Is there Wi-Fi on this flight? Tips and tricks for working at 35,000 feet

At Metis, we are fully committed to being a remote-first company, and, as a team, I have to commend us. We do a darn good job at it.

That’s not to say it’s not without its challenges. We’re still human after all, and even the most remote-savvy folks can find it challenging from time to time. But to put it in perspective: Our director of marketing worked in a different location across the globe every month for a year. We know how to make remote-first work. 

Inspiration for this blog came from my recent travel schedule, which included trips to Orlando, New York City and Boston in a few weeks’ time. Aside for wishing I had a better rewards credit card to accrue all those frequent flier miles, I was really challenged to keep up a normal work cadence on an abbreviated schedule, so I began thinking about productivity hacks for remote employees (even while cruising at 35,000 feet).

To add to this blog’s authenticity, I am writing this en route to Boston. This flight was supposed to have Internet, but in an effort to get us to our destination as quickly as possible, the crew opted to turbo it to Boston, which meant no Wi-Fi. When I find myself without Wi-Fi, I do the one thing (er, technically two things) I find so difficult to do during my normal workday – write (and edit what I’ve written).

Living near Wilmington, North Carolina, nearly every flight I take has a connection. I only have a few cities as direct options from my hometown airport, and, trust me, I know which ones have Wi-Fi and may or may not ask our operations director to book flights that connect through cities on which it’s available.

Any remote employee knows that Wi-Fi is your lifeline, so here are some tricks and tips to stay productive even when you’re disconnected. 

  • Arrive at the airport early. Murphy’s Law and smart travel tactics notwithstanding, arriving early allows you to settle in with a latte while enjoying free, reliable (and typically super-speedy) Internet so you can get work done. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you probably find yourself on 6:00 a.m. flights, which generally means you have fewer distractions pulling you one way or another.
  • Download the apps for the airline you’re flying. Not only will this save a paper boarding pass, it’ll tell you if you have internet on your flight, so you can plan around it. If I know I have an hour without internet on a plane, I’ll consider what I can do that doesn’t require a connection. Perhaps there’s been a case study you’ve been meaning to dig into but you haven’t had a free 45-minute block  what better time to read it?
  • Once you’re landed, don’t forget the Uber ride. Do you have a mobile hotspot? I know not everyone is able to look at a computer while riding in a car, but if you don’t have an aversion to it, why not? Why not turn a 30-minute commute to your next meeting or from the airport to your hotel into a power session in efficiency?
  • Read and learn. Don’t we all wish we had more time to learn the latest industry trends or to devote to professional development? I certainly do. Download that podcast your colleagues have been telling you about and enjoy it from the friendly skies.

Like any other skill, ensuring productivity while traveling is one that will likely require work and a bit of adaptation, and having the right tools is a great place to start. As for me, I’m gearing up for another week of travel  podcasts are queued up, books are downloaded and who knows, I might even come up with another blog or two.

Wondering how to create a culture for successful remote collaboration? Read how we implemented a remote working policy.