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4/24/2012

How to set up a Virtual or Home Office According to the Gallup Organization and the Opinion Research Corporation in Princeton, New Jersey, eight million Americans now have virtual offices and 13.5 million are expected to have them within the next two years. So what is a 'virtual office'?

How to set up a Virtual or Home Office

According to the Gallup Organization and the Opinion Research Corporation in Princeton, New Jersey, eight million Americans now have virtual offices and 13.5 million are expected to have them within the next two years. So what is a 'virtual office'?

The experts say that 'virtual offices' are those workspaces that you 'create' for yourself on a temporary basis to allow you to work without being in your traditional office space. These workspaces can include your car, a hotel room, or even the kitchen table.

In addition to 'virtual' offices, there continues to be a rise in home offices, dedicated space in the home environment used for business or for household business affairs.

Many working parents with young children have embraced the virtual and home office concepts because they allow for more flexible work schedules - - early in the morning, when the children are napping, or late at night.

Due to a low unemployment rate today and a tight employment picture, corporations and mid-size businesses are embracing the virtual and home offices as means of hiring employees who don't want the hassle of commute times or the stress of working in a fast-paced office environment.

If you are considering setting up a virtual or home office, consider these points for maximum productivity:

Home Office Space

  • Design an office that's right for you: how you work and what is visually pleasing to you. Forget about making it look like a corporate workspace; it's more important to ensure that you can be comfortable in the space.
  • Select one room in your home that is spacious and has lots of light. Be sure you and your company know - - and meet - - the IRS guidelines for home offices.
  • Install dedicated business phone, fax and computer lines. You may find you want to add lines as your business grows.
  • Decide what phone features you need: voice mail, call waiting, call forwarding, three way calling, audio or video conferences, conference calling, caller ID, or a toll-free number. Look into phone equipment or software that can track and analyze your phone use. Cable modem or DSL, when available in your area, gives you high-speed access to the Internet.
  • Carefully determine what large equipment you need - computer, printer, fax, phone, etc.
  • Use a surge protector for all equipment including your telephone.
  • Place all equipment on sturdy furniture.
  • Arrange the equipment so it is convenient to use.
  • Find a consultant for your equipment repairs that will come to your home. Putting a consultant on a retainer isn't a bad idea; you'll have fast access to repairs if there are problems. Consider having the consultant do a periodic maintenance check that includes a monthly or semi-monthly anti-virus scan. The consultant can download and install the latest version of software files, making sure that your software works together without glitches.
  • Don't purchase office equipment that isn't cost-effective. You may not need a copier if your fax can make a few copies.
  • Search until you find an office chair that is ergonomically correct for you.
  • Keep enough supplies on hand such as staples, stationery, envelopes, paper clips, writing instruments and stamps so you aren't constantly running to the store.
  • Stock your workspace with the tools you will need: stapler, remover, paper punch, shredder, paper trimmer, pencil sharpener, scissors, ruler
  • Create a place to staple and organize papers near your printer and fax machine.
  • Arrange the equipment so it is convenient to use.
  • Try to keep your office as orderly as possible. Store supplies on shelves or in a closet.
Making your Car your office
  • Store files in top-access, plastic file boxes in the trunk of your car.
  • Have office tools and supplies such as a stapler/staples, scissors, stamps, paper clips, paper and a calculator with you. Keep these supplies all together in a briefcase or small box.
  • Purchase a tiny cassette recorder for recording important information. Make sure it has a car adaptor for continuous power supply.
  • Select a car with a strong dome light and a possible fold-down surface.
  • Keep thermal fax paper away from sunlight to prevent it turning dark.
  • Use a surge protector for all equipment including your telephone.
  • Invest in a hands-free cellular phone and subscribe to an answer system.
  • Arrange the equipment so it is convenient to use.
  • Try to take your technical equipment with you when you leave the car. Theft is a big problem, so insure your expensive equipment for full replacement value. Computer equipment (and related business equipment) may need separate coverage; it's not automatically insured under your homeowner's or renter's policy.
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