Without reliable, good-quality tools it will be difficult for you to maintain a high level of productivity.
To be an effective online worker, at a minimum, you need the following equipment:
- An uncluttered desk in a quiet part of your house, or an uncluttered desk in your own office
- A comfortable chair that supports your body in the correct posture
- A modern, reliable, dust-free computer, keyboard and mouse
- A good quality monitor that enables you to see your work clearly and in a large format
- A fast, reliable Internet connection
- A backup Internet connection either via a dongle or local Internet cafe
Before we dive into the details of the equipment let’s start with a little story!
Once upon a time, a long time ago … you decided to add a lovely new room to your house. You searched a popular job website and found a builder who came highly recommended.
During your interview with the builder he said “Yes! I can build the new room onto your house. I have tools, a truck and wood. I will be fast and efficient so that you get a good price and a good-quality new room.”
On the day that he was supposed to start work his truck was so old that it broke down twice on the way to your house. Even though you were paying for a full day of work, he turned up at lunchtime.
And then you realised that his saw was blunt; it could not cut wood very efficiently. He would saw back and forth, back and forth, but could only cut one piece of wood very slowly.
To affix every nail to the wood he used a hammer instead of a hammer-gun power tool. Why? Because the batteries in his power tools were not charged.
With a blunt saw, it was slow to cut the wood. Without power tools, he worked even more slowly.
You ended up paying twice as much for half as much work. Overall, it was just an annoying and disappointing experience. You would never hire the builder again
Why Is This Story Important?
Would you be happy if a builder that you had hired to build a room onto your house had turned up late and with low-quality tools? That his tools weren’t sharpened? That his batteries were low?
Yes, it is obvious that the same can be said for online work! When you turn up at your virtual office every day, make sure your tools are sharp and ready for work. Don’t be ‘that’ builder.
Let’s go through each in detail.
Why the emphasis on “uncluttered”? A good builder keeps his tools neatly stowed in his truck. This makes it easy to find the tool he needs and also furnishes him with a more professional presentation.
An uncluttered desk will affect you in a similar way. Clear your desk; clear you mind!
What Is a Cluttered Desk?
You perhaps imagine that a cluttered desk might be covered in papers, old dishes and many other items from daily life. Perhaps it is piled high and you can’t even see the desk through the mess.
Yes, this is perhaps a more extreme view. But, a cluttered desk can be just a few items that really don’t need to be there. It can be as subtle as the examples below.
The ‘before’ example is not so bad! Or is it? Sometimes the difference between a good builder and a bad builder is in the tiny details that one notices but the other doesn’t.
And where is your desk?
Hopefully it is not in the family room or a room where relatives and friends are easily accessible. It’s not in the laundry. It’s not shoved into the corner of a dark storage room.
You’re about to spend a significant amount of your time sitting at your desk. Your ‘desk’ is going to be a major source of income. So, make sure it’s given the priority it deserves; make sure it’s in a good part of the house or office.
- Do you need an outlook onto the street or trees in order to feel happy with working? Or do you need your desk to be in a quiet room with uncluttered space around you?
- Is the desk dedicated solely to your work? Or are you sharing it with your children’s pencils and glue? Or are you sharing it with the folded clothes washing? Or even someone else’s mess?
- Is your desk in an area of the house that means you are always accessible to your family and friends? Or is it out-of-the-way in a private area reserved for your important work?
Get a Comfortable Chair
You are going to be sitting down for a significant amount of time. Are you propped up on a wooden stool from the kitchen? Or an old heavy chair from your great-aunt?
Make the time to find a comfortable, ergonomically-designed chair.
- It supports your posture: Traditional chairs may be one of the reasons why people tend to have an incorrect posture while sitting at their desk. An ergonomic chair takes these problems into consideration. It has all the necessary features including head rest and back rest that support your posture while sitting.Moreover, you can adjust the height to sit with your feet flat on the floor, knees at an angle of 90 degrees to the floor and parallel to the hips.These corrections automatically help you to improve your posture.
- It is more comfortable: Ergonomic chairs are more comfortable than normal chairs because they are user-friendly. You can adjust all the features individually to fit your needs until you’re totally comfortable.
- It reduces the risk of neck problems: Without a neck support for a long time while sitting, you’ll develop stiffness in your neck and shoulder region.Ergonomic chairs have a headrest that supports your head and neck even when you want to stretch out.
- It reduces the risk of back pain: Ergonomic chairs come with a backrest that supports the natural curve of your spine. Unlike traditional chairs, ergonomic chairs are high enough to support the entire back.Some ergonomic chairs come with a reclining function that allows you to rest at an angle greater than 90 degrees.
Chair features to consider:
- Adjustability – Check to see that seat height is adjustable.
- Seat height range – Check whether the seat height can be adjusted to the height recommended for your height.
- Backrest – Check to see that the backrest is adjustable both vertically and in the frontward and backward direction and has a firm lumbar support.
- Seat depth – Select the seat that suits the tallest and the shortest users.
- Stability – Check for the stability of the chair; a five-point base is recommended.
Your Modern, Reliable Computer Equipment
Your computer is one of your most important assets as a freelancer (next to your talent and skills), and so it is necessary that you protect it from any damage.
It is important that you learn how to value and take care of your computer if it is going to be your source of income for many years to come.
There are many ways of doing so, and here are the most common ways to help you keep your “money making machine” in tip top condition.
- Keep food away from your computer, especially coffee and other forms of beverage
- Clean it regularly with a soft brush or compressed air especially in between the keys
- Get a cooler airflow regulates the heat build up inside the computer and keeps the hardware temperature controlled
- Install a credible Anti-virus program to keep it free from malware and hacks
- Back up your files it’s devastating to be unable to recover your files
- Keep your computer’s software programs updated
- Store it properly, inside a protective bag in a cool, dry place and away from children’s reach
- Check for loose wires before you start working
- Shut it down properly instead of just closing the screen
- Carry laptops with care–don’t lift it holding the monitor
- Consult a professional should there be any problems. Don’t attempt messing with the hardware and software unless you’ve successfully dealt with this problem before
- Use a surge protector to protect your laptop from electrical surges
- Keep magnets away from the computer–they can damage susceptible hardware and may even erase your data
- Keep your workplace clean because the fans in the computer can suck up dirt from your desk
- Plug USBs carefully, don’t force them in
Get a Good Internet Connection
I don’t think this point needs a great deal of explanation!
Without reliable Internet access your employer and colleagues will not be able to rely on you to perform your tasks or be available online when they need you. It is as simple as that!
You can test your Internet connection using www.speedtest.net.
If you know that your Internet provider is sometime unreliable then make sure you have an alternative access point close at hand.
This could be a wifi dongle. Or it could be a local Internet cafe. Or perhaps even a colleague’s house.
Whatever you need to do, just get it done. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have access to the Internet connection that you need.
Remember the story about the builder. You are, in effect, the builder for your employer. You’re being relied upon to get the job done, but also in an efficient, time-saving way. Take the time to ensure that your tools are in the best condition for providing the best outcome.
Further reading: What workspaces are the best for freelance workers?
Every job requires good tools. If you want to be a successful online worker, you need proper tools to become one. Since you are working online behind a desk, you definitely need the following:
- Uncluttered and orderly work desk
- Comfortable chair
- Good and reliable computer equipment
- Reliable Internet connection
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are bad Internet connection and a computer that breaks down legitimate excuses for job not done?
a. Yes. You cannot guarantee that these will always work perfectly.
b. No. It is your responsibility to find satisfactory alternatives in due time and get the job done.
2. How can you prove that you have a good working space?
a. Invite your employer to visit you.
b. Make a nice photo with a handwritten note on your desk to prove it’s yours.
c. Nobody does this.