Build your own Virtual Office: Network
Part 2 talks about how you will be working in your virtual office: online or offline.
In the previous segment of the Virtual Offfice series, I discussed the best mobile device for managing your mobile office. Now, we'll move towards the network side of things. We can do this in one of three ways: online, offline, or go hybrid (use both).
This is by far the easiest way to work out of your virtual office. There is no need to go online and you can take your work with you anywhere. Pack everything into your device and work offline. No connection is necessary, but you have your files with you and when you're done, you sync up your mobile device and your workstation when you return to the office.
Online is king!
Here we go! Most people choose this option because, naturally, they want to be online and completely connected.
If you decide to go with an online approach, there are two ways to connect: wireless or wired. Wireless requires a PCMCIA card (or it's built in) if you have a laptop or a WiFi-enabled device where a wired approach requires an Ethernet cable with a jack somewhere to physically connect to the Internet.
The wireless way is the easiest way to connect to the Internet because you turn on your WiFi option on your laptop or PDA, locate a hotspot, and start working right away. However, with people connecting at such fast speeds nowadays with T1 lines, using WiFi at a total 54mps (or even less, which I guarantee) may tax some users patience. I'll take a wired connection any day.
I'll just touch on this briefly, but most users have the ability to connect wirelessly and then disconnect to work without the distractions of IM or email. This is definitely the preferred way for a Virtual Office.
Out of the three options above, most people choose the latter, because its the best of both worlds. Connect to the office, download what you need, disconnect, and work without distractions.
Location, Location, Location
Now that you know what kind of connection you want, you need an actual connection to get to the Internet.
One suggestion is the local Starbucks. They always have an 802.11g wireless connection for $10/day. The G option won't work with some PDA's unless it's built in, and with the push towards G, it seems the B option may be fading away. Other restaurants that support WiFi are Panera, Champps, and Buffalo Wild Wings (all free).
Another option are the Mom & Pop Internet Cafe's that have cropped up. Of course, they have WiFi connections available, but certain cafe's have Ethernet jacks for your laptop. Even better! Remember, wired is faster than wireless.
Most hotels are starting to follow suit and add an Internet charge onto the room bill. These connections can vary from wireless to wired, but make sure you ask what kind of connection they offer so you are well-equipped to have your network cable instead of your wireless PCMCIA card for those long trips. Depending on the device you own (more than likely its a laptop, right?), always carry an additional Ethernet cable and/or phone jack with a modem.
If you still can't find a place to connect, try the WiFi hotspots directory. This will get you hooked up.
In this segment, we talked about how you can get a network connection no matter where you're located. Next topic is my favorite...software.