I just got back from a 2.5 months overseas trip where I visited 5 countries in 2 continents. Since office chores never stop or can be put on hold for too long, I had to turn my office into a global office to keep the wheels churning while on the road!
Here are the first 5 out of 10 useful tips that you can use to help you deal with extended sojourns outside of the comfort of your home office.
1. Your constant companion and friend in you global office is your portable computer. Since you will be on the move, you need it to be light but powerful. If you are not already using a portable for your daily computer use, purchase one early, set it up immediately, and then get rid of your desktop. Make the portable your primary computer and use it for at least one full month before your scheduled departure. This will ensure that you have all the apps you need, with you when you travel. Your home office can be setup with the external drives, large screen, external full keyboard and mouse and all other handy appliances if you are used to having them. But when you travel, you want the maximum power with the minimum weight to get by with.
2. Once you’ve taken care of the portable, get a global phone. Technology today enables us to make and receive calls pretty much in any commercial country around the globe. Check your carrier and make sure that the same number and phone will work internationally, if not, get a global phone. While traveling, keep in mind that mobile phones are not as secure as land lines and can be very costly while roaming. You can pay upward of $2/min even on calls that you do not take. Inform your key clients and workers of your travel plans and ask them only to call in emergencies. Also, remind them of the difference in time zones.
P.S. Don’t be afraid to use the off switch on your phone when rest is warranted!
3. For free international calls to the USA, bring a Vonage, Ooma or Magic Jack with you. I have used both Vonage and Ooma and the Ooma Telo stopped working after a few days. Ooma’s support was very slow! Vonage worked non-stop my entire stay. You can even forward your home office calls to it.
4. Email is of paramount importance and the centerpiece of the global office. The issue is not to have an email account, but to have A. a reliable internet connection everywhere you go, and B. to train everyone that you deal with to communicate with you by email and not by phone. Email is very cost-friendly and convenient and will allow you to be in control of your own time.
5. Most of us nowadays use online banking. When you travel internationally, you may need more than the basic features. You will need to be able to perform account reviews and transfers, pay checks online, and monitor your credit card transactions. But you may also need to make payments to overseas vendors, so look into online wire transfers options– they can now be handled online in all commercial currencies.
Depositing checks still requires someone checking your snail mail and looking out for them. Checks can however be scanned to the bank for electronic deposit.
PayPal can be an option too. Caution, if you use PayPal from an international IP (Internet Protocol) location, PayPal security alerts will trigger a block on your account requiring you to verify it. This will cause unwanted delays. Call their support and inform them of your travel plans so that they don’t keep blocking your account. Another way to overcome the security issue is to connect via VPN (Virtual Private Network) to a machine at your home office and perform your PayPal transactions via that machine. To PayPal, it will appear as if you are still in your home office.
Same issues may surface if you perform wire transfers from your bank from a new IP location. Your bank may contact you to verify your current location. This is another reason why a global phone can be handy.
Make sure also that your bank supplies you with at least two major credit cards and that they are accepted where you will be traveling. It may be useful to inform your bank of your travels so that they don’t block your credit cards due to suspicious international charges.
While working overseas, it is very important to remember to regulate your work hours. Since there are often time zone differences, it is typical that you find yourself working two shifts, one during your local time zone hours and one during your home office hours. Just make sure you don’t burn out!
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