What do you need to successfully work from home, whether it’s as a freelancer or telecommuting employee? Besides marketable skillsets, preferably something suitable for remote work like writing or video communication, graphic or website design, or software development, you need the right equipment.
Let’s drill down to some important details on getting set up with the basics. Naturally, as your work evolves, as well as the range of electronic devices and software, this will expand, too. But for now, let’s take a bare bones approach and assume that you’re shopping for all the basic equipment you need to get setup to work from home.
For most telecommunication jobs, you will need quite a few things, including a reliable and unlimited wireless internet, a good computer, a webcam for your video conference calls, and so on.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to get all set up:
1. A Computer
This depends upon your job. If, for instance, it’s a telecommuting position, you could use a PC or a Mac, but if it’s a customer service job, then many companies prefer that you use Windows. If you happen to love your Mac, you can either look for a company that’s more Apple friendly, or download Bootcamp to install a Windows OS on your Mac.
Ideally get something with a fast processor and lots of RAM memory and Hard Drive space. You don’t have to go overboard, just something that won’t slow down your work. In addition, you can always use cloud storage if you are doing work that requires a lot of hard drive space. However, it’s easy to get a low-priced computer with a terabyte of space these days. Finally, if you’re doing a design-intensive job, then a Mac would work best for you, but for most jobs, either operating system would work fine.
You will need a printer with a scanner. This will help you with signing contracts, filling out W-9s, and dealing with non-disclosure forms. Depending on the work you’re doing, it could be useful in other ways, too.
3. Internet Connection
As mentioned earlier, you will need a reliable and unlimited internet connection, but what does that mean? It means you must meet the minimum internet requirements stipulated by the company that you’re working for so that you can run their programs. You will need to subscribe to a Cable or DSL service that provides high-speed internet between 3 to 5 megabytes.
When applying for a telecommuting job, review their requirements for an internet connection, as these are usually spelled out in the job description or on the employer’s website.
4. Telephone Jobs
If you have a customer service or sales job, you will probably need a landline. This means that your telephone service should be a traditional and digital telephone provider. For many jobs that require outbound calling, you won’t be able to rely on VoIP services like Magic Jack, Google Voice, or Skype.
If you don’t have a landline, you still have some options. One option is that you can ask your internet service provider if they have a bundle that includes a landline. The other option is that you can look for a business that is much more flexible and doesn’t require you to use a landline.
If you want to make personal calls during your shift to manage your domestic life, you will have to get a dedicated phone line. Telecommuting companies have a strict rule about making personal calls when you’re on your shift.
While some employers don’t insist that you have a telephone headset and others suggest that you do, you’ll find it much, much easier to work with one. You can get a reasonably good one for about $25 and an excellent one for $100. This will be so much easier than holding a device to your head all day. The main difference between a cheap headset and an expensive one is comfort and call quality.
Companies that do insist that you use a headset would prefer that you used a corded headset rather than a wireless one. A corded headset is one that you would plug into a phone jack. Some companies may ask you to get a noise-canceling headset. If that’s the case, a popular choice is Plantronics S12 Corded Telephone Headset System. It’s the one most often used by telecommuters.
5. Transcription Jobs.
You will need transcription software if you’re doing transcription work. It’s best to get a package that includes a foot pedal because this will allow you to control the speed of the audio while you’re typing away.
6. Tutoring or Collaboration Work.
Webcams have come down in price and you can get a good one for about $25. You might already have one in your laptop. This is necessary if you’re doing online tutorials. You can download a video conferencing software from Goober, Google Hangout, Zoom, or Skype. A webcam will also facilitate any online collaboration meetings.
It will really make a huge difference to your career to have an independent office, rather than working from a kitchen table, the dining room table, or a desk in your bedroom. Your own home office will help you filter out distractions, organize your work, and lock up confidential client files.