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Top Tech Tips for Working Remotely at The Cottage

tips for working remotely

If “work from home” this summer actually means “working remotely at the cottage,” keep reading for a roundup of the tech you need to be as productive as you would at the office.

Barbeque on the deck? Check. Boat tied to the dock? Yep. The sound of loons flying over the lake? You bet.

It’s cottage (or cabin) season, so you’re likely – nay, understandably – spending time away from the urban jungle this summer.

But while you’re hanging out mostly with family, friends and nature, you’ll no doubt have to get some work done, too.

That’s just fine—in fact, you might be more productive while reclining in a Muskoka chair than your stuffy office in the city—but be sure to bring the right gear with you. Remote settings bring some additional challenges to remaining connected to the office.

The following are a few suggestions and tips for working remotely so you can stay on your game, wherever life (and work) takes you.

Reliable Wi-Fi is a must

You could have the best gear in the world, but none of it matters without fast and reliable internet.

Options for high-speed internet will vary based on your location. Those who plan to spend a lot of time working somewhere other than home should look into what internet service providers are available in the area. If there aren’t (m)any options, consider satellite internet service, like Starlink (see below). But be aware trees, hills and other obstructive objects around your property might impact the quality and dependability of satellite internet (not to mention bad weather).

Instead, for a short-term, remote “workcation,” it’s recommended to go with a mobile “hotspot,” a small device that lets you share your cellular network connection with other devices, so they can access the internet. You would join devices, like a tablet or laptop, to your hotspot via Wi-Fi, but then it’s leveraging 4G or 5G cellular technology to get online. Be aware you will be charged for any data they use, according to your monthly data plan, or if you pick up a separate plan with the hotspot device.

Each of Canada’s Big Three providers have a different name for these products: Rogers calls them Rocket Hubs, for Bell it’s Turbo Hubs and Telus refers to them as Smart Hubs.

Boost your calls and texts, too

Cellphone signal boosters are another popular purchase among those who spend time in remote locations.

After all, it could be embarrassing to have missed or dropped calls when trying to work from a summer home.

The cellphone “booster” industry grew by more than 25 percent last year, according to one of the industry leaders, SureCall, a manufacturer of cellphone signal boosters.

An amplifier is usually mounted to a roof, the outside antenna of the phone captures the cellular signal from a nearby tower, which is connected to the interior components. Your phone picks up and amplifies the signal to send it back to the tower. This is important, especially in weak signal areas, as you may get decent signals from a cell tower but can’t connect the call because your phone doesn’t have the power to send it back to the tower.

Sometimes the outside antenna needs to be aimed at a cell tower, if there are no obstructions, while other antennas are omni-directional.

The SureCall Flare 3.0 ($449), for example, covers up to 3,000 square feet, and works with any brand of cell phone or smartphone (or hotspots), regardless of the phone carrier. It supports 4G/LTE and 5G networks.

There’s also the SmoothTalker Home Stealth Z6 Series (from $599) that covers up to 10,000 square feet.

Make sure you have back-up power 

Those who work remotely know all too well inclement weather could knock out power, even temporarily, which might impede your ability to get work done. Always keep your laptop juiced up, just in case, and consider a hotspot wireless device with a back-up battery inside.

If you’re spending time on a dock, backyard or boat, bring along a portable power solution for your mobile device, like the Anker PowerCore 20100 ($59), a power bank with a massive 20,100mAh battery and two USB ports to charge up multiple devices (simultaneously, if desired). Always keep your power bank charged up, too, in case you need it.

A few other considerations:

  • On a related note, to safeguard your computer and other indoor electronics, make sure your power strip has a “surge protection” feature, which defends against possible voltage spikes that could damage your electronics (often after the power returns).
  • Remember to make a copy of your important computer files on a regular basis. Free cloud services are fine, but remember if the power or internet goes down, you’ll be without your files, so consider a local (offline) solution, too, such as an external drive.
  • Invest in waterproof tech, such as smartphones, e-readers and speakers, in case you get caught in the rain or gets splashed on if you’re working near the lake.

a man carrying two children

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