Essential Tools for People Who Work from Home


I recently read an article on small-bizsense.com that discussed 10 essential tools for home-based entrepreneus. While I agree that several of these are definite must-haves, there were others that I felt were only applicable in certain situations.  Here’s my take on essential tools for people who work from home:

  • Productivity Applications – The small-bizsense.com article mentioned Microsoft Word and Excel, or OpenOffice.org for people who are on tight budget. I agree 100% that these are essentials – I use Word several times a day for working on eBooks as well as on projects for my employee job with Apptical, and I use Excel several times a week to keep track of information.
  • An excellent desk chair- This is another absolute must – as the small-bizsense.com article states, you’ll be spending several hours a day in the chair, so it’s important that you have one that’s comfortable. 
  • A fast internet connection – this is another absolute must, especially if you do phone work from home – many phone systems used by companies that hire people to work from home require fast Internet speeds, so it’s important that you get the fastest internet you can afford.
  • Smart phone – Whether you work from home as an employee or an independent contractor, you’ll want to have a smart phone.  If you’re on your  landline all the time, people will want to have a way to leave you messages.  And you’ll also want to have a way to communicate with people when you’re away from the office.
  • Evernote – This is another absolute must for people who work from home – you can use it to organize all sorts of information, such as information for freelance writing projects or website posts, important emails you receive from companies you work for, and receipts for goods or services you purchase for your  business, among other things.
  • External hard drive – In this day and age of hackers and viruses and worms, it can’t hurt to back up your files regularly.  External hard drives are great for this, and they offer more security than storing on the cloud.  According to the blog post, the five top external hard drives of 2014 are:
    • Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive
    • ioSafe Rugged Portable Hard Drive
    • LaCie Rugged USB 3 Drive
    • WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB Hard Drive
    • Toshiba Stor.E Basics 2 TB Hard Drive
The next few items are also on the list of tools that are mentioned in the small-bizsense.com article – however I feel these are only applicable to people who have their own business from home, or to people who don’t work for companies that hire for phone work.
  • Cloud-based phone systems – All you need to use a cloud-based phone system is an Internet connection and a smartphone. One of the best cloud-based phone systems, according to the article, is RingCentral – when you’re making and receiving calls on your smart phone using the Ring Central app, the calls will show up to callers as your business phone number.  This is great for people who have their own business, but if you work from home taking calls for a company like LiveOps or one of the other companies that hire people to do phone work from home, most of those companies require a landline.
  • Online invoicing app – Again, this one is only applicable if you have your own business. If you work from home for another company, the company will typically take care of the invoicing for you, or they’ll have an invoicing system in place for you to use already – even freelance sites like Elance and Odesk have their own invoicing system. In addition, Microsoft Word has invoice templates that you can use to bill your customers if you have your own business.  If you do choose to use an invoicing app, however, the blog post suggests Invoiceable  – it’s a free cloud-based accounting system designed especially for small business, and it allows you to do time-tracking, manage expenses and send invoices.
  • Cloud-based file-sharing applications – These are great if you  have to share files with other people, but not necessary if you don’t. The cloud-based file sharing application recommended is box.com – it allows you to send, store, and manage files all from one dashboard. There is also a mobile app available for you to download to your smartphone.
  • A laptop computer – This is definitely an essential if you run your own business and have to work remotely, if you work for a company where you can do your work remotely, such as if you’re a freelance writer.  However, if you do phone work, most companies require you to have a landline and a dedicated place to take calls, so a laptop may not be a good choice.
 
This is just my take on essential tools for people who work from home – if you have other tools that you think are essential, I would love to hear about them – feel free to post them in the comments!

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