Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d been hearing for years that telecommuting was the future of work. The transition for many to telecommuting was much more rushed than it ideally would have been, and many of you might still be under-equipped or still working in suboptimal conditions. We want to encourage our readers to take stock of your situation and confirm whether you have all the right tools in place to make you fully safe, productive, and inspired to work from anywhere. We’ve broken this down into three categories: essentials, important, and nice-to-have components.
Net Friends staff are all equipped from day 1 with a business-class Lenovo or Mac laptop that is equipped with a fantastic webcam, an ergonomic chair, and an adjustable height desk. Anyone who telecommutes needs to have a consistent workstation that they can pack up and travel with wherever they might find themselves. Also, anyone working from anywhere needs a comfortable chair that can support them for many hours a day, and that’s why everyone has an Autonomous ErgoChair Pro. Similarly, we recognize that the right desk height is a matter of personal preference, so we also equip all Net Friends staff with an Autonomous SmartDesk Pro. We elaborate on this further in our Guide to Workplace Ergonomics.
Two other essential components of working remotely are your network and your collaborative tools. Make sure to get a fast and stable network connection from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). We aren’t in a good position to recommend a single vendor here as the ISP options and quality vary considerably based on your location but look for a fiber optic network that supports at least 200 Mbps speeds both up and down. Most cellular plans allow for you to turn phone into a hotspot. Practice turning your hotspot on and connecting your laptop's Wi-Fi to it. That way you are primed and ready to temporarily fall back on this as a backup network should your main ISP connection fail. Anyone working in business these days needs Microsoft 365 (M365) tools, like Outlook, SharePoint, and Teams. Microsoft is one of the most powerful enablers of telecommuting, with their live collaborative editing capabilities in SharePoint and their bundling of Microsoft Teams for video and conference calls. We see M365 as essential for telecommuting and ensuring that your work is safe and reliable wherever and however you choose to work.
Telecommuting Important Enablers
While a laptop is a central and essential component, the screen is a bit limited compared to a full desktop setup with multiple monitors. Luckily, any business-grade laptop like the Lenovo Thinkpad T15 can support multiple external monitors to help extend your desktop real estate. With a docking station, a single hookup for your laptop can rapidly connect you at your desk to an optimized setup with dedicated monitors, a bigger keyboard, mouse, printer, scanner, microphone, speakers, and much more. Net Friends technicians can help you procure and set up a fantastic desk environment where you can accomplish any tasks.
When you are telecommuting, chances are you will be on several video conference calls. A well-positioned ring light will help you look your best and ensure you connect more fully on a personal level with your teammates. And don’t underestimate the importance of positioning yourself in a place in your home with maximum peace and quiet. The good thing that’s happened in the past few years is that everyone is far more empathetic to the occasional dog barking and background noise. It’s still good to work to minimize distractions.
There’s a lot of emphasis on equipment that makes you a more productive worker, but don’t forget about the things that make your work environment a place you feel at home in. Take the time to set up some plants, position pictures, and personalized items on your desk, and consider having a fish tank or some other office pet nearby to help enrich your work environment. These things all contribute to better mental health and a feeling like a place where we immerse ourselves in work is also a place that comforts and nourishes us. Add a fan in the room as well, as good air movement is helpful in maintaining our stamina throughout the day. And don’t forget your water bottle – staying hydrated throughout the day is key.
It's also a good thing to practice disconnecting your laptop and working from another location from time to time, even if it’s just for an hour (like visiting a nearby coffee shop). This is an important part of confirming your setup is portable and durable, allowing you to move to a new location with confidence in the event of a power or internet outage. When you practice this on your own terms, you’ll be ready to quickly move to a new spot with minimal hassle.
Implementing Good Telecommuting Practices
We hope that by reading this you’ve taken stock of whether or not your current setup is complete and checks all the boxes. The ubiquity of the internet and great tools like M365 has enabled us to work from anywhere and achieve Anywhere Operations. If you are missing some of the components that we touched on above, reach out to us and we’ll gladly help procure those items for you and help you implement them so you can be at your most productive while working from anywhere.
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