Working at an airport is not the most ideal situation, but if you are a business traveler you know too well how to set up virtual office there sometimes necessary. Here's how to get more done.
Ah, the airport ̵1; a space we all seem to have in a love-hate relationship with. It offers nice things: wine bars, cute restaurants and nice things in the duty-free shop. But it also has drawbacks: security, crowds, and confusing layouts that seem designed to make you miss your flight.
And everyone who has spent a lot of time at airports has probably encountered the greatest airport love-hate relationship of all: trying to get things done.
On the one hand, airports offer large stretches of time, free Wi-Fi and several sources of coffee refills. On the other hand, you are often tired, stressed and easily distracted by the swarm of people around you.
Is the airport a great place to work, or is it a hellscape with remote work? The answer may be a bit of both, depending on the moment – but you can make your time there more productive without sacrificing your reason. Here's what you should know.
How much can you really make at the airport?
The first step to getting things done at the airport: managing your expectations.
Anyone can accomplish things at the airport, whether you are a full-time remote worker or just someone with emails to respond to and online shopping to do. But you have to be realistic about what you can achieve there.
As a competitive traveler with a long set, for example, you may feel it is reasonable to put in a full day's work at the airport. But very few people can work at an airport with the same level of focus and stamina as they can anywhere else. This is not the time to tackle a full normal work day or strive for zero inbox.
For one thing, you are surrounded by distractions: tall children, noisy announcements and the movement of life will make it difficult to immerse yourself in work. And for another, the airport offers countless variables that can make it even more difficult.
You may not be able to fit near an outlet where you can connect your dying laptop. Wi-Fi can be spotty or completely out. And you may feel that you are running late for your flight, in which case you will not do anything at all.
Due to these factors, the airport is not a good place to work with big or critical tasks. But it is still a good place to get things done. The key is to focus on small, relatively simple tasks that will feel good to check out but are not super-pressing.
If you have any major tasks for the week, plan to either do them before your flight or when you arrive. Schedule no major deadlines for the day you fly. Instead, use the airport time to get in touch.
You can reply to your list of important but not urgent emails. You can provide your freelance services to some new potential customers. You can start describing a large project coming soon, or revise one that is mostly finished but not yet ready to submit.
And so on – you get the picture. These tasks are important, but do not require deep focus and have no deadlines that will fly before your flight starts. If you handle this type of work, you will feel updated and trapped as you board your plane. And if you don't do it all, there's nothing to worry about, since none of it has a strict deadline.
How to make your airport time more productive
With that in mind, there are still some ways to do more before take off. The more you can accomplish, the less you have to worry about during your trip. Try these tips to get your travels off to a good start.
Investing in Noise Reducing Headphones
If you often work outside the house, the thought of noise-canceling headphones has probably come up once or two before, but there's nowhere they are anymore useful than at the airport.
A pair of quality sound-canceling headphones can be expensive, but if you are easily distracted by noise you get a lot of use from them, which makes this a smart purchase for frequent aircraft. They can even make the planetary journey more enjoyable.
Activating a hotspot
The airport's internet can be unreliable and is often not secure. Before you go there, make sure your device is equipped with a Wi-Fi hotspot that you can connect to if you need it.
Jot Down a List
Although you usually do not work from a to-do list, a short list of things you want to do at the airport can help you stay focused. Put the things you prefer to achieve near the top and work through them in order. If you don't get them all ready, no worries – you can pick up that list when you have more free time.
Try a restaurant or cafe
Sitting near a busy gate can make it difficult to focus. But cafes and restaurants at the airport also offer good workplaces. You can check online reviews to find the best to work at – or just go around and look for a facility where others are already working.
Should you work on the pitch, too?
As long as you tackle the right kind of low-power tasks, you can do a lot at the airport. But should you work at 30,000 feet as well?
Although it is ultimately up to you, we would actually suggest that you avoid working on the plane.
First, you have to pay for Wi-Fi on an airplane, because you can't use your hotspot in the air. The additional cost can be steep for a short period of work.
But aside, the plane is still less ideal for getting work than the airport. It is not just because you are stuck in a tight place with limited cafeterias. Cabin pressure and lower oxygen levels in one plane actually make it harder to concentrate, so you won't be able to do your best work.
And flying can be fun and stressful. It gives you a rare chance to unplug, read a book or daydream about your upcoming trip. We suggest you take full advantage of that opportunity – these details and emails will still be there waiting for you when you land.
If you decide to use your airport time for relaxation or shopping instead of work, we support you. These tips will help you get things done if you want, but airports are great places to dig work for a few hours and just enjoy the moment.