This past week I decided to clean out my home office. Actually, it wasn’t my decision. My wife decided that my nice office furniture would look better in her office and I was quickly robbed of most of the home office fixtures I had grown accustomed to. However, I am looking at this with a positive spin and using it as an opportunity to reevaluate my home office setup. I have seen many elaborate home office spaces but have opted for a minimalist design (translation: I’m really a cheapskate that rarely buys any furniture I can’t find on Craigslist and then I agonize afterwards, wondering if I could’ve haggled the seller down another $5). With this in mind, I have learned there are only a couple of essential concepts when setting up your home office.
Avoid the high traffic areas. I have yet to figure out why most homebuilders in the US design a den or home office space right next to the front door. It’s in the direct line of fire of a multitude of distractions, i.e. solicitors repeatedly ringing the doorbell, your dog trying to chase squirrels through the front windowpane, or your kids stress testing the door hinges with how many times it can open and close. In the homes that I have lived in, I always end up migrating to the back of the house, usually taking over a spare bedroom. Do yourself a favor and find a quiet spot away from most of the household activity.
Lighting. I have a personal attachment to my man-cave. I used to like the manly, dungeon-esque qualities of it. A personal retreat from a Pottery Barn and IKEA infested house. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good for videoconferencing and was hard on my eyes. I have now found a place with good natural lighting and bright lamps throughout the room.
Remember the 5 S’s. The 5S methodology was originally created by Japanese manufacturing engineers to keep their facilities organized but it applies to any place, even the home office. It stands for Sort, Simplify, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Go through your home office, keep only the essential items and toss the rest (sort). Ensure that everything has its proper place (simplify). Now, go ahead and clean it up (shine). Make it a regular habit at the end or beginning of each day (standardize). Block off time on your calendar and review your work practices and perform the first 4 S’s again (sustain).
Stay safe. Although OSHA won’t pay your home office a visit anytime in the future, that doesn’t mean you should ignore some basic common sense and safety practices at home. Beware of the octopus of electrical cords keeping your home network alive. If you’re like me and buying second furniture, make sure those top heavy file cabinets won’t flatten you. Check the basics ergonomics of your setup to ensure you can move around freely and comfortably.
Got a tip? Drop me a line and let me know.