Essentials For Telecommuting 2015

A few years ago, telecommuting was the buzz word – it meant the ability to work from home either a few days during the week or every day.  The 2015 synonym for telecommuting is “working in a virtual environment.”  Corporations have gotten rid of their corner offices and now have “hoteling” spaces where employees have the minimal desk space, and only go into the office for key meetings.

If you work virtually in 2015, what are the appropriate tools that you need to work effectively when you are not in the traditional office environment? I bear in mind that many people who work from home do not have a designated office space – could be a kitchen table or an area of a bedroom.  Your goal for this year should be to ensure you acquire what you need to be productive.

If Santa did not bring you these key things during the holidays, please start your list to upgrade or purchase these Top 10 essential items:

  1. All-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copy. You don’t need 4 different pieces of equipment.  I like the HP 4800 or 5000 series because they are really small, images are sharp and they do not take up desk space.  Larger printers such as the HP Envoy are good because they also have a flatbed; however, if the internet goes down, you can’t print because it’s networked.
  2. Laptop with a lot of RAM.  A laptop without a lot of memory slows down your computer.  I like Lenovo Thinkpads but I’ve had HP’s and Dells.  If you have an Apple product, be aware that sometimes documents can be delivered distorted when sending to non-Apple receivers.  It also does not take up a lot of desk space.
  3. Hi speed internet (50/50). With the influx of data, documents are getting larger and more graphic intense. Uploading and downloading quickly is a part of our social media culture and calls for quick access to websites and photographs.
  4. Portable landline telephone with at least 2 handsets with mute button and speaker. You cannot beat a landline for the sound quality for conference calls.  The mute button is a must as you will have assorted children, barking dogs and assorted background noises that you must keep quiet.  The speaker will relieve your neck muscles from holding a phone to your ear as well as allow you to walk around while on a call.
  5. Cell phone with hotspot. You don’t want to give out your home phone number to customers so you will need a cell phone.  Most importantly, get one that you can use as a hotspot when your internet goes down.  You can plug your laptop into it to pick up your important emails or manage a website, if you have one.
  6. Backup drive or service. There are portable backup drives that are small but you can back up your entire computer.  You can also use an online automatic backup service like Carbonite so you simply set the backup time once and leave it alone.
  7. Online Document Storage. Storage, such as Dropbox, gives you easy access for all office documents.  If you have offices in different locations, employees can access the same document on a national or international level.
  8. Upgraded Software. We use the Pro version of Microsoft Office so we have access to all the additional features that we need to create professional documents.  Additionally, we have the Adobe suite so that we can pdf and virtual sign off on documents as well as Photoshop, as needed.
  9. Remote tech support. This is a must have.  Many computer shops are closed because it costs less to purchase a new computer than to repair an old one.  Software no longer needs a disc to upload – it can be downloaded online.  A technician with remote access can help you troubleshoot, install software and keep your computer up to date.
  10. A Good Chair. Back support is needed when you are sitting 8+ hours each day without getting up.  There are newly designed chairs that have a backrest for the small of my back.

Speed and online access are the most important things in today’s virtual environment.  Working from home is now the norm for many businesses, so get the right equipment, software and furniture to make it a success.