Looking to plan your budget for next year? Deciding where to spend and where not to is a tricky decision. If you’re a remote worker, or managing and supplying a remote team, then it could be even harder. What kind of investment will pay back the most in terms of productivity? Here are some suggestions to get you off to a good start.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Remote workers can’t escape talking on the phone, or its modern day equivalents. I personally have a fairly expensive handset hooked up to my landline, which I use when it’s important to have great call quality and a connection I can depend upon. You might not consider a landline a wise investment, but if everything else goes to pot, you can at least always get on the phone and call someone. Especially if you have a phone that will work even in a power outage.
You should also invest in a good VoIP solution, be it Skype or any other service you trust. That also means getting the equipment to support it. A high quality headset, or a mic and headphones combo, will make it much easier to communicate with your coworkers, employers and other work-related contacts.
The Desk Does It
If you’ve ever tried working from a different location, or even from the couch instead of your desk, you know that having everything close at hand can make a huge difference in how well effective you can be. That’s why it’s a good idea to reevaluate your desk space yearly and update according to how your demands may have changed.
For example, this year I’m switching to a corner desk, since I’ve been using two separate surfaces in a corner anyway. Changing to a desk made for use in the corner will maximize my usable space, providing more desk surface where before I had a huge gap. Since I’ve also added a new, much larger printer/scanner because my work now requires more paperwork, I’ll also be adding a printer cart to my setup to make that easily accessible. It’s just sitting on the floor at the moment.
Having more space for additional gadgets, and bringing everything up to the same level will actually save me a lot of hassle in terms of day-to-day tasks. The bottom line? If you find yourself saying “I wish this was up here” over and over, whether it be accessory placement, monitor location, etc. you should spend the money to make that move a reality.
Most remote workers who depend on a computer will know exactly what I’m talking about when I mention machine slowdown. You’ve got a thousand apps open, with multiple windows and tabs and whatever else going on, and your machine just starts to drag its heels in accomplishing every little thing. Not only is it infuriating, it’s a huge, huge time waster.
If you find yourself running up against a wall with your current equipment, look to fix what you can cheaply first. That means upgrading your existing hardware. RAM is an obvious and inexpensive upgrade, plus it’s usually the easiest part for a user to upgrade themselves. Making sure your computer has the most memory it can support should be your first step.
SSD drives are coming down to a point where they’re now relatively affordable, especially if you’re considering them as a business investment. Plus, backup external drives are also affordable, so you can spend a little to have an SSD as your computer’s internal drive and store files on USB HDs, which will give you speed and storage for less than the cost of high-capacity SSDs.
The old adage “you have to spend money to make money” remains just as true today, but that doesn’t mean you can just spend willy nilly and expect positive results. Targeted spending is how you boost your productivity as a remote worker, and the areas mentioned above are easy to hit.