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1. The basics
With more tech professionals swapping the cubicle for a home office, here is every home office essential, all recommended by remote workers.
For the sake of an all-encompassing list, let’s start with the obvious desk basics. You’ll need a workspace–most likely a desk–along with a supportive chair. Some remote workers recommend an adjustable sit-or-stand desk to switch things up. Depending on how digital you are, you’ll most likely need pens, notebooks, and a space to store any files. Internet access and a reliable phone are needed to connect with others.
2. The electronic basics
A step above the barebones basics are the necessary electronics. You’ll need a computer of some kind, but remote workers have differing recommendations as to which setup is best. Many recommended dual monitors, while others preferred a single laptop for mobility. For calls or virtual meetings, a headset with a retractable mic can help you stay connected while keeping your hands free.
3. The software
The specific software you’ll need depends on the business and industry, but there are a few options most remote workers found essential. Video conferencing software, like Skype, and team collaboration software, like Slack, can help you stay in touch with others on your team. Other platforms, like Google Drive, are helpful for sharing files and collaborating in real-time, despite differing locations.
4. A door
It may seem obvious, but remote workers say you’re going to need one, especially if you plan on working at home when others are there. A door will keep your workspace quiet, and will make it clear to kids and pets that now is not the time to bother you.
5. A posted schedule
Leave a note with information on when you’re working and when you can be bothered outside of the office. Going along with the door, the schedule can help family know when you’re heads-down on a project or on a call, allowing you to focus on your work without interruption.
6. Easy access to snacks
Whether it’s a box of granola bars or a bowl of fruit, keep healthy snacks on hand near your desk. Sure, you can keep them in the kitchen, but you’re more likely to stay focused if you stay in your work area instead of heading to a different room. The same rule goes for coffee, water, and tea.
You can also use those headphones to listen to music, whether it’s through a private collection or a streaming service like Spotify. Music can provide an energy boost, or just give you something to listen to other than your typing.
9. A closet
One remote worker said that, while unusual, a closet can be really helpful to cut down on background noises when making important calls. The clothes can act as sound proofing, the worker said.
If you’re working remotely, chances are you will be writing a lot of emails. Use a grammar and writing tool, like Grammarly, to proofread and enhance your emails before you hit send.
Need to make a quick infographic or image for social media sharing? Whether you’re a content creator or just need a proof of something, find a software or app that can help make quick graphics. One option is Pablo, which is available for free.
12. Whiteboard or glassboard
Either board provides a large space to brainstorm or create a mock-up of an illustration. You can also use it to create a to-do list. One worker recommended hanging the board on the wall so you have to stand up to use it, giving you a change of scenery.
13. A dog-walker
Dog owners, this one is for you. Sometimes you may be focused on a project or on a call and simply don’t have the time to take the dog for a walk. The Wag! app allows you to hire a dog-walker, paying someone to take your dog outside while you maintain your focus.
14. Business casual clothing
Working in your pajamas sounds great, but some say dressing up at least a little will help you be more productive and feel like you’re more at work. Plus, you’re always video conference ready.
15. Coworking friend or space
Working remotely can get lonely, so find a friend in a similar situation who you can make plans to work with to grab some people time. Designated coworking spaces can also fill this need–see what’s available in your area.
16. Foam roller
Maybe you forgot to take a break, or accidentally sat in a weird position for several hours. One remote worker recommends having a foam roller on hand to be able to stretch out and attend to any trouble spots.
When you’re the only one working, it can be easy to get carried away and work for hours on end. Try using a timer to break up your day–one worker recommends a five minute break for every 25 minutes of work. And don’t forget to set an alarm to eat lunch.
18. Visible reminder of your goals
Whether it’s a Post-it note or a fancier piece of wall art, make sure your big goals and a reminder as to why you work are visible. Some remote workers say it keeps them motivated and focused.
19. Neutral backdrop
Know you’ll need to do a lot of video conferencing? Determine a spot in your workspace that has a clean, neutral background for them. If you can’t find one, see what you can do to make one.
Add some plants around your workplace to give it some life. Multiple remote workers said it made them enjoy their desk area more, making work more fun.
- Telecommuting Policy (Tech Pro Research)
- 10 signs that you aren’t cut out to be a telecommuter (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- How to manage remote workers: 5 tips (TechRepublic)
- 11 ways to eliminate distractions while working from home (TechRepublic)
- Companies that support remote work experience 25 percent lower employee turnover (and other findings) (ZDNet)
- CNET @ Work (CNET)