Keep Your Workspace Professional When You Run Your Company From Home
San Diego Home Office
San Diego Home Office
There can be a lot of reasons to run your business from home rather than renting an office suite. If you have no staff, or your staff all work remotely, then there can be no need to provide a working space for them, and you can save a lot on overheads and use that money to invest in other important things for your business. Of course, sometimes having an office space is more about looking professional to your clients, but this is something you can achieve even when you do keep your HQ at your house. You may also want to invite staff or people from partnering businesses to meet with you for sessions from time to time, and this can also be done at home if you set your workspace up right.
Here we look at how to create an outwardly professional appearance for your business, as well as making your workspace welcoming and smart, when you run your operations from your home.
Look Like a Professional Operation
Sometimes, you will be running a business where nobody ever really sees your base. Perhaps you usually have meetings at the sites of your clients, or you do everything remotely. However, even in this situation, it is important to give the air of a professional company rather than a one person operation that has been cobbled together in your spare room. Most people have no problem at all with dealing with businesses that don't have flashy offices, but mistrust what seem like amateur operations.
One of the most important things about giving a professional appearance when you are working from a home based business is to have professional sounding contact details to give out to clients and other people you deal with who won't actually visit your premises. A lot of people choose to use mail handling services for this, so they can give out a business address for correspondence rather than their home address. You should also have a business landline rather than giving out your home phone number for business related matters. You can of course still give out your cellphone number to people who need to contact you directly, however for inquiries directed at the business, use a separate line where you can record a business centered voicemail message.
Naturally, not all businesses need to worry about a postal address, and you will presumably have a business email account on your own domain (if you do not, address this right away – nothing looks more amateur than a business with a Gmail or Outlook email address), but having a telephone contact number is still something of an essential even when most people contact you online.
Your Tech Set-Up
Another point to consider when you are running your business from home, and want it to seem as professional and well equipped as one based in a commercial office to those on the outside, is your tech set up. You don't want to be in a position where you have to say no to doing something purely because you don't have the hardware or tech.
One of the first things you'll need to look at for this is software and services. You will need an account with a good web conferencing service, proper invoicing and accounting software, and also a good Office type software suite so you can send files in common formats.
Naturally, you will also need hardware. You can't really give off a professional appearance with a laptop alone, even though you can do the majority of your business tasks with it. A must have is a multi-function printer with scan, copy and fax capabilities. While fax is rarely used anymore, it can be helpful for sending things that require a signature, and you'll find you need the scanning and copying facilities far more often than you might expect. A model designed for business like the Konica-Minolta Bizhub can be a good choice. You'll also want to make sure you have a premium end smartphone and tablet, a good headset for longer telephone conferences, and that you have the webcams on your devices configured ready for any video chats or video conferences clients might spring on you.
You should also consider whether you need things in place for giving presentations at your home should you hold sessions there, but we will look at that in the next section.
Making Your Home Office Look Professional to Visitors
If you have a team who are based in their own homes, you may sometimes want to gather everyone together for meetings and brainstorming sessions. You may also want to invite potential or existing clients, or people you may want to form other relationships with like investors, suppliers and partners, over to discuss things. This is when it becomes very important to not only have a set-up that easily facilitates the meetings, but also a professional looking working environment.
Designated Areas for Work
Your office should look like a proper workspace, rather than a spare room in your house where you keep your desk. When it comes to décor, consider your brand. Just as you would want a commercial space you hired to show your brand well, you should aim to do this in your working areas at home. If you have a hip, modern brand, then make sure your office has a look and feel that ties into this. If your brand is more traditional, think of ways to reflect this in the design. Try and avoid anything too domestic seeping in to your workspace. This doesn't mean you can't personalize it a little, but there is a big difference between having a photograph of your family or a piece of art related to your interests in the room, and having objects in there that are related to your hobbies or the other people who live in your home and distract from the business. Find somewhere else to keep your guitar collection or your sports trophies, and make sure your family don't see your office as an extra storage room!
You may also need to use other rooms in your home for meetings if your office is too small. If you plan to have strategy sessions at your dining table or make a presentation in your living room, you will of course not be using the most business-centric design ideas in these spaces. However, do a good sweep through these rooms before people arrive to hide any distracting items or clutter, and make sure you have prepared everything as you would in a meeting room – for example having refreshments on hand and any presentation tools already set up.
Presenting or Holding Sessions at Home
You may also need some extra equipment if you intend to hold regular sessions in your home as part of running your business. A flipchart can be all you need for quick brainstorming meetings, but if you do things like this a lot it can be worth investing in a smart whiteboard. This kind of technology not only looks impressive, but is extremely convenient as you can save and digitally share the notes made, and also show presentations directly on the screen. You may also want to install some other things that help make meetings feel professional, like a coffee machine so refreshments can be made on the fly without disrupting the sessions.
Adding Some Company Pride Around Your Home
If your home is truly the hub of your business, it can be good to display this in the areas people visiting you for business reasons will see. Consider having some posters made up of products or marketing campaigns and framing them in a stylish way to display in your office or other spaces you use for work. If you have anything you are proud of, like certifications or industry awards, make sure these are visible too. Your business should be something you are proud of and which you show as a big part of your life, so having things connected with it involved in your home décor shows visitors you are as passionate about it as you are about the other things in your life.
Entertaining at Home
Remember, however, that there is a difference between holding meetings at home, and entertaining business contacts there. If people are invited to your home for drinks or dinner, then you will want to show off a more rounded persona with your home. In this situation, you don't have to worry so much about keeping the spaces they see business focused, and showing off your interests outside of the business and your family are appealing, rather than distracting.
Running a business from home still makes it possible to look focused, slick and professional, both to those who see your business from the outside and those who regularly visit your premises. The key is to think of the areas you use for work just as you would any other office, and make them branded, well equipped, and free of distracting clutter.
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