Posted: Fri 14th Dec 2012
Whether you just need to go on the road or you routinely work in public places, you can benefit from saving costs and understanding the technology that will help you work more efficiently. Here's some advice from Stephen Findlay, founder of Woffee.com, the mobile workspace locator.
More and more of us are working for ourselves, turning a passion into a business, or simply wanting greater independence in our working lives, writes Stephen (left). Most of us work from home, out of a spare room, or a dedicated office - saving Â£1,000s in renting office space each month. But there will always come a time where we need to go on the road - to visit a client, for example, take an important meeting or simply because we prefer to work in busier places like coffee shops.
So here are four simple and effective tips to help reduce costs when on the road, and to enable us to work better.
1. Use free wi-fi.
Data charges on your phone, either at home or abroad, or a subscription to an internet dongle for your PC can be very expensive.Â And these costs will only get more expensive. Consider using free wi-fi wherever you can.Â Lots of coffee shops, pubs, restaurants and hotels now offer free wi-fi in the public areas - and they are very happy for you to use their wi-fi service, all for the cost of a coffee. Throughout the UK, Woffee.com has listed more than 1,000 venues with free wi-fi . You can either plan your trip in advance, or use our easy to use service from your mobile phone when on the go. Here's how to use free wi-fi, in case you're unsure!
2. Use your mobile phone differently.
One of the biggest expenses each month can be your mobile phone bill.Â But this can be reduced by considering a few easy steps before you call: Use a free internet-based calling app: Viber is a good example, which is available on most smartphones.Â You can then make calls to other phones on the Viber network for free. Use Skype: Â find somewhere quiet with free wifi Â then call using Skype, either from your phone, tablet or laptop. Use an international service: Â international calls can be a real killer. However, services like DialACode.com can dramatically reduce costs - simply add a six-digit number (available from their website) at the start of your number, and you can immediately start benefitting from reduced rates
3. For journeys longer than an hour, take the train and travel off-peak.
We often ignore the most valuable resource we have - which is our own time. Unless you're comfortable taking work calls while driving and your car is hooked up with hands-free, then driving to a client meeting is often wasted time. Taking the train can be a great alternative for journeys over an hour or so. Not only can you work while on the train, but booking tickets in advance or off-peak can reduce travel costs - even if you need to get a taxi at the other end.Â If your meeting itself isn't at an off-peak time, consider travelling off-peak anyway and find somewhere nearby to work for an hour or two before you take your meeting.
4. Don't rent flexible office-space unless you really have to!
Membership to a flexible office space can be very expensive, with lots of hidden costs.Â Always consider visiting the client site if you can for a meeting - your physical presence is often more likely to lead to a sale or provide you with useful information about your customer. If you can't do this, there are plenty of places you can go to which would be happy for you to hold a meeting - again, just for the cost of a coffee, rather than the Â£100 per hour you might otherwise be charged. On Woffee.com we've rated some of the best venues throughout the UK for you to do this, all of which are free to use. You shouldn't be worried about the impression the lack of an office environment may give your client - just point out that you are saving costs, which means you can provide them with better value for money. Good luck on your travels! Stephen Findlay spent 12 years in venture capital and strategy consulting, investing in and running small businesses throughout the UK. He founded Woffee.com in 2012 as a free-to-use service to find great places to work, use free wi-fi or meet for a coffee throughout the UK. Photo credit: David Goehring