As technology has continued to move forward with leaps and bounds, business and companies are starting to re-think the work from home employee. The practice of allowing an employee to work from home goes by a number of names and descriptions including:
- Remote employees
- Home employees
- WAH’s (work at home employees)
- Home based employees
No matter what the name or description, the location of the job (home) remains the same. As more and more employees migrate towards this work set-up, the number of home offices being built or designed has skyrocketed over the last few years. Data from the AMEX Small Business Association indicates that the number of people working from their homes increased 37% from 2010 to 2011.
If you happen to be one of those people that are transitioning to a home office or just getting ready to set-up your home office, here are a few ways to keep the costs down:
Start small – An “office” doesn’t have to be fully equipped to get started. Rather than shelling out money for a new desk, printer, new monitor, and new phone; consider making those purchases in phases. Evaluate your needs and purchase the most important item first. Then move on to the other items over time. When I first set my home office up, I worked on a small folding table until I knew that the home office transition was going to work for me.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see with home offices. People have this concept that they need a new desk, new printer, etc. in order to have a home office. My neighbor started a new company out of his house and promptly went out and spent over $1000 to “outfit” it. Less than 12 months later, his company went under. He sold the entire set-up for less than half of what he originally paid.
Don’t scrimp on a chair – I know I just said start small, and it sounds confusing, but don’t scrimp in this area. Value office chairs like you would value a mattress. When you consider how much time you will actually be seated in one, it really makes sense to purchase a good quality one that meets your needs. I probably spend at least 5 hours of every day seated in an office chair at my desk. Consider this: 5 hours a day = 25 hours per week = 1300 hours per year translates to me spending 54.1 days seated in that chair over a 12 month period. Your own mileage may vary, but, with the exception of my computer, my office chair is the most expensive item in my home office. While this won’t really save you money exactly, it will more than pay for itself in long term bills related to your health. Follow this advice and you’ll thank me profusely in 10 years when you can stand up straight. Here’s a quick look at my favorite office chair (and the one sitting at my home desk) that we carry:
Lorell 86000 Executive Mesh Back Chair
You simply won’t find a better chair in this price range. It’s one of our top sellers for a reason.
Consider a multi-function machine over a printer – Most home offices will have some kind of restrictions on space so you will need to maximize your use of it. In order to save space and have the ability to print, fax, scan, and copy; consider a multi-function machine instead of a printer/fax combo. While all in one machines have pros and cons, I couldn’t really live without mine. I can send or receive a fax when I need to, or copy a document at a moments notice.
Don’t buy a new phone – In the event that you don’t an existing phone that you can already use or your employer doesn’t provide one, I don’t suggest going out and buying a new one. Here’s why: Much like computers, the technology in phones changes at a rapid rate, especially if you need multi-line capability. Offices and business are always migrating from one phone system to the next. This gives you an opportunity to purchase a really nice phone at next to nothing. The phone in my home office is a multi-channel AT&T business class phone with an integrated speakerphone, voicemail, and dozens of other features I never use. I bought it for $30.00 off the business section of my local Craigslist.
Second hand or closeout furniture – Assuming that you don’t already have it, outfitting your home office with furniture (desk, credenza, printer stand, etc.) will be a major expense. You can save some serious money in this area by either purchasing second hand office furniture or buying closeout furniture. Closeouts are lines of office furniture that have either been discontinued or phased out for a new model. Office furniture manufacturers have to move these closeouts as they are taking up space that can be used for new inventory. If you shop right, you can find some amazing deals in these closeouts. I bought my son a computer desk, matching printer stand, and matching mini-file cabinet on a closeout deal for a steal. The company even shipped it to me for free.
While I’m not an expert in this area, I do have significant experience in the home office market. By following some of these suggestions, it is possible to outfit a very nice home office on a budget.