In the two years(ish) since the COVID-19 saga began, life has changed dramatically for many of us. Relationships and dating look different, conversations around mental health look different, and our approach to work looks particularly different.
There have been loads of conversations held in this space, with people navigating the world of working from home, attempting to draw clearer boundaries between work and personal life, and in some cases, leaving their jobs altogether.
If you’re someone who has emerged from extended lockdowns wanting to turn your traditional approach to work on its head, you’re not alone. A recent survey commissioned by caravan, campervan and motorhome rental platform Camplify suggested that some 74 per cent of Aussies are interested in working remotely from the road right now.
It sounds lovely, right? Start your morning by the beach, take a dip during your lunch break, drive to the next stop after dinner. This is the stuff of overworked Aussie dreams.
The question is, however, how does one logistically do that?
We chatted with the teams at Camplify, outdoor brand Zorali and our pals at Whistleout to get a better idea.
Let’s talk tech first
First thing’s first. How do you effectively work away from home if you don’t have a solid internet connection? The answer, for many office types, is you can’t.
So, before you entertain the idea of working remotely – especially if from a van – you need a solid tech plan. We asked our go-to telco expert, Alex Choros of Whistleout, for some guidance.
He explained that “If you’re looking for an internet connection to work remotely from a caravan, the best bet is mobile broadband. You’ll want to opt for a plan that has enough data to support actually working on the go. Most mobile broadband plans have under 100GB, which is a far cry from the unlimited NBN plans many of us have become used to.”
In terms of recommendations, Choros shared that Telstra’s mobile broadband plan “gets you 400GB for your $75 per month for your first six months and $85 per month thereafter”.
“While 400GB isn’t quite unlimited, it should help cover a lot of internet needs, even if you’re also streaming Netflix regularly and downloading the odd game.”
Telstra, he shared, also offers good coverage if you’re planning to move out of metro areas.
His hot tip? “If you’ve got a spare phone, you can always put the SIM in there and use it as a personal hotspot”.
This would work similarly if you went with a portable modem, Choros said.
“4G options tend to start around $150, but can often also be bought on a plan. Getting a Telstra 4GX Hotspot would add $4 per month to your bill on a 36-month repayment, for example.”
Some options to consider:
According to Camplify, 49 per cent of survey respondents said concerns about connectivity was holding them back on remote work plans. The caravan platform’s recommendations were:
- Carry a prepaid SIM card for a different phone/data provider. Sometimes only one option has service and with both, you can always hotspot from your phone.
- Get a 12V Modem. In case it’s not possible to hotspot in remote areas, having a 12v adapter for a wi-fi modem allows you to work nearly anywhere without having to camp in cafes.
- If camping off-grid consider purchasing an inverter so that you will always have charge for your equipment as well as any personal electronics.
- Take backup chargers/cables/extension cords as well as a backup mobile phone power pack.
- Save that data! Keep data downloads to a minimum – turn on offline views where possible and make your online documents available offline.
- Have your computer on auto backup so you don’t lose any work or any precious pics from your travels.
- Charge everything up before you go, and whenever you can. There’s nothing like a battery dying or mains power dropping out at midday to ruin your workflow.
- Contact the caravan park ahead of time and ask about their wi-fi, phone coverage, access to power and charging stations. Some have common areas or cafes with free wi-fi where you can set yourself up for success.
- Pack some noise-cancelling headphones for when you really need to concentrate. (Kookaburras can be noisy.)
How to make the most of remote working life
The team at Camplify shared that “59 per cent of those interested in the possibility of working from the road believed it would benefit their mental health as well as offer them the chance to explore areas”.
Arrange your workspace and workday so you can take full advantage of your new set-up.
Plan your placement around busy days and big meetings – you’ll need to ensure you have access to reception and the internet, so be organised. In other cases, can you cull your calls and boost productivity so you have more time to enjoy the environment around you?
Other important tips the Camplify team shared included always ensuring you have enough snacks, sunscreen, coffee and (most importantly) water on hand. And always, always, tell someone you trust what your travel plans are.
The final point we should probably touch on here is the vehicle you’re planning to do all this work out of. You can buy a second-hand caravan and spruce it up, or hire one like the Earth Offices from Camplify and Zorali.
Either way, ensure the vehicle is in good shape and that it offers you enough space and comfort, and you should be good to go.