Home Office Upgrades
The U.S. Labor Department recently reported that the portion of U.S. workers who did some or all of their work at home fell slightly to 22 percent last year from 24 percent in 2015.
But lots of Americans still work at home, and many of them devote at least one room of the house to that work.
If you work at home, you may not have a completely efficient and comfortable office, however. Often that office evolved slowly over time, and soon all the equipment and files outgrew your office space. Many times, the office is in a spare bedroom that's too hot in the summer and over time has grown a confusing tangle of computer cords and wires.
So, here is a checklist of basics, either to do or purchase that might help transform your office into the great working space you've always wanted:
Light up your working life
Adding a ceiling lighting could help decrease eye strain in addition to the desk light or table lamp you may already be using.
Cool off the room
That spare bedroom can be a prime location, but may not be cool enough in summer for an office. A portable fan may help the situation, but if you install a ceiling fan with lights besides, you will be happier. You need an electrical junction box in the ceiling for this project, so you probably need to hire an electrician. If the heat is a serious problem, you might want to install a mini-split air conditioner.
If you're having trouble squeezing paper documents into cabinets, maybe you need new and different storage ideas. Maybe you can file more paperwork electronically. Use a scanner to copy and store physical documents digitally. An electronic backup unit or small server in your house might be the answer or even more cloud storage.
Shred the paper
If there are stacks of paper on desks and cabinets, you need a jam-proof shredder that can also dispose of metal staples and plastic CDs and credit cards. If it's that powerful, the shredder should have safety features that will shut the system down if hands get near the opening.
Add shelves in the closet
If there is a closet in the room, make better use of it by buying shelves and storage units to put inside.
Get a desk big enough for two
Get a desk that can handle more than one computer and more than one person. If an office is in your home, there may be at least two people who want to use it, and sometimes they both want access at the same time.
Two computers might be needed as well
Maybe you already have a PC but you need another one to accommodate other people in the house. Or maybe you already a PC and you want to add a laptop for mobility. A simple docking station would allow you to work between your laptop and PC seamlessly.
Provide desk space for filling out papers
Besides providing a surface for a computer, the desk should be built so you can easily read or fill out documents somewhere on the desktop.
Organize your cables and cords
It's not that expensive to hire a licensed electrician to help with these problems. You might also want an electrician to add new outlets so you can avoid using extension cords. Remember using multiple splitters for outlets can be downright dangerous. You can also buy cord channels or ducts to hide that wiring. Try taping labels on each cord so you know which cable plugs into what piece of equipment.
Install whole house surge protection on your electric panel
When lightning strikes phone lines or electric equipment, a surge could travel through your house and damage your computer and other plugged in equipment. Using surge protector strips to power your devices will help but it's just not enough of a defense.
Sit in comfort while you work
You may have to pay more for a chair, but you definitely want it to have ergonomic features that offer good back and arm support.
Maybe you need a bigger monitor or even two monitors
Having two monitors will help create more efficient workflow. More monitor space means you can cut and paste and edit more easily. If you have two browsers open, you can check a file on one monitor while working on a file on the other.
You want dependable Wi-Fi access throughout the house
This is a basic that you probably already have.
A landline telephone
Even if you've been totally dependent on your cellphone for some time, a landline can be vital in some emergencies. Additionally, it could serve as a work number so you don't have clients calling your personal cell phone number. The cost of landlines has dropped dramatically recently.
A good headset
This is a great way to handle long phone calls. You want one with noise-canceling features as well so you can't hear laughter or music or TV program sounds coming from another room.
You probably already have this, but if not, buy an all-in-one printer, scanner, copier and fax machine. You can also set up your device to print pages wirelessly as well from another location.
Fire-safe box for storing important documents
Accidents can happen, so have a safe place to keep your hard-to-replace business papers.
Your office needs a door
Not all rooms have doors, so you might think about adding one to your home office. It will give you privacy for important phone calls and help control outside noise so you can concentrate on your work.
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