If you have Office 365, you’re able to access your emails, calendar and documents from any device as long as you have an internet connection. So, if you travel far or stay close to home over holidays, you can use a laptop, desktop, tablet or phone to access your work files and information.
Whether you should work or not during your vacation is another thing altogether. The flexibility and mobility of online services are great for business, but your brain deserves a break and research shows that the benefits of holiday, meditation and downtime replenishes your attention, motivation, creativity and productivity.
Saying that, I also know that for a lot of us, if you can just stay on top of emails it’ll save you from drowning in messages and tasks that require attention on the first week back at work. For small business owners, reading email and doing work even whilst away on hols is often necessary to keep their business afloat. If you just cannot switch off these holidays, I have a few tips to help you prepare for your ‘workcation’ or ‘holijob’.
1. Use others devices to access your info
The beauty of online services like Office 365 is that you can get to your work from any device; be it your personal mobile phone or your nephew’s desktop PC normally reserved for games and homework. If you aren’t using your usual device, make sure you note your login and password details somewhere safe – there’s nothing worse than realising that your own devices automatically log you in, and you don’t recall what to do when things don’t happen ‘auto-magically’. To get to your Office 365 login from an internet browser, go to https://portal.office.com.
2. Store your passwords in a mobile app
Use a password app to store your passwords in one place that you can get to easily on your phone, if needed. Or keep them in a secure page in OneNote. Here’s a link to an article on the top rated password managers.
3. Keep your travel itinerary in OneNote
OneNote is the perfect tool for planning your holiday, it’s also really convenient for storing key information you’ll need to get your hands on whilst away. You can scan or attach your travel itinerary and tickets, set up a budget spreadsheet, note hotel addresses and maps, as well as research activities and transportation. You could share the notebook with your house-sitter, allowing them to access information like alarm codes, your pet’s vet and the neighbour’s phone number.
4. Upload files to OneDrive for Business
If you’re worried about what you might be able to access, or aren’t sure what device you’ll be using when away, upload your files to OneDrive for Business. Think of OneDrive for Business as unstructured storage and very much like Dropbox. You don’t want to sync all your files as that may impact performance, instead upload the specific files you plan to work on. This is the cloud equivalent of saving files to a USB stick, making it a quick, easy and secure way for you to access what you need from any device.
5. Take extra kit
An obvious and relatively inexpensive piece of kit to take with you if you’re planning to use your phone is a portable USB power pack, so you can charge the battery on the go.
If internet access is vital, you may consider buying a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot device. Avoid streaming videos or downloading though, as this can be expensive. You can connect any device, and plans are often cheaper than your mobile phone data allowance. Read this article for reviews of mobile hotspots.
If you’re traveling overseas, ensure you have an international power adaptor, and if you have the room take a 4 or 6 plug power board. It’s not only handy for charging your family’s technology, but your international kudos will soar – you’ll be a hero to people from exotic places all over the world who would otherwise have had to queue for precious plug time.
6. Schedule your downtime
If you really have no choice to work on holiday, set a cap on your working hours. Manage expectations, and be disciplined about sticking to no screen time rules.
7. Communicate your availability (or lack of)
Consider changing your voicemail to let callers know that you’re out of the office or country, tell them when you’ll be back, and manage their expectation. You should also set your Outlook out of office auto-reply, and outline how often you plan to read or action messages, if at all.
8. Use Skype for Business to call the office
Skype for Business means you can instant message and audio or video call across the internet at no cost, saving on expensive international tolls from your mobile or hotel phone. If you’re working from a device that isn’t yours, e.g. on a PC at an internet café or your daughter’s iPad, you can still join a Skype for Business meeting, you just need internet connectivity.