As a military spouse, we learn that things can change at any time…no matter what is going on. With my job being an important part of my life, I knew I would have to take the necessary precautions to be able to work from anywhere, literally! At the airport. Inside a plane. At a coffee shop. From my parents’ house. In an empty apartment on the floor and later on a card table. Inside a hotel room and lobby.
All those things happened during the two-month move process from Northern Virginia to South Korea. I was without an office for two months…TWO MONTHS! Now, I’m typing to you from my new office and I’m happy to report that I have EVERYTHING set-up and all is well with the world. But, I did have to be creative at times.
I believe putting together your own mobile workspace is critical to maintain efficiency and continue working when military life has you all over the place. Especially for a PCS, having a mobile workstation eases the work transition. It’s particularly helpful to have one for an overseas move when most of your office luxuries are gone – on a slow boat to your new location.
A laptop is, in my opinion, the most important arsenal in any remote office. When I first got started, I opted for an awesome PC to equip my office. When a TDY came up and the opportunity to visit my parents along with meeting my spouse, I was left with a predicament because I still had work to do! I splurged for an awesome laptop that is pretty much identical with my desktop, so it runs fast and processes everything I need and more! (Reminder: anything you buy for your biz gets to be expensed!)
With two different computers, things can get a little tricky, but with cloud storage, no matter what computer I’m on, the same files are accessible. I use Microsoft OneDrive. What an awesome invention, y’all! As long as you have wifi, you’re golden and able to access your documents. It worked beautifully at the airport, airplane(!), hotel, and coffee shops when we finally arrived in Korea. Try your local USO or ACS (for Army folk) for wifi too! I know I’ve borrowed service from them. Of course for sensitive work, be careful with wifi – and why Entrepreneur suggests getting a mobile hotspot. If there is something sensitive I need to do, I usually work straight on the computer without internet in the meantime.
Don’t forget to pack headphones that include a mic in case you need an impromptu meeting while you’re working out. While visiting my parents AND at a coffee shop, a client needed to touch base with me and I was able to have a silent conversation with loads of people around me. It wasn’t disturbing because my voice was among others having a conversation and my client couldn’t hear those around me as a distraction.
For our OCONUS move, I had to be very selective in what I left after our pack-out because I knew it would be up to us to lug around our goods for at least two months. I kept my work notebook with me along with some important documents that I had to keep with me aside from the typical PCS-needed items. All my work documents were filed in a traveling zip-up document holder that I packed in my hand-carry. To avoid confusion, I had two different holders.
Lastly, I encourage you to be realistic. There will be a time that you cannot work. I’m lucky to have clients that understood my challenges. Timing gets away with you during a move – and while moving overseas, there are lots of things that are beyond your control. For example, when arriving in Korea, it’s a process…a pretty tedious one. Totally doable and not anything to really worry about, but it got me tired. The time difference is one to adjust with too. Perhaps I can discuss that another day!