Any tradesperson’s job would be difficult without tools.
The same can be said for any working professional. Whether you simply work remotely or follow the digital nomad lifestyle, there are a few bare essentials you should have.
Of course, the tools of your particular trade may differ from that of other remote workers.
A web developer will naturally use different types of software in comparison to copywriters or accountants. Even between different companies, communication tools can differ vastly. Some use Slack, others prefer Skype.
No matter your profession, where you work or what software you use, there are certain ‘bare essentials’ that every remote worker needs.
If you’ve got a full-time remote job, you probably won’t need freelancer platforms – unless you’re also running a side-gig.
On the other hand, full-time freelancers may well use software their employee counterparts have never heard of.
Remote work certainly lends itself to minimalism. At least in terms of hardware. However, working remotely any professional is more or less impossible if you don’t have the following.
Office on the Road: Essential tools for remote workers
Working from home or on the road as a marketer, HR professional, coder, copywriter etc. requires certain hardware and devices. Without a laptop or at least a tablet (with a keyboard!), working from anywhere (or indeed working at all) is pretty much impossible.
While not always 100% essential, smartphones can also make your life a lot easier.
First Things First: Get a good laptop (or tablet)
Preferences naturally vary when it comes to laptops or tablets. Some of us stick to Apple, others prefer a range of other brands. A select few even prefer working from a desktop, only using a laptop when absolutely necessary. Whatever your choice of device, there are a few things you should consider before you start shopping.
- RAM: Depending on the work you do, you may need a lot or just a little RAM. If you’re something of an extreme multi-tasker, 8GB or higher is generally recommended. The same can be said for those who work with graphics/video editing.
- Comfort: This is more important for some than for others. No matter how powerful or efficient your device is, it can be incredibly distracting if you do not actually feel comfortable using it.
- Portability: This depends on the person. If you like to work in a lot of different places or travel frequently, your laptop should be light enough to carry without hurting your back. Additionally, it should easily fit into most of your bags. For some, this may mean sacrificing screen width.
- Durability: Especially important for digital nomads who travel frequently. With so much moving between coworking spaces, hopping on trains and buses, your computer is going to get a few bumps here and there.
The same points apply to tablets (if that’s more your style). Find one with a powerful enough processor. Put a bit of thought into the keyboard as well.
Don’t Skimp on Decent Headphones
Bear in mind that “decent” does not always equate to “big”. When I say decent headphones, I mean a pair of headphones that are durable and easy to carry around without taking up space.
Personally, I prefer smaller in-ear headphones. They’re small, unobtrusive and can be packed away pretty easily. However, if you feel more comfortable with bigger ones then by all means go ahead. The most important thing is that you can comfortably hold a video conference and actually communicate.
A decent pair of headphones can also block out the sound when you really have to concentrate. Durability is important because you don’t want to have to keep replacing them every few months. That’s why I would always advocate investing in a good pair of headphones.
I’m not going to say its impossible to live or work without a smartphone (because it isn’t).
However, having one can make life a lot easier. You can use it to keep in contact with colleagues via Slack/Skype/whatever even if you have to pop out to the shops for a few minutes. You can check emails and messages on the go without having to bring your computer out. You can even use it to attend meetings.
For digital nomads and travellers, the smartphone is even more important. You can take pictures, keep in contact with friends and family, check apps and maintain contact with the community even while you’re away from your laptop.
A Decent Internet Connection
For those of us who mostly work from home, this is a no-brainer. Slow and inefficient Internet isn’t just a pain during work hours, but can seriously disrupt leisure time as well. So naturally, it is important to make sure your home is kitted out with a decent connection.
However, for the more mobile among us, a good data plan is also necessary. Even if you just pop out to work in a café for a few hours, you cannot run the risk of there being no public wifi. Having a good data plan will allow you to hotspot on your phone and continue working as normal. This of course may be tricky depending on where you live and what kind of data plans are available.
VPNs, or virtual private networks
Unfortunately, VPNs have become a necessity in order to protect one’s privacy online. Additionally, they grant you a greater level of access to the Internet by allowing you to bypass geographical restrictions. This may be more important for some professionals than others. As a digital marketer, certain aspects of my job would have been very difficult without one.
And again, digital nomads will find them particularly useful if they end up in a country that restricts certain websites.
For everyone else… It just makes sense to encrypt your data as much as possible.
Invest time and money into your search
Take the time to consider what hardware you need. Make a list of specs and do a bit of comparison shopping. As a professional, you should ensure that your equipment gets a good run – hopefully for a few years, at least. Freelancers in particular should also look into insuring their devices if anything happens. For digital nomads, travel insurance usually helps to cover the loss and/or damage of their devices.