- some of us used to have to drive to work, but now we can work in the driveway.
- the car can be the ideal quiet space to hop on a video call if home is a bit busy these days.
- whether you're dragging an extension cord from the house or going all in with a 12-volt espresso machine, there are as many ways to modify your wheels into a work space as there are emails to answer.
you need to work, but you can't drive to your office. because your office is closed due to covid-19. and the whole home office thing worked for a while, but now the kids have figured out how to jimmy open the lock, and their new favorite activity is zoom bombing. may we suggest the office that's parked in your driveway?
turning cars into mobile workspaces is nothing new, starting with those massive car phones from the 1940s. today, there are plenty of ways to outfit your current car with more work-friendly functionality, like wi-fi, coffee, and a desk, since we'll assume you're not out shopping for a new office on wheels, one with an extended wheelbase or that can double as an entry point to #vanlife.
the most important part of today's office is, most likely, an internet connection. you've got a few options here, including simply driving to your local library's parking lot and connect to their broadcast. turns out, even during a pandemic, some closed libraries keep the wifi on.
if you need to be closer to home but your home internet doesn't quite reach the car, a good second option is to tether your phone's connection. depending on your plan, this is likely the cheapest option. the slicker choice is a built-in cellular device that will broadcast a wi-fi signal. many new cars offer this feature, including those from ford, lincoln, toyota, lexus and volkswagen, which work with verizon to offer their plans. twenty-five brands, including gm, audi, bmw, and mercedes-benz, use at&t. some automakers have partnered with multiple providers. of course, for these vehicles to offer a wi-fi signal, they need to be on or in the accessory position, which means they maybe shouldn't be relied on for that four-hour zoom meeting if you can't stretch an extension cord all the way to the car. if you have an electric vehicle, there's no need to worry about your emissions while idling, so chalk that up as a hidden ev bonus for the coronavirus era.
if you need to get a dedicated wi-fi hotspot device, it probably makes sense to go with adding a device to the phone plan you already have rather than sign up for a separate bill. well-reviewed options include the verizon jetpack mifi 8800l, the mifi 8000 mobile hotspot (for sprint users), and the nighthawk lte mobile hotspot router or the netgear nighthawk m1 (at&t). if you do want to set up a separate plan, the glocalme g4 pro is recommended.
desk in the car
despite their name, laptops do prefer a flat surface to rest on, so your next addition to the car office should be a desk of some sort. you've probably seen one of those swiveling laptop arm mounts in police cars, but you don't need to install heavy machinery if you plan on using your car again someday to, you know, carry the family around again. instead, look for a lap desk. there are gazillions of options, from minimalist, purely functional options (like this, from max smart or the journidock) to those designed specifically for use in the driver's seat, like those from lebogner or lightter. pro tip: you will have your whole "office" to yourself, so we recommend one that works well in your (hopefully) spacious back seat. why feel cramped when you're at work?
sustenance and caffeine
we realize that you're already in a prime position to get a drive-through coffee when you're working in your car, but if you want to minimize your interaction with others right now and can plan ahead a bit, you can get an in-car coffee maker or even an espresso machine that will brew up a fresh drink whenever you need some caffeine. if you don't own a fiat 500l and one of the official fiat-branded machines for it, you can get the handpresso auto, which uses a vehicle's 12-volt outlet to brew an espresso in about two minutes from pods or ground beans.
if you're going to be spending a full day working in the car and don't even want to exit for lunch, a 12-volt car-cooler/warmer could find a place in your daily routine to keep your food at the right temperature. raiding the home fridge is probably a better solution, and will help stretch your legs and give you a chance to use the restroom as well as engage in water cooler talk with the family before saying, "well, better get back to it" as you head out the door.