Laptop, smartphone, tablet, electricity and WLAN – with these five components, many tasks can now be done flexibly and independently of location – in the office as well as in a cafe or on the beach. The mobile office is already a daily reality for some employees. But without some strategies and individual preparation, this dream can quickly turn into a nightmare. We will therefore show you proven tips on how to optimize mobile working and become really productive in the mobile office..
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Mobile office: Mobile working so far an exception
Presence culture is a relic of the (industrial) past. We're not the only ones who think so – more and more bosses and CEOs are also saying the same thing. Kasper Rorstedt for example. The then Henkel and now Adidas CEO already predicted the extinction of the presence culture in 2015. Digitalization will end this chapter.
That was perhaps a bit too optimistic. Since 2013, home-based work among Germany's workforce has stagnated at a low level. After all, 30 percent of employees have the option to do work from home in their company, 70 percent do not have it. This was the result of a representative survey of 771 HR managers and more than 7000 employees commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Labor.
But working from home is only one option, the mobile office is the other one. After all, you don't necessarily have to move your desk from the company to your home; you can also move it to the street, the track, the mobile home or the cafe around the corner.
The mobile office – it's an everywhere office.
Mobile working: Good reasons
Most employees (but freelancers too) want more flexibility at work anyway. Overall, according to the survey by the German Federal Ministry of Labor, eight percent of respondents who have not yet worked in a home office would like to do so regularly, 31 percent occasionally.
What they expect from it:
- 74 percent want to improve work-life balance.
- 64 percent want to save travel time.
- 63 percent want to improve the compatibility with their free time.
- 49 percent want to increase their effective working hours.
- 36 percent want to work better.
Employees with children under the age of 14 in particular would like more home office options. But also employees who work overtime, under high deadline pressure and with multitasking tasks. In fact, the expectations are met in most cases.
"Less travel time" was cited by most home workers as a major advantage, and many also feel that the "work-life balance" has been improved. And: they are more satisfied with their work, perceive their superiors as fairer and feel more closely connected to the company.
But: Those who spend a lot of time in the home office usually also work more overtime. What's more, a large group even shifts parts of their free time to the home office. Employees who never work in a home office do not have these problems.
For example, employees who occasionally work from home work a total of 43.5 hours, significantly more than employees who never do (39.4 hours per week). 56 percent of employees who do not have a provision in their contract work exclusively at home outside of normal working hours, i.e. they saddle up for the sake of their company.
And for most of them there is no extra money or other bonuses. For 73 percent, overtime in the home office is compensated with their salary, 15 percent are credited with time, and only six percent receive financial compensation.
What's more, about 50 percent of the home-based workers surveyed felt the greater blending of work and personal life was a disadvantage. A lot of working from home also leads to "poorer interaction with colleagues". A small number of employees also raised the interesting point that their own performance is not as well perceived by their superiors.
Test: Do you still enjoy your work??
Maybe you're in the mood for a little self-test: Take a mental walk through your office hallways and ask yourself, how comfortable do I actually feel here?? Then read through the following list of statements like a quiz: The more often you can agree with the statements, the more fun you probably have at work – and the less need for a mobile office ..
- New colleagues feel welcome right away.
- Everywhere you can meet colleagues who are in a good mood and laughing.
- Hardly anyone cultivates vanity here, not even the boss.
- There are hardly any status symbols – except shared success.
- I have a colleague who regularly makes me laugh.
- The meetings are short, relaxed and inspiring.
- When we brainstorm, we have a lot of fun.
- There are always celebrations or joint events.
- I can be myself at work.
- My boss is usually in a good mood and smiles often.
- Our customers like to work with us.
- We enjoy great trust and a high reputation on the market.
- Work flies by.
- Many colleagues also arrange private meetings in the evening.
- As long as the quality of work is right, there are no controls.
- Lunch (in the canteen) is really tasty and healthy.
- There is free water, coffee and tea for everyone.
- Colleagues everywhere are standing together and exchanging information.
- There are many cozy afterthought corners to retreat to.
- Most people are open to new things and immediately go along with it.
- There are no prohibitions on thinking.
- There is mutual trust and respect.
- We get paid for our heads, not our butts.
Mobile office: How to implement it
Before you can fulfill your dream of a mobile office as an employee, there are some prerequisites to be met. The most important thing: Consult with your boss and colleagues and clarify when and to what extent working in a mobile office is feasible and okay.
Even though many tasks can be done remotely, in the end there still needs to be someone on site who can take on day-to-day tasks. There is still enough work where people have to be hands-on.
Be sure to communicate clearly that you are concerned with location-independent work in a mobile office and not a home office arrangement! Getting approved to work in a home office and then using that time to work on the road can be trouble.
As a freelancer, the move to a mobile office is easier, but even here you should – depending on the nature of your projects and work – coordinate in advance with your most important clients.
Mobile office: What to consider beforehand!
Basically, both employees and freelancers should pay attention to these points when preparing for the mobile office:
- Clarify which calls and conversations contain sensitive information and need to be conducted quietly.
- Check what programs and capabilities you actually need on the road.
- Agree on communication tools and channels with boss, colleagues or clients.
- Check whether you have the necessary equipment.
- Be aware of your motivation for working in a mobile office.
The latter point is crucial. If the greater freedom and the idea of combining travel and work appeals to you, that's a perfectly legitimate motivation. However, if you don't enjoy your job anymore and hope to change that by working in a mobile office, we have bad news for you: The variety of mobile working can at best increase motivation in the short run. If you don't enjoy your job in general, you should rather think about a job change.
Mobile office freelancing: The 10 best places to work for freelancers
It is undisputed that being a freelancer also comes with disadvantages. Unions have been warning about the clickworker precariat for some time now.
But the nomadic life also has advantages. One of them: you can choose your own work location. This applies to copywriters, graphic designers, programmers and editors, for example.
It is precisely this clientele of digital nomads that more and more everywhere offices are targeting: Coworking spaces in Europe, America and Asia, where it's wonderful to work and hang out.
The travel specialists at Lonely Planet, on the other hand, have even chosen the ten best coworking spaces worldwide. Karrierebibel took another closer look at freelance locations – and tells you what amenities you can look forward to and what costs you should expect..
The Betahaus in Kreuzberg, not far from Checkpoint Charlie, is a household name among freelancers. There are meeting rooms for four or 20 people. Cost: 10 to 50 euros per hour. Nice: The Woodshop is the place to screw and tinker. In the arena, you present in front of up to 40 people or start a kick-off meeting. Pitches can also be made here. If you want to get to know the location first, you can also show up for one of the regular events – lectures, meetups, joint breakfasts… By the way: There is already a beta house in Hamburg, Barcelona and Sofia.
Urban Place, Tel Aviv
The startup scene in Israel is legendary. The right coworking space is in the startup metropolis Tel Avic. The Urban Place is very centrally located, in the immediate vicinity of the Great Synagogue and Independence Hall. You can rent an open space for 1380 shekels per month, which is the equivalent of about 335 euros as things stand now. If you want a private office to yourself, you have to put down 2000 shekels (about 490 euros). A meeting room costs 180 shekels per hour (about 45 euros). Minimum booking: one month.
Punspace, Chiang Mai
Punspace in the dropout city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand has two locations: the Nimman in the district of the same name, with many coffee shops in the vicinity. And the Tha Pae Gate in the Old Town. According to the Thais, their regular guests include startup founders, online marketers, programmers, designers, podcasters, bloggers, filmmakers, photographers, lawyers and investors – an extremely diverse mix. The price structure, however, is unmanageable, offering a plethora of booking options. One thing is clear: in principle, the prices are typically Thai, i.e. extremely cheap. A monthly pass is available for 3.500 baht – that's currently around 92 euros per month.
Le Laptop, Paris
Le Laptop is located in the northeast of the city, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a few minutes walk away. The Parisians rent out 120-square-meter studios for workshops, training sessions or team-building events. The fun costs around 300 euros per month. Or you can just drop by spontaneously and rent for 25 euros a day. Opening hours: 9 am to 7 pm.
The Farm Soho, New York
The "Farm" is located in Lower Manhattan, directly on Broadway. The prices are correspondingly sophisticated. For $250 a month, guests can share a table. For a single office you have to pay 850 dollars. But there are rooms with chic wood paneling: cozy lounge, meeting room, presentation room. And if you want to get some fresh air, just walk along Broadway – or go over to Little Italy for a bite to eat.
Cowo 360, Rome
The Cowo is located in the northwest of the Eternal City, near La Sapienza University. Freelancers can rent the space for 139 euros a month, while the premium package costs 236 euros – including unlimited coffee and privacy. On the net you can book your package relatively comfortably.
Kindred Studios, Melbourne
Melbourne has just been voted the number one expat city on the planet. Try out the ambience at Kindred Studios in Yarraville, in a beautiful green park setting. Media professionals in particular should feel right at home: There's a photo studio, a space for filming, a rehearsal room, plus a yoga and dance studio. Yoga and dance classes can also be booked. Price example: A meeting room costs 144 Australian dollars (currently around 100 euros), the projector can be rented for 40 dollars (around 28 euros).
The Thinking Hut, Amsterdam
The Denkerhutte is centrally located in Amsterdam, between Gracht and Oosterpark, in a building constructed in 1912. The Dutch count designers, copywriters, web developers, entrepreneurs, project managers and marketeers among their regular guests. Table, chair and locker are available for 350 euros per month – plus a one-hour introduction by the crew. A flexible workspace at the Thinking Hut costs between 75 euros and 230 euros a month, depending on the length of use. You can get a day pass for 20 euros a day, and you can also hold professional customer meetings here.
Hubud Ubud, Bali
Working in paradise – Hubud in Bali is (perhaps) the closest of all locations to this. There's room for 200 people in the coworking space, and you can sit outside and take in the surrounding rice fields and volcano (!) marvel. Even the Internet connection is said to be passable. A day pass – valid for twelve hours – is available at the reception for as little as 20 US dollars.
Cafe Ondas, Medellin
The former coca stronghold Colombia has developed into a veritable travel destination, is no longer as unsafe as it was a few years ago. For freelancers on a tour of South America, a stop at Cafe Ondas is a good idea. A cafe with nice fast internet and creative atmosphere. And you can also stay overnight in the in-house hostel.
Mobile office: what's in favor of a cafe
There are, of course, good reasons for hitting a coffee shop with your seven work things. Especially these:
Researcher Ravi Metha from the University of British Columbia found that a moderate noise level is actually beneficial for creativity. The atmosphere in cafes can therefore be quite stimulating.
A simple change of location breaks the daily routine. This is a great way to temporarily break bad habits you've picked up over time.
When you leave the house, you don't just gather new impressions. In the cafe, you're also always among people, you can seek out conversation and thus make new contacts.
You can also leave your domestic duties behind for a while in the cafe, just like your flat screen and fridge. This can help you focus more on your work.
Despite all the euphoria and joy of working in a cafe, one thing is important: discretion.
If you work a lot with sensitive data or if your company or your client has high demands in terms of data protection, the cafe is unfortunately out of the question as a place to work. But then, very fundamentally – and in almost all open environments – the mobile office becomes a problem.
Working in a cafe: tips for the coffee office
- Find a suitable place. When choosing a place to work, make sure that it is as close as possible to the restrooms and the counter, and that it has enough (daylight). But don't sit in a draft or directly under a cold air conditioner. Annoying places are in the passageway to the quiet restroom or on the way to the kitchen. In both cases you will be disturbed in your work.
- Think about the other people present. Set your smartphone to vibrate. And switch your laptop to mute so that the e-mail program doesn't make noise every time you use it, or so that you don't fill the entire cafe with sound every time an advertisement pops up.
- Become a welcome guest. Get to know the staff at your cafe. This has advantages: Coworkers can then secure your favorite seat for you or keep an eye on your stuff when you go to the bathroom for a moment. And yes: you should also order something regularly if you are already blocking the table for hours on end.
- Remember to bring headphones. If the noise level is too high at peak times, it is useful to be able to block out the noise for a short time. For this, sound-absorbing headphones are a good idea – no earplugs.
- Make sure your data is available. For work on the go, the use of cloud services is a good idea. If you have your data stored on different devices, you should consider which data you will need for your workday in the cafe. Create a folder for this data in an online service, such as Dropbox or OneDrive. This way you will be able to access it from anywhere.
- Protect against theft. Set your bag down so that it's close to you and best in view. If you leave the cafe briefly or go to the restroom, ask a staff member or one of the other patrons to keep an eye on your belongings. If you want to be on the safe side, you should get a laptop lock.
More productive in the mobile office: Useful equipment
Preparing the right equipment for working in a mobile office involves much more than selecting suitable software and apps. The first step is to determine which work device suits you best.
A smartphone is of course standard today. When it comes to the main device, on the other hand, opinions differ. While one faction swears by the portability and long battery life of tablets as mobile work devices, others have settled for laptops.
Both sides have good arguments for their respective choices. From our point of view, the decision is relatively simple:
- If you only need to do simple work for which there are corresponding apps and you only rarely need multitasking, a tablet is the right work device for you.
- However, if you need all the possibilities and functions of a desktop operating system and also need to install or use special programs now and then, a laptop – operating system depending on the application – is the sensible choice.
In turn, the most important programs for the mobile office are:
- A high-performance browser. Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Internet Explorer come into question here – depending on the system and use case. Mobile browsers do not offer all the features of desktop versions.
- Office programs. If your company – or many of your clients – work with Microsoft Office, take a look at the Office365 subscription. Otherwise, Apple's iWork or the free Open Office can also be realistic options.
- Communication tools. These include Skype, Hangouts, HipChat, Slack, Yammer, Outlook, Thunderbird, Apple Mail, and other programs in this category. In view of the diversity, it is essential to agree in advance within the team on the tools used.
- Cloud storage and note-taking programs. Whether it's Dropbox, One Drive, Evernote, OneNote or other solutions: It is important that all project participants use the same system and can collaborate via it.
Of course, depending on the application, programs for audio and video editing and – important in many companies – time tracking can also be part of the basics. What you actually need should be clarified in advance – and tested.
By the way, two of the most important factors are often overlooked or neglected: power supply and internet connection. Therefore, test your batteries in advance and ideally take external power sources and adapters with you.
For the Internet connection, you should prefer WLAN, but do not rely on it. If you depend on a stable connection, a mobile WLAN hotspot with one or more SIM cards can be useful to be able to use different mobile networks.
Mobile office: Helpful gadgets
Here's an overview of the best and most important devices and gadgets for your mobile office:
- Foldable keyboard: Foldable and therefore space-saving. Foldable keyboards are available from various suppliers in different price categories.
- Pocket projector: Can project business presentations onto the wall. Notebooks or tablets can be connected. Usually also has a powerbank function.
- Powerbank: Recharges cell phone and tablet. A cell phone case that supplies juice to the smartphone is also useful when traveling.
- Notebook case: Stows laptop and accessories safely – even on airplanes, buses or trains. For a high-quality notebook case, you have to budget for a three-digit amount.
- WLAN repeaters: The denser the hotspot network, the more superfluous WLAN repeaters become. But you can still make good use of them – depending on where you work. Price range: 15 to 100 euros.
- Travel printers: print out airline tickets or work documents – you can do it anywhere with a portable mobile printer. A mini-scanner for the mobile office can also be considered if necessary.
- Headphones: noise-canceling they should be. A must-have for the mobile office.
- Socket adapters: Not all countries are compatible with each other – in terms of their plugs and sockets. Think about this before you take your mobile office on a long trip. A plug adapter usually costs less than ten euros.
- Laptop lock: If you're sitting in a cafe and quickly disappear to the restroom, you have to decide: Leave the laptop behind or pack it and take it with you. A laptop lock makes variant 1 more likely.
- Paper: The mobile office is not necessarily digital-only. Notebooks, post-its, pens can be good companions – provided you are well organized.
Working in a mobile office: the risks
Working in a mobile office can be wonderfully flexible and self-determined. But what seems paradisiacal at first, also has its downsides. Work on the road – unfortunately it also involves risks: