Mobile Office 101: Work Anytime, Anywhere

Today’s mobile devices and an always-on internet connection make it truly possible to work anytime, anywhere you want. But it’s also necessary to have the type of work that’s portable. If, like most traditional office workers, you spend the majority of your day using a word processor, spreadsheet or slide program plus occasionally surfing the web, there’s no reason you can’t periodically break free from your cubicle and work in the wide open world.

While I do most of my work from a cozy home office, I’ve got a mobile setup that gives me true flexibility.In this post I’ll show you the minimum kit necessary to work anywhere you want.

For example, I’m writing this article on my iPhone in my favorite coffee shop using Evernote, a ubiquitous note taking tool that will immediately sync my Evernote draft with my desktop as soon as I’m done. Pretty crazy, huh? Evernote syncs automatically across multiple devices – my iPhone, my laptop and the web. So I’ll be able to edit my article later wherever it suits me. You can signup for a free Evernote account at

Here’s a list of standard mobile office tools that make working anytime, anywhere a snap:


A laptop or a netbook computer is an absolute must. My personal preference is an old black MacBook laptop with as much memory as I could cram into it. I’m primarily a writer and a web designer, so my software packages include Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite 4.

Broadband Internet Connection

You can’t depend on coffeeshop wi-fi and be truly free to work anywhere you want. To be truly mobile, you need to take the internet with you. While some folks may opt for a cell phone tethering setup, I prefer a USB modem that I can easily pop into my laptop as needed. The nominal monthly charge is worth it since I know I’ll always be connected.

Mobile Phone/Internet Device

While I haven’t personally jumped on the iPad bandwagon yet, I know a lot of colleagues who love them. I honestly prefer the smaller form factor of my iPhone and don’t mind typing with my thumbs. In fact, lately I’m doing more and more writing work on my iPhone since I don’t necessarily want to lug my laptop backpack everywhere I go. It’s nice to have a choice that fits right into your pocket or purse.

Online Data Storage/Retrieval

Cloud computing services such as Dropbox and are an excellent way to store and access large files from the internet. Both services have free starter accounts and are less than $10 a month for up to 5GB of storage. They also have iPhone, Blackberry and Android apps to make it easy to access important files from your mobile device.

Notebook and pen

There’s still something magical about putting pen to paper that never gets old for me, so a pocket Moleskine notebook is a great asset to all my gadgets.


I love to listen to music while I’m working, so earbuds help me shut out the outside world and get into the zone. And, since they’re an iPhone accessory they make it easy enough to take calls if necessary.

Laptop lock (optional)

A Kensington laptop lock is a great way to keep everything secure if you’re working in a public space like a restaurant, library or coffeeshop. I typically lock my laptop to the table where I’m sitting and run the cable through my bag handle to keep everything together. It will give you great of mind if you occasionally need to step away for a break.

A bag to keep everything in

Finally, you’ll need a place to keep everything neat and tidy, so my preference is either a small laptop backpack or a midsize messenger back. I alternate between both depending on where I’m going. The messenger bag is a little nicer for client meetings, but either will do.

And there you have it. A basic kit to keep you organized and productive from just about anywhere in the world. What do you use to setup your mobile office? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

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