by Lee Eldridge
Being in the office to get work done is no longer a requirement for many creatives. Whether it’s being pulled onto an important project without warning while out and about, or wanting to travel while still taking care of business, the ability to do your job from any location can provide amazing lifestyle improvements. This works especially well for Web designers, video editors, animators, copywriters and graphic designers who can perform most of their job requirements without physical interaction.
So how do you make the most of your temporary workspaces, whether they are in coffee shops, hotels or airports? Here are some tips to help out:
Make sure you have access to critical project files. This might seem like a no-brainer but how many times have you delved into a project only to realize you’re missing a key element? Cloud storage is a great solution, particularly if you’re collaborating with a team that may be working on the same files while you are in transit. If you are working off your hard drive, make sure you have a backup.
Know how you work best. If you require focus and quiet—sometimes hard to come by in airport lounges and cafes—try noise-cancelling headphones, or white noise recordings like the ones available at simplynoise.com.
Pack a reliable mouse. Have you ever tried to use an optical mouse on a glass table? Or edit a complex photo with a track-pad? For extended work with fine details that require finesse, these options just won’t cut it. I actually bring a corded mouse with me so that I don’t have to worry about batteries. It’s not sexy, but neither is missing your deadline because you can’t find a pair of double-As. Speaking of which…
Don’t forget chargers, adaptors, and backup batteries. When I travel for business, I regularly bring a multi-adaptor for outlets, a backup (external) power cell to recharge my laptop and smartphone, and a fully charged backup battery for my laptop. I’ve never had to use all of them on a single trip, but they’ve each saved presentations, projects, and PLENTY of headaches at one time or another.
When things go sideways, get some “face time.” Communicating remotely often means communicating badly. It’s very difficult to read tone—and very easy to superimpose emotion—over email or instant messages, so if you think you and a client or collaborator might not be on the same page, nip it in the bud with a quick call or video chat to review the status and plan the next steps.
You can’t always rely on wi-fi. Research the cell and wireless service in the area you are travelling to, and make sure you’ve got the right data plan to make critical file transfers if needed. Depending on the plan and the amount of bandwidth you use when working, it can even be cheaper to use a prepaid data plan for the locale you’re in than paying for hotel wi-fi, which can often be spotty.
Make sure you take breaks and enjoy them. Remember, you are travelling. And while work is important and can be fulfilling, if the only memory you have from your weekend in Madrid five years from now is how the hotel wi-fi kept cutting out, you’re doing it wrong. Set goals and structure your time so that you’re making room for everything that
is important—not just work!
Lee Eldridge, associate editor, is also
the director of Interactive Solutions at
the C.J. Group of Companies in Toronto.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2014 issue of Designedge Canada magazine.