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10 Best Tools for Working Remotely from Home
Telecommuting has skyrocketed in popularity over the last decade, with the number of people working from home growing 159% between 2005 and 2017.
The trend shows no signs of stopping, either. Flexible work arrangements are one of the most in-demand work perks that younger employees ask for when looking for new jobs.
Maybe your're new to this approach due to recent events, or you just hope to spend more time away from corporate headquarters. You still want to move your work projects forward, though, and a well-equipped home office is your key to a productive and happy workday. Here are some of the best tools for working remotely from home.
The best tools for remote workers
While different careers require different tools, there are some standard staples that will be useful for anyone working from home. If you don't already own the items on this list, consider shopping around before your first day in your new work arrangement.
1. High-speed internet
What is "high-speed" internet, exactly? Employer requirements will vary, so find out what download and upload internet speeds your workspace needs to successfully perform large file transfers, participate in video conferencing, and stream media when needed.
Many options available today can provide these speeds, including DSL and gigabit fiber, which are hard-wired networks. They're also the best internet for working from home, in terms of consistency and coverage.
For those working in rural areas where no hard-wired infrastructure exists, there are fixed wireless and satellite plans to consider. But these can be less reliable in bad weather, and they may not be appropriate for jobs where you need 100% uptime to contact customers or perform continuous computing tasks.
Once you have high-speed internet service, you'll need a way to push that connectivity throughout your home. Your internet service provider may provide a wireless router as part of your internet plan, which is helpful if you don't want to deal with maintenance and updates.
If you want to shop for and set up your own router, look for devices that have multiple LAN ports for direct connections, as well as at least two wireless bands. Newer routers will have 5G technology, too.
Also consider whether WiFi or an Ethernet connection is a better option for you. WiFi allows you the freedom to work from different locations in your home, while Ethernet tends to be a faster and more reliable way to connect to your router. You can also consider using a powerline adapter. Click here to read our HP Tech Takes article about powerline adapters and how they work.
You can't get much done without a computer, and the right model should keep you doing your best work at any time of day. There are three basic categories of computers for working from home.
These portable and yet powerful devices seem to get better every year. Popular features include webcams, touch screens, and the ability to flip the model over to use as a tablet. The higher-end, work-at-home laptops can render video, edit photographs, and do complicated engineering tasks as well as most desktop PCs.
If you work from the road as much as at home, a laptop is a must-buy, and HP® has several models with smaller screens that fit nicely behind the airplane seat in front of you.
For more robust processing needs, an HP business-class workstation performs well in any environment with the same features you've come to love from your desktop PC.
The classic computing model has evolved to include thinner, lighter desktop PC towers that connect to your choice of monitor. Connect to more than one display for twice the productivity, all while harnessing more processing power and speed for the money.
Today's HP desktops also come standard with the top software options useful in a business setting (more on those programs below). With multiple USB slots, and options for optical disc drives and card readers, you'll spend less on accessories and have plug-and-play accessibility for your favourite gadgets.
If you choose a desktop as your remote PC, you'll want to consider including a webcam in your shopping basket since, as part of a remote team, you will want to have face to face meetings often across multiple time zones. Our handy guide to connecting a remote webcam to your PC may help you get set up for video conferencing.
The beauty of All-in-One computers is that they combine a tower and monitor in one slim product. This is particularly important for small workspaces. Not only are these PCs streamlined, they're also plug-and-play ready right out of the box.
If you prefer a sleek device that packs a lot of power into a compact frame, consider an HP All-in-One PC for your work from home needs. They offer the same reliability as the larger desktop models, but have fewer parts to connect. You'll have less to worry about with your shopping list because compatibility between components has been figured out for you.
Today's printers can do it all, including scanning, copying, and faxing. Investing in an HP all-in-one printer makes it easy to connect the device to your home network and wirelessly send print jobs from your phone or tablet, too.
Troubleshooting these printers is simple with the HP Print App, which also lets you scan receipts or make copies of emails on-the-go.
Click the link below to shop for great HP printers. If you want to read up on them first, click here for our HP Tech Takes article on the 7 best printers for your home office.
5. Ink delivery service
Working from home is an adjustment, especially in the beginning as you are getting your home office set up. But remembering to order ink shouldn't bring your productivity to a halt. We've got the solution.
HP's Instant Ink service is a monthly subscription that automatically sends the right cartridge for your HP printer before your current cartridge is even empty.
Pay for a set number of pages per month and enjoy rollover pages during those months you don't use them all. There is no contract so you can change up your number of pages per month as your workload shifts.
The service is an economical and sustainable way to make sure your printer is always ready to work.
6. Antivirus software and security tools
Your employer trusts you to keep company data safe. One way to ensure this is to invest in a reliable antivirus and internet protection product. Many of the services available today offer a suite of solutions, including firewall protection, virus scan, and safe browsing options.
Others even include a VPN for creating your own secure network at home or when you travel. Before you start doing work at home on your own computer, make sure to install updated security tools.
7. Dedicated phone line
Unless you want your friends to call you at work, it's smart to get a separate line for business matters. This line may be required for positions that make a lot of calls, such as customer service managers or sales reps. You have many choices available, from a traditional landline to a VoIP (voice over internet protocol). Your employer will often prefer one option over the other.
While you may dream of working in trendy coffee shops all day, you still need a home base. Today's desks come in a range of styles, from simple rectangles to luxurious L-shapes.
Consider a standing desk for times when you want a healthier option to sitting. Bike desks are becoming popular as well, but try before you buy to make sure it's a comfy and practical fit for you.
Pro tip: Your chair is a vital component of your workstation. Don't overlook how it affects your posture, and go for one with ergonomic features to avoid potential health issues in the long term.
9. Backup storage
Where do you plan to keep all of those precious work projects? If you answered "my computer," you may be putting your company's important data at risk. In addition to backing up your work to your hard drive, use at least one external option.
A physical backup device works well, but cloud storage may be more appropriate for those who work on the road or from several devices. Some telecommuters rely on both, but consult your office for any specific data storage requirements they may have.
10. Office software suite
For most remote workers, it's essential to have programs for word processing, spreadsheets, slideshow presentations, and email. A complete office suite can give you all of these in one bundle that installs easily and performs functions between the programs seamlessly.
The most common option is Microsoft Office, which costs money but is often included as a lengthy free trial with many new computers. Google Drive is completely free with some storage limits, making it a popular choice for businesses that embrace a remote workforce and want all their employees to have the same no-cost solution.
Who pays for work from home equipment?
Now that you know the best tools for remote workers, it's time to consider how to pay for them. If you're a full-time employee, your company may provide a stipend to cover the essential costs or simply buy the equipment outright for you.
Most freelancers (also known as independent contractors) must find a way to budget for these tools. The upside is that this expense may be an allowable tax deduction by the IRS. Ask your tax professional about what you can get credit for the next time you file.
As tech changes, this list may, too. And your industry may have some specific needs that we haven't called out. Also, your employer's HR department may have additional guidance on how the future of work will affect the must-haves you'll want to include in your home office.
As you get started, use these remote working tools as a guide to what you need to work from home. You want to invest in those things that will help you maintain the highest level of productivity.