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Telecommuting: How to set up your office

If you're serious about working from home, then it's time to set up a serious home office.

Your company will likely let you take home all the pens and Post-its you want, but don't expect to be reimbursed for buying an iPhone to use as your "work computer." Likewise, consult a tax adviser before you go taking the IRS's Home Office Deduction for your supplies.

"To get a tax deduction, you would have to be working at home full-time," says Jessica Lunsford of Telework Tampa Bay.

So don't break the bank, but do invest in these home office essentials.

Legit workspace. A spare bedroom is ideal, because you can lock the door. Your dining room table can work, too, provided it offers adequate space and quiet. Consider using a decorative screen to send a visual cue that you are in your "office" and not to be disturbed. In a pinch, try a closet. Adequate lighting is also essential. Wherever you set up your office, keep a wastebasket, beverage and other must-haves within an arm's reach. Make your workspace appealing so you're not tempted to nap.

Comfortable chair. Invest in an ergonomically correct office chair. This is a great excuse to road-trip it to the Orlando Ikea.

Child care. You wouldn't bring your kids to work and expect to get much done, so why try to play Hungry Hungry Hippos while you're on a conference call at home?

Computer. If plan to use your own PC, you might have to sign a document confirming that it meets your job's standards for speed and memory. Larger corporations may also install security software for you.

Phone with voice mail. Give colleagues your cell and home numbers, and check your messages often. Also, keep a list of colleagues' direct phone numbers handy.

High-speed Internet. To save your daytime phone minutes, logon to and download free software that enables you to make long-distance phone calls through your computer for less than a penny per minute. Encourage your colleagues and clients to use it, too: Skype-to-Skype calls, conference calls, video calls and instant messages are free.

Remote access. Remote Desktop allows you to connect to work from home. When you turn on your home PC, the screen will look just like it does at work. Microsoft Remote Desktop is included in Windows XP Professional Edition, which costs about $300. Apple's version costs about $225.

Telecommuting: How to set up your office 08/20/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 4:30pm]
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