A 9-to-5 job was once considered the only realistic model for professional work, and most people remained with a single employer their entire life. But that era is largely over. Today's employee has to be more flexible, spontaneous, and open to new ways of doing business than ever before. At the same time, people are making new demands of their employers: today, freedom and flexibility are often considered even more attractive than a good salary.
Location-independent work – whether from a home office or another city entirely – is developing into a growing trend. So-called “digital nomads” – people who travel from one place to the next, year after year, working from wherever they happen to be – have shown that it's possible to work from anywhere in the world. However, this trend away from the office naturally requires new communication tools to mitigate some of the difficulties distance can pose.
The fundamental prerequisite for location-independent work is a stable internet connection to ensure that deadlines can be upheld and meetings attended. To find out which countries and cities are especially suited for digital work, there are websites – Nomadlist, for example – which compare popular locations worldwide and check the availability of “digital hotspots”. It's also important to investigate the availability of co-working spaces, which can generally guarantee good internet connections and are often outfitted with printers, telephones, and fax machines.
Beyond physical considerations, there are various other tools and tricks that make location-independent work decidedly easier, and often don't cost much, if anything at all – including a few cheap programs that make your work easier no matter where you might be.
Tools for Location-Independent Work
Virtual file storage not only makes organization easier, but also ensures that files and documents aren't lost. Online tools like Dropbox allow one to access files at any time, from anywhere in the world. Google Docs works just as efficiently, and – perhaps even more importantly – provides previews of one's documents.
You might assume things get more difficult when a whole team is working together. After all, how should meetings, group projects, and pitches function if coworkers aren't all in the same place? It's a good question, and the shift requires a few changes, but implementation is simpler than you might think. Your work won't suffer as long as you keep the possible complications in mind from the beginning and prepare yourself with the right solutions – when working with colleagues in different locations, communication is not a question of distance, but rather preparation and coordination. Skype and Sipgate, for example, can replace the telephone and work for short meetings without incurring the costs of expensive international calls. Meanwhile, groups of colleagues can coordinate effectively over “Slack”, a service that functions like a sort of chatroom for the office with which specific teams can communicate among themselves. When a project has to be managed across international borders, tools like Trello are perfectly suited. Different steps in a project and to-do lists can be pinned up on various “boards”, and assignments can be passed along and checked off as they're completed. That way every coworker has a good overview of how progress is going and which tasks still need to be taken on.
Beamium, a New Innovation for Location-Independent Work
The web-based presentation sharing software Beamium is the perfect tool for digital nomads and others who find themselves doing more and more of their work in multiple locations. It allows a team to work together wherever its members may be, and lets you deliver presentations without needing to be physically present. Without any software or installations, you'll be able to upload files and assign them with a specific ID on www.beamium.com – that ID allows others to retrieve your files with Beamium by simply entering the presentation ID which you shared with them on the same website. That way a talk can be delivered in one place and received elsewhere. Whether a presentation at a conference, a pitch to a client, or even a demonstration meant for the public, Beamium enables you to be near your listener, regardless of where you actually are.
Location-independent work no longer poses a problem today – instead, it demonstrates what's possible in our digital world.
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