written by: S.A. Coggins•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 7/2/2011
If you're considering telecommuting or working from home, these must-haves are well, a must-have!
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Whether you're simply starting out as a telecommuting home office worker - or you're upgrading your current home office to adapt to longer working hours at home - here are some items that you might like to consider when planning your home office.
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You'll need a computer. It doesn't matter whether you choose to use a desktop or a laptop computer, but what does matter is if the computer keyboard is comfortable and does what you need it to do. Ask your boss whether he or she would prefer you own a Mac, Linux, or Windows system, and make sure to get whatever they suggest.
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2. Internet Connection With Email
Another important feature of a home office is being connected to the web. You'll also need to be well versed in using Internet applications such as browsers and email accounts.
In additional to this, it's always good to have a second or third email account to use, preferably, a web email account such as Gmail. Web email accounts also enable you to access your emails even when you're outside your home office.
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3. Laser Printer / Multi-Function Printer
At a minimum, a basic laser or inkjet printer is necessary. However, if you wish to expand the use of this printer, there are many multi-function printers that you can use. These all-in-one machines will enable you to print important documents, as well as use them as a basic photocopier and scanner. Some models even offer fax capabilities.
Having a dedicated telephone and fax machine is definitely something that all home offices should have. If your home landline is generally low-traffic (you don't use it for many social calls and such), that may serve as a home office line too. Just make sure to keep it professional when answering the phones, especially during office hours.
Some people also opt to use an internet telephony service like Skype as part of their home office communication systems. The basic service is free, but you can add on some business features like voice messaging and international numbers for a fee.
A good desk at the right height and working space is absolutely important to have in a home office. A decent chair that provides good back support and safety is also another must-have. Shop around a little before settling for your own. Cheap doesn't always mean it's the best option. But, you don't need to spend a fortune either.
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6. Shelving Units, Drawers, and/or Other Storage Space
This is particularly useful for your books, filing, and other materials for the home office. Even if you just have a small home office space, it's still important to make some room and invest in these things. Without good shelves, drawers, and/or storage space, you will end up working in a big messy home office.
It's true that no matter where or how you work, there will always be some kind of mess. One way to make sure you stay on top of being organized is to dispose things accordingly. A regular rubbish bin for general trash is one of the first things to consider. Then perhaps, a recycling box - where you can store your recyclable items such as papers. And, if or when budget allows, a shredder - for getting rid of important documents without leaving a trail.
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8. Memo / Note Boards
Regardless of size and shape, having a memo or note board is a useful tool to have in a home office. They're good for putting up inspiration items, memorabilia from work matters, To Do lists, brainstorming, and the like.
You can choose from different materials. The most popular include: cork boards, chalk boards, and magnetic boards. There are boards that combine 2 or more of these materials too.
Different home offices will have different supply needs. But, some most common ones include: plain white photocopy or typing paper, paper clips, staplers, hole punch, binders, folders, envelopes, and planners.
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10. Personal Comfort Items
One of the advantages of working from home is knowing that you're always near the things that you love dearly. And, you don't need to walk very far if you need lunch, a snack, a drink, or even a break from the work that you're doing. But, having said that, it's still good to add some personal comfort items in the home office.
Some example items may include: a regularly replenished water bottle, alarm clocks and other time pieces, inspiring artwork and posters, flowers, scented items, and the like.
Other than these ten essentials, there are other must-have items on different home office worker's lists, depending on their preferences and the type of work that they do. For example, a photographer who operates a home office would most likely include photographic equipment and studio items. A crafter selling handmade bags will include sewing machines and patterns in their list.
So, do take note of the kind of work that you're doing (or planning to do) - and include other essentials in this list as needed.