Freelancing is quickly becoming a new normal in the Philippine job market. What used to be common in the fields of publishing and graphic design is now becoming popular in other industries as well, such as computer programming, app development, animation, and even executive assistantship. Indeed, popular online freelancing marketplace Elance–oDesk said in a statement that in 2013 alone, 1 million Filipino freelancers earned a total of Php3.3 billion from online work through their platforms.
It comes as no surprise that Filipinos are quickly getting hooked up with freelancing. And who can blame them? Given Metro Manila’s horrendous traffic, people are opting to work from home instead. In addition, as the metropolis’ cost of living continues to rise, it becomes more economical for those based outside the capital to freelance instead.
But this does not mean that freelancing is all fun. Without a properly planned space at home to work from, you will find yourself distracted, uninspired, and eventually unproductive. In order to become a thoroughly productive freelancer, setting up a proper home office is a must. Global real estate website Lamudi Philippines lists down a few tips to create an inspiring and conducive home office.
First step is to pick the best space in your home to function as an office. If you think you’ll be freelancing for the long term, then it’s best to use a separate room. However, if your home has limited space, then at least ensure that the spot you’ll pick is adequately spaced and prone to as little interruption as possible. Remember, work is still the reason for your setting this office up, and you cannot work well if you are uncomfortable and constantly being distracted.
2. Get a proper desk
Those who have experience with working from home will attest that the key to being productive is to have a space that is functional first, comfortable second. So it’s important to cover the basics and ensure your space is maximized (you’re setting up an office, not a bedroom, after all). Start with getting a proper desk that provides plenty of surface area. Make sure the height of your desk allows the top of the screen of your desktop or laptop computer to be at eye level or slightly lower. This helps prevent you from straining your neck as you work.
Then there’s the chair. You’ll be spending a good amount of your time sitting on it, so it’s important to have one, preferably ergonomically designed (a regular dining chair simply won’t cut it). Remember: it sounds simple, but your chair must be one your body likes sitting in. If not, you’ll barely spend time working at your actual desk.
3. Decide on the orientation of your desk
Some like working facing the wall to avoid distraction. Others like facing the window for inspiration. It’s up to you where to face your work desk. Others like having their desks closer to windows because the view invites them to turn away from their computer monitors every once in a while. They also get the benefit of a lowered energy bill as the room’s lights don’t need to be turned on all the time. However, it’s important to make sure the desk is at an angle where not much sunlight is glaring off the screen.
4. Equipment, supplies, and storage
Once you’ve had your desk, chair, and their placement sorted out, it’s time to sort out the equipment and materials you’ll need. Aside from a computer and Internet connection, some people, especially those whose jobs are clerical in nature (e.g., virtual assistant), may need a printer, fax machine, and even a landline phone. Designers and architects, on the other hand, need to go beyond a basic desk and may need a drawing board or drafting table. Editors meanwhile may need extra desk space to manually check proofs.
To maintain a clutter-free desk, it is important to have the right kind and amount of storage for your supplies and equipment. For example, the printer or fax machine preferably should have a separate table or stowed somewhere to avoid them being an eyesore, and the same goes for office supplies.
5. Don’t leave cords unaddressed
Admit it: if you don’t tackle the cords when you first set up your home office, you’ll never will. Cords are an eyesore. And while you’re advised not to let toddlers run around your home office, this can’t be prevented all the time, and cords that snake around are dangerous for them. If the spot you picked to place your desk in doesn’t have an electric outlet, get a professional to mount an extension on the wall. The same goes with the cable spaghetti behind your desk—organize them using cord bundlers you can get from house supplies stores.
6. Decorate if you must
While employees working from normal offices are discouraged—prohibited even—to decorate their workplaces, being in your own home office you’re within your right to personalize yours as you please. However, do remember that it is still a work space, and not a lounge to relax in. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to imitate that home office that you read about online or saw in a magazine, but it may not be the best use of the space you have.
For instance, having an espresso machine might be fun, but you might have better use for the space it’ll occupy. The same goes with that zen fountain you’ve been wanting to have. Better keep these in the “home” area of your house.