In the bad old days, going to work meant commuting for hours to a freezing cold office building to slave away under fluorescent lights for eight-plus hours a day. Often, you were tethered to your desk by wired computer networks and landline telephones. Also, the coffee was generally pretty lousy.
But no more! Nowadays, we can work almost anywhere — in a coffee house, at the airport, at the park, or in a hotel. And while that hasn’t always trimmed our work loads, it’s done wonders for the flexibility of our work days. Here are the technologies and innovations we have to thank for our ability to work anywhere, anytime.
1. Wifi Hotspots
Do you remember the world before ubiquitous free wifi? We do, and it wasn’t pretty. Even having a meeting at the office was more difficult before wifi, because showing people your screen meant plugging in a laptop or emailing your presentation to someone who was already plugged in. Now that wireless internet is absolutely everywhere, you can dial into the weekly check-in from your favorite coffee shop and catch up with coworkers while drinking a tastefully decorated seasonal beverage. Many cities have also created free wifi networks in public parks as well, enabling you to make nature your office.
2. Business Centers in Hotels
Many hotels offer a place for business travelers to hunker down and crank out that last-minute report — either in the room, or in a fully-equipped business center, where you can generally find everything from computers to printers to fax machines. (Even if sending a fax is starting to feel like a relic of a previous age.)
3. Concierges With Chargers
Score another point for hotels, which can often hook you up with a smartphone or even laptop charger if you should discover that yours has gone missing somewhere between home and the convention center. Of course, if you want to skip any scary charges on your bill, you can also just ask where the nearest Best Buy is, and get yourself a travel charger.
4. Laptop Kiosks
Sure, it’s more comfortable to sit at a desk, but if you need to tweak that Powerpoint one last time before your flight, you can almost always find one of these standing desks near your gate. And anyway, now that we know that sitting is killing us, maybe we should start thinking about swapping our sitting desks for one of these on a full-time basis. Either way, it’s much easier than balancing on one leg while typing on your knee.