The Importance of Working from a Home Office, Not Just Home

The overwhelming impression of working from home entails a never ending supply of pajamas and a carefree schedule that allows work to sneak in and out at a whim.  The most productive home-based business people know that this is a farce.  Work, whether from home or a cubicle 5 stories up, requires discipline and often benefits from having an office of some sort.

The basic tenet favoring a home office is that some of us work more and slack off less if we feel like we’re being watched, assessed, and scrutinized by a boss.  This is not to say that working from home should be as stressful as working under our boss’s nose.  Rather, a home office, a schedule, or at least a shower before logging on provides healthy pressure to be productive.  A hot cup of tea, a lumbar-supportive desk chair, and a nice outfit are bonus points that will probably get our creative juices flowing more smoothly than if we were sinking into the couch and battling the urge to pick up the television remote.

Know What You Need When Working From Home

Do you blog for money?  You’ll obviously benefit from a flat surface like a desk and a chair with decent support (none of that $10 swivel chair stuff you got from Wal-Mart for college; go to Craigslist or a thrift shop for a cheap, nice setup), and also a set of good online office tools.  Do you craft and sell your items on Etsy?  You’ll want a crafting area.  Do you deal with customers in person?  A set of comfortable chairs for your clients to sit in—your couch doesn’t count—are necessary.

In this vein, think about what you stand to gain from having your own private workspace within your home and whenever you’re not working at the airport or at a coffee bar.  If you feel that a home office is for you, think next about what you would have if someone else paid you to have your own office somewhere on the 5th floor of an upscale building.  No need to have a sparkling water fountain or wine cabinet in your office—the idea is to visualize what your work space necessitates, whether you work better indoors or outdoors, what furniture is best suited for your activity, etc.

When Working From Home, Make Privacy a Priority

working from homeWhether you’ve claimed the spare bedroom or the balcony for your home office, now is the time to make it feel less like a spare room or balcony and more like an office.  If you have rowdy roommates, kids, a spouse who works from home, or any other forms of physical interruption, consider putting up a Do Not Disturb sign on your door.  This may feel extreme but explain to your spouse, kids, or friends that if you had your own office, a closed door would be respected.  Because you work amongst peers or family who often take your time for granted, you must sequester yourself for the utmost productivity.  Your roommate wouldn’t barge into your office downtown, right?

The problem with working from home is that, sometimes, people around us don’t take our work seriously.  They figure that you don’t have work hours and you can decide how much to work in a day.  This is true only to a certain extent; working by night and playing by day is often an unproductive schedule that promises overslept mornings and minimal accomplishments.

Announce your typical work hours to frequent callers—friends that want your help cleaning the garage, mothers who want you to come over for a late lunch, etc.  If they continue to call during your designated work hours, ignore their calls or turn your phone off, period.  Some people find it liberating to keep their cellular devices and landlines out of their home offices.

Enhance Your Office

  • Whatever your occupation, organizational devices like filing cabinets, book shelves, and recycling areas will likely be beneficial.  These can help you keep track of your income, business-related expenses, clients, and the like.  You can get all of supplies at thrift stores for cheaper prices and better quality than from Target.
  • If your office has a window, lucky you!  Open it for fresh air regularly and bathe in natural sunlight, which saves money on your energy bill and keeps you from nodding off and drooling on your keyboard.  If your office is dim, go for energy-efficient CFL bulbs that now come in a variety of shades and intensities.  They last longer than incandescent types and will save you money in the long run.
  • Keep your office comfortable but uncluttered.  Do you really need that stack of DVDs in the corner?  Are you sure your collection of Buddha figurines isn’t in the way of your workspace?  Resist treating your office like a storage area.  It’s an office.
  • Consider a candle warmer or incense sticks with invigorating smells like eucalyptus, or citrus scents to clear your senses and keep you awake.  Warm smells like vanilla or lavender might put you to sleep.

So, have you considered any of these when working from home, and what do you think of its importance?


Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online degrees, and what it takes to succeed as a student working towards an online bachelors degree from home. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

3 thoughts on “The Importance of Working from a Home Office, Not Just Home

  • Hi Maria,
    I’ve got a similar post regarding too much freedom working from home accomplishing less. Then it gets disappointing. One of my dreams is to have a mini office but my house is a bit cramp at the moment. I’ve got a nice room in the attic and this summer it’s going to be my temporary office. During winter though, it gets too cold up there.

  • This article is spot on Maria.

    If at all possible dedicating an actual room to be your office (and just your office!) pays you back enormously in productivity. No matter how tiny the room is.

    And you really do have to brief family that when you’re in the office and that door is closed, then you really are not at home.

  • I work in a pretty dark corner but thankfully my living area is open plan so my “office” sits in the corner. For me the best thing I can do to stay productive is to go for walks (I think in a city center) just to keep my mind clear.

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