The ideal home office
Make sure you're prepared
The most important rule about working from home has to be that you have to organise - from day one - a proper place in the house where your work will be done.
Trying to balance your laptop on the edge of the coffee table while operating the remote control for the TV is a recipe for disaster as well as your P45.
At worst, you have to have a work space that is clutter free and where you can access all the neccessary tools you will need to do the job your are paid to do. At best, you should organise a separate room as your permanent office space big enough accommodate you and all your equipment. It should also be private enough to ensure you are free from constant interruptions and distracting noises.
And before you even get started...
Is broadband available in your area? If it's critical for your job then not having it could well put paid to your teleworking plans before they've even started.
Space and Comfort...
The tiny back-bedroom you thought was perfect may not be sufficiently large to house your computer, copier, phone, fax, filing cabinets and work surfaces etc. None of us need the office space afforded the Chairman of ICI, but being cramped up all day will soon become tiresome.
Are there enough electrical plug points for everything, not to mention phone lines for the all-important Internet connection that you will be relying on to communicate with head-office?
Might you be inviting others in for meetings?
Ask yourself where you'll be realistically willing to spend time for nearly the whole day. Try and utilise an area that is comfortable and pleasant to be in.
For furniture, your local DIY store will almost certainly be your first port of call because today most offer a good range of small, compact and affordable desks, chairs and storage units that are perfect for the home office.
Health and Safety...
Just because you're working from home should saftety issues be ignored. You should follow exactly the standards expected in a normal office. And if in doubt, ask for advice.
Your office should also offer adequate security for papers and equipment, and should be insured accordingly. The last thing you want is all your hard work disrupted by a burglary that could have been avoided. For this reason, outside offices in sheds tend to be avoided.
Noisy traffic, screaming kids and other distractions need to be kept to a minimum. If the family is at home when you are (for many one of main advanatges of teleworking) consider setting "working hours" when other occupants of the home and other friends know they should generally leave you alone.
And, as a final note, working from home should not be taken as an opportunity to look after young children. It never really works and if you tend to organise care for the little ones when in the real office, you should do so as well when at home.