I first considered this topic at a presentation I attended through WordCamp Orange County. I had several trips coming up and decided to see how to address writing issues while away from my hub. Usually, that’s when I realize I can’t do/find something and say, “If only…” And then I read Diane Tibert’s post about Writers Who Choose to Live Fulltime in RVs. It has only grown since I first pondered it. We Work Remotely is a website devoted to the concept and why it is exactly the right choice for lots of people.
It got me thinking. Truth is, life often interferes with work. Vacations, conferences, PD–all these take us away from our primary functions and the environment where we are most comfortable delivering our best work. I thought about this when I read an article by a technical subject teacher (math, I think) pulled away from his class for a conference. Often in science/math/IT/foreign languages, subs aren’t as capable (not their fault; I’d capitulate if you stuck me in a Latin language class). He set up a video with links for classwork and a realtime feed where he could be available and check in on the class. As a result, students–and the sub–barely missed him. Another example of teaching remotely dealt with schools this past winter struggling with the unusually high number of snow days. So many, in fact, that they were either going to have to extend the school year or lose funding. Their solution: Have teachers deliver content from their homes to student homes via a set-up like Google Hangouts (but one that takes more than 10-15 participants at a time).
All it took to get these systems in place was a problem that required a solution and flexible risk-taking stakeholders who came up with answers.
As a writer, I wondered: Why can’t I work from the road? In fact, I watched a fascinating presentation from Wandering Jon where he shared how he does exactly that. John designs websites and solves IT problems from wherever he happens to be that day–a beach in Thailand, the mountains in Tibet or his own backyard. Where he is no longer impacts the way he delivers on workplace promises.
Here’s what I came up with that I either currently use or can easily arrange:
- Have necessary apps on iPads and smartphones. This includes email, faxing, note-taking, scanning, social media, and all sharing.
- Have at least one cloud-based email account (forward your other accounts through this one).
- Set your email message to appropriately warn emailers that you may be out of touch occasionally.
- Have a cloud-based note-taking program–Evernote, Notability, or Google Keep for example.
- If you’re traveling to distant locations, know where co-working environments in case of emergencies (these are places that rent fully-equipped office space by the day/week).
- Use eboarding passes–don’t print. Who can find a printer at the beach? Send the boarding pass to your phone.
- Have a cloud-based fax program like RingCentral.
- Wean yourself from hard copies. It’s easier to do than it sounds.
- Use a hot spot connected to your phone. Try really hard not to use public WiFi like Starbucks–very unsafe.
- A WiFi repeater is nice in case you’re REALLY remote.
- Be brave about solving problems–don’t let setbacks and roadblocks stop you, be accountable to yourself or you won’t get stuff done.
- Download books to your iPad/reader/smartphone (not in cloud).
- Have a virtual map program like Google Maps.
- Have a Find-my-phone program.
- Have a Find-my-friends program–so friends can locate you via GPS at any given moment.
- Have Skype or Google Hangouts to stay in better touch with your nuclear family.
- If possible, have a satellite phone.
- Have backup batteries for your phone and iPad. Personal hotspots and Google Maps burn through power. What should last nine hours turns out to be two.
- Have redundancy where something is important. My external battery charger died and my iPad ran out of juice on a flight home. I had to read (gasp) a paperback rather than a digital book. Yeah, the paperback was my redundancy.
- Check in regularly with friends via social media; they want to know you’re OK.
- Be aware of time zones.
If you’re considering remote work, here are some job boards that offer writing jobs done away from an office:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Fall 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning