As part of our National Telework Week coverage, we’re looking at how the Lifehacker team makes use of teleworking techniques to be more productive. Today, editor Angus Kidman explains how working on the go isn’t just a luxury for the working journalist: it’s standard behaviour.
Why and when do you telework? I spend a lot of time out of the office, either at events in Sydney or on the road, attending conferences and launches. Sometimes I feel like I’ve done more work in airport lounges and hotel rooms than at my actual desk. The core of my job is writing, and that’s a task I’m lucky enough to be able to do almost anywhere. (I feel for people who can only write in a dedicated space, but I can’t pretend to understand them.)
What are the most important tools (hardware and software) in your teleworking arsenal? My Toshiba Portege is getting a bit long in the tooth, but still gets the job done. I never use an external monitor, mouse or keyboard, so my setup is identical whether I’m in the office or on the road. That’s not going to work for everyone, but it makes sense for me.
I’m lucky that as a writer for an online publication, the tools of the trade aren’t very elaborate: all I absolutely need is a browser to access our WordPress installation and an internet connection. In that department, I’m a complete mobile broadband addict. This year, I’ve finally made the switch from relying on a USB dongle to using a hotspot. Dropbox doesn’t directly affect my out-of-office work, but does mean I’m a lot less worried about backup when I’m away from my desk.
We started using Campfire for online chat amongst the Lifehacker/Allure team this year, and that has made a big difference to sharing ideas with multiple people. If I need face-to-face chat, the mobile phone is the normal route, though Google Hangouts and Skype also get something of a workout.
On my train journey to work every morning, I review the posts in our content management system on my BlackBerry. I could do the same task on my notebook, but it’s nice to change the gear you work with sometimes.
How do you stop yourself getting distracted by the comforts of home? There’s too much to get done to have the time to mess around, though I can occasionally get sidelined by the urge to unclutter. Having hourly deadlines helps a lot!
Do you ever telework in your underwear? Frequently, but not when my webcam is switched on or the hotel cleaner is about to make an appearance. Sydney summers are too humid to worry about dressing up.
Which one teleworking annoyance would you like to see fixed in the future? As much as I love 3G/4G, it’s far from infallible. Even when you’re in a fixed location, the performance can vary a lot. I’m admittedly very conscious of this because we do a lot of speed testing on new networks, but it’s when you can’t get a working connection at all that you really feel it. I also wish the hotspots didn’t run at nipple-burning temperatures.