Have you noticed the type of hardware and software required to perform the work you are interested in? How do you inform your future client or employer that not only do you satisfy their requirements but that you also have the necessary skills to utilize them?
While updating my resume, I realized it’s nearly impossible to cram everything into one page. Especially the technical skills or the ability to answer questions about the hardware and software I use for remote work.
Most employers will list their requirements on job listings. Some will require the ability to use their preferred software to perform a specific job function. For example, some clients & employers use Asana or Trello or similar software for project management.
What My Remote Work Environment Looks Like
Let’s start with my “remote desk”.
It’s a fairly minimal setup but very efficient.
I set my remote work environment every day no matter where I am. I can set it up at my client’s place of business or in a coffee shop or on a picnic table in a shaded area. More often than not, I set it up wherever I am traveling on as a professional house sitter.
One key factor about this set up is that it allows most digital nomads to minimize their overhead. The biggest benefit of my remote work environment is being able to set up anywhere there’s a WIFI connection.
Portability is the key.
It really boils down to hardware and software.
Everything else can be classified as more of an accessory or gear. Such accessory or gear will not be included in the list. One such example would be a printer or a scanner which is more of an accessory than hardware.
My rule of thumb is simple.
If it’s essential, it’s included in the list. If it’s not essential, then it’s not necessary.
Remote Desk Hardware
- Early-2015 MacBook Pro Retina
- iPhone 7
- Flash Memory Card
- Western Digital External Hard Drive
- 30-foot ethernet cable
That’s it. Everything else is located off-site as part of my cloud network. Pretty simple, right?
Remote Desk Hardware FAQs
How often do you update your hardware? This is an excellent question. You can only control what you can control. Your hardware is at the mercy of their manufacturers.
If the manufacturer discontinues support for your hardware, it may be time to upgrade. It really depends on your needs. As a digital nomad, it also depends on two things, damage, and theft.
Between 2015 and 2020, I only had to update from iPhone 5 to iPhone 7 once due to water damage. I had to replace my iPhone 7 once due to theft. I have not had to update or replace my MacBook Pro.
At the time of this writing, my MacBook Pro is 5 years old and Apple discontinued the production of iPhone 7. Since Apple can discontinue support for either device at their leisure, it’s time for me to upgrade my hardware. I’m currently in discussion with the Florida (FL) Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to purchase a new MacBook Pro and iPhone as part of my Independent Employment Plan (IEP).
If you are involved with the technical side of the Internet, it is important to stay up to date on the latest technology.
What about noise-canceling headphones? You will notice some digital nomads and remote workers include noise-canceling headphones as part of their gear or hardware.
While I view this more of an accessory than hardware, I do recognize the value of having these headphones. It’s proven that we can better focus on our tasks when we filter out unwanted noise.
In some situations, I use apps like Pzizz or Focus@Will to block out external noises. If I want to block out all noises or require absolute silence, I simply turn off my hearing aids.
Backup, backup, backup.
The nice thing about the 2015 MacBooks is that it has a slot for flash memory cards. These memory cards allow for easy backup and offline transfers. It’s a lot easier to use than the bulky external hard drives that need to be plugged into the laptop.
However, I do have an external HD which serves as my archival backup system.
Remote Desk Software
Only the relevant software I use for remote work will be listed here. Most of the software is cloud-based apps that allow for offline and online work. Some of these apps are required to accommodate my clients’ and employers’ preferred software needs.
For example, it’s very rare for me to work with people using Apple’s office suite. Most people and organizations prefer either Google Suite or Microsoft Office.
- Office suites:
- Apple (Keynotes, Numbers, Pages)
- Google (Docs, Sheets, Slides)
- Microsoft (Excel, PowerPoint, Word)
- Screen capture
- Desktop App – Monosnap
- Browser Extension – Fireshot
- Reading: Kindle
- VPN: ExpressVPN
- Time-tracking: Toggl
- Text editor – Atom, TextEdit
- Workflow: Trello, Workflowly
- Team communications – Slack
- PDF editor – Adobe Acrobat Pro
- Email – Apple Mail, Google Gmail
- Web page library – Feedly, Pocket
- Password management – LastPass
- Laptop maintenance – CleanMyMac
- Automated cloud backup – BackBlaze
- IP Relay Application – Sprint IP Relay
- Video Relay Application – Convo Relay
- Local server environment – ServerPress
- Internet browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Safari
- Journaling & Notes – Day One, Apple Notes
- Cloud storage – Apple iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive
- Internet communications – FaceTime, Messages, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom
What about smartphone apps? The list includes all of the cross-platform, cloud-based apps that are found on the remote software list. There are a few additional apps as well which do not have a desktop version that are not listed.
Toby Osborn provided the inspiration for this post by sharing the hardware and software they use. If you are curious about how to work remotely from home, check out my girlfriend’s post, How to Establish a Successful Work From Home Routine. (Yes, it’s a shameless plug but it’s a really good post.)