A lot has changed since 2020. And there is a lot still left to change in the near future. One of those things that has changed for many people is the definition of work and office. We are used to talking about going to work as if work were a destination. The same is true for the office. It was a physical place for which we had to get dressed, leave home, fight traffic, and arrive 2 minutes late to the disapproving glares of Dilbert. Today, none of that applies to a lot of people. You might happen to be one of them.

Moreover, you might have joined the ranks of the digital nomads. If so, you know that your office is not a physical space. It is largely a frame of mind. You might be on a beach. You are as far away from a physical office as you can get. One moment, you are relaxing and drinking in the sun. The next moment, your mind has switched gears and you are working on that work report that is due that afternoon. Beyond frame of mind, your office is also your laptop. Digital nomads don’t tend to own desktop computers. If you are thinking about becoming one of those workers whose laptop is their office, here are a few things you will need to do first:

Upgrade Your Laptop

If you are going from using your personal computer for casual pursuits to professional ones, your best bet is to get a new computer. This is especially true if your work involves professional photography. You might own tens of thousands of dollars in gear. Your computer is one of the least expensive parts of the equation. Make it a good one.

If you are looking at one of the new M1 MacBook Pros just released from Apple, you might literally need a loan to cover the upfront expense. That’s okay because it will more than pay for itself with your photography work. So before you head off to Arkansas’s Hot Springs National Park for production work on your next coffee table photo book, take out one of those loans in Arkansas that provides you with the up front capital you need to gear up properly without the backend trap that sucks your bank account and your soul completely dry. If you already have a high-end laptop dedicated for work, you’re fine. If not, do what it takes to secure one. When you are a digital nomad, your computer is your office, not the location where you happen to be using it.

Make Security a Part of Your Process

Your client list is worth a fortune. It is not just their names; it’s their personal information. You have to be constantly vigilant to protect that data. Start by scanning for malware. Securing the henhouse won’t do you any good if the fox is already inside. Microsoft has builtin software for this purpose. This is probably sufficient in most cases. You have to rely on third-party scanners for the Mac. But the likelihood of you being infected by Mac malware in the wild is significantly less as it is a much smaller platform.

It is not just a matter of malware. If you do a lot of your work in public libraries, use a physical computer lock. Be sure that there is some form of biometric software unlock component. Make it difficult for someone to casually pick up your device and walk off with it. Finally, use a screen filter that makes the screen unreadable to all accept the one directly in front of it. Don’t start work until you can do it in a secure manner.

Use a VPN

When you are working out and about, you need to roll your own internet connectivity by way of cellular or use a VPN. You should probably use a VPN in either case, but especially if you have to use hotel or public wifi. It is inherently insecure. Just know that some VPNs use a business model that endangers your information. So don’t cheap out. Use a VPN that does not sell your data.

Some people become digital nomads because that is what they want to do. Others are forced into it by circumstances. Either way, upgrade your computer to something worthy of your new venture. Make security a part of your process. And roll your own connectivity by way of a VPN.