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On the road again?
Pack these essential technology tools
As business travelers, many of us assume all we need is a lightweight laptop and a decent Wi-Fi connection. But how often do we find ourselves struggling with tangled cords, dead batteries or the inability to print important documents in a critical moment? Probably more often than we care to admit.
North American workers take more than 405 million business trips annually, equating to about 1.1 million individuals traveling for work every day. Having the right accessories on hand can make the difference between a successful or disastrous outing.
Here are five technology tools every small business should consider for keeping their on-the-go employees well prepared and productive:
Mobile Laptop Chargers
One of the fundamental rules of surviving a long business trip is to pack minimally. But that can be challenging when you have to haul numerous cumbersome chargers and cords around just to keep devices fully powered. The latest USB-C travel power adapters can charge a laptop and up to two other devices – think tablets and smartphones – simultaneously. Just make sure your accessories are compatible with your devices; the wattage must support your specific laptops.
Your Smartphone as a Security Dongle
While leaving your laptop unattended is never a great idea, especially in this era of cybersecurity threats, you could still find yourself having to step away for a moment. One option for guarding against such threats is to use a security hardware dongle, which you insert into your PC to prevent passing cyberthieves from stealing your digital goods. Google has another innovative option involving a “keyless” two-factor authentication system for Android phones. How does it work? You just log in on your laptop, receive an “Are you attempting to sign in?” message on your Android, and confirm “yes” to proceed. Yes, it’s that simple.
Cloud Collaboration Software
Sharing and exchanging documents and images with your team via cloud-based services can help you seamlessly collaborate on projects anytime, from anywhere. These affordable services allow you to work together on “live” documents through user-friendly, intuitive interfaces that encourage conversation between teams – whether they are in the same office or many time zones away.
Which software or service you adopt depends on your specific needs. There are dozens of options, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, all of which can be helpful depending on how your workforce operates and what features you need. For example, while document imaging and indexing, mobile integration and single sign-on have made Slack wildly popular, Teams’ latest update allows users to integrate with a wide range of third-party applications and includes an improved search bar that makes searching through text and documents over the platform easier.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN)
It’s a smart idea to set-up a virtual private network (VPN) service to allow your team members to access critical documents on your company’s server remotely and securely. There are many services available, such as Cisco VPNs, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish and PureVPN. All of these create a highly secure pathway to everything in your organization’s database, encrypting data, so it stays protected no matter where it is accessed.
Because the VPN services market has grown immensely in recent years, the competition is fierce. Many services are subscription-based per month, ranging in price from $7 per month, or you can pay around $50 for an annual contract. Most of these VPNs work seamlessly with various devices and systems. The main considerations when selecting which service is right for your company involves performance, type of encryption you use, transparency, support and ease of use.
While most hotels offer printers for guest use, a portable printer and/or scanner is ideal for workers who may need to tweak a document for sharing with prospective clients while traveling from meeting to meeting all day. Because many mobile printers and scanners are self-powered, they are also well suited for traveling sales teams who need to print documents, such as contracts or receipts. Most of today’s portable printers and scanners are flexible and light, boasting wireless connectivity that allows you to print from practically any connected device. They range in weight from a mere two to six pounds, and depending on the features you want, cost between $75 and $499.
Increase Productivity with the Right Mobile Tools
It’s no secret business travel can be exhausting and stressful. By providing and empowering employees with the latest technology solutions that offer security, support, convenience and reliability — no matter where they are located in the world — today’s employers will see more productive and satisfied business travelers.