Expense reports, lousy hotel Wi-Fi, and inability to connect with colleagues can complicate your life and drain productivity. The good news is, today’s technology can overcome many of these hurdles.

Expense reports without tears

Let’s face it — no one enjoys doing expense reports.

It’s bad enough toting receipts everywhere you go. But the worst part is spreading them out on your desk after you return, scratching your head over every car rental slip and hotel bill — and whatever happened to that restaurant receipt, anyway?

Today’s software eliminates a lot of the bother. Popular apps like Box, Evernote, Google Drive, Salesforce, and a host of others allow you to scan and upload receipts and documents as you acquire them, storing them securely in the cloud until you get back (or forever). You can also add notations, so you won’t have to try to recall next week how much you tipped the valet last night.

For enterprises, travel and expense software allows employees to upload photos of receipts and managers to approve expense reports, both using mobile devices. The one caveat is mobile device security: If someone’s device gets lost or stolen, it could leak company financial information to unauthorized users.

Businesses can also take advantage of corporate travel management software, which automates expense reports and tax reporting, as well as making airline and hotel reservations, providing road maps and travel information, and offering travel agency support if needed.

Terrible hotel Wi-Fi

Why is hotel Wi-Fi s-o-o-o s-l-o-w?

It’s a frequent complaint. One survey estimates that 85 percent to 90 percent of hotels have a problem with slow Wi-Fi, even though guests rate it as a hotel’s most important feature after a comfortable bed.

The main problem is capacity. Most networks were built to serve one device per room, usually a laptop with a strong antenna that could access even weak Wi-Fi signals. But today’s business guests carry up to 10 devices, many of them smartphones with weak antennas.

You might think larger hotels would have better coverage, but the opposite is true — they have more guests to serve on a single network.

If your hotel Wi-Fi seems slow and you want to prove it to the front desk, you can use an app like Hotel Wi-Fi Test app to run a speed test.

The good news is, you’re no longer stuck with hotel Wi-Fi. Things have changed since the FCC sued Marriott last year, saying it couldn’t jam other services and force guests to use its own Wi-Fi system.

However, there a few things you can try before giving up on your hotel:

  • If Wi-Fi doesn’t work in your room, try the lobby or a conference room.
  • If you can’t get connected or keep getting knocked off, call the front desk and ask them to reset the router. Try again in five to 10 minutes. If it was a router problem, it should work.
  • Ask if the hotel offers an Ethernet connection, which would allow you to bypass Wi-Fi and get onto their network directly.
  • If none of these solutions work, check your phone to see if it has a mobile hotspot or a “tethering” setting. If so, you can connect that way — but watch your data usage so that you don’t exceed your limit. This technique can also run down your battery pretty quickly.
  • If all else fails, use your Wi-Fi finder to locate a Starbucks, library, or other spot that offers Wi-Fi. It will probably work better than the hotel’s.

Connecting with coworkers

You may be on a business trip, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also work with your colleagues back at the home office.

Today’s remote collaboration services can give you two-way video and audio conferencing, interactive whiteboards, and projectors. You can also upload or download documents from the cloud, making and saving changes across devices while on the go.

Systems like this can be a boon if you encounter unexpected questions or need to add something to a presentation — even if they aren’t present physically, your team is there to help.

Today’s iWorker expects the ability to collaborate on the go, wherever and whenever. Are you implementing the right strategy?