Is your home office décor “Feng Shui minimalist” or more “Next episode of Hoarders?” Or do you find yourself working at your favorite local coffee shop where the barista has your order memorized? Nearly 10 percent of Americans work at least one day a week from home—that adds up to about 13.4 million people. As more people enjoy flexible hours, have flex schedules, and work from any place, any time, the home office—wherever that may be—is becoming a vital workspace and component of the telecommuter’s work life.
Here are some features that can make your home office (or coffee shop setup) a productive space that supports a thriving work life.
- Fast internet connection needed. You need to move fast in business, and nothing is more frustrating and detrimental to your workday than waiting for pages to load or having your computer crash. For recruiters and many professionals, time is important to beat out the competition. A slow internet connection that bogs you down simply won’t suffice when you need to move quickly and efficiently. According to PC Magazine, the fastest options include Verizon FiOS and Midcontinent Communications—contact your Internet service provider to see what upgrades may be available to you.
- Security is a must. Top security for your work is required—many telecommuters work throughout the day with privileged information, which for recruiters may include private data for both clients and candidates. Make sure that you have both physical and data security for your system that will protect your company and your clients. Follow your employer’s guidelines, require a password to access your home’s wireless router, and keep antivirus subscriptions up to date. In addition, be sure to keep your operating system, browser, and other software up-to-date with the latest security patches. Finally, be aware that public Wi-Fi hotspots are never going to be as secure as your home Wi-Fi – so be careful about what you share and when.
- Supportive software is critical. The third component to staying connected is having the right software to support your work. It should be internet cloud-based so you can work from anywhere at any time, and allow you to seamlessly conduct your tasks and remain in an efficient, productive workflow. For recruiters, the right recruiting software will support your work and allow you to work faster and smarter, no matter where your office is on any given day.
- Stay powered up. Wherever your setup, make sure you have enough outlets to plug in the electronics you need. It doesn’t take long to learn which tables at the coffee shop or airport are closest to working outlets—whether your cell phone is low on batteries or your laptop is giving you warnings, you’ll need access to electricity. For neatness at your home office, use a product that hides cables from view to keep your space appearing tidy.
- Add storage. At your home office, or in your car if you’re often on the road, make sure that you have enough storage space (see some cool solutions from How Stuff Works). Every item and file should have a dedicated rightful place, keeping you on track, organized and efficient.
- Incorporate tools. You’ll want to utilize tools that keep you organized within your home office setup. Keep a whiteboard available for taking quick notes when you have a great idea or need to jot down notes during a phone call with coworkers or clients. For recruiters, some professionals find it helpful and motivating to create a dedicated “client board” that highlights top clients’ needs or candidate qualities that you are pursuing.
- Remember office basics. Since you’re acting as your own remote office manager, you’ll need to stay on top of office items that you need. Keep a master list of basics, including printer ink, sticky notes, files, computer cleaning wipes, and other office items and make sure to note what you are running low on so you never run out.
- Stay flexible. When you’re looking into your home office setup, try to lay it out to be adaptable as your professional life evolves. Alyssa Gregory is a small business expert, and she says that a home office should be flexible. “As your small business grows, or your living arrangements change, be open to changing the configuration of your home office or workspace. It’s always a good idea to take a look at your set up from time-to-time and re-evaluate so you can reorganize and redesign your office when necessary.”
- Stay physically comfortable. If you’re able, your home office setup should include both a space where you can stand while working but also have an ergonomic chair and desk. Researchers have found that sitting all day is hard on your body, so any chance you have to get up and move, sit on a ball, or stand will be a more healthful way to work.
- Tweak lighting. Whether you’re at home or working from a café, remember that you’ll need the right amount of lighting—not too little or too much. You’ll need adequate task lighting for your desk area and window shades to block the sun’s rays and any glare coming in through nearby windows.
- Create your ideal space. If you’re working from a home office, look at your work space with a critical eye. If possible, set up your office in a room with a door so you can more easily transition mentally between time at home and time at work—and keep your space quiet from dogs barking or active kids. You’ll want a space that blocks out noise when you’re on the phone or working through a complex problem. Recruiters often speak to clients and candidates throughout the day, so having privacy and quiet when needed is important.
- Add some beauty. You want your home office to feel businesslike and set the tone for your work day but also be visually interesting. Think about what art items inspire you and contain a professional vibe. You may choose to select items that you rotate through quarterly to keep your office feeling fresh and renewed, for example a plaque or certificate of professional recognition, a motivational phrase or poster, amusing cartoons, or a photo of you at a professional event. A low-maintenance plant is also visually interesting—and plants have been found to reduce stress levels and increase productivity.
The percentage of Americans who work from home is expected to rise in the coming years. An office space will become an integral part of your home, and you want it to be comfortable, attractive, organized and connected—an area that makes it easy for you to succeed and thrive.
Staffing professionals, if your home office setup lacks recruiting software that supports your work efforts wherever you work from, view our whitepaper on the 15 Steps to Select the Right Staffing Software.