Look around any coffee shop, and you’ll see a handful of lone wolves tapping away at their computers while milking a cup of coffee. I should know—I’m often one of them. I telecommute, which means that I’m always working remotely and I’m always on the go.
The crucial element of such work? Being prepared. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a train, in a cafe or at the park. If you leave your house without something essential, your day is shot. I have my favorite items, but I asked a few telecommuting comrades to share theirs as well.
The ideal bag can hold everything, and the Brilliant Body Bag ($265 at Be Brilliant Bags) more than fits the bill. It’s expensive, but hear me out. It has all the padded compartments you need to protect your laptop, tablet and smartphone, plus it has plenty of pockets and pouches to hold everything else. The bag even features a zippered area at the bottom for shoes or an umbrella! Try it in rose gold, pewter, black or silver.
A less-sparkly option is the Freedom laptop bag ($179 at Phorce). This water-resistant accessory offers protection and pockets in a streamlined body. The Freedom also transforms from a briefcase to a shoulder bag to a backpack. It even has a sleeve for a suitcase handle and a built-in 15,000 mAh charger that charges two USB devices at once.
When I’m walking a ton and need to remove some weight from my carryall, my secret weapon is the Waterproof Sleeve ($39.99–$54.99 at Catalyst Lifestyle). This ultrathin, waterproof sleeve comes in three sizes, can be worn three ways and has a removable foam lining. Whether I’m at trade shows, conferences or enduring a meeting-packed day, this sleeve is a must.
Need a place to keep all those cords, chargers and earbuds? I store mine in the SF WaterField Gear Pouch ($39–$49 at SFbags). This pouch keeps everything organized, prevents tangled cords and only takes up a whisper of space in my bag.
Karen Giberson, the president of the Accessories Council, works during her long train commute, and she uses theChic Buds Clutchette Power Charging Bag ($49.99 at Best Buy) to carry small items inside her larger bag. It has a 2,600 mAh charger built in, so she’s never without power, and it’s available in several colors, including metallic pink, platinum and silver. The clutch is stylish enough to carry as a purse on its own!
“I am never without my Chic Buds Clutchette Power—it’s a lifesaver!” Giberson says. “I’m often in and out of the office all day, and it continues to work through many charges, unlike similar products.” She also likes the Chic Buds LuvBuds In-Ear Headphones ($14.99 at Target), which come in all sorts of cute patterns. I’ll have to give those a try!
I always travel with my Ventev Innovations Powercell 6000+ Portable Battery and Charger ($74.99 at B&H Photo). It charges two devices at once, and it can also plug into a wall, making it the perfect mobile charger. Ventev’s tangle-free cords ($9.99 and up at CDW) are great as well.
If you have a long day ahead of you and don’t want to drag around your laptop, leave it at home and pair the Zagg Pocket Portable Wireless Keyboard ($69.99 at Best Buy) with your smartphone or tablet. Your device’s small screen may get annoying, but this keyboard won’t. It has 85 percent of the typing space of a desktop keyboard; it provides a little shelf for your device; and when you’re done, it folds into a convenient, portable size and shuts off automatically.
We love our gadgets, but sometimes putting pen to paper is darn satisfying! Michael DeVellis, a frequent traveler and owner of The Powder Group, uses the slim Moleskine 2015 Dashboard Planner (prices vary at Amazon) to keep organized.
“There’s nothing like the power of planning on the run with this book,” DeVellis says. “No electrical charge necessary! The four-months-at-a-glance calendar allows a quick response to every inquiry, and the weekly calendar pages leave plenty of room for new contacts, daily schedules, travel details and notes.”
Cords can get in the way when you’re working on the go, but who wants to stick a Bluetooth thingy in their ear or wear a massive pair of headphones all day? These lightweight Wireless Bluetooth Headphones ($20.99 at Kinivo) can take calls and provide decent sound for your music. Plus, they fold down into a compact pouch.
Andrea Pyros, one of my favorite Real Deal writers, works from home in upstate New York but periodically spends a few hours on the train to New York City. That’s when she treats herself to a little downtime on her e-reader. “I cannot stress how much I love my Kindle Paperwhite ($119 at Amazon),” Pyros says. “It’s incredibly intuitive to use, super lightweight, has a long battery life and a built-in no-glare front light so my eyes don’t get tired—even when reading at night. I also like that I can put a bunch of books on it: There’s nothing worse than running out of reading materials when you’ve got an hour left on your train ride!”
Jessica Doyle, the director of corporate communications for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, is always on the move. “From visiting our hotels around the world to running around New York City for reporter meetings to managing on-location videos shoots, I stock my closet with my favorite good-looking, comfy shoes,” Doyle says, noting that for heels, she’s been wearing a version of Nine West’s Andriana Pumps ($79 at Nine West) for years.
“They have great cushioning, the heel is high enough to look polished but low enough so your feet don’t throb, the leather is soft so no break-in blisters, and they come in great patterns and colors,” Doyle says.
When it comes to flats, Doyle loves the Easy Spirit Gessica Ballet Flats ($59.99 at ShoeBuy). She says they are “super cute and so comfortable you could jog in them if you needed to. They are also small and light so great for packing in carry-on luggage. I buy these staples in a couple of colors.”
Meanwhile, Giberson always carries a big scarf. “Fashion and function—in and out of air conditioning,” Giberson says. Most of hers come from Echo Design, including this Spellbound Tassel Wrap ($58 at Nordstrom), and she said she also loves Theodora & Callum Scarves (starting at $19 at Theodora & Callum).
Long hours away from the office or house can make mealtimes challenging. Bring a beverage and healthy snack with you in case you forget your wallet, experience unforeseen delays between meals or are tempted to visit your favorite fast-food counter one too many times.
So that “it’s not all Cinnabon all the time,” Pyros packs her snacks in the eco-friendly BooginHead Pack’Ems 2-Pack Reusable Snack Bags ($9.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond), which take up no room once you’ve eaten the contents.
Pour some of that yummy leftover stew into the 16-Ounce Hot & Cold Bullet Lunch Box ($9.99 at TTU Store), which will keep it piping hot for up to six hours. The wide mouth makes it easy to fill, eat from and clean.
Whether I’m in a coffee or juice mood, the Contigo West Loop Travel Mug ($19.99–$20.99 at Target) is my travel go-to. It keeps beverages hot for four hours and beverages cold for 12. It has a hinged mechanism in the lid that allows for a more-thorough cleaning, and it’s leak-free, so you can feel comfortable tossing it into your bag.
Last but not least, take your telecommuting privileges seriously. I say this for two reasons:
- There are many CEOs out there who are not yet comfortable allowing their employees to telecommute, so it’s up to you to set a good example.
- If you goof off during the workday, it will come back to haunt you. You don’t want to spend your evenings and weekends working, do you? No matter the temptation, skip the afternoon pedicure or lunch with a friend and get the job done.