A well set up life coaching office will do wonders for your efficiency and general wellbeing. This article provides guidelines for creating a space that is pleasant and productive to coach in.
Whether you are establishing yourself as a work from home life coach or an architect, the same fundamental principles apply. For example the space you set up shouldn't be interrupted by family activities, visitors or external noise, especially if you are on a client call.
Before you start exploring the specifics on this page, really evaluate the space you plan to work in. I particularly recommend you review any work time restrictions so you avoid disruption (for example children home from school) and, most importantly, the setup budget you may need to plan for.
These are questions that apply whether you are working from your kitchen while you establish yourself or from a dedicated workspace such as a spare bedroom. There is nothing worse than reaching a critical moment in a client session and suddenly a family member rushes in from outside!
I’m not going to attempt to give you a dollar amount that you will need to spend on your life coaching office setup because there are so many variables and choices. My aim here is to discuss the items you need to get your home based coaching practice off to a good start and give you some options to explore.
So, let's look at.......
Obviously, you'll need a desk or table and a comfortable chair with good back support. Both need to work together to support your body, ergonomically.
I can't overstate the importance of a good chair with a desk at the right height. Prolonged sitting on a chair with poor support and a desk at an unnatural height can cause muscle stress and pain, distracting you from the main task at hand. I can speak from long, personal experience about this!
This is a standup desk that is a complete unit or can sit on
top or a desk or even a dining room table.
The Varidesk has done wonders for my back problems and research has shown that, back problems aside, standing up to work some of the time rather than sitting at a desk is a healthier option. They come in multiple shapes and sizes so have a look at least so you know what you would like to have in the future! You can even get them with treadmills!
I particularly find that standing up when coaching with one of the teleconnection services, Skype or Zoom lifts my energy and enables me to freely move so it really changes the way I communicate with my clients. And of course, I can always sit down if I want to as well!
If your budget is really tight you could start off using the dining room or kitchen table with a solid box or frame that is set to your ideal height and can be put away when not in use. In the longer term, get something more professional and emotionally supportive as soon as you can.
And, at the very least, get yourself an adjustable chair that can allow you to sit at the right height. Your body will thank you for it. You can search for one like mine on Amazon although there are less tall ones too!
I'd be careful about buying chairs or even desks second hand. Ensure they are structurally sound, look good to fit your life coaching decor and give them a really good workout before buying!
Apart from the inevitable disruption working in the kitchen or living room may cause to your household, having a dedicated life coaching setup that you 'own' and can leave to 'go home' will make all the difference to your well being and efficiency.
Living in your workspace has never been a good idea!
Apart from the obvious benefits of being in your "own" area where you can concentrate on work, a simple reason for a dedicated space is the storage of reference books, client files and other admin items like invoices and tax documents. You will be able to get a cheap second hand bookcase but make sure it is stable and suits your decor!
If you have lots of files, the other option is to invest in a filing cabinet, especially as it is an efficient and tidy storage. There are plenty of sizes and shapes to choose from and starting with a small double draw cabinet that fits under your desk will be space efficient and potentially mean you can also have a smaller bookcase for reference books.
I know a spare room may not always be possible but if you have face-to-face clients that you see at home, do try to have somewhere that can serve as a professional looking space, even if it is a corner of the living room or well tidied dining room table (away from the kitchen). This will help them feel confident in your professionalism.
Having the right workspace doesn't just apply if you are seeing to face to face clients. If you are a remote life coach - usually using Skype or Zoom, the background they see is also important. Don't sit with your back to a window with light shining in as it will swamp your camera. Also, ensure the background that they can see is tidy and reflects your professionalism.
If none of this is possible, see if there is an outside venue with a private, quiet area such as a cafe or a hotel lobby that can serve as your life coaching office where you could do your face to face coaching. There are also co-working spaces such as Liquid Space in many cities internationally, where you can hire out an office by the hour. Or you could arrange to go to the client's home or workplace where they can book a meeting room.
You can choose between a Mac or a PC and a laptop, desk model or Notebook such as an iPad depending on your preferences and your lifestyle.
However, an inexpensive Notebook may turn out to be a false economy because these little computers are often slow and have limited ability to process several applications at once or have sufficient storage for records.
If you are keeping your records on your computer, please please invest in a hard drive and back up regularly. I keep a folder for each of my clients where I store all communications with them including agreements.
Whatever computer you choose, make sure it has a camera so you and your clients can see each other and have virtual face-to-face contact if you coach by Skype or Zoom. Ensure that there is enough ambiant light - not direct light - so the client can see you clearly.
And even if all your clients are local and coach face to face, having a relatively fast and trouble-free computer or mobile device you can email from, as well as text, is a must to keep in easy touch with clients.
You might also think of getting your interstate or international clients to join WhatsApp so you can communicate with them for no charge.
It goes without saying that you will need a phone when you start a coaching business. However the type you have, land-line or mobile, will again depend on your work and life style preferences. A national or international client base can be very phone intensive, so whatever you do, ensure you have a high quality phone connection that doesn't keep dropping out. Which brings us to...
Hurray for Headsets! Coaching for hours on a normal or mobile phone in your hand or jammed in your shoulder will not only give you a crick in the neck but can be very uncomfortable and tiring.
So a headset is a great investment in your work from home office setup, especially if you coach by phone or online. A headset can also be useful for attending or presenting webinars. It's also a good investment if privacy is an issue when working from a home office. Only you will be able to hear what the
client is saying and it will minimise extraneous noise, such as the dog barking.
The headset will also keep your hands free to look at records and make notes as you go.
A fax machine on it's own these days a bit of a waste of money.
A combination fax/copier/scanner however, is a good investment as it is very useful to be able to scan your signature or copy a page of handwritten notes to upload to your computer.
You can also scan any relevant information or process and email it to the client.
You can buy one for as little as $50 on Amazon. However paying a little extra will most likely get you a known brand with a good guarantee such as the Canon I have, which was affordable completely adequate. Ensure the model you choose works seamlessly with your type of computer - a modern one will!
No matter what brand of computer you have, what software you use or whether it is a desktop or mobile be absolutely consistent in updating the software.
All software programs are constantly updated and missing out will always leave you vulnerable to all sorts of flaws. If you don't know how to do conduct an update, ask for some help from a friend or service center! Once you know, it's absolutely simple usually and will help ensure your system's wellbeing and your peace of mind.
So now you know what you basically need to set up your home office. You can also find on this site the fun things of setting up and marketing your coaching practice, such as Starting a Life Coaching Business, and the many possibilities for Affordable Marketing Strategies that will get you out there, raising your profile and attracting clients.