One of the great things about being a web worker is that you can travel easily: just pack up the laptop, make sure the hotel has Wi-Fi and away you go. But a hotel room just isn’t meant to be an office. While you may have […]

Mobile officeOne of the great things about being a web worker is that you can travel easily: just pack up the laptop, make sure the hotel has Wi-Fi and away you go.

But a hotel room just isn’t meant to be an office. While you may have fun during the trip, the working part can be a little harder than at home. It can uncomfortable (especially in rooms not equipped with a desk), there can be unusual interruptions, and it can simply to tough to get work done.

By focusing on solving these key problems, though, you can turn a hotel room into a web working office.

Find a Comfortable Place to Work

Hotel beds don’t make particularly good desks, but they’re the only piece of furniture guaranteed to be in a hotel room. Sometimes, you’ll luck out and get a desk — but it’s just as likely that you’ll wind up with a chair and a coffee table or some other configuration that results in a backache after just a few minutes of work. If you don’t have a desk in your hotel room, pick up your laptop bag and explore the rest of the hotel. An empty conference room or a computer center can give you a far more comfortable working environment without having to leave your hotel. I’ve even been known to take advantage of the tables set up in the hotel’s breakfast area, after everyone’s done eating.

Getting out of your room can be even more important, depending on who you’re traveling with. If the family is on vacation, no one’s going to want to sit quietly so that you can work. And in a hotel room there are distractions that the average web worker probably doesn’t see every day, like a maid coming by to vacuum. Finding another room to work in can provide a little distance so that you can actually get your work done.

Follow Your Normal Routines

I don’t know many web workers who don’t have routines for their work day. Maybe you make a cup of tea before you sit down at your computer. Maybe you stop and stretch after every hour you’ve worked. It’s important to follow your routines as closely as possible, even if that means making your tea in the hotel room’s coffee pot. There may be some parts harder to stick to, such as the specific hours you work — maybe you’ve got plans to attend a meeting or go to the beach right in the middle of your work day.

But you’re used to working. Your routines give you the mental and physical cues that you’re supposed to be hard at work. Following those routines can keep you in the right mindset when you would rather be entirely on vacation.

Leave the Laptop in the Hotel

Resist the urge to take your laptop to every stop of your trip. Sure, you might be able to get a little more work done while the rest of the family is playing tourist or having dinner with the in-laws, but what’s the point of exercising that famous web worker flexibility if you’re only going to work the entire time you’re traveling?

While you may have some work that must absolutely be completed no matter where you are, you probably have some flexibility in your other work. It can be hard for some web workers to take advantage of that flexibility and take a break, it’s important to do so — even if you have to do a little extra work before or after you travel.

Share your hotel working tips in the comments.

Image by Flickr user PurpleMattFish

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  1. Hotels often make it impossible to send email using your normal tools – Outlook, Thunderbird, Mail.app etc. – forcing you onto webmail or gmail and interrupting your usual workflow. That’s one of the main reasons we developed Loa PowerTools (http://www.loapowertools.com).

  2. Be sure to use iTunes to search for other shared music libraries. You never know what you may find: http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/davemadethis/3348864685/sizes/o/

  3. Pack a small portable wifi router like an AirPort Express. Some hotels still only offer wired Internet in your room and this gives you flexibility. Plus, you can share your connection with your neighbors…

  4. I’m sitting in a hotel room as I write this feeling really lucky to have a desk. However, I don’t think I could ever leave my laptop in the hotel room…

  5. I agree with Trevor Wilson. On the rare occasions that I have no choice, I use a security cable. But that won”t stop a determined thief. Too scary.

  6. @Trevor & Ken – that’s what you have insurance for, though, right?

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