If you’re always on the move, you need to make the most of the time you have. Here are some productivity tips to help frequent business travellers.
Suits typing away in exclusive airport lounges. Executives making business class seats their office cubicles of the day. Smartphones buzzing with notifications in one hand, a gin and tonic in the other.
This is the typical highlight reel of a bona fide business traveller, but reality isn’t always so fancy.
Even when you’re far from a well-stocked pantry and gossiping colleagues within earshot, there’re still plenty of distractions on the road. From connectivity issues to time wasted in queues and transits, unpredictable hiccups can leave you feeling unaccomplished.
But with the right amount of resourcefulness, we can make work trips productive. Here are seven ways to get started.
1. Opt for pocket wifi, not a SIM card
The only time millennials travel without data is when they’re taking an “internet detox”. For the rest of us, the dilemma is often—pocket wifi or SIM card?
Local SIM cards may be affordable and accessible—almost every telco has a prepaid product—but pocket wifis are still more ideal because they allow several gadgets to be connected.
Business travellers often have in tow their smartphones, laptops and tablets, and public internet connection tends to be unreliable and lacking in cybersecurity, which can be a major red flag.
While a common gripe with pocket wifi is the fuss of charging an additional device at the end of the day, it still beats using your phone as a hotspot and—god forbid—depleting its battery by midday. It’s 2018, and we all know that leads to post-apocalyptic outcomes.
2. Access airport lounges even when you fly economy
Whether it’s the short window between check-in and boarding, or a long transit before your connecting flight, your time can be spent in better ways than touring the duty-free stores. Or ordering one venti coffee after another as “rent” for that table you’re hogging.
It’s a common misconception that airport lounges are reserved for the more prestigious of us - frequent flyers and first/business class folks. But this just in: for a small fee, the rest of us in cattle class can enter too.
LoungeBuddy is a website and app that lets you search for airport lounges across the world, and filter them by location/terminal, cost and amenities. These include food, alcohol, conference rooms, and even showers to freshen up during long transits without splurging on hotels in or near the airport.
3. Make work-centric flight and lodging arrangements
When addressing the problems of frequent business travel, picking hotels with fitness facilities is key to helping employees maintain active and healthy lifestyles. In that same vein, their productivity can be enhanced with savvy planning.
If your company doesn’t already have a budget to afford employees in-flight WiFi, it’s time to put an economical suggestion into the goblet of fire.
Enter Gogoair: an internet pass you can use across airlines like Delta, Cathay Pacific, and British Airways at lower effective costs and higher speeds. If gym memberships can be international, in-flight wifi can, too.
Once you land, checking into a hotel that comes with a business room brings peace of mind. Not only are these lifesavers for people who can’t resist napping when a bed is nearby, but they’re also equipped with printer/fax machines and meeting rooms that make more professional backdrops than you room for video conferencing.
4. Schedule emails according to your recipient’s GMT
One of the greatest inefficiencies on work trips is the difference in time zones.
When the sender and recipient are operating in different work patterns, digital correspondence can be tricky.
Say it’s lunchtime in Belgium, and you don’t want to send an email to your counterparts who’re sound asleep in Wellington at midnight, because what kind of monster would that make you?
Yet by the time you awaken, they’re already calling it a day.
To put an end to this long distance madness for you both, Superhuman is an email app that lets you schedule emails ahead of time. Now you can get work done at ungodly hours without the guilt of triggering notifications on your subordinates’ phones.
Plus, you can now set follow-up reminders that your future self would be thankful for, and even manage emails offline to put that flight time to good use!
5. Get navigation apps that work offline
No matter how solid your means of connectivity is, it doesn’t hurt to have a contingency plan.
The convenience of Google Maps and Google Translate is no stranger to us, but it takes only Murphy’s law to thwart all your plans.
Should your pocket wifi run out of juice, or should you venture so far out into neighbourhoods or underground metro stations where reception is scarce, offline maps will save the day.
All you've got to do is search for the city you’re visiting on Google Maps, and select Download Offline Map while you’re still connected. Even if your plans change, you can still be where you need to be, when you need to be, without being held up by getting lost.
6. Organise your confirmation slips in one place
Some keep these in their Google drive or email inboxes, while other stash hard copies in their hand-carries just in case. Boarding passes and hotel invoices are a cumbersome handful we can’t do without, so we may as well organise them in one place.
Travelstop not only simplifies the booking process for flights and hotels but also retains all the important documents you’ll need to check in. This means you can bypass third-party sites completely, and save the hassle of receiving multiple email confirmations.
7. Use an expense tracker to get your claims in order
Like the printed confirmation slips in your cabin bag, the F&B paper receipts need to be discarded.
While Travelstop allows you to track big-ticket expenses like flights and accommodation, it also streamlines reimbursement for companies. Simply take a picture of your receipt, and attach it to the app within seconds. Pencilling every expense item into an excel sheet is now a primitive thing of the past.
8. Beat jet lag with healthier sleep patterns
Of course, all the best tech in the world would count for nought in the hands of a user who has been tormented by insomnia and fatigue. There’re many ways to combat this unavoidable side effect of work trips, and hacking your sleep is one of them.
If your destination is some hours behind, calibrating your bed and call time to the city’s time zone in the days leading up to departure will help you ease into it smoothly. And, as tempting as a hotel bed may be, long naps upon check-in at noon will make you pay at night.
Instead, head to get some vitamin D, and let the ‘sleep hormones’ release only after sundown. Thereafter, switching your hotel room settings to warm and avoiding your laptop and phone screens will prepare your body for a restful sleep.
9. Skip the suitcases for a cabin bag
There are hacks to more efficient use of time at the airport, from downloading an app that estimates security wait times to joining your rental car company’s loyalty program to skip queues. But one wait you can do without is the long lines at check-in counters.
For shorter trips, travelling light with a cabin size carry-on lets you cut back on baggage cost and, most importantly, saves you the time of packing, waiting at check-in counters and carousels with other people. This means you can get to the transport and pocket wifi counters before your batch of passengers does!
Work smart on the go
Impediments to productivity may be inevitable, but these hacks will help you get rid of the little inefficiencies, and create optimum conditions in the many makeshift workspaces you’ll have to make do with away from home.
Stretch your time aboard, and you can have the uninterrupted downtime you deserve once you’re back!