One good thing to come out of 2020 is the chance to work remotely.
Undoubtedly, 2020 was the year of great change for all of us in many, many ways. I won’t list them all but just one example is that a considerable number of people who normally work in an office, worked from home instead. In a similar fashion, a number of RV owners have discovered that instead of working from home, they can work from their RV.
Not that it’s happened much over the past year, but if I am travelling to a rally or to other journo business in a motorhome, I’ll often be working on the road. Your fearless editor-at-large, Carolyne Jasinski, is more experienced at that than I am and hopefully you’ll hear more about that soon.
Generally speaking, when they think of working from anywhere, most people assume it involves laptop computers, Wi-Fi hubs, device chargers and other electronic devices — which it does but in some cases, that’s just a small part of the business. Some years ago, I came across a couple who ran a hugely successful T shirt and embroidery business from their motorhome. Another person was a computer specialist and he not only fixed computers but gave coaching lessons as well. In the CMCA demographic, he was very busy!
Photographers, too, understand the benefits of a mobile office on location with all the necessary gear. I’ve also come across tradesmen like electricians, plumbers and painters who carry enough tools with them to earn a bit of money as they travel around. A great little earner for electricians is to be a licensed ‘tag and test’ person for electrical devices and leads. Apart from anything else, it doesn’t require lugging a large tool box around.
So how do you set up a mobile office?
This does depend to some extent on your business, but if possible, try and have a dedicated workspace. This is not always achievable but, in my case, if I’m using a rental motorhome in either Australia or New Zealand, I try and get a six-berth unit. That might sound a bit extravagant, but six-berth motorhomes usually have two dinettes/fold down beds — one for eating at and one as a desk. The third bed, the luton is for sleeping.
Fully set up, I have a laptop, several portable back-up drives, a camera card reader and the necessary leads and chargers that go with that lot and my camera/flash gear. It does take a while to get organised. Some people will also need a printer/scanner as well.
One additional item that’s become more common these days is a second monitor. Either as a larger screen or a method of being able to see multiple files open at the same time. If I am travelling really lightly, I use my 11in Macbook Air in conjunction with my iPad using an App called Duet. It’s practical yet small enough to be used on long-distance flights!
These days, having a decent Wi-Fi set up that’s reliable and fast is essential. It’s best not to rely on free Wi-Fi sites that are readily available around the country, for two good reasons. Slow speed is often a problem and internet security is a bigger one.
There are a number of options here. I use a small portable Wi-Fi device which has a pre-paid SIM card and works well. I haven’t actually used one, but I understand that something like Telstra’s Nighthawk M2 works very well.
Another possibility is an RV Wi-Fi device which can be fitted to your RV and acts like a rolling Wi-Fi. Some people simply have a good data plan on their phone and hot spot from that. Your service provider is a consideration. Telstra don’t always have the cheapest plans, but they do have the best coverage and depending on your business that may be the priority.
Part of the office set up is your seating. While most RVs have seating designed for dining or just lounging around, it’s not really suitable for extended hours sitting at a laptop. Consider getting a bit of advice on more comfortable seating.
Generally speaking, most modern motorhomes have very good lighting systems but if yours doesn’t, then fitting an extra light or two will save eye strain.
It’s no coincidence that this particular column was inspired by something that KEA has recently introduced for their 2+1 Nomad, four-berth Discovery and six-berth motorhomes. The KEA team has given the ‘Working from Anywhere’ concept some considerable thought and introduced a package to help people set themselves up.
It consists of the following:
(1) Heavy duty USB-C socket for multiple tech appliances
(2) Wi-Fi router
(3) Adjustable directional lighting
(4) Lumbar support for ergonomic seat comfort and
(5) Larger tables if required.
Additional items that can be sourced are wireless phone charger and wireless mouse and keyboard.
Modification prices start from $1200 (the largest expense in the pack being the Wi-Fi router). As you can see, KEA has considered all the essentials for the mobile office. A one-stop shop.
Speaking from experience in this matter since I have worked from home for many years, it’s important to establish ‘business hours’ and ‘leisure hours’. Particularly if retired or semi-retired, enjoying your RV travels should be more important than stressing over earning a living.
If working full-time, it’s good to have some down time, either during the day or evenings - whatever works best for you. In the writing business, I have discovered that inspiration doesn’t always strike when needed. I’ve often had a couple of very productive hours in the evening while doing almost nothing all day.
Whatever you are doing, it’s good to advertise your business. Certainly, get some business cards printed up and even flyers if you want to advertise. As anyone in business will tell you, word of mouth is certainly one of the cheapest methods of advertising so be alert to that.
CHOOSING YOUR RV
This is an entire topic in itself but if planning on full-time working from anywhere, RV choice is a factor. For instance, in my current work arrangements, a mid-sized motorhome suits me just fine. I travel from job to job and have everything I need with me. However, some may need a large motorhome simply for enough living/working/storage space.
Alternatively, a caravan might be a better proposition, particularly if non-working partners are involved. The van can be left parked somewhere, with a set up office (no need to pack up every time you move) and the tow vehicle used to move around. In the case of trades people for example, the vehicle can be the mobile toolbox.
TEST THE WATERS
People who are already keen RV travellers will undoubtedly be able to find out whether they like working on the road as they travel, without too much difficulty and expense. However, for those having not done much RV travel before and would like to try their hand, then a great way forward is to initially go for a short trip, say for a month or two. If that works okay and offers a sustainable lifestyle, then it’s time to hit the road.