Surviving work travel with Microsoft Office

I've just spent a week out of the office on a work conference. It's the first time I've been away from my daughter for more than a night since she was born and, as chief child-minder in our household, an enormous amount of advance planning was required to make sure everything ran smoothly while I was away.

The contrast with the effort (not) required to keep my "day job" under control was vast, so I thought I'd share a few thoughts about the technology I used to survive.

1. RPC over HTTP (or failing that Outlook Web Access )

Basically this string of acronyms means I can get email through any internet connection. It's a godsend. No need to dial into a company server, just connect and go. And the number of places world-wide where you can get wireless internet access is incredible (even our local pub is offering Wifi!) so no more excuses for not sending that overdue email...

2. Groove

grooveGroove synchronises files without you having to think. It's a great way to work on documents with other people and not have to email countless versions back and forth (and always end up with someone working on an out-of-date copy). For me on this trip it meant that I had the latest copy of our newsletter with me when we ran into a last-minute problem.I just opened up the Groove Workspace, fixed the problem and saved the document. Then when my colleague got into the office the next morning, it was all ready to go.

If you haven't discovered Groove yet, download a free trial.

presence3. Office Communicator

"Presence" is a wonderful thing. It's the little icon in Office Communicator that tells you when people are online (or busy, or in a call...). It means that although I'm in another time zone, my colleagues in the UK can easily see when I'm up and online. Then they can fire off a quick question (or just say hello) and get a quick answer, without having to clog up my inbox. Of course, it also means I can see which of my colleagues are having just as much trouble with jetlag as me...

And I haven't even touched on "Out of Office"...