Remote Working: 8 Items for Every Remote Worker's Wish List

Wade Foster
Wade Foster / Published November 29, 2013

When you join a remote team or start working as a remote worker, it's easy to think that a laptop and pair of earbuds are all the equipment you'll need to make being a remote teammate successful. But after working remote at Zapier for over two years, I've learned that while you can get away with just those two items, there's a short list of products that make a positive impact on your work environment.

If you're lucky, your company will cover the cost of these tools. So with that in mind, here are eight items for the holiday wish list of every remote employee.

1. High-Quality Headphones with Microphone - $30

Headphones

After having enough conversations that went south because of audio equipment that failed us, we quickly realized the benefits of every teammate having a high-quality set of headphones with a microphone. Based on a review from The Wirecutter, we decided to buy everyone on the team a pair of Microsoft LifeChat LX-6000 headphones.

The LifeChat has been a huge boon to the quality of our discussions over Skype, Google Hangout or Sqwiggle. Before, you'd regularly have people saying things like, "I can't hear you," or, "I'm getting a lot of feedback.' Now conversations run as smooth as butter.

2. Spotify Subscription - $5/mo.

Spotify Logo

A lot of people love to jam out to tunes or have light background music on while they work. Anecdotally, remote workers tend to love music even more.

If you can get your boss to splurge for the subscription, I'd suggest running it through Uncover which lets your teammates pick the music service of choice instead of getting everyone to agree to one music service. Otherwise, asking for a gift card is a great option.

3. Coffee Shop Gift Card - $25

Coffee Shop

Everyone gets bored working in the same place all the time so it's fun to switch it up. A favorite of most remote workers is the coffee shop. So ask for some gift cards to your favorite coffee shop. But while you work at the coffee shop, don't forget these 8 rules of coffee shop remote working.

4. Wireless Hotspot - $50

Verizon Jetpack

I'm assuming you've already bought reliable internet for your home or have it available at your co-working space. But when you're in unfamiliar territory like a new coffee shop, Wi-Fi isn't a given. Instead of being caught without internet, ask for a dedicated wireless hotspot.

I use the Verizon Jetpack at coffee shops, the airport and even at home sometimes, such was the case when my power went out. It's been a real life saver on more than one occasion.

Tip: I'd suggest getting a dedicated device rather than having your phone double as a hotspot. Using your phone as a hotspot can really eat into the battery.

5. Backup Peripherals - $200

USB Batter Pack

If you want to shift workplaces, packing up can be a bit of an inconvenience. So why not have backups on your peripherals? Basically, a mobile set containing a power cord, USB battery pack, headphones and wireless hotspot so you don’t have to pack up your workspace from home when you want to work elsewhere.

With a bag to keep it together, you can have a “mobile work backpack” that is your utility belt of tools to throw your laptop into and go.

Here's a sample pack for a Macbook Air user:

6. Good Bag - $70

Targus Computer Bag

This is one purchase I made on a whim without doing any research and it's turned out to be a pretty good one. About nine years ago I bought a Targus CityGear Backpack Case and have had zero problems with it. It's in just as good of condition today as it was when I bought it. No backpack has lasted me that long.

It's a bit on the pricey side as far as backpacks go, but the longevity is hard to beat. It also has tons of little pockets, nooks and crannies for putting all sorts of little widgets and gizmos. If mine ever gives out, I'd certainly buy this Targus bag again.

7. Ergonomic Chair - $200

Great Office Chair

Everyone swears on Herman Miller chairs. Their chairs are definitely great, but you'll spend a pretty penny on them.

I snagged this bungie chair with arm rests a little over a 18 months ago and haven't looked back. It's simply a great little chair and at a good price.

8. Coffee Equipment - $40

Coffee Grinder

I'll be honest. I don't know a single thing about coffee. But there are tons of coffee drinkers, which includes nearly all of my Zapier teammates.

My co-founder, Bryan, swears by starting the coffee brewing process with the Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill Skerton. It requires about three minutes of hand cranking, which has become a good little ritual for him.

Tip: There's lots of great coffee advice in the coffee sub-reddit.

What have we missed? If you could add one item to your remote working Christmas wish list, what would it be?

Credits: Coffee cup photo courtesy Michael Porter via Flickr

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