Learn how to convert your R.V. into an office so you can travel the U.S. as you work!
The Covid-19 pandemic has had tragic consequences and caused widespread distress across the United States. It may have also changed the way that many of us work forever. The pandemic has forced remote work upon millions of business owners and employees globally. While this will undoubtedly have caused a lot of stress and anxiety for businesses initially, the apparent increase in productivity and generally positive reaction from workers has answered many of the questions about remote work that had been looming for years. Despite successful businesses such as WordPress operating a remote model, with “distributed teams” for years before COVID-19 penetrated our borders, many still had concerns regarding online security, employee productivity and collaborative work.
With running an office-less business now a legitimized business practice, and many forced out of work in major industries, including hospitality, people have seized the opportunity to found their own startups. With thousands of people forced out of work, and the barrier-to-entry of huge office leases now removed, many entrepreneurial-minded individuals have formed their remote businesses. Interest in R.V.s has also shot up since the pandemic, and people have combined their love of the open road with the chance to start their own business.
Pros and Cons of Owning an R.V.
It’s often a good idea to rent or lease an R.V. before spending tens of thousands of dollars on one. R.V.s can provide relaxing and relatively inexpensive vacations. Depending on what R.V. you buy and how much use you get out of it. A stay at an R.V. park or a camp ground is a lot less expensive than a hotel, and you don’t have to worry about passports and currency like you would with an overseas holiday. If you live in the United States, you have a fantastic land to explore, with deserts, mountains, lakes and canyons. The topography is diverse. If you live in the U.K., you can explore Scotland, England, and Wales, hop on a boat to Ireland and take the Eurostar channel tunnel into Europe.
However, you don’t have to commit to living in your R.V. full time. You can work from home during the week and enjoy ad hoc getaways impulsively whenever you feel like it. If you have children, you might not be able to leave and travel whenever you feel like it, but you will have an amazing vehicle that will help you make memories that will last a lifetime for parents and children alike.
But, with a luxury R.V., you can take all the comforts of home with you as you explore the beautiful places that the U.S. (or the U.K.) has to offer. An R.V. or Recreational Vehicle doesn’t necessarily have to be a motorhome. It could be a trailer or fifth wheel too. While travel trailers are more affordable, you will need a truck or SUV to tow one of them. Because of the style of connection, a fifth wheel can only be towed with a truck. The connection helps eliminate any sway when you are on the road, and fifth wheels tend to be larger than trailers.
However, if you decide to buy an R.V., treat it more like buying a house than buying a car. It will likely be one of the most significant purchases you’ll make in your life.
– Don’t sign anything until you know the exact payments
– Set aside a few hours to browse R.V.s and to make a purchase
– Don’t take delivery until the R.V. is 100% ready with any promised extras and upgrades
– Check everything is working before you take delivery/possession of the R.V.
– Shop around for warranties and breakdown cover
– Check the reviews and ask for advice on which R.V. dealer to use
– Measure the R.V. to make sure it fits if you are going to store it or park it on your drive!
– Expect things to break and go wrong with your R.V. – you will need to be quite handy or rich to maintain it!
– Be prepared for dirty jobs, such as emptying and cleaning the black-tank
Remember, you don’t necessarily have to buy a colossal R.V. There are many van conversion tutorials available online that will take you step by step through the process of converting a relatively inexpensive van into a campervan complete with a kitchen, bedroom and office!
Creating an Office Space in Your R.V.
There are several ways you can go about putting an office into your R.V. For example, you can convert the dinette area, you can replace a bedroom or bunk-bed area with an office, or you can even fit an office space in the passenger’s sitting space.
Whichever area you use to create an office space, it will help if you are a competent carpenter! You may need to custom-build some desk units to fit precisely in the designated areas of your R.V.
Whether you have a huge R.V. or a small-van conversion, having swivel chairs can be a huge advantage.
If the driver and passenger seats can swivel 180 degrees in a van, you can place your office table behind one of the chairs and effectively create a functional room and office space out of the area.
Lighting can be an important factor that people disregard when setting up an R.V. office. Lighting can be crucial if you are turning a workman’s/woman’s van into a campervan, as it is unlikely that the area will be well lit unless you fit your own lighting.
When planning and designing your office, consider the following:
– Sufficient lighting
– Ergonomics & space for prolonged sitting
– Internet signal
And ask yourself the following questions:
– Will monitors need to be clamped down or stored when on the road?
– How many people will be working from the R.V.?
– How will you make phone calls?
Again, there are some great R.V. and van office ideas and tutorials on YouTube, including this fantastic bedroom-to-office design on the Living Vehicle channel.
To get your RV-design-ideas flowing, here are some possibilities to get you started:
If you have a large enough passenger seating area on the front of your van or R.V., you can potentially create a workspace here. Adding a sliding desk or try can be advantageous. That way, you can place the keyboard or laptop on your knee and keep the monitors on the dashboard.
The monitors will probably need to be stored when the R.V. is moving, although some people use clamps to keep them in place during transit – make sure the driver’s view is not obstructed. Either way, it can help to have a storage box in the footwell, which doubles as a footrest. In this example from R.V. love’s YouTube channel, they also custom-built a wooden platform to put on the dashboard and place monitors on top of.
In the passenger area, you are likely to have issues with light and glare on the monitor laptop screens. A curtain or black-out blind can help you to deal with this, or add an anti-glare screen.
The main advantage of using the passenger seat area as a workspace is that the effort and money it takes to convert the area into an “office” is minimal.
You can modify the R.V. and create an office space if it has a bunkhouse. This requires some custom craftsmanship, as you may have to reinforce the floor with a wooden platform that exactly fits the dimensions. This is so the base is robust enough to take a person’s weight on an office chair, plus a computer desk. Remember to place the monitor or laptop so that it is eye-level for the person working from the area and consider using a foot support.
Another obvious place to put an office or workspace is in the dining area. This is relatively easy if you work from a laptop but a bit more complex if you need two or more desktop computers to work from.
Creating a clamp system to keep the monitors in place is a big advantage and a great time saver. If you have rolling office chairs in the dining area, these can cause an issue when you are on the road, as they will move around quite a bit. On Technomadia’s YouTube channel, they managed to solve this issue with a simple bungee cord system.
Tech Tools for a Nomadic Business
Moneypenny phone answering service and app are great tools to have on the road. You can even sign up for a 24/7 service. Whatever time it is, you can have the U.S. or UK-based receptionist answer your calls, exactly like a full-time, office-based receptionist would. What’s more, the app also allows you to use a landline or toll-free number to make and receive calls from, even if your business phone is a mobile. The app also has switchboard functionality and gives you access to messages and a record of calls.
Working on the road and maintaining a van or R.V. can make your day a little unpredictable. With this in mind, a Gmail plugin called Boomerang can be beneficial. If you are answering emails at midnight but want them to be sent at 9 am, you can set a delay on the plugin so that it does not get sent for 9 hours. This can also be a great way to handle all of your emails – by setting time delays on them; you can check your emails once or twice per day and send all the replies in one batch.