So in my previous post, "Life on the run", it was all doom and gloom about the challenges of making use of the 'mobile office' as opposed to the fixed office and facilities that are the 'corporate office'. So why do so many people do it and what has been the upside for me so far?
"5 things that are great about the modern mobile office"
1) Your time is your own
I have never been an advocate of fixed office hours. We are all different and have different times when we do our best work. For some people, it is at night, for others it is early in the morning. Some of us have families, others don't. So why all work the same hours?
Having said this, there are places that don't have the luxury of this choice for obvious reasons, but in my line of work, I must say, I find this a refreshing change. If you plan your work, you can avoid most rush hours - both on the road and the dreaded visitors reception!
2) Learning on the road
I have managed to get into the habit of downloading books for the long hauls between home and clients and listening to them via my phone. I don't have shares in Audible.com (unfortunately), but it is a great site for audiobooks. You can get almost anything and the membership plan means that the books are pretty affordable - even with the Rand tanking against the US Dollar! Sometimes, I listen to books that I think I'll learn something from. Other times I listen to adventure books, just to switch off and relax. It makes a 12 hour trip from Stilbaai to Kathu feel like a morning milk run (well almost!).
3) The inexplicable draw of the "Padstal"
On this one, I'm like my mother. A good "Padstal" cannot be passed without stopping for a coffee and a quick look-see! For anyone that doesn't know what a "Padstal" is, loosely translated, it is a farm store, but the Western Cape in South Africa has perfected the concept! It is not longer Oom Koos trying to peddle his wares to the passing traveller, they have become rustic shops away from the mad rush of the city. I try to avoid stopping in towns and make use of these places as much as possible. Now I just need to find one with a petrol pump!
4) Airports are horrible... but interesting.
I am privileged to call George airport my home base. Google it and see the awesome pictures that describe the sleepy town of George in the Western Cape. It is a gem.
Having a yet unfulfilled desire to learn to fly, watching the small planes buzzing around the airport while waiting for my flight is a pretty good way to pass the time.
ORTIA in Johannesburg is not quite the same in terms of scenic value, although having worked there for a while, it is always great to pass through the bowels of this intuition once in a while to see if the peristaltic movements are improving or if constipation is setting in!
5) Choosing your office every day
Mostly, where I have been so far has been dictated by the people that I need to meet with and the companies that I need to see. But these meetings only make up a portion of the day. For the rest of the time, I need to find a place where I can get some work done. This is more complex than you could imagine - small things like plugs and background music become life changing decisions! Come to think of it, I could open a pretty cool restaurant geared at mobile office workers - you will be surprised how many people in the Spur at the moment are on their laptops, alone, getting work done.
My advice to places trying to attract this clientele:
- Free wifi is a big draw card, and don't use a site like "Always On" - I don't know about the rest, but I don't want to log into your site every time I need wifi.
- Bottomless coffee .... now we are talking.
- Background music is just that - background. DJ Ossewa at 08h00 in the morning at 82 decibels is not going to keep me there that long!
- TV is cool - stick to sport and news - no volume required - I enjoy reading the news bar at the bottom of the screen.
- What's the chance of a boardroom in one of these places - now there is a novel idea.
So who gets the vote? It's pretty tough to beat this view. Sishen Golf Club is a marvel in the Kalahari and very welcoming towards the mobile office seeker. And who knows, maybe you can even squeeze in a round after work...
James 4:13-17 New International Version (NIV)
Boasting About Tomorrow
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.