Five tips for designing the ideal home office
You really need to have a home office, but how can you set that up? Here are suggestions for creating a productive working area:
Choose the right location
Like many people, you’re probably worried about picking the best possible work space for your job or business. Maybe it could be a corner of the largely unused dining room or maybe you want to set up your desk in a guest bedroom.
Hopefully, you don’t have to use part of the kitchen or family room, where noisy people, TVs and dogs might interrupt your concentration.
If you have lots of choices, set up the laptop in the possible office and try it on for size and convenience for a week or two before moving all your gear or making renovations.
Having a door for an office is also important.
Don’t forget the tax deductions
Maybe you know all about income tax benefits, but Forbes has said that only a fraction of the 26 million Americans who have home offices take deductions for that space.
The basic deduction is $5 per square foot up to a maximum of $1,500. If the work space is less than a maximum 300-square-foot area, your deduction will be less.
You can deduct some costs for office furniture, the Wi-Fi, the computer, part of the rent or mortgage, part of the property taxes, part of the phone and utility expenses for your home, the cost of re-decorating and much more.
You definitely need to use the office for your business for the majority of your time, so a kitchen might not work. But you can deduct a corner of the kitchen if that’s really your office.
Take care of power problems
One of the biggest difficulties with home offices is a lack of electrical connections. There are too few outlets for electric plugs and not enough voltage available for office equipment.
You need to have an electrician pay a visit and do fixes before moving in desks and equipment that may cover up your walls. After all, every outlet should be on a stud.
You also want to protect home office apparatus in case of a power surge or electrical storm. Plugging computers, routers, modems and printers into power strips is not enough.
Consider having a whole house surge protector installed on your electrical panel.
Add cooling power
In Arizona, those back bedrooms that make perfect office locations are often in the hottest part of the house.
If you don’t have great air conditioning in the office area, install an overhead fan, hopefully one that also has a light. That may be a better solution than revamping your air conditioning.
You could also install a mini-split air conditioner instead, but that can be costly.
Choose a comfortable desk and chair
Since you can deduct at least part of the cost of new equipment, think about buying a generous-sized desk with lots of drawers. The height of the desktop needs to be about 31 inches to provide ample-sized drawers.
Try to get a countertop that’s tougher than wood, such as granite or quartz.
It would be great if the desk was designed so that two people could work on computers at the same time. It would be ideal if it provides generous, easily accessible counter space for writing and spreading out documents.
You want the keyboard to be at the right height so that your forearms are horizontal and your upper arms are vertical, so be sure to buy a chair that can move up and down to fit the keyboard or a desk with an adjustable keyboard tray attached to the countertop.
Be sure that chair is ergonomically designed.
You might even want to try having a taller, stand-up work station for at least part of your day. You can buy models that crank up and down.
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