Do you dread travelling for business because your productivity grinds to a halt? Worry clients will panic if they can’t get hold of you as fast as they’d like? Groan at the mounting paperwork you’ll have to tackle when you return?
It doesn’t have to be this way. The “digitial nomad” revolution proves that it’s perfectly possible to do business as usual, even on the road. With the right tools and planning, you can get as much done on the move as you would at your desk.
1. Plan Ahead
Before you leave, review your itinerary, noting gaps in your schedule and where you’ll be. It only takes a minute to find out whether your hotel has free WiFi in the rooms, or that you have a five-hour stopover in Abu Dhabi airport, or that Tuesday evening after the conference is totally clear.
Googling “best cafés to work in [name of city/district/area]” will throw up any number of blog posts telling you which places a short walk away are your best bet for reliable internet access, saving you a ton on of time in an unfamiliar city. Downloading the Map.Me app to your phone will also help you to navigate to an address using GPS, without racking up data roaming charges.
Then, make a brief list of the tasks you want to complete while you’re away and keep it to hand so that you can refer to it whenever you have “dead time” in your day.
2. Get Connected
The primary challenge is always internet access. Luckily, most airports, hotels and cafes the world over offer WiFi – especially in Asia, where even the smallest Vietnamese coffee shop or Thai island beach hut is likely to be online. However, if you travel frequently it’s wise to get an unlocked smartphone (or get your provider to unlock yours for you), and buy a cheap PAYG SIM card that includes 3G data in every new country you enter.
This not only gives you have unbroken access via your phone to emails, internet-based calls and (if you have a cloud solution in place) your documents and work apps, it also means that you can turn your phone into your very own internet hotspot and connect it your laptop should you get stuck.
3. Keep in Touch
Whether you’re at home on the sofa or on a train across Russia, the key to making remote working a success is to maintain constant communication with your team. Once dialogue breaks down, everything falls apart.
Regular contact via email and collaboration apps, or – even better – catch ups via Microsoft Lync calling and conferencing tools keep you firmly in the loop. Take the initiative to call in regularly, to let your team know they can reach out to you as quickly, easily and cheaply in another continent as they could if you were on another floor of the same building.
4. Take the Office With You
There’s nothing more frustrating when you’re trying to be productive on the road than discovering you’ve forgotten a key document or piece of research that you can’t complete the task without.
The best, safest way to get around this is to opt for a Desktop-as-a-Service (Daas) solution, which migrates your entire desktop to the cloud, including all of the files and programs you use day-to-day, then gives you full remote access to this from any internet-connected device.
This keeps everything you use in the office at your fingertips when you travel. Even better, it’s fully encrypted and centrally controlled, so you don’t just take your workload with you, you take your internet security, too. If disaster strikes and your device is lost or stolen, IT can remotely wipe this access, preventing thieves from getting to your data, even if they get to your phone.