Last week, I created a list of supplies that I will start with when establishing my home office. The funny thing is, I haven’t yet chosen a place to live. Thus, I don’t yet have a home office.
Nevertheless, my location is not important for purposes of the starter list. Here are some basic items that you will need to establish a home office, at least initially, even if you don’t yet have a place to put them.
For obvious reasons, you will need a phone in your office if you will be dealing with clients or making other business related calls. It is wise to have a business line separate from your home line so that you will have the ability to separate work life from home life. In addition, you will be able to establish work hours. After hours it is nice to let your business calls go to voicemail. Establishing a balance between work and personal/family time becomes more difficult when you move work into your home. Thus, it is important to do all you can to separate the two, starting with your phone line.
I will be keeping the laptop given to me by my firm. It is a Lenovo Think Pad, an IBM computer. My laptop provides me with basic functions for word processing, spreadsheets, power point and Internet browsing.
Obviously your choice of a home computer will depend on the nature of your work. Some computers are better for word processing-type functions, while others are good for graphic production. Macintosh computers, for example, have a reputation for excellent graphic quality and utility.
I have a Macbook Pro as my personal computer, which I use for things like blogging and all of my other personal functions. I could write a whole post on choosing the right personal computer. But, I won’t expand this discussion here. You should do your own research to determine which is the right computer for your home office.
Your desk choice will also be a very personal choice. It will depend on the size and layout of your office. There are many different shapes, sizes and colors of desks to choose from.
Consider the light sources already in the room. There is usually a central overhead light source as well as a window, which will provide light during the day. Add additional lighting as necessary using lamps. Also consider computer glare and the position of your desk or working space.
If you will have books and other references in your office, consider installing bookshelves or having one or more bookcases in your office. If you are working in a compact office, bookshelves installed on the wall are a space saver. If your space is larger, or if you have a large supply of books, adding a bookcase will create more storage space. Bookshelves and bookcases allow you to organize books and other reference materials. For me, they avoid the inevitable piles of books on the floor and on the desk.
You can also use bookends for small reference books. In my current office, I have a very large L-shaped desk. I use bookends to keep small reference books such as dictionaries and writing guides.
File cabinets provide additional storage for important files and other documents. While documents might also be kept on bookshelves or in bookcases, papers don’t stack uniformly, so papers on a bookshelf or bookcase can look quite messy. In a file cabinet, papers are out of sight and can be organized more readily. Some desks have drawers that can keep files. This allows you to keep your files nearby.
A combination printer/scanner/fax machine is probably the most practical and economic solution to have in a home-office. First, having one machine will save space for a small home office. Depending on your production levels and use of each feature, a combination printer/scanner/fax machine should be sufficient for your office.
As of April 2009, CNET gave 4 our of 5 stars to the HP Photosmart Premium Fax All-In-One received. According to its review, the HP Photosmart is “designed with the casual photographer and work-at-home professional in mind.” Although CNET boasts on its high-quality prints, it notes that this product has a higher-than-average cost for black ink cartridges. But, overall, it has a rating of ‘excellent.’
I plan to have an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax, but since my office will purchase this item for me, I don’t yet know which brand I will have. Perhaps I will recommend for the HP Photosmart.
I currently use a 13” computer monitor in conjunction with my laptop. It creates an expanded view of my laptop and allows me to have two documents in view at one time. I can also use it to view a document in one window while having an Internet browser window open in the other view. It makes multitasking a lot easier when it is necessary.
In a small home office, or on a small office desk, using a laptop computer with a flat-panel LCD computer monitor will provide an expanded computer work area while saving space.
Other items that I will have initially in my home office include an external hard drive for storing and archiving electronic files, a large white board and markers for temporary diagrams and notes, and a large cork board to post important items in full view.
I will also have a broadband connection, a business fax line, a business phone line and a wireless card for remote Internet connection.
If you are transitioning to a home office within your present place of employment, work out with your employer prior to the transition, which items will be covered by your employer. For me, my employer will cover such items as the computer monitor, external hard drive and printer, but they will not cover items such as the furniture. At some later time, I will be looking into the extent to which I can make a tax deduction for the purchase of items used for my home office. But, that is a discussion for another day.
Which items would you start with when establishing a home office?
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