Years ago, my father-in-law gave me a piece of advice – live where you want to live and then go find a job there. It was that piece of advice that made us realize we want to live in Florida and eventually become consultants.
When we first realized that we might want to consult in the future, I took every opportunity to talk with consultants about their experiences. One area where there was quite a bit of differing opinion was office space. Some people told me the first chance you have to lease space, do it. Others said working from home is fine.
In fact, one person told me that it would take two years to get used to working from home. And for me, it did. I was so concerned about getting distracted with Hamster Dance videos that I made myself miserable. Once I lightened up about the benefits and challenges of working from home, I found my productivity (and outlook) significantly improved. So, if part of your unretirement might involve setting up a home office, here are a few things to consider:
- Figure out your “flow”. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term “flow” to represent a state of consciousness where you are at peak performance. Finding your flow is uniquely personal. To do your best thinking and work, your office space needs to be comfortable for you. Don’t apologize for it.
- Think about proper ergonomics. I broke my back several years ago, and since then, I’m a posture freak. I feel better when I’m sitting up straight. Not only does your home office need to be comfortable but it also needs to be good for your body.
- Don’t forget good lighting! We are a very technology driven society, which is fine. I love tech. But I also realize that working and reading in front of a computer are hard on my eyes. Proper lighting, including sunlight, is essential.
- Research how much internet you will need. Speaking of technology, chances are you will have to consider internet access in your home office. Even if it is to say, I don’t need it and will go to the library when I do. It’s easy to overbuy (or underbuy) WiFi. Start keeping track of how much you’re using so you can properly estimate your needs.
- Make decisions about communication. In addition to internet, you must decide about phones, voicemail, etc. Think about if you plan to do podcasting or webinars as part of your unretirement and if you need to have a phone line. IMHO, you can always tell when someone is trying to conduct a webinar using their cell phone. The sound and reception just isn’t the same.
- Create a charging station. Working from home means all your technology needs a place to charge. Will that be in your home office? Or a place somewhere else in the home that everyone can use?
- Surround yourself with stuff you like. This might sound a bit trivial but I think it’s important. Make sure you find pleasing what’s on the walls and your desk. Use office supplies that you enjoy. I’m not saying go crazy, but you’ll find that you’re happier and more productive when you like your surroundings.
- Think about software. If you will be using a computer, you should think about word processing software, file storage, backups, etc. There are free options available and others that pricey. Consider how much you will use a piece of software and if the price is worth the expense. Many offer free trials to check them out.
- Ask about the legal stuff. If you work from home, you must consider general liability insurance as well as your home owner’s insurance. You’ll want to get advice about what’s deductible (and not) on your income taxes. And if you’re working with client files, you’ll want to know about secure storage and how long you need to maintain files.
- Anticipate your marketing plans. At minimum, you’ll want to have business cards for your unretirement side hustle. The question becomes, do you list your address? Or set up a post office box? And if a client wants to meet with you, think about where you would suggest.
The good news is that setting up your home office can be one of the most enjoyable experiences you’ll have for unretirement. My home office is by far the nicest office I’ve ever had in my career. And that makes it nice to get up and go to work every day. I spend too much time there not to have it be my dream space.
For those of you who work from home, what’s the best part about your office space? Leave us a note in the comments.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby just off the beach in Key West, FL