Adventures in mobile working with ShareFile’s Ashton Smith

A few weeks ago, the very friendly facilities department here at ShareFile came to me and asked if I’d like to trade my desktop for a faster laptop. As a person whose projects take her all over the place and who loves having access to everything on the go,  this seemed ideal. But, this proposal came with a caveat: because we’re growing so quickly, and I’m so rarely in one place for long, I’d have to give up my desk and become a mobile employee.

You see, I fully embrace workshifting, and I had used my personal laptop and the whole range of Citrix products a number of times to get work done while I was away from the office, but this was an entirely new ballgame. Anyone who knows me will tell you that among the things in the world that give me the most peace of mind are routines, having a plan, and organization. I don’t even mind planning to be spontaneous, as long as everyone involved is aware and knows that we’re spontaneous on every other Thursday from 5–7 PM. With this, I’d have to learn a whole new style of working—where would I go during the day, on which day, and how would people ever find me? I’d finally have to digitize my analog workstyle, which has always been the easiest way for me to stay organized—and yes, I see the irony in working at a tech company while maintaining my relationship with paper. But perhaps the most important thing is that with no fixed desk, where was this guy (above) going to live?

In the end though, I said yes. After all, at some point all of those things would have to happen anyway, so what better time than now?

With my newfound arrangement, I transferred my digital files, found homes for all of my desk things, claimed a filing cabinet for all of my ‘must have a hard copy’ files, and I became a mobile employee.

It’s taken some time to get used to, certainly, but I can’t say enough good things about having made the switch. Of course, you need the right tools to make it work—especially if you want me to give up notepads, sticky notes and file folders—but between ShareFile, Podio, a great calendar system, and a note taking app, I can truly work from anywhere that has an internet connection. Plus, since I can dock into a workstation at two different office locations and can efficiently work from home or anywhere else focus and inspiration happen, I’m the most productive I’ve ever been.

Podio helps me manage projects and teams by assigning and monitoring tasks to make sure that things are getting done on time and on budget. It also cuts down tremendously on email with its great conversation feature. The best part is that ShareFile works wonderfully with both Podio and it makes it easy to access and share whatever I need, with whomever needs to see it, whenever. My multiple calendars all sync together and reminders have replaced sticky notes. I keep notes and ideas together with Evernote, although I have to admit, I still carry a black pen and yellow legal pad in my laptop bag.

Being a mobile employee is certainly not for everyone, but if someone as analog as me can find great success making the switch, then it’s absolutley worth looking into.

And the fate of my little green friend? He’s staying with someone else for now and reminding us all to push the envelope.