Whether you’re telecommuting on a regular basis or just occasionally getting some work done at home, you’ll want to set up your home office to maximize efficiency. This means not only having the basics for work, like a comfortable desk space, but also making sure you have all the technological tools you need to work from home. Here are some suggestions for equipment that can help you work remotely.
A computer and monitor.
This goes without saying, right? Depending on how and where you work, the best setup might be a small laptop or “netbook” and a separate monitor, giving you portability without subjecting you to constant eyestrain.
A fast Internet connection.
If you can’t get online quickly and consistently, your productivity will suffer. Your apartment community manager or a neighbor may have advice on which Internet provider in your area is the fastest and most hassle-free.
A wireless router.
Plug your modem into a router and you’ll be able to set up your computer anywhere in your apartment and still connect to the Internet. This can be especially useful if you share your desk or office space.
A printer and scanner.
You can find an “all-in-one” printer/scanner/fax machine combination, or buy only the components you need separately. Choose a multifunction machine if you need to save space; look for plenty of internal memory, and test it before you buy, if possible. (If your work requires attractive graphics, however, spend the money on the printer and scanner; you’ll be able to scan and e-mail documents you might otherwise fax.)
You’ll need anti-virus software even if you’re not working from home, but it’s even more vital if clients’ data is at stake. Talk to your office’s IT department; they might be able to provide you with software and regular updates.
If your office has video conference calls, your colleagues will be able to see you (dressed and ready for work, no less!), making you seem a lot more “present” even when you’re not in the office. Many computers now come with built-in Webcams; if you use video conferencing frequently, you might want to upgrade to a higher-quality stand-alone camera.
Your employer may already have an account with an online conferencing provider, such as WebEx. You may also want a headset to make phone calls easier. If you make a lot of international calls, consider using a service like Skype to connect abroad.
Your company may provide technical support to telecommuters, but if it does not, you’ll need someone to speak to if your computer crashes. Support.com is a relatively new company in this field. Best Buy’s famous Geek Squad is another option for assistance.