As a 100% distributed company that has been around for 10 years, working remotely seems commonplace to WebDevStudios (WDS). Our founders didn’t invent the concept, and it certainly isn’t the focus of our business. We’re a WordPress website design and development agency. That’s who we are. Yet, as more and more companies are adopting the practice of working from home, WDS is often tapped as experts of maintaining this type of culture successfully. The credit should actually go to our individual team members, who are always ready to offer feedback and guidance on how to make remote work work for WDS. So, who better to turn to for tips on remote work essentials?
It should come as no surprise that in order to work from home in a productive manner, one needs to be focused, dedicated, serious, responsible, passionate, and have excellent time management skills. But let’s face it—we’re not horses. While our teammates are all those things (and more!), we’re humans, and we require tools and devices to help us be all that we can be and deliver amazing websites to our remarkable roster of clients.
So if you face your own struggles as a remote worker or managing a team of them, consider the suggestions below your checklist of things to acquire and accomplish in order for you to be successful at working from home. We tapped into our team—from engineering to sales—and found the top remote work essentials that you will need on your journey as a remote worker. Enjoy!
Remote Work Space
Unless you live alone with no life partner, no children, no aging parent, no pets, and no roommate, you need a room and/or space that is totally dedicated to your workday. You need an in-home office with a door. Even better, you need to talk to your significant other, children, roommate, and anyone who shares a roof with you about that space being respected.
“Talk with your family/partner about boundaries and that even though you’re home, you are working. If the door is closed, please respect my space,” advises Director of Engineering, Greg Rickaby.
“Having a home office is one of the biggest things for me,” exclaims Cristina Holt, Director of Project Management. “I have little ones and being able to secure and quiet place with a lock on the door is essential.”
Corey Collins, Lead Frontend Engineer, has a different take on the importance of having a home office or work space, saying, “If you work in your bedroom, it’s hard to stop working after hours because you’re always in the place where you’re working so your mind can’t reset. Putting your work in a specific room that you can leave at the end of the day is huge.”
Corey’s not off in his thinking. There was a study in 2012 that The Wall Street Journal reported, which stated that working from your bed can have an adverse affect on your well-being and sleep.
Okay, you have a work space. So, now what? Well, according to Greg and Cristina, you need the right chair. They both use and swear by the WORKPRO 1000 Series Mid-Back Task Chair. I know, it sounds boring. When you look at the chair, it looks boring, but both rave forever about how comfortable it is. In fact, a former WDS employee enticed them to learn about the chair prior to his departure. That says a lot.
Wherever you work from, comfort matters, as does your health. Did you know that sitting for a prolonged period of time could be detrimental? Yikes! At least half of our employees practice standing at their desks throughout their workdays. Some teammates use a stand atop their desks, but most have purchased or built standing desks for themselves.
But there are other remote work essentials that help to motivate productivity while nurturing comfort. For example, Zach Owen, Senior Backend Engineer, believes that natural light is important. “If you are working in a home office, a window is a great thing to have. Working in the basement of a building with no natural sunlight for a couple years was a real bummer. I couldn’t imagine doing that at home.”
Aubrey Portwood, Senior Backend Engineer, takes the importance of a comfortable work space even further, saying, “My home office has to be set up so I can enjoy it. It’s nice and decorated. I enjoy being in here eight hours a day with nice, big desk and a comfy couch I can slack on.”
However, when it comes to decor, Jodie Riccelli, Director of Business Development, emphasizes that interior style is about more than just aesthetics. It’s also about making a good impression. She adds, “For video calls, a nice back drop is great for talking with clients. They don’t want to see my dirty laundry in the background!”
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to cater to your personal nuances. You may want to keep fresh flowers or a candle handy to help alleviate stress levels. But, if you’re anything like us, you probably drink lots of coffee. And being in a work space or home office may mean being away from the coffee maker, which means cold coffee can happen within an hour. Corey has a great recommendation: the Mr. Coffee Warmer!
Remote Work Technology
You can’t get very far as a remote worker with shoddy technology. You need a computer. You need internet, and it can’t be weak sauce.
“You need strong internet connection,” advises John Hawkins, Client Strategist. “One of the main reasons I rarely venture out to work at coffee shops and other such places is the amount of time I end up wasting trying to secure a solid internet connection. Without that, I find everything becomes a grind.”
Corey agrees, adding that if you insist on being a digital nomad, you should: “Invest in an unlimited data plan with tethering. I very rarely work outside of the house either but when I have, I’ve run into spotty coffee shop internet and found that my tethering speeds are way, way faster.”
Plus, there’s your monitor to think about. As the residential editor/proofreader/blogger at WDS, a simple laptop works for me. But if you’re building big websites for big brands, you’ll need a whole lot more.
“A second monitor is extremely important for me,” reports Haris Zulfiqar, Frontend Engineer. John agrees, “A second monitor is a big yes for me, too.”
Sound seems to be an issue, as well. You need earbuds to either drown out the noise outside your home office or so you can participate in a video call without having to say, “What?” Imagine exclaiming that to a CEO of a big brand your agency is trying to land. No. Get and use headphones ASAP.
Wait. More? Yes, there are just a few more remote work essentials to consider. Backend Engineer, Eric Fuller, loves to keep a notebook handy for notes (and I do, too!). And, Brittney Carter, Client Strategist, says sticky notes are her go-to. Corey advises, that while they’re not limited to remote workers only, computer glasses can make a big difference and are worth looking into.
Honestly, a blog post about remote work essentials could go on for days. Remote work is great, but it’s a challenge, too. Do you manage or work on a team that works remotely? What are your remote work essentials? Please tell us in the comments below!