Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Home Office That Links

Some recent stories from around the Internet that caught our attentions:

  • Affordable New Home Office Tech (Daily Record)
  • Don’t want to commute to an office? Commute to a “co-working space” instead! (Metro News)
  • Don’t take our word for it: “On the Job: Tired of a commute or an office? Here’s what to know if you want to try working remotely” (Orange County Register)
  •  “Solopreneurs”? Really? Must we have more jargon? (Forbes)
  • 5 Tips for Declaring Your Work Independence (“Side-giggers”?) (Next Avenue)
  • 12 Tips to Stay Healthy While Working From Home (Entrepreneur)

Location Scouts Revisited Revisited, Part 3: The Dining Room Table

This is the least desirable option for situating a home office, as it intrudes upon the rest of the family and may not be especially private or quiet. You also need to disrupt your office for meals—or vice versa.

Advantages: Convenient, minimal expense in setting up.

Disadvantages: Prone to disruption. Office needs to be packed up and moved during meals or when there are dinner guests.

Regardless of where you have set up your home office, be sure to draw up those boundaries we mentioned. Ensure that your office set up affords you the ability to work quietly, privately, and free of distraction when you need to.

The Home Office That Workshops!

Heritage Living and Wakefield Living Magazines Present “The Home Office That Works” Workshop

When: Tuesday May 19, 2015, 7:30–9:00 p.m. EDT; registration and reception begin at 7:00 p.m.

Where: Heritage View Clubhouse, 1037 Marshall Farm St., Wake Forest, NC 27587

Preregistration is required. Register at http://conta.cc/1DQ666C.

Join Heritage Living and Wakefield Living magazines for a Special Free Event. Food and beverages will be provided.

Work from home? Ever wanted to? Do you telecommute? Get advice from a seasoned pro, Dr. Joe Webb, co-author of The Home Office That Works! He’ll offer an evening of stories, tips, and strategies for running a home-based business or telecommuting.

Ask this fellow Heritage resident questions about your business, your home office set-up, software, computers, communications, bookkeeping, and more. He’ll discuss time and money management, and explain how to get things done while managing the obligations of family, neighbors, and even pets.

“Working at home has been a great experience for our family,” says Joe. “The benefits far outweighed the challenges, and I’m looking forward to helping others avoid the pitfalls and make working at home a more rewarding experience.”

Register now at http://conta.cc/1DQ666C.

Get the book! The 2015 edition is available in paperback at http://amzn.to/17Axu01, or an Amazon Kindle e-book available at http://amzn.to/17AxBss. Visit the book’s website at homeofficethatworks.com.

Heritage LogoHeritage-Wakefield Living

The sponsors Heritage Living and Wakefield Living magazines have arranged child care for attendees. Right Time Kids has offered a special discount for the evening. Give them a call at (919) 554-8030. They are in Gateway Commons in Wake Forest.

Location Scouts Revisited Revisited, Part 2: The Desk in the Bedroom

A desk in the bedroom may be a better option than the living room, depending on living arrangements and work habits. If you have a significant other, but like to work late into the night, you may not be in that relationship for very long. Also, as with the other converted bedroom options, make sure you are not too far from your wireless network router.

Advantages: Private and separate from the rest of the house, especially high-traffic areas.

Disadvantages: Psychological disadvantage to sleeping in the office. May inconvenience other family members.

Next up, we leave the bedroom and head for the kitchen.

Location Scouts Revisited Revisited, Part 1: The Desk in the Living Room

In previous posts, we looked at some of the best options for locating a home office. However, as we pointed out in previous posts, our living arrangements often force us into improvising. So here are some suggestions for making the best out of some of the least desirable options for a home office location.

Depending on your situation, this may be the only option open to you, particularly if you are just starting out in your career (young, single people rarely own houses) or have just started working from home. In fact, if you’re hesitant about the idea of working at home, this may be a good way of testing the waters without committing to the expense of a dedicated office.

Still, this type of home office arrangement may fall prey to distractions, particularly if you have kids at home. In this case, you may need to adopt the Les Nessman strategy and clearly mark the boundaries of your “office.” Another option would be to purchase an inexpensive, free-standing privacy screen or room divider to demarcate your working area. A privacy screen can also be a good way to indicate when the work day has begun—or ended. Take it down, and the work day has started. Put it up, and the day is over (or vice versa).

Advantages: Inexpensive, and can be efficient use of space. Convenient to the rest of the house. There should be no issues with temperature, phone, Internet access.

Disadvantages: May be prone to distraction from TV, other family members, etc. Lack of privacy. May be aesthetically unappealing to have an office in plain view.

In the next post, we move into the boudoir….

Mixed Signals

Richard here.

In 2014, the music parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic recorded a song called “First World Problems” (in the style of the band The Pixies) which includes such “complaints” as “Can’t remember which car I drove to the mall,” “I had to buy something I didn’t even need just so I could qualify for free shipping on Amazon,” and “I’m pretty sure the cookies in this airport lounge ain’t gluten free,” but one is, “My house is so big I can’t get WiFi in the kitchen.” In the grand scheme of things, this is a pretty minor gripe but when you have a home office, even what would be considered a smallish house may be too big for a WiFi signal to carry throughout, especially if we locate our office in the basement or the attic—or some room far distant from where the WiFi router is. And even if you can get a WiFi signal, it may not be strong enough for what you need to send and receive. For example, if you work with large graphic files or video, you’ll need as strong a signal as you can get or you’ll waste a lot of time just transferring files back and forth. After 45 minutes, you want to be more than 1% completed.

Cellphone signals can be more problematic, since the house may not be the entire problem. When I bought a house in 2005, I had neglected to check to see how strong a signal I got inside the house, which was a serious oversight as I had planned to use my cellphone as my business (and in fact only) phone and forgo a landline. As it turned out, there was absolutely no signal in the basement where I set up the office, and even upstairs, it was dodgy at the best of times. If the phone rang, I would have to run upstairs to answer it, and very often calls dropped. (At one point, in great frustration, I hurled the phone down a set of wooden stairs with Nolan Ryan-like velocity and it was actually very satisfying to watch it fly apart.) I went through three different providers with no appreciable improvement, so I had to bite the bullet and get a landline installed.

Eventually, they erected more cell towers near my neighborhood and by the time I got an iPhone I had somewhat improved reception. I eventually got a SkypeOut number which was more economical than a landline—and works great. I still only use the cellphone for emergencies, and then I use the Skype app more often than not.

Again, first world problems, but serious ones if we’re trying to run a business. Still, as the song goes, “Some idiot just called me up on the phone—what!? Don’t they know how to text? OMG!”

Location Scouts Revisited, Part 4: The Guest Room

Some offices double as guest rooms (or vice versa). This is an acceptable workaround if you seldom have guests, or if they only come for weekends, holidays, or your vacations—times when you are not working anyway.

Advantages: The same advantages of a converted bedroom, which is technically what it is.

Disadvantages: Disruption of work environment when guests come. Reduction of usable office space for bed, bureau, and other amenities for guests.

Next week, we’ll revisit some of the least desirable—but often necessary—options for situating a home office, and offer some suggestions for making these options work for those who have no choice.

Location Scouts Revisited, Part 3: The Spare Bedroom

In the previous two posts, we looked at some optimal places to situate a home office. Here is one good, but slightly less optimal, option.

Depending on the size, layout, and demographics of your household, you may be able to dedicate a spare bedroom as an office. Bedrooms usually have doors, and a locking doorknob can be easily installed, if there isn’t one there already. This kind of arrangement is perfect in empty nests after the kids have left home. It may be less ideal at a younger age, when the prospect of having kids is on the horizon and you may need to reserve the bedroom for them. It would also be best not to have the room also serve other purposes, such as a sewing room, TV room, etc. A converted bedroom is an ideal office space in an apartment. Many work-at-home people specifically rent two- or three-bedroom apartments and designate one bedroom as the office.

Advantages: Like the basement office, it is relatively separate from the rest of the house, helping with quiet and self-containment. Unlike the basement office, there may not be temperature or weather issues. Cellphone reception can be better, too.

Disadvantages: Again, may be too close to the rest of the house for ideal levels of quiet and lack of distraction. If the room is on the top floor of a multistory house, again make sure that your wireless network router is near enough so you can get a strong signal.