Working remotely. The challenge of being out of the office for a week.

Today I’m working from Sydney, then on Wednesday I’ll be working from Melbourne. I’m away from the office all week and won’t be back in Brisbane until late next Sunday. Working remotely is a challenge that I’m gradually getting used to. I thought I’d share some of my copying strategies, and maybe pick up some tips along the way.

Family: The first challenge of course is family. Now that my children are teenagers, it’s so much easier for me to leave Brisbane. Mind you, there is still quite a bit of pre-departure preparation that needs to happen before I leave – shopping, appointments, school reminders etc. However I think we’re all gradually getting the hang of it.

Technology: The day before I fly out, it’s essential that I fire up the Mac Air. There’s two main tasks here:

  1. Delete any rubbish the kids have put on it since the last time I used it. (Still trying to work out how to get this Steam App to not auto-open when I turn on the computer every time! Argh!)
  2. Make sure all my apps are installed and have been updated to the latest versions. This actually takes a bit longer than I imagine it will. During any ordinary day, I’ll be updating Apps as I go, so I’m always a little surprised by how much I have to do in one go.
When I’m in the office, I rarely use a laptop. I’m very happy with my desktop, big keyboard, and two screens at my desk. So travelling with just a laptop can be really frustrating because it’s limited. On the other hand, because it’s limited, it’s also less distracting, so it’s a little easier to stay focused.

While the laptop is important to me being able to remain productive, it’s really my phone that is my most important tool when travelling. It’s my diary, camera, wallet, phone books, and modem. As well as being able to closely monitor emails. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Last year, on a few short trips, I didn’t even bother with the laptop, had my phone and managed to do everything I needed.

Making the most of your time away: Each time I leave Brisbane, I have a couple of different approaches to making the most of my time away. There are three different things I might focus on:

  1. Make appointments with people I really want to catch up: Because I rarely leave Brisbane, it’s great to catch up with people I may have met online, clients or business colleagues. I’ve done this a few times in previous visits. I’m not a super networker, and I’m still trying to work up the courage to do this regularly.
  2. Take some time out and explore: Yesterday when I flew in, we headed out to Bare Island at La Perouse. I wanted to go to the Blak Markets, but I missed them by a week. Disappointed at my dodgy time management, but it was still a great place to see. I also when to Circular Quay where I went to the Opera House to see a lecture. I was dumbfounded by the numbers of people there. There were thousands. It’s so different from Brisbane. Getting out and seeing parts of the city you’re in, adds something to your experience of travelling for work.
  3. Stay put and keep working: Sometimes when I travel I treat it like a retreat or residential, I just stay still and get working. Without the distractions of family and office, it can be easier to get work done. So even though I’m in a lovely city that I could explore, it’s better that I just stick to myself and keep on working.
The Suitcase: This is probably the most difficult part of the trip. What to pack? How to not pack too much? Will I need that coat? Should I take my sneakers? (ie. Will I really go for a walk?)  What will the weather be like? Is it going to rain?
I’m not sure I would have any tips to share here at all.
The carry-on: Last year when I went to WIPC:E, I bought a pacsafe bag. It’s both slash proof and skim proof.  It has enough room for the laptop (cords go in my suitcase), sundry personal items, a book and my purse. I’m pretty sure I’ll have this bag for years to come.Saving money essentials: When it’s time to go on a week-long trip, I like to take a couple of items specifically to save money.

These are 1) a water bottle, 2) my thermo mug, and 3) a bag of nuts.

Buying bottled water can be super expensive when you’re travelling, and at times there’s no convenient place to buy it. That goes the same with tea (I’m not a coffee drinker). So I take my own mug with me so I don’t have to spend $5 each time. Also, if I’m staying in hotels, the size of the cups are usually so small, they drive me crazy.

Nuts are great because they travel easily in a zip-lock sandwich bag, they lay flat in the suitcase, and a handful is all I need to keep the hungries away.

Well that’s it for my working remotely reflection. Do you have any tips you’d like to share?