Don’t tell my boss, but I went out-of-town last week and left my laptop at home. The amazing part is I got everything done I needed to while on the road (well, almost everything). I hatched the idea of just carrying my HTC One mobile device after traveling recently with a vice president. We were in a three-day training class together and he didn’t have his laptop along. I watched him work with envy. He flashed his QR code airline ticket to get through security on his IPhone and later he sat in the airline lounge reading the morning news and emails. Meanwhile, I was stuck wrenching my PC in and out of its case and lugging it precariously with my rolling bag, my paper ticket clenched between my teeth.
My bold experiment on my latest trip led to a few breakthrough moments that really gave me perspective on what worked and what didn’t in my corporate ecosystem. There were some huge intrinsic benefits. I didn’t have to fool with my laptop in the hotel room to procure a Wi-Fi signal, and I had one less thing to keep track of during the conference and subsequent stay. Here are few other observations on the benefits of going small:
Cellular data speeds are fantastic these days. Touching down in an LTE market underscored this. I was able to look up directions, keep in touch with family, and do my daily work without waiting for coverage or long pauses for screens to paint. I shot the family a quick Glympse so they could track me in sunny California.
Mobilization of many applications makes leaving the laptop at home possible. While reading and manipulating spreadsheets was still a virtual impossibility, there are many applications that are now ready for an unfettered mobile traveler. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many internal apps were optimized for my mobile device. Even the conference survey was mobile-ready, so I could easily fill it out from my mobile device.
I called people much more than I usually do. This was a major revelation. When I looked at my Outlook and saw an email conversation brewing, I just called my colleagues. We were able to connect via our conferencing service which is also optimized for ease of dialing on a mobile device. Instead of hours of back and forth, we were able to settle differences much more quickly over the phone.
I found myself spending more time with my colleagues at the conference’s social events. Swapping ideas and stories with my extended team was easier and more enjoyable. I did not have that burning itch to get back to my room for “just a quick peek at my email.” I was more present and found myself learning many new best practices and making some great connections that are already paying off for me.
I was late to the airport for the flight home. Some folks from Omaha had been up too late and missed their wake-up calls which delayed the airport shuttle. I needed to sprint through the airport. I made the flight in record time, and once we got over 10,000 feet, I could connect with airplane Wi-Fi on my mobile device to keep in touch.
There were a few things that were difficult to stay on top of with just my smartphone. Filing email is always a challenge for me on the small screen. And for sure, I still love the big screen in my office. But when it comes to travel, nothing beats the flexibility of going small.