A Home Office

A Home Office

These days many, many people are fortunate enough to be able to divide their working hours between the office or customer and home, or to devote 100% of their time to working from their home office. For some people, working from home is tricky, demanding the discipline to avoid ‘sherking from home’ and the will-power to stay away from the fridge and the food cupboards. They prefer an office setting, mixing with fellow professionals and away from their home setting. If this is you, this post is probably not for you. Certain jobs lend themselves to a home-based solution, where the technological advances mean that everything that needs to be done can be done in calls, web meetings, and video conferences. Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting, but we are getting much better at managing them so that we can maximise our productivity, minimise our travel, reduce our footprint, all without getting cabin fever and going stark raving mad from isolation. For those of us lucky enough both to enjoy and thrive in a home office arrangement, the set-up is important. Here’s a picture of my home office. I thought it would be interesting to share a few thoughts on what I think is important. Most of this might be duh-obvious to some of you, to others less so. Technology first. Reliable broadband has to be a given. Invest in a decent phone with good quality audio and a good quality headset. This means you can be hands free and more productive, while not sounding distant, preoccupied or disrespectful to the other person. My phone in a previous job was not good enough and so when we went to record the webinars I was chairing, I had to drive 150 miles to the office to use a decent phone or else I had to pick up the phone and tie up one hand for the webinar’s duration. Furniture second. Again, a good, comfortable chair at the right height is key. I’m not a shining example of ergonomic best practice, but this is another area worth investing in so that you don’t get sore shoulders, wrists and so on.  We also had custom desks and shelving designed for our office – that’s me and Mrs D – since space is at a premium in this rather small room. It cost us a small fortune, but has paid us back comfortably, pun intended. Light third. Natural light is always preferable, and a decent view out of the window for when you need to draw breath or dream about your 5-year plan. As you can just about see from the reflection in the monitor, the window to my back garden is to the right, so I can keep an eye on the dogs, guinea pigs and chickens that frequent it at different times of the year. You can also see how the light has faded the spaces round the pictures of my previous wall collage. Mementos fourth. Speaking of collages, I like to surround myself with pictures of family, stuff my kids have made for me, tickets from significant shows or sporting events, as well as keepsakes from my earlier days, to remind me how lucky I am as a person and also in my work/life balance. The previous pictures have only come down in the last couple of months and now I’m starting to build up the next 3- or 4-year chapter of my life with stuff that’s important to me. Fifth, tidiness. I don’t know if an untidy office equals a disorganised mind, but I can’t work in a sea of clutter, so I always tidy up before I start working or writing. Sixth and last, books. So much of the written word is in electronic format these days, yet I still find it good to thumb through a marketing reference manual or check a diagram. I also keep my last few ‘day books’ where I religiously record everything of import that I hear on calls or in meetings. They’re so handy for going back to, to remind yourself of exactly what was said, or what you thought was said. I’m sure this post is more about my home office than your home office and says more about who I am as a person. In any event it has served me well for the guts of the last decade, so I hope the observations are useful to you too.

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