I get this question quite often, “What do I really need to work from home?”
This is a legitimate question. After all, you’ve probably been told that working from home requires little, if any, investment, but then you’ve been handed a laundry list of things you will need.
Today, I thought I would break it down for you – things you absolutely need, things you’ll probably want, and equipment that may come into play if you choose certain industries.
Let’s get started.
There are a few things you will need to work from home regardless of what job you choose:
While there are a few little money-makers that you can do with just a smartphone, you will need a desktop or laptop if you want to make enough money to pay the bills.
While you may be able to get started with the computer you have, there will be some jobs that require a certain amount of memory, disk space or screen size.
If you are starting from scratch, choose a computer with at least 2 GHz processor, 4-8 GB RAM and a minimum resolution of 1024×768. Most companies also require a Windows operating system and a computer less than 3 years old. If you hope to work with a certain company or two, check their tech requirements before ordering. As an example, you can see Working Solutions tech requirements here.
If you need a reputable place to purchase your new equipment, I have been buying mine through Dell since I started working from home in 2007. They offer financing if that’s something you will need.
While WiFi will get you by in some cases, hard-wired (ethernet) internet is a good idea. This will help ensure your download and upload capabilities are stable and fast enough for those jobs that require transferring files. It’s also more secure. And, once again, customer service companies will require hard-wired, digital internet service.
If you have a slow connection, check out these ways to work from home with satellite Internet.
You may be able to make do with using a printer/scanner at your local library or office store, but it can get expensive and inconvenient over time. And chances are you will have quite a bit of printing and scanning to do when you are first starting out with all of that new hire paperwork that needs to be done.
Luckily, home printers are pretty inexpensive these days. You can get one for under $100 on Amazon.
I usually opt for a small business version because I print quite a bit. Even then, I usually pay under $200 and they last me around three years or so. I just bought this one for myself.
If your at-home business involves shipping, you’ll probably want to invest in a thermal label printer.
A Way to Track Your Income
Many companies will hire you as an independent contractor as opposed to an employee. That means you will be responsible for paying in those pesky taxes. Therefore, it’s imperative that you keep good books! Even more so if you will be holding down several gigs over the course of a tax year.
This is an area in which you can start with what you have. Many people are perfectly happy using just an Excel or Sheets (Google products are free) spreadsheet.
If you would like something a little more robust, I recommend QuickBooks Self-Employed. This online software comes with a smartphone app. It can pull in transactions from your bank or PayPal account saving you time. You can save your receipts in the cloud. It can also estimate those quarterly taxes you owe.
It’s so imperative that you find a calendar and organization system that works for you. You are likely going to have deadlines to meet or shifts you need to work. There is a long line of people waiting to replace you, so you don’t want to be late!
Choose whatever system you will stick with. For some, that’s Google Calendar. For others, paper planners are the way to go (I love my Erin Condren planners). I also use Todoist which is a free browser extension that reminds me of what needs to be done each day.
You do you!
There are a few wishlist items that are certain to make your work-at-home day a lot easier:
I was surprised when I recently asked in my Facebook Group how many people use dual monitors. It was a lot!
Working with two monitors can have a lot of benefits from increased productivity to better client communication. You can read about dual monitors here.
Ergonomic Chair or Desk
I have tried working from my couch. It kills my back. I highly recommend getting a good chair. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just ergonomic. If you prefer to stand up to work, check out the benefits of a standing desk for at-home workers.
Call Center Equipment List
Call center jobs are some of the most restrictive when it comes to equipment. Because many of these jobs require downloading specialized software and having calls routed through your computer or household phone, there are a few pieces of equipment you will need as a remote customer service agent.
As mentioned earlier, you will likely have a few tech specs that your computer needs to meet to work a remote call center position. And, they will check. A tech test will likely be part of your application process.
You may find a laptop that meets your needs, but many won’t meet the requirements and/or you may run the risk of overheating should you be working long shifts. For those reasons, many people opt for a desktop from the get-go.
Luckily, you can find many affordable options today on Dell or Amazon.
You will come across two headsets requirements for remote customer service positions, so you will need to pay attention to the job description. Luckily, both of them are very small investments.
A USB headset plugs into your computer. Companies may require this type of headset for training but it may also be required to do your job if they route calls through your computer as opposed to your home phone.
A call center headset is one that plugs into your home phone and allows for muting, volume control and more. Most will require a corded headset – cordless is usually prohibited.
Dedicated Phone Line
Unless the company will be routing calls through your phone, a landline phone will be required. It’s commonly referred to as a POTS line – plain, old telephone service – with no call waiting or other features.
What’s the Best Laptop for Working from Home?
If you won’t be working a job that dictates your technical requirements, like customer service positions, you may get by with just a laptop. But what’s the best laptop for telecommuting?
There is no cut and dry answer, as is usually the case when it comes to working from home. Any newer model laptop with ample memory and processing speed should fit the bill for most work-at-home jobs.
Many people love their Macs. I, for one, love my Chromebook. When going an unconventional route like you would be doing choosing one of these options, you need to keep in mind they do come with restrictions.
Neither the Chromebook or Mac will allow you to download the specialized software that is required with many customer service gigs. If you think you may want to keep that job option on the table, it’s best to stick with a desktop or at least a laptop with a Windows Operating System.
If you are getting into something like freelance writing, a Mac or Chromebook shouldn’t be a problem.
That being said, it’s a good idea to browse around a few companies that hire in your field of interest to see what the common technical requirements are.
I hope this post gives you a better idea of what you really need to work from home and what things you can upgrade to at a later time.
Pro tip: Don’t want to buy your stuff? Check out these legit work from home jobs that provide equipment.