Seven Hacks Every Road Warrior Needs to Know

Solutions for working on the move.

by Adobe Communications Team

posted on 06-13-2018

A simple team meeting isn’t simple anymore. “I have team members based on the East Coast and the West Coast. I’m in London right now. I have someone in Malaysia. There’s always someone traveling and, between that and our existing offices, just trying to coordinate an appropriate time for a team meeting is a challenge,” says Marc Eaman, Adobe director of Experience Cloud technical marketing and evangelism. He’s not alone.

With the rise of global business and the ability to work virtually anywhere, many people are finding themselves working from their living room, a coffee shop, or on a plane. In fact, nearly 4 million U.S. employees work from home at least sometimes, and more than three in five work in remote locations. An equal number reports traveling out of state or further for work events, meetings, and commitments. To keep us on top of our to-do lists, even when we’re on the road, we look to technology to make sure we don’t skip a beat.

We talked to a few road warriors at Adobe to learn their best hacks for staying connected to their teams and maximizing what they are able to accomplish when away from home base. We uncovered seven tips to help today’s professionals work more effectively across time and distance.

1. Stay in constant communication

“Communication is non-stop in the work I do,” says A.J. Wood, Adobe senior solutions consultant. “Email and instant messaging are part of my daily communication setup.” But, as he explains, it goes deeper than simple back-and-forth when you or your team are separated by distance. “MS Office 365 and Slack are my go-to tools for communication with coworkers,” he adds.__

Paul Trani, a senior Creative Cloud evangelist, echoes A.J.’s sentiments. Paul traveled more than 204,000 miles in a single year for Adobe, hitting 26 countries and spending 206 days on the road. “Everything is harder on the road,” he says. “As a remote employee, I never have an office to go to. I’m constantly using Slack and, of course, email and text messaging. Just make sure you have an international phone plan when going overseas or a big bill will be waiting for you at home.”

2. Be “face-to-face”

To that end, many road warriors lack face-to-face interaction with management and colleagues, which can make teams feel disconnected. “If you look at productivity and teamwork with remote people, video is so amazing,” says Marc. “You can see people’s reactions when you’re in a meeting. You can feel the undertone of a response. You can read between the lines. When you’re not there or it’s just a voice on the phone, it’s really hard to gauge.”

Marc recommends using video conferencing systems that show all players, versus focusing just on the speaker. He cites his team’s latest platform, BlueJeans, as an ideal example. “As a remote person you’re often seeing one human at a time, so you don’t see how the team is reacting to what that person is saying,” he says. “If we’re six people and I see all six faces all of the time, that’s a much better experience, and much better for gauging how people really feel about a subject or discussion point.”

3. Integrate digital document solutions

“The biggest time-saver is signing up for electronic receipts,” says Paul. But, in some cases, that’s not an option — enter Adobe Document Cloud with its mobile-friendly Adobe Scan and a host of on-the-go editing capabilities. For travelers and road warriors, Adobe Scan allows easy consolidation of electronic and printed receipts. Simply scan and save paper print-outs and store them in the cloud, along with your electronic receipts.

And if you can go from paper to digital receipts in an instant, think what you can do with your business documents. Use your phone to scan documents to a PDF and then add signatures with Adobe Sign for approvals on-the-go without printing, faxing, or scanning. “ E-signatures with Adobe Sign,” says A.J., “are simple and convenient.”

These solutions, paired with mobile apps that use voice-based assistants, are poised to drive even more simplicity and connectivity. In the future, you will use verbal commands to complete complex forms from your smartphone or watch — no laptop necessary.

4. Lean on cloud connectivity

“Cloud connectivity has enhanced my collaboration and productivity,” A.J. says. “For creative events and projects like the Adobe MAX Conference or Creative Jams, I use Creative Cloud Libraries for media assets and Creative Cloud storage for project files.” Thanks to the ubiquity of Wi-Fi, whether you’re in Morocco or mid-air, cloud technology has never been more accessible or more in-demand by experienced road warriors. And if Wi-Fi isn’t available, you can always tap into cellular data access, or even work offline.

“I can maintain Creative Cloud and Document Cloud projects I need to review, or immediately reference offline on my devices, which is perfect for travel in Wi-Fi restricted areas,” says A.J.

The end result? Go-anywhere, do-anything cloud-based systems are ideal for road warriors who need constant access to their files and assets. Whether they’re in the office or on the road, they can review content, make edits, share files, and better collaborate with team members across distances.

5. Maximize mobile

Marybeth Gonzales, senior director of Partner and Program Development, spends at least 50 percent of her work time on the road. She cites her smartphone as the single most important tool in her arsenal. “Being able to do more and more on my phone is a godsend,” she says.

For Marybeth, “more” includes reviewing and approving marketing materials, to seeing what collateral will look like on any device. She can easily accomplish this with streamlined markup and comment features. “Adobe is so great with the different apps. I can bring up my partner portal on my phone,” Marybeth says. “It’s powered by Adobe Experience Manager, Analytics, and Target. With it, I can review reports and keep tabs on campaign results. We’re really making things user-friendly on your phone, so you don’t have to carry around your computer all the time.”

6. Get organized

When you’re spending a majority of your work day en route to and from locations, organization can be what makes the difference between a productive day and an exhausting nightmare. “Before my trips, I like to sit down and make sure my calendar is in line,” Marybeth says. “I need to understand my meetings and my deadlines, and, sometimes most importantly, when I will or will not have internet access.”

Marybeth suggests scheduling when you plan on working on certain projects into your itinerary so that you can make the most of your travel time. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish while on the plane, train, or in the back of the Uber.

And don’t forget to organize around your devices. Plan for when you will charge your phone, laptop, and tablet, and have backup battery packs available for days when you might not have time to stop and fuel your electronics. In case of emergency, have a hard copy of your itinerary and calendar with relevant information with you as well.

7. Simplify travel

Aside from getting work done, use technology to make your travel easier, too. “Always get the mobile app for your airline and sign up for alerts,” Paul says. It’s a simple tip, but one that can save endless hassles and headaches. “These apps are going to tell you when flights are delayed and gates are changing,” he says, adding it’s not uncommon for apps to be refreshed before the screens at airports, and that could be the difference between making and missing a critical connection.

Paul also recommends all-in-one apps like Tripit which consolidates all travel plans — flights, rental cars, reservations, hotel bookings, and more — into one simplified master itinerary. It’s completely personalized, and it’s designed for people on the move. Simply forward confirmations to a dedicated email, and Tripit organizes and displays everything in your customized itinerary.

In that vein, don’t forget that sometimes the best hacks are the simplest ones. “Always travel in the morning,” Paul says, “because there are less delays. And, if you miss a flight, there’s always another. And remember that when you accept a meeting invite, to think about what time zone you’ll be in at that time. Because it’s easy to get thrown off by an hour and miss it.”

With these hacks and the right tools, road warriors and their teams can be efficient and effective no matter where the wind takes them. And as tools continue to improve, collaboration and overall success promise to improve too, creating an environment where everyone is working smarter.

Read more articles in our Working Smarter collection.

Topics: Future of Work