I wrote this post originally about 10 years back when I started working remotely.
As a result of Coronavirus pandemic, lot of people are having to work from home. So here goes an updated version.
Here are some tools that work for me. I am not recommending anything here, just mentioning what work for me. Also, some of these things are specific to India (are we the only ones who use a UPS?). So here’s what worked for me. Your mileage may be different.
- Good old Skype works best. It also works well for team con-calls. You can even share your screen.
- For larger meetings or presentations, I’ve been using Zoom a lot. Supports video conferencing too. WebEx and GoToMeetings also work.
- Other options: Google Hangouts, BlueJeans, RingCentral…
- Slack is quite useful for sharing regular updates, general collaboration and even for sharing office gossip.
- Asana and Trello for more formal task and project management
- Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Box and Dropbox for file sharing
- Google Docs and Office365 for those spreadsheets or documents that require co-working
Other useful tools/services
- Expensify for expense reporting, submitting claims/approvals etc
- Quickbooks for accounting
- Perfios for expense management
- I use excel for timesheets as well as TO DO lists. That works better than most others timesheet apps.
- A fast Internet connection. Or probably a couple of them. I use two of them and use a TP-Link load balancing router to connect both connections. This arrangement provides a reasonably priced fail-over capability, should one of those networks go down during a presentation or meeting
- VPN: I mostly use the built-in Opera VPN. But i don’t need it a lot
- Strong network. Range extenders etc don’t work. Go wired or use a mesh network. I’m now using TP-Link Mesh system
Hardware and Accessories
- Primary work device: Laptop, desktop, iPad,
- A printer: Or a multi-function device (MFD). The inktank printers are very cost effective but super slow. Color lasers are expensive but fast. A good trade-off is to buy a B&W laser and use phone for scanning etc.
- Phone: Mobile connectivity is bad here. But AirTel’s WiFi calling has greatly improved mobile calling. Otherwise get a landline and invest in a good speaker phone. And good headset. Not all headsets work on landline devices, so you’ll need to look for specific ones depending on your landline. For long calls, a landline phone with headset capability is very useful.
- A good noise canceling headset for web conferencing
- Office furniture. If you’re going to spend a reasonable amount of time working, this is probably the most important aspect for your office. Get a decent chair which is comfortable enough to discourage you from working on your bean bag.
- Stationery (printer paper, staplers, pen, file boxes, ……)
- An uninterrupted power supply (UPS). Although, my apartment complex has a generator backup but when power goes off, it always takes about 30 seconds for the generator to take over. You need a UPS so that at least the modem and routers don’t restart in the event of power shutdown.
- An external drive to keep your backups. Or signup for storage (Google, iCloud, Dropbox) for regular backups. I use Google drive plus Apple time machine/time capsules for in-house backups
- A warranty and service plan for all the stuff above – laptop, desktop, printer etc. Don’t underestimate the importance of this and try to get something that covers onsite visits as well.
- A coffee/tea maker
- An external monitor, mouse and keyboard. If you use external monitor, it might be a good idea to get a laptop docking station as well.
- Couple of extension boards. Get one of those with built-in USB ports so you don’t need chargers for your devices
Okay so this should be a good start. I will add to it as and when I remember more. If you think i’ve missed out something, please leave a comment and i’ll add that to the list.
Stay safe and avoid any travel or f2f meetings as much as possible.
Cover image: Ruthson Zimmerman ruthson_zimmerman / CC0