Preparing for Mobile Office Work

Mobile, by definition, means the ability to move or be moved freely or easily. These are my long-term goals as I prepare to move a part time job from my home to our future in an RV.

Back in December of 2016 I posted an update on our financial planning. That month I’d brought up the idea a current employer wanted me to keep a part time office job.  Doing so would prevent having to draw from retirement funds while on the road. What a great opportunity and a good business deal that was good for both of us.  It did not take long for me to accept the offer. Since then I’ve become more confident keeping the job will work out. Especially after meeting others who are already working an office job from their RV and contacting others online regarding connectivity such as phone service. I really appreciate those of you who spent time answering emails or responding to comments on the topic. Thank you!

In January of 2014 I sold a small construction contracting business which employed five people. I sold it to the then superintendent who kept me on as it’s office manager. In short, the job requires about 10 hours of my time each week. I work from my home on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and again on Saturday mornings. The hours are flexible, but I always try and make myself available on the phone on those days for consistency.  Folks know they can get in touch with me during those days.

For the past several months I’ve kept a notebook at my desk and wrote down by category each major task I typically accomplish on the days I work. Usual office stuff such as payroll, customer invoicing, monthly/quarterly tax preparation and such.  Maybe not so typical is bidding floor plans from prints.  I came up with 20 titles for tasks I perform in my job where I needed to figure out how to get them done on the road.  Always keeping in mind, the greater goal is to make the move in a way which will cause the least inconvenience to my boss, customers, vendors and employees. I suppose success will be that few people will even know I’m sitting in sunny locations hundreds of miles away from them.

I’ve got the list sitting next to me as I write this. There are a few areas that have been more challenging to figure out and I would appreciate any advice you have to offer.

  • Mail service when a business is involved: Karen and I will establish a mail service in whatever state we decide to domicile within for personal use.  I’ve read everything I could find regarding how the Escapees RV Club mail service works for example. They are a little vague about business mail but state they provide the service. I’ll most likely end up calling each service for an explanation as to how they handle business mail. I’ve starting moving everything possible over to online service to avoid mail but there simply will be a need to receive some mail and for sure scanning services where they open the mail and scan it when requested.
  • Computer hardware for tiny homes: I’ve already decided a laptop and external monitor will be the way to go. When I’m out of range for WIFI or cellular service I’ll have the ability to drive down the road to connect. But what about printing?  Again, I’m doing what I can to go paperless. I mostly receive floor plans, maybe three to four a month, via PDF files. I may try and find a software to use in taking measurements but generally must print them off on an 11×17 printer.  Maybe half a dozen times a year, it’s better to have them printed in larger format by a service provider such as Office Depot. The boss says this one is easy. Tell the customer to send prints in a format I can use, or they will not get the best quotation (price estimate) possible. For lack of better ideas, I’m thinking to just go with the smallest laser printer possible and keep the 11×17 printer in a box for those times I need it.
  • Changing the business office address: Correspondences come to my home address now. The business address will change to the boss’s office once we leave in an RV. There will be times he has to forward items on to me. And there will be times I mail items to him to sign and expect him to forward it on in the mail, such as quarterly taxes. I’m thinking about training him on using a phone application to take photos to send to me and maybe getting with his wife, whom I’ve worked with in the past, regarding items he needs to sign and mail.

I’m hacking away at the list of converting the home office to a mobile office. It will help that we are planning to purchase the RV well in advance of going full time. That will give it a chance to test everything out from a local RV park or wherever. If anyone wants to have a longer discussion on the topic, just post in the comments section. I’d love to talk about it.  Here are a few more areas on my list to improve for a mobile office:

  • Signing up for mobile tax payments and filing forms. (In progress)
  • Customer invoicing. (Some already prefer emails)
  • Cutting down on business “junk mail”. (Faxing a form letter to take me off their list)
  • Cutting down on need to print stuff.
  • Working with accountant to submit end of year documents for taxes. (Will use their file server)
  • Researching affordable internet and cell service. And signal boosting.
  • A work area in the trailer.
  • Having all or most all vendors submit bills electronically.
  • Finish scanning old documents.

I suppose my office space can be the dining room table or sitting on the floor in the living room. But I’d rather figure something out that can be setup and torn down easily when not in use. Karen came up with a few interesting photos of mobile offices and I’ve been keeping a list of ideas I’ve heard about.

 

new flash  Vanleigh RV is introducing a new fifth wheel targeting the fulltime RVer. It’s called the Beacon. Click here for a brief video. I hope they do a better job with cargo capacity than the Vilano model has. I think they will because of 8,000-pound axles.

new flash Quick list comparing the 2016 Keystone Montana vs Grand Design Solitude differences per Camping World. I saw a similar list at the local 2017 RV show. This will give you an idea of what to look for that might not be easy to see.

6 thoughts on “Preparing for Mobile Office Work

    • Good idea Mary. I know there is some freeware out their which will take measurements from a drawing. One problem is getting everything to display large enough on a screen to be able to see the details. So far I’m going back to old ways for the several times a year this could be an issue. I’ve been keeping a list of jobs I bid from prints to get a general idea of costs per sq.ft. compared to jobs I already estimated. So I can give the customer a idea of what to put in their budget. Jeff is open to whatever I want to do to include telling customers we no longer will work from paper prints 🙂

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  1. Mark – do you follow the blog, Technomadia? Chris and Cherie of Technomadia have a consulting business to help RVers with their mobile technology needs. If you haven’t done so, check out their business website – rvmobileinternet.com. There is a wealth of information available and they were very helpful to me when putting together our plan for full-timing. Good luck.

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  2. Hi Mark – Love how you think man! Only two comments; one on the work space issue, and second on internet.

    On internet access; it’s an issue. Barb mentioned Technomadia. Check out their info on boosters. You’re probably going to want to outfit your rig with those options. The set up that Shane did at http://tinyshinyhouseonwheels.com/ is very well thought out and tested. He said he used info on Techno too.

    Second: I transitioned from office, to home office in 2008. Now my wife and I are both in the process of transitioning to mobile office. If you’re like me, you’re going to transition from desk, or office space, to mobile pretty quickly. In other words, you’re going to figure out the software/device mix as you go. So, I wouldn’t try to pre-plan too much here before you’re living in the “pool of necessity”. I think that will drive a lot of better decisions.

    Good luck!

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    • Thanks for the heads-up on the tiny shiny house blog. I checked it out briefly but will dive in later for more details.

      Agree I’ll most likely figure the software/device mix out as I go. If “it ain’t broke don’t fix it” applies here. I’d like to take as much of the existing tech I use with me on the road and as time goes swap some of it out. I am fairly sold on a laptop with an external monitor for split screens. Fortunately I can get all the online must do stuff done in a couple hours each week so worst case I’d drive into town for a connection. Figure we might have to stay out of a few very remote places for a while until we get it figured out.

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