What’s not to love about a home office? The cost savings of not have to commute into a traditional office every day, plus the flexibility of setting your own hours makes a home office ever so attractive. That is, unless you’re a client coming to view it for the first time. Learn how to make your home office as professional as possible—and keep your clients—with these home office etiquette tips.
Set the scene. While you live and work in your space day in and day out, so you might miss some things that could distract—and deter—a client. So start your home office overhaul from the outside and work your way in. Drive up to your home and check out its curb appeal. Are there bikes strewn all over your lawn, or are there dangling shingles? Be sure that your home’s façade and landscaping is well manicured. This is your client’s first impression, and you want to make sure that it’s a good one.
Hang out the welcome sign. Upon parking, does your client know where to go? Should he ring the front door bell or is there a separate side entrance to your home office? If a client has to walk past half-finished projects in the driveway, or go down a dark flight of stairs situated in the back of your house, it can be a detriment to your business. You can post professional signs to guide guests to your home office.
Clear the clutter. Go through your office and do a massive tidy up. Do a thorough cleaning of your office and open windows to air out any stale air. Remove any extra papers, DVDs, business cards, or anything else that is strewn about your office. Make sure that all computer cables are neatly tied up. Clutter is never a positive thing—it’s often viewed as someone who is disorganized, but especially with a home office, it can be perceived that you don’t have enough space.
Have tasteful décor. While your living room might be a mélange of zebra prints and animal fabrics, your home office should not foster that same sort of animal magnetism. That doesn’t mean that just because you’re working from home your office can’t have personality, though. Have professional-looking equipment and a few small interesting items, but it should focus on your skills and strengths—not your teacup collection.
Put away the pooches. If your overly friendly Labradoodle Pearl gets excited when new people come to visit, it’s a good idea to put her away for a bit. After all, you never know if your client has pet allergies. And she also might not appreciate muddy paws all over her white pants. With that in mind, make sure to triple vacuum your office to rid it of pet hair, too.
Hire a sitter. If you don’t already have child care in place, hire someone who can watch your kids while you are in your meeting with clients. Better yet, have the sitter take the kids outside—and away from your home—so there will definitely be no interruptions right when you’re presenting a new business pitch. And no matter how cute your two-year-old is, never have her open the door to welcome your client.
It can be hard to keep your work life and your home life separate—especially when they’re in the same location. But with some small modifications and these home office etiquette tips, you can have a home office that is warm, personable and, most of all, professional.
Image courtesy of Flickr user ChicTips.com.