Travelling for business is unavoidable sometimes and for many small businesses, it’s a key part of they do. However, you’ll want to keep the day-to-day wheels of business turning while you’re away.
Fortunately, thanks to today’s technology, it has never been easier to stay on top of your business commitments when you’re away from the office.
Try these tips to make your work trips more effective and efficient:
Find free Wi-Fi
Many hotels advertise free Wi-Fi as part of their package to attract the business market. It’s worth checking with the hotel before you book or take a look at FreeWiFiHotels, which offers a breakdown of hotels offering this service.
Apple users can also benefit from the Free Worldwide Wi-Fi Finder app. In addition, a number of food and drink chains – including Costa Coffee, McDonald’s, Pret a Manger, Slug and Lettuce, Walkabout and Wetherspoons – offer free Wi-Fi for customers.
Book up a mobile hotspot
If your business trip takes you overseas, renting a mobile hotspot for work communications could make sense – for starters, you won’t have the worry that insecure free hotspots could compromise you or your clients’ confidential data if they are accessed by hackers. Secondly, you’ll save money – if you have a sizeable amount of work you intend to complete via your smartphone or tablet, renting a mobile hotspot avoids a huge roaming bill at the end of the month.
US company XCom Global consistently tops recommendations for providing a cheap global service for a flat fee of less than £10 a day.
If you’re working away from home for a couple of weeks or more and you need to meet clients or get some solid work done, it can be cost-effective to either rent an office or a desk in a shared office. Enterprise centres and business incubators in most towns and cities offer very short-term lets, where you will have internet access, receptionists and generally a cafe or at least a kettle and a vending machine.
It’s worth making enquiries before you leave or type the postcode of your destination into Office Genie to see what facilities are available.
Use the cloud
Since the advent of smartphones and tablets, it’s been possible to work on the move without lugging your laptop or lots of memory sticks along for the ride.
Get the right kit
As we’ve seen, thanks to the cloud, you no longer have to take everything but the kitchen sink with you when you travel for business. But do you have the right tools for the job? You can make your travel technology more user-friendly by adding things such as a plug-in keyboard to your iPad when you know you’ll be entering a lot of data or typing up reports, or installing a voice recording app if you want to record some ideas on the move. If you do need laptop functionality, invest in something light with a good battery life.
Forget the ‘out of office’ email
Given the prevalence of working from home and the increased use of cloud-based applications, the idea of being ‘at work in the office’ is fading away. Not everyone has an office anyway, so do you really need to set up an ‘out of office’ email to tell people you are working away?
Just make sure you keep on top of your communications in the same way you would if you were working in your usual environment and nobody need know anything is different.
Don’t sit twiddling your thumbs
When you’re working away, think about how you organise your time and don’t put off tasks such as administration and accounting – use your cloud-based tools such as QuickBooks Online so that you’re not behind when you get back to the office.
Finally, don’t spend your time out and about constantly plugged into your MP3 player. Talk to people on the train or your fellow travellers at the airport – you never know, you could make a new contact or win a new client.[Image courtesy of artur84/FreeDigitalPhotos.net]