There are many advantages to working from home as an entrepreneur. You get to skip the commute, have a better work-life balance, save money, and maybe even sleep in a bit later if you’re lucky. Although some people enjoy working from the couch, most entrepreneurs know the importance of a quality home office. This is especially necessary if you plan to meet with clients, both in-person and virtually.
With that in mind, let’s look at some tips and tricks for staging and decorating your home-based office for better client meetings.
Ensure your space is fully functional
Your workspace should be private, well-lit and equipped with everything you need to be productive, comfortable and organized. Consider upgrading anything that's lacking. After all, your home office is likely where you’ll be spending the majority of your day. Understanding the tools in your office is key to successfully working from home, especially when you have to prepare for some video interviews.
If you're considering selling your home at some point, a fully functional home office is a solid investment that could increase the appraisal value of your home. To keep track of improvements and quantify the increase in value of your home, taking "before and after" photos is also a good idea.
Make sure your space is comfortable for you
You will likely be spending long consecutive hours in your home office workspace, so be sure to arrange it in the easiest way possible for you so that this doesn’t pose a problem. Think about what your work will require you to do. For instance, if you will need to consult things you keep in storage very often in your workday, consider setting up the workspace close to the room you use for storage. If you need to keep kids or pets away from your workspace, use a quieter part of your home, perhaps with a locking door, rather than a busy space like the living room.
Additionally, one thing many people overlook when setting up a workspace in their home is temperature control. Being too warm or too cold for these extended periods of time will lead to discomfort, which will not only affect your performance at work but might also make you sick. Thankfully, there are some recommendations from the World Health Organization: 18 °C is the optimal temperature for home office workers, give or take 2 °C if you’re sick or have respiratory problems.
Check your internet connection
To run an online office, it's imperative to have a solid Internet connection at home. If you have poor service, consider changing internet providers or purchasing and installing a wifi router before assembling your home office. It's easy to be thrown off course and get distracted when a slow Internet connection disrupts your workflow all the time. For the best wifi signal strength, place your router high and central in your home. Make sure there's no clutter around it and no devices or appliances that could interfere with the signal. For example, microwaves or home telephones would interfere with your wifi signal a lot.
Check your Internet speed with specialized services. For more accurate results, run several tests and do them when no one in your home network is downloading or sharing files or streaming video or video chats. It's okay if the results are 5 to 10 Mbps less than your provider promises. If the results are much lower than advertised, connect your provider and check your network for unauthorized devices.
Make Air Quality a Priority
Having stuffy or humid air in your workspace can lead to respiratory problems, especially since you will spend extended periods of time in this space. It’s impossible to concentrate when working in a stuffy room, so make sure your working space is well-ventilated. Considering the pandemic, air quality is more important than ever. If you have clients coming and going, it’s a great idea to install a UV light air purifier in your HVAC unit. If not, don’t worry; there are other solutions.
Try decorating your home office with indoor plants. Not only do they look amazing, but they’re great for purifying the air as well. Another important piece of advice is vacuuming regularly, including any fabric furniture, keeping windows open, and installing a ceiling fan to keep air circulating throughout the space.
Use Technology to Minimize Face to Face Interactions
Even though the lockdown has been lifted, that doesn’t mean that safety procedures should be any different. But not to worry—in this day and age, there are plenty of SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions that can help you keep in touch with all your clients from the comfort of your home office.
Have you considered using an all-in-one accounting software as the solution? They allow you to easily send estimates and invoices to your customers, as well as integrate payment requests. Going paperless can help you cut down on face-to-face interactions with customers, as well as save you time.
Keeping an organized space, both on and around your desk, is vital for client meetings. When it comes to video conferencing, a cluttered space is very distracting, while it’s also extremely unprofessional for in-person meetings. That means not having papers scattered all over your desk. You should also do your best to remove personal belongings while neatly storing away the rest of your items needed for work—they can be easily accessible when you need them.
On that note, remember to keep your wiring organized, especially if you use a lot of technological appliances. You wouldn’t want to come to work in an office that’s covered in jumbled cables and cords. Basic wire management can go a long way toward improving your office aesthetic. It’s fairly cost-efficient as well — you’ll just need a few clamps and zip ties to manage messy wires.
Separate your professional and personal spaces
On paper, you might think that working from the comfort of your bed, still in your PJs, sounds like a great idea to work in a relaxed environment. In reality, doing so will negatively impact your productivity. The brain tends to associate certain spaces with certain tasks, and so it will associate certain spaces with different outlets for productivity. Think of how just by stepping into the gym, you’re already in the mood for working out, or how you associate your bedroom with relaxation and privacy.
While working from home gives you the freedom to work anytime you want, in theory, you’ll likely still want to maintain regular office hours if you want to maximize productivity. Working for a fixed period of time every day helps you keep your daily routine and structure. You automatically shift into “work mode” when you’re within your “office hours”: the same way that you are more productive in a professional space, you’ll be more productive during hours when you’re used to being at the office.
This is why it’s important to keep your work and living areas physically separate. In all cases, you should avoid setting up your office in the same room as where you sleep or want to relax. That way, your brain will know which space to associate with productivity and which one to associate with relaxation: before you know it, you might end up being lazy at work and stressed out at night if you don’t keep these two spaces separate! This will also help you sleep better and enjoy your time off work a lot more, as your personal space won’t serve as a constant reminder of the stress and preoccupations you might have when working.
Remember to enjoy the benefits of home office
By following along with these tips and tricks, your home office should be ready for client visits, virtual meetings, and most importantly you, in no time. Try to find what works best for you — and remember, the beauty of working from home is that you can redesign and redecorate your space at any time. You’re not limited to how you set your space up the first time. If you don’t like something about the setup, you can always change it to best suit you. You can also take advantage of already being home to take short breaks when you feel overworked - but be careful not to get distracted and spend the rest of the day in front of Netflix!
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