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10 Things to Ask Before Designing a Home Office

Know what questions to get answered before you design your home office.

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Preparing to design your home office will take a bit of time and require you to look closely at items that you already have and determine what you will need. We will examine each of the factors that go into creating your ideal home office. As you go through each section, make notes about your space and even draw up diagrams.

1. What will be your budget?

It is important to start with a realistic budget so that you don't overspend or get too attached to a particular desk or computer that won't work with your budget. Part of your budget consideration may involve your employer. They may have their own budget for employees who will be working at home and you could be entitled to a portion. If you are self-employed, then you are responsible for your own expenses.

Review your budget throughout the process and ensure that you have the key components covered first and then you can look at additional and more decorative items if there is still room left in your budget. You don't have to purchase everything brand new either, there are some great deals on used items that can add to the personality to your home office.

2. What type of work do you do?

Make a list of the key functions of your work, how you need to accomplish them and what other work tasks you are likely to encounter. If you are in a creative type position, then your needs will vary from someone that is doing a lot of word processing. Even the layout of your home office will be quite different. In addition to the technology requirements that will differ, your workspace may need to incorporate space for your creating. This list will help you determine what other components of your home office that you will require and those we will look at closer in the following sections.

3. Will you have a shared or dedicated space?

Ideally we would all love to have a dedicated space for our home office. This option isn't always possible due to the size of our homes. For most of us, our home office will be sharing space in either a family room, living room or perhaps a bedroom.

You may even be sharing your home office with your partner or spouse. Are you ready to work that closely?

4. Will you need additional electrical and phone line locations?

No matter where you will be locating your home office, you will need to determine the location of electrical outlets, phone jacks and/or cable outlets. This will help you decide where your workspace should be located and how you can set up your computer equipment.

You may even have to bring in a professional to add extra electrical and/or cable outlets or add a phone jack. One of the worst things you can do in a home office is overload electrical outlets. Add the locations to the diagram you have been creating so that you can refer back to it and see what works with equipment and furniture decisions.

5. What technology equipment do you require?

Now it's time to evaluate your technology requirements and this can help determine your furniture needs as well. Using the list you created earlier for what your job tasks are, decide whether you want a desktop or laptop. Other equipment you will need to evaluate and determine locations for will include printers, scanners and shredders – and do you need one or two? Think about the space each of these will require and keep that in mind when considering the next sections.

6. What type of furniture is required?

Deciding which furniture you require and would like to have is probably the most fun aspect of designing your home office. Here is where you need to know the dimensions of the space you have available and what style of workspace you want. Do you want the corporate look or something more relaxed? Provide yourself with enough space to lay out work and keep supplies accessible. This is the time to start thinking about your home office chair and what style would best your needs.

7. What are your Internet and networking needs?

If you already have Internet access, you will have to determine whether the current plan is adequate for your needs or if you need to upgrade your service. Shop around, compare charges and look closely at the upload and download limits. Too many people think that the Internet service they currently have will be adequate and get an unpleasant surprise on their first bill after beginning to work from home. You will also have to consider how you will want to network your computer with other computers you may already own, if you will share resources and what type of networking you will want to use.

8. How will you stay organized?

This can be an enjoyable part of the process or an exercise in frustration. Carefully consider the room or space you will be using and what type of storage and organization will best suit it. Do you want banks of filing cabinets or would a cabinet suit your space better. There are a wide variety of storage options now available and you will have to determine which suits your style best. Go out and look at different options and take a measuring tape. Sometime you’d be surprised at how creative you can be with a cabinet for storage of supplies and files.

9. What are your security and insurance needs?

Not only do you need to consider security software for your computer but also security for any documents or items that you are keeping in your home office. You must take extra precautions to protect the integrity of any data on your computer as well as hard copies in your home office. If you have a dedicated space for your home office you should be sure to have a lock on the door so that when you aren't in your home office -- no one else should be either.

In a shared space situation, it can be a little more difficult but not impossible to keep things secure. Filing cabinets and storage cabinets with locks are a wise idea.

You should also be aware of what your Homeowner's insurance will and will not cover in case of a loss. This may be due to theft, fire or other incidents that occurs. Depending on the type of work you do, you should also consider the implications of having clients or customers coming into your home and what you may be responsible for in that regard. In addition to securing your immediate home office space, you should look at the overall security of your home. If your home office is in sight of windows - be sure to keep your equipment and paperwork out of the line of view.

10. How will you decorate?

Now that you have the required elements of your home office for getting your work done, take some time to incorporate some of your own personality into your home office. This could be as simple as a fresh coat of paint or adding some artwork to the walls. Remember, this is your home office and you want to create an environment that encourages your creativity, stimulates you to be productive and allows you to enjoy your home office space.

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