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The perfect home office: What you need to know

Sylvia Pennington
Business Journalist

Sylvia Pennington writes regularly on business and technology for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

Sylvia Pennington
Business Journalist

Sylvia Pennington writes regularly on business and technology for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

Follow our strategies for setting up a home office where you can get things done and stay productive.

Planning to start using your home as an office? Or perhaps you’ve been headquartered there for a while and decided it’s about time you turned the clutter in the spare room into a professional workspace?

Smarter has pulled together some tips to help you set up the perfect home office.

Man working in home office

The ambience

Lighting can have a huge impact on how a room feels. Aim to perch in a spot which enjoys an abundance of the natural variety, interior architect and Officeworks spokesperson David Flack says.

While adequate task lighting is essential, overly bright spaces can be an assault on the senses. Somewhere you can turn off the fluoros and throw open the curtains is ideal.

It’s a workspace but it’s also part of your home – the place where you live, sleep and play – so don’t be afraid to inject some personality and liveliness into the room.

Think indoor plants, family mementos or some artwork on the walls, Flack says. A large, striking photo in a simple frame can take care of the latter.

Conversely, too much of a lived-in vibe can be distracting when you’re trying to get stuck into some serious slog. Aim for uncluttered, organised and inviting, to enhance, not detract from, your productivity.

And if space permits, consider incorporating a break-out space – a feature chair by the window, say – a pleasant spot away from your desk where you’re able to get some work done, from a different perspective.

The technology

Landline, internet, mobile… separate bills for each and a struggle to keep track of what you’re shelling out each month?

A business bundle such as Telstra BizEssentials, which includes fixed price or free on-account calls within Australia and capped charges for excess data, can help you keep a lid on your communication costs.

Add your mobile into the mix too, with a Telstra DOT (Digital Office Technology)™ bundle, tailored to suit the needs of your home business. Optional extras include broadband back-up and a virtual receptionist service to answer and direct incoming calls. This can help give you a big business feel without the overheads of full time staff.

And if you’re going to be collaborating with clients, customers or freelance staff, options for cloud services can provide enterprise level service that’s scalable to grow with your business. Telstra’s Cloud services for small business can provide pay-as-you-use access to software, state of the art security and collaboration options to keep your home office running along as efficiently and safely as an enterprise many times the size.

Check out how to get the most out of your set-up here.
Discover the right tools for you

The furniture

What’s needed to furnish a home office?

Somewhere to sit and a flat surface for your computer, says Barry Hatch, the less-is-more founder of commercial office furniture vendor Innerspace Queensland.

Mobile technology – the ability to pull up anywhere with a laptop – has made the bigger than Ben Hur power desk obsolete, in favour of smaller, more fluid workstations, Hatch says. The home office should reflect this new reality.

“Go the flat surface and chair option with as much flexibility as possible – it’s good to be able to move it around to take advantage of different outlooks or lighting,” he says.

Adjustable standing desks are currently in vogue, but working healthily by getting up for a break every hour can achieve the same effect without the price tag.

If funds are limited, skimp on everything but the chair.

”A good chair influences your health, your ability to concentrate and allows you to work longer stints without being tired,” Hatch says.

Looking for some bookshelves and filing cabinets for your papers? No longer de rigueur in the digital age, it seems.

“Ultilise technology and purchase as little file storage as possible,” Hatch counsels.

“Assess what you need to keep in the home office and rigorously store or archive. If you need archival storage for some documents, think a cheap-as-chips, four drawer filing cabinet that can be stowed in the garage, leaving your workspace clear for working.”

And while you’re at it, forget the mobile pedestal of drawers under the desk too – you can likely do without this expensive receptacle for miscellaneous office junk.

Prefer to work out your tech needs face to face?

 Find your nearest Telstra Business Centre here.

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