Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
Have you done your research and decided that remote work is the perfect opportunity for you?
You may be looking to spend more time with your family, juggle a side hustle, or shift your time from a commute to more enjoyable tasks.
Whatever your reasons are for making the change to remote work, you probably recognize that you’ll need the proper tools before you start your new role.
Top 10 Things You Need to Start Working Remotely
While it’s easy to drool over the gorgeous, magazine-worthy home offices you find online, realistically, you only need a few essential things to start working remotely.
To help you get started, we’ve rounded up a list of the top 10 must-haves.
1. A Reliable Computer
You’ll find this is pretty much nonnegotiable. If you’re working from home, you will need a computer with a fast processor and enough random-access memory (RAM) for multitasking.
Smartphones have come a long way over the past decade, but they can’t substitute for a computer and internet connection.
Many professionals enjoy utilizing a laptop for its portability. You can pack it up and head to a local cafe or work outside on your patio. But after exploring your options, you might find that you prefer a desktop as your primary workstation.
Despite being less portable, you can configure the desktop to meet your needs, with a larger screen set at eye level. You’ll lower your neck and eye strain risk with a larger setup that prevents you from looking down continually.
Pro tip: Remote companies have various reimbursement or equipment policies. Some utilize yearly stipends to support your computing needs, while others provide company-owned equipment or leave it up to you. Explore job postings or inquire about this during a job offer to ensure you understand what you’re responsible for before your first day.
2. High-Speed Internet Service
Along with your computer, ensure that you have reliable high-speed internet that reaches your workspace consistently.
If you have others in your home who stream high levels of data, you may need to investigate upgraded bandwidth. Many remote workers are investing in a Mesh Wi-Fi System to bring incredible speeds to every corner of their homes.
Pro tip: Test your internet speed at a time during the day when it’s at the highest possible usage to ensure you’ll be able to meet your connectivity requirements.
3. A Dedicated and Comfortable Workspace
Despite the freedoms that remote work offers, you’ll need to dedicate space in your home that’s both comfortable and productive. It doesn’t necessarily need to be an entire room.
Many remote workers have found creative solutions to small space constraints. Consider every nook and cranny to find hidden space in spare closets, corner desks, or even the attic.
Whatever space you choose, you must designate a workspace that’s separate from the rest of your home. Working from your couch or bed occasionally can feel like playing hooky.
But on a long-term basis, you need space for a comfortable office chair and an ergonomic setup.
Pro tip: Most companies don’t dictate the details of your home office space. But if you work in the finance industry or in other roles that involve sensitive or personal information, you might find there are strict requirements. For example, you might be required to have space to lock up your company laptop when it’s not in use.
4. Real Clothes and Shoes
You don’t need to get ready for the boardroom most days if you’re not on Zoom. But for your mental health and productivity, you need to get out of your pajamas. Your brain associates pajamas with comfy, cozy, and leisurely cognitive tasks.
To prevent burnout, you need to help your brain shift into productivity mode and then out of it again at the end of the day.
Not to mention, it’s easy to feel cut off from the rest of the professional world when you’re working from home. Getting dressed daily can help you quickly schedule time outside your home office.
Whether working from a different location or simply going for a walk, getting motivated is easier if you’re already dressed to leave the house.
Pro tip: Whether you invest in a standing desk or not, wearing shoes is essential if you have hard floorings, such as laminate or vinyl. After a few weeks of walking barefoot around your house full-time, you’ll find that your feet and joints ache without footwear that provides support and cushion.
5. A Smartphone or Backup Device
What do you do when your internet goes out? If you’re a remote professional, you may use your phone as a mobile hotspot.
Unless it’s a widespread emergency, you’ll find that you’re expected to be resourceful when issues arise and find a way to complete your tasks or use your vacation time.
Pro tip: Regardless of internet outages, smartphones help facilitate time out of your office. Invest in a smartphone and a plan with hotspot data to connect while you’re working from a cafe or the local library.
6. An Organizational System
When you work remotely, you may have more work freedom than you’ve ever had before. So, you’ll need to be more disciplined than ever before as well.
Make sure you have a clear sense of your tasks, what’s next on your list, and when you’ll clean your office. Otherwise, you might get buried in a productivity-killing cluttered space in no time.
Pro tip: Even though you won’t have a boss dropping by your cubicle, you should still schedule a few minutes at the end of the day to ensure your physical and digital files are organized and tidy.
7. Abundant Self-Discipline
Being self-directed is arguably more critical for your success than your computer and all your connectivity gear combined. There will be distractions you can’t imagine until you’re at home.
It might not seem like much, but the struggle is real when choosing between a mind-numbing routine task or a short Netflix binge of your favorite show. You’ll need to flex that self-discipline muscle to be a successful remote worker.
The good news is you can gain more discipline with training and a focus on building time management skills.
Pro tip: Set goals and create a routine that includes starting your day with a few minutes to review and prioritize your task list.
8. Boundaries for Your Friends and Family
It’s going to be wonderful to be near your kids all day — until you realize that they’re not the best office mates. On the other hand, your friends and family can be excellent reminders to get up, move, and take breaks.
Preplanning and diligent boundary-setting are crucial for you to work from home and maintain healthy relationships.
Start by acknowledging that you will need child care if you have young kids at home. You can’t focus on work if you’re scrambling to keep a fork from going into an electric outlet.
Along with child care, you’ll need to establish boundaries for noisy pets, chatty roommates, and even your mom, who calls constantly because you’re “just working from home.”
Pro tip: Set regular work hours and make visual cues if you have others in the house. That might be as simple as posting hours on your office door or putting your phone on silent until it’s break time. Then, take advantage of the proximity to your family by sharing lunches and break times with them.
9. A Clear Career Development Plan
If you’re not proactive, out of sight, out of mind could be the reality for your career opportunities. Your home office can be a refuge from office politics and distractions.
With that distance, you might let time slide by without moving forward toward your next role if you’re not careful.
This may be less of a worry if your entire company works remotely. But if others get regular face time with leadership, you’ll need to ensure you’re regularly connecting with your manager about your development goals.
Pro tip: Set calendar reminders to request regular check-ins with your manager if they’re not already scheduled. Come prepared with questions and goals around your development and the skills you hope to learn.
10. A Focus on Work-Life Balance
It might seem counterintuitive, but you need to ensure that you build a work-life balance in your remote work life.
Even though it looks like it’ll be easier than ever before to make time for your relationships, it can be hard to leave work behind when it’s right down the hall.
Make it a priority to set boundaries regarding work hours and use your workspace only for work activities.
Pro tip: Plan an end-of-day ritual that signals the start of your off time. This could include making a list of the next day’s tasks and putting your notifications on silent — anything that signals it’s time to disconnect from work and refocus on other parts of your life.
Launch a Successful Remote Career
A successful remote work experience requires the right tools and resources, so make sure that these 10 essentials are in place before starting your journey.
You’ll enjoy increased productivity, improved relationships, and a more balanced life.
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