Business trips, sales meetings, conference engagements or vacations can all take us away from the office or our normal working environment for awhile. We asked a few business leaders and owners how they like to get work done outside of the office. Some love it–others hate it. But there are a few essentials that everyone mentioned:
Good wireless Internet. This could be in your hotel or investing in a better data plan to have your own hotspot.
Get excellent headphones. Even if you don’t typically listen to music or need headphones while you’re in your own space, this is a must-have for the road. You’re never sure what environment you’ll be in. And having a headset will also help with your phone calls.
Take all of your tools. This means any adapters, battery backups, or extra plug-ins you might need for presentations or to stay charged up.
Start early. This is especially true on vacation, but also for conferences or meetings. Don’t plan on fitting in something during the middle of the day, you never know when the surprise lunch or business opportunity will arise.
Here are the best tips for working away from the office…
CEO of MyCorporation.com
“Having great WiFi is key for getting work done on the road. I work early and get as much out of the way before the day end. As everyone is retiring for the evening (or before we go out to eat for dinner), I check through everything for about an hour and make sure I’m all set.”
Ergonomic & Wellness Research Manager at Ergotron
“According to Ergotron’s recent research, doing something as easy as standing up to work can lead to increased productivity. I suggest creating your own sit-stand workstation using creative hacks from turning boxes upside down or standing at a desk and propping your computer up on top of books, etc. are effective ways to work away from the office in a productive manner. A recent study actually found 66% of participants felt more productive with a one-hour increase of standing time.”
Account Executive at CyberArk Software
“I spent most of the last 3 years of my life on the road. My best tip for getting things done out of the office is to be as prepared as possible by anticipating what you might need. For example, be sure you have your adapters, external mouse/keyboard, whatever it is that helps you be effective. In the same vein as preparation, think about your phone contacts. Do you have all of the mobile phone information of everyone you will need? When you are in an office, it is easy to get in the trap of expecting everyone to be responsive from 9-5 but when you are in a different time zone working odd hours, it can be impossible to get in touch with some people unless you have the mobile information.”
Head of Global Brand & Marketing at Alexander Mann Solutions
“If I’m on vacation but have to get some work done, I always try to re-create my office environment as closely as I can. That means I work at a desk, in my hotel room, not lying on the bed or sitting by the pool. I set myself a specific time to start and finish, so that I know—and my family knows—that those two or three hours are all about getting work done, and nothing can distract me.”
CEO of YourGreenPal.Com
“Before heading out on a much deserved vacation look for every single means available to conduct your business from your mobile device. This can include mobile apps for your accounting software, and letting your customers know you’ll be gone so I they can text message you. Google Docs and Google sheets apps are also great ways to have information at your fingertips should you need to access it. Most business owners can be gone for three or four days so long as they are willing to check in for five times a day and tend to any emergencies that may be blowing up at home.”
COO of InMod
“Getting work done when you are out of the office on vacation or traveling can be difficult especially depending on where you are. We all have many emails to review and go through while away. I like to come up with a bunch of canned responses that I can send quickly while I am away and then I create a folder to stick the emails that I want to do some additional follow up on when I am back in the office. Making sure you do this, will make going back to the office even easier.”
Vice President of Marketing at eSUB Construction Software
“A great way to still enjoy a much need vacation but still stay plugged in at work is to set a defined schedule. For example, let clients and co-workers know that your are available between certain hours each day. That allows you to get some work done, while enjoying your time off.”
Principal of Moncur Branding
“My number one tip is: prioritization. When traveling, there is so much happening and whatever you are traveling for usually takes the day—if you try to tackle many additional, urgent tasks, you will be unsuccessful. I try to make a list of my top priorities at the beginning of the day and set a goal to complete at least one or two of those things. If I can get them done before breakfast, all the better.”
Founder of Regain Your Time
“Whether you’re in the office or on the road, I believe that including only time-sensitive events on your calendar is the best practice. For business travelers, that means your flights, meetings, happy hours and anything else that has a fixed time goes on your calendar. Other things do not. Our workdays are unpredictable — especially on the road. Mapping each minute of your day just sets you up for spending extra time reconfiguring your calendar every time something changes.”
Director of Business Development & Marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment
“Earbuds with my same office playlist! I’m used to listening to classical or concentration music at work, so when I’m away from the office, using my ear pieces with the same playlist on helps me to dive into the work task at hand. Whether I’m in an airport lobby, a Starbucks, or answering emails on the deck during my day off, so long as it’s relatively quite, my concentration music helps trick my brain into thinking I’m right back at the office.”
President/Founder of Access Direct
Make sure you will have good WiFi at your destination and get up early to get your work done. The early morning hours are best for me to knock out a few hours work before the day gets started in earnest.
Marketing Manager at Worldwide101
“My one tip for this would be to hire a virtual assistant! Many companies, like Worldwide101, offer dedicated, experienced virtual assistants who can handle tasks for you while you’re away.”
Content Director at TCK Publishing
“Block work into your day based on your best-functioning time. We all work better at different times, so schedule an hour or two for yourself at that time: early morning, midday, late at night. If you actually put this on your calendar like you would a meeting or appointment, you’re more likely to stick with it—and by focusing intently for just 1-2 hours with no distractions and without guilt about what you’re not doing, you can get your work done and get back to your vacation or travel!”
Founder/Creative Director of IdeaRocket
“Treat yourself like you are a lab animal! You can get yourself to do > anything if you promise a sweet reward once the job is done. If you get this work done then you are entitled to… a steak dinner? A swim in the lake? A professional massage? The choice is yours. Sounds silly, but it really does work.”
Manager of Marketing and Partnerships at Rank Pay
“Buy a pair of noise-canceling headphones and use a white-noise app like Noisli. It’s simple really. Silence the distractions and pick your sound of choice. The beach. Rain on a tin roof. You name it. By effectively removing yourself from your immediate environment, you’ll quickly find yourself far more able to focus.”
VP at Brown Safe Manufacturing
“To be a successful at traveling while running your business you had better be adaptable! I fully embrace technology to maintain my presence even when kayaking a remote river or climbing a far away peak, it may mean hauling a few extra items but it can be the difference between being able to do a trip and not. I’ve also found that if something is critical it’s best to have redundant systems as the most foolproof tech seems to decide not to work occasionally. Hiring people, and more importantly empowering them, to make decisions on your behalf if needed is absolutely critical to being able to travel for any length of time. Also, having protocols for when you will be checking in is extremely helpful as your employees know you will be available and can amass questions they may have.”
Founder/CEO of KangoGift
“Wake up early, get online, and finish your work before 9am. Then, don’t log on for the rest of the day. I’ve found it very refreshing to wake up early and get my work done before. This allows me to easily switch into vacation mode.”
Founder/Owner of BixaMedia
My best tip for getting work done when away from the office is twofold: Wake up earlier and set aside 1-2 hours to work. Prioritize the most important action items and tackle those first. Everything else can wait until you get back.
CEO of SlickPie Accounting Software
“If I can put it in a few words, just get it out of the way asap. If there is one thing that can ruin your experience while out of the office on vacation is having that buzz behind you ear remembering you that you still have work waiting to be done. That buzz won’t fade away until you get things done, so better just do it as soon as you have the chance and get it out of your mind. The same principle is valid if you are traveling for work, as long as you have unfinished tasks hanging around your mind, your ability to focus will be constantly diminished. So the best thing you can do to increase your efficiency and peace of mind is to cut off the loose ends and stop a negative snowball effect. Don’t. Ever. Procrastinate.”
Marketing Director at Text Request
“The #1 thing you’ve got to do to get work down when you’re away from the office is remove distractions. Find a quiet place – your hotel room, guest bedroom, coffee shop, back porch, etc. – where you can focus. Or, if there’s too much going on around you, put your headphones on and sit in a chair facing the corner. Once you remove those outside distractions, you’ll be able to get quality work done, wherever you are!”
Founder of Credo
“I am an entrepreneur who has worked from 25 cities and 7 countries over the last 20 months. My best tip for getting work done away from the office/home is this: Use WorkFrom.co or PlacesToWork.co to identify free or paid spaces with fast wifi, food, comfortable places to sit, and more. If you work online or need internet access, wifi speeds are paramount to getting work done. I’ve used both of these tools while traveling extensively in Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Japan, Mexico, and Costa Rica. They saved my productivity.”
CEO/Co-Founder of Konsus
“Being the CEO of a completely remote online platform – Konsus, I am always on the go, shifting bases between Palo Alto, CA and Oslo, Norway as well as traveling around the world. One thing I always make sure to do as well as also ask all my remote employees to do is to be completely device independent. All of our documents are on the cloud (Google Drive/ Dropbox etc.), we make sure to always use Google Sheets and Google Docs instead of Excel and World documents, we use Slack for communication between teams which can also be accessed from anywhere. This way we are always available to work on our phones or even without one, we just need a device and access to the internet.”
Marketing at Spoke
“When you’re out of the office traveling and need to get some work done, one way to be extremely productive is to switch to airplane mode. Make a list of what you need to get done. Turn off data on your phone and disconnect from wifi on your computer. Then do everything that doesn’t require internet and you’ll finish it a lot faster without any distractions.”
President of TalentMap
“The best thing you can do is separate yourself in order to focus. Self-discipline is key, and it is much easier to maintain your self-discipline when you are not being reminded of other people having fun around you, or distracted by passersby. Find a quiet space with few visual distractions and set aside the time you need to finish your work. After that, you are free to enjoy your day, attend events, and accomplish everything else on your list.”
Founder of Social Chefs
“The best way is to set aside time (early in the morning or when you have a break). Typically, I try to tackle the most important task first. This way it makes time away from the office a little less stressful and empowers you. If it’s work you know you have to complete, be sure you breakdown the task and set realistic expectations. Chances are you won’t be able to complete everything.”
CEO of VidHub
“Set up a designated workspace or type of environment to get work done, and make that association in your mind. When I was backpacking Europe for two months, I made coffee shops my work environment – whenever I needed to get anything done, I’d find a good coffee shop, grab an espresso, and then put my headphones on and get to work. I wouldn’t go in to a coffee shop otherwise; I almost conditioned my mind that whenever I was in a coffee shop, it wasn’t to socialize or relax, but for work and nothing else.”
Dr. Christine Allen, PhD
Vice President of Insight Works
Make a list of the specific tasks/work that you need or want to get done and estimate the time the work will take. Use your calendar (paper or electronic) to block out time for a specific task. If necessary, tell other people that you will be working at these specific times and that you will be available otherwise. Be sure to close email programs and shut off other notifications so you can work uninterrupted. Stick with your allowed time frame, so that you can work in intermittent bursts as needed.
Public Relations & Marketing at 3E Connections
“To avoid the stress, stares and guilt just wake up 1-2 hours earlier than everyone else and find a quiet place to get some work done. I typically sit on the balcony, in the kitchen or living room of the hotel or resort that we’re staying at. Try it and you won’t be as stressed during the day.”
Manager/Strategy Operations at All Set
“My one tip for working remotely is to identify the equipment that most increases your productivity and find a travel version of it to use on the road. For some people this is as simple as packing a mouse to avoid the touchpad slowing them down. For others, it can be as complicated as a travel speakerphone for hands free communication or using a tablet as a second monitor (there are awesome apps that can do this). With all of the interconnectivity and awesome devices available now, the office only maintains two advantages over the road, proximity and equipment. Proximity to your colleagues can’t be taken with you, but if you figure out which office tools and supplies are the ones that really turbo-charge your productivity you can replace them with portable versions that will go a long way to maintaining your efficiency away from the office.”
Any more tips for working away from the office?
To successfully work away from the office, it takes a little more forethought and planning to really complete the tasks that need to be done. Gather the technology, prepare your staff and be sure to update them on your schedule, especially when you’ll be working and when you won’t.
What tips and suggestions would you add? Be sure and let us know!