You’re there! You’ve won the working from home job that finally gives you the freedom you want – or you’re setting up by yourself and making home your command centre. Whatever’s brought you here, you’re going to need to the right kit around you to make sure you’re as productive as possible – from physical kit to software and apps – we’ve got you covered.
- Handsfree headset
If you communicate with people every day you might want to think about getting a Bluetooth handsfree earpiece or headset. Most modern phones let you handle a variety of calls, whether that’s on normal cellular networks or over a data connection using a service like Skype or Whatsapp. It used to be that taking a Skype call meant being stuck in front of your computer – but as that’s no longer that case – so with a Bluetooth earpiece you can handle all your calls while you’re doing other tasks.
Struggle thinking of unique passwords for your email, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts? If the answer is yes, the world of remote working just made your password troubles ten-times worse. We can’t stress quite how important it is to choose unique passwords for every application, service and device you use – so if you want some help with that, look at a system like ‘1password’ – as its name suggests, you only need to remember a single password – it’s browser extensions and app integration mean one click will get you into everywhere else 100% securely.
- A laptop stand
If you’ve been allocated a work laptop (or you’re a business owner who likes the portability) then having a stand can make the difference between enjoying working on your machine or it taking a toll on your back, neck and shoulders. Ergonomics experts say your eyes should line up with the middle of your screen – which is often impractical for laptop users. If you’re really struggling with peering down at your screen, get a stand that sets your laptop fairly high and use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse in easy reach.
If you’re working remotely as part of a bigger company then your IT team will hopefully have you covered in this regard – but if you’re setting out by yourself, you’re definitely going to want to invest in a good backup solution for all your files and data. By ‘backup’ – we don’t mean saving your important files to a USB drive – we’re talking about a dedicated cloud-based backup service that will keep you on track no matter what.
Without a good backup, you’re taking a big risk with your data. The risk is primarily from malicious programmes and viruses – but there’s also a possibility that computer could be damaged or suffer a hardware fault. Less than £5 per month will get you started.
If you’re the kind of person who benefits from having to-do lists then you’ll fall in love with Trello. It’s a simple and customisable drag-and-drop task system. You start with an overview of everything you’re working on, each individual task is represented by a note which you can expand to enter more details. You can create any number of ‘boards’ – these act like larger project titles. Within those boards you make your own categories to start putting your notes in.
It’s a little like having a very well organised wall covered in post-its – except with Trello those notes can become places for notes, discussions, files, check-lists and so much more. Drag and drop to your hearts content. Oh, and you can share your boards with collaborators too.
- Pomodoro app
If you have any grasp of Italian you might be wondering what a ‘tomato app’ is going to offer you as a home worker – but actually the ‘pomodoro’ technique is well established business productivity tool – and is an absolute must if you’re one of the 25% of people who consider themselves a ‘chronic procrastinator’. You set a timer running for a short period (usually 20-25 minutes), during that time you concentrate on one task only – even switching your phone to silent if necessary. When the timer chimes – you’re done.
The thinking is this – 25 minutes of sole focus on one task is better than countless hours revisiting the same task in between a multitude of other distractions. And it works – it takes a little discipline, but you’ll be amazed at how productive you can be in such a short period. There are some great apps that offer alarms, tracking, prompts to keep you on task and much more. If you’re on iOS have a look at ‘Be Focused – Focus Timer & Goal Tracker’ on the Appstore, Android users might like ‘ClearFocus: Productivity Timer’ on Google Play.
- An ergonomic chair
The majority of working from home jobs and new business start-ups involve sitting in front of a computer for lengthy periods of time. If you’re planning on doing that on your sofa or a dining room chair you’re going to quickly find yourself quite uncomfortable – worse still, actually damaging your back.
Finding a good ergonomic chair is a must – some are eye-wateringly costly, but not as eye-watering as painful physiotherapy sessions. The general sentiment is that you ‘get what you pay for’ – but realistically even a budget option is better than risking your back slumped on an unsuitable chair.
If your business is going to require signatures on legally binding documents, contracts, quotes or similar than having Docusign can take a huge amount of scanning, sending, copying and waiting out of the equation. It’ll reduce your costs elsewhere, especially in print and postage – and is backed up by over 200 million worldwide users – from huge multi-nationals to one-person start-ups, so you’re on sound legal ground.
- Coffee – and a big cafetiere
Finally, if you’re in the middle of launching your own business it’s time to buy a large cafetiere and some good strength ground coffee! There isn’t an entrepreneur in the world who got to where they are quickly and without some very long days and sleepless nights…