Cottage industry: Making the most of your working vacation

Jim Donnelly
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No summer is complete without a vacation to the cottage. But what about those other sunny weeks of summertime – how can one squeeze the most from that beckoning lakeside abode, while still taking care of business?

Cottage / lake / dock


Michael Bussiere says it's possible to have the best of both worlds. He runs, a telecommuting firm, and during the warmer months conducts most of his office work at a lakeside cottage in the Val-des-Monts area of Quebec.

Sound too good to be true? Fear not – he recently got on the phone with OBJ to give us his top-five tips to observe when telecommuting from a lakeside paradise.

Double-check your wireless reception

"The one thing I've learned is not to trust the network maps. If they give you a big broad map, you could be sitting in a (reception) dead zone and not know it – the only way you're going to know it is if you get a product with a trial period so you can test your reception. For instance, if I walk less than half a mile from my cottage, the network speed drops significantly.

"I also prefer using an Internet stick – it keeps you mobile and you can take it into town with you, or down to the lake, or wherever, which is the beauty of this option."

Don't go stir crazy

"The ground rules of working from the cottage aren't so much different than telecommuting from home, although there are quirks. But you need to really set your boundaries, otherwise you'll quickly find yourself answering your work calls at 8 o'clock at night. So you should really treat every day just like a work day at the office."

If you're stuck with no reception, consider satellite

"Other options I've come across are satellite-based. In my area there's a local reseller in Wakefield, and they'll come and install the dish at your cottage. But this kind of solution can cost up to four times more, on a monthly rate, than a typical Internet plan and it costs a couple hundred dollars to install."

Keep it simple

"If you're working for yourself, you should consider using as simple a platform as possible. I use Skype quite frequently. But if you're working with another company, interoperability is extremely important – you have to make sure you have software that is compatible with your customers, and some of this software can eat up a ton of data. You can suddenly find your bill go through the roof, if you're not careful."

Keep your lines separate

"I use my cell phone exclusively for business calls at the cottage. Imagine if someone phones me back on a business call in three or four months time, and my cottage land phone is out of service by then? That's not a good idea. Also, using this method I can distinguish my business calls from personal calls by the sound of the ring. Also, keep your cell phone plugged in and charging at all times – just in case the power goes out." 

Michael Bussiere is principal consultant and designer at, a telecollaboration firm with offices in Toronto and Ottawa.

Geographic location: Val, Quebec, Wakefield Toronto Ottawa

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