THE BLOG

Cut the Cords! How to Set Up a Mobile Office

10/26/2012 10:39 am ET | Updated Dec 26, 2012

For Women & Co. By Alli Worthington, AlliWorthington.com

Telecommuting, traveling, working from the field -- at any given moment you may be heading out, away from your desktop and your files, yet you can't afford the time to actually be away from your work. The easiest solution is to set up yourself up with a mobile office that has all your most important tools. The good news is that it's easier and more affordable now more than ever thanks to advances in technology. Consider the following:

Mobile Computer
A laptop is obviously key; even less expensive models these days can be far more powerful than the best desktops of years ago. Find the laptop that best serves your needs and budget and you'll have the centerpiece of your mobile office at your fingertips. Some of the least expensive laptops I found can be found for about $200. For some purposes, a tablet might suffice. If you don't need the ability to download specific software and just need access to the basics, this just might do the trick. Tip: Don't forget to always password-protect your laptop (you should actually password protect all of your computers); you want to be protected in the event the unspeakable happens to you.

Wireless Router
You'll most certainly need to access the internet from your laptop or tablet; don't rely on WiFi hotspots in restaurants or public spaces -- they can be unreliable, and if a hacker is hanging out there, they'll all be unsafe. A wireless router connects to the internet via radio waves and sends a signal to your device. If you're going the tablet route, you might consider purchasing one that can connect wirelessly to the internet (not via WiFi) via 4G or 5G.

Share Your Data
You're not going to want to upload your files onto flash drives every time you need to move a file to another location. You need to get your files onto the cloud so that you can access them from any place, at any time. Three I recommend and are free to use are: DropBox, Evernote, and Google Docs.

Get a System for Your Cords
Don't let power cords, chargers, and headsets keep you tethered! I've found that the best solution is to double up: keep a complete set in your vehicle, and another one at your office (home or at work). In your vehicle, have them bundled with a power strip that can be plugged into your car's adapter. You'll be amazed how this little trick alone ups the functionality of your mobile office.

Mobile Printer
Wow your clients, and make your work life smoother, by bringing a mobile printer along with you. Sleek little models are available for a couple hundred dollars, and having them at the ready wherever and whenever is a must for a truly mobile office (not that you'd need to carry it around all that often). Some come equipped with scanners as well; if you think you might have a need for a scanner while on the road, go with this option -- but remember you can often take a photo with your smartphone and email a document or record that way.

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