With the ubiquity of laptops, smartphones, tablets, and Wi-Fi, it is easier than ever for workers to skip the commute to the office and simply work from home or a remote location. Most companies now offer their employees flexible working arrangements (specifically telecommuting), which give employees the freedom to work from any location. In fact, according to Gallup’s annual Work and Education poll, telecommuting is on the rise, and climbed to 37% in 2015.
But while telecommuting offers awesome benefits to businesses and its employees (low overhead costs, no commute, and low to no technology costs), it also presents unique challenges, the most common of which is creating a virtual working space conducive to productivity.
So if you’re struggling to remain productive and efficient while working from home or anywhere, consider these three essential tools all telecommuters should have:
A good internet connection
A reliable and near-perfect internet connection is a must for your telecommuting lifestyle. It’s impossible to work remotely without it, which is why it’s essential that you do yourself a favor and get the best internet service plan in your area. Compare plans and providers and check out customer reviews in order to get the right service that matches your internet needs and activities.
If you work on the road frequently (whether from a hotel room or an airport lounge) it’s a good idea to get a mobile hotspot. This device allows you to connect your devices to a mobile internet connection that is portable. This is a great life-saver in case your destination has a spotty internet connection or a weak wireless network.
Reliable cloud storage
Storing important files and documents in folders, envelopes, and/or filing cabinets is clearly not for telecommuters, as these storage options come with a high risk of loss and theft, especially when you’re on the road. A good remedy is to use a cloud storage service. With cloud storage, you can access your files from any device and any location where there’s an internet connection. You won’t have to worry about losing critical data in case you lose your entire hard drive or paper documents.
You can choose from today’s most popular cloud storage services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and Onedrive. All these options offer secure cloud storage options, although they also come with slightly different applications and features. Compare and contrast to find the storage option that best suits your business needs.
Business Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone
Skype, Slack, and Google Hangouts are popular with most telecommuters because they’re user-friendly, free, and convenient. However, they are only helpful if you need basic calling and messaging features. They are not the most suitable system to use if you need a business-focused communications solution that is all-inclusive, flexible, and scalable. This is where a virtual PBX softphone or mobile app comes in handy.
Today’s PBX systems do not require users to be in one physical location to stay connected. With the help of a softphone or a mobile app, it’s possible to tap into all of the useful business phone features a PBX offers from anywhere. Most virtual PBX providers today now offer a softphone or app to go with their service for free or for a minimal cost. Vonage, for instance, offers MobileConnect with every Vonage Business Essentials phone plan. RingCentral also has RingCentral Mobile for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Additionally, VirtualPBX offers a softphone that costs $4.99 per month/per line.
The freedom to work from virtually any location is a dream for many because of its many benefits. But like any work arrangement, telecommuting will only be an effective option if you are armed with the right tools. So make sure to keep these three tools with you to remain productive and efficient, whether you’re working from home or any other location!