Anyone who has taken a business trip abroad will know that travel can be an inevitable time drain. Hours slip away in taxis to the airport, passing through security, and waiting for gates to open; some frequent flyers even have to contend with regular layovers, which steal huge chunks of the day.
Most professionals resign themselves to this fact, referring to the period spent in transit as ‘lost’ hours. When journeys are delayed, they sigh in frustration at the additional ‘wasted’ time and search for a coffee shop retreat. However, this needn’t be the only option.
The following article shares an effective method for reclaiming ‘lost’ hours and making the most of business travel as an opportunity to catch up on work.
Creating A Portable Office
As is the key to all productivity, making the most of business travel relies on being time-efficient. However, even with the best intentions, efforts to work outside of a familiar office environment can easily go awry; your laptop might have low battery, your important notes have been left on your desk, or the hubbub of airport noise could prove too much of a distraction.
If you want to make a conscious effort to reclaim the ‘lost’ hours in transit, a great method is to create a portable office; this will set you up for all future trips. A portable office is essentially a condensed version of your current office, giving you access to everything you need to work. Here’s what we recommend including:
It goes without saying that you’ll need a laptop when putting together a portable office; if you can, opt for something lightweight – this will make it easier to transport. An Apple MacBook Air is an obvious choice, thanks to its syncing capabilities, but you could also try the HP Spectre x360 or Dell XPS 13.
A low-battery phone or laptop is the quickest way to shut down a portable office. Make sure you have all the chargers you’ll need.; you might also consider buying an extension plug socket so that you can charge multiple devices at once from a single socket. Alternatively, save yourself the hassle by opting for luggage that has a USB charging port.
Most airports, cafes and public transport services are now equipped with Wi-Fi, but if you know you’re heading somewhere that might not provide the services you need, you could invest in your own MiFi router. This offers mobile broadband that you can use to connect to the internet on the go.
You can get a MiFi router and data contract from your mobile operator, or buy a router outright with a data-only SIM, which may work out cheaper. The GlocalMe U2 is a great option for frequent travellers.
It’s no use settling down to work if you don’t know what you need to achieve. We suggest using apps like Trello or Evernote which sync across multiple devices, meaning that you can access your notes and to-do lists from your desktop PC, your laptop, and even your mobile.
As with your agenda, it’s important that your most frequently-used documents are accessible via the internet. You’ll waste time if you have to continually start new documents and merge the files when you return to the office. Instead, save them to either Google Docs or Dropbox so you can pick up projects from wherever you are in the world.
Many of us struggle to work with background noise, which is why it’s sensible to include a set of headphones as part of your portable office. Opt for noise-cancelling headphones if you want to mute surrounding chatter but don’t necessarily work well with music; Sennheiser Momentum Wireless offer a compact design, which is ideal for travelling.
Putting Your Portable Office Into Action
After creating a portable office, you’ll need to commit to making it work. Firstly, make sure you have it with you every time you travel for business – this way you’ll be ready to make efficient use of your time should you encounter any unexpected delays or hold ups.
It’s also important to ensure that you treat a travel day like any other day, meaning that you stick to your usual routines and schedule as much as possible. If you generally take an hour for lunch, don’t take any longer than that. A great way to make sure you stick to this schedule is to plan ahead; look up airport facilities and make a mental note of where you’ll head to eat and where you’ll set up to work.
Preparing a portable office to use when travelling for business can transform your ‘lost’ hours into precious time to focus. Not only are there no colleagues around to distract you, but you’ll have no meetings, and a certain amount of respite from emails, leaving you free to finish writing presentations or work on project proposals.
By following these simple tips for creating and utilising a portable office, you’ll find that you can be even more productive than you might be in your usual workplace environment.
Jessica Farrugia writes on behalf of CT Business Travel, one of the UK’s leading corporate travel management companies. For information on their range of services, visit ctbusinesstravel.co.uk