With summer in full swing and your co-workers’ vacation stories reaching a fever pitch, you’re probably jonesing for a workcation. (OK, more like a real vacation, but with all of your PTO used up for the year, working from a beach instead of your office is a nice second best.)
However, there is one catch to a workcation, and that’s making sure that your tech is as ready to go as you are. Because a workcation without Wi-Fi is just a vacation—and while that sounds lovely—your manager who approved this workcation probably won’t feel the same way.
So, before you hit the road, review these four points to ensure that you’ll be just as productive as you are in the office. Maybe even more so. After all, nothing motivates you to power through your to-do list quite like the prospect of afternoon vacation activities.
1. Bring the Right Devices
It’s not always as simple as packing up your computer and heading out the door for your workcation. What if your main machine is a desktop? Or what if you can only bring a carry-on?
If you don’t already have easily portable devices, think about making one of these purchases. Yes, they’re expensive. But, hey, they’re a great excuse to go on even more workcations! (Or to work wherever you want in general.)
An Ultra-Portable Laptop: Whether you’re a Windows fan or a Mac user, you can find a breathtakingly light and thin computer that still has plenty of speed and power. Take a look at the world’s smallest 13” laptop, the Dell XPS 13 or the reversible Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro. And don’t forget the stunning new Apple MacBook, weighing in at just two pounds.
A Multitasking Tablet: If you want to pare down even more, go with the freedom of just the screen by taking a tablet. The range of apps available on them is impressive, meaning you can still be productive when you’re keyboard-less. Try the 10.5” Samsung Galaxy Tab S or the iPad Air 2, which lives up to its name being less than a pound.
A Bigger Phone: It’s not as crazy as it sounds to do your work from your phone. Many newer models are as powerful as computers, and you simply can’t beat the portability. To make it a bit easier to use, consider larger models like 6” Nexus 6 or the 5.5” iPhone 6 Plus. I’ve personally found that having a big phone eliminates the need for a tablet, and I’ve worked comfortably for days at a time on my phone. (However, you know your work responsibilities best, so ask yourself if this is a realistic option.)
2. Stay Secure
You’d never go on vacation without locking the front door to your house, and you shouldn’t leave the door to your devices unlocked either.
Yes, this means making sure your devices are physically safe—not putting them in your checked luggage and always locking them in the trunk of your rental car or a safe in your hotel room. (Even leaving them unattended for a minute in your bag under the table of a “friendly” little restaurant can spell disaster.)
Beyond that, though, don’t forget strong password protection. Despite your best efforts, your device could still fall into the wrong hands, and having secure codes set up will keep the undesirables from getting into your company data. If you haven’t already, set up two-factor authentication or 2FA. (2FA is a combination of a username and password, plus a PIN number, pass code, or even your fingerprint. As you can imagine, it makes breaking into a device significantly harder, even for a determined thief.)
Also take another look at the networks you’re using. Your only concern when you’re out and about might be finding a fast and free Wi-Fi connection, but that’s rarely the safest option. Wireless networks at places like hotels and coffee shops are either open to anyone or open to anyone with the password (which is usually given out as freely as packets of Splenda). So, any half-interested hacker can intercept the data going over the network, which means you’re putting your confidential information at risk. If your company doesn’t have its own VPN (virtual private network), try an app like TunnelBear to keep everything secure.
3. Make Sure You Have Data
Having a portable and secure device won’t help you much if you can’t connect to the internet with it. And this can especially be an issue if you’ll be workcationing in a more remote location or in transit for longer periods of time. An easy solution to this is to tether, or connect your device to the internet via your phone’s mobile connection. Just make sure beforehand that your company’s mobile carrier and data plan allow this and that your phone’s set up to work with your device. Trust me—as nice as they are, you don’t want to be getting to know your IT’s help desk staff while you’re sitting on the beach in Barbados.
Another data detail to be sure of before you head out is your company’s cloud services. In other words, if the materials you’ll need to use when you’re away are on a service like Google Drive or Dropbox, make sure you can access those services by giving them a test run a week or two before your trip. That’ll still leave you time to troubleshoot or come up with other solutions—instead of being stuck without the materials you need to prepare for that big presentation that’s due the day you return.
If you aren’t using cloud services, but instead doing work directly on your device, why not make some backups just in case things go wrong when you’re on the road? All you have to do is throw a memory stick in your bag and remember to copy your file to it now and then. Or, you can use your own cloud service (almost all of which offer free accounts of some size) to back up to. It might feel like overkill, but it’ll be worth it when you realize you left your tablet sitting in the hotel room safe as your plane starts taxiing.
4. Boost Your Power
Even if you’ve got your ideal device, ironclad security, and rock-solid data, the fun of working from a hammock sipping a fruity drink will soon come to an end if you don’t have the power. An amazing workcation can turn into Panic City when you realize that you left your laptop charger at the office and that the nearest Apple store is hours away.
Start by double-checking (maybe triple) your bag to make sure you have all the gear you need. If you’re traveling to a different country, find out if you need an adapter or even a totally different charger for your device. If the power is different, you’ll destroy your device (and probably your workcation, too). All it takes is a quick glance at this link to see what you need.
Finally, if you travel often, I recommend investing in an extra battery for your phone (if it’s removable) or an external charger like the Anker 2nd Gen Astro E4. Neither of these takes up a ton of space, but they can rescue you from some seriously sticky situations.
Just be sure to charge them beforehand (you’d be surprised by how many people forget this step).
Now you can stop just dreaming about an around the world adventure or even a long weekend in the countryside. A workcation is probably something you need. So, prepare your tech, book your trip, and get to work from just about anywhere anytime.