For some business owners, the thought of having to leave the office is enough to make them break out in cold sweats. Visions of leaving a roster of employees unsupervised might be too much to handle. And that’s not to mention that traveling is an unwelcome interruption in an already pretty tight schedule. It’s certainly enough to persuade more than half of small business leaders to quit taking personal holidays. But sometimes, being out of the office can’t be avoided.
What about when you’re asked to travel to important business meetings or conferences? If you can relate to the “paranoid business leader” profile we’ve described so far, your automatic response might be to save time by settling it over email instead. Drafting up a business proposal while keeping a watchful eye over your workforce is better than traveling several hours to have a conversation, you might think. Catching up on the key points of a conference after the event is more effective than wasting an entire day listening to drawn-out speeches, right?
Wrong. No matter how tempting it might be to stay put when you’re running a tight ship, the statistics suggest you should never pass up the opportunity to meet face to face with prospects and customers. In fact, speaking face to face with a potential client — rather than via a text-based conversation — is proven to be 34 times more powerful.
That’s why we’re listing seven essential carry-on items for business owners who are taking a much-needed corporate trip. These items will give you peace of mind while you’re away from the office while also allowing you to stay connected. Remember, there’s no shaming in this article — just unsolicited, straightforward advice to make your trip that much smoother.
- A Day Planner
If you like to be in control, it helps to have a set schedule where you can count down the days, minutes, and hours to the next all-important event. A day planner might seem outdated, but it isn’t. It still remains a useful and relevant tool for plenty of business leaders, as it helps them to get away from that “digital buzz” and reassess their schedule wherever they are. If you’re traveling overseas, it can also be helpful to have a comparative time zone schedule so that you don’t overstep the mark and start speaking to employees during unsociable hours.
- A Smartphone Designed to Keep You Organized
Business trip or no business trip, a smartphone is an essential item for everyone. If you’re a business leader, you’ll benefit from using your cell phone as an organizational tool — especially if you want to oversee what’s going on in the office. If you don’t want to miss important calls while you’re away, it’s vital to get a virtual landline number, which diverts incoming calls to your personal device. What’s more, you’ll be able to check in on your employees’ availability to answer calls via the application on your cell.
- A Loaded Laptop
Much like a cell phone, a laptop is a somewhat obvious essential. The usefulness of your laptop, however, very much depends on what software you have installed on it. For paranoid business travelers — people who want to keep on top of work scheduling and employee behavior while they’re away — installing project management software is key. There are hundreds of project management systems on the market, of which only a few allow you to take complete autonomy over your office. With that said, make sure you select a tool that allows you to interact with other users and quickly view project progress. This way, if people are slacking while the boss is away, you’ll know about it.
- Extra Suit Shirts
It’s a given that you’ll be packing business-wear for your corporate trip. But it won’t hurt to pack a couple of extra shirts. Why? We suggest checking in with your team in the office once per day via video call, providing that your schedule allows time to do this. For this, you’ll want to look authoritative, put-together, and generally presentable (it never hurts to have plenty of fresh shirts to choose from). This method particularly works for remote companies, where most employees work from home and never set foot in the office. This way, you have an effective way of staying present even while you’re away.
- A Portable Charger
If you’re traveling to visit a conference, exhibition, or any other type of event, it’s likely that you’ll have a few long days ahead of you. To make the most of your new virtual landline number, you’ll need to keep your cell phone charged up. Power banks — otherwise known as portable chargers — have become increasingly popular in recent years, encouraging plenty of brands to develop their own models. This might make choosing a portable charger difficult, but luckily, Tech Radar has collated the best power banks on the market.
- Squidgy Stress Ball
There are plenty of packing essentials that will help you to be more connected, organized, and in control. But if the entire thing is starting to overwhelm you, these won’t feel useful, and you might just need a trusty stress ball to squeeze when you’re trying to make sense of it all. Although they’re often thought of as a gimmick, stress balls are proven to release tension. Experts believe the act of squeezing a stress ball is a good tool for anxiety and other negative emotions, as it encourages the brain to mimic the physical action — a squeeze and release pattern.
- Carry-On Luggage
As a collective, these items should fit into a carry-on bag, which is incidentally our final item. Using a carry-on speeds up your time in departure and means that you don’t have to wait at the carousel to see if your belongings have made it to your final destination. It’s a no brainer; essential yet expensive devices such as a laptop and cell phone should always be kept to hand. While originally advocated by digital style influencer Amber Venz Box in an interview with Forbes, this is also super relevant for paranoid business travelers. After all, the last thing that you need is to tag on “lost luggage” to all of your other work-related worries.
The next time you’re planning an essential business trip that requires you to leave the comfort zone of your office, remember our packaging essentials. These nifty items will allow you to stay connected while on the move and make a powerful impact in person. Besides, experts say that to be a true leader, your focus should be on empowering people, not controlling them.
Letting loose and taking some time away from your executive office could be beneficial for your team. Fast Company notes the modern workplace has evolved into less of a command-based approach. In other words, being a military-like leader who micromanages their employees is outdated and ineffective. Giving your team a bit of trust and autonomy — and using advanced technology to stay in touch — however, is smart.