The commute is killing you, the caffeine has you on edge and the shirt and tie is getting you hot under the collar. And that’s before we even mention the workload.
Modern life is a demanding beast and if you’re looking to manage your work life better, there’s one thing you need: Mobile broadband.
So how does a little thing like a dongle or a smartphone solve all of that? Remember when you used to stand in line for your morning coffee and look at the girl with headphones, her laptop and mug and think “she’s not really working”? Maybe there was a time she wasn’t, but today you can bet that she is working in an environment she likes.
“But how does she talk to her clients?”
She probably uses communications platforms such as Skype or Oovoo. Calling computer-to-computer is free and calling a landline is less expensive than using the blower.
“But what if she needs to have a meeting?”
Then she gets in her car, or catches a train and still manages her work life. If there’s no time, or getting to see clients is expensive, video conferencing will give her the face-time she needs without hours or days of travel. If the job is a short one, it can probably be finished more quickly this way than if travel were added to the equation.
“How does one share paperwork?”
If she’s dealing in office documents like Word, or Excel, she might be using Dropbox, which is an online storage system that allows documents to be stored in files on the Internet. The file is shared via an email invite. Suddenly the need to be in the same room as the person you’re working with is gone.
Alternatively, there are dedicated content management systems such as Basecamp that can house the entire content for a project and allow two or more people to collaborate on a single document at the same time.
There is also Google Docs which does the same. It has an added function of Instant Messaging Chat (IM) that allows collaborators to chat through their process as they are working. Colour coding allows users to see who has added what to the mix, so all the rules of collaborative working apply, just within an online framework.
Take a step back for a moment and you’ll see that using these tools, the gal in the cafe can hire and collaborate with people anywhere in the world. Add Paypal to the equation and she can unlock expertise in foreign markets and often for a better price than we would find it at home. That’s valuable. Equally, if her own patch is a little dry she can find work in foreign markets and receive payment in exactly the same way.
“What if one’s on the road all day?”
Then she’s on her smartphone. The name is no mistake, smartphones are smart.
Take Dropbox as an example: She has the app on her phone, which is synced with her online account. When documents are updated, the Dropbox app will tell her. If something needs her urgent attention, she’ll immediately know to make the time for it somewhere in her day. Documents are inactive for much less time this way than if they are sitting in an in tray in an office somewhere.
If she’s travelling a lot she’ll have an app like Kayak, which allows her to compare flight, hotel and rental car prices on the phone. Once her itinerary is booked, she can check flight status in real time and have instant access to the airlines contact information. If her plans need to change, she can make other arrangements before she’s late for everything.
“How does she manage her contacts if she doesn’t have an office?”
Social networks are the new rolodex. And it’s not just about Facebook. Professional networks such as LinkedIn allow colleagues past and present to stay connected. Profiles are regularly updated so that you can see what your contacts have been up to and whether you can be useful to one another today.
Networking itself doesn’t have to be a face-to-face exercise either. Twitter is a great platform for meeting new people in your field. Following their tweets also gives you an insight into what innovations they are interested in.
“So, I can manage my work life while sitting in a cafe too?”
Yes, technology has evolved to a point where it is working for us. All the frameworks are there to save us time and money, to breakdown geographical barriers and allow us to explore markets that were once out of the reach of the average working person. The number of online businesses have increased exponentially as individuals harness the Internet to make a living.
But there is a caveat to all this:
Just because it’s online doesn’t mean we can forget what it’s fundamentally all about: human relationships. And there’s no app for that.
Do you make your work life smoother with the Internet? Got tips?
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