Telecommuting, or remote working, is increasingly popular for founders and their employees—especially as startups leverage a global workforce and lean toward distributed team models, like Buffer. So much so that in the U.S. alone, it has risen 37% (Gallup).
Although the privilege of working from home appeals to many people, the work itself requires self-discipline, independence, and self-motivation.
Telecommuting requires technology and tools to connect the home office to your main office and your team. With the evolution of the Internet and increase of cloud-based services, telecommuting almost seamlessly bridges the gap between home and work, eliminating the morning and evening commute and giving founders and employees alike, a broader choice of workplace options.
Stay equipped with mobile technology
These days you can literally work from anywhere as long as you have a mobile or Wi-Fi connection. Whether in a home office or vacationing abroad, founders and their employees can get the job done as easily (possibly even more effectively) as working from the main office.
In many ways, having a functional and smart device paves the way to successful remote working. For many entrepreneurs, a laptop creates the ideal minimalistic workstation, creating a familiar interface at home, in the office, or on the road. If you prefer a larger screen, laptops can easily be connected to smart TV’s and larger desktop monitors.
Laptops that work well for telecommuters and entrepreneurs on the go include models from popular brands, such as Dell XPS, HP ENVY, Samsung Series 7, Apple MacBook or Lenovo ThinkPad W. Any of these mobile computers will get the job done, but for heavy travel ultraportable laptops with the latest Intel hardware, Skylake, are a viable alternative.
Top-tier Windows vendors have already made the switch since the “new Intel microarchitecture typically brings a host of improvements, some minor, some significant. But it is clear that Intel has been focusing on battery-life and graphics silicon performance improvements over the past few years,” according to Forbes.
If you forgo the laptop, a tablet with competitive processing power is a good bet. If you miss the full-size keyboard there are numerous Bluetooth or USB enabled keyboards on the market that will connect to tablets. Also, some tablets like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Apple iPad Pro, and Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 work just like a computer, especially when used with a full-size keyboard.
It’s not unheard of for some founders to run their companies from a smartphone. With the growing number of collaboration apps, document management apps, email apps and productivity apps on the market, it is easier than ever before.
This year, and in years to come we can expect many powerful smartphone features to make working on-the-go even easier with the new Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, HTC One M10, LG G5, Microsoft Surface Phone, Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, to name a few.
When shopping for a device, choose devices that support the newest operating systems and cross-platform integration, to guard against obsolescence and to maximize productivity.
Enjoy hassle-free connectivity
Without an Internet connection, you literally cannot get things done these day. Maintaining a Wi-Fi or mobile hotspot should be the highest priority.
Although a smartphone can be used as a mobile hotspot, some people may prefer to use dedicated mobile hotspots, such as Verizon Jetpack MiFi 6620L 4G, LTE Mobile Hotspot, or FreedomPop’s Overdrive Pro.
Leverage communication and collaboration tools
Email apps and real-time messaging apps, like Slack, are commonly used among distributed and remote teams. Instant messengers like Tango or WhatsApp enable rapid, real-time text transmission over the Internet. Video chat and voice call apps like Skype and Sqwiggle enables real-time communication with colleagues.
Yammer, a leading enterprise social network, is popular while Asana provides an easy way for teams to track their work and get results. Trello is a project management tool that makes collaboration easy and WorkflowMax is an adequate tool for service businesses to complete quotes, time sheets, job management, invoicing and workflow management.
Learn effectively with online training tools
Education technology and the ed-tech startups that fuel the industry make tools available that can help founders and their teams alike develop skills and acquire new knowledge. Online training services make education flexible and convenient.
Massive open online course (MOOC) training also provides learning opportunities, some of which businesses themselves can create.
Boost flexibility with cloud-based solutions
Cloud-based services for data storage and file sharing can provide substantial flexibility for remote teams, making data available from any device with an Internet connection. In addition to storage, the cloud is now used as a platform for many of the world’s most popular collaboration tools. Here’s a quick look:
OneDrive, by Microsoft, uses the cloud to store and sync files across devices. Users can also share public or private files. It integrates well with Windows and Microsoft Office and offers mobile apps for mobile devices.
Dropbox keeps your files safe, synced, and easy to share. Cloud-based file storage, synchronization, and cross-platform sharing are just a few of the robust, yet simple, user interface.
Google Drive, a service offered by Google, offers a safe place for all of your files and puts them within reach from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.The service integrates seamlessly with Google’s office productivity applications.
Box also offers online storage, file sharing and collaboration for enterprise, businesses, and personal users.
The robust availability of online tools help founders and their teams overcome some of the challenges that once limited remote working including a lack of of face-to-face communication, minimal collaboration, feelings of isolation and lack of support.
In other words, technological innovation has made working from home or on the road easier than ever. Every company has the tools to help them work from almost anywhere.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Patricia Dimick is a freelance writer, stay-at-home mom and a tech enthusiast from Denver who likes to keep up with the innovations in the digital world and share her insights with like-minded people. Connect with @patricia_dimick on Twitter.