If You Travel for Business, Your Job May Depend on Reliable Internet
Technology & Lifestyle
Dec. 5, 2019, 10:03 p.m.
Eric Plam
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In today's globalized economy, more careers than ever involve traveling both throughout the United States and to business hotspots around the world.

Business travel is a common part of the job for many salespeople, communications and public relations experts, consultants, retail buyers, information technicians, managers, and freelancing creatives. Jobs that once required being chained to a desk from nine to five have expanded beyond borders thanks to the rapid advancement in technology in recent years. It's now possible to have clients in every time zone, and coworkers from all corners of the globe.

Regardless of what kind of work you do, business travel jobs have one thing in common: no matter where you go or who you're meeting with, you must be able to get online. Many business travelers require both a computer and a smart device connected to the internet at all times in order to perform their jobs effectively. Yet, finding a reliable source of internet is one of the most common sources of stress during business travel.

The Demands of Online Work

When traveling for pleasure, most people want to stay connected to check social media posts or be easily reachable for family members. Business travelers rely on connectivity for much more than that.

While staying in touch with loved ones is always important, every career that involves travel needs a strong Wi-Fi signal to get the job done. Some important internet-related work tasks include:

Preparation for Big Meetings

A growing percentage of companies, both small and large, are migrating their data to the cloud. This is ideal for workers who are on the move, as they are able to access their files from anywhere with a good Wi-Fi connection. But without it, you aren't able to prepare for big presentations, check documents, or stay abreast of any developments from headquarters while you are away.

Collaborating with Coworkers

Along with access to files, business travelers need access to their coworkers. Few projects operate within a vacuum, so it's necessary to be reachable throughout the day in order to answer and ask important questions.

Many teams use cloud-based software to organize workflow, too. Without the internet, you are out of the loop and could be at risk of missing important deadlines and queries from your peers.

Remote Meetings

It's not necessary to be in the same room—or even the same continent—to have an effective and efficient meeting these days. With a wide variety of video chatting apps, all you need is a reliable Wi-Fi connection to talk with coworkers, managers, and clients at any time that fits into your schedules.

Taking Care of Business

Almost all work in today's modern economy demands some kind of web-based research or communication. If you're heading to meet a client, you may need Wi-Fi to access a map on your smart device or hail a ride using a ride-share app. It's hard to imagine how ubiquitous the internet is for your daily business operations until you don't have access to it while traveling.

How Reliable Connectivity Improves Business Travel

When business travelers struggle for reliable internet, plenty of problems arise.

First, there's a general waste of time. Spending part of your day searching for good Wi-Fi can dramatically reduce your productivity, even if you're able to get connected in the end. This is especially problematic when traveling, as the rigors of being on the move also tend to cut into efficiency.

Second, not having internet capability is stressful—and sometimes dangerous as well, depending on where you are traveling. You have to be able to find transportation, office locations, and even restaurants where you have meetings planned. Traveling in a new and unfamiliar place is challenging enough—finding Wi-Fi shouldn't be another thing to worry about.

Perhaps most importantly, when internet is unreliable, you're more likely to let the client down. In a profession that demands regional, national, or international travel, you're there because people are counting on you to get the job done. If you can't complete a task because you can't get a signal, there can be serious consequences for your company and your clients.

Solutions for Staying Connected

Due to the growing demand for internet connectivity by businesses and business travelers, you have more options than ever to stay connected while away from the office.

Public Wi-Fi

The most common—and cheapest—option is simply searching out public Wi-Fi locations. Cafés, hotel bars, and co-working spaces build free Wi-Fi into their business plans as a way to attract customers. Some libraries and governments offer public Wi-Fi locations as well. However, this free connectivity comes at a price. There may be limited hours, areas may be noisy and not conducive to work, and worst of all, hackers could get access to sensitive files and information, potentially resulting in serious data security issues.

International Phone Plans

Some business travelers use international phone plans to solve this issue. While this is effective, it can also be a significant budget line item. It's not always wise to rely on international SIM cards, either. Some countries won't allow foreigners to purchase service, and other countries are notorious for sky-high data rates and blackouts. Freelance workers and financially savvy companies will likely need a longer-term solution.

Personal Hotspots

For an unlimited global Wi-Fi connection, many travelers are adding a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot to their tech bag. These must-have gadgets sometimes include an internal battery pack, or else they connect to your personal power bank. Some hotspots, like Skyroam's products, fit into the palm of your hand. They don’t take up too much space in the carry-on, and they provide substantial peace of mind to business travelers.

Planning Ahead

When packing for a business trip, a prepared worker creates a plan for staying connected. In today's workforce, with so many files, meetings, and coordination plans stored online, your job can literally depend on it. Plus, being connected will make it easier to enjoy your time in another city or town—you'll be less stressed and more prepared every step of the way.