Being self-employed and working online is great, it means I can work from almost anywhere at any time. However, running a self-employed business is not without its challenges and one of these is there never being any time off. Sure, I can actually decide to take a week off, but I’ll lose a week’s pay and the chance to apply for any freelance work that pops up that week, so really I could lose even more than one week’s pay. This means that whenever we are travelling, on holiday or on the road, I also need to work.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, even more people are finding they are able to work remotely. Employers are allowing staff to work from home, which is giving more people the chance to work from wherever they choose. Perhaps you are not self-employed like me, but you can work from home and have realised you can also work on the road whilst exploring new places. But how can you work remotely effectively whilst travelling or on a road trip?
Read on for some top tips for how to work remotely effectively.
Ensure you have internet and a backup option
If you rely on the internet to complete your work duties then you are going to obviously need an internet connection. There are a few options for this and my favourite way is to hotspot to my mobile phone data. Of course, this can be expensive, so ensure you have a sufficient data plan to stop a shockingly high bill. I have quite a low data plan, but my husband has a really high plan for much better value. I will always connect to my husband’s hotspot when we are on the road or travelling. If I need to use my mobile phone hotspot then I will buy a data plan bundle to see me through my travels.
Another option is to use a dongle that connects straight to your laptop and uses a mobile phone signal. You’ll pay for a contract for the dongle, just like a mobile phone bill.
The only issue with relying on mobile phone broadband and hotspots to access the internet is not all areas have mobile phone signal. In these places, you will either have to work offline if possible, move on to a spot that has signal or find another way to access the internet as explained below. This is one reason my husband and I are on two different mobile phone networks. Chances are if one of us has no coverage, the other does.
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Make use of remote office spaces
Remote working has become more of a norm over the past few years and is set to rise. There are now dedicated office blocks and locations specifically for this purpose where you can rent a desk, individual office or even Office Meeting Pods for your needs on a one-off or flexible basis. These are perfect if you have a pending deadline and need some quiet time away from travels to focus on work. You’re also guaranteed a good internet connection!
… and internet cafes
Of course you can also use internet cafes or any location that has free WiFi. Just don’t expect peace and quiet.
Use noise cancelling headphones
One way to get some peace and quiet is to use noise cancelling headphones. You can listen to music and block out surrounding sounds if needed. Headphones are also great if you need to listen to videos or talk to colleagues whilst on the road. Choose headphones with a microphone so you can speak to others if needed on voice or video calls.
Take days off
You don’t want to burn out and you want special days to switch off and relax without emails and work duties calling. So, take days off just like you would at home. For me this means working Monday to Friday only and taking the weekends off unless I choose to work or check an email every now and then, however I don’t feel obliged to on a Saturday and Sunday. It also means I really look forward to these days off as I can fully focus on exploring and not worrying about working or how I’m going to work on the road!
Working in the evening
I also mentally prep myself for working in the evening a lot more when I am on holiday or travelling. I’ll keep an eye on emails on my phone throughout the day, apply for freelancing jobs and complete the actual work itself in the evenings when we are back to our holiday let, camper or accommodation. Daytimes are for exploring and evenings are for working. If I’m particularly busy then I’ll wake up early to work or we’ll stay at the accommodation for a few hours in the morning until I’ve completed enough of my work. Whenever we book travel accommodation I always ensure there is a WiFi connection so if I have no internet signal all day then I always know I can catch up in the evenings.
Equip your campervan (if you have one) for off-grid life
If you have a campervan for travel then equip it as best as possible for off-grid life, which will also satisfy your remote working habits. For example, we have added many off-grid features to our Mazda Bongo which enable us to work with ease on the road. We have a leisure battery hooked up to a solar panel and a power inverter so we can plug in our laptops to charge, wherever we are. With a mobile connection to create a WiFi hotspot and free electricity from the sun converted through our solar panel, we can work all day long on the road without our laptops running out.
Make use of travel time
If you are a passenger then you can use travel time to your advantage. If we are away in our Mazda Bongo then my husband is always driving which means I can use the travel time to work. I can send emails from my phone, source work and even start writing articles if I need to using my laptop or using Word on my smartphone. Stuck waiting at an airport terminal for a couple of hours before your flight? Set yourself up in the lounge or at a table in a restaurant and use the time to work. There’s actually a lot of spare time you can use when travelling for working when you’d otherwise be sat waiting for the next flight or whilst you are on a plane or other transport for a few hours.
Use Google Docs
One of the best things I have made use of is Google Docs. I can update my spreadsheets on my smartphone whilst travelling, and as soon as I can access them on my laptop again they will be exactly as I updated them on my smartphone. Being able to edit documents on a smartphone and laptop independently of each other and syncing them has made remote working so much easier.
Set up keyboard shortcuts
If you’re using your mobile a lot when travelling for work purposes then it can be slightly tedious using the tiny keyboard to type emails or a lot of content. Make this easier by setting up some keyboard shortcuts for information you type regularly. For example I use the keyboard shortcut ‘eml’ for my email address to add it quickly and easily instead of continuously typing it out when I apply for freelancing work. Think of words, information or phrases you are repetitively typing and invent a keyboard shortcut that will save you time, but make sure it’s not part of a word or actually a word or it will always convert!
Keep your electronics on your person
Things happen and luggage gets lost. Always pack your electronics that are work related and essential, such as your laptop, tablet and smartphone on your person. Take them as part of your hand luggage when on a flight to minimise the chance they are lost or stolen which will then affect your ability to work when away.
Use the hotel safe
If you have access to a hotel safe in your room then use it to store your laptop and tablets if you leave them behind for the day.
Consider travel-friendly sized equipment
You don’t want to lug around a load of heavy equipment whilst travelling, so only take what you need to complete your job. Consider investing in a smaller laptop for travel purposes that is easier to carry around and also not of value to you. That way, if it’s damaged, lost or stolen you will still have your main laptop at home. If you use cloud-based documents then you won’t have lost anything you were working on.
Password protect your electronics
For security you should always password protection your electronics in case they are stolen. This will prevent your important work and information from being accessed by an unwanted individual and stolen or deleted.
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