If you’ve always wanted to work in idyllic surroundings, perhaps on a beach, how can you make this happen? Technology will certainly help. So, if it’s time to fly off to sunnier climes let’s see what you need to run your business successfully wherever you are…
If you’re heading for the beach you don’t want a weighty laptop. Something like Microsoft Surface Pro or Apple Macbook Air will work better or the Dell Rugged Extreme range for something more rugged. Take a deep breath as none are cheap.
You need reliable devices which can cope with the software you’ll run, and which can be repaired locally. You probably access the Cloud lot. You may have several programs running simultaneously – so a decent amount of RAM is important. If you’re likely to work offline a lot, then a good-sized hard drive, or an extra external hard drive is a must have.
Without plug sockets handy, you’ll need a powerbank. Think about:
• How many devices do you want to charge from the powerbank? Charging your phone once or twice will be possible from most, but to also keep your laptop charged you’ll need a larger capacity device.
• What devices are you charging? Powerbanks come with a variety of outlet sockets, but they’re not all the same.
• Some of the high capacity powerbanks weigh 1kg or more.
• Many airlines ban the really high capacity powerbanks
If your business is UK based, you’ll need to connect to the internet from the beach. If your property is nearby and the WiFi reaches you, great. If not, you’ll need a 4G connection and tether via your phone.
If your beach is a Caribbean one, prepare for fairly slow speeds. The Bahamas seems to have the fastest broadband speeds, at about 9.95Mbps. On the Florida coastline, you can get much faster speeds, at 46.6Mbps. If you want to use 4G, you can choose your preferred beach here.
If you are travelling for a short period, check the price of buying data locally. It can be cheaper to buy your data in the UK but sometimes it’s cheaper locally. If your mobile contract comes with lots of data, check the roaming policies. Outside the EU, most UK operators charge £5 per day to use your contract data, which may be sufficient.
You’ll be backing up your data online and accessing your apps and email so consider this when assessing data needs.
A security warning: If the data on your laptop needs to be secured, be very careful about using local WiFi. It is common for hackers to spoof WiFi connections access to your data.
You’ll be talking to a lot of people: staff, clients, suppliers, investors and prospects etc. Depending on where they are you need to think carefully about how you set up your phones. Your mobile is not your best option, even if it’s easy to take to the beach. If you decide on the Bahamas, because of the broadband speeds, mobile calls to the UK could cost over £2 a minute.
A VoIP-based solution with a softphone on your laptop and/or your smartphone handset may be the best option. SIP trunk connections will mean you’re only ever making local calls, rather than calling at international rates. You can even keep a UK landline number. Clients don’t need to know you’re on the beach!
Keeping data secure
Working in remote locations, particularly if it is only for a short period of time, can increase security concerns. Stolen devices can mean a data security nightmare. Data breaches on devices that contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII) for EU citizens need to be reported to the information Commissioners Office (ICO) within 72 hours. You also have to tell the people affected!
Secure your devices and be able to remotely wipe them, if needed. Talk to your IT Manager or IT support company about Mobile Device Management (MDM), biometrics or two-factor authentication (2FA) before you go.
The range of tools to help you with remote working continues to grow.
Instant messaging tools, such as Slack, Hipchat or Google’s Hangout Chat are free, or have free versions.
Video-conferencing is an alternative to using a phone, but the quality of your internet connection may determine how often you use this. There’s Skype and other options, such as Google’s Hangout and Zoom.
Project management is essential for remote teams. If you need one place for chat, meetings, collaborative working, file sharing etc. something like Microsoft Teams is worth considering. Basecamp is a tool to consider if your projects aren’t particularly complex. Trello allows you to manage a number of projects using a ‘boards’ system.
With every improving technology on your side your dream of working from your favourite place can be realised.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Ianiri is Director of independent telecoms brokerage Equinox. Mike works with companies, charities and other organisations to help them choose the right telecoms packages for their needs and thereby reduce their costs. He is particularly knowledgeable on the integration of IT and telecoms in business. www.equinoxcomms.co.uk Twitter: @CommsEquinox