With advances in technology and social media today, freelancing and work-from-home opportunities are available to more people than ever before. This applies especially to transcription work. The advantages can’t be denied. Independence, a more comfortable, low-stress work environment, and flexible work hours that just aren’t available with traditional work arrangements.
There are a few things you need to work at home successfully. You need to create a comfortable and well-equipped home office or work area to do your best work. Freelance transcription jobs require a dedicated space for a computer, to plan work schedules, and to perform transcription work. You need to approach your home work space with comfort, productivity, functionality, and flexibility in mind.
You can spend as much or as little on your home office setup as you want to, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a comfortable and supportive space for your work. Think about how your ideal work space would look and feel if you were to work in an office every day.
Here are some tips for preparing a home office that meets your business needs when you will be doing freelance transcription.
Find a Dedicated Space
At home transcription jobs require listening and concentration to be able to do a good job, so a dedicated work space is essential. Look for a clear area without clutter where you can close the door to prevent background noise and interruptions. Noise can be a real problem when you do transcription work at home, so choose an area where you can minimize background noise.
If you have an extra room you can use just for your transcription work space, that’s ideal. A separate, dedicated area of the home used solely for work purposes might even qualify you for a home office tax deduction. If an extra room isn’t an option, consider converting part of a den or a basement that doesn’t get a lot of use into your workspace.
If you’ve done any kind of work at a desk for more than a few hours at a stretch, you know that your chair can become your best friend or your worst enemy. There are documented risks of sitting for long periods of time, and the popular media reports that “sitting is the new smoking.” The Mayo Clinic recommends offsetting sedentary work any way possible. A standing desk is an ideal option for many office workers, but unfortunately won’t work for transcriptionists. This means it’s especially important for transcriptionists to get as much time out of the chair during the work week as possible. Make it a point to get up and move around every 30 minutes or after every two transcripts, for example.
Your office chair is an incredibly important piece of furniture for work-at-home jobs. Get the most comfortable chair you can find and afford; it’s worth every penny. Make sure it provides good lower back support as well. You may be tempted to skimp, but if you experience any back pain or leg or neck cramps, your chair is probably the culprit. Chiropractor Rodney Lefler says to look for a chair with height adjustment so your feet can be flat on the floor. He recommends a 17 to 20 inch wide seat, adjustable lumbar support and back rest, and a well-padded seat.
The Right Lighting
The right location and the proper furniture are both key components of comfortable, productive home work spaces. But lighting is critical to doing great transcription work and preventing eye strain. Don’t try to work in a dark corner of the house and expect to do your best work. Straining to see in dim light, looking at digital screens, and reading without pausing to rest your eyes are all described by the Mayo Clinic as causes of eye strain.
If possible, set up your work space near a window to get natural light. Natural lighting is always a good source of energy and will keep you positive and productive while working. It will save you money on electricity too.
If natural light is not an option, make sure you have bright overhead light so you can see well. If you can afford it, use full spectrum lighting for your work space. It reduces eye strain, gives better color perception, and mimics natural light so it may have a positive effect on how you feel. You might even consider getting a small therapeutic lamp like this one from Sphere Gadget Technologies. It’s great for relieving the winter blues when many (especially out here in the Northwest) are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Organization and Decoration
Physical comfort and location are primary concerns for home work space setup. But a close second is organization and decoration. Hopefully, you are not stuck in a cramped corner of your home with inappropriate furniture and a blank wall. This will affect you negatively, both in mindset and ability to do your best work comfortably and easily.
Once you have a dedicated work space with accommodating furniture and lighting, think about how you will organize your work and decorate your space. What colors do you want around you? Color affects your mood and productivity level. Blue can encourage productivity and green offers a sense of balance (seriously, it CAN make a difference. Read more about it here). Consider painting your workspace area.
Where do you want to put your equipment and accessories like calendar, planning notebook, phone, computer, and pens? Do you have any favorite artwork that you’d like in your space? Houseplants? Family photos? Think about the things that are most important to have around you while you work and arrange them within sight but not in the way of the work you will do.