This post originally appears in my Work In Progress blog for Forbes.com:
I was excited to read Natalie Sisson’s new Amazon bestseller, The Suitcase Entrepreneur: Create freedom in business and adventure in life, which outlines her best strategies, tips and hacks on building a location-independent business. Sisson is a fellow Forbes contributor and writes exhaustively about technology, social media, and systems specific to building a business you can operate virtually. In Sisson’s case, she espouses location-independence because she loves to travel, hence her moniker “suitcase entrepreneur.” But in my work as a career expert whose clients are mainly traditional employees, not entrepreneurs, I was struck by how important and useful this book is for the office-bound professional. Here are 7 reasons why employees should embrace the tips and tools in Sisson’s book, even if you never work offsite:
You embrace the latest technology.
Working flexibly requires that you to have better technology skills than if you just use your desktop. You might not think it’s worth the time and effort to invest if you’re never going to work offsite. But in the process of developing this expertise, you will likely find tools that will help you even at your desktop. At the very least, your newfound tech skills will make you more marketable.
You embrace social media.
Embracing the technology will make you more facile with mobile devices, cloud-based tools and apps, but location independence also requires that you increase your comfort with social media. As a corporate employee, you always want to align your activity with your company’s social media policy, but you want to be active. Social media skills are desirable across a variety of functions, not just marketing.
You consciously develop your value proposition and brand.
You might not be starting a business but you still are serving clients – your company’s clients, your colleagues, your boss and senior management. So when Sisson shares strategies on branding, think about branding for your audience. If you’re aspiring for a promotion or larger role, remember to brand congruent to your goals.
You confirm your critical work responsibilities.
You might not have the same hiring authority as an entrepreneur, but you likely have to pull together teams or enroll people to help you complete your projects. When Sisson shares strategies on thinking through what an entrepreneur can delegate, think about your own management approach and choices. What can you delegate? What should you and only you do?
You confirm your ideal work processes.
As you think about what your ultimate responsibilities are, who your audience is, and what social media and other technology tools you can adopt, it also forces you to think through how you work. If you’ve been in your role for a while you probably have a routine down pat. This makes you efficient but can also make you complacent. If you brainstorm about telecommuting, even if you never do it, it forces you to question how you do everything. There might be activities you can streamline, improve, or drop altogether.
You reflect on your personal and leisure preferences.
The Suitcase Entrepreneur: Create freedom in business and adventure in life contains a checklist about your travel preferences. Even though I am not an avid traveler, the checklist is a great prompt about your personal preferences and leisure choices. Many people are overworked and overstressed and don’t give enough time to how they might relax. Use the travel goal checklist to get your inspiration going and give you some structure for getting more out of your vacation time. You may even be inspired to be more proactive about your travel.
You reflect outside your comfort zone.
The focus of this book is absolutely entrepreneurship and specifically travel-loving entrepreneurs (there are many chapters on business-building strategies and travel-related hacks that I don’t cover here). But at the core of this book is the question, “Why not you?” Why don’t you telecommute? Why don’t you leave corporate and be an entrepreneur? Why don’t you design exactly the life you choose, including traveling around the world? Even if you love your work situation and don’t plan to change it, it’s helpful to confirm that by reflecting outside your comfort zone and choosing proactively to be right where you are.
Marissa Mayer’s decision to end telecommuting at Yahoo may be a strike against location independence. However, regardless of how flexible your work environment actually is, preparing yourself and your work processes so you can work out of the office forces you to embrace productive technology, rethink your work goals and processes, and reflect on what you want from work and life. Use Natalie Sisson’s book as a creative way to plan your career, even if you never launch into suitcase entrepreneurship.