Office Optional

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Remember just a few years ago, when the first smartphones came out? People would tease each other for checking e-mail on the device, as if it made them obsessive or just plain strange.

The world moves fast. At this point, it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when the Internet, e-mail and your entire work life was not right at you fingertips, regardless of whether you are anywhere near your office.

Ubiquitous connectivity has fundamentally changed the business world -- for the better, no doubt. People periodically refer to the modern “mobile workforce,” and it’s an accurate term. Everyone seems to be constantly traveling for work. Conferences in Florida, client meetings in Wisconsin, whatever. Two weeks ago in Florida, we were posting to Dealbreaker.com and AbovetheLaw.com on our hotel wifi, while our editor in New York made sure Fashionista.com posts went live on deadline. On the way home, we were blasting time-sensitive emails back and forth until the moment the planes took off.

Americans make more than 405 million long-distance business trips per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. And one in five adult Americans plans to take at least one business trip in the next six months (you can imagine the Wall Street number is probably a teensy bit higher). But when you’re on the road, the deal still needs to be closed, and the trades still need to be made. Thank God for your laptop, your smartphone, your tablet.

It would be hard to quantify the astronomical increases in efficiency and productivity that technology allows just during travel alone.

Flight delay? No biggie. Stuck in a hotel room? Just pop in your wireless card.

Years of work would be lost if businesspeople waiting in airport lobbies simply sat and twiddled their thumbs, instead of using their smart phones or laptops.

We are so lucky. We don’t have to worry about finding change for payphones. Many of us have never had to use a hotel’s courtesy telephone. You don’t have to carry a freaking
beeper.

We even live in a world where the newest Ultrabook computers aren’t much bigger than legal pads. These pieces of technology, which humans at the beginning of the last century would have literally called magical, are unbelievably fast. You can download high-definition movies, newspaper stories, corporate reports and more – less than 15 years ago dial-up modems would take minutes upon minutes to download a single photograph. Check out the WayBack Machine to see how absurd the Internet was in 1997.

A few years ago, comedian Louis C.K. summed up the awesomeness of the digital age pretty well:

When I was kid, we had a rotary phone. We had a phone you had to stand next to, and you had to dial it. You realize how primitive that is? You’re making sparks! You actually would hate people with zeros in their numbers, because it’s more work.

And if you weren’t home the phone would just ring, lonely, by itself.

And then if you wanted money, you had to go in the bank when it was open, for like three hours, stand in line and write yourself a check like an idiot.

When you ran out of money, you’d say “Well, I can’t do any more things now.”

So, in case there’s any doubt, technology makes working while traveling a lot easier. A lot faster. A lot more efficient. Go give your smart phone a hug.

Join the conversation on Twitter with #IntelEMP.

***This post is brought to you in partnership with Intel ® who are all about making our lives better (and faster!) with technology- today and tomorrow. Since we use Intel-Inspired technology every waking moment to bring you the latest finance news, we appreciate what they’re doing.

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