If you’re a freelance translator working from home, then you deserve a decent office. If you are going to spend hours and hours sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen then you should have a decent computer and comfortable surroundings at a good temperature. However must the electricity bill goes up, I never let myself get cold and I make sure that the lighting is right and my chair is in the right position. You have to be your own Health and Safety Supervisor!
If there’s enough space in your home, you should try to devote an entire room to your office. I have converted a two-car garage into a big office and bathroom space. My car can sit in the driveway! If you are a translator you really need an office because if you share your home you need peace and quiet to work and you also need to shut the door on your job at the end of the day.
In the past we were tied to our internet connections, but nowadays, with Wi-Fi and signal repeaters, the position of your telephone and ADSL outlets are no longer a restriction.
You’re likely to spend a lot of hours in your office (40 hours or more per week), so don’t squash all your equipment into the pokey little box room if you have a guest room that you rarely use. You need room for your desk, shelves and cupboards. Ideally, your home office should complement the rest of your home rather than being a “grey cubicle”, so if you’re out shopping for furniture look, for items that are both beautiful and functional. Invest in the best you can afford. After all, you’ll be using it every day.
It’s difficult to make computers, printers and phones look beautiful, but you can hide the cables. Make sure your desk is close to power outlets and easy to access when you need to plus in and unplug. Feed the cords into a desk grommet and control the jungle under the desk with cord winders or organisers.
However, by far the most important pieces of furniture in the office are your chair and footrest. An ergonomically-correct comfortable office chair will help you to avoid back and neck ache and will be worth every cent. The truth is that a desk chair just might be your most important orthopaedic investment, second only to a mattress. Today, designers are guided by ergonomic studies and there are numerous spine-sensitive shapes that are equipped with posterior-friendly cushions and gears and gadgets to adjust height, tilt, and lumbar support.
Lighting is important. It needs to be efficient and economical. I just had all my light bulbs replaced with LEDS and I’m expecting some big savings. Natural light from a window is lovely if available, although you don’t want too much light interfering with the visibility of your computer screen. If you can, give yourself a view. It’s lovely to be able to look out at the birds in the garden from my desk!
Lastly, keep it tidy just like you would if you worked away from home. There is nothing more distracting than a messy office. Keep it clean and smelling good and ‘going to work’ will be a pleasure.