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FEATURE – Home working and setting up a home office

The recent wintry spell drew media attention not just as a meteorological anomaly. Because many employees could not make it into the office for a few days, or companies simply shut up shop, lost hours of work were lamented in some business quarters. According to The Guardian, the Arctic intrusion may have cost British businesses as much as £1.2bn through “snow days”.

But the fact is that technology, especially in communications, has come such a long way over the past few decades that we simply do not need to be physically present in our company offices to turn over a productive day’s work. Broadband connections, for example, have become so ubiquitous in everyday life that to be without one is the exception, not the rule.

There are advantages to working at home, whether it is snowing or not. And, it seems, we in Britain would prefer to work from home if we could. According to a new poll commissioned by Kodak Inkjet, 70% of those questioned would rather work from home if they were given the chance, with 65% believing they are more productive when working at home. Eighty-five percent feel they can enjoy their social life more if they can work from home. Employers also recognise the benefits of home working. After all, a happy employee is a productive employee.

The many benefits of home working include:

  • Fewer distractions (unless you’ve got kids running about and screaming).
  • Task discretion – you set your own work priorities.
  • Reduced overheads – travel and food if you are employed, plus business costs if you are self-employed.
  • Worker satisfaction and wellbeing.
  • On the employer side, a work-at-home policy can reflect well on the company, lending it a dynamic image.
  • Good for the environment – fewer car journeys, less congestion, less pollution.

Home working is not a panacea that will positively transform all our lives or turn around the fortunes of struggling companies. Working from home may, for instance, actually hinder the less disciplined among us and some employees find that their workload increases when they start working from home. Nevertheless, home working remains an attractive option, especially given the increased affordability of setting up a home office.

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Home working may simply entail spending the odd day on the sofa with your laptop. But if you’re considering making home working a more permanent fixture, or if you are about to set up a business from home, we’ve composed a very quick guide to setting up a home office, including links to products.

The first thing to consider is space. Have you got a room which you can designate as an office? If not, will your home accommodate additional pieces of office furniture that you might need for filing and computing? You don’t want to turn your entire home into an office, nor do you want to upset those you are living with or compromise any relationships you might be having. Only buy items that your living space and personal life can accommodate.

Choose a spot to work in which is well lit, and away from noise and interruptions. If clients are going to visit, consider also the image you want to project. A designated office space like a converted garden shed will impress.

The first piece of office furniture to get is a desk. If space is at a particular premium you may want to get a computer workstation, smaller but equally functional. A dimmer desk may require additional lighting. An office chair is your next port of call. Ergonomic chairs are designed to take some of the stresses and strains out of repetitive activity. Indeed, when setting up your office, consider the ergonomic consequences of your decisions: In other words, think about how you will interact with your office environment, ensuring comfort and convenience.

A good filing system will pay dividends and prevent future headaches so it’s wise to establish and accommodate this as early as possible. Two-drawer filing cabinets are unobtrusive enough to fit anywhere in the home, or you may prefer working with box or lever-arch files and storing them on shelves. A bookcase may be desirable if you work a lot with books and manuals.

Your choice of printer is important. A colour laser printer may suit colourful, graphics-heavy printing while for text documents an inkjet printer may suffice. Multifunction machines combine printer, scanner and copier in one device and so can be economical in terms of money and space. Several models also incorporate a fax machine. A multifunction machine will save on space and running costs.

Then there are your stationery needs – a whole world of Paper, pens and pencils, correction fluid, Post-it notes, files, staplers, hole-punches and more…

But don’t let us impose a template on your home office. Have a browse around and see what takes your fancy. And if you get stuck or want some advice, give one of the team a call on ##MAINTELEPHONE##.

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