How To: Put Your Office on Wheels

Call it an outcome of the always-on digital lifestyle, but these days most of us have to work whenever we happen to be, whenever duty calls. That can be in a traditional office, but it’s just as likely at home, at a coffee shop and, increasingly, in a car, says Kate Lister, coauthor of work at home self-help book “Undress for Success” and an expert on telecommuting.

“At any point in time, 80 percent of American workers are on the move, going from here to there, often trying to work out of a car,” explains Lister. “The car is becoming the natural place to work but the technology needs to catch up.”

The bad news is that the typical car isn’t exactly work-friendly. It has neither desks nor the AC outlets, data connections and printers that we depend on in a traditional office. The good news is that a car generally has a wrap-around view of the world that rivals the best corner office, good air conditioning and even the equivalent of a comfy couch in the back.

A lot that can be done to turn a car into a killer mobile office. By stuffing my car full of digital creature comforts, I’m going to transform it into a workplace on wheels so that I can work where and when I want.

I’m starting with my 2006 Mercedes E350 station wagon that I previously added satellite radio to. In essence, I’m going to trick out my ride by adding an office full of these techno-goodies so that I can work from the road:


A Buddy Desk  to hold a Fujitsu T4410 Tablet PC computer and keyboard and give me a place to work .

When I’m not shuffling papers, I’ll be using a Fujitsu T4410 Tablet PCplus Adesso’s WKB-400BB wireless keyboard

·        POWER:

To add AC outlets, I have a TrippLite PowerVerter PV375 power inverter and a Globe power strip to get the juice where it’s needed.

·        PRINTING:

Sooner or later I’ll need to print documents, so I have a Canon Pixma iP100 printer with Bluetooth adapter to do away with the pesky USB cable 


Instead of an ordinary mobile phone, HP’s iPAQ Glisten Smartphone will handle my communications and mapping needs and because holding a phone and driving don’t mix, Blue Ant’s Supertooth Lite hands-free speaker phone is part of my office.

·        NETWORKING:

Verizon’s MiFi 2200 WiFi router will perform mobile magic by connecting with Verizon’s 3G network and delivering bandwidth to my office on wheels with an internal WiFi network.

Finally, so that everything stays put when I drive, I’m going to use a combination of magnetic  and Velcro adhesive tape.

This project should take about an hour and doesn’t require any special tools. But before we go any further we want to make sure you understand that there’s a time and a place for work, and that’s not while driving. So, when an email comes in, when you have that career-changing idea, or when the phone rings, be smart enough to pull over and park the car (err, office) to follow up on it. Whatever it is, it’s not worth your life or mine.

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  • figgus
    I think instead of the tray you use, you should have gone with this one instead. Make sure you read the comments and user reviews, and have a look at the pictures!
  • traesta
    I was seriously expecting to see you rip out the center console and stuff a mATX motherboard and components in there then run a touch screen mounted on the dash somewhere... but at the end of the first page I saw the words "Velcro" and "magnetic tape" and sighed in disbelief
  • Luscious
    Gamber-Johnson have been making vehicle notebook mounts for years. I've used one in the past with a Panasonic Toughbook and it worked quite well. It even had a mount for a small printer underneath. I believe the LAPD uses a similar setup in their cruisers.

    To be honest, the car he used is more of a bottleneck for this project. On my car I replaced the factory headunit with a double-DIN JVC with BT and NAV. Now I can use my phone without a second BT gadget, and not worry about keeping it charged either. A simple $20 12V adapter keeps my 3G smartphone charged, and I can tether my phone too, making the MiFi device totally unnecessary. My data plan doesn't subject me to a 5GB cap either. As for notebook power, I carry a second charged battery, giving me all-day power, be it in the car or on-site with a client. Much less gadgets, much simple to hook up, and much less to carry. Never mind leaving nothing in the vehicle for thieves to break in and knock off.

    His set up is definitely not typical, but it's important to remember to go with what works best. This may work well for him, but it is not something another road-warrior may consider functional for their need or efficient for their budget. There are better ways to do what this guy did here.
  • Codesmith
    I am a big fan of duct tape, super glue and velcro. It took me 2 minutes to velcro mount my KVM switch under by desk, then another minute to super glue the velcro a year latter when the adhesive gave out.
  • Computer_Lots
    Go ahead and put that magnetic tape right in front of your center channel speaker. It won't harm your transducer at all :)
    Geez, it's like when I see people sticking magnets to their PC case. Just idiocy.
  • mabaty
    This article is nothing more than a marketing attempt, put the laptop on your lap, coffee in the cup holder, use the keyboard on the pc?, use the gps and bluetooth that is already installed in your Benz?.