How I set up my home office

Overview

It is difficult to generalise on different people's situations, but I would be willing to bet that when most people go from a salaried job to setting up their own business, money suddenly becomes a bit tighter. This is the situation I found myself in on leaving my well-paid job in a hedge fund in London.

The challenge

I had decided to leave my job to set up Huxley Colour Ltd and had in my mind decided that I would work from home in the start-up phases. I was, after all, trying to set up Huxley on a shoestring. What I hadn't fully appreciated is that there is a huge difference in the phrases 'working from home' and 'setting up a home office'. This difference was my first challenge.

The solution

For the first month of setting up Huxley I was very much in the 'working from home' mode. I would wake up, have breakfast, grab my laptop and settle down on the sofa, at the kitchen table, or on my bed set off on my daily routine of sending emails and making phone calls to suppliers, banks, potential investors and so on.

This in theory sounds like a nice set up, and will be familiar to many people who work from home. However, this is not a sustainable way to work. Despite one's best intentions, being slumped on a sofa or bed is not conducive to maintaining concentration or to helping the creative juices flow. The system of 'working from home' had to change. And so I began the process of 'setting up a home office'.

The key to successfully running a business from home is to designate a space that is for the sole purpose of working from. This doesn't have to be a vast room, or even a room at all. What it must be is a space large enough for a desk, preferably with some natural light and ideally away from the hustle and bustle of your home. Once a suitable space has been found the two key bits of kit that are a must, are a desk and a chair. This sounds like an obvious thing to say but many people believe they can get away with a little table coupled with an old kitchen chair. This is will not do, kitchen chairs have been designed to be comfortable for the course of a meal, not for a whole days sitting in front of a computer!

My advice is to get the biggest desk your designated working space can take. Having enough room to spread out all your necessary paraphernalia is key. Then get yourself the most comfortable office chair your budget will allow. This chair will be where you spend 8 to 12 hours a day for the next few years so it is worth making those hours a comfortable experience. If like me you are on a budget, then both the desk and chair can be picked up for between £70 and £150 from Ikea.

Having followed my own rules to a T, the Huxley office is now a much more efficient beast than its initial iteration.

Key lesson

Do not baulk at the thought of working from home. It can be a very enjoyable as well as efficient place from which to work. Just make sure you designate a dedicated workspace and employ good habits from the outset and running a business from home will be a joy.

Top tip

Get the biggest desk your workspace can take and get the most comfortable desk chair your budget can afford.

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