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Old 04-20-2004, 11:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
Design me the perfect home office

OK, so I'm off on a 6 week business trip in early May to the US and EMEA.

When I return to Sydney I'm only here for a week before I take myself and Mrs Mephisto back to her home town of Perth on the other side of Australia. That's between 4,500 and 4,700 KM (depending upon how you drive it). Mrs Mephisto has always wanted to return home, and her family support network, before having our own kids and a recent medical scare put things in focus for me. So I'm leaving the bright lights of Sydney very soon...

As I shall effectively be working from home from now on, I need a good home office.

That's where you guys come in. I need your help in designing a perfect, friendly, comfortable home working environment. I already work from home 2-3 days a week as it is (that's early morning conference calls for you), but my "office" is a desk in the living room of our small apartment, which isn't too conducive to high productivity. When in Perth we expect to buy (and then build) a house, so I should have the luxury of a 'study' at last.

So what do you guys think I need? I already asked a couple of weeks back for advice on clocks to show multiple time-zones, and the consensus is a few of those small silver ones you get in IKEA with the city names printed on labels below.
What else?

From a technology perspective, I can pretty much get what I want (within reason).

Commence designing...


Mr Mephisto

Last edited by Mephisto2; 04-20-2004 at 11:23 PM..
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Old 04-20-2004, 11:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
Location: somewhere
So what do you guys think I need?
besides a computer? comfy office furniture...and mabye a small but fashionable radio/cd player. nothing says 'home office' like comfy furniture. i think it tends to get people away from the cubicle ways of doing things...mabye.
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Old 04-21-2004, 04:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You will of course.....need a full size portrait of Halx to place above the workstation. Pure motivation that would be, whenever you feel bogged down just look at the poor lad and imagine him in front of an overloaded server cursing us all for the success of TFP.
Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. - Buddha
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Old 04-21-2004, 04:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
Both of my parents work from home and this is what they have technology wise:

1) Fax machine
2) Copier
3) Networked printer
4) Multiple telephone lines

Note, the first three could be combined in one of those all-in-one printer/copier/fax machines. The multiple telephone lines help keep business, business and personal life, personal.

As far as non-technical stuff goes:

1) Filing cabinets
2) A nice desk
3) A nice comfortable chair
4) CD Player / Radio
5) A window to look outside
6) Doors to close off the office from the rest of the house.

The doors to me are the most important part. If you can't close off the office you will always look at it and will always work.
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Old 04-21-2004, 05:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: Canada
Not sure if you're looking for plans for organization and whatnot, but I found this online at http://www.livinghome.com/news/hometech/266-1.html

Between the middle and bottom layouts, I prefer the bottom as it would afford you some room to entertain clients, etc.

Man, how I'd like to be building a home office these days. Alas, I'll have to come to work like a chump. :P
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Old 04-21-2004, 10:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
BFG Builder
Location: University of Maryland
Make sure it's an environment that you want to spend time in. Is this a place that you intend to solely use on your own, or would it be a family space that also happens to be your office during the weekday? One option suggests seclusion is better, while the other design would be better off in the open and connected with the rest of the house.

In terms of equipment, your desk will probably be the most important purcahse because it will last the longest. Make sure the desk is large enough to handle all the space you would like (and then some), but is ergonomic enough to not be uncomfortable. The front of the desk should be rounded to ensure your hands aren't pinched while typing.

A chair is the second most important thing. I'm 6'9" and weigh 300 lbs, so I own an absolutely massive chair designed for people of my size. It's better to splurge on a high quality chair than to have to constantly replace older ones.

Equipment most likely depends on what your job needs. I would probably do my best to integrate everything into a single system (computer, fax, copier, printer, stereo, etc) to conserve space and improve efficiency. If you like music, consider spending a reasonable amount of money on a get speaker system.

Lighting is important. Make sure your room gets plenty of natural light; natural "soft" light has shown to relieve stress and improve productivity. It's also free. Windows with a view are always good, especially on days when the weather is nice out.

Beyond that you should talk with your wife about what both of you want to get out of this space, and go from there. Remember: comfort is key.

Hope this helps.
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Old 04-21-2004, 01:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
This is cool guys.

I guess the use of natural light is very important, so I'll try to pick a room that doesn't look out on just another wall or something! Won't know what until we get the house of course...

I like the idea of investing in another desk. I currently have a plain oblong one form Ikea. Fine for irregular use, but I guess I need something more useful if I'll be doing this everyday (or night).

I already have a good chair, so that's covered.

I don't listen to music whilst workking, and I don't understand how others can! Firstly, at least 50% of my time is spent on the phone managing a global team, so music would be inappropriated and secondly, I'd find it distracting anyway. I'd be singing along in my head to the tune, instead of doing my work!

Printer, Fax, Copier... all covered.

I work with wireless networking technologies, so this means my whole apartment and balcony have coverage. I often find myself outside on the balcony, enjoying the sun and tapping away at my keyboard talking to some poor dude in a dreary office in New York or Beijing... the only problem with this is that it's a temptation to sit in the lounge, on the couch, whilst "working". This is something I guess I'll have to control.

Do you guys think I should seperate my office from a family study? We have a different colour printer and desktop PC my wife uses for photo-editing etc. And I"ll probably load a copy of HL2 and Doom3 up on it too. I guess that should be in a different room. I've heard that mentally and physically seperating your "working room" from the rest of the house is important.

Thanks for the tip on the door. Sounds obvious, but it's very important!

I'm blessed with having access to all the technology I'll need. Top range laptop, 19" TFT, broadband router/firewall, switch, printer, fax, wireless access points and cards, IP Phone, IP video conf setup if needed etc. That will certainly make things a bit easier. One advantage for working for a large Silicon Valley company!

Storage is the one thing I'm worried about. It hadn't actually occurred to me to go with those "wall mounted" units. Great suggestion.

Mr Mephisto
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Old 04-21-2004, 01:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Location: Upper Michigan
Once you get your place you can go here for a little help in arranging things. Part of it depends on your personality. I usually need my workstation not in a place where I can look straight out a window or I'll just look out the window and daydream. Also I wouldn't place it directly in front of the door of the room. I would stare out of the room to see what else is going on in the house.
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Old 04-21-2004, 03:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
Location: San Francisco
Don't forget the bar. =)
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Old 04-21-2004, 03:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
Originally posted by Nazggul
Don't forget the bar. =)
Now THERE'S a suggestion!

Mr Mephisto
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Old 04-21-2004, 04:30 PM   #11 (permalink)
TFPer formaly known as Chauncey
Esen's Avatar
Location: North East
wwell one thing that would be great for an office is a rotating desk..

WAIT dont brush it off yet.

Itf you are building the room anyways this is pretty easy,

The space of floor under where your desk and chair will be could be on a rotating cirular cut out that you can adjust,
This way you can rotate it so that your desk and face any angle in the room.

Towards the window, towards the tv.
ot towards some shairs for a real office feel during meetings.
It beings some real versatality to your work space.
What is everyone doing in my room?
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Old 04-21-2004, 07:53 PM   #12 (permalink)
I actually like the idea of a rotating desk. Sounds kinda expensive to implement though...

Mr Mephisto
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Old 04-22-2004, 01:58 AM   #13 (permalink)
TFPer formaly known as Chauncey
Esen's Avatar
Location: North East
I guess it depends on how you do it.

There are expensive ways and in expensive ways.
it just depends on skill and imagination.

I would suggest to prolly look at some theatre set design web sites.
They are ALWAYS using rotating sections in floors.
Im sure you can find an Idea or two.
Remember a lot of theatres are on strict budgets, so you might find some economical Ideas.
What is everyone doing in my room?
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Old 04-22-2004, 02:10 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Location: Newcastle - England.
You will need a laptop, a wireless internet connection and a cordless phone.
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Old 04-22-2004, 02:55 AM   #15 (permalink)
Originally posted by jwoody
You will need a laptop, a wireless internet connection and a cordless phone.
I have a laptop (3 in fact), wireless equipment (much more than I could ever use, as this is the area I work in), and a wireless VoIP handset, DECT cordless phone (which is inappropriate as I want to stay in my office!) and a standard analogue phone with a headset.

Mr Mephisto
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Old 04-22-2004, 07:26 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Location: Canada
Originally posted by Mr Mephisto
I've heard that mentally and physically seperating your "working room" from the rest of the house is important.
Quite true, and for two reasons: You want to be able to "leave work" when you need to be the guy at home, and you want to be able to "go to work" when productivity is paramount. Some people do better when they can physically close the door, no matter what side of the door you're on. You certainly don't want to be having dinner with the 'fam, and look over and feel guilty about not getting work done. This is the curse of the "home-based contract worker" without a formal home office.

My only other thought as to the placement of your home office would be to consider "how reachable do you have to be during the day?".
i.e. if you've got children, maybe you don't want your office to be clear across the house if you're going to have to help out with the caring for them during your workday. Same goes for the second (third, fourth) family computer. It might bode well to have a second study for the fun stuff, and to keep your stuff out of their way, and theirs out of yours.

At any rate, sounds like you've got a good thing going here. Good technology, a good forum to talk about your upcoming office, and a great job that you'll love working at, from home. Best of luck!
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