May 2, 2018 by Ed Kennedy
Travelling as a Remote Worker? Better Bring Two Laptops!
Wednesday May 2 2018
Travelling with only a laptop as your office can be great for a remote worker. You already have the freedom of movement a remote career allows you, and all you need to work while on the road is a sleek piece of metal with a screen and keys. But then something goes wrong.
A perfect afternoon you’d planned, working on client blogs with your feet in the pool. Finished. That beautiful evening you had planned, watching the sunset at the beach while coding. Over. Oh and if your laptop plays up while you’re on a weekend trip out of town? Oh man, that’s bad.
A bit debate has raged for a long time surrounding laptop reliability. Especially when compared to a desktop computer. Everyone can agree the move you more around a device, the greater the risk it can be damaged. Even if you don’t have a major episode like dropping your laptop down a flight of stairs, all those little bumps it encounters in day to day travelling can add up.
This is something that no one brand is immune from. While some will say Apple laptops last longer than PCs, if this is now the case it also appears clear historically it has not been. And ultimately laptops as a whole have a pretty high failure rate.
Not all of these issues with be major failures (and desktops have their issues too) but however you look at it: this is a problem when working remotely. It can quickly ruin a trip if you’re unprepared for a laptop failure, and suddenly have no other option. Even a internet cafe.
Laptop failure when working remotely is not just a pain in the butt, it’s also a professional issue. Every remote worker has a basic deal with their client. The client doesn’t care where you are, what computer you use, or how you go about doing the work – provided you get the work done. Nobody cares if you trade a cubicle desk for a ancient tree trunk in the jungle, just deliver.
That’s why a laptop failure can be such a problem. It creates three live issues:
- How much delay will be caused by you waiting for the laptop to be repaired?
- Will this create a ‘knock on’ effect that costs me more time and money with other clients?
- How could you let this happen in the first place?
The second question can seem tough, but it’s pretty straightforward in the remote world. It is simply a follow through on the equation above: we don’t need you to work in-person with us as we trust you to deliver even if you are out of sight. Failure to deliver? That’s bad news.
Building a good reputation in remote work takes time, and it depends on reliability at its core.
Alongside two laptops being a good piece of insurance, they can be a creative aid.
For remote workers who regularly work a variety of roles (such as a copywriter and digital marketer, or a journalist and web developer), two laptops can be ideal.
One laptop can be used chiefly for writing work, the other for visual, or programming work. This is particularly useful if you are getting into the serious business of using multiple operating systems, or virtual machines. You can theoretically just use one laptop for that – but in practice it can be a real pain.
Many people also find it useful for productivity. It is very easy to get lost in your laptop at the end of a adventurous day. You have photos to upload, social media posts to do, and maybe even a melodramatic review or two to write for that cool bar you visited.
…what you do off the clock in your private life is a matter for you, and we at the TDB team wish you well doing it!.
But from a professional perspective, a laptop where happy naps are just one click away and Facebook is always open can be distracting. That’s why many remote workers actually operate on two computers whether they are travelling or not. One for work, one for fun.
Beyond this, there’s even the potential to get a dual monitor setup going for those times when you’ve got a project that needs multiple windows. The extra screen can be an invaluable piece of digital real estate in such situations.
It’s not just a remote work policy
Remote work has a lot going for it. But the two laptops policy is not confined to it alone. For people who are students, maintain a regular 9-5 office job, or run their own business, a backup can still be useful. Sure, usually if your laptop fails you’ll be able to access another computer – but sometimes you can get caught on a ‘perfect storm’ moment.
Late for university and your main laptop isn’t charged. A big presentation at work and your charger has gone walkabouts. An urgent deadline and for some reason both your laptop and desktop won’t connect to the internet at home. Situations like this recommend a backup.
Chart your own course
While two laptops has been put forward as the gold standard here, it is important to keep in mind some flexibility can exist. If you want to travel with your laptop and a tablet that has a keyboard add-on? Good luck to you! If you can bring along two devices that give you the best of both worlds then that is a winner.
With up to five billion mobile phones expected to be in circulation by 2019, the advances in mobile phone technology is also being complemented by widespread availability. If most of your remote work involves Skyping and social media over actually typing, you could potentially use your smartphone as a substitute.
It’s just also important to think carefully about this choice. OK, a tablet with a keyboard might be find for short periods of time, but what about an all-day coding session? If you’ve a tablet of even a smartphone that is a real substitute cool, but otherwise go for two laptops. It may be a bit heavier to carry while travelling, but if something goes wrong you’ll be grateful you doubled up.
Ed Kennedy is a journalist, ghostwriter, and web developer from Melbourne, Australia. Contact Ed via firstname.lastname@example.org on LinkedIn or Twitter@EdKennedy01