Who is still carrying a laptop around for work?

The entrepreneurs I work with are constantly looking for ways to increase their productivity.  Whether it’s to squeeze more profit making into the day or to find time to for friends and family.  How we use tech can be a big differentiator that keeps us ahead of the pack.  On that subject I wanted to share one of the recent changes in my work flow and ask if anyone else has taken this path.

When I started my career in public accounting, my employer, like most accounting firms, supplied me with a notebook computer.  For years I didn’t have my own personal computer.  Although the University where I taught part time would supply a computer for my campus office, I didn’t avail myself of that either.  It was just easier for me to have one computer that had all my files, easy to access that I could port from one office to the next.  This was my, “one computer,” policy.

When I left working for an accounting firm and branched out on my own, I found myself in immediate need for that important tool, no longer supplied for me.  I rushed out to Costco and bought the best notebook on the shelf and then continued the “one computer” policy for all my work from there on in.  Even when I subcontracted to help out with other accounting firms, I would use some sort of VPN or remote desktop setup to work with a virtual machine at the firm so I didn’t have to mess with any additional hardware.  For the last decade,the idea of having a desktop computer seemed so last millennium.

Then almost overnight, I’ve had a complete reversal of my “one computer” policy.  What happened?  My workflow went to the cloud.  We hear so much about the cloud these days, it sounds like another business-class buzzword with no clear meaning.  For me however, being on the cloud has very real and tangible meaning.  I started using Google Docs and then its successor storage service, Google Drive.  I later began using Dropbox, Evernote and other cloud based applications that could be accessed on tablets and phones as well as any computer connected to the web.  I slowly ceased to store any data on my “one computer” and the rationale for hauling that singular source of my data no longer existed.  I asked the University to install a computer in my campus office so I could quit carrying my notebook.  Any file I needed was available in the cloud, both in my office as well as the classrooms all wired with their own computers.  When I teamed up with the accounting and consulting firm, McDonald Jacobs, they supplied me with a computer for my office there, where I could also access my cloud files via the web as needed.

I was left with a personal notebook computer which I was using as my home computer exclusively.  The “one computer” policy had been officially retired.  So, when I was in the market for a new computer earlier this year, I bought the coolest, fastest, desktop for my home.  Hello year 2000, I’m back again!

Of course besides my awesome home command station, I access my data on my smart phone and tablet.

Where’s the efficiency?  Well, I don’t take down, restart, setup, my one computer system in many locations anymore.  I walk into whatever office I’m working at that day and my data is ready for me on a machine already setup perfectly for that location.  I travel light.  No computer bag lugging over my shoulder.  Just my smart phone in my pocket.

Needless to say this is not a work flow for the absolute startup on a budget.  Its efficiency that comes with a sizable budget for tech, or in my case an addiction to tech that re-prioritizes what budget you have.  But in our business, time is money, so I’m sure it’s worth it.  At least that’s what I tell my business partners and wife.

Anybody else gone back to less portable hardware due to data accessibility in the cloud?  Share your experiences, tips, ideas in the comments!

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