“Rip out the wall cabinets and put up vision boards’, Laura Bilotta from Single in the City said when she was asked how she’d like to improve her home office. “Bookshelves are so last century.’
The contractor nodded in agreement. Keith Travers, custom home builder in Oakville also does home renovations, and over the last decade he’s become an expert in home office interior design. “Bookshelves are moving up to the very top of the wall to free up space below for monitors and white boards and just plain old blank walls”
The top ten must-have things Laura insisted be present in her work station are in so many ways fundamental to all work-from-home businesses in the information age,
Laura list for Keith,
1. French Doors
The number one item on Laura’s list for Keith Travels was to amend the wall to support a nice set of French doors (double doors with twelve panel glass windows in the center of each) so she could seal off her business from the rest of her life. The doors would have an additional white curtain on the inside for total privacy. Keith reflected later that this is a mental as well as a physical barrier; the modern work from home professional has to close the door on their work at some point every day, and a physical door helps them mentally compartmentalize their work inside their life. give themselves some freedom and time with family and friends.
2. WiFi / high-speed internet access
You can’t work from home without WiFi and the modem / router connection MUST be located in the home office. Hours of walking back and forth could occur if this is not the case. If the home does not have an office than this system is likely found behind the television – it must be moved into the office. Laura had this high on the list because she was feeling a lot of pain from her current situation where the router was three rooms away!
3. Clear the desk surfaces – mount the flat screens on the wall dual flat screen with desk space for notepad and keyboard and mouse. There should be enough desk space to open a laptop and several paper notebooks. A modern work surface should feel more like a table rather than a desk
4. Get an office wall clock
Unlike the time function on your phone, computer monitor or wrist watch, the wall clock has more presence and ‘authority’ and sets the tone for more regimented behaviour patterns. The office wall clock rules the day. Having the discipline to go to work in the morning and the strength to switch off the job in the evening stems from this iconic temporal reporting device. Also important is a good old fashion paper calendar – always handy to point to point to a specific day and set deadlines that staff understand.
5. Unrestricted swivel chair access
Laura had been working on a exercise ball and would switch that out with a hard backed dining room chair but now she’s had enough of both. She went shopping online for a Herman Miller desk chair that would recline and swivel and move – it had to have wheels. Laura asked Keith to make sure the floor was clear so her wheelie chair could access every nook and cranny of her office space without her having to get up. The unrestricted swivel chair makes the whole office more efficient. It allows a bigger more comfortable work station that can have multiple work surfaces and give the home business owner the ability to scale and or advance several projects simultaneously.
5. Reliable Business Phone
To keep her friends and family separate from work Laura has two phone numbers and she’s always wanted a red ‘hot line’ phone for SitC her work. Settling for something more efficient, she ordered an old school Standard Telecom Nortel Avaya T7316E Office Phone that smells like its brand new and comes with a two year warranty. She also got a a headset and ordered caller ID for the display. The phone should be in the center of the desk so she can access and switch callers etc from any point in the room. There are many advantages to having such a device not the least of which is the memory function n the phone and how after a spell it becomes a Rolodex of most valuable business contacts .
6. Clean power supply with ground fault indicator and surge protector.
Laura reckoned she may have to call an electrician to get her office power supply on its own circuit breaker. In her case this is especially necessary because the corner of the house she selected for her desk had, years ago, come to share its hydro supply with the indoor garage on the other side of the wall. This area happens to be where Laura ‘s life-mate has evolved a tool bench. You can see the conflict. One hungry Black & Decker could trip the line and cause Laura to lose hours of work inside her office on the other side of the wall.
8. Room for a trash can that’s not underfoot
Laura actually asked Keith for a wall mounted trash can solution. She was sick of always having a waste paper basket underfoot and wanted it to be mounted so as not to restrict the flow of the swivel chair when she’s working. The can also has to have a lid, and the best lids are flappers so if the contractor could design a solution it would surely be superior to anything obtained at Costco.
9. A secure spot for a wall safe
Somewhere I the office there should be a safe. Its important. There should also be a filing cabinet and if you don’t have one then you definitely need the other. Something has to lock and if you don’t have a safe you can store valuables in a lock box in the bottom of a filing cabinet. In many ways the filing cabinet is like the trash can – it’s a special dead paper purgatory – the invoice copies, bills and receipts etc must wait in here for five years before being consumed by the incinerator
10. Laura’s three board system – a white board, cork board, vision board
Laura Bilotta from Single in the City plans intense multi faceted events and these occasions come to life on her boards. As indicated at the start of this article one of the main reasons she wanted to get an office upgrade was to make her boards system more efficient. Laura uses three boards – a whiteboard where she draws out the dream, and a blank wall becomes a vision board where she tapes up newspaper and magazine articles etc and in between is a cork board which becomes a production center. Names and address, prices and quantities are pinned to walls so her assistants can more easily coordinate deliveries and pickups.
Laura’s new office is designed to accommodate herself and two other employees but most often its just her. On those days she pushed the other chairs out into her living room so she can skate and swivel around her nest doing all three jobs at once and that’s the mark of a good home office.