Many freelancers and work-from-home employees turn to their cars for office-level concentration. Sometimes, you have to find your way to the driveway to escape domestic distractions. Other times, you’re forced to pull over to execute time-sensitive tasks in the middle of a road trip.
According to a global freelance survey co-sponsored by the University of Toronto, over 60% of freelancers have too much work. That’s because more than 90% of companies rely on them for specific projects.
This shows why remote workers often find themselves in a vehicle to escape distraction or quickly finish up urgent jobs.
If you’re one of the 1.2 billion freelancers in the world right now, chances are, you’ve had to work in your car once or twice. There’s no doubt you must have loved the quiet makeshift office and the numbers it helped you hit. As a result, you’re looking to continue using your vehicle and are asking, “How can I work from home in my car?”
This article covers tips and the complete car essentials list to outfit your car for work.
Like driving for hours, your car will become less comfortable after a while if you don’t make specific modifications.
For starters, try not to use the front seat for work. Instead, you can move over to the front passenger seat to avoid struggling with the steering wheel. Then, adjust the seat to a comfortable position.
1. Back Lumbar Support and Seat Cushion
Go for back lumbar support if you need extra cushioning. It helps preserve the spine’s S-shape, which is ideal for good posture. You should also consider getting a seat cushion to lessen pressure on your thighs and legs.
2. Makeshift Desk
Since computers can get hot, you don’t want to place them on your laps for too long. So, get a board or laptop car mount to serve as a makeshift desk. You should also choose products that are padded underneath to avoid irritation on your lap.
Powering Your Devices
Since you rely on battery-powered devices to get your work done, you’d want to keep them powered up. If you’re going to have a long day on the road, ensure you fully charge your computer, smartphone, and iPad overnight.
3. Multi-Wall Charger and Power Bank
You can get a multi-wall charger to keep your devices juiced up in your hotel. A power bank can also serve as an additional power source.
4. Car Charger
Next, make sure your car’s built-in charging dock has enough amperage to charge your devices. For example, most old vehicles come with 2.5W ports, which is inadequate for modern phones and tablets. In this case, go for third-party car chargers that plug into the cigarette lighter or accessory port. Put out enough power to get your batteries full in time.
5. Power Inverter for Laptops
Most cars are not fitted with laptop chargers, and USB sockets can’t put out enough power to charge laptops. So, you need a power inverter that can convert your cigarette lighter’s 12v output to 110v.
6. Car Battery
Ensure your car’s battery is healthy enough to handle all your power needs. If it isn’t, consider replacing it.
If you rely on the internet to do your job, you have different options. Your driveway or garage should be okay if your Wi-Fi network covers the area. If it doesn’t, locate a Wi-Fi zone close to a public space such as a library. Otherwise, use your smartphone as a mobile hotspot.
7. Mobile Hotspot Device (or Mi-Fi)
If you’re preparing for a road trip, you can get a mobile wireless hotspot device to keep your devices connected. Some of these devices are battery-powered and allow you to insert a prepaid SIM card for connection. While your phone can handle this task, a Mi-Fi device could have more 4G and 5G band receivers and a better Wi-Fi range.
Ensure you have an adequate data plan to avoid spending extra. For example, if you’re going for an unlimited plan, confirm whether there’s a cap to prevent going over your limit.
8. Wi-Fi Range Extender
You can get a Wi-Fi range extender if you can’t park close enough to the library, cafe, or truck stop.
Check Signal Coverage
It would be wise to check your service provider’s coverage areas before you head out. This way, you can identify dead zones and places with poor signals and know when to avoid them. Also, before setting up in a particular location, check the area’s network speeds before deciding to work there. According to Statista, the global average fixed and mobile broadband download speed was 54.53 Mbps in May 2021. You can go to Speedstest.net to check if your download and upload speeds measure up.
9. Cell Signal Booster
If you can’t avoid dead zones, consider carrying a cell signal booster along. This way, you’re not offline in poor network areas. While these devices can be pricey, they get the job done.
Finding the Required Peace and Quiet
If you want to use your car’s AC to maintain a comfortable temperature, you need to keep it running. Unfortunately, that means a level of noise if you’re not using an electric vehicle. Remember to keep your window slightly opened if you’re leaving your car’s AC turned off.
Cars with combustion engines are also not ideal for closed garages like their electric counterparts. So, you’ll have to be parked outdoors.
You’ll need a pair of noise-canceling headphones to keep out the noise from your car and environment.
Stay Away from Direct Sunlight
If you have to work in the middle of a road trip or between short destinations, avoid sunlight. Look for a shaded area or cover your windows with a towel or shirt if you can’t escape the sun.
For future trips, try tinting your car windows up to the legally acceptable level for privacy.
Pack some healthy snacks, carry a large flask (to hold your coffee), and bring along your water bottle. Remember to take everything else you need to keep yourself refreshed if you’re working out of your vehicle for a while. Don’t forget that how you feel affects your quality of work.
11. Electric Cooler
If you want to keep your drinks cool, you can go for a car-friendly electric cooler. These portable devices can run on your car’s cigarette lighter and maintain certain temperatures for hours without power.
Watch Your Posture
Since you’re managing a small car space, you must pay attention to your posture. According to Ernst & Young Israel’s and UpRight’s 2017 Corporate Wellness Initiative, bad posture contributes to decreased work productivity. In addition, bad posture also affects your health, according to a Harvard University study.
So, ensure you get that makeshift desk to prevent you from hunching over too much. You should also make sure you stretch between intervals to keep encourage blood flow.
Don’t Forget to Take Breaks
Having all the essential tools to keep in your car might make you too comfortable. As a result, you could forget to take breaks. You need to recharge after hours of work to optimize your concentration levels. You can recline your seat for a good nap position as most cars come with this feature. You can also use a blanket and/or pillow to make your nap even more comfortable.
Taking a walk to get some air should also work.
12. Time Tracker
You can use a timer or set a reminder on your phone to notify you when it’s time to take a break. A free work time tracker can also show you how much time you’ve spent on the grind if you don’t feel like you’ve done enough.
Remember to Maintain Your Vehicle
Finally, you want to make sure your new office annex is always in good shape. Take it out for regular maintenance and ensure you clean after yourself once you’re done with work.