Working from home and the ‘home office’

I’ve blogged about home offices a bit over the past few months.  It seems to me that people are beginning to look at alternative lifestyle options that may mean a lengthy commute to the office every day.

At the same time however the technology has matured to the point where it doesn’t matter where you work, you can still be in touch with your colleagues and have access to your office computer system.  Or you can set up your own business based in an office at your home.

Recently newspapers have picked up on this trend.  The latest article I’ve seen was in the Dominion Post on 28 April.

Working from home isn’t for everyone as noted in this article in the New Zealand Herald.

The Christchurch earthquake has no doubt contributed to the good advice from the New Zealand Government business web site here.

And further afield comes advice about work life balance when you are working from your home.

And there’s lots more in magazines, other newspapers and numerous web sites.

While many of these articles are about working at your office job from your home, the same advice applies to those considering setting up a home based business.

No matter what sort of work you’re doing from your home, you need to have good systems and processes for coping with the information you need to do that work.

An office for your home-based business

Often a home-based business is started from the home where you live amongst the everyday goings on of a family household.  Generally as the person running the home-based business you will find a spot to do the administrative work somewhere in the house.

This may be on the dining table when everyone else is in bed or you may be lucky enough to find a corner of a bedroom or living room where you can keep your office stuff (PC, telephone, paper files etc) in one place with minimum disruption for and from the family.  While not ideal, this can work while the business remains home-based.

If however you are looking to move house, suddenly you have the opportunity to decide what space is needed for the office of the home-based business in your new home.

As you consider the family requirements for a new home, make sure you include your requirements for your home office. To do this you will need to have a clear picture of yourself and how you like to work (self-knowledge).

You need to consider what your business needs to operate effectively.

  • Is it purely administrative?
  • Do you sell products that need to be stored?
  • Are you involved in drawing up plans that need to be stored vertically so they don’t get damaged or creased?
  • Do you hold confidential information about your clients, eg personal data, financial data etc?
  • Do you work entirely with electronic documents or do you tend to use a lot of paper?
  • Do you need to store paper records for some time after you have finished working with a client?
  • How much storage space do you need for this sort of archival material?
  • Can you scan it and store it electronically or do you need to keep it in paper form?

All these factors, and more, can help you to decide what sort of space you need for the office of your home-based business.

So many questions and so much to think about.

For a full check list of deciding factors, or to talk about your home-based business needs, contact us for a free consultation.


Feral paper in your office

Has paper gone feral in your office? You know what I mean, piles of papers on your desk, more on the floor, paper everywhere in fact.

It used to be organised and filed once, but then you got busy.

Now you’ve forgotten how you used to organise your paper files and you’ve started storing some of it electronically. But you don’t want to throw the paper away in case you can’t find the electronic version.

And so it goes on.

Help is at hand and you don’t need to be in a city to get that help.
First up let’s look at some hints and tips so you can start to tame those feral piles of papers.

  1. Clear a desk or table or even some space on the floor
  2. Get a large rubbish bag and put it beside your cleared space
  3. Decide on a 15 minute block of time to work on the feral paper
  4. Pick up one pile, no more than 20 cm high, and put it in the cleared space
  5. Pick up each piece of paper and decide if you still need to keep it. If you don’t need it, put it in the rubbish bag. If you do need it, put it in one corner of your cleared space.
  6. Repeat with the rest of this pile, sorting the papers into smaller piles with similar items, eg all bank statements in one pile, credit card statements in another, research articles in another etc, etc

Try not to get distracted by anything that looks particularly interesting.  Your 15 minutes will disappear in no time.  Put these interesting items in a separate pile and make a date with yourself to read them another time.

Next steps:

  1. Find a permanent home for those items you are going to keep so you don’t simply create new piles of paper
  2. Get a system in place to help you decide how long you need to keep certain items
  3. Decide if you need to keep a paper copy or if an electronic version will be sufficient
  4. Make a time to go through another pile tomorrow or in a few days.  Put the time in your diary.

If you need more help contact me. The Terrace Consulting file tamers can visit you in person, can Skype with you to talk and have a look at your paper and advise you, or we can simply talk to you on the phone and give you some ideas to tame your paper filing.

Your organised home office

One of the things I find really important when I’m working from home is that I have a space that is separated from the rest of the house.  My home office is upstairs in the attic.  To get to it I have to climb the stairs and walk through a room that has become a store room.  My mind set changes as I start to walk up the stairs. 

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Selling your house? Give your home office a makeover first

Friends of mine moved house recently and I caught up with them in week two in their new home.

By then most of their life was sorted and everything had a place in the kitchen, garden tools were stored neatly in the garden shed, the linen was neatly stacked in a hall cupboard and the PC ‘s were set up in the home office.  But there was still some visible pain.

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