(Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Comcast Small Business but all of the ideas and content are my own, whether you agree with them or not!)
A huge thing happened when I was working for Lexis about 13 years ago. One day I figured out how to forward my work email to my mobile phone. Why was this so huge? Although I was a home-based employee with a flexible schedule, I hated being away from my desk during business hours and missing possible opportunities. But at the same time, I had a baby and a toddler who liked doing things like going to the library or the park during the day. Now I could see if anyone sent me an important email that I needed to get back home to respond to. All of a sudden, I felt like I could leave the house and not miss anything.
Fast forward 13 years and that scenario is laughable compared to what we have today. I can access my bank accounts, family photos, and kids’ grades from my phone. For better or for worse, I can be notified whenever my job needs me, a package gets delivered, or even my doorbell rings. I’m accessible everywhere.
Today is not for debating that because it certainly has its pros and cons. Let’s assume that one of the biggest pros of being an affiliate marketer is that we can work anywhere we want and with almost the same amount of efficiency as if we were sitting in our home office. Here are some tools and tricks to help YOU make the most of working from wherever your day takes you.
WiFi Is Our Friend
Once upon a time I carried around a little $60 a month contraption with me so that I could have my own portable WiFi connection to connect my laptop to in order to be able to work away from home. No more!! WiFi is available in so many locations for free. My friends and I have worked from coffee shops, automobile dealerships, orthodontists’ offices, and all kinds of other crazy places. Sometimes by choice (coffee shops) and other times because we’re stuck there (automobile dealerships).
This is where Comcast comes into play. Their new Comcast Business WiFi Pro service is perfect for small and medium-sized businesses who want to provide WiFi to employees and customers. The business can use WiFi Analytics to learn more about who is coming and going and how to target them with splash pages, coupons, etc. Imagine going to the same coffee shop a few times in a row and then getting a splash page the next time you log in there giving you a free doughnut with your coffee purchase. Wouldn’t you be more likely to 1) buy the coffee, and 2) come back there to work again?
I appreciate the types of capabilities Comcast has built in for the businesses who use WiFi Pro. For example, they can separate the employee and customer networks and balance bandwidth back and forth depending on the time of day. As a small-business owner myself, I love that Comcast is making this type of service affordable for other small businesses. Selfishly, I am hopeful that it means more businesses will sign up with them and I will be able to easily work from even more of the places that I spend my time (dance and voice lessons, the hairdresser, etc).
One of the best features of the WiFi Pro service is that ability for business owners to access management consoles via the web or smartphone apps. This includes activity reporting and configuration options like the bandwidth balancing I mentioned above. Altogether it allows for businesses to more easily create customized experiences.
Speaking of apps and web-based tools, there are so many that I am now using to help me work on the go!
Find Apps and Web-Based Tools to Replace Programs
One of the things I thought I would miss most when working away from my own computer was Photoshop. How could I write blog posts without images to accompany them? Two years ago I switched to PicMonkey and have been using it primarily for making images. I can log in from any computer and use the web-based tools. Although I don’t currently use any apps on my phone for image creation, I know that many other affiliate marketers do.
From my phone I use things like Boomerang to help control my email (scheduling and responding) and Hootsuite for my social media. I also use Dropbox, Slack, and Hangouts just as I would on my computer, in addition to all of my regular social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+.
In fact, by using Chrome, I can directly take whatever I am doing on my computer and move it to my phone or wherever I am working from (for example my Galaxy tablet). My passwords are set up to autopopulate and even my search queries show up.
Rethink Where You Keep Documents
I was a holdout moving from Outlook to Gmail for a lot of reasons but once I switched, I was so excited to be able to do everything on my phone that I could do on my desktop computer–including searching archived messages. Email is just the start though.
I continued to take my laptop with me when I traveled because of the number of Excel spreadsheets that I access on a daily basis. Once I moved those to Google Docs, I found that there was very little in terms of documents that I needed from my home office. In fact, I could work from just about any computer.
Now I use a combination of online storage including Google Docs, Dropbox, and even Slack. Very little is stored on my hard drive unless it is something I don’t need repeated access to. Even that is all backed up somewhere else.
It’s amazing how far technology has come in such a short amount of time. My phone probably has as much storage capacity and power as the old computer I was using at Lexis. I can now be sitting in the school pickup line and catching up on email or scheduling Tweets rather than stewing about the fact that I am missing an hour of much-needed work time.
Do you work outside your home office? Do you take a laptop with you or do you try to work from a tablet or your phone? What makes it easier for you to be portable?