“The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade”
– Benjamin Franklin
Perhaps the biggest change to the “work from home” space will be the fact that everything you need to do the job will need to come from you. You suddenly don’t have a supplies department you can just ring to get all your stuff from and you can’t just ask for Mark from IT to replace that mouse you banged out of frustration.
While you may certainly have the skills and know-how to do your online jobs at home, they all practically amount to nothing without the right tools. Whether you’re just starting out as a freelancer or a seasoned pro, we’ve prepared a list of necessaries every remote worker should have:
1. Computer – Best Essential
Honestly speaking, we could write an entire list out with each of the specific components your workstation needs to have, but that’s probably for a whole different topic. For brevity’s sake, we’ll just focus on two of the essentials making sure you don’t break the bank in prepping your workstation.
You’ll find that most, if not all, home-based online jobs will require that you at least have an i5 Class Processor. This used to be true with older generations of computers, but most modern processors will be up to the task of carrying out work-from-home tasks and are leagues faster and cheaper than the first or second-generation i5’s (which is what most office PC’s have).
Not sure if your PC can handle it? A quick reference you can use is this CPU comparison tool from Userbenchmarks.com. They carry user-submitted performance data from all over the world, and while PC purists will scoff at its use, it should give both you and your employer an idea as to how your processor compares to their required minimum system requirements. You can even send a screenshot over to your employer to ease their concerns over your personal system.
Solid State Drive for more Productivity
The main thing I personally hated out of working 10 years in an office was the fact that the office PC was slow. And the biggest culprit of that slow-ness was that it was not equipped with a Solid State Drive (SSD).
While absolutely not a requirement for getting a PC to work, having your PC outfitted with an SSD results in it booting faster, feeling snappier and being a joy to work with. That minutes-long timeframe it used to take for your PC to load will be reduced to SECONDS. Whether you’re working off a laptop or a desktop, an SSD boot drive will be the best investment you can make in its usability.
And it’s cheap these days, too. A 120 GB SSD only costs around 1,000 – 1,300 PHP!
2. Internet Connection To Get Online
What we really mean here is a stable internet connection. Your existing entry-level connection might be fine for personal use like streaming and social media browsing, but a work-level internet connection might require something beefier as you’ll be running multiple programs accessing the internet.
A 15 Mbps connection is the usual minimum requirement for working from home and wired connections are preferred due to their stability and absence of data-capping. Mid-tier plans like these typically cost between P1500 – P2000 per month.
Always remember to ask your neighbors how their Internet connection is with a specific provider. The stability and reliability of an internet connection will always be area-based and it’s best to get first-hand information on the service you are deciding on.
3. Updated CV/Portfolio For Your Online Job Application
Whether you’re looking for stay at home mom jobs or even part-time online jobs for students, the freelancing scene is a fast-moving scene. Potential employers are always looking for people to hire and give tasks out to so it is extremely important to keep an up-to-date record of your credentials.
Start Updating Your Curriculum Vitae
Periodically include work experiences, companies you’ve worked for and certifications you’ve completed. Not only is the freelancing workscape fast, keep in mind that you’re always competing with other freelancers and an immediately impressive CV just might be that WOW factor that tips scales in your favor.
Compiling an Updated Work Portfolio is one of the Main Essentials/strong>
If you’re in the field of content writing, audio-visual content creation, programming and website development. Potential employers will always want to see your skills in action before deciding if you’re the right fit for them and highlighting the best pieces of your work makes that decision easier.
4. Professional Email Address
Some of us own some really downright cool email handles, but admit it, would you REALLY want to do business with [email protected]?
Email Domain for Work
While any of the many free email hosting services will do, it’s always best to stick with the classics like Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. Both for name recall/accessibility AND formality.
Your Name = Your Username to Reflect On Your Online Job
Again, we might own some really cool usernames, but for business purposes, it’s best to keep things simple. A simple username with your full name plus AT MOST two numbers is advised.
NO numbers are best of course, and if you find that your email domain already has someone using [email protected] or has a lot of unnecessary numbers after the username, then explore other options like trying another email hosting service OR host one of your own. The name of the game here is clarity and simplicity.
5. An Essential Virtual File Hosting Service
In an increasingly interconnected world, it is highly important that you are able to supply your employer your output quickly and efficiently. While emailing attachments is already a good way to go about this, working remotely might mean that it needs to be accessed and worked on by several different people all at once. This is where cloud-hosting services come into play.
There’s Nothing Cheaper than Something Free from Online
Thankfully, most free email-hosting services already have this integrated into their platform. You might even already have one, you just need to access it. Google Drive gives you a WHOPPING 15 Gigabytes of storage PER ACCOUNT.
Quick Details and Data
We’ve already talked about keeping an updated CV and portfolio. Uploading these files on a file-hosting service will allow you to be able to provide a potential employer with all of these simply by providing them with a link. You can even go one step further by keeping necessary employment/pre-employment documents on there so that YOU can access them anytime and anywhere when you don’t have a PC. You can even update them on-the-fly!
Truly Work Anywhere and Anytime as long as Internet is Present
A file-hosting service is truly the smart freelancer’s secret weapon. Strategically uploading files to it will make sure you have access to work practically anywhere that has an internet connection.
Left your laptop and a client needs a quick revision on something? Rent a PC or do the revision on your phone. Forgot to save? No worries, it was saved automatically. Your PC broke? Restore files quickly on a new or different PC.
6. Online Office and Productivity Platform
While Microsoft’s Office Suite is the Gold Standard when it comes to productivity software, there are a couple of free alternatives that perform just as well and with more integrations.
The LibreOffice suite has long existed as a viable offline alternative able to open and save towards MS OFFICE file formats with relative accuracy.
And just like its cloud-hosting service, Google has also given you something you might not know you already have. Their productivity software is integrated within their email, browser and drive systems for quick use as a word processor, spreadsheet editor and presentation-creator fully compatible with most office files.
7. A Personal Bank Account
This seems to be a given, but might not be readily apparent to most people. After all, if the expected outcome of working online jobs at home is getting income, why wouldn’t you have a bank account handy? Aha, but not all types of bank accounts are created equally and each employer in the freelance workscape will have a different process for paying out.
The most preferred method is a direct debit to your bank account. But in order to do this, you need to make sure your bank account supports the feature. Sometimes you will need to get information directly from your bank such as the SWIFT code OR see if there are any fees associated with deposits made outside the country.
Some employers prefer to pay out via third parties like PayPal. This time, you will need to see if your bank is on the list of supported banks that third-party can transfer towards. And even if it is, you will need to check with your bank again if your specific account supports deposits from said third-party or if it falls in line with their security policies.
8. Webcam/Headset For Online Meetings
You can probably argue that this falls under your computer setup, but headsets and webcams are specifically their own thing because they come with a set of specs that might vary from several home based online jobs to the next.
Some jobs might have absolutely no need for them, some jobs need very baseline specs, but for Online Jobs Philippines, like customer-service, technical support, online teaching and outbound sales, a good webcam/headset combo is absolutely crucial.
Small WebCam for Online Meetings and Virtual Interview
If you use a WebCam for your job with relative regularity, consider getting one that supports High Definition (HD) resolution at 60 Frames per Second (FPS). Most HD Cameras will be 720p, which will be fine and unless specifically asked by your employer, don’t splurge on one higher than 1080p – this helps with the clarity of your images and ensures your receiver is able to see you well.
Headset for Online Meetings
In most cases, the trusty in-ear headset that came with your phone should be good enough. But be warned, they might not be outright compatible with your PC/laptop sound jack. A cheap USB sound card should be able to remedy this and comes with the added feature of nullifying ground static if you have earthing issues with the electricity in your area.
Noise cancellation features on a headset microphone are a must when working from home (which, thankfully, most phone headsets have anyway). And for best results, an over-the-ear headset ensures external sound is drowned and you are not easily distracted.
If you find that your headset outputs very low sound, don’t run out and buy a more expensive one right away just yet. There are a number of software-based equalizers that can boost sound such as Equalizer APO.
9. A Decent Mug
In the grand scheme of things, why would this be important?
For Online Video Calls
Like it or not, video calls will be a part of working from home. Whether it’s during the interview process or during the actual job itself, they will happen. The use of a presentable mug gives out the perception of a person who is in control and has things thought-out and all together in his workplace (in this case, the workplace being home) compared to drinking out of a disposable water bottle which might denote a fleeting, transient personality.
PRO TIP: Sipping from a mug allows you to stall for time to think when asked a difficult question (especially useful for interviews).
There’s an Emotional Link and Balance
Studies show that 6 out of 10 people feel a personal affinity with the mugs they use and own. It acts as a security blanket and gives a feeling of empowerment via the endowment effect. This is why many people choose to keep mugs with inspirational quotes or favorite characters.
10. A Quick Set of Formal Clothes for Online Meetings
The lack of a dress code/uniform accounts for one of the highest-rated perks freelancers enjoy.
But as we said, video calls are an indispensable aspect of working from home. Obviously if you work as an online teacher, conducting a lesson in your nighties is not an option, but what about for everyone else?
It’s very easy to let your wardrobe languish in the wake of working from home, but ALWAYS make sure to have at least one set of formal clothes ready and on standby. You might get a video call for an interview or head honcho meeting at very inopportune times and you definitely don’t want to get caught with your pants down. Literally.
Bonus: At least ONE Professional Studio Picture for Professional Job Materials
Look, I’ll be honest, I personally abhor the use of professional pictures and avoid them whenever possible. If I can get away with using a caricature of myself, 10 times out of 10, I will.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have at least one professional picture ready, though. Some potential employers will be more receptive to receiving a CV with a professional picture in full office garb, some existing employers might want one to update their respective organizational charts, and while others simply want a face to put the voices of the people they work with to.
You might not ever use it, but always have one handy just in case.