Thinking of Setting Up a Mobile Office?
Many small businesses require employees to travel to customers, clients, and job sites—which means setting up well-equipped, dependable, mobile offices. While equipment varies by industry, must-haves typically include a reliable laptop or tablet computer, a secure easy-to-access Internet connection, and access to key data.
Adapting Your Vehicle
Vehicles themselves should be dependable and set up to accommodate the work that your company does.
- Consider connectivity. For you or any workers to function efficiently and effectively with full mobility, you need connectivity. Consider including a satellite Internet connection, by either having a permanent satellite dish installed on your vehicle or by using a detachable satellite dish.
- Treat your car/truck(s) as an office. This could mean having storage built into your vehicle so that you can stock it with office supplies and equipment, including business forms and record storage.
- Equip vehicles with mobile tools. Be ready to connect reliably to your regular office via your laptop and/or mobile device. Download apps that can help you complete business transactions on the go. This can include package tracking, printing invoices and processing credit card payments.
Select the Right Mobile Computer
How powerful of a computer do you need? If you need a workhorse, a powerful, reliable laptop is essential. If your needs are more minimal, then you might consider a less expensive, simpler and more basic tablet. Whatever you buy or lease, opt for proven, reliable gear and avoid new, untested models. Also, be sure you purchase protective cases for laptops and tablets to prevent them from damage on the go. And, be sure each item has an ample battery, and the most dependable mobile charging devices.
Secure, Reliable Internet Access
Don’t rely on free WiFi hotspots because they’re not secure. Consider a high-speed mobile access card or a compact wireless router. And to protect your data, use an encrypted password.
You and any remote workers have to be able to access your network securely wherever you are. You can do this with a virtual private network (VPN) server and wired/wireless network routers. You can learn about details on how to set up a VPN in online articles.
Presuming you have both a computer in your office and a mobile device—laptop or tablet—you’ll need a way to share files between computers. A cloud-based business service or an online backup service will automatically back up and synchronize data across all your devices.
If your needs are more limited, you can also opt to use an old-fashioned USB drive to transfer files computer to computer.
Can you go paperless? You’ll need a digital document management system. Scan hard copy files and create a virtual file cabinet. Manage all your finances, bookkeeping, and accounting on your computer. Use electronic agreements. It takes time to set up, but then you’ll have all your paper documents accessible and searchable on your computer.
Always try to be prepared for the unexpected. Cloud-based storage and backup systems are likely the way to go—and can save data and files in the event something happens to your laptop.
Also, be sure you have a charged battery for all devices, and have a mobile power cord handy so you can charge your laptop. A spare hard drive or memory card could also save the day on the very rare occasion of a crash.