Checklist – Working Remotely/Setting Up Home Office

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.

Communication

  • 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… 

Collaboration

  • 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.

Networking

  • 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


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