One of the great things about tech is that it empowers us and it can liberate us. Where once people were chained to their desk 9-5 and reading paperwork on the train until we walked through the front door, now we can check our emails on our smartphones whenever we like, take that early morning conference call from home before we leave the house, and even keep on top of thing while we are on holiday.
But for some of us, tech has given us the chance to go one step further. Now more and more people are breaking free of the shackles of an office and a desk altogether and doing all of our work on the move.
Digital nomads as they are now known, are a growing band of freelance (and increasingly employed) individuals who work entirely remotely, or maybe dropping into the office once a month or so, but more often than not doing all their communication online.
They can be marketers, writers, web designers, and many more things besides. And they do their job from anywhere in the world they want. How? Well, there are no more than a handful of tools needed to perform the requirements of many jobs entirely online.
A laptop is pretty much essential and of course, you will need a stable and reliable internet connection to go with it. A smartphone is also a big plus as it will allow you to stay in touch 24/7. And on top of that, all you really need is a few essential bits of software to help you manage your workload and communicate effectively.
But what software should you go with? Even the briefing of looks around will turn up dozens and dozens to choose from. Well, I have both worked as a digital nomad myself and run companies which employ them. That makes me pretty well placed to know what does work well, and what doesn’t.
So here are my tips for the 3 Digital Nomad Essentials for 2016:
- Online Meeting Software: I RECOMMEND – Zoom
The big hurdle that needs to be cleared successfully if you are going to make it as a digital nomad is communication. Staying in touch with your employers, clients, and suppliers is essential in any job, and being located anywhere in the world seems to make that a big challenge.
But it doesn’t have to because there are plenty of online meeting and group-calling programmes out there which can help you speak one-to-one or have group conference calls with pretty much anyone you want.
Most thoughts here will turn to Skype, which does a basic job, but my recommendation for 2016 is Zoom.
Zoom offers state of the art video and online conferencing facilities across numerous platforms. They are super-fast, very efficient, and user-friendly. What is more, Zoom is tailor made for business users, so it won’t trouble you with all the trendy ‘social media-esque features some programmes like to add in.
What you get is a high quality and professional looking service, making it look and feel like you are sat in the office next door rather than half way around the world.
- Work Management: I RECOMMEND – Trello
The next biggest concern after communication is usually work management. Your boss will want to keep an eye on your work, contribute her own opinions, and liaise with you. They will also want to be able to see how you are managing your own workload and make sure you are doing the job you are being paid for.
As a digital nomad, you obviously can’t have the boss literally looking over your shoulder (which is definitely a good thing), but with the right piece of work management software they still can in a manner of speaking.
Trello is the pick of the bunch in this category for me. It allows you to keep different boards for different areas of work and then on them you can have various lists and cards to manage and keep track of different tasks. You can upload attachments, add messages, and do a lot more besides.
It lets managers see what work is being done, while for the digital nomad it lets you keep on top of your workload. A great tool.
- A VPN:
My final essential tool is a VPN or Virtual Private Network. And I have gone with this for a few different reasons.
Firstly, a VPN lets you access the internet securely and anonymously. This means you can handle potentially sensitive data either from a cloud storage site or via any other form of communication safely and securely.
It can also be useful for accessing geo-restricted content if you are abroad. For example, if as the employee of a UK-company based in Dubai, you need to access content unavailable outside the UK (perhaps a show on the BBC iPlayer) you can pick the best VPN in Dubai to allow you fool that site into thinking you are in the UK, and so letting you watch the show.
A VPN is also useful for your leisure or downtime as well, either to enjoy streaming geo-blocked content from abroad or else to keep up with the latest news and developments.
So there they are. The 3 Digital Nomad Essentials for 2016. If you fancy taking the plunge and working on the road, with these three bits of kit and the other essential tools I mentioned, you will be pretty well set.