Being able to do your work anywhere, from at your local coffee shop to in your hotel room in a foreign country, is a wonderful perk of our modern, interconnected world. And it’s not limited to a certain skill-set, either; these days, increasingly more jobs can be done using tools such as cloud storage and video chats. But working on the road is not without its pitfalls. Connect to the wrong host and you could find your computer riddled with malware, and it’s easy to have your identity stolen while you’re using public WiFi—among other things. Here are some tips to make sure you’re as productive as possible without compromising yourself or your device:
1. Get a good WiFi signal.
Depending on where you are, you might find that the WiFi signal isn’t as strong as what you’re used to. And if you’ll be attending meetings over Skype or submitting large files, you’ll want the best signal you can get. If you’ve got a smartphone or tablet, you can use an app to find the best WiFi signal around you. Just make sure you’re accessing legitimate networks, rather than something that might be a malicious hotspot set up by a hacker to steal your information! You might also be able to find a cheap data plan that’ll give you better web access; even if you’re using a computer, you can often easily share your connection from you phone to your laptop if you have a decent signal.
2. Be cautious when accessing public WiFi networks.
As mentioned above, not all open WiFi networks are actually safe for connecting to. But even when you’re accessing what you know is a legitimate WiFi network at the local coffee shop, you may not be totally safe. You want to make sure you’re not leaving yourself vulnerable to malware shared across the network, so before you connect, make sure you’ve properly configured your firewall. And make sure you don’t have Sharing turned on when you’re on a public network. This leaves an open port into your computer that could be exploited by a hacker.
3. Use a VPN.
One of the best ways to safeguard your device when you’re working on the go is to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This will encrypt the information that you’re sending to the websites you’re accessing (passwords, browsing history, etc.), meaning that your information is much safer from the prying eyes of hackers. A VPN will also disguise your true location by providing servers with a fake IP address, so it can be useful even on your home network if you’re worried about allowing your service provider to learn too much about you. And if you’re traveling abroad, that location-spoofing can also help you get around websites’ geo-restrictions so you can watch Netflix or access Facebook in China or whatever it is you need.
4. Set up your virtual office.
One thing that really helps you keep on top of things when you’re working on the move is to get a good workflow going. There are tons of apps and methods out there to maximize your productivity—everything from checklists to calendars and more. Some great ones to check out are Trello (to help you keep on top of projects), Slack (for messaging with various parties), and anything else on your app store’s “Productivity” list. Especially if you’re traveling, you might find it a bit difficult to motivate yourself to buckle down and work outside the office, but if you have a good system, it’ll make everything a lot easier.
5. Maximize your potential with accessories for your device.
If your job required a lot of typing, the idea of doing all your work on a smartphone might seem like a nightmare, but not if you have a portable keyboard with you. Or if you spend a lot of time on Skype calls, you might want to invest in some good headphones and a solid microphone for your laptop. If you’re a designer or you find yourself taking notes at a lot of industry expos, you may want to invest in a stylus that you can use with your tablet. These days, there are so many accessories out there for smartphones, tablets and laptops that you really can get the most out of your device.
+1 Back up your work!
One thing I can’t stress enough is how important it is to back up your work when you’re on the go. There are a thousand disasters that could happen. Someone could spill coffee on your computer, you could drop it, it could get stolen while you’re on the train, etc. Don’t incur setbacks because you lost all your work when something happened to your device! There are a lot of great cloud backup services out there that you can use, and not only will they allow you to safeguard your work against possible future problems, but they may also let you share your work between devices so that you can work on your tablet one time and your laptop another time.
Where’s your favorite place to work? What other tools do you use to get the job done? Or do you have any other advice for our readers? Share your own tips below!