New to work from home?
Or have you hired a freelancer and now you’re curious about what kind of equipment he or she will need in order to work for you? First, we’ll figure out what a remote work setup most often looks like, and then we’ll dive into the details and optional extras that make life a little easier for work-from-home employees.
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What is a remote work setup?
In a broad sense, a remote work setup is the collection and arrangement of equipment, tools, hardware, and software that a person needs to complete their work outside of a standard office environment.
It doesn’t necessarily matter whether the setup is permanent, for example in a home office, or completely temporary, for example on a picnic table for an afternoon at the beach. Working remotely, in the truest sense of the word, means that you can work from anywhere.
Whether you (or your freelancer) work from a cafe in New York or a quaint Tuscan vineyard, a good remote work setup will allow you to do the same exact job to the same high standards of quality as if you were sitting in a standard office building.
If you’re picturing a laptop, a wireless mouse, and a steaming cup of coffee, you’re on the right track. Of course, that’s not all that goes into it. If you’re going to be setting up a remote work environment for yourself, use this list as a guideline for things you’ll probably want to plan for.
Why are more people than ever before creating their own home offices?
The transition from traditional office work to work-from-home jobs has been slowly taking place over the past decade. Freelancers enjoy the ability to work wherever they want, and companies enjoy hiring workers as-needed for temporary contracts without having to shell out for full-time benefits and training.
Even if a remote worker is employed full-time with benefits, companies still profit by reducing the overhead costs needed to sustain their staff. For example, some companies operate entirely remotely, with workers across the world all collaborating online, and therefore have no need to rent office space in high-demand areas.
Plus, it’s easier than ever before for companies to hire specialists for high-powered positions. If an L.A. research team needs the expertise of a certain industry specialist who happens to live in Singapore, they can hire him to work remotely without the need for him to relocate to Los Angeles.
Usually, remote work is a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee.
The 2019 and 2020 COVID outbreak has sped that transition up considerably. While the initial shift might have been necessary because of government-mandated lockdowns, plenty of folks have enjoyed the ability to work from home and will continue to do so indefinitely.
Post-COVID, many people will continue to work from home, even if it’s in a part-time capacity.
What equipment will you need for your remote work setup?
Your ideal remote work setup will naturally be a result of the type of work you do. You probably already have some idea of the tools you will need based on your job duties.
Often, you can start out with the barebones essentials and gradually build up your home office as you get used to the demands of working away from your regular office.
The following list should be enough to get you started. Pick and choose from the suggestions below based on the kind of work you anticipate doing.
And remember, you can always go back and upgrade your remote work setup! If all you can afford right now is a laptop and a basic cable internet connection, you can still get started working from home.
A quiet space to work
It doesn’t matter if you use a broom closet in your family home or a private balcony in your vacation hacienda, all that matters is that you have space and quiet so you can concentrate on getting work done.
If you don’t have the luxury of an extra room in your home that you can dedicate to your remote work setup, make the most of the space you do have. You can get equipment designed as portable office equipment by day and functional furniture by night.
Look for portable laptop tables on caster wheels that fit under your couch or recliner, mini desks that raise and lower so you can use them as a desk, an end table, or a coffee table, or whatever creative furniture solutions appeal to you.
While it might feel tempting to snag a spot on the couch with your laptop, thousands (or more) of remote workers who have come before you have already realized the benefits of a dedicated workspace. It’s all too easy to set the laptop down and reach for the TV remote. Set yourself up at a desk that gets you motivated to work.
Your desk doesn’t have to be boring! Work-from-home employees have the benefit of choosing office equipment to suit their needs.
With many people desiring better health and fitness, once-novelty items such as standing desks, treadmill desks, stationary bicycle desks, etc.have become so mainstream that you have plenty of options to choose the desk that will suit your needs the best.
You could even have a standing desk with a pedal bike and a walking treadmill that you switch out whenever you feel like it!
A comfortable chair
Even if you opt for the treadmill or bike setup, you’ll want to sit down and be comfortable sometimes. Make sure that’s an option.
However, you can also think outside the box when it comes to your chair. Bosu balls, recliners, massage chairs, and kneeling chairs could all have a place in your home office if they get you excited to use them while you work.
A reliable computer with an operating system that fits your needs
Laptops are most convenient, of course, but desktops are cheaper and often more powerful if you tend to run intensive programs.
Windows computers will often be the most functional choices for people who write or code, while audio and video producers may prefer the Mac ecosystem because it lends itself well to creative endeavors.
Programmers may opt to partition their hard drives and install multiple operating systems or OS emulators (for example, Windows and Linux) on the same machine so they can test their software across different platforms.
High-speed internet with a solid connection
Wired cable internet connections will usually be the most reliable if you require uninterrupted high speeds to do your work. However, you may also choose wireless or satellite internet if you prefer.
Regardless, make sure you have the ability to use your cell phone to hotspot a connection from your cell data, or come up with a backup plan to work from a neighbor or friend’s house or the local library if your internet goes down.
Always have a backup plan, even if it means typing up a document on your cell phone while using your running car to charge your devices.
Don’t forget to pick up some of the optional add-ons that make your remote work setup a little more functional and efficient. You may not need these things, but if you’re used to working in an office environment, having them around could help you keep your old habits intact while you transition to working from home.
- A mouse to use with your laptop
- A larger or ergonomic keyboard to substitute for your laptop keyboard if you type a lot
- Trash cans
- A copier
- Rubber bands
- A shredder
- A filing system with folders, a cabinet, etc.
- Organizational bins
- A printer
- A fax machine
- Shelves or storage containers
- Label stickers
Add anything else you would use regularly if you worked in a standard office. Your remote work setup will be most efficient and functional if you collect all the supplies you would naturally use, so you don’t have to find acceptable substitutions on the fly in the middle of a workday.
A high-quality microphone and sound booth
Whether you’re a freelance voice actor or someone who needs good sound quality to meet with clients in VOIP meetings, this equipment can make your life so much easier.
If you are a voice actor, consider which sound-dampening panels will work best in your remote recording studio.
Video producers will need a high-quality camera or webcam, a sound-dampening setup that looks good in the background, and a speedy enough internet connection to be able to upload their videos.
Keep in mind that your remote work setup may have different settings than you’re used to at your previous office, so make sure you don’t accidentally forget to disable video compression, for example.
Writers may need an ergonomic keyboard to prevent carpal tunnel or dictation recorders to take some of the strain off of overused wrists and fingers.
Depending on your line of work, figure out which of the following you will need (examples of popular choices in parentheses):
- Cloud desktop (Renderro): We personally recommend Renderro, a Desktop-as-a-service for filmmakers, graphic designers, and animators. By using Renderro, you won’t longer need powerful hardware to operate more effectively. Their DaaS can seamlessly handle large and complex 3D models, complicated video editing, and help reduce render time.
Users can connect to Renderro using any device with a web browser – to quickly check up on his projects or download any file. Try Renderro out with 7 days trial for only $7!
- Financial (Accounting and bookkeeping, taxes, payments tracking, budgeting)
- Text editing (Microsoft Word, Open Office, Google Docs, Word Online, WPS Office)
- Voice-to-text (Dragon)
- PDF reader and editor (Adobe)
- Image or video editing software (Photoshop)
- Audio editing software (Audible)
- Programming IDE (Android Studio, Pycharm)
Consider whether you will need the full versions of standard software, or whether you can get away with using free or open-source alternatives.
Instead of subscribing to Microsoft Office to get access to the full version of Word, for example, you might find that an open-source option like Open Office or WPS Office, or the free cloud-based version of Word called Word Online, suits your needs just fine.
Time and patience
The final items on your remote work setup checklist should be the time to adjust to your new work lifestyle and the patience to learn the ropes. No one will have it all figured out on their first day as a remote worker!