Not too long ago your office was a physical space with a heavy desktop computer, a fake wood desk, filing cabinets, and maybe even a Secretary named Ruth.
In the digital age your office is wherever you currently are.
Sure, you might need a physical space somewhere, but with all of the mobile technology available you can get a majority of your work done wherever you are.
Best Gear for a Mobile Office
Whether you are a freelancer or salaried employee, here are some tips to rock your mobile office:
Mobile Office Hardware
The proper mobile office has three layers of hardware:
1) Laptops, Netbooks, and Tablets
The key for most worker’s successful mobile office is access to the tools you need to get the job done.
For most people this means web access, document creation, and document viewing. These tasks fall squarely onto the shoulders of some sort of mobile computer whether it be a 15 inch laptop, a 10 inch tablet, or something in between.
Your specific needs will dictate what device you use.
For me, a tablet with a keyboard is nice for “light” work, but to truly transition to a mobile office I think you need something more substantial. Netbooks are being squeezed out by tablets and powerful laptops. Personally, I would go for a 13 to 15 inch laptop like a Macbook Pro or a Windows Ultrabook for this need.
Having a built in webcam is a plus in case you need to participate in any meetings.
2) Cell Phones and Hotspots
You need to be accessible while on the move, so a cell phone is an absolute must.
You might be able to get away with a dumbphone if you don’t move around a lot because you can rely on your laptop to reply to emails. However, smartphone prices are plummeting and dumbphones are disappearing, so it makes sense to grab a smartphone with a data plan. (Plus, you can avoid having to lug out your laptop every time you get an email.)
Mobile hotspots are a good idea if you will truly use them. You can use Wifi locators to help you connect your other mobile equipment, but if you find yourself away from civilization or simply don’t want to sit in a coffee shop all of the time, a 4G mobile hotspot from a major carrier is a good idea.
Hint: Check with your home interent provider, you might have access to their wifi network in your plan.
3) Peripherals and Carrying
You need something to carry all of this equipment around, don’t you?
Thankfully it doesn’t have to be fancy. You can get a backpack, messenger bag, or simply a tote to hold your equipment. Having lots of compartments and pockets can help you keep all of your A/C adapters, thumb drives, and any papers organized well.
Also, throw in a pair of earbuds or small headphones. No one wants to hear you blast your tunes or get involved in a meeting at the local coffee shop.
Mobile Office Software
There are three major areas of software you’ll need to properly rock out a mobile office:
You need the ability to store and access your files from a multitude of devices. Again, you want to avoid having to pull out a laptop or something large to view a spreadsheet when you could review it quickly on your cellphone.
Some of the best storage apps include Dropbox, Google Drive, and Apple’s iCloud. Dropbox forged the path for the major companies to follow suit, and is still my favorite as it is platform-agnostic.
Sign up for Dropbox with my link and we both get extra storage space.
Being able to view documents is easy, but being able to create and edit them is usually important, too.
You have several options here: Libre Office is a free office suite available for major computer operating systems, and both iOS and Android app stores have application suites that will let you view and edit documents on your cellphone and tablet.
3) VPN / Security
Lastly, and this is critically important, is proper security of your devices when they are connected to foreign networks like WiFi hotspots.
Proper anti-malware, anti-virus, and most importantly VPN connectivity will help you protect your machines and associated data. Having your Facebook account hacked due to open WiFi is inconvenient. Having client product secrets revealed to unknown parties? Catastrophic.
Be sure to lock down your connections before taking your business on the road.
Taking your business with you on the road used to be difficult and cumbersome at best. Thanks to a plethora of mobile technologies you can run your business whenever and wherever you want.
From taking a Skype meeting on your laptop to doing a quick review of a document stored in the cloud on your cell phone, mobile business is easy to obtain. Make sure you protect yourself from security threats, sit back, and enjoy a latte while you dominate in the marketplace.
Is your work location independent? What’s the best gear for your mobile office?