10 Things Every Remote Worker Can’t Live Without

Call it what you will. Telecommuting. Flexible schedules. Working from home. Today’s workforce isn’t tethered to a cubicle and desk. And it’s not just because of us pesky millennials — but to be fair, we did push the conversation.

Companies are increasingly adapting to a workforce that can work from pretty much anywhere at any time of the day. According to the United States Census Bureau, telecommuting has grown by 103 percent since 2005. Today, 3.7 million employees — 2.8 percent of the workforce — work from home at least half of the time.

If you’re ready to join the ranks of stay-at-home coders, freelance writers and product managers, you’ll need these 10 things to keep productive.

1. Ergonomic Setup

Don’t take your office chair and desk for granted. Having an ergonomic setup will improve your overall health and prevent musculoskeletal disorders, which will hamper both your professional and social life.

2. Stable Internet Connection

This sounds obvious, because it is. But in order to effectively work from home, you need a fast, stable connection.

3. Cloud Computing / Private Network

Your life will be hell if you rely strictly on email. If you’re not using web-based applications like Dropbox and Google Docs, hopefully you’re set up with a private network, which will allow you to share files and collaborate with ease.

4. Online Calendar

It sounds simple, but most companies want to know where you are and what projects you’re working on even when you’re outside the office. A detail-oriented Google, Outlook or Teamup calendar will allow you to block out time for creative tasks, schedule meetings and more.

5. Social Life

Working from home has its charms, but it can also feel isolating, which is why there’s an entire new industry built around coworking spaces. Make sure you leave your house once in a while — even if just for lunch — so that your days don’t drag into your nights and you don’t have to ask yourself, “when was the last time I spoke to a real human?”

6. Instant Messaging

Real-time messaging is ideal when a phone call isn’t warranted. Using tools like Slack, GTalk or Jabber will keep your projects rolling and uninhibited by minutia. These tools are also a great way to stay connected to coworkers.

7. Web Conference Software

Instant messaging isn’t always enough. Especially when you need to share screens or meet with a client. Tools like GoToMeeting or Join Me offer a professional and easy-to-use platform when you need to collaborate with multiple people.

8. Project Management Software

It’s difficult to keep projects and teams on task even when you sit two feet from each other. Project management software like Basecamp, Wrike and Trello allow for group collaboration and clear expectations no matter where you’re working.

9. Self Control

It’s undeniably difficult to stay motivated when your cat walks across your keyboard and it’s sunny outside and your favorite bar serves happy hour at 3pm. Focus on what keeps you motivated, set realistic goals and mark your progress to help keep you on track.

10. Time Management Tool

When your self control fails, it’s time to start punching the clock. Online time management tools like Harvest, Hivedesk and Hubstaff are ideal for billing clients and holding you accountable — and maybe even on budget — when you’re working on multiple projects. When your clock is always running, it’s harder to ask yourself, “What was I doing this whole time?”

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