Building The Perfect Home Office

7 tips for creating a productive work space

Small offices/home offices (SOHO) are becoming increasingly common, their growth fueled by the upsurge in telecommuting to the workplace and the entrepreneurial rise in small and home-based businesses. But just what equipment will you need to make your home office a profitable enterprise–and not an expensive hobby?

This series, “Building the Perfect Home Office,” will walk you through the entire process, from planning your office to purchasing the right computer hardware and software. While a certain degree of computer technology is needed in most offices, location and work space lay the foundation for a productive home office environment. Here is a checklist of some things to address before you set up shop:
Zoning codes. The first decision you need to make is whether you’ll be running a business from your home or simply treating it as an extension of your office. Business owners preparing to set up shop in their homes should check local zoning codes to find out what is, and isn’t, allowed in your area, suggests Hollis Bascom, president of the SOHO Association in Pleasanton California. “Operating a business out of your home that requires client traffic is a no-no in many municipalities.” The SOHO Association provides information, products and services to members of the SOHO community.

Space. Where in the household are you planning to have your office? Busy areas such as the family room or kitchen table should not be on your list. The space should be a dedicated environment with a low-noise level suitable for conducting business.

Is there enough room for all of the equipment that are essential to your production? Sufficient storage space should be a major consideration. You’ll want to be able to access all of the necessary files easily and quickly. Avoiding clutter will be a cost- and time-saver. The arrangement and layout of your SOHO is also important; it can mean the difference between creating an environment of comfort able energy flow, and one that is blocked and stifling.

Furnishings. Make sure that you allow for adequate desk space for your equipment, and space to store materials, records and supplies.

Outlets. Are there enough electrical outlets to safely accommodate all of your business equipment (computer, telephone, copier, fax, clock and desk lamps)? Make sure there is at least one Lelectrical outlet located near your phone jack; this is important in coordinating your computer- telephone connection for telecommunications. The less wiring, the better.

Phone lines Invest in a second phone line for your office. There’s nothing more unprofessional than having a personal message on an office line. A second line will make it easier to send faxes or use the Internet without having to terminate your phone calls, and is helpful for IRS record-keeping. If you’re considering running a business from your home, be sure to check the availability of a business line.
Many local carriers have rules prohibiting the use of residential lines as business lines, and many business lines may be more expensive. So it’s best to meet t his cost head-on. Generally, business lines are

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