Where am I working right now? Thanks to mobile tech you cannot tell

Where am I working right now? Thanks to mobile tech you cannot tell

Summary: Today I worked in a most unlikely place, using mobile technology as if I was in my office.


Mobile technology has evolved at such a rapid pace in recent years that it is having a profound effect on the working habits of many. Right now I could be working almost anywhere without sacrificing what I do or how I do it. The same is true for workers in growing numbers as it is possible to work in many places that wouldn't work a few years ago.

Before I share where I am working and what I am using to do the work, it is important to note that given advances in the technology I have a range of choices that can get the work done. I could be using a laptop, a tablet or even a smartphone to work with little compromise. Each of these devices has evolved nicely, and it is still happening. Who knows what capabilities these mobile devices will be able to handle in the near future?

Back to the present-- I am currently working in the waiting room of a car dealership as they perform routine maintenance on my car. The business owner provides free Wi-Fi, as more customers work in this type of venue than ever before. I came prepared for the lack of a hotspot, though, with my 4G LTE mobile hotspot in my bag. I could also use my Android smartphone as a hotspot in a pinch, although I would have to pay for a month of tethering in that case.

With connectivity available, I could easily be working with any of the device types I mentioned early in this article. Some would be easier to use in this venue, but all would allow me to get real work done in a pinch. I will share what gadget I am using for this work in a bit.

Some will be thinking that I am a technology blogger so my work is different than most folk's. There's some truth to that but the average office worker does similar things when out of the office. Before writing this article I was reviewing a business plan sent to me via email (MS Word format), and prior to that I was updating a financial spreadsheet I maintain. Pretty typical tasks for most office workers.

Those office tasks are easily done on a laptop, but can also be tackled with a tablet or smartphone with the right software. To those whom the worker interfaces with on a daily basis, there is no way to tell what a mobile worker is using to get the job done, much less where it happens. That's the key to successful mobile working, it must be transparent to colleagues and clients.

The other day I was working in a Starbucks and next to me was an executive for a major hard drive manufacturer. He was working on his laptop just as he would in his office. He was also making/taking phone calls without missing a beat. No one he dealt with on the phone or via email knew where he was working, which is the transparency he wanted. He told me he doesn't even tell his bosses when he is working mobile, as some of them believe those working remotely don't work as hard as they do in the office.

That's not true as a good mobile professional is just as productive outside the office as he/she is inside a cubicle. Sometimes they are even more productive with fewer interruptions from coworkers stopping by as regularly happens in the office.

Whatever the mobile worker does for a living, the technology makes it a viable option to do it outside the office. Mobile connectivity is now available for most workers when needed, if still a bit expensive. While most remote workers will choose a laptop to get busy, the tablet can do in a pinch. The proof of that is what I am using right now.

The HP TouchPad has proven to be a real workhorse in this waiting room for the past hour and a half. Normally I would have brought a laptop for this type of work, but the session was unplanned. I did not know I would be stuck here so long, and the waiting room is not very comfortable for laptops. I was still able to be productive, even creative, using the slate all this time. Mobile technology can liberate anyone from the cubicle.

The beauty is I could just as easily been using an iPad or an Android tablet and been just as productive. There has never been a time in the history of mobile computing when so much choice has been available. It's a great time to be mobile.

Image credit: whatleydude

Topics: CXO, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets, IT Employment

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Sadly, your taxing authority can

    I live in Florida, my customers are in Europe, my employer is in Illinois. Yet, I must still pay Illinois Income taxes for a state that I do not live or work in.
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Where am I working right now? Thanks to mobile tech you cannot tell


      Actually, you're suggesting the exact opposite. The taxing authority is taxing where the office is. They are clearly completely insensitive to where you're actually working. I'd say see if your employer is willing to put you on some other compensation track if they aren't willing to set up for a multi-state office. I thought Florida real estate was going cheap now a days.
  • RE: Where am I working right now? Thanks to mobile tech you cannot tell

    James, You got dressed in the dark?
    • RE: Where am I working right now? Thanks to mobile tech you cannot tell

      @Return_of_the_jedi Fortunately that's not me. :)
      • Sure?

        @JamesKendrick Those rear-facing cameras can be tricky.
  • RE: Where am I working right now? Thanks to mobile tech you cannot tell

    I also work remotely and keep constant contact with the office using Skype, and emails. 70% of the time I am working from home while the other 30% I could be anywhere; at my local coffee shop, bookstore, restaurant, at the airport it doesn't matter. Very liberating. So long as I'm in contact via Skype, where I choose to work is really transparent to my colleagues and clients. A large part of my work consists of research from the web so devices like the iPhone and iPad are perfectly sufficient most of the times. I don't need to lug the laptop each time. Welcome to the darn of the Post-PC era.
  • RE: Where am I working right now? Thanks to mobile tech you cannot tell

    I wouldn't say you "can't tell". Sure, with some people maybe you can't but I can tell pretty damned fast with the people I deal with when I get emails whether or not the people sent them from a desktop or not. Heck, just the way they're formatted or the length of the sentences often tells me if they're on a blackberry, smartphone or sitting at a desk. If an email originated on a desktop in MS Office and comes back formatted in plain text ... yeah, that came back from mobile.

    The people I deal with every day also tend to truncate the content of their emails when they're mobile versus sitting at a desk. It is so much faster and easier to read the whole email and type when using a full screen and a keyboard that you just allow yourself to ramble a bit more. But, with smartphones you're scrolling up and down trying to judge if what you've said is valid and so often people just truncate their emails to shorter content, often pushing off decisions until they can sit at a desk and review a document better.

    Now, can you tell a mobile laptop with a 3G connection versus a guy at a desk? That would be more difficult. Mobile phones? I can usually tell.
    • RE: Where am I working right now? Thanks to mobile tech you cannot tell


      I would say the opposite is true for at least the several hundred thousand employees of HP. 200MB inboxes. All Outlook all the time. Things typically come back plain text when someone is working from their cube. As far as people thinking before they blast out a bunch of gibberish from their keyboard... how is that not an improvement?
  • RE: Where am I working right now? Thanks to mobile tech you cannot tell

    I been using my windows 7 pc, windows phone 7 which all microsoft products are the best for business. Apple products are not business at all.
  • RE: Where am I working right now? Thanks to mobile tech you cannot tell

    Hey James,

    While I get a kick out of your post and agree with it; "transparency" doesn't mean invisibility. The CEO sitting next to you in Starbucks wasn't interested in "transparency", unless you mean he could be seen through, which is kind of nonsensical, particularly given the context. I'd assume he doesn't want people to know where he is, so being invisible might be a bit more appropriate, ya think?