Tech Thursdays: Top 5 Tools for Digital Nomads
In today’s work environment, our responsibilities are essentially the same as they’ve been for generations of workers: do your work and be responsive. As long as you’re available to your business contacts, it’s possible to work from anywhere.
A digital nomad is anyone who can complete their work from a laptop or other mobile device, and who chooses to roam at his or her leisure.
If you’ve ever had the desire to leave the office behind and lead the life of a digital nomad, here are five tools that will make life easier by enabling you to communicate quickly, easily and relatively cheaply.
1) RingCentral: RingCentral Office makes it possible to place and accept calls from nearly any device. In addition to desk phones, you can use RingCentral’s apps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry – in addition to the RingCentral softphone for Mac and PC – to stay connected on the go.
RingCentral isn’t free – but it’s much cheaper than the business phone systems of old (you know, the kind that tethered you to your desk). RingCentral Office is available in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada.
2) Karma: In today’s knowledge economy, it’s all about connectivity. While a laptop can free you from the need to show up at the same place everyday to get work done, you still need reliable access to the internet.
Enter Karma, a provider of pay-as-you-go high-speed wireless internet. Karma’s hotspots start at $99 for 1GB of monthly data, and you can top off your hotspot for $14 per additional gigabyte. Best of all, Karma is a great way to meet new people: the company rewards you with free data every time you share your signal with someone new.
Karma is currently only available in the U.S., with coverage in more than 100 cities and major metropolitan regions.
3) Google Docs: Google Docs is my go-to for online document creation and editing. It’s free as long as you have a Google account. Google Docs is the gold standard for real-time online collaboration, and closely mirrors the functionality of the Microsoft Office suite.
Google Docs is great for real-time collaboration, as it lets two or more people edit the same document simultaneously. And Google Docs allows you to upload or export files in Microsoft Office formats, such as .PPT for PowerPoint presentations.
The best part of Google Docs is that it is cloud-based, so you will never lose your data if your laptop is lost or stolen. All your important files and projects are accessible in seconds on any web-enabled device.
Bonus: Google+ Hangouts
Google+ Hangouts are group video chats where up to nine people can interact with one another in real-time. A virtually unlimited number of people can follow a G+ Hangout video feed and comment through Gchat after the nine-member threshold has been reached.
Google+ Hangouts is a great addition to the Google Docs suite of collaboration tools, enabling group brainstorm sessions with voice and video. And Google+ Hangouts can be automatically recorded and saved to YouTube for easy playback and idea extraction.
4) Meetup.com: Life on the road is great, but you’ll definitely want to meet people at some point. Wherever you go, Meetup can help you link up with people who share your interests.
Meetup.com is a great way to find interesting events and get-togethers happening where you are. Whether it’s a daily jogging group, an arts and crafts night, or Siamese pug appreciation Saturday, you’re bound to find like-minded individuals in a new city or town using Meetup.
5) CouchSurfing: CouchSurfing is another great tool for in-person networking. CouchSurfing began its life as a platform for budget travelers and those looking to experience local hospitality by staying on couches and air mattresses, instead of hotels or hostels. Many cities have active CouchSurfing meetups, where local hosts and city “ambassadors” gather for beers, communal meals and other group activities. This is a fantastic way to connect with locals and fellow travelers even if you’re not planning to sleep on someone’s couch.
So what are your favorite tools for the digital nomad lifestyle? We’ve listed a few of our own, but this list is far from complete. Please share your mobile worker lifehacks and pro tools in the comments section below.