Sun, sand and Skype? 4 tips for telecommuting on vacation
As they struggle to balance work and play, many small business owners will telecommute this summer, according to a survey by Cisco Systems, a San Jose firm that designs networking technology to keep executives connected.
Nearly half of respondents estimated they’ll spend a total of two weeks working remotely from the beach, national parks and other destinations. Released on June 26, the survey polled 500 U.S. small businesses.
If you absolutely must telecommute from Tahiti, here’s how to maximize the R&R and minimize the R&D:
Be an early bird. Check email and voicemail “first thing in the morning, before most everyone else is awake,” said Bob Taylor, CEO of Do it Best Corp. in Fort Wayne, Ind. Focus on fun for the rest of the day. Taylor, who frequently visits his native Virginia Beach, might contact the office in the late afternoon, but he generally reserves waking hours for family.
Consolidate everything on one mobile device. This streamlines your connection to colleagues and clients, said David Buchel, recruiting coordinator for Richmond-based Outdoor Living Brands.
“If you’ve got a ‘droid or iPhone, it’s real simple to set up your calendar on it – and it’s going to take a certain amount of willpower to not look at it constantly,” said Buchel, a Chicago native who, lucky for us, had a moment of weakness on July 6. He spoke in a phone interview from Illinois, where he spent his vacation with family back home.
Beware of roaming charges. Traveling overseas? Conversations on your mobile phone can cost you some serious euros. Taylor disables “data roaming” on international trips. You can also ask your carrier about international calling plans or rental phones. Better yet, leave the iPhone at home and use Skype or other web-based conferencing software on your laptop.
Invest in vacation-friendly accessories. Don’t risk dropping your phone in the pool or choking your keyboard with sand. At $79.99, the LifeProof iPhone case is “waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and snowproof,” according to the manufacturer’s website. A version for iPads is also available.
Still, if you’d rather disconnect completely, carefully prepare your staff to take the reins – and then trust them to do it, said Zack Miller, project and marketing director at Norfolk technology firm We are Titans.
Weaning off wireless hurts a little but not for long.
“The last few minutes before shutting off are tough,” said Miller, who went off-grid 24/7 during a May vacation in the Bahamas. “But once you do, it’s pure bliss for the duration of your trip.”