Many people dream of running their business from a relaxed, permanently sunny beach. Not the rain swept British kind. If that’s your desire what’s holding you back? Not technology. Whether you want to move permanently or spend a few weeks each year in idyllic surroundings – here’s what you’ll need to make the dream a reality.
In a beach location, you don’t a heavy laptop to lug around. You need something like a Microsoft Surface Pro or Apple Macbook Air. For a more rugged device, look at the Dell Rugged Extreme range, but be warned. They’re not cheap!
You need kit that is reliable, can be repaired locally and can cope with the sort of work you are doing and the software you’ll need to run. Remote working probably means accessing the Cloud at lot; you may have several programs running simultaneously – so choosing something with a decent amount of RAM is important. If you’re likely to work offline significantly, then a good-sized hard drive, or an extra external hard drive is essential. Assuming there isn’t a plug socket to hand, you’ll need a powerbank. Consider these four points:
- How many devices do you want to charge from the powerbank? Charging your phone once or twice will be possible from most, but to also keep your laptop charged you’ll need a larger capacity device
- What devices are you charging? Powerbanks come with a variety of outlet sockets, but they’re not all the same
- Some of the high capacity powerbanks weigh 1kg or more. That’s more than the weight of the Surface Pro and not far short of the 13inch Powerbook Pro
- Are you flying? Many airlines ban the really high capacity powerbanks
Your Internet Connection
If your business is UK based, when you’re on the beach, you’ll need to connect to the internet. If your property is nearby and the WiFi reaches the beach, that’s great. If not, you’ll need a 4G connection and tether via your phone.
If your beach is a Caribbean one, be prepared for fairly slow speeds. The Bahamas seems to have the fastest broadband speeds, at about 9.95Mbps. If you’re happy with the Florida coastline, you can get much faster speeds, at 46.6Mbps. If you want to use 4G, here’s where you can choose your preferred beach.
If you are travelling for a short period, check the price of buying data locally. It can be cheaper to buy your data, in the UK but sometimes it’s cheaper locally. If your mobile contract comes with a lot of data, check the roaming policies. Outside the EU, most UK operators charge £5 per day to use your contract data, which may be sufficient.
Don’t forget you’ll be backing up your data online and accessing your apps and email. Ensure you take that into consideration when assessing data needs. A security warning: If the data on your laptop needs to be secured, be very careful about using local WiFi. It is common for hackers to spoof WiFi connections access to your data.
Running a business means talking to a lot of people: staff, clients, suppliers, investors and prospects etc. Depending on where they are you need to think carefully about how you set up your phones. Your mobile is not your best option, even if it’s easy to take to the beach. If you decide on the Bahamas, because of the broadband speeds, mobile calls to the UK could cost over £2 a minute.
A VoIP-based solution with a softphone on your laptop and/or your smartphone handset may be the best option. SIP trunk connections will mean you’re only ever making local calls, rather than calling at international rates. You can even keep a UK landline number. Clients don’t need to know you’re on the beach!
Working in remote locations, particularly if it is only for a short period of time, can increase security concerns. Stolen devices can mean a data security nightmare. Data breaches on devices that contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII) for EU citizens need to be reported to the information Commissioners Office (ICO) within 72 hours. You also have to tell the people affected!
Secure your devices and be able to remotely wipe them, if needed. Talk to your IT Manager or IT support company about Mobile Device Management (MDM), biometrics or two-factor authentication (2FA) before you go.
Remote working and productivity
The range of tools to help you with remote working continues to grow. Instant messaging tools, such as Slack, Hipchat or Google’s Hangout Chat are all free, or have free versions.
Video-conferencing could be an alternative to using a phone, but the quality of your internet connection may determine how often you use this. There’s Skype and plenty of other options, such as Google’s Hangout and Zoom.
Project management is a key requirement for remote teams. Basecamp is a tool to consider if your projects aren’t particularly complex. Or look at Trello that allows you to manage a number of projects using a ‘boards’ system.
If you need one place for chat, meetings, collaborative working, file sharing and project management, something like Microsoft Teams is worth considering. Remember To make your beach working viable to you need a team you trust. This should be a given.
Technology to help you work from anywhere is improving continuously. Do your research; some destinations can deliver your dream more easily and some more cheaply. Wherever you set-up shop you’ll need robust technology that will keep your business working smoothly as you listen to the waves gently lapping on the shore.