Not a Minute to Spare

I’m a mobile employee. I don't have an office. I don't have a cube. I don't have a place for my manuals, my 3-hole punch, or my should-be-wall-mounted collection of vendor-logoed golf balls.

Armed with laptop, pager and cell phone, I venture out into the world. I can work from home. I can work from the road. I’m part of the new workforce that consumes no real estate, needs no credenzas and takes quite a few conference calls in our pajamas.

Mobility has its upsides, but the key is being productive. You can't waste time. You have to work in creative places. The world can be your office—as long as you're ready to take a call, pop out a proposal or fax a forecast at a moment's notice. Which means you have to make every minute count, working in such unlikely places as:

Today's travelers are surrounded by some impressive technology, though for some reason it still takes 45 minutes to get room service to show up with an order of pancakes.
Airports

I have to be productive in airports, especially since I'm usually delayed 4 hours for a 40-minute flight. I've worked in airport bars. I've taken countless calls from the gate. I've even snuck into those fancy airport clubs a time or two. They're the perfect, quiet place to get work done, except for the one time I almost got ripped a new one in the Delta Crown Room for picking all the cashews out of the bar mix.

Traffic

I love traffic. Going 55 mph, I'd probably kill myself. But sitting still on the interstate, I can be productive. I can use the cell phone. I can dabble on my PDA. I'll even boot up the laptop during those classic rush-hour jams. Of course, thanks to the steering wheel, it can't really fit on my lap. So I prefer to pound on it right out of the passenger seat, which once really pissed off my mother in law, who was sitting there at the time.

Meetings

On the rare occasions when I do make it into the company office, meetings are a great place to do a boatload of work. You can get some quality, uninterrupted laptop time once you've mastered the art of appearing to be furiously taking notes. Just learn to look up occasionally, nod your head, or randomly blurt out, "Come on guys, let's take that off-line," and you can easily catch up on expense reports or check your fantasy football stats while nobody's looking.

Hotel Rooms

Hotels are amazing—some new ones offer better technology than I could have in an office! I've had high-bandwidth connections, printer hook-ups, even one with a 24-hour help desk from a "cyber-concierge." Today's travelers are surrounded by some impressive technology, though for some reason it still takes 45 minutes to get room service to show up with an order of pancakes.

The Gym

Lastly, I'd like to shake the hand of the guy who invented the cell phone headset. What a boost for the productivity of mankind. I can hop on the treadmill, Stairmaster or bike—working and working out at the same time! This has undoubtedly saved my career. Granted, maybe the workout is not as gratifying as biking out on some open country road. But I tried that once and almost got pasted by some guy in a Corolla—who was probably pounding away on his laptop.

Mike Cohn lives in Atlanta, but works all the time from all over the placeor at least that's what he tells his boss.