Back in 2019, only 5.4% of employed people worked remotely. Now it seems as though almost every forward-thinking organization is offering some form of WFH (work-from-home) policy. This is partially in order to attract and retain top talent while reaping the many benefits a remote workforce can bring (lower overheads, increased productivity, etc.). From the employee's perspective, working remotely can offer a greater sense of work-life balance, more opportunities to travel, and eliminate the need for expensive (and often stressful) commutes. However, it's often not as simple as switching on your laptop and getting down to business. To make the most out of your WFH arrangement, there are a few key things you'll need in your remote worker's toolkit, and we are going to discuss five of the most important ones here.
A 2022 study from Statista found that remote workers' single biggest struggle is not being able to unplug. Most of the time, this is because it can become very easy to blur the lines between your work life and your home life. Especially, when both of those things exist in the same space.
For example, if you try to work from your bed or on the sofa, you may find it difficult to relax and switch off once the day is done as your mind associates those places with being 'on duty.'
In order to combat this, it's important to have a dedicated workspace in your home. Even if it's just a corner of the kitchen table or a dedicated desk in your bedroom. This will help you to stay focused while you're working and make it easier to 'clock off' at the end of the day.
If you want to take things one step further, there are now plenty of coworking spaces popping up all over the country. These spaces provide you with a professional work environment complete with meeting rooms, communal areas, and on-site support staff. Thus, making them perfect for when you need to get out of the house but don't want to work from a noisy coffee shop.
These days, there are all sorts of different laptops on the market designed to suit every need and budget. From super-slim ultrabooks that are perfect for working on the go to powerful gaming laptops that can handle demanding creative applications. There's something out there to suit everyone.
When you're choosing a laptop for remote work, it's important to think about what sort of tasks you'll be using it for on a daily basis. If you're mostly going to be working with documents and sending emails, then you won't need anything too fancy or expensive. In fact, a Chromebook or even a tablet might suffice.
If, on the other hand, you're going to be doing more resource-intensive tasks like video editing or graphic design, then you'll need to invest in a more powerful machine. It's also worth considering things like battery life and portability if you're going to be working from different locations or traveling often.
Some people love working from home as they can be more productive without the distractions of an open-plan office. However, others find it more difficult to stay on task when there are so many potential distractions around them.
Whatever side of the fence you find yourself on, there are plenty of tools and apps available that can help you focus and get things done.
Evernote, for example, is a great way to keep track of ideas, research, and to-do lists. Whereas, Pocket can help you save articles and web pages to read later when you have more time.
If you find yourself easily distracted by things like social media, email notifications, or even YouTube, then there of plenty of Chrome addons and plugins out there that can help to block those sites and keep you focused on the task at hand.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a piece of software that allows you to connect to the internet via a secure and encrypted connection. This is particularly important if you're going to be working from public Wi-Fi hotspots. Or, if you regularly use unsecured networks as it will help to keep your data safe and secure.
If you decide to work from a coffee shop or even a shared coworking space, a VPN is a must. Otherwise, you could be exposing company data or confidential client information to others on the same network. There are plenty of different VPNs to choose from. However, it's important to make sure that you pick one that's reputable and has good speed and security.
On top of this, a good VPN will also allow you to access geo-blocked websites and content. This is perfect for when you need to check your work email from a public hotspot while you're traveling overseas.
Two key pieces of equipment in your remote worker's toolkit are a good desk and chair. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean that you should have to sacrifice your comfort or your health. If you're going to be spending long hours sitting at a desk, it's important to make sure that you have ergonomic office equipment that's suited to your needs.
This includes things like a comfortable office chair, a laptop stand, or a docking station. These can all help to avoid neck and back pain, and even a separate keyboard and mouse if you're going to be doing a lot of typing.
There are also plenty of standing desks on the market these days. These can help to improve your posture and reduce the risk of developing RSI or other repetitive strain injuries. Make your office space a comfortable and enjoyable place to work. After all, you're more likely to be productive if you are happy in the space. It also makes it easier to stick with your remote working arrangements in the long term.
Working from home can be a great way to boost your productivity and avoid the distractions of a traditional office. However, it's important to make sure that you're prepared before making the switch. Use the tips above and create your own remote worker's toolkit.
By investing in the right tools and equipment, you can set yourself up for success. Plus, it CAN make the transition to remote work much smoother. Just remember to take regular breaks outdoors, exercise, and stay connected with your colleagues and clients to avoid feeling isolated or burnt out.