For many, travelling to a customer, meeting or conference is part of their everyday work. Whether it is by car, train or plane, many business travellers start work before they even start their trip. Time spent on the platform, at security or at the gate becomes working time on a smartphone, tablet or laptop.
The most important service on offer for mobile work at a train station or airport is free Wi-Fi. Access should be simple and the network should offer stable upload and download performance. That is available in many European cities these days. In major cities, the density of hotspots in public places and cafes is very high.
Stable Wi-Fi on trains and planes, on the other hand, is not yet available as standard. Plane passengers mostly have to pay a hefty price for it, with the offer only included in the price of Business and First Class.
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The perfect mobile office
Business centres and business lounges are the first choice for concentrated work at airports and train stations. There, travellers find a similar infrastructure to their workplace, which supports their mobile work. That includes cubicles for telephone conferences and video calls, pen and paper, but also printers and copiers.
Since 2018, Lufthansa has offered a free printing and copying service with Wi-Fi-enabled multifunctional systems from Konica Minolta in all its lounges worldwide. This cloud-based service ensures that the printed or copied documents are protected against access by third parties. Konica Minolta developed ‘Secure Guest Print’ for this purpose.
Useful services for mobile work
Services that can be booked in conjunction with the boarding pass and travel ticket are also increasingly in demand, for example tickets for a preferred seat, priority at security, parking at the train station or gate, and priority baggage claim. Anything that turns waiting time into working time is welcome.
In the USA, there are also many apps to speed things up at the airport. The ‘Mobile Passport’ app allows passengers to enter the country without long queues at border control – they simply use the ‘Mobile Passport Control’ express lane.
Accessories that improve mobile work
A powerbank is an essential for every travel bag. As mobile work is generally digital work, it requires electricity. Even the longest battery life ends eventually. Hopefully, there is a power socket nearby when that time comes, but with a powerbank you can charge your smartphone or tablet anywhere. These electricity storage devices are part of the fundamental equipment for mobile work. However, they need to be kept in hand luggage when flying, and the maximum capacity is 100 watt-hours (Wh). A few airlines only allow even less. These specifications must be checked before packing bags. Anyone who wants or needs to work on the go has to be stress-resistant, because peace and quiet are not provided on demand. Noise-cancelling headphones, along with ear plugs, are an important piece of equipment for telephone calls. Wearing them in or over the ears provides protection from the ambient noise of cafes, trains and planes.
- TRIPIT Pro https://www.tripit.com/ Makes the perfect travel plan out of every booking: from departure and hire car to meetings, hotels and restaurant reservations, everything is brought together clearly in one place. There is a charge for the Pro version, which offers even more smart features.
- FLIO https://www.flio.com/de Logs the user into the Wi-Fi at over 3,000 airports worldwide. It also provides comprehensive information about the airport, up-to-date information about what is on offer there, updates on your own travel plans and discounts at shops and restaurants.
- Citymappers https://citymapper.com/cities This app gets you to your destination safely in big cities. It combines clear and detailed city maps, public transport information and routes with departure times in real time. In addition, it now also shows you the location of electric bikes, scooters, and car-sharing offers.
- Dragon Anywhere https://www.nuance.com/de-de/dragon/dragon-anywhere.html This app can do everything a traditional dictation device can do, but rather than recording the audio, Dragon Anywhere shows the text while it is being spoken. The service is cloud-based, and the written text can immediately be edited on all other devices or forwarded for further editing. There is a charge for the service.
- Pocket https://getpocket.com/ With this app, you can collect together everything online you want to read or watch later. Or things you have already seen and consider important. The service is cloud-based, and thus shows the same collected reading on desktop and smartphone. A practical benefit is that you can also use it offline. That brings you new ideas during waiting times and work breaks.
- Google Translate https://translate.google.com/?hl=de This app helps you understand and be understood in languages you don’t speak. It works best with an Internet connection. Google Translate can translate written and spoken text: the app also recognises and translates texts in images via camera.
Mobile work – a question of attitude
You can also open a mobile office on the kitchen table at home, on the balcony or on a pier by the lake. The technical requirements for the workspace are the same as when you are travelling. Secure access to data, software and the company network. Secure communication paths and stable Wi-Fi.
But the right attitude to mobile work also needs to be introduced within the company. That takes time and is difficult for some employers. From compulsory presence in the office to trust-based working hours. From communication in the break room to video chats on Google Hangouts. From project management in Excel tables to agile project work with Trello. This transformation makes clear how digitisation is changing our work and our lives.
More flexibility, more freedom, more motivation
Employees who can decide for themselves when and where they work generally find it to be a good thing. Mobile work gives them greater flexibility. They can integrate private matters into their daily workflow more easily. In particular, employees with children view this improved compatibility of work and family as a major benefit.
Working outside the company also increases movement. In a home office, you stand up more often, walk around or change your seating position. Employees feel more self-determined and that makes them more satisfied. Many have the impression that the new way of working improves their work–life balance. This is an opportunity that employers should make the most of if they want to support productive employees. By the way, these benefits also apply to bosses who go mobile.