Whether you work for a mega company or freelance, telecommuting can be a dream come true. You could be working from your couch in your pajamas or in a beach in Costa Rica, but being able to work from anywhere may be the one exception to the rule: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
However, you do need the right equipment, mindset, and ambition to make it work. Otherwise, your telecommuting dream can become a nightmare.
As companies become more technology-dependent, more people are realizing you don't need to wear a suit and tie and drive a long commute to an office. In fact, employers are realizing that many employees are more productive (and happier) when they can work from anywhere.
Here are seven things you'll need to make your telecommuting dreams a reality. It's actually easier than you think.
1. Get a good computer
This might seem obvious, but when's the last time you updated your laptop? When you work from home (or anywhere else), you need technology that works for you, not the other way around. Shop around for good deals on the best new laptops, PCs, or all-in-one computers.
Some people, depending on their work, might even be able to make it with their tablet of choice. Just make sure your computer has everything you need to get those TPS reports done.
2. Download Skype (News - Alert)
No matter what kind of work you do, there will eventually be a client, employer, or customer who wants to see who they're dealing with. Skype is one of the most popular video chat tools available, it's free, and you can even pay to get a US-based phone number that "calls" your computer anywhere around the world.
This is a must for anyone who works abroad, especially since scams can be a big concern for many people.
3. Back it up!
Everyone should be backing up their work, but it's especially vital when an employer isn't doing it for you. Ideally, you should back up all files every day, and in two different ways: on an external hard drive and via cloud storage like Google (News - Alert) Drive. Most telecommuters can get by with free cloud storage hosting.
4. Prioritize organization
This is another no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many telecommuters have zero organization skills. If organization doesn't come naturally for you, there are many tools, books, and consultants that can help. From sticking to a schedule to basic organization skills like filing, this is one skill you're going to have to master.
5. Maintain a physical address
One challenge of moving abroad or spending time overseas is keeping a physical address in the U.S. A P.O. Box (News - Alert) will do, but you have to have someone you trust check it regularly. Especially for telecommuters, you might not get a say in having paper checks arrive on a regular basis.
Investigate mobile deposits, and if friends or family aren't up to the task, hire an extremely part-time personal assistant (like a college student) before you leave.
6. Use Google Apps
There's an app for everything, even running your freelance or small business remotely. Check out Google Apps like Talk and Drive to help you operate your business anywhere around the globe. There's a bevy of free tools at your disposal, so why put in more effort than necessary?
7. Put social media to work
More people, from customers to employers, are connecting on social media sites, whether Facebook or LinkedIn (News - Alert). If you're a freelancer or small business owner, it's time to look at SM platforms from a new perspective and take advantage of all the tools.
This is where online branding and reputation management take place. E-marketing and connecting with potential customers or colleagues is easier in this environment.
For additional help, 800 services like tollfreeforwarding.com or cloud hosting options are a great place to start.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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