Working from home is the new normal, yet surveys show a stunning 72% of remote workers don’t have a dedicated work area. Making the couch your desk might seem like a perk, but it can hinder productivity in the long term. This is especially true for small business owners who need a flexible workspace, as they function in roles from team leader to media director.
Whether your daily tasks include product photography and client meetings or managing remote employees and social media, there are plenty of ways to create a home office that helps you get the most out of your space. Wherever and however you choose to set up shop, the right equipment and decor can make your workspace both professional and functional.
Why Is an Office Important for a Successful Home Business?
1. It Can (Sometimes) Result in a Tax Deduction
One of the benefits of having a home office is the potential to write off a portion of your mortgage and utilities as a business expense. Be aware, though, that there are limitations on which spaces are eligible as a principal place of business. Having a dedicated room can help you qualify, while you may be out of luck if your kitchen table doubles as your office.
2. It Can Promote Your Brand
For home businesses that hold in-person or virtual meetings, thoughtful office interior design can go a long way toward building a brand image. Consider what a client or employee will see and how it might affect their perception of your brand. An orderly bookcase, artwork, or plants in the background of your video call will project success much better than rumpled cushions or a pile of laundry.
3. It Can Keep You Productive
When you’re working from the sofa or bed, a blaring television, curious kids, or even an aching back can drain your productivity. An office, especially one with a door, lets you shut out interruptions and choose furniture designed for working comfort. If you constantly move around the house to get what you need, gathering all the office essentials in one place can also save time.
How to Create a Home Office in a Small Space
You don’t have to have a spacious study or even a large house to enjoy the benefits of a home office. Set up an organized and professional workstation even when space is at a premium by choosing the location wisely, being willing to go portable, and taking steps to separate work from play.
1. Make Your Office Multi-Purpose
If you don’t have the space to dedicate a whole room to a home office, use rooms that can play many roles. Outfitting a guest room with office essentials or spreading out your files on a rarely-used dining table makes use of otherwise underutilized space. Likewise, slotting a desk into a corner of the living room, bedroom, or finished basement gives unused square footage a new purpose.
2. Consider a Portable Office
When a traditional desk is out of the question, a portable office can make the space you have more efficient. Easy-to-move, adjustable laptop stands put your keyboard at the right height to turn a kitchen island into a standing desk. Portable items meant to boost productivity, like lap desks and lumbar pillows, can provide the comforts of an office in a convenient travel form.
3. Separate Private from Professional
One of the biggest challenges for home business owners is drawing clear lines between professional and personal lives. When home and the office are in the same place, healthy boundaries between work and family time tend to blur. Remote employees often report longer days and answering more work emails after hours. As a result, studies show greater work-from-home satisfaction with a dedicated workspace.
Even if using the office for more than work is a must, a few smart desk setup ideas can keep you focused on the task at hand. For example, organize an L-shaped desk with a work laptop, printer, and file cabinet on one arm and a gaming station on the other. Simply changing your view and orientation in the room can signal that it’s time to work or relax.
How to Furnish a Functional Home Workspace
What makes a home office useful to a business will vary depending on individual needs. As you begin to gather desk decor ideas, make a list of typical workday tasks, and outfit a space that builds productivity in these crucial areas. Common ways small business owners use their home offices include:
1. For Virtual Meetings
If video calls with clients or employees make up a large portion of the day, adapt your home office setup to maximize call and image quality. While they might seem like minor issues, slow connections, screen glare, or odd shadows can be a big distraction when you’re making your most important points and cast your business in a negative light.
To put your best foot forward in a digital space, start with good, modern hardware. Be sure to choose a modem and router that can support the wired or wireless speed connection you need. To light your virtual meetings, avoid unflattering fluorescent bulbs. One or two LED desk lamps sitting behind the webcam will illuminate you to the best advantage.
2. For Social Media Management
Filling social media channels with informative, eye-catching content can feel like a full-time job. To keep the creative wheels turning, decorate with artwork or a mood board. Leave notes to remind yourself about updates and trends, or hang inspirational images that help you get in the right mental space to represent your brand.
3. For Product Photography
Home offices that double as photo studios can benefit from quality photography tables, lighting, and tripods, especially those that fold away to make more space after filming. Keep backdrops in mind while picking out office wall and desk decor as well. Depending on your products, a neutral wall and tastefully decorated table can work well for in-context or lifestyle shots.
4. For Assembly, Packaging, or Storage
Small home businesses that create and ship their own products can almost always use more storage. Along with a desk to track orders and communicate with clients, a worktable and plenty of shelving can give you room for both internal and customer-facing needs. Depending on the assembly process, you may need to soundproof or vent the space for the safest, most comfortable home environment.
5. For Client Visits
When decorating a home office for client meetings, go for a clutter-free space in a style that suits your product or services. Is the target client adventurous? Decorate the office wall with inspiring action prints. Are green products a big selling point? Opt for eco-friendly furniture and nature-themed decor. Neat, minimal, and on-brand office decorations serve as an extension of your company’s image.
A Home Office That Works for You
In the long run, many small home business owners find that a well-decorated, designated home office benefits their brand, boosts their job performance, and increases their work satisfaction. Whether it’s a large study or a desk in the family room, a workspace optimized for your needs provides a comfortable and productive place to take care of business.
The post How to Create a Functional Home Office for a Small Business appeared first on Home Business Magazine.