Technology has enabled us to be more flexible than ever in terms of how, when and where we work. It's now easier to work remotely than ever before.
Though I’ve been working out of my backpack for years, every day more and more workers join me in the ranks of truly mobile entrepreneurs. Being able to work remotely in the world means enormous flexibility, but it does require some equipment. Here’s my list of what I use to stay up and running from the road—it may help you if you're interested in working remotely.
Having an up-to-date mobile phone can help you work remotely. But in addition to your mobile service, having VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) can provide important additional features. VoIP lets you easily route calls from your home or office to your mobile number, which means a client can call your office in California and you can answer in Taiwan. I use Nextiva for my VoIP, but there are tons of options (Skype and Google Voice to name just a couple).
2. Cloud-Based Apps
Not only do cloud-based apps let you work on the road—they also make it possible to easily share, store and collaborate on files, all while preserving a copy you can access even if you have an equipment glitch. Knowing your accounting files are backed up, even if your laptop conks out on you while you're working, may give you enormous peace of mind.
For me, the critical qualities of my laptop are that it’s lightweight and inexpensive, since they never last forever. I’ve had great luck with some value-priced Lenovo models.
Bonus gear: Since I write so much, I invested in an awesome keyboard. It’s called the Kinesis Freestyle 2; it’s ergonomic and plugs into my USB port.
4. A No-Connection Plan
When the power and/or internet goes out, it can be important to have have your files synced and backed up on a local drive so you can access your data and files even under difficult circumstances. Another option is to consider using cloud storage like Dropbox to store files that can be accessed from anywhere you have a connection.
5. Cool Accessories
Once you have the basics listed above, you may want to customize your remote office with accessories that suit your needs. In my backpack I always carry a mobile hotspot (in case I can’t find reliable Wi-Fi) a USB light (for working in the dark) and a good quality headset (for vastly superior audio in video conferences).
How to Really Work Remotely
So now you’re set up to work from anywhere. But how and why do you actually make it work? What benefits do you get from cutting the cord and leaving the office to work remotely? If you’re simply transitioning to working remotely to avoid having to put on pants, you may be missing out on one of the biggest advantages of all.
When you’re working remotely, you can have the ability to make one of the most immediate, lasting connections with your clients—the one made in person. While it’s possible to do business and never meet face-to-face, you may want to take every opportunity to look your clients in the eye and shake their hands. As we become increasingly reliant on mobile technology, those in-person interactions can become even more valuable.
One of the ways I arrange to meet up with clients, fans and fellow entrepreneurs is through social media. If I’m speaking at a conference, I’ll make sure I post about it on Facebook and invite my friends to stop by and say hello. While some folks may eschew Facebook as nothing more than a venue for posting selfies, I vigorously disagree. One of the most important premises of marketing is that you have to reach people where they are. Consider finding out where your potential clients are—whether it’s Instagram, Facebook or Twitter—and jumping into that platform.
It’s true that working remotely means you can keep tabs on your business even while you’re on a family vacation. (Hello from Yosemite, by the way!) But it can also mean that you can help broaden your reach and gain access to clients you never would have been able to serve if it weren’t for your remote setup and big vision.
It’s not enough to simply assemble the necessary gear. Committing to using that gear as a way to forge stronger client relationships, rather than as a way to create distance, can empower you as a remote entrepreneur. Working remotely can become more impersonal if you let it. Striving to make those face-to-face meetings happen can help you reap the benefits of remote work.
For more tips to help you stay productive on your next business trip, access Business as Pleasure: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Travel.
Read more articles on leadership.