According to the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Report, 69% of U.S. entrepreneurs start their business at home, and a vast majority of them (59%) continue to work from home, even after their business is up and running.
This presents any number of home-office design challenges, some of which can be rectified with proper planning. But not all of them can be. We consulted with Trudy Miller, a New York-based architectural designer who's taught at Parsons the New School for Design and Fashion Institute of Technology. Her firm designs commercial and residential environments, and also helps entrepreneurs consolidate their spaces.
We presented Miller with 6 of the most common problems that small business owners face when operating from a home-office space.
Exposed wires: Upgrading your desk to one with a built-in grommet is Miller's recommendation to contain and tidy up loose desktop wires. "To organize them under the table, you can contain them inside a flexible tube that leads to the power strip."
Privacy: This is the most common problem described by those who work from a home office. Miller suggests a folding screen/room divider. "It's helpful for carving out some temporary space, and it can also be used to conceal your work area if you're entertaining--or working on a top secret project."
Noise: Miller's solution for this most common of problems is to schedule, if at all possible, your workday around quiet times in the home. "If the problem is external and beyond your control--noisy neighbors or traffic--consider becoming a member of a co-working space, and scheduling your quiet times for your visits to their facilities."
Piles of Papers and Folders: When working from home, organization often gets neglected. For those piles of papers and folders that begin as molehills and grow into mountains, Miller suggests consolidating. "Create an archive for folders that are infrequently used and store in a magazine bin or binder," she says. "Add an index page to the front for quick reference, which can be hand written for easy updates."
Post-it-note insanity: What entrepreneur hasn't experienced this problem? Miller says to decide what post-it notes are used for, and be strict about it. "Keep a running to-do list instead of creating a post-it note for tasks, or use digital apps like teuxdeux or Google Calendar for your daily reminders," she says.
Folders in cabinets that are hardly ever used: Miller's advice for this one is like tough love for the home-office hoarder: "Move the group of rarely used folders to a shelf and get rid of the cabinet entirely," she says. "Unless you need it to store private information-or for that top secret project."