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6 Steps to a Workable Home Office

Find the best place at home for your workspace

By SCORE | May 21, 2012

There’s no place like home, especially when you get to work there, too.

While others deal with frustrating commutes and noisy cubicles, you’re getting ahead and getting things done. Or are you?

Without proper planning and organization, your home office may do more to hinder your productivity than enhance it.

Here are six steps to a home office that works for you: 

1. Select the Right Spot


The space you choose for your home office should be well lighted and properly ventilated, with enough room for furniture, supplies, storage compartments and other items you use on a regular basis. Windows are great for natural light and that all-important “inspiration,” but they can just as easily be a persistent distraction. It may be best to configure your work area so that the windows are behind you or to the side.

2. Get Connected


Your home office should also be equipped with sufficient electrical outlets to safely support your office equipment and appliances, as well as connections for your telephone, fax and Internet access. Any costs incurred to add outlets and any other utilities to your office (e.g., heating and air conditioning ducts) are tax deductible.

3. Fine-Tune the Furnishings 


Consider what kind of furniture you’ll need for your business, including file cabinets, printer stands and any other items needed to organize records, tools and supplies. Browse catalogs or measure furniture you already have and compare those dimensions with the available space in your office. This will make it easier to find an ideal layout without the risk of discovering too late that your new desk doesn’t fit.

4. Evaluate Equipment


Follow the same process with the equipment you will use, whether it’s a computer, fax or a machine tool. You will almost certainly use some things less frequently than others, so consider ways to place these items so that they’re convenient, yet out of the way.

5. Organize


Avoid moving any business equipment or files out of your home office. You cannot afford to waste time tracking down misplaced tools or research information, especially when a deadline is near. And if customers visit your home office, an organized work environment will say a lot about you and the quality of your services. Even if you never have visitors, taking a few moments to straighten up at the end of the day gives you a head start on tomorrow’s tasks.

6. Watch Those Taxes


The Internal Revenue Service will let you deduct expenses related only to that part of your home that you use exclusively and regularly for business. This includes the mortgage/rent cost of floor space, utilities and furnishings for areas where you actually perform your business and customer reception or meeting areas. You may also deduct expenses for parts of your home used as a daycare facility, or to store inventory you sell in your business — even if you sometimes use those areas for personal purposes as well. 

Based on SCORE's "60-second Guide to Setting Up a Home Office."

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