Thanks to faster Internet speeds on the go and mobile devices like smart phones and the iPad that do way more than just calls and e-mail, the remote workforce is exploding. In fact, IDC estimates that the number of mobile workers worldwide will pass 1 billion in 2010 and grow to 1.2 billion by 2013, at which point they will comprise almost 35 percent of the world workforce. The U.S. currently has the highest concentration of mobile workers, with more than 75 percent taking the office with them on a regular basis.
Want to maximize productivity when you’re away from that cubicle farm? Here’s what belongs in your arsenal.
While you may not physically be in the office every day, it’s still easy to feel like you’re there using Skype and a webcam. However, you’ll want a good microphone and headphones so that you’re heard loud and clear. The Everyman USB headset fills the bill nicely at an affordable price. Its adjustable microphone is easy to move close to your mouth for greater clarity, and the crystal-clear headphones fold flat for easy packing.
You can’t always rely on having access to a desk or table to keep your laptop’s heat at bay. Enter EnRoute, who has developed the ChillCase—a sleeve that serves as a protective case for your laptop and pulls double duty with an integrated USB-powered fan system. It’s made of a sturdy foam-like material on the bottom and has built-in channels that funnel heat from your notebook out through the sides and back. The case is available in sizes from 10 to 16.1 inches and weighs just 1.5 pounds.
As a remote worker, odds are high you’ll attend meetings alone and that your boss will want a full report afterward. Make it easy to remember everything your client said, as well as how they said it, with the Echo Smartpen. This device has a built-in microphone and flash drive that will record what’s going on in the room while you take notes. The best part: the pen syncs to exactly what your client was saying when you jotted a quick note down by using special paper (additional notebooks start at $7.95) that can be created on your printer or purchased from Livescribe.
$169 (4GB), $199 (8GB)
This convenient mobile hotspot provides both 3G and unlimited 4G coverage for up to five devices at once. That means you can get online with both your laptop and your iPad or smart phone at the same time. The Overdrive doubles as a server, too, so you can easily move files between devices. Sprint’s 4G coverage, which delivers blazing speeds between 3 and 6 Mbps, will be available in 80 markets by the end of the year.
$49.99 (with two-year contract plus $59.99 per month for 5GB 3G and unlimited 4G)