Trying to match the convenience and efficiency of the office while on the road is an ongoing battle for business travelers.
The explosion in wireless Internet connectivity in recent years has been a huge boost to productivity. Wi-Fi hot spots are just about everywhere. Now, new applications of technology and a growing number of services geared to business travelers are taking matters a step further.
Business travelers are discovering ways to stay productive in between meetings and on rides to the airport.
Here are some of the things that road warriors tell USA TODAY work for them:
Tools for handhelds
DataViz, a Connecticut-based company, has produced traveler-friendly software for smartphones and other personal digital assistants.
It's timely because many business travelers are relying exclusively on their Treos and BlackBerrys, particularly on short trips.
Its Documents To Go software lets you read and edit Microsoft Office files and portable document format (PDF) files on smartphones and pocket PCs. Prices start at $30. Palm Treo phones come bundled with it.
Its RoadSync software is also popular, because it synchronizes handheld devices with the Outlook e-mail system at work. It downloads messages as they come into the corporate server. Without the software, many PDA users wishing to check e-mail have to download them from the server every time.
Treo and BlackBerry users don't face this inconvenience, as those devices are designed to download e-mail in real time. But people with other models will need it if they want real-time e-mail.
Most travelers tap into the work computer through virtual private networks, secure gateways set up to keep intruders out. Because VPNs are often slow or unreliable, several companies are offering alternatives.
Joshua Keough, an engineering company executive in Jiangsu, China, is a frequent user of KoolSpan's connection system. "It basically makes my computer work as if I'm sitting in the corporate headquarters anywhere in the world," he says.
It is an electronic "lock and key" combination for the work computer.
Matt Capoccia, a KoolSpan sales executive, says the product delivers in a remote laptop the look of the work computer. The system, which includes a lock, 10 keys and software, costs $4,950.
Business traveler Mitchell Goozé, a marketing and sales consultant in Santa Clara, Calif., recommends a similar product called Gotomypc.com. Made by Citrix, Gotomypc.com is a website that replicates the work computer at any computer once you log on with a password.
The subscription fee is $20 per month.
WebEx's WebOffice and Citrix's Gotomeeting.com each host Web meetings and allow participants in different locations to share documents and displays.
Once you sign on, you can elect to share a file, software or even your entire computer with others.
Chris Pearson, an Ypsilanti, Mich.-based consultant, says he uses WebEx for client meetings and training classes.
WebEx starts at $59 a month for hosting up to 10 people per meeting. Gotomeeting costs $49 per month.