Essential accessories for mobile workers
Whether you're at home, in the office or on the road, these accessories will make you more productive.
Being a successful mobile worker isn't just about wafer-thin laptops and the latest oversized "phablet" smartphone. Making sure you can be as productive as possible in all the different locations and situations you might find yourself in involves appropriate extra paraphernalia as well. Here are some tips about the essential accessories and services for the battle-winning road warrior.
A good basis for mobile work is still an appropriate place to start, however, and that means choosing the right primary device. Whilst super-thin Ultrabooks now offer decent power and excellent battery life, the usage patterns of mobile workers have changed over the last few years. Many now wish to use tablets for activities that primarily involve consumption of information - browsing the Web, reading documentation, sorting through a jam-packed inbox, and so on. However, a physical keyboard remains the best choice if you do need to enter a considerable amount of text.
For those who have gone fully down the tablet route, a wireless keyboard is a vital accessory. But if you need to use full desktop applications, a crossover device between a tablet and notebook makes a lot of sense. There are notebooks with screens that flip over to make tablets, but these can be a little cumbersome. A detachable tablet-screen is a much more viable option, such as is provided by the HP Elite x2 1011. Pull off the screen and you have an 11.6in Windows 8.1 or 10 tablet. But reunite screen and keyboard, and the combination behaves exactly like any other Ultrabook. If lightness and portability are essential, the HP Elite x2 1011 also has an optional, lighter protective keyboard and case, although this comes without the secondary battery of the regular keyboard, so time away from the power socket will be reduced.
When you do return to your desk, either at the office or at home, greater productivity can be had from switching to more ergonomic desktop components, whilst continuing to use the same core device. A larger screen, mouse, and desktop keyboard can all make computer usage more comfortable and speedy. But you don't want to have to plug all these things in separately every time, making a docking station for each of your more permanent desk spaces a sensible purchase. These can be actual docks that the mobile device slips into, or a single connection cable that breaks out into all the necessary ports that can be left connected to peripherals. Perhaps the easiest option is a wireless version, such as the Advanced Wireless Docking Station, which works with the HP Elite x2 1011 and integrates DisplayPort, VGA, LAN, USB and audio. After a one-time onscreen set up, everything attached to the Station will be available whenever the HP Elite x2 1011 is within range.
There are many sundry items that will ease your work on the road. There is nothing more annoying than someone having a Skype conversation on their notebook right next to you without the use of headphones. For best results, a headset with built-in microphone will mean nobody needs to hear the person you are talking to, and you won't have to speak loudly for them to hear you either. Another service worth considering for sole traders or freelances who tend to work mostly on the move is a virtual landline. This gives callers a non-mobile number to call and makes a business look like it is physically located when you are actually usually on the road.
Battery power is a blessing and a curse for the mobile worker. Being able to work away from cables is a massive liberation, but only lasts as long as the Watt-hours in the mobile device's power pack. As the intensity of the tasks we perform on the road grows, batteries are increasingly falling short of requirement, since their technology has not kept pace with other developments. It's incredible that most smartphones still last scarcely a day between charges. Always travel with your smartphone's USB cable, and it's generally advisable to add a separate battery pack and universal plug adapter to your bag as well. Another sensible addition to the road warrior's bag of tricks is a car-compatible charging cable, both for phone and notebook, if available. That way a taxi journey could provide a vital power boost.
The clichd image of the mobile worker has them sitting with a laptop, quaffing an overpriced cappuccino in the local name-brand coffee shop. But in reality mobile workers are now being catered for by dedicated spaces aimed specifically at their needs. One of the fastest growing providers in this area is WeWork, which arrived in London in October 2014, and has been valued at $5 billion after just five years of activity. The company now has three locations in London, and spaces all over the US, in Israel, and in Amsterdam. The existence, and growing importance, of flexible co-working spaces such as these shows just how mobile our work patterns have become, and how important it is to have the right equipment with you on the road.
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