If you are self-employed and work from home, you know you have the best and worst of all worlds! Before opening your business you may have dreamed of ‘working in your pajamas and never being late for a meeting’; but today you know that your office still needs to be “an office” and you need to take it seriously if you want your business to succeed!
It’s time to take the SOHO (Small Office Home Office) seriously and that begins with an understanding of your SOHO design needs.
Start by treating your work at home, exactly or as close to as possible, as your work away from home. In our in-home office we need to make a separation between our professional lives and our personal lives. Here are my favorite tips to inspire you to design and improve your at-home work space and enjoy the time you spend “at work”.
1. Space Ideally you should allocate a separate room in your home for your work. When this is neither possible nor feasible, you need to allocate a specific area in your home as your office.
Either way, it is important to ensure that any rooms your customers/patients will see upon entering your home are neat and clean (collect in advance all the discarded socks and toys). Make sure bathrooms are clean and presentable as well.
2. Administrative and professional areas Most self-employed people run one-person businesses; this means that they have to deal with both the administrative and the professional sides of their businesses. These aspects of the business need their own separate areas in the work space:
Need: The administrative side needs space for accounts, filings, forms, folders, computer, printer and a place for a mountain of paperwork.
Solution: Depending on your administrative needs, take a closet or set of shelves to organize all the necessary paperwork. Keep order by arranging files by subject and color. Keep like subjects together and arrange in easy-to-reach order.
Need: The professional side needs space adequate for your specific profession.
Solution: Set up your professional space with enough room for your activities and your clientele.
For example: room to move around treatment tables; space for makeup mirrors and beauty chairs; place for equipment and electrical outlets; sources of water, etc. You know your business, now make it accessible and comfortable for yourself and your clientele.
Whatever your profession, if you meet with customers at home, you should have a small meeting table and chairs. You can use your office desk if it is in good shape. You can have three regular chairs for yourself and two guests or you can use an office manager/computer chair (where appropriate) for you and regular comfortable chairs with backs and legs, without wheels, for your guests / customers.
3. Lighting Office lighting should be selected according to the environment you want to create:
White light (day light) to create an atmosphere of alertness and energy. Great for graphic studios, accountants, etc.
Yellow light (warm light) to create a calm and relaxed atmosphere. Great for massage, counseling and marital therapy.
4. Color Don’t be afraid to paint at least one wall a different shade or color (not white!); this is especially important if you do not have a separate room for your business and need to share your office space with your home space.
Another option to painting a wall is to put up wall paper or finely textured wall paint to delineate this area. In addition to color consider adding inspiring signs, sayings and pictures that are meaningful to your profession. Whatever wall treatment(s) you choose think about color and atmosphere-appropriateness to your business.
5. Additional to improvements to your office space
Hang your professional certification framed in similar color and/or size frames.
Place professional and related-interest books and magazines in your office for yourself and your clientele to peruse.
Add a shelf or shelves of professionally-associated items, to give the room a professional look and feel. You can use old photos, pictures and accessories.
Your office is a place where you work and spend most of your time; make it a space that will inspire and motivate you to do your best work! Remember: you are your own boss – own your own style and design a room you’ll love to work in every day!
If you want to design the ultimate SOHO your business, call me for an appointment today!
Yael Diamond, Interior Designer and Project Manager, specializes in consulting, planning and designing private residences, elite apartments, offices, and public business. You can follow Yael on www.facebook.com/yaeldiamondesigns.