Years ago, Wi-Fi wouldn’t have factored into your plans to be away from your desk. But just like you wouldn’t go back to making calls from a phone attached to the wall, being without Wi-Fi (unless, of course, you paid to go somewhere and “unplug”) seems unfathomable.
Whether you’re traveling, workcationing, moving, or in some other situation in which you want (or need) to get some work done—but the internet is likely to go in and out—preparation is your best friend. That’s because taking these four steps in advance can set you up so you’ll have a productive week (no matter how weak the signal is).
1. Scope Out Locations
The first step is to plan ahead for different locations where you could access the internet and get work done. Too often, people assume they’ll be able to log on exactly where they are, or if not, figure a coffee shop has to be right around the corner.
But as the adage widely credited to Benjamin Franklin goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” That’s because the internet at your hotel could be spotty. Or your friend’s living room could be hard to focus in. Or that coffee shop “right around the corner” might necessitate having a car to get there, never have an open table, or kick people off after 30 minutes of internet usage.
Not to mention, as Muse Columnist Kelli Orrela points out in her article How to Make Sure Your Tech Is as Ready for Your Workcation as You Are you’ll also want to consider the security of a random, open network (and the confidentiality of the projects you’ll be working on).
So, when you book your travel accommodations (or make plans with whomever you’ll be staying with), get real about the internet situation. Ask how fast it is and how often it works. Check into local spots with Wi-Fi, how accessible they are, and their hours. If there are reviews, read them. This way, you’ll be able to plan meetings and work sessions in advance.
2. Download Everything to Your Desktop
Then again, there may be parts of your trip when you’re truly disconnected. Actually, I’ve found this boosts my productivity: It’s the ultimate way to block out internet distractions.
Again, the trick here is to be (over) prepared. Everyone thinks, “I’ll work on typing out that memo when Facebook isn’t there to distract me,” but you want to be sure you’ll have everything you need for that offline project.
Were you going to quote any online articles or stats? Are there any email attachments you’ll need? Make a list of all relevant resources and be sure to download or screenshot them. This way, you’ll have everything you need to complete the task at hand.
3. Power Up Your Phone
In a pinch, your phone can help you get the job done—literally. Not only can you use it to get online without Wi-Fi, but you can also use it as a hotspot for your laptop. (This is my go-to move at airports where the free Wi-Fi can be spotty—or sketchy, or both.)
Of course, using your phone as your primary device or to connect others will use more battery than usual. So, be sure to pack your charger in your carry-on or everyday bag. Better yet consider an extra battery or external charger. Orrela reminds readers that just packing these back-ups aren’t enough—you have to charge them before you plan on using them! And speaking of back-ups…
4. Have a Back-up Plan
Depending on how obvious it is that you’ll be away from your desk (I’m looking at you, remote workers), you may be tempted not to share with your boss that you’ll be doing something a little different than usual. You don’t want to him to assume you’ll be less productive, so you figure you’ll keep it to yourself and he’ll never know.
The issue here is getting caught. You could’ve meticulously planned out when you’ll work on projects that need connectivity and when you’ll be offline, but if you’ve never mentioned that your set-up isn’t what it usually is, a last-minute video call with an important client could leave you scrambling.
So, along with sharing your plans before you go, include parameters and contingencies. What are the hours when you do plan to be somewhere with Wi-Fi? When are the times when you’ll likely be unreachable? Provide a phone number you can reached at if you need to call into a video conference, and consider setting up an away message that says you’ll be slower than usual to reply to emails. All of these steps will make you look more conscientious and trustworthy—which is exactly what managers want from someone working remotely.
Summer often means additional travel or setting up shop from less conventional places (like outside). Taking the time to prepare before you go lets you have the best of both worlds: You’ll be able to do what you need to, and you’ll have proven you work efficiently when you’re out of the office so you can hopefully do it again!