9 tips to create a home office that really works.
Thanks to advancements in web technology, it has become increasingly easier and more common for people to create and run businesses from their homes. In fact, according to small business resource GetBusyMedia.com, more than 16 million people in the U.S. did just that in 2014, and this number is expected to increase by 64 percent over the next four years.
If a home-based business is in your present or future, do your office homework. Study these 9 tips to create a space that really works for you:
- Create a new layout: To be as productive as possible, Simplify Commerce suggests setting up your office in a quiet area of your home where you won’t be easily distracted, such as a guest bedroom, basement or, if an option, a garage. Don’t have a lot of extra space? Yahoo’s tips on squeezing an office area into a small home can help.
- Choose the right desk: Sixty-three percent of small business owners work 40 or more hours a week, according to The Alternative Board — so chances are, you’ll be spending a lot of time at your desk. HouseLogic suggests allotting a minimum of 42 inches of desktop space. Lifehacker’s guide to creating an ergonomically optimized workspace offers low or no-cost tips to set up a home office that prevents repetitive strain injuries and other issues caused by slouching and an incorrect desk height.
- Think vertical: To respond to clients quickly and keep on top of your to-do list, make sure important documents and other resources are readily accessible — and not shuffled into disorganized piles. Consider adding bookcases behind your desk, which can double as storage space and a video conferencing backdrop. Other wall storage, such as hanging baskets and mounted file holders, can also help organize items and give you more space, according to Lifehacker.
- Avoid cord chaos: The cords from your computer, phone and other electronic devices can turn your home office into a mess, and if not kept tidy, can be a tripping hazard. PCMag.com explains the benefits of going wireless for a home office and DesignLike.com suggests 10 clever cord management products to keep the cords you do need under control.
- Give yourself a view: Too much computer screen time can cause computer vision syndrome, which may include irritation, dryness and blurred vision, according to Time. Put your desk near a window or interesting wall, or add some visuals to help you take frequent computer screen eye breaks. You should stare at something 20 yards away for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes, according to design site Houzz.
- Invest in the right equipment: Buy the electronic gadgets and tools you need for your small business, but don’t overspend. Printer costs, in particular, can add up — Consumer Reports® tests found that some models use ink for maintenance tasks when the printer is getting ready to print — which can cost you an extra $100 a year in ink. If you don’t need to use a color copier often, using the one at a local copy shop may be a better solution, according to Entrepreneur.com.
Related: 28 tech tools for small businesses
- Declutter daily: An organized work area will help increase productivity, according to Entrepreneur.com, which recommends investing in containers for excess paper, writing utensils and other items to reduce mess-related stress. Regularly remove coffee cups and other trinkets that are taking up valuable space — and avoid letting anyone else you live with use the area as storage, which can add visual distractions, according to Inc.com.
- Save energy: The U.S. Department of Energy advises turning office equipment off when it’s not in use, plugging your laptop into a power strip that can be turned off so it’s not drawing power continuously, and putting your computer to sleep — or turning it off — when you’re not using it, instead of letting it go into screen saver mode. Unplugging electronic items like your computer and TV alone can save you $100 a year, according to Energy Star.
Related: You can save by going green
- Give less to Uncle Sam: You can determine how much you can deduct for your small business home office in two ways: either divide the square footage of your office space by the square footage of your entire home to get a percentage, or use the IRS’ simplified method, multiplying a prescribed rate — currently $5 per square foot — by the approved square footage use (300 or less square feet). Get more help calculating your office space from these six home office deduction tips from the IRS.