One of the benefits of having a job in the trades as a plumber, electrician, or an HVAC technician is that you usually are heading off to a different job site at least once a day. Things are never the same, but it can also mean that you’re responsible for certain office-related tasks – without an office to do them.
Unless you count your truck or van, that is. And most men and women in the trades do use their truck or van as both a mobile workshop as well as where they take care of paperwork. We’re not at the point where our vehicles are self-driving, so we can take care of paperwork while heading to the next location. Until then, here are a few tips to turn your truck or van into a workable mobile office.
Automotive laptop desk
You’ve seen them if you’ve had the chance to peek inside a police cruiser recently. These are far from toys, and a quality one may set you back a couple hundred bucks – but the laptop desk creates an ergonomic, adjustable swing arm desk that puts your laptop directly in reach when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat – not driving, of course.
These mobile desks secure your laptop, keeping it safe when not in use by storing the computer screen up against the dashboard. The articulated arm allows you to move the laptop, so it can be accessed from either the driver’s seat or the passenger’s seat.
If that won’t work for you, consider a mountable tray. It hooks and counter-balances with your steering wheel. This will also give you a place to spread out a few pieces of paper in case you’ve got non-electronic forms to fill out.
Thirst for power
Laptops and tablets need recharging, but you’ve got other tools needing juice, too. Today’s vans and trucks come with heavy-duty batteries, but it’s still a good idea to invest in a power inverter to run all your office equipment. Even rugged mobile versions of office equipment won’t stand up to repeated power surges. An inverter takes the stress off y our vehicle’s electrical system, plus it offers some additional protection to whatever you have plugged into it. You also have the luxury of at least one three-prong outlets in case you need to recharge a power tool battery.
If eating healthy is a challenge, make it less of a stretch by investing in a mini fridge. Multiple manufacturers make these specifically for vehicles and boats. They’re often the size of the center divider in a back seat, and they’re made to plug into an accessory port. Prices start at less than $100, and some models will even function to keep food warm.
Few professionals in the trades complain about missing the office routine. But, there are a few trade-offs. A truck or van usually isn’t the best place to do paperwork. These tips can help even the score by rewarding you with an upgrade to your mobile office.
Looking for an upgrade to your job as a PHCE professional? Employers affiliated with Nexstar are looking for people like you. The Nexstar Jobs job board offers exclusive opportunities for plumbing, electrical, and HVAC home service technicians across the country.