Working from a cramped corner of your living room just isn’t cutting it these days; your workload is expanding, and you need a proper office. Designing the home office of your dreams comes with several benefits: your commute will stay non-existent, you’ll be able to shut the door to drown out distractions and you can even qualify for a tax deduction.
But if you’re going to invest the money and effort into establishing a designated home office, you should do it right from start to finish. Here are a few tips for making the most of your space.
Assess Your Needs
No two freelancers, remote workers or business owners will have the same needs. You may need a desk, a laptop, and a chair. Or you may need a meeting space. Ask yourself these questions while you’re still in the planning stages to ensure you get exactly what you want:
- What line of work am I in?
- What will I be doing daily in the space?
- Will external parties (clients, colleagues, delivery people, etc.) enter the space?
- What technology will I need to facilitate communication from this space?
- What will I be storing in this space?
Before you spring for that funky, modern desk chair with the cool upholstery, stop and think: is this a piece of furniture I want to sit in for hours at a time? Is it the best option for my physical health? On the flip side, you don’t have to opt for a generic office chair just because that’s what most commercial spaces contain. As HGTV advises, never sacrifice form for function.
Your home office will need storage, shelving, seating, work surfaces, and lighting fixtures, to start. At the end of the day, you want your furniture to streamline your work process and provide ergonomic support for your movements. And never underestimate the power of layered lighting lest you strain your eyes. You’ll need both overhead lighting (like recessed fixtures or a flush-mount) plus focused task lighting (like a desktop or floor lamp).
What are the tools of your trade? Like many offices, yours will probably require the staples: a scanner, copier, printer, audio/video setup, computer, and router. But you may need specialty equipment, depending on your workflow.
Upgrading your setup or adding new equipment into the mix is an opportune time to re-evaluate your homeowner’s insurance rates to make sure your policy covers your expensive, work-related possessions while still working with your budget. You may even find that you need to take out a Business Owners Policy (BOP) with commercial liability and property coverage because your homeowners plan alone is no longer cutting it. After all, the last thing you’d want to find out after an accident is that your work systems were uninsured by your current policy’s standards.
Property Tax Discount
While establishing a full-blown home office does take an investment up front, there’s a silver lining: many homeowners qualify for a property tax deduction proportional to how much of their home’s resources the designated home office uses. Remember, to qualify, your office must be a space used exclusively for work. From there, the tax write-off depends on the square footage of your home office in relation to the rest of your house. You’ll be able to claim a deduction on your taxes and earn back some of your capital.
Designing the home office of your dreams is about finding the right look and feel to help you stay focused, productive and comfortable. With the right furniture, storage, and equipment (plus homeowner’s insurance to keep it all safe), you’ll be ready to work on your own terms.