Working on the road: Avoid these slipups

How many times have you had to work from a hotel room or someone else's office only to find that the mobile device you need is nowhere to be found? Off you go to borrow or buy one, wasting time, money and possibly your sanity.

Mobile office consultant Catherine Roseberry suggests ways to be prepared without packing the entire office. Before you leave, she suggests making sure your battery is fully charged, and backing up your laptop to protect the data you already have stored.

Her business trip tips, from About.com:

  • Pack your laptop, PDA, cell phone, extra laptop battery, boot disk and copy of operating system on a CD (in case your laptop crashes), and CD with other software programs you might need to restore.
  • Keep all your mobile devices together, meaning don't pack them in a bag that can get lost by the airlines. Use your laptop case and your carry-on.
  • Consider taking a universal electrical adapter kit, a universal phone jack adapter kit, a phone line filter, mini surge protector, mouse and laptop light.

Even small businesses are going to have to get savvier about remote work. In her 2007 book, Moving to Mobility: Creating A Successful Remote Work Environment, Roseberry states, "Most companies currently view mobility as a small part of their IT budgets and many have failed to plan for its expected acceleration."

Many experts advise businesses set up a virtual private network (VPN), which allows travelers to use their business network and security applications from other locations. Using public Wi-Fi could cause security risks. Fortune Small Business advises installing a privacy filter on your laptop that shields your screen and prevents over-the-shoulder snooping.

GoToMyPC.com and LogMeIn.com also get strong recommendations. If you have a main computer in an office somewhere, and you're using someone else's in another office, you can connect to its applications and files (as long as your main computer's online). GoToMyPC from Citrix, for about $20 a month, pulls up a replica of your desktop in a browser window. Reviewers say one advantage to LogMeIn is it's cheapter at about $70 year.

Trip Kucera, director of corporate communications for LogMeIn, explains how it works when using remote access software. "When you want to access your computer remotely, you simply to log in to your account and click on the computer that you want to access. From there you use the computer and all of the applications and files on it as if you were physically in front of it."

Google Docs is also considered to be quite useful to people who operate from different cities, Fortune Small Business reports. Creating text files, spreadsheets, and storing them in Google Docs allows easy access to shared documents.

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