What to do if you're away from your desk for long

Is a laptop the answer?

Didn't find your answer?

I was recently unexpectedly detained for 5 days, not by His Majesty, but by my local hospital. It was just for investigations, so I was sat on a bed doing nought every day. 

Of course it was the wrong time of the month, as a large payroll was waiting to be done.

Luckily I emerged in time to do that payroll and others and finish off the month with no harm done, except for all the worrying I did.

As the investigations didn't reveal anything, it's likely I'll find myself incarcerated in future, but who knows when.

So I've been wondering about buying a laptop so I can take that with me in future.

I use MS365 but I'll still have to load my Brightpay payroll program to the laptop.

The downside is that I'm unlikely to use the laptop ever unless I go to hospital and I really can't decide if it's worth the hassle.

What have you done in this sort of situation, and what do you think is the best solution?
 

 

Replies (33)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
By zebaa
26th Mar 2023 10:05

I suggest you research the subject, like you are doing now, but defer a purchase decision until your health position becomes clearer. If there are to be further investigations you will likely get notice of the procedure and you can decide then. I’d be unhappy about being ill and trying to work. But, that said, only you know how you might feel, confined to hospital, worrying about PAYE etc. Lastly, I hope your health improves.

Thanks (3)
Replying to zebaa:
By Moonbeam
26th Mar 2023 10:48

I'm unlikely to get notice, so I need to have an action plan set up now. Even when I had an operation 6 years ago, for much of the 2 weeks recovery time I was bored, and a bit of light computing would have cheered me up.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By frankfx
26th Mar 2023 10:15

have you appointed an alternate?
May want to prioritise that over a laptop.

presumably your vacations, if any, are timed around Payroll and similar compliance deadlines.

lack of laptop infers that you do not visit client premises?

A laptop may provide peace of mind if nothing else.

though if being hospilised packing a laptop and charger, may not be a priority in the moment.

Thanks (2)
Replying to frankfx:
By Moonbeam
26th Mar 2023 10:45

I have alternates who could help, but transferring systems to them is not that straightforward from a mobile phone, as I discovered last week. (Which is why I've now changed my password manager software.)

In fact giving alternates my laptop could be an excellent way of getting their help if I had to.

I know it's a real problem to get all the operating systems up to date on a laptop if you haven't used it for a while, so that's one area that bothers me.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Moonbeam:
avatar
By WhichTyler
26th Mar 2023 16:07

Moonbeam wrote:

I know it's a real problem to get all the operating systems up to date on a laptop if you haven't used it for a while, so that's one area that bothers me.

It's well worth starting it up once a week (or fortnight) to make sure its up to date., you wont want to be downloading Windows updates over NHS wifi

And try using it in different places (your garden, in bed) when you don't need it. You might find it is easier or harder than you imagined...

Hope it all goes well

Thanks (1)
avatar
By D V Fields
26th Mar 2023 11:47

I went the laptop route about five years ago and not looked back.

If you go the MacBook route you will probably need Bootcamp or similar to run Windows. I say this from a sole practitioner viewpoint but would presume applies in most if not all other cases. When in the “office” simply hook it up to your widescreen monitor. As always create a good backup routine.

As you know most software is easy to install these days and readily accessible unlike times gone by. It is no different from swapping or moving to a new desktop PC or laptop.

For me it is more a case of having got a laptop I am unlikely to ever go back to a desktop especially as my laptop is more powerful than any desktop I’ve ever had.

Now, whether you should be using your laptop while recuperating is another debate entirely. Good health.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By janelm
26th Mar 2023 11:51

How old is your current PC? If you want to stick with a 'one computer' system (to save need of keeping everything up to date) then you could consider transferring over to just using a new laptop full time - plug in monitor(s), peripherals for comfortable home use - and then it is good to pick up and go at no notice.
Personally I have always run a PC and a laptop in parallel, both of which have access to everything (encrypted files on Dropbox so that everything is always synchronised up to date - I use MoneySoft, VT, TaxCalc), partly because I travel a bit anyway but also allows me to stay away from home for longer periods where I plan a mix of holiday/work. Also, if I need to pick up at no notice and travel for any emergency, elderly parents, health etc. Even if I don't plan to work on holiday I would usually take the laptop as a contingency measure because who knows when you might suffer flight delays, or sudden international lockdowns etc. My current laptop was purchased at Gatwick airport on the way to the USA after my previous old laptop failed the night before...but that's another story...(Dell XPS, it's been super fabulous, best spontaneous purchase decision ever - and was able to get everything up and running away from home).
Oh and the other main original primary reason, is having a backup machine, so that if one of them failed in peak Dec/Jan tax season, I don't lose critical workdays in purchasing/setting up a new machine.
Best of luck with getting the health issues sorted.

Thanks (1)
Replying to janelm:
avatar
By mumpin
26th Mar 2023 13:18

I agree with this. Replace your pc with a laptop.
I have 3 laptops - me office (with a plug in monitor), my assistant office (also with monitor), me home.
Dropbox keeps them all synced
Use Taxcalc cloud product
O365 business subscription lets you load it on 5 machines
Moneysoft but keep files in Dropbox
If one laptop breaks you have an immediate replacement
Windows laptops with SSD hard drives are better than Macs.
Hope you stay well.

Thanks (1)
Replying to mumpin:
By Moonbeam
26th Mar 2023 15:19

Good points Mumpkin - very helpful

Thanks (0)
Replying to janelm:
By Moonbeam
26th Mar 2023 15:17

Thanks Janelm - there's such a lot of advice for me there.

Thanks (0)
Tom Herbert
By Tom Herbert
26th Mar 2023 13:52

Get well soon Moonbeam :-)

Thanks (3)
Replying to TomHerbert:
avatar
By frankfx
26th Mar 2023 17:01

TomHerbert wrote:

Get well soon Moonbeam :-)

Ditto

Moonbeam, apologies for not expressing my best wishes.

Alternate.
are you an Alternate?

You may want to discuss this with your peer.

I think you have received a tremendous response today.

I am sure more will follow from Desk Top and Laptop dual users come Monday morning.

Just a point on MFA,
should you have this in place.

Third party may not get code sent to
* your phone *
should particular circumstances arise.

All the best to you.

Thanks (0)
Replying to frankfx:
By Moonbeam
27th Mar 2023 11:08

No, I'm not an alternate.
I'm already worrying about the MFA situation.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Wanderer
26th Mar 2023 14:17

Get a small laptop, I've got a Microsoft Surface Go, which is about the size of an Ipad with a fold over keyboard & Bluetooth mouse.
Then set up your office PC so it switches on via the Bios and off via a scheduled task.
Then install Chrome Remote Desktop on both.
That way you can remote in to your Desk PC, and on screen it's identical to your Desk PC. Also this means that you don't have to worry about keeping it up to date with the various programs on your office PC, so alleviates your (well founded) concerns there.

I agree with mumpin about the TaxCalc cloud product if you use that.

Get it all done in advance of an emergency. Also normally a week or so before a planned break I do all the Windows updates & double check everything works.

Thanks (4)
Intercity
By Mr Hankey
26th Mar 2023 20:06

The capital allowance 130% super deduction ends on Friday. May or may not apply in your circumstances, but if it does, get your skates on!

I've been treating myself to a few nice things for the home office.

Thanks (2)
avatar
By SXGuy
27th Mar 2023 08:15

If you do get a laptop, don't bother about installing all the software again. Just set up windows remote desktop. Leave your PC on and connect to it via the laptop. Plus side to that also is if you do delegate the work to someone else they can also remote log in without needing passwords etc

Thanks (2)
avatar
By paulwakefield1
27th Mar 2023 09:53

I occasionally need to use a laptop and I also wanted a backup in case my PC falls over so I bought a refurbished Dell from Morgan Computers. High spec in its day but at a fraction of its new cost. Very fast and with a decent memory; not current state of the art but a higher spec even now than I would have been prepared to pay for the equivalent modern machine. Not surprisingly battery life is not as good as a new out of the box laptop but that hasn't been a problem for me.

As a cheap solution for an occasional/temporary issue as well as providing a back up option, it is worth exploring. I am personally not convinced about the remote desktop option for these purposes due to flaky hospital wifi.

I too hope your health improves.

Thanks (1)
Replying to paulwakefield1:
By Moonbeam
27th Mar 2023 12:20

I like the point about flaky hospital wifi. That hadn't occurred to me before.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Moonbeam:
avatar
By Wanderer
27th Mar 2023 12:48

Another thing to look up, before it is necessary, is how to use your mobile as a WiFi hotspot.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Wanderer:
By Moonbeam
27th Mar 2023 15:54

I've had to do that a lot in past years when my virgin connection went down!

Thanks (0)
By Moonbeam
27th Mar 2023 11:11

I just wanted to thank you all for the really interesting replies.

Thanks (2)
avatar
By Ian McTernan CTA
27th Mar 2023 12:05

I use both a desktop and a laptop, which are both synced to my company Onedrive, using a multiple Microsoft licence and lots of AV, etc. So in the unlikely event my desktop fails, I am fully operational. It's also very useful on client visists and also if I am away: email, excel, word, tax software etc all available and all up to date.

Payroll is installed on the laptop, everything is backed up automatically to the company Onedrive and handled by our IT people who charge a pittance and can solve all my issues remotely.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Ian McTernan CTA:
By Moonbeam
27th Mar 2023 12:17

This sounds like the option most suitable for me. I like the idea that your payroll is on the laptop.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Ian McTernan CTA:
Giraffe
By Luke
29th Mar 2023 12:52

Ian McTernan CTA wrote:

I use both a desktop and a laptop, which are both synced to my company Onedrive, using a multiple Microsoft licence and lots of AV, etc. So in the unlikely event my desktop fails, I am fully operational. It's also very useful on client visists and also if I am away: email, excel, word, tax software etc all available and all up to date.

Payroll is installed on the laptop, everything is backed up automatically to the company Onedrive and handled by our IT people who charge a pittance and can solve all my issues remotely.

I have the exact same setup. Desk PC for 90% of my work and a microsoft surface laptop for out and about. I got the laptop refurbished direct from microsoft for a fraction of the new price. It's a bit 'old' now but works perfectly and the only impact its age has had, is that it limited my choice of portable monitor for it recently.

I take the laptop to client meetings or when I'm working away from home for a few days. I use VT, moneysoft, taxfiler and QBO mostly. All software is on both devices and all data files on OneDrive.

I would be wary about using remote desktop as it relies on reliable wifi connections at both ends. I know my home office wifi sometimes drops out and needs restarting, if I'm not there I can't do that and would then be stuffed.

Thanks (1)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
27th Mar 2023 12:07

You have had some great tech help here, but would stress the "get someone else to cover you whilst in hospital"

Or indeed holidays, and all the rest of it.

I have a "so I am in hospital" document which outlines what people should do to keep the wheels moving on the business. None of this involves me working from a hospital bed.

Thanks (0)
Red Leader
By Red Leader
27th Mar 2023 18:02

If you end up using a non-secure internet connection, good idea to use a VPN. Sounds scary if you're not techy but they are really simple to use.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By NoahWright
28th Mar 2023 07:26

If you're away from your desk for long periods of time but need to still stay on top accounting tasks, you can use remote access technology or hire an accounting professional. Remote access software allows you to securely connect to your computer from anywhere and get the job done. Alternatively, hiring a qualified accountant can help take care of financial management during times when it just isn't possible for you to be there physically.

Thanks (0)
Replying to NoahWright:
avatar
By paulwakefield1
28th Mar 2023 07:46

ChatGPT?

Thanks (2)
Replying to paulwakefield1:
avatar
By Hugo Fair
28th Mar 2023 13:02

Bears all the hallmarks ... anodyne, 'factual' but with no sense of relevance and ultimately off-target & unhelpful.

Thanks (3)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
Pile of Stones
By Beach Accountancy
28th Mar 2023 17:47

Presumably HMRC have been using it for 10 years then

Thanks (1)
avatar
By RobbieT
28th Mar 2023 09:50

Hope you're on the mend!
My sole-practioner-with-occasional-outsourcing setup:

Laptop, plugged into large monitor, for the good of your spine. Do not contemplate laptop-only as a permanent solution or you'll be a cripple in 5 years. Everything stored to Dropbox, so it syncs across any other IT equipment you have. Also means if your laptop is stolen, you can acquire a new one, download everything from the cloud and be operational in a few hours.

Get a decent PM system (I use Senta) where you can assign tasks to an alternate or subbie and monitor their work effectively. Using detailed idiot-proof workflows means jobs get done the way you'd want them to be done.

Having a second screen is great too - I have the largest iPad. This also functions well on the move where even a laptop may be too bulky, or holidays. Everything syncs across and you can manage a whole bunch of stuff from beside the pool, at the airport, train journeys etc

Software-wise, cloud-based everything means you are best placed to enjoy the nomadic benefits of sole practitioner status. We're Xero & (hosted) Digita and there's very little I can't do with my trusty iPad on the go. No problem with W365 email on there either.

Have a meaningful relationship with your Continuity, not just a letter from someone you saw 5 years ago. Meet at least every year and reacquaint them with your practice, systems, clients. Have a test-run where they actually get involved (we used an all-clients payroll when I went on holiday as our test) to check that your plans would actually serve your clients if you were unavailable.

Thanks (4)
Replying to RobbieT:
avatar
By Hugo Fair
28th Mar 2023 13:08

Some great tips ... in particular the final para (it's surprising how much people rely purely on technology and forget the human component).

Thanks (1)
avatar
By CardiffAccountant
29th Mar 2023 19:30

I’m away from my desk for up to 3 months per year (not all at once, but over around 4 to 6 holidays). In fact, I’m typing this whilst sitting in my apartment in Spain!

Wherever I go, I have my laptop ‘under my arm’ so to speak.

I use MS OneDrive and cloud based software.

Through careful integration, I am able to continue working just about anywhere in the world. I even ran a payroll whilst holidaying in Moscow (some years ago).

I would always recommend investing in a laptop and setting up systems in such away as to allow freedom from the office.

Thanks (0)