Work Hard and Play Hard This Summer By Staying Connected While Out of the Office

Is it just me or is it hotter than usual this summer? From California to Texas to New England, a heat wave has made it difficult to stay in the office and get work done.

It's time for a vacation, and based on results of the annual j2 Global Small Business Mid-Year Survey I'm not alone in thinking that it's time for a much deserved break. Survey results showed that 63 percent of small business owners have committed to take a vacation this year--up from 54 percent last year. But these people realize that business doesn't rest, with nearly two-thirds (65 percent) saying that they plan to bring their work along with them. The staycations that were so popular during the Great Recession have given way to a new trend and term -- workcations -- during the recovery.

Whether you're taking your family to the Magic Kingdom or relaxing on the beaches of Mexico, cloud solutions and mobile apps make it easier to stay connected while on vacation.
Small business owners are more nimble and mobile than ever--53 percent said they can see themselves working entirely from an iPad or tablet within the next year, proving that a desktop is not necessarily crucial for business productivity.

In fact, downtime may actually be the key to productivity--30 percent of small business owners surveyed say outside of their traditional or home office, they're most productive while relaxing or watching TV.

Here are some tips for your workcation this summer:

Communicate Your Plans: Not everyone checks the calendar or reads memos. Make it clear that you are out of the office by creating an automatic email response and customizing your voicemail message. Letting people know you are out of the office (even if you are somewhat available) can help prevent misunderstandings and frustration.

Take the Office with You: A virtual phone system like eVoice gives you enterprise-class phone system features and functionality that you can take with you. Automatic call routing ensures you don't miss that important call even while you're lounging by the pool. A virtual phone system also allows you to discretely make and receive business calls from your cell phone without sharing your personal phone number, and get transcribed voicemail messages via email or text so you don't have to listen to them.

But Leave the File Cabinet at the Office: Make sure you have the documents you need to get work done. Cloud storage services allow you to access documents online wherever you vacation, and Internet fax apps allow you to receive, edit, sign, store and send important documents and contracts on the fly without having to print a single sheet of paper. Besides, have you ever tried to stow a file cabinet in the overhead bin?

Separate Work Time from Fun Time: No one wants to be (or be with) that guy. You know, the one who spends his entire vacation sitting by the pool talking loudly on the phone, tapping away on his laptop, annoying everyone around him. It's important to be available but it's also important to separate work time from play time. Designate work hours--perhaps getting up an hour earlier than your family to knock out important tasks before starting the day's activities or setting aside a lunch hour where you can catch up on email and voicemail. Your travel partners will appreciate it.

Cloud solutions and mobile technology can be catalysts for small businesses, allowing you to work hard, but on your own terms. But be careful out there. Being able to work anytime and anywhere is great, but working all the time and everywhere is another story.

Mike Pugh is vice president of marketing at j2 Global Inc., a Los Angeles-based provider of cloud-based communications services including eFax and eVoice.

About the j2 Global Mid-Year Small Business Survey - 2013

Between June 12 and June 25, 2013, 2,536 small business professionals responded to an email invitation from j2 Global to eVoice, eFax, and Campaigner customers to participate in an online survey about hot topics such as the use of iPads and apps, optimism in company's growth, mobile productivity, and summer vacation plans. The margin of error is +/- 1.95 percentage points. The statistical figures provided herein may have been rounded up or down.