by Cindy Bates

When the temperature rises and the sun is shining, it’s difficult to avoid glimpsing out of your office window wishing you, too, could enjoy the beautiful weather away from the tether of work and running a business.

While it’s important to take regular breaks and maintain work-life balance, sometimes it is easier said than done. This is especially true for small business owners who often wear many hats or are the sole employee.

Fortunately, by leveraging modern technology, a world of possibilities for summertime adventures is accessible without the expense of lost productivity.

Cloud and mobile technologies are constantly advancing. This makes the ability of working whenever and wherever easier than ever before.

I’m an advocate of disconnecting during off hours, and I also know it can be difficult to step away from work. With cloud-based tools and a bit of planning, though, you’ll be able to keep an eye on things while finally heading to that cabin you’ve always wanted to visit or going to the beach with your family.

If the idea of enjoying a bit of sun during working hours doesn’t convince you, a recent study also found that 65 percent of professionals believe remote working boosts their productivity. Personally, I’ve discovered even a quick walking meeting helps to boost my creativity, often fueling the rest of my day or week.

If you’re ready to get out from behind your desk this summer, here are some best practices for staying connected on the go.

Be prepared for spotty wi-fi

Even with many businesses offering it for free, reliable and secure wi-fi is not always available. To ensure you always have access, invest in a cellular-to-wi-fi hotspot. Most major carriers offer portable hotspots at a variety of price points, including AT&T and Verizon.

If your phone allows for it, web tethering is another option. Essentially, this turns your phone into a mobile hotspot. However, it does use cellular data, so be sure to check your plan first to avoid charges.

Virtualize your meetings

Picture this: An important meeting is about to happen, and you’re not near your computer. You dial-in to the conference number, but throughout the meeting you find it difficult to hear, engage and read the room.

Sound familiar? It’s a frustrating experience and leads to potential cycle-spinning and miscommunication.

With today’s technology, there’s a better way. When in-person meetings aren’t possible, videoconferencing apps like Skype for Business are the next best thing for communicating with your teams.

Video helps you engage more effectively and allows you to have that all-important face-to-face connection, all from any location and from any device.

Have a centralized location for collaboration

If you’re checking in on your business during your summer getaway, the last thing you want to spend time doing is searching through multiple apps or folders for documents.

Having a centralized, cloud-based system for your documents gives everyone on your team the ability to collaborate in real time. Additionally, these systems offer added security and version control so no one wastes time making the same updates twice.

Don’t forget accessories

For the most seamless remote working experience, you’ll want to make sure you have all the comforts of your office. Before hitting the road, double check you have everything you’ll need to work as efficiently as possible. This includes protective cases or sleeves for devices, extra battery packs, and headphones with a microphone for video meetings.

Maybe you’re only planning on working remotely once or twice this summer, or you are what is considered a “digital nomad” or location-independent person who uses technology to fulfill a work-anytime-anywhere philosophy.

One such SMB owner is Kevin McMillen, CEO and founder of RyanTech, who says, “The RyanTech Mobile Command Center allows us to be on the move and travel from location to location. With three different data providers, a fully-equipped Cortana Car plus trailer, we are a living example of how a truly cloud-enabled company can exist literally anywhere,” he said.

“Our rig is kitted out with satellite wi-fi and two cellular networks along with RyanTechWiFi.com-enabled mesh networking to spread wi-fi within a football field in every direction of the trailer,” McMillen said. “Leveraging Microsoft’s cloud services (e.g., Azure and Office 365), we achieve work-life balance and enjoy the freedom of being mobile yet remaining highly productive.”

Whether you’re planning a trip or just want an excuse to enjoy the sunshine, cloud and mobile technology can help you stay connected and productive while on the go.

Cindy Bates is vice president of Microsoft’s U.S. Small and Midsized Business & Distribution group. Prior to joining Microsoft 15 years ago, Bates was senior vice president in Merrill Lynch & Co’s. Investment Banking, Retail and E-Commerce Industry Group. She holds a B.A. in international economics and a B.S. in molecular biology from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from Harvard University.

 

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