From cloud automation engineer to adjunct instructor to customer service rep, the 21st-century workforce contains home-based opportunities spanning numerous industries. And while daily tasks certainly vary by occupation, some of the core things needed to perform successfully remain the same for every remote worker regardless of field.
Here’s a look at four basic work-from-home necessities:
1. A Strong Internet Connection
In today’s tech-dependent world, virtually every remote position involves using a computer for one thing or another—accessing databases, sharing documents, recording data, corresponding with clients, and videoconferencing with colleagues, to name a few. Think of reliable internet service as a lifeline.
“All our communication happens over Google Drive, Google Meet, and Slack Chat. It’s critical to have a fast and reliable internet connection in order to have smooth video chats and have access to files and code,” says remote worker Dave Baker, a senior web developer for Envato.
2. A Good, Dedicated Workspace
Remote workers perform better when they create a specific area for their job. Such a space promotes productivity by limiting distractions, preventing material from scattering throughout the house, and mentally compartmentalizing professional from personal.
“Having a dedicated workspace is critical for me because I have a toddler,” says Lindsay Wissman of The Content Factory. “It’s literally impossible to work with her near me. Not only is she distracting for me, but she wants to touch my laptop. If she breaks it, she can’t afford to buy me a new one, and I certainly don’t need her typing endless strings of random letters to my clients. Having my own space helps me get away from my kid, the TV, the dishes in the sink, or the laundry that needs to be folded so I can focus.”
3. Inherent Self-Motivation
Working without the gaze of an on-site manager often feels liberating to remote workers. But such an arrangement also means developing into a time management master, initiating conversations when you need help, and fighting the urge to procrastinate.
“When you work remotely, you often have the freedom to set your own schedule and divide up your workload however you want. But all this freedom can be challenging, since it’s completely up to you to structure your time and get stuff done. You’ll need to be self-directed and self-motivated for this setup to work,” says Rebecca Safier of Student Loan Hero.
4. Connections to the Outside World
Finally, remote work becomes hard to sustain long-term without social ties. Everyone needs some contact with others, so successful virtual workers make getting their “people fix” a priority.
“Being able to connect with the outside world—especially my coworkers—is very important to me because frankly, remote work can be lonely,” Wissman says. “The nature of my work (writing) is oftentimes isolating. There have been times I’ve gone days without talking to someone who lives outside my house. To keep our team connected and the lines of communication open, my company uses Slack. Whether I need to vent some frustration to a friend, or ask a question about a project, Slack helps me touch base with the outside world, which is good for my psyche, and in turn, makes me a better employee.”