Successfully working remotely is a lot like successfully camping: having the right set of gear goes a long ways. We've seen a growing trend in this arena, with both employees AND employers pushing for more remote work. There have even been a number of studies done that are showing that for many people, working remotely makes them more productive. So the company saves money on office space and gets a more productive worker, but what makes you want to skip the office camaraderie for the on-going battle to find working wifi while dealing with someone talking on their cell phone 3 feet from where you're trying to work? For me, it's freedom. Freedom from being tethered to a cubicle, freedom from routine, and freedom to make your office a coffeeshop that's 10 minutes from a rock climbing wall or hike that you want to crush that afternoon. It’s another step towards that life goal that a lot of us share because (whether it’s true or not), remote work seems to make work-life balance all that much easier to attain.
I’ve been working remotely for the past 14 months at a marketing firm in Chicago. At first I was skeptical about how productive I could be, but now I have a hard time imagining ever working in an office again. While I'm definitely not an expert yet, I have picked up a couple of useful bits of information along the way. Besides taking advantage of some of the obvious benefits, like not having to deal with traffic and being able to choose your own schedule, the most important thing that I've learned is something many people overlook: a completely portable office.
Think about what you would normally have in your office: a large monitor, filing cabinets, a printer. Now strip it all away. None of that is coming with you to your portable office that might temporarily be near a beach one week, or up in the mountains the next. This is about being efficient and light, while still having everything you need to be successful; it's just like traveling. The items below are what I use every day and would recommend for anyone trying to make working remotely a part of their lifestyle.
Arguably the most important item I use everyday, after my laptop, is the bag to carry everything in. I went through countless options before coming across The Mod Laptop 2 from This Is Ground. I found that the larger the bag I used, the more stuff that began to accumulate in it, which is not what I'm aiming for. The 13-inch Mod Laptop 2 was perfect for what I needed, as it fit my MacBook Air, iPhone, and the necessary ancillaries for each of them. I'm also still a fan of having a notebook to jot things down, and it's always a good idea to have a couple of business cards on you as you never know who you'll meet in your office that day. The Mod Laptop 2 accommodated all of these items and did it in a sleek way.
One issue that came up when I first started working remotely was what to wear. It may seem silly, but going from the mountains to your temporary office space isn't the most conducive to non-wrinkled, and non-smelling garments. My solution: Merino Wool blazer from Formal Friday. If you're not familiar with merino wool, it is commonly used for running, hiking, skiing, mountain climbing, etc., is excellent at regulating body temperature, and contains lanolin, which has antibacterial properties. Basically, it rarely wrinkles and doesn't smell. I can wear this jacket all day, toss it in my bag, and still have a sharp blazer for the evening
As I mentioned before, I love having something to jot down notes, and I really love being able to physically cross things off my to-do list for the day. For me, I use a Moleskine notebook and a Karas Kustoms aluminum pen. I prefer the upgrade from a 10-cent ballpoint and spiral-bound notebook because they seem to last longer, and I don't seem to lose them as often as their cheaper counterparts.
The other necessity that I always have with me is my Hydrapak Collapsible Water Bottle. It may not seem like a big deal, but having a 1 liter water bottle that can collapse into the palm of my hand is essential for staying hydrated on the go.
Have a suggestion for something I should add to my remote office? Leave me a suggestion in the comments below.