By: Laurel Farrer
When we’re hiring new team members, one of our favorite application questions is, “What are five essentials that every remote worker needs?” We touched on this when we discussed what tools your company needs, but what about the tools that you need as an awesomely productive person and employee?
The most popular responses from experienced remote workers are almost always these three tools:
1. Strong, reliable Internet - No surprise here. Telecommuting doesn’t really work without the “tele-” so make sure to invest in a reliable service, then pimp it to the moon with signal boosters, range extenders, and portability tools.
2. A dedicated and inspiring workspace - Remote work is often mistakenly depicted with images of oceanside hammocks or overstuffed sofas. While being able to work from anywhere is an obvious perk to an office-less arrangement, that doesn’t mean you should work from anywhere. An environment free from distractions and containing inspirational decor can fuel both productivity and creativity. After all, remote work still involves work.
3. Efficient team communication - Just because you’re alone geographically doesn’t mean you’re alone in your work—nor should you be! Stay connected with your team via phone calls, video calls, chats, and email to increase productivity, strengthen company culture, and support employee satisfaction.
While these are the most common answers we hear, every once in awhile we hear about an essential we hadn’t thought about before.
Here are more of our favorite unique responses:
4. An extra savings account - If you’re a freelancer or independent contractor, as many remote workers are, you are responsible for paying your own taxes, which can hurt when you file your taxes each spring. Prepare for the pain by saving at least 10-20% of every paycheck an extra savings account.
5. Legos - Or the more trendy fidget spinners/fidget cubes can be great ways to occupy your hands and keep your mind focused during long calls.
6. Password manager - A password manager is your online office building manager. Instead of carrying a key ring with 73 different keys, you have one master key (or password) to remember. Three cheers for efficiency.
7. A healthy respect for Murphy’s Law - So painfully true. Enough said.
8. Friendly office cat - Remote work can feel isolating. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Having a furry companion can be a great way to cure a little loneliness. If pets aren’t your thing, try a co-working space; just don’t try to scratch your neighbor behind his ears.
Now, just in case your next thought is, “What about you, Yonder? Since you claim to be remote work experts, what are your responses?” Well, wonder no more.
Here is a list from a few members of our team that are a bit non-traditional, but crucial for virtual veterans, like us.
9. Bluetooth headset - You already know how much Jeff prefers the phone for meetings, which is primarily because he likes to move while talking. So, having a reliable, comfortable device—that is as untethered as our company—is a must for him. Because we know you'll ask, he prefers the Plantronics Voyager Legend and loves it, even after much trial and error with other devices.
10. Treadmill desk - When a long-distance excursion isn’t an option, Jeff continues the “walking while working” theme by using his treadmill desk. Having the option to keep moving while typing or brainstorming keeps his mind (and muscles!) active and results in some great work! Plus, it combats the dreaded sedentary lifestyle trap that is so easy for remote workers to fall into.
11. Fitbit - I’m the queen of hyper-focusing, so it’s not unusual for me to park myself on the couch with my laptop for 6+ hours without taking any breaks. My Fitbit has a been a great addition to my workspace because it reminds me to break my concentration and sedentarism for a few minutes, get up to stretch, or get a little exercise. Plus, it notifies me of Slack messages and phone calls during those (frequent) times when I’ve lost my phone.
(Note: I’ve heard of some people using a timer to help remind them to take breaks, while other people rely on their Fitbit for social interaction via challenges, so “focus on the message, not the medium” here.)
12. Slow cooker - Even though I’m at home, a long day of work still leaves me feeling burned out and unmotivated to cook. But I love food! Enjoying a delicious, homemade meal at the end of the day with my family is a crucial component to my work-life balance. Slow cooker to the rescue. I chop and prep for a few minutes in the morning while listening to the latest Yonder podcast. When I shut my laptop that evening, all I have to do is grab a fork.
13. Dark chocolate - A crucial habit of every remote worker is to be able to self-motivate and push them through a creative slump. Mindi’s secret weapon is 90% dark chocolate. Yes, 90%. She’s nothing if not hardcore. Other (less bitter) strategies could include doing some jumping jacks, watching a quick YouTube video (just one!), or turning on some energizing music.
14. Second screen - If you’re a remote worker and haven’t treated yourself to the luxury of two computer screens yet, it’s time to indulge. More workspace = more productivity, right? Maybe. Being able to monitor social channels on one screen and write content on the other helps her not miss an all-important notification or pop-up. Win-win.
Now, we’re dying to hear: What are your remote office essentials? Tweet us @yonder_io with the hashtag #remoteoffice to share your number one tool, tip, or tactic that makes remote work ‘work’ for you!