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So you are thinking what is a workcation? It is a term from Tim Ferriss book The 4 Hour Work Week. A brilliant book which provides some great hints and tips for managing your time, delegating and running a business from anywhere. I run a business that could be run from almost anywhere and I do run it from my home office, garden and coffee shops. But I m talking about traveling AND working. I didn t do a gap year I went straight to university and I m glad I did. But running my own business and traveling is surely a recipe for disaster. Last month I spent 4 weeks in Australia and New Zealand, I couldn t have gone any further away from the UK. Meaning one of the biggest challenges was the time difference and not to mention the 27 hours on an aeroplane with no internet or telephone access. It is worth noting here that I flew with Emirates who are actively working to improve their on board Wi-Fi, I tested the free 10mb of Wi-Fi but only got it to work on 1 of my 4 flights and even then it took all this data to send 1 What s App message and post a Facebook update saying wow I m updating my status at 32,000ft . So I didn t think it was worth paying for. I planned this trip back in August giving me plenty of time to organise and work out logistics. I took the trip from early December to early Jan, with Christmas in the middle including the bank holidays this was a key part of my plan.
One of my offices during the trip. I planned ahead and let major customers know, and I told them they wouldn t see any change in their service. Importantly I let my team know and advised them on the days where I would not be reachable (flying days). This whole trip would not be possible without my strong supportive team particularly Rebecca, Tom, Alice and Linda; who was delivering 2 days of courses in London whilst I was on a plane the whole time! We identified key projects that needed completing and work that would be due on certain dates but generally it was business as usual for the team. Once arrived I really enjoyed the fact that I lay in bed doing my e-mails with the sun shining outside. Knowing it d only be 20-30 minutes to get the worst of the e-mails done and then I could enjoy the day. It also give me chance to step away from mundane tasks and get perspective on my business. A lot of people switch off when on holiday but I can t, it was also nice to keep up to date with things going on and ultimately not return with a huge to do list, angry customers and no money in the bank!
However I promised my customers that they wouldn t notice a change in their service. So I made a real effort to get everything set up, I do a lot of telephone training so I made my diary available and slotted out a few evenings (morning for UK) where people can book calls. I set up my Skype and put some credit on ready to ring landlines, saving me money without any disruption in the customer s telephone support service. This proved a success in the first week, whilst I was staying with family in Adelaide where they had fast internet. However what I hadn t planned for was laptop failure, the first 10 days were great I got caught up on my e-mails and even managed to get on top of work I d been meaning to do for months, just by doing a couple of hours each day. However I went from Adelaide to Sydney, putting an out of office on for a few days so I could enjoy the sights of Sydney. But a couple of days in I checked a few e-mails and put my laptop on charge overnight. Next morning it wouldn t wake up, the charging light that had been on last night had gone off it wasn t even green as it should be. I did various Googling on my phone and tried all sorts of tips and tricks. But in the end I took it to the Apple Store they took a look but offered to take it for a few days although I was going to New Zealand the next day. When I arrived in New Zealand I took it to the Apple Store and left it with them for 6 days. Turns out I needed to take it to a U.K. Apple Store else it ll be very expensive so I ended up with no laptop for 3 weeks. At home I have 3 laptops, 2 macs and 1 PC laptop I very nearly put the PC laptop in my suitcase but I had been worried about weight and never suspected my less than a year old laptop would be an issue.
At 1pm New Years Day NZ time I took this photo. It was Midnight New Years Eve in the UK at the same time. So I ended up using my iPhone for everything, I did borrow my partners laptop for 1 day. But it s amazing what an iPhone can do with the right apps! I keep everything in the cloud which meant providing I could remember all my passwords (took a few attempts) I could retrieve everything. I rave about Dropbox and continue to, as it meant I had all my files despite no laptop with the Dropbox app on my iPhone. Basecamp is a project management software that I introduced to the team last year and makes it easy to manage to do lists and projects. Other apps such a Facebook pages, Google Dive and Twitter also made it easier
I also recommend a USB power pack, I am writing this blog on an e-mail to myself whilst on the last leg of my 30 hour return plane journey with the phone on charge in the power pack. They are brilliant and cost as little as 15. The other thing I recommend is a data router; a portable Wi-Fi box. In the last week my family suggested we go camping which I love, but knew this wasn t good for the workcation! However I bought a data sim for 25 loaded with 3GB of data and connected my phone to it, it was brilliant and allowed me to sit in the tent e-mailing and the signal wasn t a problem. Australia has 4G and New Zealand have very good 3G a vast improvement from my previous visits. I must point out that I never turned my phone data roaming on as they still haven t sorted reasonable rates for outside of Europe. The pay as you go sim was a controllable way to manage my wifi usage.
Enjoying a few days with an out of office on. I noted that the time difference was an issue but an unexpected surprise was that it was an advantage as well. Because you had so much more time to do the work or reply to an e-mail whilst the recipient in the UK slept! It also meant you could have all your e-mail processed before they wake up in the UK. I was worried I d miss an important e-mail whilst I slept, but I never did, if it was urgent, retainer clients were told to contact Tom or Rebecca which they did very efficiently. I also pay an answer service to answer my phone and e-mail me the message so I didn t have to check my voicemail. If I needed, I could return this call the next day via my Skype account to a UK landline at low cost.
A lot of people would say that a workcation isn t healthy and if you only go on holiday for 2 weeks per year I would agree. But this is my way to travel and in 2015 I went to Istanbul, Egypt, Switzerland, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Australia and New Zealand. For me it is important to get away from the rushing about. I highly recommend getting organised and doing the big tasks before going away and trust your team, I am grateful to mine and this month we welcome Maddie to the Online Toolbox team.