Today, it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs and corporate employees to work from home. With just a standard internet connection, laptop, and mobile phone, you can set up a remote office with all the essential work tools. There are countless applications out there today that enable remote workers to stay in communication with colleagues and customers no matter where they are. This makes working from home a much more viable option.
In this article, we’ll provide some tips on how you can set up a home office complete with a phone system, so you can be as productive at home as you are at a “traditional” office.
- How to set up a home office phone system
- Benefits of using VoIP for home offices
- Books to help you create your dream home office
- Critical items for your home office
- Setting up a home office for less than $1,000
How to Set up a Home Office Phone System
Setting up a home office phone system is easy and can be done instantly online. A business phone system will make your home based business sound professional and help you manage your business calls more efficiently.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may want to set up an automated greeting with extensions, business hours, call forwarding, voicemail, etc. With a cloud based phone system, you can customize and edit features specific to your business needs anytime online.
Here’s how easy it is to set up a home office phone system:
1. Choose a Phone Number
Start by choosing a local phone number, a toll free number or both. With Telzio, you can also port an existing number if you already have a business phone line. You can even get a vanity number, which can be a valuable asset for your business.
2. Upload Hold Music
Telzio enables you to upload custom hold music, which means you can also add on-hold messages. You can also choose from a variety of default hold music options to entertain your callers.
3. Add an Automated Attendant
One easy way to make your business sound more professional is to add an auto attendant to greet your callers (ie press 1 for Karen, press 2 for Bill). This feature is included with Telzio, and takes no time to set up.
5. Record a Voicemail Greeting
If you want to customize your voicemail greeting, that’s easy to do. With internet based phone systems like Telzio, you can manage your voicemail on your phone, as well as online.
What’s more, you can receive your voicemails transcribed into text in your email, so you can quickly spot what the message is about rather than listening to the whole message.
6. Set Up a Phone
One of the greatest advantages with Telzio is that you can use your existing cell phone as your work phone. Simply download the Telzio Mobile App, and you can take all your calls and texts via the app. It keeps your personal line completely separate from your business line, and it’s easy to identify when it’s a work call coming in.
You can also add a desk phone with your Telzio phone line, which integrates with the app and the webphone. The webphone is a virtual phone that comes included with the VoIP service.
Related: Beginners’ Guide to IP Phones
Benefits of Using VoIP for Home Offices
Home office systems that run on VoIP are more efficient in a number of ways - especially with increasing functionality and affordability. The days of being tied to a desk and chair are over when you integrate a VoIP phone system into your office - whether it’s at home or in a commercial workspace.
Flexibility to be mobile and hands-free
VoIP phone service enables you to make calls via your mobile device and on your computer. With Telzio’s mobile app and webphone, you can connect a Bluetooth device, use a headset or use a built-in microphone inside the computer to make calls. This allows you to stay on your feet, on the road, or simply cord-free.
Scalability when business grows
Because VoIP is internet based and does not require any hardware or physical phone lines, it’s easy to add extensions and phone numbers for new employees. With Telzio, there’s no cost to add users, making it affordable to expand as your business grows.
Affordability so you can start with zero upfront cost
The cost of VoIP phone systems is a fraction of what traditional phone systems cost, and there are no setup fees. Since there’s no hardware and no complicated setup, you can start calling right away with minimal overhead cost.
Professional features to make your business sound professional
VoIP comes with a wide range of professional calling features that you can take advantage of. All the features are included, so you don’t have to worry about paying for features you don’t need. On the same note, you can implement some of the features that bigger companies use - such as phone menus, hold music, extensions, and virtual fax.
Books to Help You Create Your Dream Home Office
Whether you’re working from home to start your own business, or your full-time job has given you the thumbs-up to operate remotely, you will need to set up a fully functional workspace. If the related expenses fall on your shoulders, this does not have to be a costly proposition.
Overall, the advantages of setting up shop at home far outweigh the challenges. And if you need a little guidance to make this transition run smoothly, there are a number of resource books by authors who have become experts in this field.
The Home Office that Works
In Richard Romano and Dr. Joseph Webb’s how-to book, “The Home Office That Works,” they hit the nail on the head in regards to costs: “Now is the cheapest time ever to work at home because of all the things you can do online.”
This book is a practical step-by-step guide for not only setting up and working from your home office, but it also offers up some very savvy tips on time management and avoiding some of the distractions home workers have to deal with on a daily basis — namely those who cohabitant with you like friends, family members and pets.
From physically designing a dedicated work space in your home, to handling long-distance interactions and collaboration, office technology, navigating healthcare options and tax planning, to promotion and networking, “The Home Office that Works” is a guide to your work-at-home life.
And the 2015 edition includes updates about selecting and managing telecommuters, and many of the new cloud computing resources that can streamline bookkeeping, document and file management, and collaboration.
Author James Christiansen’s guide, “How to Set Up Your Desk” focuses more on the time management side of the home-office equation. According to this author, “In today’s competitive work environment, squeezing every little bit of productivity out of everything we do makes the difference between success and failure and between promotion and the pink slip! A fundamental aspect to productivity is desk organization and this book will show you exactly how to organize your desk to maximize productivity!”
This how-to is a great resource for organizing space, particularly if your work quarters don’t come with a lot of square footage. It’s for individuals who are challenged by keeping your ‘work stuff’ organized and clutter-free. The book is a steal on Amazon selling as low as $3.00.
Feng Shui for Your Home Office
If you want some traditional methods, ‘feng shui’, the ancient Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everything in your physical environment, has stood the test of time - in fact, some 3500 years!
So using Stephanie Roberts book, titled, “Fast Feng Shui for your Home Office,” even though it was published in 2006 should not be a deterrent, as she relies on some reliable basics, which have been around for generations.
Her books are read in over 30 countries, and might be just the ticket for aligning your inner spirit with your external workspace.
Critical Items for Your Home Office
Common themes seem to surface and weave themselves in all three of these books. High on each one of these authors’ priority list are some essential items that won’t cost you an arm and a leg [aside from the obligatory computer].
- Computer~ preferably as current as you can afford, or at least powerful enough [with enough GIG memory] that will last you for a good number of years. Generally a desktop unit is better than a laptop or tablet for long-term use, so this investment will need to include a monitor and other peripherals.
- Multi-function printer~ laser is cheaper in the long run, but inkjet are less of an upfront investment. Balance your budget and find out what works best for you — particularly since there are ongoing costs with ink cartridges.
- Telephone~ subscribe to an internet-based phone system, which will provide you with all the bells and whistles your business clientele have come to expect.
- Desk and chair~ need to be durable and the right size for your space. The chair needs to be ergonomically designed to provide you with the proper back and lumbar support to release stress and not incur any neck strain. This is a case of ‘buying up’ for long-term comfort.
- Storage space~ cabinets, shelving units and modular storage are a few options – just make sure you can keep your space clutter-free, and designed with a feng shui feel [see book recommendation above for more on this].
- Memo board~ because sticky notes are still super effective and serve as a visual reminder for keeping you organized.
- Disposal units~ depending on your LOB, you should purchase a number of trash receptacles in your office, within easy reach of your desk and workspaces – and it’s wise to separate recyclables, while reserving your apartment’s or home’s kitchen for food refuse.
- General office supplies~ printer paper, ink cartridges [see printers above] pens, sticky notes, staples, scissors, envelopes, postage, etc – again, whatever is appropriate again your LOB.
Set up a Complete Home Office for Under $1,000
What do you need and where you do shop to pull off a comfortable and functional work space on a small budget?
Here are 5 places where you can find everything you need to set up a complete home office.
If you know how to use a screwdriver, you can save quite a bit of money putting together your own office furniture. With so many different options, you can choose the right style to match your office.
Desk & Chair… $180
Look for a used or refurbished computer on sites like eBay where you can save over 50% on an iMac in brand new condition.
Shop at ease for various office supplies and get free 2-day shipping on many products when you sign up for Amazon Prime. Whatever you can think of, you can find it on Amazon.
Whiteboard + Printer + Office Supplies… $100
Visit a discount retailer in person to select some decor for your home office. Make sure your office reflects your personality, so you can be proud to host client meetings in your home. A simple rug on a hard floor or a functional cabinet that’s also an accent piece will make a huge difference.
Rug + Filing Cabinet… $120
Finish the look of your office by adding color to the walls. Browse online for art that speaks to you and represents your company culture. Art.com has the most comprehensive collection of art for sale online.
2 Framed Paintings… $100
As you settle into your new office space, it can be tempting to start using it as a retreat. However, research has shown using your office for more than what it was intended can actually hinder the productivity you need to achieve.
And while working from home often means long hours and late nights, it’s very important to keep your workspace separate from your living space. It makes it a lot easier to unwind after a long day of hard work.
Setting up your office may be a job onto itself, but it’s one that will definitely pay off with a little forethought. Hopefully the resources provided you today will ease some of the initial burden of getting set-up and organized.
Jennifer is part of the content marketing team at Telzio, providing insight and tips on how Telzio can be used to optimize business communications and customer service.