QuickTip: Three Uber-Effective Tips for Home Offices

We just moved into our next “forever” home.  Seems like the only “forever” is the moving part.  But that’s not the point of this missive. The point here is to describe THE three characteristics every home office should possess to be highly effective.

The background on this is that I work from home when I’m not on the road.  In the last seven years of working from home, my “office” address has changed five times.  Thus, I’ve become quite an expert at setting up home offices.  Here are the three characteristics I found to be crucial to creating and working effectively in a home office. 

1.  There is a Door

There are three reasons for this requirement.  First, if there is a door, the office has a defined space.  It’s not in the living room or the kitchen or wherever.  It’s actually an office.  It can be a den or a spare bedroom, but once you move your work environment into it, it’s an “office” – into which you go to work.  Second, if there’s a door, you can close it.  Closed doors are a great way to segregate yourself from all the other things you could be doing, as well as distancing yourself from all those who might pull you into doing those other things throughout the day.  Finally, it affords much greater privacy – something people on the other end of the phone will appreciate, as will those in the house who don’t need to hear everything going on in your work world.

2.  You Face Away from the Door

Workspaces should be arranged so that you don’t face out the door (when it’s open) into the rest of the house.  The human eye has a peripheral vision range of 120 degrees.  Consequently, if you are facing towards the door and looking down at something on your desk, your eye will detect the movement of something outside your office.  This will result in your looking up.  Ping!  Self-imposed distraction and corresponding loss of focus.  Face the workspaces anyway you like, just not at the door.

3.  You Invest in Good Office Equipment/Furniture

One of the frequent miscues that I’ve made and I’ve seen others make is to not invest in good office equipment and/or furniture.  The tendency is to cheap-out when it comes to the furniture and the technology for home offices.  This is your business!  You don’t need to go over the top with Herman Miller this and Herman Miller that, but spend the money to create a good workspace and get the best equipment (computers, Internet connection speeds, printers, etc.) you can afford.  We all spend a lot time in our home offices, so it might as well be pleasant and productive time.

Well, having core dumped these thoughts on you for the last fifteen minutes it’s time for me to jump on a conference call with two people who are sitting in their respective cubicles in suburban Class A office buildings in different parts of the world.  I, on the other hand, am in my jammies nestled comfortably into my welcoming home office.

Life is good!

5 thoughts on “QuickTip: Three Uber-Effective Tips for Home Offices

  • I find it worse if I have my back to the door, because if I hear or sense movement, I’ll turn around, which is more disruptive than a quick glance up. I’m not facing the door directly though; it’s off to the right, so it’s not really an issue.

  • Understandable response! I regularly help my “downtown” office-bound clients rearrange their offices and one of the things we do is “point” a shoulder at the door. That is, the door is just off (and usually behind) one shoulder. That way they’re not totally facing away from the door, but the distractions are minimized. Also, when people are walking by, they can see my client is working and not to be interrupted.

  • Paul –
    I agree on all points for the most part… I think it depends on where the most distraction might be coming from. I had a client that had an office with two sets of French doors and a large window! We ultimately faced her toward the doors facing a room that was not used as much in the home & agreed that those doors would remain closed the majority of the time. Reason: her back had to be to the window! The window looked out onto a public lake where walkers, runners, pets etc were continually going past.

  • Steph: Totally agree. My “face away from the door” rule comes more from the office world more than the home office world. Facing away from potential distraction is the key. Keep those comments comin’!

  • Paul,
    You are so right! You need to minimize distractions. I invested in isolation headphones and play quiet music while I wokr, so I can’t hear what is going on in the other rooms in my house. People making a meal, doing laundry, talking on the phone. These can all be distractions in a home office.

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