When your office is completely digital, you don't need to be in the office at all to get things done. I'm lucky enough that my job can be done almost exactly the same if I telecommute from the comfort of my bed or my home office — with no fancy videoconferencing or always-on audio chat applications required, just the same online tools that I always use. All I need is a half-decent internet connection, and I'm set. Getting that reliable, fast internet is another question entirely, though.
Gizmodo is in Berlin this week for IFA — one of the world's largest tech shows. Thanks to Vodafone Business, we're roaming using a Vodafone mobile SIM and the company's $5 International Global Roaming to get access to our Australian data cap, calls and messages just like we were in the office or at home. Vodafone's 4G network covers 22 million Australians.
A Regular Workday: Talking To Your Team Like You're There In Person
There's no substitute for face-to-face communication — and that means that, for serious business work, being in the office is always the best choice. But failing that, being connected at a high enough quality makes it relatively straightforward to catch up with everyone in your office as if you were in your office. Businesses use dozens of different instant messaging and group communication apps these days, but our poison of choice is Hipchat, the group chat service from our Aussie-founded friends at Atlassian.
The big thing with working from home is about having the same impact that you might have if you were in the office. If your team interacts almost entirely online, like mine does, that's easily possible — it's all about taking part. Because I'm always online, whether it's through a web app on my PC via Chrome or on an actual app on my smartphone, I can respond straight away to any question I'm asked or give any feedback that I can to help out — just in a different medium to the one I'd usually use if I were there in person.
Beyond that, when your business works online, being connected constantly means the people important to its operation can work together and know what each other are doing. We have a few different people working simultaneously on Gizmodo, and if we don't keep track of each other there's a chance we might duplicate our effort and waste time. It doesn't need to be especially high speed, especially if you're using efficient methods to talk, but it does need to be reliable — and that means taking as many extra points out of the equation as possible.
Working From Home: Mixing Different Networks For Maximum Usefulness
When I work from home, I'm lucky enough to have access to a couple of different methods of internet access. There's a problem, though — at home, the ADSL that I have connected is pretty terrible. It syncs at 8mbps download at just under 1mbps upload. That's enough for most of the work that I do, but it's kind of a pain for the crucial part of my job that is uploading. I've talked about the importance of upload speeds in the past — it's the kind of thing that we should be talking about more with the NBN, for example — and it's one thing that 4G comes in really handy for.
Working online on a technology site, my job deals with large files — video files, big high-res photos — on a regular basis. I have to download them and upload them just as much, and ADSL doesn't handle the second part so well. For that, a fast connection like 4G comes in handy. Where my ADSL syncs at a megabit of upload on a good day, I can get 40 on 4G. For uploading video to YouTube, or building a photo library of high-res images for a review, waiting half an hour for our nation's crappy wired internet to catch up just isn't an option.
I still use ADSL for the largest downloads that I have — the Window updates and the Steam downloads and the Netflix streams — but for my work day, the small files that I have to draw down and send back up to another location, 4G is just more useful. These days, the small difference in latency between a wired connection and a wireless one is unimportant; the massive difference in outright download and upload speeds means more. I'm able to justify the extra expense because without it, I'd be waiting a lot longer to get my job done, and that doesn't work out well for anyone in the long run.