When you first start there are some pieces of telecommuting equipment that will be essential. Many companies insist that you provide all this yourself – and so the decision to buy will be very much based on what you can afford. But just remember this – you will not longer be spending gas driving to the office, or fares catching public transport into the office, and so the savings can go into equipment to make life easier. The items can also be a tax deduction. Check that out with your accountant!
Computer – This is always such a personal decision! Mac versus PC, Desktop versus laptops etc. But what ever you telecommuting equipment you use in the computer department you will need to have a solid backup plan as you are almost on your own when it comes to internet security and equipment failure. We use an external hard drive and back up on a very regular basis. If we have a failure, we can be back up and running from the drive very quickly. We have used DVD’s /CD’s in the past to backup and while effective were very slow. What ever system you use, backup religiously! Also make sure you have solid virus/malicious-ware software to protect your files and systems.
High speed internet – you will need to have a fast service to be able to use all the online tools that can make telecommuting so easy nowadays. Dialup will just not cut it – and DSL (over phone lines higher speed) is in most cases just not good enough. Satellite internet is worse (in my experience). If you live in an area that does not get cable, look into other providers of line-of-site internet (microwave etc). Once you decide on a provider, get the fastest you can afford. We then set up a wireless router so we can use our laptops anywhere in the house.
Scanner – as part of your telecommuting equipment you will need a scanner that comes with software that produces multi paged PDFs as well as other file formats (jpg etc). Most Printer/scanner combinations have this, but its worth checking. Ours in a Canon, and it is simple to use. We find that having the scanner that handles multiple pages in one file and eliminated the need to have a fax.
Fax machine – unless you really need to send a lot of faxes, we have found that it really is not necessary to have a fax machine. We use emailed scans for almost everything. If we have to send a fax, we use on online fax service that allows you to send one free fax a month. Maxemail is the one we choose to use – its great!
Postage machine – as we have a lot of outgoing mail, we purchased a Dymo postage printer and scale. This means we can print off stamps on almost all domestic items and light weight international letters. This is a real time saver – as we are not lining up at the post office (or even visiting as often).
USB headset – because we use online conferences and phone services, it is essential that we have as little hassle hearing people as possible. The $30 investment in a USB headset has been well worth it. It cuts down on feedback and makes the experience better for everyone. It can be an essential part of your telecommuting equipment!
Other office equipment – you will need all the standard office gear…staplers, file cabinets etc etc. We got a lot of these in yard sales and from Craig’s List. We even salvaged old equipment from the “head office” destined for the dumpster. Some telecommuting equipment can be found for cheap at yard sales too!
Post Office Box – while it might not be a major issue, having a PO BOx address rather than you residential address can be an advantage. It looks more professional, it works great if you get larger parcels (no more wet packages) and it also gives you an opportunity to break out of your office and breath some fresh air while getting the mail.
Shredder – if you deal with peoples personal information or other sensitive paperwork, you will need a secure way to destroy paperwork. Having a shredder as part of your telecommuting equipment is one way to do it at home. You can also subscribe to a company to take sensitive documents and shred them – but this is only worth it if you require box loads of paperwork a month to be destroyed.