Setting Up Your Mobile Office

A mobile office is probably one of the most essential tools for a digital nomad. You need to be able to whip out your laptop and work – from almost anywhere. Especially if you want to practice the art of efficiently working and traveling.

In most cases, this means getting a travel-friendly laptop. One that has enough processing power for you to complete tasks (especially if you work with videos and/or other graphics). It must also be light so that you’re not dragging a weight around – and must fit any bag you carry.

Of course, setting up a mobile office goes far beyond buying a laptop.

There are a couple of other tools that make the set up even easier.

The basics of a mobile office

Choose the right laptop

I’ve just said this, but I’ll repeat: the core of an efficient mobile office is a good laptop. You must able to (easily) carry it around. Make sure it fits snugly into your shoulder bag/backpack. Make sure the screen is big enough (some people can work with small screens, others go crazy).

mobile office typewriter keyboard
Typewriters are cool and retro… but would you really want to lug one around?

With regards to size and compact portability, Dell and Acer have some pretty nice models. Acer’s TravelMate range, in particular, is designed exactly for what it says on the tin. Size-wise, Apple’s computers aren’t terrible either.

Have your own power supply

Ideally, wherever you work should have power outlets available. Having trekked through cafes in various European cities, I’m aware that this isn’t always possible. Especially on trains. If you’re working 10+ hours without an outlet, you need to have a backup supply handy. Plenty of power banks are available nowadays.

mobile office potatoes
Delicious and nutritious but not a great source of power. Seriously, invest in a power bank.
Note: Make sure you find a power bank that can charge laptops! There is a difference!

Bags!

I’m not very fancy when it comes to bags. My current office holder is a cheap Ikea design – yet its perfect thanks to the various compartments it has. A lot of bags these days have a special pocket specifically designed for laptops, so make use of it. In addition, make sure there are separate compartments for USB cables, plug adaptors, your phone, etc.

Plug Adaptors

For a mobile office, these couldn’t be more important. Even in Europe, there are differences between plugs depending on whether you’re in the UK or on the mainland. Tuck a few necessary plug adaptors into your bag and leave them there. It will seriously throw a spanner in your plans and leave you scrambling to go to the next electronics store if you forget.

Headphones

If you have regular meetings, you should really conduct them in a quiet space. It could be your bedroom or a bathroom… Noisy cafes aren’t advisable. That being said, headphones are still a plus. Not just in terms of having a meeting, either: you may simply want to drown out the surrounding noise and concentrate on your work!

Setting up a mobile office really is that simple… Although it can be as elaborate as you like. The main point is that you want to be able to whip it out and start working wherever you are.

(Easily) Avoiding “Work from Home” Scams

The sad truth is that work from home scams are common. VERY common. They’ve also been around for a long, long time. Nowadays, there are more people looking remote and telecommute jobs… Which means that the online job scam marketplace is growing exponentially. Scammers have a lot of opportunities to prey on unsuspecting people… Even if they do have to work that little bit harder for it. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. A lot of this simply involves being aware and informed.  So, please read on if your remote job search to go as smoothly as possible.

Job scams are also common in the “real” world – although they’re a little more difficult to pull off.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s a little easier for scammers to fool even otherwise savvy people into falling for work from home scams. Naïve people exist everywhere. Sometimes, this is born out of desperate. We want (or need!) a job so badly that we’re almost willing to take anything. Ultimately, it becomes very easy for the scammer to take advantage of someone.

The telecommute job market can be particularly competitive. Which makes it tough… And emotionally draining. Sometime an offer comes along that’s too good to be true. And we take it because… Well, we’re fed up of searching.

One advantage we’ve got nowadays are remote job boards. These platforms are especially designed for those seeking remote jobs or who want to find an online job. These platforms do their best to “clean up” the job advertisements posted on their sites. Which protects applicants from scammers.

This shouldn’t, however, take the responsibility off the individual because…

…you should still be able to recognize a work from home scam yourself.

Evaluating a Work from Home Scam: What you should look for

There are a few signs which clearly point to a “job” actually being a work from home scam. As a general rule of thumb, if something’s too good to be true… Then it usually isn’t true. However there are also a few more signs that remote job seekers need to be wary of…

  • The good, old-fashioned “get rich quick” scheme. It’s a tale as old as time. Although it’s become more prominent in the online world. Sorry, but that’s not how the real world works. Unless you yourself are a (very good, nay, excellent!) and persistent scammer. “Get rich quick” and pyramid schemes definitely predate the Internet… And they’ve made a smooth transition online. So if a listing basically tries to guarantee you copious amounts of wealth in exchange for very little… Avoid! Avoid! Avoid! It’s a load of bullshit.
  • Never part with your money. Scammers can dress it up every which way – especially if they’re offering “freelance” positions. They’ll say you’ve got to pay for expensive “training”, “courses” or “software”… and that it’s part of your job to pitch in and pay for it. Nope, that’s not how it works. You’re there to provide them a service. So, bottom line? Never pay in order to work!
  • Read the job description very carefully. Is it written in a clear and concise manner? Do they seem to know the industry well? Do they seem to know exactly what they’re looking for (and if not, do they happily admit they’re not sure… But willing to try out with the right candidate?). Essentially, do you get the impression that the company knows what they’re talking about?
  • Check the URL! Simple, but effective. Scammers also try to rip off real companies. They even clone/copy a real company’s website. This is where a bit of deep research comes in handy if you’re unsure… So don’t forget to check their URL. Generally speaking if it directs to something like “unilever.com”, you’re in the clear. If the URL seems strange in any way… Then be very, very wary!

Work from home scams can be very elaborate. In a lot of case you’re usually fine if you’re trying to get a remote job from a medium to large company.

But another thing you need to keep an eye out is the types of jobs which are normally scams. Some of them seem like real jobs… At least until you take a closer look.

Remote “jobs” that are usually scams

Certain remote and telecommute jobs are, for the most part, complete bogus. The easier a job appears to be, and the higher the promised income is (for the amount of work you actually put in…) – then sorry, the less likely it is to be a real position. This is usually how work at home job scams catch people out. Although, some are getting a bit cleverer.

Some of the below “jobs” are positions that you should definitely avoid.

The Assembly “Job”

We hadn’t even heard of these until we actually did some research on job scams…  This type of “job” seems particularly mean (and depressing). The “employees” are sent starter kits to assemble craft supplies… And the products are then sold on by the company. Of course, the assembler gets paid… Not. It’s pretty obvious off the bat that this is a scam because… guess what? We’ve got machines to do that nowadays.

It’s simply not a valid business model. Forget it!

The Data Entry Job

Unlike assembly jobs, data entry is actually a valid type of work… And yes, a lot of people do it. You can actually find valid data entry gigs online which will pay you a couple of dollars. Honestly though, a full-time data entry is not only a) rare to come across and b) doesn’t pay very well. That’s because it’s quite literally grunt work. It’s the digital equivalent of stacking shelves.

Data entry is part of a host of other jobs. From VAs, secretaries to online marketers and programmers. All at different pay scales.

You’ll know that this job is a scam when you’re promised even a liveable salary.

Nope, forget it. These are usually bullshit as well.

So then what is the best way to get a remote job (without being scammed)?

There’s no magic formula to finding a remote job. It’s just like finding any other kind of positions. You need to have the qualifications and/or experience for the role you want. And during your job search, make sure you’re aware of the most common types of work from home scams. As well as any other kind of job scam.

Just being a little savvy will help you separate the wheat from the chaff… and get you the job you want.