A guest post by Virginia Cooper at Learn a Living
When you’re a home-based writer or editor, you may frequently meet clients from home to discuss projects, both in-person and virtually. In either case, it’s essential you make your workspace appear as professional as possible. Having a too-casual, homey environment could hurt your credibility and cost you business. A professional-looking space, on the other hand, will help you secure client trust and, thereby, more work.
Below are some suggestions from Virginia Cooper https://learnaliving.co on how best to present your home office space for virtual and in-person visits that also incorporate some key safety considerations.
Have a private space with a seating area
Your clients will want to discuss new projects or strategize on existing ones. As such, creating a distraction-free meeting space – with comfortable seating – is essential. Ideally, you should choose a room near the front of your home for extra accessibility, with a separate entryway if you can swing it for maximum privacy. Put in comfortable chairs or a leather couch where clients can talk, work, or wait comfortably.
Decorate professionally and tastefully
Strategic decorations, furniture, and work accessories can make your workspace appear more businesslike. Some simple and affordable suggestions include a functional office desk, an office chair, a computer, and a printer. For added effect, put in a potted plant, put up a picture, paint the wall a neutral color, get a rug, and install some modern-LED lighting you see at traditional offices.
Consider creating a common work area
You may need to collaborate with clients sometimes, such as when you’re demonstrating what you’ve accomplished so far, or editing a manuscript a client has written. A common work area makes this easier and adds to your office’s functionality. You could add a round table, with a few chairs, for people to brainstorm together, present paper documents, and look at the same screen comfortably.
Optimize your home office to be stress-free
Having your home office be as stress-free as possible is beneficial in several ways. It boosts your productivity, improves your attitude, and makes dealing with clients easier. To make your office less stressful for you, keep it organized and tidy. Consider Creating a storage system, both paper-based and digital, to be able to store, retrieve, and share important documents quickly. Having ergonomic furniture can prevent backaches and help you work longer hours. Letting in more natural light can help your health and make your office feel more lively.
Consider health safety during in-person meetings
Health safety – yours, your family’s, and your clients’ – is something you should consider, especially after the recent Covid-19 pandemic. The measures released by the CDC for customer visits are worth following (after adopting them for your home). Indeed explains them in detail.
To cover the important bits, keep windows open to boost airflow, wear masks, disinfect areas frequently, avoid physical contact, get air filters, and add UV in the HVAC. Using technology can help you limit contact. For instance, you can set up virtual meetings instead of in-person ones, collaborate online with digital tools, and use invoicing software for digital payments.
Follow best practices for virtual meetings
When you meet clients virtually, the same principles apply – you have to ensure the room they see on their screen appears presentable and businesslike. Some best practices to follow are limiting background noise, being in a quiet space, using a laptop or dedicated web camera (not a phone), ensuring the room is well-lit, keeping the cam at eye level, having a neutral background that’s devoid of distractions, having fast internet, having collaboration apps ready, and pre-testing your setup before the meet. Digital Samba offers related important considerations.
Take before and after pictures when making improvements
A full-fledged, beautiful home office is an amenity most home buyers would love to have. If you’re creating such a space for yourself, keeping track of all the changes you’re making may be a good idea. If you ever sell your home in the future, you can demonstrate all the improvements you’ve made to have your home appraised for a higher market value. Take before and after pictures, and maintain bills and receipts.
For the best results, get rid of any reminders that you’re at home, and keep the place clean. Strict no-nos include clothes, non-essential furniture, toys, and other knick-knacks. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Does your office and work space look professional enough, and would you want to work with the person who owns it? If the answer is yes to both questions, you know your home office and work environment is ready.
About Virginia Cooper
I’m a retired community college instructor. I always encouraged my students to see the real-world value in their education, and now, I want to spread that message as wide as possible! My hope is that Learn a Living will be a go-to resource for adult learners embarking on starting, continuing, or finishing their education.