I have been working with 100% remote office for over a year now. During that amount of time I have built quite a nice remote office setup. I have tried a number of different devices, apps, and programs and the list below is what I consider to be essential gear for anyone that plans to work remotely.
What exactly is remote working?
For me it is a little different, as the places I tend to work from are very remote. Right now I am writing this article from an internet cafÃ© in the middle of the jungle. But, for most it is a little less â€remote.â€
For the sake of this article I consider a remote working to be the following:
A remote worker is someone who does the majority of their work from somewhere other than the comfort of their own home and mostly via laptop. This of course could be by choice, on in my case, out of necessity.
Here are my 10 Must Haves for Working Remotely
I have found this to be one of the most important pieces of hardware to have. I have heard a lot about repetitive strain injury, but never really gave it much thought. That is until I spent a month working from a laptop on a makeshift desk made out of logs and scrap metal.
You will be surprised how much your productivity get cut down when you have to work solely from your laptops touchpad. I would suggest getting a wireless mouse without a charging station or one that can charge off of your computer. The batteries in these things last pretty long and the extra space a charger takes up isnâ€™t really needed. I also suggest an optical mouse as they tend to work on a much larger variety of surfaces.
1. Anti-Glare Screen
These anti-glare screens are one of those thinks you donâ€™t really care about until you actually need one. The screens do a lot more than just get rid of sun glare though. They also can offer you some added privacy by making your screen harder to view from various angels.
Eliminating glare from your computer screen also goes a long way at protecting your eyes. By eliminating the glare you eyes can focus better and donâ€™t have to work so hard to read the screen. This not only helps your eyesight, but also aids in preventing headaches.
2. Noise Cancelling Headphones
One of the major pitfalls of working remotely is having to work in public places. One of the major obstacles of working in public places is trying to concentrate. Sometimes there is just too much going on for you to be able to focus. Headphones can help give you a more â€˜isolatedâ€ feeling and let you concentrate better.
While any old pair of headphones will get the job done, noise cancelling ones are the best. These can be a bit pricey and bulky though.
3. Offline Mail Client
Having some sort of offline mail client like Outlook or Thunderbird is a must for any remote worker. This is especially important for a number of reasons. One major reason though is that it can end up saving you money. If you are at some sort of internet cafÃ© where they keep track of your time online, you can save time and money by downloading you emails and responding to them while you are offline.
In more remote places, having an offline email client is nice because it allows you to be able to at least respond to emails during power outages and other technical difficulties.
I am constantly surprised by how many people donâ€™t have Skype. Skype is, hands down, the best IM/chat platform for professionals. It has a variety of features that even some of the top chat clients donâ€™t. Not to mention that for some remote workers who donâ€™t have phones, this the perfect alternative.
This one ties in with a few of the above mentioned resources. If your computer doesnâ€™t have a built in speaker and mic, than this is essential. Even if you computer does offer those tools, you probably still want a headphone/mic set so that you can keep things a little more private. There are plenty of these that are designed for remote workers that can be packed up nice and small.
You could also use these as your headphones instead of buying a pair of noise cancelling ones. After all, no need to carry more than you need to.
6. USB Thumb Drive
I used to suggest that one had a USB drive and a portable hard drive, but USB drives these days are getting more and more memory space, eliminating the need for both. I would suggest getting the largest gig USB drive you can afford, especially if you are a designer, photographer, or someone else who works with memory heavy files.
USB Drives are also great if you equip them with something like Portable Apps.
7. Wireless Range Extender
This is something you probably wonâ€™t find on any other list like this, but is money well spent. These things can pick up wireless signals from a much greater distance than you computer can. This is great for any remote worker. If you need to use Skype for an important phone call, you could use the signal extender to allow you to make the call from inside your car for more privacy.
Of course, there is always the option to use the wireless extender to rip off others wireless signal. Say you need to send a really important email, but all the hotspots are closed or you donâ€™t have cash at that moment. You could just find the closest office complex or apartment building and bada-boom!
There are plenty of online apps for just about anything you need. There are calendars, reminders, to-do lists, etc. But, letâ€™s face it, every once in a while you just need pen and paper. You never know when a pen and paper will come in handy, so make sure to have one handy.
I prefer to have a Moleskine notebook with graph paper in it. That way I can use it for jotting down notes or to sketch out layouts and design ideas.
9. Backup Plan
If you are a dedicated remote worker then it is important that you have a backup plan. In fact, it is important that you have a few. You need to consider a variety of events and what you will do if they happen. For example, what will you do if your computer battery dies and you are miles from anywhere to buy a new one? What will you do during a power outage?
For some remote workers there are plenty of alternatives to just about any scenario, but for remote workers in other countries these events can put a huge hurdle in your work.