With the help of mobile apps and accessories, you no longer need to be tied to a desk and company wifi. Whether you’re traveling for work and trying to get some beach time in, or vacationing and hoping to keep on top of of business back home, you can be a nomad and a worker bee at the same time, with our guide to working from anywhere:
XCom Global Mifi Rental
It’s tough to stay connected when you’re constantly battling the wifi demons in foreign countries. Luckily, XCom Global exists, renting Mifi devices (portable wifi for up to 5 devices) pre-installed with country-specific unlimited 3g sim cards. Their plans are reasonable at $15/day (on par with questionable hotel wifi costs), and you don’t have to pay for shipping either direction if you order 10 days in advance. Going to multiple countries? Get your second Mifi for free, and each additional for $30 (fee for the entire trip) and you’re still paying only $15/day. If you’re out for 14+ days, they offer discounts, and you can even rent on a monthly basis, starting at $245/month. If you’re headed to Europe, they offer a Europe plan that uses just a single Mifi device for $40 countries (for the same sweet $15/day price) so you don’t have to lug around multiple Mifi’s.
If you can get a hold of a Google Voice account, Google Voice gets you free call forwarding, phone number, voicemail, SMS, and calls to the US. On the downside, it’s only available to US customers, international texting is hit and miss, and calling from outside the US is mostly a hack. If you want your international transition to be seamless, and you’re willing to fork over the cash for call forwarding ($0.25/min), a phone number ($18/3 months), and SMS ($0.04 – $0.22 /text), Skype is the way to go. The perks are that you can get unlimited calls for a flat rate ($3 – $14 /month), voicemail (recently made free), and free Skype-to-Skype voice, text, and video chat direct from the Skype app (iOS, Android, Symbian; Free).
If you want to get the best of both worlds, setup your Google Voice to forward to your Skype phone number. This gives you more control with call forwarding, texts, voicemail, and call routing while still getting the pro quality of Skype. Then setup your Skype Caller ID to only display your google voice number. Voila!
Hit the jump for more mobile toolkit essentials!
Sign and Send documents
I was recently stuck in Puerto Rico for a night, when I received an email on my iPhone from the company accountant, telling me that I had never signed my W4 fully. Enter DocuSign Ink (iOS, Free). About 10 minutes later, without spending a cent, I had signed the document from my iPhone, with my actual signature (signed onto my touchscreen), and the experience was smooth as butter. And if you’re looking for a more robust signature manager, look to the parent app DocuSign Mobile (iOS, Free; $14.99/month) to track multiple signers and manage large amounts of documents.
If you’re looking to get in on the signing and sending fun from your Android device, EasySign (iOS, Android; 3 free signatures, $1.99 – $14.99 for additional) has got you covered. While the experience is not as smooth or as free as DocuSign Ink’s, it does offer the same functionality.
SignNow‘s (Free) web-based service does away with apps, and leaves all the fun in the browser. If you register for free, you can keep your signature on file and invite multiple signers to make sure that deal gets signed (and track it until it does).
If, heaven forbid, you actually have to fax something, or receive a fax, there is a solution. VoxOx (iOS, Mac, PC, Free/Fax for $0.01/page and up) advertises itself as mostly a low-cost VoIP provider, but it adds in a very functional 2-way digital fax number. Plus, they start you off with a $0.25 credit (more for purchase directly through the app store), which will let you fax a few pages off before you scream at the receiver to get an email address.
Work Faster and Longer
Verbatim Folding Keyboard
Let’s be honest, you’re not gonna write your next novel on a touchscreen. So if you have any long documents or emails to get through, you’re gonna need some tactile keys to bang on. With the Verbatim Wireless Keyboard ($60), as long as you have bluetooth and a recent-ish OS on your smartphone or tablet (iOS 4 or Android 3.0), you can connect and start firing away.
Make sure you’re not going to run out of fuel, no matter how long the conference call is, with the Trent iCruiser ($76). With 11,000 milliamps stored on this backup battery, you can plug in and not worry about where the next wall plug will be.