With the advances in technology, it is now truly possible to work from your boat – from many remote locations and at an affordable cost.
Heading down to your boat early on a Friday morning is usually better than battling late Friday afternoon traffic in the summertime. You can get an early start commuting to your boat, then when work is done you are already there ready to enjoy the weekend.
But there are definitely productivity challenges with working from the boat – from the environment to adequate office space to reliable internet connections. Here are some important considerations and how you might address them to make working on your boat a bit more productive.
Connecting To Outside World
The key to turning your boat into a fully functional office is connectivity. There are three ways to connect a boat to the outside world: cellular, Wi-Fi, and satellite.
Satellite works pretty much anywhere, including at sea, but is excruciatingly slow for all but voice calls or bare-bones emails without attachments or graphics. It also can be very expensive. For this reason, most boaties choose to focus their day-to-day communications efforts on cellular and Wi-Fi only.
Even if your marina offers free Wi-Fi you may have internet connection issues due to signal strength. Many marinas have their signal coming from the main office which is far from the docks – and even further depending on where your boat is moored. If your marina is not willing or able to upgrade their equipment, then you can try using an USB Wireless Wi-Fi Network Adapter with a high-gain antenna to boost the signal.
Wi-Fi access at marinas often has a limited number of open IP addresses. Even if the wireless signal strength is good, you won’t be able to connect your smartphone or laptop. This is a common problem with busy marinas because everyone is trying to jump on the Wi-Fi with their smartphone. It’s best to invest in your own mobile hotspot if you really need to ensure you always have a reliable internet connection. You can easily purchase a wireless mobile hotspot device online and add it to your wireless plan.
Network security is as important when connecting to an unknown network from your boat as it is when connecting from land. For this reason, in addition to any antivirus or anti-malware software installed on your devices, use of a virtual private network (VPN) is highly recommended. A good VPN will provide “end-to-end” encryption, preventing interception of communications, even on unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
In addition to a decent computer and internet connection, you will also need tools to share and collaborate with your team, effectively and safely. Typically, these are the most common collaborating tools:
Never miss an important call again with a VoIP phone system (even if you are out on your boat). A Mi-Talk VoIP telephone setup, will allow you to pick up or make calls as if you were in the office. With pre-determined call flow, the call will be properly directed to the intended person. You can also direct calls to voicemail during outside office hours or holidays. All calls can be recorded and all voicemail messages are sent to your inbox. You can also easily collaborate with your team by having a messaging (chat-like) tool on the phone app for a quick chat with your employees or also to check their availability.
Communication must be as smooth as possible. A tool like Microsoft Teams lets remote workers video call, instant message, share documents and collaborate on them all within the same window.
These two storage solutions make saving and sharing documents simple. OneDrive is an employee personal storage vault. SharePoint acts as a shared storage vault and company intranet. Both integrate with other applications like Microsoft Teams and Outlook to make sharing and collaboration as streamlined as possible.
Let’s not forget every Microsoft 365 application that we know and love – from Word to Outlook – is available to be downloaded from the cloud.
Setting the stage for remote work, is far from a short afternoon task. It can take a fair amount of tweaking and patience to find what works for you. One thing that can be sorted out pretty quickly is the right technology.
Let us know if you need any assistance. One of our friendly team members will be more than happy to assist you to set up the perfect work/life/boating balance.