As RVers who are on the road almost three-quarters of the time, we've been doing work remotely from an RV since 2012.
With so many RVers still under stay-at-home and shelter in place orders, we have some easy suggestions that will help you navigate all the ins and outs of not being able to physically go into the office while working remotely. These will help at home, or once travel restrictions ease, when you start making RV trips again.
In fact, one benefit of this whole pandemic shut down is that many employers have been forced to allow their quarantined employees to try remote work.
And remote work… has worked!
That means when you want to head out for an extended weekend or a longer trip, your employer just may be more inclined to let you work remotely from an RV based on the experience of having employees forced to stay at home and work there because of government decrees
So, whether from home or an RV, I thought I'd put together some of our remote work tips. Some of this material first appeared on the Leisure Travel Vans Blog in a post I wrote specifically for them. But I thought it might be worthwhile to also share some of it here on the RV Lifestyle travel blog and add more suggestions just for RVers who want to work remotely from an RV.
Tip #1: Set a special place to work remotely from an RV
The first suggestion we have is to dedicate a specific area to work remotely from an RV, where you can lay out your computer, cell phone, charger, papers, and work materials in one place that won’t have to be picked up at the end of each day.
At home, that could be a spare bedroom, a dining room, even a corner in the basement.
But in an RV, it could be the dinette, a sofa or even the picnic table outside. The key is to dedicate that workspace only for your work, a place other family members won’t disturb. Grated, in an RV, you probably will have to set it up and take it down each day, especially if you're driving from place to place between working hours. But the idea is one place should be your main work area. It makes things more efficient because you get more comfortable and used to where you have placed the things you need for work.
For those still not traveling and who have to work from a sticks and bricks home, we have the perfect suggestion: Set up your office in your RV.
Even if it's just out in the driveway!
If it’s in storage, consider moving it to the driveway for a few weeks, or however long this crisis will last.
If you have a 30 amp pedestal out there in the driveway, which we have installed at our main home in Michigan, it’s a no brainer. You’ll be able to run the air conditioner if needed, power and charge your laptop, a printer, and whatever else you need. But even if you don’t have a 30 amp hookup, you could run a 110-volt extension cord to the RV from the house or garage for everything but the AC.
If the weather is warm enough and the RV is de-winterized, you have a private bathroom you can use.
Working out of your RV gives you a separate, dedicated area where phone calls won’t be drowned out by noise from the rest of the household and where you can isolate yourself from distractions. It's like an office on wheels.
You can make coffee, have your lunch there, stock the fridge with refreshments, and have all the comforts of the workplace.
As I write this, I’m on the balcony of our condo on the Florida Panhandle’s Emerald Coast overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. We use the condo as a rental unit to supplement our income and we were down here getting it ready for the new season when the travel restrictions were imposed. I'm writing on a patio table that is my remote office today.
But our RV is out in the driveway as we are sheltering in place at the condo and I often find myself using it as my mobile office. After I finish this post, in fact, I’ll head out there and use it as a mobile recording studio to conduct an online video interview for our RV Podcast.
The RV is my Happy Place and just sitting in it and working from it brightens my spirit. Making it a secondary workspace to the condo adds variety to my routine.
OK. Let's get to our tips about how to work remotely from an RV:
Tip #2: Set specific work hours to work remotely from an RV
No matter what remote area you work from – home or the RV – the next suggestion I have is to set specific work hours. Those hours should be your normal working hours and, we’ve found from experience, they should start in the morning. It’s too easy to procrastinate when you put your tasks off till late in the day. Get ‘er done!
In the office, there’s a set routine to the day. Try and establish a similar routine to work remotely from an RV or your home. A key part of that is to set firm times to start and end your workday. When the end of day comes, shut down the laptop, organize your workspace, and make a to-do list for the next morning. Then walk away from that work area and, best as you can, put work thoughts away till the next day.
Tip #3: Plan out your day
I’m a big believer in making lists. There are lots of apps you can use, all the major email programs have to-do and reminder features and I’ve tried many of the digital list-making tools.
But for the past year or so, I’ve been using something called the Full Focus Planner. I use a pencil – it’s easy to erase when something changes– and I jot down the three major tasks I need to accomplish each day. There are always some to-do items at the bottom of that particular day’s page, but focusing on the three big tasks and getting them done gives a real sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.
A planner also gives you an at-a-glance schedule. Write down deadlines, phone calls you need to make, teleconferences, and your breaks. Yes, we really mean that: Schedule your breaks. Plan to stand up, walk around for a couple of minutes, stretch, and get up from the chair every hour or so.
A lesson I learned the hard way: Don’t use that movement break to head to the kitchen and the refrigerator. Enough said.
Tip #4: Dress for work even when you work remotely from an RV
We also urge you not to be working in your PJ’s or overly casual clothes. You don’t have to be office chic’, but you should be at least presentable, showered, with combed hair and dressed neatly. Like a clean car and a washed RV seem to drive better, so we work better when we’ve cleaned ourselves up.
If you are on the road or boondocking somewhere, there's a lot of flexibility with this road, especially if you are not being seen by your boss, coworkers or clients/
That’s especially applicable for those who are doing video conferencing via apps and services like Zoom, Slack, FaceTime, Skype, or GoToMeeting. Men – shave every day. Women – put on your makeup as you would at the office. You’ll feel better, make a better impression, and find comfort in the routine.
But even if you are not being seen by anyone else, if you are dressing sloppy and neglecting personal hygiene, your work habits are going to reflect that. It's just a given. A sloppy demeanor leads to sloppy work.
Tip #5: Get a reliable Internet connection to work remotely from an RV
What makes all this work remotely from an RV stuff so successful of course, is the Internet. To that end, during high demand video conferencing, you may want to ask other family members or those who you share the RV with to stay offline for the duration of the conference to ensure you have enough bandwidth.
That means you need more than just your phone's hotspot. And in a campground, the free wi-fi they provide can be very slow. We use a Verizon Jetpack data card. You can find a similar device from whatever carrier you use. These stand-alone devices allow you to share a 4G LTE signal with up to 15 devices. We have found they provide a much more stable connection than just using your phone as a hot spot.
If you are out in the driveway, try to park near enough to your house that you can pick up your home's wi-fi broadband signal.
Here's an interview I did with some Internet advice from some experts about what you need to work remotely from an RV:
And if you are considering a cell phone booster or wi-fi amplifier, this video may be helpful:
Tip #6: Etiquette for those who work remotely from an RV
There are some etiquette guidelines for working online as well. When conferencing with business contacts, turn off all those pings, dings, beeps, and notifications that sound on your phone or computer when you get a text message, email, or social media post.
Even when you are working by yourself, deactivating those notifications will help keep you from being distracted, too.
I’d also urge you to resist the temptation to surf the net or read the latest news on the pandemic during work breaks. Check the news once or twice a day and you’ll be up to date. A steady drip of the unrelenting bad news of the day can sour even the sunniest disposition.
Here's a suggestion: Instead of checking the news sites or social media during your remote work breaks, open up your photos on your phone and computer and look at some of those great pictures you have from past RV trips. Look forward to where you will be going once the all-clear is issued to travel again.
Yes, you may not be traveling like you want to right now. But don’t think that the coronavirus lockdown has canceled your RV plans. It’s just postponed them.
You’re not being denied. You’re just delayed.
Then get back to work… remotely.
This is not forever. And who knows, and like we said earlier, maybe working remotely from an RV on the road on occasion is something you’ll be able to do someday, allowing you to enjoy the RV lifestyle even more.
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