Being a freelancer is something of a foreign lifestyle choice to those that have grown accustomed to and are quite fond of typical employment. The random spots of high and low-income, no interaction with coworkers, responsibility solely resting on that one person’s shoulders, but there is one that probably baffles most of all — working from one’s own home!
Of course not ALL freelancers work from home, many have their own offices somewhere in close proximity to a coffee shop or cafe. However it is safe to say that a large number do indeed work out of their home, and that baffles those not living the freelancer lifestyle. There is one assumption that does make sense though, and is a good question. How professional can the experience of meeting clients at your office actually be?
Well after reading this article, you’ll have the knowledge to present a home office to clients that will more than appease them. In addition, make you more giddy than a school girl with a crush.
The Right Room
The real difficulty in getting a home office just right starts with picking the right room to set up in. At the end of the day this is still your home, and not an office space, so having your work everywhere is not acceptable. Here are some tips to help achieve this balance:
- Choose the closest room to your front door. This is always the best place because this provides an automatic separation for office and home. In addition, it will keep your personal stuff private from clients because where they need to go is a straight shot from the door. There is nothing worse than a potential client, or client in general even, seeing too much of your home life. Also it’s not nice having them walk around to the back either.
- Make it as sound proof as possibly needed. This depends on your living situation mostly. If by yourself, then just enough so that normal outside interferences don’t leak in. If with others, especially kids, make that baby a room of isolation. There is nothing worse than being in a meeting or on the phone and having to hear the noises of a child at play.
- Pick the best space match. All of the prior things mentioned are of course important, but making sure that the necessary space available to properly hold your office is just as important. The space has to be the right amount to hold everything you’ll need (desk, printer, coach/chair for visitors, etc) and a good amount of moving room. As we all know, not all rooms are created equal.
Where your desk is placed is very important. The wrong position can cause a lot of annoyances that could have otherwise been avoided with a different position. A good example would be placing your desk right behind a window. This placement will give your computer a glare on it at all times, and not to mention have the sun beaming right in the face of every client you meet. This is not a good way to make a good impression. Here are tips on choosing the best location:
- Place desk perpendicular to your window, with you facing east. This allows for the sunlight to be used at its best when it is brightest, and still not affect anyone sitting in front of you.
- Leave your view from directly in front of your desk as bare as can be, avoiding things like bookshelves. These cause instant distractions on those less focused days, try just one calm painting instead.
- If at all possibly not conflicting with the first tip listed, place desk directly in front of door. It is a nice subtle touch that clients respond well to without knowing.
This is a chair that I’m going to be sitting in for most of the day, a good portion of the year. These facts about the office chair automatically give off the assumption that it is best to get the chair that is found to be the most comfortable and suiting of one’s own personal style. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Honestly, a chair is just a chair here. All the extra thoughts and feelings that first pop in anyone’s head should be thrown out the window because they do nothing more than create a distraction. Think about it, if your office chair is really comfortable, what is going to put a halt at taking a snooze break in the middle of working on something? How about if it is so unique that you have to spend more than half a second figuring out how to sit down in it? Seconds add up over time!
The only qualities that matter most are reliability and durability. Here are a few tips on finding that office chair you NEED.
- Avoid the good looks. There are many chairs available that look good and are well put together, but after a little time of use, begin to crumble. Having your own office will hopefully mean you’ll be calling your own shots for a long time. So make sure that you’re looking for a chair that matches that ideal time frame.
- Find suitable material. The material used to make your chair must match the conditions that you like to work in. Say you’re the type that likes it to be hot, would a leather chair really be your best bet? Or how about someone who likes it cold, would a material that tends to harden in cold weather be your best bet?
- Decide between rolling or stationary. This is more so related to how your office is organized. If your office space is somewhat spread out, then the ability to just roll around would be most beneficial. However, if everything is close enough to not need to get up regularly throughout the day, then a stationary is best. Avoids the temptation of spinning around too, :).
Laying Out Your Office
Spending enough time in the corporate world will make it easy for anyone to become accustomed to walking at least a few yards to reach the printer, get new paper for said printer, grabbing something out the refrigerator, or other walking tasks office life entails. Like it or not, it gets into your head and becomes what you are used to. Considering that, how would things be for someone finally being able to set things up the way they need? Let’s just say, the best ideas might not be implemented.
Freedom is a wonderful thing, which is why you’re freelancing in the first place, but it can’t be abused. Here are some tips for setting up the layout of your office:
- Always have a clear walkway to and from the desk to the door. The experience from having to maneuver around your desk, and other objects, just to reach the door and vice versa is not a good experience. Especially when it’s done multiple times during your work day. Add in the times when you are just so frustrated and everything can irk you even more, it can easily take your mood further in the wrong direction.
- Always aim for slightly undersized furniture. It is hard to resist that nice big oak desk, but having it take up the majority of your space is a huge negative. It throws off the entire flow, makes it harder to accurately place other items, and everything extra that you’d need to put in a bigger piece of furniture could be in something smaller and separate with better placing.
- Keep in mind how you do things. The way anything personal is laid out, should match a personal approach in how one likes things done. An example would be someone who likes to do a few light stationary exercises at the beginning of the work day, it would be ideal to have an open space right by the entrance to do that. How about if you like being able to choose from an assortment of food items throughout the day to enjoy? Something like a mini-fridge would be convenient. It’s all about the little things here.
Being in a home office, working for yourself, makes every document that you receive via paper or email three times as important. So while those who work in a corporate office have multiple people with the same documents, and being on file somewhere, the self-employed only have themselves to turn to when something goes missing.
This is why being properly organized is a critical necessity for anyone looking to be successful at being their own boss. Here are a few tips at keeping everything neat and tidy:
- Properly arranging documents with the three A’s. All documents, whether physical or digital, should be arranged into the three main A categories and subcategories by year and month. These being archiving, active, and anticipating. Each A represents a stage in the typical life cycle of a project, or anything else really. Using this system will help easily identify documents when the need comes for them to be found.
- Never leave your desk cluttered for more than two days! It is quite easy to be so busy with work that needs to be done to forget about the environment you’re working in. One day of not noticing and coming back the next morning to see all the papers and items relating to what was being worked on yesterday all over the place is acceptable now because of the vague memory from yesterday about what everything is, but the next day is another story. Things will be looking quite unfamiliar. That is why two days is the max!
- Unpack briefcases/travel bags regularly. If your schedule requires to leave the office on the regular, its understandable why it would make sense to keep things put in your bag of choice. However, this will become a problem when you become so accustomed to those items being there so much that they are forgotten of. So, it is always good to regularly take things out and get them back into your organization structure of your office.
Any successful advice from your home office you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!