Employers of telecommuters expect their employees to have tools and equipment to get the work done. Setting up a telecommuting home office requires knowing your work style, taking inventory of existing resources, and planning. Here is a checklist to help you set up an efficient, productive and comfortable home office.
Organize Your Office Area
Dedicated Space: Many people start their work-at-home careers at the kitchen table, but it’s easier to get things accomplished if your space doesn’t have to be pulled out and then packed up each time you start and finish work.
No Distractions: Ideally you should have a dedicated room for a home office to eliminate distractions. If that’s not possible, locate your office in a place that is away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the home.
Natural light: Research suggests that natural light can improve mood, lower fatigue and reduce eye strain.
Desk: Choose a size and shape that fits the way you work. I’m an out-of-sight-out-of-mind type person, so I like to have everything on my desk where I can see it, which means my desk is fairly large.
Chair: Choose a chair that is comfortable and offers back support. To avoid back strain and Carpel tunnel syndrome, set the chair height so that when you stand in front of the chair, the seat hits just below your knee.
Light: Although you should have natural light in your office, you can’t always rely on it to keep your office well-lit. Many rooms have a ceiling light, but adding a desk lamp can offer task lighting and reduce eye strain.
Have the Proper Equipment and Services
Computer: Most telecommuters work on the computer all day, and even if you don't, a computer is used to stay in touch with the boss and collaborate with colleagues. Your computer should have the storage and oomph to do the work your employer needs you to do.
Scanner: Not long ago, printers, copiers and faxes were must-haves for the home office, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore. A scanner can act as a copier and scanned items can be emailed as opposed to faxing. With that said, you might want to consider an all-in-one machine, so you can print, copy, scan and fax when needed.
Phone: You don’t need a dedicated work line unless your employer requests it. Many telecommuters today use their existing cell phone or home line. Another option is to get distinctive ring, which is an additional phone number on your land line that has a special ring.
High-speed Internet Access: Most employers will ask that you have high speed Internet access either through cable or DSL. If you have dial-up or satellite service, you’ll want to switch, if possible.
Get the Best Software
Anti-Virus: No one should be online without virus protection. Anti-virus software not only protects your computer, but your work and livelihood, as well.
Word Processing: The standard is Microsoft Word, however, depending on the job, you might be able to get away with having another program such as OpenOffice.
Email: Using an online service such as Gmail allows you to check and manage your email anywhere from any online device. Programs such as Outlook offer good email management and a host of other tools, such as calendars and scheduling.
Job-Specific Software: Your telecommuting job may require additional software. For example, if you’re a bookkeeper, you may need QuickBooks. If you work in graphic design, you may need Adobe Illustrator.
Depending on your job, you may need other supplies. For example, a customer service representative will need a quality headset. And although it's not completely necessary, decorate your office space with plants, pictures and other items that are inspiring and make you feel at home and productive.