Make working remotely a breeze with our work-from-wherever guide

A person sitting on a park bench, using a calendar app on a tablet, with a dog sitting nearby on the grass.

Working remotely is becoming more and more common among in the United States. In a poll conducted last year, Gallup found that the average worker telecommutes two days per month. And it’s easy to see why people like working remotely—you can save money and time on your commute, and be more focused. But is it as easy as it sounds to have an effective remote work day? It can be, as long as you do a little planning in advance. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the perfect spot, and have everything you need with you.

Where do you get your best work done?

The image of someone working at a cafe is one we’re all familiar with: a person intently focused on their laptop, with headphones on, a cup of coffee at their side. But is this the ideal remote working situation for everyone? Lots of studies show that working in coffee shops is beneficial for some people, because of the moderate noise and creative camaraderie. But other studies show that for some people, working in open, noisy environments can make it hard to get anything done at all.

Everyone is different, so before you choose where to plug in for the next few hours, stop and think about how you get your best work done. For example, If you’re easily distracted, a library or co-working space might suit you better than a lively cafe. But if you thrive on that buzzing energy, go find the busiest coffee shop you know of and hope for a free seat!

What should you bring?

First, let’s cover the basics: Power, an internet connection, and headphones. Start by making sure you not only have a power cord for your laptop, but also making sure your working spot has outlets you can use. You may also want an external battery and charging cord for your phone. For internet, if you aren’t sure whether your spot has reliable Wi-Fi, consider getting a mobile hotspot. You can also look into tethering to your smartphone—but be careful not to go over your data limit. And bring some headphones so you can drown out your surroundings if need be.

Aside from the basics though, there are other things that can really come in handy when you’re working remotely, too. Here are some things to consider bringing with you:

  • Business cards, along with a networking-ready attitude. You never know who you’ll meet.
  • A privacy screen for your laptop, so you can work on sensitive presentations or spreadsheets without worrying about prying eyes.
  • The perfect music: Invest some time creating playlists that fit your typical working moods, and consider making them available offline so you’re not eating up public broadband by streaming.
  • Light snacks and a reusable bottle full of water, so you can keep your energy up even if there isn’t food to buy.

What else does your day have in store?

If you’re working remotely, the chances are good that you’re doing it because you have a certain amount of flexibility in your job. So maybe you’re planning on tackling a half-day of errands after lunch, or you have a business dinner across town. Regardless of what your day—or evening—has in store, make sure to think ahead about what you’ll need. Change of clothes? Reusable shopping bag? Walking shoes? If you have what you need, you can eliminate any extra trips home, and maximize your productivity.

If you’ve never tried working a full day away from the office, maybe now’s the time! Getting a change of scenery, even just once or twice a quarter, can put you in a different mindset and help you be more creative and get more done. For more ways to be productive—whether you’re working in the office or a coffee shop—check out our newest Dropbox features:

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