Working from home in your pajamas may sound like a dream job, but without the right tools, it can quickly turn into a nightmare. While studies have shown working remotely promotes a better work-life balance, it’s sometimes challenging to stay connected and efficient.
After all, working just a few steps away from the siren call of your refrigerator and an endless stream of Netflix shows can be a severe distraction for even the most dedicated of remote workers and freelancers.
Having a successful work-from-home career starts with investing in gadgets, apps, and tools that can help you stay focused on your work, comfortable in your environment, and productive with your time. This list of recommendations for working remotely is your first step toward creating a home office that can handle your busy schedule.
Start with Gadgets
You don’t have to blow your entire budget on technology, but beyond having a laptop, you should invest in a few other gadgets that are worth the extra expense. Think carefully about what you spend the bulk of your day doing. The needs of a graphic designer are much different from those of a telemarketer, so you want to orient your priorities toward the technology you use daily.
1) Buy a Decent Webcam
If you have a laptop, it probably has a webcam, but it’s worthwhile to buy a better one if you plan to use a desktop computer in your home office. Look for camera features like noise reduction, low-light correction, and a built-in microphone. Impressing clients is about not only the quality of your work but also the professionalism of your appearance.
A quality webcam and a smart setup are proper steps toward giving your clients and co-workers confidence that you take your job seriously.
2) Hire Alexa as Your Assistant
You may not have anticipated being able to afford a personal assistant, but if you have an Echo or a Dot, then you have Alexa. This digital assistant can help you make calls, set reminders, order supplies, conduct research and keep track of your to-do list. Alexa is also handy for other things around the house like adjusting the temperature, operating your security system or entertaining the kids with games like The Magic Door so you can squeeze in a little extra productivity.
3) Invest in a Few Extra Chargers
Chances are, you’ll be using devices like your smartphone a little more often throughout the day when you’re working from home. Whether you’re using FaceTime or managing your social media channels, you’ll want a fully charged battery close by. Buy a few extra chargers and place them strategically in areas you often find yourself working in the most— such as at your desk or the kitchen table.
4) Set Up a Second Display
In addition to your laptop or desktop monitor, it’s helpful to have a second display. Many jobs require you to manage several kinds of work simultaneously, so having the option to make a conference call and still access your emails on another screen will streamline your workflow. Many corporate offices provide additional displays for employees, and your home office shouldn’t offer you any less.
Next, Download a Few Apps
You can also set yourself up for remote-work success by adding a few apps to your collection. But with such a vast selection of apps, it can be hard to know which ones are worth a price and which ones you can get by with for free. Below you’ll find several apps whose basic versions are free, but you might want to upgrade to a paid version to take full advantage of the features.
5) Do Yourself a Favor and Download Dropbox
Being able to access your files anytime and anywhere is essential, whether you’re working from your laptop at the local café or your back deck. Dropbox makes it easy to organize and share your files, and if you max out the free storage size, you can always upgrade to get more room.
6) Make Google Hangouts Your Go-To Tool for Meetings
Unless you’re in charge of hosting large conference calls, you probably don’t need anything more than a Google account to have impromptu chats with co-workers or one-on-one meetings with clients. Google Hangouts is a streamlined chat tool that can keep you connected online to others on your team.
7) Throw Out the Post-its and Get Evernote Instead
The free version of Evernote helps you stay organized by syncing notes, reminders, audio recordings, and images across devices. However, if you have more than two devices to connect or you maxed out the modest 60MB of storage, you’ll want to upgrade to the premium version.
Finally, Invest in Creature Comforts for Your Home Office
There’s no better way to keep yourself productive than creating a practical, comfortable environment to work in where everything you need is within easy reach. Plenty of light, a desk, and a closable door are all basic tenets of a successful home office, but if you want to go the extra mile, pick up a few additional comforts.
8) Use an Adjustable Standing Desk
When used correctly, adjustable desks allow you to work standing, sitting, or reclining, helping those who struggle with pain and discomfort from only sitting all day. And you never know when an unexpected injury or illness may make you grateful for the ability to work in a reclining position.
9) Splurge on That Ergonomic Chair
Last but not least, spend whatever it takes to get an office chair that you can sit in comfortably for the majority of the day. Even if you have a standing desk, it’s likely you’ll still sit for phone calls or other types of work while off your feet. A comfortable swivel chair is the centerpiece of any home office.
Now that you’ve ticked off all the boxes, you’re ready to begin working remotely. With the right combination of technology and tools, you’ll find your comfort zone and dial into a successful remote work environment.