How to Set Up a Home Office

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Once you're ready to set up shop in your home, it's time to turn your little corner into a real corner office.

Things You'll Need

  • Copiers
  • Cordless Phones With Answering Machines
  • Fax Machines
  • Laser Printers
  • Modems
  • Phone Lines
  • Bookcases
  • Desk Chairs
  • Desk Lamps
  • Desks
  • Tables
  • Internet Access
  • Office Supplies
  • Computers
  • Establish a permanent space within your home for your office. A separate room is ideal.

  • Decide on an office arrangement. The best is a U-shaped arrangement, which lets you use three surfaces to keep everything within reach.

  • Choose an L-shaped arrangement that provides a secondary surface if space is limited. A parallel arrangement can provide two full-sized working surfaces if they are placed opposite each other.

  • Consider a V-shaped arrangement, which consists of a small working area in front of you (generally used for a computer monitor) and two surfaces angled to your left and right if your office area is very small. This is similar to a U-shape, except the central working area is much smaller.

  • Establish two business-only phone lines (one for voice and one for fax and/or Internet) for your office. If you'll need to forward calls to other offices, ask your phone company about related services.

  • Buy office furniture that suits the arrangement you've chosen. Include desks and tables, chairs and desk lamps.

  • Buy a phone with a built-in answering machine and a hold button. If you'll be transferring calls from within your home office, make sure your phone has a transfer button.

  • Buy a computer system, including a printer. Consider built-in fax software if you'll be sending and receiving files created on a PC.

  • Purchase a separate fax machine if you'll be sending and receiving photos or articles from newspapers or magazines by fax. To save money, consider buying a fax machine that can also serve as a photocopier.

  • Stock your office with standard office supplies. If you're self-employed, budget the cost of these items in your monthly business expenses; otherwise, your employer may provide these supplies for you.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't have a separate room available, use devices like screens, bookcases and directed lighting to create the necessary separation between home space and office space.
  • Consider getting a small headset for your phone, both to free your hands and to block out background noise.
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