If you are currently working remotely or looking to make the shift, you already know a conventional office space won’t always be available. There are alternatives like shared office spaces or home offices. Nevertheless, for many remote workers, they are their own office.
What this means is that a remote worker needs to be prepared. That might mean preparing for working on-the-go, like in a digital nomad fashion, or creating a personal workspace at home. For each scenario, the remote worker needs to assess the tools they’ll need at any given moment.
Some tools will vary from person to person depending on their profession. Meanwhile, other tools are universal. Below we discuss in brief the essential tools any remote worker might need. Then, we’ll delve a little deeper into how to create an ideal workspace.
Dedicated office spaces and home offices alike share one common tool, a computer. This window into the world wide web allows any worker to have access to unlimited information and digital resources.
While some people won’t need anything too fancy, some do need more robust computers. An architect, a game designer, and a 3D designer all require powerful desktop computers. Still, most jobs can get by with more standard models.
Though we say “computer,” this also applies to the laptop computers that won’t require a static position. Particularly for working while traveling, a laptop fits right into the person’s backpack and can be used at any time to catch up on work.
Nowadays laptops can be equipped with powerful hardware to get some of the most sophisticated multi-tasking done. A popular add-on to a laptop is to create a home dock, which works if one has a home base, or home office. By purchasing a larger monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse, we get a clean workstation with more room to work – both digitally and physically!
A computer won’t be too much help if you don’t have an internet connection. Regardless of where you are, it’s crucial that you have stable access to the internet. A coffee shop, a public library, a shared workspace, or a friend’s house are all viable options. For most remote workers, the Wi-Fi connection at home is more than enough.
Make sure you have a good, stable wireless card, a VPN to encrypt your data especially when on open networks, and possibly a backup battery. But all of that is not helpful without a stable connection.
Though some might argue that there are countless tools they couldn’t work without, a computer and internet connection are the bare minimum. To be fair, with just those two you can do almost anything. The internet allows you to access infinite amounts of information.
You can learn an entirely new field and amass a knowledge base comparable to a college degree. Many professionals are self-taught and while they would’ve had to learn through books before, now the same information is just a Google search away.
Other networking tools like Linkedin make it possible to find jobs through the internet. Still, some additional tools that might make life easier include:
- A Smartphone – This device serves a similar purpose to a computer but fits right into your pocket. This is the ideal tool to get some work done while in a commute or any place where using a laptop isn’t as easy.
- A Tablet – Like the popular iPad or Galaxy Tablet, these can also provide smaller mobile workspaces. Some even have SIM card ports that allow for 4G internet access, making them a quasi mobile phone with a larger screen. These are also essential tools for jobs that require design and they need a surface to draw on.
- Earphones – A great tool to have for listening to music, watching videos, and having online video or voice calls. Some people prefer ear-covering headphones, as both of these can help in listening and cancelling out background noise.
- USB or External Hard Drive – As computers have limited storage, it’s great to have a drive that can carry more files but won’t bog down the computer’s speed. These are also an essential toolkit for jobs that require access to larger files, like video editors.
- Electrical Port Adaptor – Let’s face it, anyone traveling while working might end up in a country with different electrical ports. The last thing a remote worker needs is to find themselves with no battery and no way to charge their devices.
- A Reliable Backpack – With all these additional tools in mind, it’s not ideal to be carrying any of these by hand. Investing in a quality backpack or handbag can help keep all of these together and safe from external dangers, like water damage.
Once you have the tools you’ll need, the next step is to create an isolated environment to work. At home this might mean assigning a seperate room to serve as an office space. The reason for having a dedicated working space is two-fold, to avoid distractions and get into the right headspace.
Working from home can be like working in a ‘minefield’ of distractions. The TV, family members, game consoles, etc. are all things that could break our concentration. To prepare for this, it’s ideal to create a space that is only for work. This way, once you sit down to work, your mind will understand “this is where work gets done.”
Further, when you sit down at your home office, family members will understand that you are ‘plugged in’ and shouldn’t be distracted. To help with this, it’s also great to keep great communication and let others know not to disturb you unless it’s an emergency.
For traveling remote workers, this isolation can similarly be in a table at a coffee shop or in your hotel room. It can also be a slot of time where you switch your phone to airplane mode so as not to be tempted to check incoming messages or emails.
Working in an uncomfortable position or place can be a distraction on its own. Preparing a comfortable working environment can also boost productivity. A comfortable chair, a table with an adequate height, cool or warm air conditioning, and good lighting can make a world of difference.
Admittedly, this is harder to find on-the-go, but not impossible. Checking out a few locations and possible tables within them can help you find the ideal environment. A table away from the noise of crowds, in a well-lit restaurant or coffee shop.
This is a bit more of a subjective point because some people prefer working on a table while others need to change places. Moving from the table to a sofa, another table outside, a beanbag chair, or even working on the floor might make you feel comfortable. The thing to look out for is making sure you feel comfortable.
The exact location isn’t as important as the feeling you have. Asking yourself what aspects of a work environment make you feel more comfortable can help you pick the best spot. Some people prefer noise. Many workers say they can’t work without some white noise in the background.
As mentioned earlier, separating yourself into another room or wearing headphones can help limit external distractions. Yet, some of the most common distractions come from within. An urge to take bathroom breaks, a craving for a snack, or even an eye that wanders out the window are all distractions.
To best manage these, it’s recommended you pay attention to when and why you give into distractions. Perhaps you are more prone to distractions when you work for long periods of time. In this case you can employ something like the Pomodoro Technique and set a timer. Work in time-slots of 30 or 50 minutes and then give yourself a break to walk around.
If there are devices or things in your workspace that you know take away your focus, consider moving them. Here, it’s ideal that you assess yourself like a detective, find the weaknesses that lead to a decrease in productivity and find ways to limit or eliminate them altogether.
Some distractions are even on your computer. If you are easily distracted by emails or itching to click open a tab and watch a new YouTube video, accept the fact these are distractors and find a way to limit them. This could be setting up an app that limits your browsing or implementing a method like Mel Robbins’ 5-second rule (countdown from 5 and do something productive when you hit 0).
A cluttered workspace can lead to a cluttered mind. Though this is a debatable topic, many would agree that you are likely to be less distracted if there are less distractions around. As mentioned earlier, if there are things within arm’s reach that could be a distraction, it’s best to keep them elsewhere.
Clutter can mean more than physical things, however. A cluttered desktop window can also make it hard to find the files you need when you need them. On a more abstract level, a cluttered mind can also lead to working slower, being less productive, and an overall decrease in output.
By organizing your workspace and work habits, you can maximize your own output. Getting enough sleep, water, quality food, and exercise can also be factors that help your work. A healthy body and mind transcends the immediate work you do and can lead to a better overall lifestyle.
At the end of the day, the best work environment will depend on your own personal preferences. Having the right tools, the right space, the right comfort, limited distractions, and a good headspace will help, but they won’t solve everything. Getting these together is a great start but you have to constantly assess where you are and how you can get better.
Like with anything in life, things are constantly changing. The right work environment for you today might not be ideal tomorrow. You might move from place to place or you might change your job. That’s why the best thing to do is create a working environment that is adaptable.
Remember that when you work remotely, you are your own office. Everything you produce will come from your head, pass through your fingers, and ultimately exit and become a part of the physical world. Take care of yourself and your workspace and your productivity will soar. Fail to take care of these and, well, you can probably predict what’s likely to happen.
Find out what work environment you feel most comfortable in and create it.