Using Technology to Stay Connected While Traveling or at Home

As a general tip, use your down time productively while traveling, especially on planes.  Most travelers waste hours of productive time on the airplane sleeping, watching movies, or listening to music. You, however, are going to work. Unless you’re exhausted and need to take a nap, take advantage of the uninterrupted time and get some work done.  The more you get done while you’re traveling, the more time you’ll have available to be with your family you return. Before you leave, do some planning and determine what you can complete while you’re away from home. Read business journals and trade magazines, answer emails, write thank-you letters, complete routine paperwork, review large reports and board materials, or do project and advance planning. If you feel good about what you’ve accomplished, pull out your pleasure reading. In the hotel, don’t watch television! If you’re a television person at home, discipline yourself to say, “This is my time. There’s no one else to take care of but myself. I’m going to use it to get ahead.”

At home, having a Virtual Private Network (VPN) will allow you to work at home a day or two a week from your home computer and have full access to the corporate intranet, shared files, as well as your email and calendar.  Remote Desktop technology will allow you to access files from your work computer while at home, exactly as if you were sitting at your desk.

When traveling out of town, keep up with phone calls, email, and clients, so you won’t have a pile of correspondence waiting for you when you return. To be truly productive, you’ll need the latest tools and technologies to stay connected and keep in touch with colleagues and family. Without a good cell phone plan, for example, you’ll hesitate to make long-distance calls. If you don’t have a wireless Internet connection at your hotel or a hot-spot subscription, you can’t stay on top of your email. It’s worth paying the $10.00 (or whatever the hotel charges) to get wireless access in your room! You’ll need Outlook Web Access to keep up with email and appointments or access to Web Mail on your ISP’s server.

Windows SmartPhones and Pocket PCs enable you to send and receive email when you’re on the go and can’t access the Internet from your laptop.  I carry a Treo SmartPhone and use my taxi time between the airport and hotel to check email, respond to important messages, and return phone calls.

My husband, John, and I traveled to



, where I was to speak at several conferences and events.  We wanted to keep in touch with our three children while we were out of the country but didn’t want to pay a lot for phone charges.  So we used to make free phone calls back home via the Internet and hooked up a USB Webcam on both ends, so we could hear and see each other.  It was a wonderful way to stay connected and gave us a personal touch we couldn’t get over the phone.  Webcams are also helpful for professionals working frequently from home who want to see their co-workers during phone or video conferences.

I’ve worked from home for sixteen years now.  Whether you have a home office or telecommute frequently, here are the tools of the trade you’ll need efficiently work from home:

1.            A supercomputer with lots of RAM and a large hard drive

2.            External back-up system (Zip drive, network, CD, etc.)

3.            Off-site backup of irreplaceable files (,,

4.            Spam filter

5.            Internet security

6.            Anti-virus software

7.            DSL or cable

8.            Email accessible via Internet

9.            High-security access to your company’s computer network (intranet)

10.        Log into your home computer while traveling (

11.        Wireless headset

12.        Cell phone and/or pager

13.        PDA/SmartPhone with email access (like Blackberry or Treo)

14.        Laptop with wireless Internet and T-Mobile account

15.        Time management system (Outlook or paper planner)

16.        A printer/scanner/fax/copy machine—together or separate

17.        Sturdy filing cabinets and drawers

18.        Ergonomically correct chair

19.        Home Receptionist telephone with router and/or voice mail

20.        Integrated contact management (ACT), fax (WinFax), accounting (QuickBooks), and email (Outlook) software

21.        Searchable database (Access) for electronic information

22. or other on-line calendaring software for remote client, bureau, website, and employee access

23. for instant messaging

24.        Sending large files to clients (

25.        Shortcut “hot” keys automatically type a string or paragraph of text (

26.        Capture Express software allows you to easily “grab” a portion of your screen (screen shot) to add to workbooks, save as a picture, or email in lots of cool shapes besides a rectangle (

27.        Automated gifts; schedule delivery for future dates once a month.  ( or

28.        Quick registration on Web sites that ask you to register (; gives you a username and password that will work on that site.



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