If you are doing your best to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, you'll know how difficult and interruption-riddled it can be when you have children. With distractions all around and colleagues out of sight, it can be difficult enough to get work done - even without the additional needs of your adorable children!
If you do not have a designated space in the home, you can use a corner of your bedroom. If you have the budget and a backyard, you could even invest in a Tuff Shed for a designated office of your own, with an efficient commute of a few yards every morning. However, if you have a car, or even better a truck, and need to get away from family or home life whilst you are working, a car office can be a good option and more of a work-sanctuary than a corner of the house!
Even if you don't need a specific car office to get away from the bedlam in the home, some car office extras can be handy if you spend a lot of time waiting for people in the car, being driving around or just fancy getting work done ad hoc when you are travelling. For some occupations such as build site managers or surveyors, a car office may also help you get work done more efficiently when on site.
There are two main types of car desk - steering wheel desks and passenger seat desks. If you rarely have someone in the passenger seat, then the passenger seat desk is the obvious choice. It also gives more storage and additional extras than the average steering wheel desk.
The GripMaster Elite Car Desk is priced at around $200 but is well worth it if you will be working from your car a lot. It has a slide-out writing surface, a built-in file-storage unit and a non-slip secure working platform. The file storage might some unnecessary if you work entirely on your laptop but it ensures that you can keep everything you need to work from your laptop in one place - even if you just use a notebook.
It looks pretty nice too, with the main surfaces made of Baltic birch wood. There is also space for a mobile printer to be mounted, as well as your phone.
For those looking for a cheaper car desk or laptop surface, the Cutequeen Black Car Eating Wheel functions well as a platform to work from. It's small enough to store in the trunk or back seat and fastens to the steering wheel very quickly. It does not come with any file storage, but it does have a pen holder! There are lots of similar items available on Amazon too, ranging from $15 to $50.
If you want to buy a laptop surface that can be used in the home, the garden and the car, then a tray with a cushion attached to the bottom can be a good option. There are specific laptop trays available too, including the Laptop Cushion Tray with LED light and carry handle Reading Table Cup Holder from the aptly named - Look After Yourself brand.
If working from the garden might also be an option, consider buying a laptop tray with a sunshade to prevent glare.
Speaking of the sun and glare, a great accessory for your car office is a sunshade for your windscreen. These can be picked up for less than $10 at most auto retailers. You can also kit out your whole car with black-out blinds. If you cut the blinds to fit your windows and invest in some Velcro with an adhesive back, you can create some blinds for the side windows too. These can be easily removed and stored in the glove box.
If budget allows, you can make things a bit simpler with the glare from the side-windows and get them tinted. Around 30% tint should be enough to prevent the glare from effecting your work and vision.
For many who just need to check their emails, or stay online for live chat software such as Microsoft Teams, a mobile phone might be the only internet access that is required.
However, if you need to work from your laptop, whilst connected to the internet, then a mobile dongle might be the answer.
Many business phone packages will provide a mobile dongle for a small additional cost per month. Typically the dongle will connect to a 12v connector in your car. It will then create a wifi signal in and around the vehicle.
With a typical dongle, 7 or 8 devices can connect to the wifi but remember that if you want to work in isolation from a mountain top somewhere, it's quite possible that the provider won't have coverage up there.
There are many mobile printers available that are suitable for a typical car office. I've even seen Youtube videos of people using a full-size office printer hooked up to solar power in the back of their car!
Company owner and Youtuber Keith Kalfas recommends the Epson Workforce Wf 100 Wifi Mobile Printer.
The printer can be used from your dashboard and can come in handy if a client wants a paper document, such as proof of insurance, or an estimate or quote for work or a receipt.
Most mobile printers will work directly with your mobile phone if for any reason you don't have your computer in your car.
Mobile Phone Holder
Mobile phone car holders or cradles are easily overlooked but a great piece of car-office kit. They will either attach to the dashboard via a suction cup, the windscreen or slot into an air vent.
The YOSH magnetic air vent mobile phone holder comes with literally tens of thousands of great reviews on Amazon.
Mobile Office Receptionist
If you are self-employed, then whether you work from home or in the car, it may not be the ideal place to have a conversation. With a call answering service, you can not only reduce unwanted interruptions from annoying sales calls, but you can also instruct your receptionist to take messages and transcribed them for you. They are then usually sent to your email address or via text message to your mobile phone.
This is great for several reasons. You will never miss a sales lead, even if you are driving (or sleeping with the 24/7 services) and even if you are working from your car full time, it gives the perception of a 'standard' receptionist working from a 'normal' commercial real estate location.