Even if you can’t get away from it all these holidays, the right tech can help you make the most of the sunshine.
Four weeks annual leave over Christmas has become less and less common over the years as the nature of work has changed—especially if you run your own business. If you’re distraught at the thought of another summer chained to your desk while your loved ones enjoy the sunshine then it’s worth investigating how handheld devices, mobile broadband and cloud services might grant you a little more freedom.
Australia’s mobile broadband coverage has come a long way in the last decade, so chances are you can still get online when you’re off the beaten track. But don’t trust the mobile coverage maps, especially if you’re travelling close to the edge of the network footprint.
If in doubt it’s best to call ahead and enquire about the real-world coverage offered in the area. Even if your telco leaves you stranded at your destination, you might get by with a pre-paid mobile Wi-Fi hotspot from a competitor. Alternatively you might discover free or paid Wi-Fi hotspots in the area—from the local library or coffee shop to a Telstra Air hotspot—that might save the day.
Of course getting online is only part of the challenge, you also need to lug around the right devices and hope they’ve got enough charge to get you through the day.
If you’re still reliant on a desktop or notebook PC in order to stay on top of things then it’s worth investigating whether a more travel-friendly tablet or smartphone is up to the job. Not only are they more portable than PCs but they also tend to offer a significantly longer battery life—plus it’s easy to throw a mobile charger in your bag. If you need the best of both worlds then consider a Windows tablet like the Microsoft Surface Pro.
If you’re using your tablet like a laptop but typing on glass slows you down, consider adding a small Bluetooth keyboard to your travel kit.
To rest your gadget at that correct viewing angle you may also want a case or stand designed to hold it up. Some designs also feature built-in keyboards.
Keyboard issues aside, you might have tried in the past and found that mobile apps and services didn’t cut the mustard. It’s worth checking again, as many vendors have recently adopted mobile-first development strategies to support users working away from the office.
However, if you do find apps for all the services you need to access while out on the road, don’t assume they’ll meet all your needs. Test your workflow in advance to ensure you can perform all the necessary tasks or implement a workaround that will suffice until you get back to your desk.
If you’ll struggle to process payments or issue invoices and purchase orders away from your desk then this might be the excuse you need you upgrade from shoe-box account practices and other manual processes to embrace cloud-based device-agnostic services which are always at your fingertips.
We can’t all go off the grid for the summer, but with the right tech at your disposal you can strike a better balance between work and play.
Anthony Hill is the Head of Technology at Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and tech support company.