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The modern concept of small office/home office, or SoHo, refers to the category of business, which involves from 1 to 10 workers. SOHO can also stand for small or home office or single office/home office. A larger business enterprise, one notch up the size scale, is often categorized as a small business. When a company reaches 100 or more employees, it is often referred to as a Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME).

Before the 19th century, and the spread of the industrial revolution around the globe, nearly all offices were small offices and/or home offices, with only a few exceptions. Most businesses were small, and the paperwork that accompanied them was limited.

The industrial revolution aggregated workers in factories, to mass produce goods. For the most part the so-called "white collar" counterpart— office work— was aggregated as well in large buildings, usually in cities or densely populated suburban areas.

A home office.

Beginning in the mid-1990s the advent of the personal computer, plus breakthroughs in voice and data communication, created opportunities for office workers to decentralize. Decentralization was also perceived as benefiting employers in terms of lower overheads and potentially greater productivity.

At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, the term "Small or Home Office" and its variants —along with the acronym "SOHO"— have been used to a great extent by companies who market products targeting the great numbers of small businesses that have a small or medium sized office.

Several ranges of products, such as the Armoire desk and other desk models, are designed specifically for the "SOHO" market. A number of books have been written and marketed aimed specifically at this type of office. These range from general advice texts to specific guidebooks on such challenges as setting up a small PBX for the office telephones.

Many consultants and the members of such professions as lawyers, real estate agents and surveyors in small and medium sized towns operate from such home offices.

The 36 hour or 48 hour cycles of much of software development has led many practitioners in this domain to do their work in home offices given the difficulty of the traditional business world to adapt its "normal" hours to some of the more extreme needs of software engineering.

Technology has also created a demand for larger businesses to employ individuals who work from home. (See also Homesourcing.) Sometimes these people remain as an independent businessperson, and sometimes they become actual employees of a larger company.

In popular literature, the home office has not been the topic of as many works as the "normal" modern office. Brian Basset, the author of the newspaper comic strip Adam, has sometimes described its more humorous aspects.

The small office home office has gone through a great transformation in recent years as technology has enabled anyone working from a home office to compete globally. Technology has made this possible through webinar systems and telephone connections by VOIP and the like. The Virtual Office concept has been expanded to enable anyone to do globally what they could do locally before.

See also

Further reading

  • Basset, Brian (1997). Bless This Home Office ...With tax credits: An Adam Compilation. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing.   [a comical view]
  • Johnson, Karen K. (ed.), ed (1998). Ortho's All About Home Offices. DesMoines, Iowa: Ortho Publishing Group.   [mostly the home handyman's view]
  • Manroe, Candace Ord (1997). The Home Office: Setting Up, Furnishing and Decorating Your Own Work Space. Michael Friedman Publishing Group Inc..   [mostly a decorating view of things]
  • Zimmerman, Neal (2002). Home Workspace Idea Book. Taunton Press.   [small office and home office design of all types and sizes]

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