Netbooks: A Remote Worker’s Best Friend

Netbooks: A Remote Worker’s Best Friend

Sep 2, 10 • In Practices, Uncategorized

A netbook can grant you great freedom in where you work from, but that’s just the beginning. In this article I talk about the advantages of using a netbook as your primary videoconferencing device.

I recently acquired a Netbook (a Lenovo S10-3t), and with just a week’s worth of use it has already made big changes in how I work.

Of course, I already knew how useful the netbook would be for “workshifting” – working from wherever I happen to be. While my main workstation is already a laptop, it’s a desktop replacement-style laptop so it’s on the larger and heavier side. And with an i7 CPU, it tends to go through batteries pretty quickly.

The netbook has none of these limitations. There’s no excuse left not to answer my email from the kitchen table, back yard, or couch. But it’s in using Skype where the netbook has made the biggest difference.

Like many remote workers I depend on Skype for a lot of my “face to face” communication. Lately I’ve been using the netbook as my primary “Skype phone”. And I love it!

By delegating Skype duties to my netbook, I get to enjoy several benefits:

  • When collaborating with a coworker, I’m no longer “facing” them the entire time. By having my netbook running Skype to one side of my main workstation, it’s a little more like an in-person session – I can look at my work, then at the person I’m working with when they have something to say, then back to my work.
  • Things like heavily processor-intensive operations and reboots can interfere with a Skype session. By offloading the phone call to a separate machine, I can keep talking no matter what is going on with my main workstation.
  • Video “face time” is all-important with remote collaboration, but often the Skype video window can get in the way of the work at hand or interfere with screen-sharing software. As a result, I frequently turn video off for remote collaboration sessions. Now, however, I’m able to leave video on the entire time, and enjoy the resulting improved communication.
  • It’s easy to pick up the conversation and move it to another room, if needed.

Using my netbook as a Skype phone, despite seeming like a small change, has been a huge boost to my remote collaborations. In an age when netbooks can be had for less than $200, I highly recommend one to any remote worker.

Title photo by Boyan Yurukov

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One Response to Netbooks: A Remote Worker’s Best Friend

  1. Quora says:

    What is the best software/hardware for passive telepresence “virtual windows”?…

    First of all, passive telepresence is a great idea. Good for you for wanting to do it. One of the simplest things you can do is buy everyone a cheap netbook and use a service like TokBox for the video presence. I wrote an article about the importance o…

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