Are you a busy executive who needs to go on an extended business junket? Would your family welcome a vacation with you? You may desperately need some away time, but it’s challenging to fully unplug from your office.
Unless you absolutely need to be on site, technology has come a long way. You can now provide your support from virtually anywhere by taking advantage of the Internet services that turn you into what is known as a Digital Nomad. As long as you carry an appropriate device, you don’t even have to charter a plane to carry needed office equipment with you.
It’s Easy to Stay Connected
It seems like new online conveniences become available every day. As long as you can access an Internet connection, you can do any number of things that used to require the conveniences that were only in your office. The following are some now-common activities that anyone can do while on the road.
You can’t take advantage of the donuts that are offered at most meetings, but you can be there in every meaningful way. There are so many choices available for video conferencing software that you can certainly find one that performs all tasks needed to fully participate from virtually any Internet-capable device.
While some packages offer just the basics that allow you to see and hear everything and talk with the group, others permit full collaboration through screen-sharing, integration with many types of popular software, and much more.
Faxing may seem like antiquated technology for many people, but if you work in certain industries, it is often a necessity. The good news is that old-style machines are no longer needed for two-way document transmission. Many online fax services now only require a computer, a tablet, or even a smartphone to get your pages to their destinations.
If you’re worried about security, you can breathe easy knowing that online services are typically more secure than traditional fax machines, which have more privacy concerns than you realize — including making documents viewable to anyone at their destination.
Use your office printers
Unfortunately, we haven’t reached the level of a fully-paperless office yet. Sometimes, you need to get paper copies to co-workers or even to your most important clients. Even if you were to travel with a printer in tow, you’d face expense and time lags by using traditional methods to send the paper.
Luckily, you can use your network or the Internet to send print jobs directly to remote printers. There is some set-up involved, but once it’s done, you might even be able to send print jobs from a sailboat in the Bahamas.
Answer your office phone
With any luck, you should not have to be available to callers 24/7. If you want clients to reach your work phone number anytime — or if you’re the one person who can make critical decisions — then your smart phone needs to act just like the phone on your office desk.
The key is to have an office phone system that runs with Voice Over IP (VOIP). In a nutshell, VOIP transmits calls over the Internet, rather than traditional phone wires. For some businesses, this is a major change, but if you and other workers need to be on the road, important calls can come directly to your smartphone. In most cases, callers won’t even know that you’re not sitting at your desk, as long as they don’t hear a Calypso band playing in the background.
There are many options to choose from, so you need to do some homework to ensure that you select a safe and reliable system. Once it has been installed and set up, however, calls will get through as long as a cell tower is within range.
Run the same software that your office uses
If you’re traveling with only a tablet or a smartphone, then you probably don’t have the disk space needed to install full versions of word processing, spreadsheets, or anything else. This can make it challenging to collaborate with your team.
These days, however, most major software brands basically require you to “rent” software, rather than “own” it. Yes, you can maintain a full version on your office PCs. But, as long as you have an Internet connection, you will probably prefer running the software from the Cloud, which includes the latest and greatest features at all times. You can run these programs from your smartphone if you have to, but most people might prefer the screen space of at least a tablet.
Professional Office Space is Often Available if You Need It
So, what do you do when you need to see a client in a professional setting? What happens when you need access to basic office equipment that you didn’t bring —or even clerical support for a big project? Co-working facilities may be available to meet your needs.
These facilities provide a variety of needs for a person on the go. They allow you to rent furnished office space for as little as one day, or for extended time periods if you need it. Many co-working facilities offer basic equipment like copy machines and even phones, along with any human support that you need.
If you travel regularly, an investment in membership may make sense so you can get space when and where you need it. While the most notable facilities offer thousands of U.S. and international locations, you may not find one in Pago Pago or other remote areas. They are, however, available in most places where you’re likely to need them.
Advance Preparation is Critical
If the Digital Nomad life sounds appealing to you, understand that you can’t just throw a device in your suitcase, throw in a charger, and get on a plane. You have to plan in advance to make sure that you will have everything you need, including many of the following:
- A reliable Internet connection
- An equally-reliable power source, which may mean having appropriate power converters (and phone chargers) if you travel outside of the U.S.
- Access to all information you need from your network or the Cloud, such as client contact details or appropriate project specs that you can view on your device
- All software needs set up and tested for dependability
- A second-in-command at your home office to help alleviate the chances of too many daily interruptions
Everyone’s needs are unique, so take some time to develop a comprehensive checklist to ensure that all bases are covered.
Even the Boss Can Become a Digital Nomad
Do some of your employees already work remotely at least part of the time? These days, working exclusively from home is a common practice. Your employees might use this option when they have to keep working while they care for sick children or wait for a repair person. As long as you trust them to meet deadlines with limited supervision, it probably doesn’t matter where they get it done.
Unless you absolutely need to remain in the office to keep a watchful eye on your employees, you might be able to live the life of a Digital Nomad on a part-time basis. If you can trust employees to work responsibly, why not trust yourself as well?