Technology has transformed telecommuting from a drab agoraphobic life, where your cat and your pajamas are your only creature comforts, into a multi-tasking, jet-setting lifestyle whose only tie is to a strong data connection. Whether you’re running your coffee-roasting business from a smartphone while traversing the globe in search of the perfect bean or you just don’t want to have to pull your kids away from their sandcastle to go sign off on that proof, it is possible to cut the office cord and maintain your productivity and professionalism.
When I said goodbye to the cramped office where I worked as a magazine editor for 8 years and dragged my family of four cross-country to Charleston, South Carolina, all it took was a few pieces of hardware and a lot of organization to enable me to write, edit and produce the magazine sans office. And yes, some of that work was done on a beach.
Working remotely requires an investment in optimal hardware. Remember, you no longer have a grouchy IT guy buried in the basement to fix your every issue.
Before kissing those plastic office pot plants goodbye, set up strong links with the office network and the colleagues you’ll be working with remotely. I installed LogMeIn on my networked office computer and TeamViewer on the computers of the colleagues I collaborate with.
The biggest hurdle when cutting the cord from your office is perception. Often the aforementioned office thinks you’re sunbathing on a beach somewhere and not doing any work. While this may be partially true, being always available, even outside office hours, helps quash any doubts. My iPhone let me be knee-deep in the Atlantic Ocean when my publisher wanted an emergency Skype call, and elbow deep in the children’s bubble bath when my designer was IM-ing me trying to locate a missing PDF. For this, encasing my iPhone in a waterproof, sand proof Lifeproof iPhone case was essential (yes, it did visit the bottom of the ocean, and yes, it survived).
TIP: A good instant messaging client is an essential tool to keep communication flowing. I work over Yahoo IM, because it was installed on every computer in the office sometime in the last century. While I would have chosen something a little slicker (and less purple), using tools your team is already familiar with helps immensely in bridging the office-cord-cutting gap.
Hit the sand, sea or open road. The world is now your oyster.
Author: Jennifer Tuohy & Matt Wilson