Imagine sitting on a sunny balcony overlooking an ocean view, enjoying a cafe latte, and working via laptop for an office across the country or abroad. Your office can be anywhere there’s WiFi.
Maybe your dream is to have a home office that allows you better work-life balance or cuts out a lengthy commute. Your commute is the steps it takes you to go from the breakfast table to your desk.
Remote work offers professionals the freedom to work at home—or from anywhere. To make a remote working scenario work for you, you need to outfit your home office—or portable office—with the best gear to support your career.
Here the team at Why Commute rounds up the must-haves for remote work to help your remote career rocket.
What Do You Want?
Remote work frees employees to travel the world, taking their “office” with them. Popular business books, notably “The Four-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss, highlight the possibilities that remote work offers.
Summer in Europe? Spend the winter in the Caribbean? You can live anywhere you’d like and change locations as often as you’d like with a remote work arrangement.
But maybe that’s not your dream life. Instead, you’d rather be working from home, sweet home, being close at hand for parenting, or just not having that rush-hour traffic to battle twice a day.
Before you make any purchases, think first about the office set-up that would make the most sense for your situation. Do you want a laptop that can hop a jet with you or a desktop computer with double monitors to anchor a desk in your home office? Or something in between, such as a laptop you could move from desk to kitchen table to sofa, or even to your patio?
Must-Have Gear When Working Remotely
Tops in Tech
Technology powers the remote work revolution, so your best investments will be in getting the tech items that will give you the capabilities to work efficiently from anywhere. It’s smart to set precautions against working from a makeshift remote office that won’t be comfortable or productive in the long run.
Consider adding these to your WFH set-up to have a professional remote workspace.
Before you choose computer hardware and software for your home office, make sure you have a router that can handle the increased bandwidth. Business Insider recommends the TP-Link Archer AX50 for its speed and affordability.
Whether the H in your WFH situation is for home or hotel, having the best laptop will power your creativity and productivity. You also have two MacBook options—the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro—as best overall and best for power computing. For PC fans, you could always consider the 13-inch Dell XPS.
Each of these laptop options comes with at least 256GB of storage. The MacBook Air has 8GB of RAM, while the MacBook Pro has 16GB. The Dell model starts at 8GB of RAM but, like the Apple options, can be upgraded.
We suggest the HP Pavilion 24 as the best all-in-one computer for remote work. With a big 23.8-inch screen, this home office option packs a lot of computing power for a price under $1,000.
Having a monitor that provides sharp visual presentations and color accuracy is essential in the world of remote working and virtual meetings. The New York Times recommends the HP Z27n G2 for its price, performance, and flexibility since you can tilt, swivel, and change the height to suit your preferences. Getting two of these side by side would be a workplace dream.
Having a wireless mouse will make your computer use so much easier—no wires to get tangled! Our choice is the Logitech MX Anywhere 3, which is geared for use with PCs, but there’s also an Apple-friendly option.
Sure, plenty of computers come with built-in webcams, but adding a webcam cam provides extras such as light adjustment that aren’t offered with built-in cameras. The New York Times’ pick for the best webcams for 2021 is the Logitech C920S HD Pro.
This camera adds HD quality to your video calls, whether they’re with clients around the world, your supervisor at your company’s central office, or with friends and family.
With video conferences becoming more ubiquitous, investing in a good set of Apple AirPods will give you crystal-clear sound, whether you’re conducting an interview or listening to your favorite music while working.
A printer might be a maybe for your home office. First, ask yourself if you will be printing documents. If your work is completely virtual, then this might be something you skip. However, if you will need a printer even just 20 percent of the time, it’s worth the convenience to have a printer in your home office.
In reviewing home office options for remote work, the Epson Workforce Pro WF-7820 is a good choice since it can print, copy, scan, and fax. For all those functions, it’s purchasing this one, and you’re done! Space can be at a premium for remote work home offices, so having one unit that can perform multiple functions is ideal.
Like printing, scanning is optional for remote work. If you do need to scan documents more than once in a blue moon, having your own scanner in your home office could be worth buying if it makes your working situation easier and more efficient. New York Magazine’s choice for the best document scanner for the price is the Brother DS-640 Compact Mobile Document Scanner.
This model is small enough to pack up and take with you if you decide to do your remote work from the road and delivers scanning quality that’s “amazing,” according to a customer New York Magazine interviewed.
Computer Travel Bags
If you want to travel the world while working, then a sturdy, functional computer bag is among your must-haves for remote work. Home-based working from home may not require a computer bag, but they’re still handy to have. The only situation that wouldn’t benefit from a computer travel bag is if you decide to get a desktop computer.
We’ve gone through several of the best computer bags for work. The Yorepek Travel Laptop Backpack is TSA-friendly if you plan to fly, water-repellant, and has a USB charging port. There’s a separate outside pocket for laptops up to 17 inches, which is handy if you need to access your computer quickly without unpacking.
Working from your home can be started from the kitchen table or even a coffee table in the living room in a pinch, but eventually, purchasing furniture for your home office is smart. Even if it is a corner of a room, having a designated working area will give you a mental boost and a greater feeling of professionalism.
Benefits to having designated furniture for working also have pay-offs in your health and well-being, since you can adjust your desk and chair to eliminate pain in the neck and shoulders after work.
It’s always a good idea to put a door between your office area and the rest of your home. While it will keep things quiet when you’re having a video conference or just trying to concentrate, a separate room with a door isn’t in every home’s floor plan.
If your remote workspace is a corner of a living room or bedroom, consider putting up a curtain, panel, or screen that would physically set that space off for working and keep your remote work from spilling into the rest of the house.
Make sure your remote work comes with a schedule. Otherwise, you may be tempted to work longer hours than when you worked in person.
A dry-erase calendar where you can post your schedule and appointments will help keep you on track and prevent you from overworking yourself and experiencing burnout.
The best desks for remote work add to the aesthetic of your home office while providing a working surface for your computer and storage of supplies and documents.
Our choices for the best desks for remote work from home include the Salina L-Shape Computer Desk. Its clean lines will complement most decors, and there are even shelves that can display photos, plants, or curios.
Want more storage? Consider this stylish Hillsdale L-Shape Desk with Hutch. The hutch provides storage upward in the same footprint as the desk, and the design will coordinate with most home decor styles.
If space is truly at a minimum at home, the Prepac Wall-Mounted Floating Desk can fold up when not in use.
If you’d like to add the option of having a standing desk for all or part of the day, consider the VIVO adjustable height standing desk. It will support multiple monitors, plus a keyboard and mouse. This model can be installed without screws, so if you do transition back to an in-person office, you can easily take this converter along with you.
Working from home while sitting on a kitchen chair or stool will leave you with a backache over time. To prevent yourself from experiencing discomfort or poor posture, consider upgrading your work-from-home seating for comfort and health.
You have plenty of options to pick from, including the Renda Ribbed Conference Chair, priced at about $200, the cushy La-Z-Boy Aberdeen Leather Executive Chair, and the budget-priced Alori Task Chair.
Whether you have carpeting or hardwood in your home office area, working remotely will ruin your floors. All that rolling backward and forward when sitting down to work adds up over time. If you’re setting up a home office, one of the must-haves for remote work is a chair mat to go under your office chair.
To keep your flooring pristine, you could get the clear vinyl Universal Cleated Chair Mat, the environmentally friendly Anji Bamboo Chair Mat, or the oval Designer Beveled Edge Chair Mat, also a vinyl option. Opt for one of these, and your carpets will thank you.
Shelves and Storage
The longer you work from home, the more you’ll need and appreciate shelves for supplies, books, or the photos and pieces of art that make you happy every time you see them. Consider these sleek shelves that attach to the wall—a nice safety measure if you have little ones at home.
Adding a filing cabinet will keep your papers neat and protected and will give your home office a professional air. You can try the Lorell two-drawer filing cabinet, which, at less than $100, is a smart addition to your remote workspace.
Desk Sets and Accessories
There are all sorts of items that can become must-haves for remote work because they make your workday so much more pleasant.
After all, you can never have too many accessories to make your workday from home that much better. These range from wireless stereo headphones if you need to tune out noise to a desk organizer to keep your desktop tidy. An LED desk lamp with a USB charging port is convenient and will save you from eye strain.
Be sure to think about your surroundings, even if your home office is in a corner of the living room. Adding some inspirational wall art will be an interesting background for video calls—no Zoom filter required!
Start Your List!
Why Commute reviewed the must-haves for remote work, giving you an important first step toward the freedom that remote work can bring.
With the best in technology (along with desks and chairs that are ergonomically designed to give you a comfortable workstation), your home office will be a personalized upgrade from your previous digs.
If you take your remote work to the next degree and decide to be a world traveler while working, Why Commute’s list will help you find the gear that will make your work portable.
Decide which pieces are must-haves for remote work, which would be nice to have, and which you don’t want or need. From there, click to order, and your career gear will be on its way to you.