Sep 26th, 2014
Moving office into home may have some significant perks: you get to save money on gas and time on commute, spend more time with your family, find your own home/work balance, work in a less stressful environment, and be more productive. You are free to find your own rhythm, establish your own schedule, and design your own office. Working from home is an overall positive experience, and studies have demonstrated it time and again: people who make this transition get most out of their day and report the highest levels of work/life satisfaction.
On the other hand, working from home presents a different set of challenges that are unique to the home office. Finding the right space, setting boundaries, handling home-bound distractions, and knowing when to stop working are the usual struggles of those who managed to escape the corporate cubicle confinement. However, since it largely depends on workers’ personality and organizational skills to manage all these situations, there aren’t really any rights and wrongs here. One particular aspect, though, is not up for debate: the need for setting up a client-ready space that boldly declares your goals and addresses all your business priorities. Here are four essential rules for turning your home into a professionally-looking space to welcome and impress potential customers.
Nothing kills the professional atmosphere in your home office more than a sibling fight or the sound of a too-loud TV commercial. In fact, any signs of domesticity can make a client feel uncomfortable – your goal here is to create an atmosphere of comfort and relaxation that’s separate from the comfort and relaxation of your personal home. If you are inviting clients to meet with you at your home office, keep your personal life out of your business life by installing physical barriers such as room dividers or floor-to-ceiling partitions and adding soundproofing to keep a peaceful and quiet work space.
The more comfortable your clients feel around you, the greater your chance of repeat business. Along with providing quality products and services, solving their problems, and rewarding their loyalty, you also need to make them feel literally comfortable when they visit you. Instead of seating them on your old living room couch or on a couple of kitchen chairs, consider purchasing versatile seating that melds support, comfort, and style. Get the help of an interior designer to find seating solutions that combine short-term comfort with style and affordability in order to make your clients feel at home.
Your client is not a friend you’re inviting over for coffee, so pushing clutter out of the way to make room for him to sit down may not be acceptable for someone who’s paying their hard-earned money in exchange for your professional products and services. Last week’s newspapers all over the desk, children’s playthings on the floor, piles of dirty clothes on the couch, and unopened mail in jumbled piles everywhere are not exactly conveying a professional air about yourself – and they are also highly distracting. Think about what you want people you’re discussing business with to know about your life (the less, the better) and keep everything else that might reveal personal information out of sight.
When conducting business from your home, you want to tap into the advantages your home has to offer over the sterile feel of a conventional office. As your own interior designer, you have the liberty to custom-tailor your space to express your company’s unique purposes and culture better and easier than in a corporate office. Setting up your home office is your perfect chance to go beyond the unimaginative, generic, one-size-fits-all solutions and furnish your space in a manner that conveys the distinctive mission, character, and activity of your company. However, keep in mind that filling the room with furniture that means business is not enough – the pieces you choose must still work in your home.
In addition to setting up a client-ready space, an effective home office design must also answer all your needs regarding privacy, organization, and storage. Whatever your budget, you can find exciting furnishing solutions that streamline your work and match the style of the rest of the house. Contact your local home office space planner to help you design a space that’s suitable for your line of work and meets both yours and your clients’ requirements.
About the Author
Lynne Lemieux, Founder and President of Alliance Interiors, has devoted more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing growth opportunities for some of Canada’s leading office furniture dealers. Her ability to provide clients with inspiring and versatile interior solutions for both business and home office environments has garnered her title of Aboriginal Business Woman of the Year in the city of Toronto for 2012. In her spare time, Lynne takes an active interest in politics, public speaking, and philanthropy, but also enjoys gardening, interior decorating, cooking, yoga, and traveling.