier, scanner and fax machine

If you plan to print or scan documents, make copies or send and receive faxes, invest in these electronic devices. You can find all-in-one machines for all four of these functions that take up less of your home office space. Remember to select equipment that meets the needs of your job. For example, if you need to print high-quality, color documents or anticipate a high volume of printing, invest in a printer with these capabilities.

Consider the cost of replacement parts such as ink before making your purchase. If you go for the cheapest electronics, you might end up paying more later. Also, look for any wireless capabilities, so these devices can be set up with your home wireless internet network for easy integration with other devices like your smartphone or laptop.

Office furniture

The job you have and the equipment you need will dictate the office furniture you need most. At a minimum, you will need a comfortable chair and a desktop workspace that is large enough for your devices. If you have a job in a creative field, your desktop space may need to be larger to accommodate multiple computer monitors, and if you expect clients or colleague visits, you may need to invest in additional chairs or a coffee table.

Related: Best Home Office Organization Ideas

Tips for creating a home office

Here are some tips to create a home office that can help increase your creativity and productivity:

Customize office essentials

Consider your job and industry and create a list of supplies you need to make your home office specialized to your type of work. For example, an illustrator may need a standing desk or table with a surface area to draw, whereas an accountant might require additional storage and filing cabinet space.

Find a quiet space

When you search for a space to convert into a home office, find a location that promotes productivity. This area needs to provide you with privacy and minimal to no distractions. This is especially important if you share a home with a roommate, spouse or children who are there at the same time that you're working.

Give your technology a dedicated area

Placing your personal cell phone or tablet in an area away from your desk can help you stay on task. This allows you to remain focused on your work without being tempted to open a mobile application that can cause a distraction. Likewise, if your work requires the same devices, arrange a docking station for them that you can return to throughout your workday as needed.

Separate your business expenses and correspondence

To further separate personal from professional items, set aside space in your office for your business records and mail. A well-organized system can help you find important documents and make filing for taxes easier.

Track your time

When you set up a home office, you need a schedule to track your time. Add a clock to your home office that can help you stay on schedule and let you know when it's time to log off from work. This can help promote a healthier work-life balance. It's also a great way to help you schedule breaks, which can lead to increased focus and energy.

Add lighting

To help boost your mood, concentration and productivity, add a floor lamp or desk light, for day or night. Depending on your preference for a lot of light or a more darkened space, adjust natural light coming through any windows with curtains or blinds. Arrange your computer location to accommodate any light that might cause a glare on your screen.

Consider ergonomics

Following ergonomic rules can help you feel physically more comfortable throughout your shift. When you buy a chair, it's important that all of its parts are as adjustable as possible, and that the cushion and design are supportive enough to withstand long hours at your desk. Sit so that your eye level rests at the top of your computer screen or a little below.

It also helps if your forearms are parallel to the floor, and you might need an adjustable keyboard tray to achieve this. Sitting and typing in ergonomic positions also helps prevent injuries and fatigue.

Add greenery

Adding plants to your home office can add life, dimension and color to your workspace. Consider a plant that requires minimal care.

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