In an increasingly distributed and remote world, working from the road is a reality for much of the workforce. In the US, 3.4% of the population works remotely, while others are in industries that require a heavy amount of travel such as consulting, sales, or other client services industries. Traveling can be stressful enough without the added pressure to maintain productivity and send a timely response the avalanche of email. However, in our modern economy there are ways to avoid potential pitfalls and still accomplish your goals while in transit. The evolution of tech, especially cloud-based applications, makes it easier to stay on task regardless of your location.
Here are 10 key tips for working smarter while on the road.
1. Set goals
Whether on a business trip or working remotely it’s important to remember your larger objectives. Consistently having your goals in mind will motivate you to assess every step of your journey to support what you’re hoping to accomplish.
2. Write a packing list
In the rush of trying to get ready for a trip, it’s easy to forget something important. Whether its jotted down on a slip of paper or within your notes on your phone, having an old-fashioned list is a great visual reminder to slow down and think about all you will need. Remember to include business cards and any other collateral you’ll need for your meetings and presentations.
3. Think about your technology needs
Be strategic and think through the absolute necessities. Will having a tablet suffice versus bringing a laptop? Do you have your phone or a mobile hotspot? And, most importantly, did you pack the chargers?!
4. Communicate with your teams
Time zones differences, limited access to a phone or computer, and the best ways and times to reach you during the day are important information to relay to your teams. Being clear about your availability will help mitigate any potential problems so that you’re managing expectations of when you’ll be available versus out-of-pocket.
5. Plan your day
Create a schedule that looks similar to the one you follow when not on the road to help stay productive. This will also help you stay motivated and ensure that the trip is aligning with your larger goals.
6. But be flexible
Remember that anything can happen while on the road so think of a Plan B. Cell phone service and Wi-Fi options are not always reliable but use this as a chance to shift focus and accomplish other assignments that don’t require internet access.
7. Carve out a workspace
Planning ahead and mapping out your day while on the road also means finding spaces to create your makeshift office. Most places, like local coffee shops and airports, now offer free Wi-Fi, so use these locations to carve out a space to get some work done. If you have an important meeting or call, be sure to plan for a quiet workspace ahead of time if possible.
8. Make use of apps
Whether by phone, email, or chat messaging there are countless ways to communicate with your team back at the office. While traveling, make use of whichever one is the most convenient from your device of choice.
9. Use lag time to your advantage
While delays are unavoidable, they are also a great opportunity to catch up on tasks. Thankfully most airports and train stations have charging stations so plug in and use this temporary inconvenience to your advantage.
10. Enjoy the trip
Remember that despite the looming presentation or meeting, you’re likely traveling somewhere new. Traveling is an opportunity for change in scenery and a great way to hit reset on your creativity. Look forward to meeting people and be open to new ideas along the way. Enjoy what the locals have to offer-- carve out time to visit a bar or coffee shop near your hotel or or simply spend some time walking around.