You’ve finally made the jump from the corporate gig and started your own small business. This new business, however, is small enough that you don’t need to make the move to an office building. Because you’re still on the small side, you’re probably working out of your home — you are one of the legions of Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) workers.
That’s something to be proud of. You are working your way up the scale, and someday you’ll be able to move from SOHO to a small business. But until that fateful day, when you have a dedicated office space from which to work, your home serves double duty.
Because your office is in your home, you have to take extra steps in order to work efficiently. It’s not all that much of a challenge, but at times it can present some hurdles. Fear not, there are ways you can work as efficiently in your SOHO as you would in a regular office.
Let’s unpack this.
A Dedicated Space
Just because you’re working within your home, doesn’t mean your office has to be available to all who dwell within. In order to work efficiently in your SOHO, the first thing you must do is find a dedicated space in which to work. If you place yourself in a common space (say in a living or dining room), you’ll face constant interruptions.
Instead, dedicate a room to your office. Make sure that room has a door that you can close, and use it. Those who live with you have to understand that when you’re in your dedicated office you are at work and should not be bothered unless there’s a reason.
And with that dedicated space, you need to furnish it with all the necessary equipment to aid you in your quest for efficiency. You need an ergonomic desk with all the accouterment. If your desk is of the sit-down type, make sure you have a high-quality chair, one that is not only comfortable but helps you to work efficiently. If your desk is of the standing type, make sure to have an industrial-grade mat to stand on. You don’t want to have to deal with standing fatigue. In fact, you should pay special attention to your feet and make sure there’s no pain. If your feet are hurting, it may be an indication of nerve damage, in which case you should consider wearing shoe insoles for neuropathy.
As far as the layout of your office is concerned? If at all possible configure your desk such that it faces the door to the room. You don’t want people to be able to come into the room and look over your shoulder at your work.
Remember, your work might contain sensitive information. Don’t hesitate to lend yourself the privacy you require.
A Dedicated Schedule
Next, you need to have a dedicated schedule for your office. You could always choose standard business hours and make sure those who live in the house with you know not to interrupt you during those hours.
Having a dedicated schedule will ensure that you can get into a groove with your work such that it’ll feel as though you were working in a regular office. Getting into that routine will eventually help you to become significantly more efficient than if you were working haphazardly. This is also one of the hardest challenges you’ll face. Working out of your home means there are plenty of distractions without management breathing down your shoulder to get your work done.
A dedicated schedule will help avoid that pitfall.
You want to make sure to have all of the software you need to get the job done. Don’t cut corners on software (unless there’s an open-source alternative that can do the job). Pony up for software so you have all of the tools you need to get the job done. You might even hire software developers to create unique tools for your specific needs.
And because you are working in a SOHO, make it clear your work software is to be used only by those who are a part of the business. At the same time, make sure to have a dedicated cloud account for your work files and data. You don’t want to be sharing a cloud space, where other users would have access to private client or work data.
While you’re at it, make sure you have more than enough cloud space for your business. You don’t want to have your day interrupted by an out of space error on your cloud account. Not only could that lead to data loss, but it’ll also mean you’ll wind up having to spend precious time purchasing more cloud space.
Finally, this is just as important as dedicated software, space, and schedule. If you work out of a home where you also live with a family, you might wind up having to fight children or your spouse for your devices—printers, tablets, bandwidth, etc. When you have children at home who are probably streaming a lot of content, your network can start to bottleneck.
Due to the possible high demand on your network, consider getting a dedicated network service for your business. With a separate network, you won’t have to worry that your family or roommates are going to suck up your bandwidth, causing your work to slow down in the process.
Also, make sure you have your own printer, server, desktop, laptop, tablets, etc. Sharing this equipment with those who aren’t a part of your SOHO is a recipe for inefficiency. You might even go so far as to hire developers to create hardware specific to your needs.
It doesn’t take too much work or forethought to create an efficient SOHO workspace. It does, however, take a modicum of dedication to follow through with everything required to keep your workspace and time geared toward efficiency. With just a bit of time and effort, you’ll be working smoothly throughout your day.