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By: Sylvie Fortin

There are few things more aggravating for a business owner than hiring someone to work from home and finding out they don't have the proper equipment or software. Worse yet is when someone has the equipment, but doesn't have a clue on how to use it. Don't be one of these telecommuters!

If you are a telecommuter, you need to equip yourself for success with the best must-have gear available. The actual equipment and software you need will be dependent on the type of work you perform, but the following list of barebones minimum requirements should help you get started down the road to work-at-home success.

  • Computer: It is critical that you have a superior computer system if you plan on telecommuting full-time. Computers are a lot cheaper these days than they once were. It is worth the investment to have a system that doesn't crash constantly, can access the internet at high speeds, and can process documents rapidly.
  • Good Quality Printer: Consider investing in a laser printer. With professional quality proposals and documents, you'll be stunned with how much more effective you can become as a telecommuter with a quality printer. Definitely recommended!
  • Fax Capability (fax machine or online fax service): Whether it's an inexpensive online fax service like that allows you to send and receive faxes using the internet or a traditional fax machine, having fax capabilities will be invaluable to you as you create a professional image with your customers.
  • Second Phone Line (if using dial up access) or use Cable/DSL: If you must use dial up access, rather than have a cable modem or DSL high speed, then you need to have a second phone line. There is nothing more frustrating for employers than to try and reach a telecommuter and cannot because they are online and there's a busy signal. Remember: the faster your internet access speed, the more money you can make!
  • Software You Can't Live Without: Part of what will make you very good at what you do is handling all the stress on behalf of your customers. They don't need to hear “No, I'm sorry. I don't have that software, so I can't do that project you needed done yesterday.” So, make a concerted effort to have a wide assortment of software at your disposal. To save money, consider buying used software. You can keep an eye on local newsgroups to see what people are selling that they don't need anymore. Also check out and for software deals.
  • Microsoft Office, especially Word and Excel, can set you up to handle just about any telecommuting need. Data entry, research, technical writing, web design, graphics…pretty much everything you'll typically need to do can be done with this one set of software.
  • A Good Web Browser: Obviously, you need a good web browser, like Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator, but you also need to know how to use it effectively!
  • WinZip: As you know, size isn't everything, but when you're talking files and download speed, bigger isn't better. WinZip opens files that are sent to you or downloaded, but more importantly, it is used to compress files that you need to send to your clients. Why is this important? Simply put, with zipped files, your clients won't have to painfully watch their email being downloaded with large file attachments. Spare your clients the pain, download WinZip for free from
  • Adobe Reader: Put simply, Adobe Reader allows you to view .pdf files. Without it, there are very few documents that you will be able to read, including many eBooks. You can download the Adobe PDF reader for free (
  • HTML Editor: You will need a good and simple html editor. This allows you to modify sites and website templates, but more importantly, you can take on projects that involve working with html files. The more variety in projects you can take on, the better for your bottom line!
  • Graphics Program: Even if you aren't planning to be a graphics designer, you should definitely have a decent graphics program. No matter the reason — whether it's resizing, changing a file type, or making a minor modification — you will need a graphics program.
  • Your Own Website: If you don't have your own website, you're seriously hurting your chances of getting the work you deserve! A web site shows the business world that you are serious, professional, and ready to get to work on their project. A telecommuter without a website is like a business without a building. Start building yours today!

As you know, to be a successful telecommuter takes hard work, dedication, and a commitment to excellence. When it comes to equipping yourself with the right stuff, make sure you get off to the right start by equipping yourself with the gear you need to succeed. To your success!