But mobility isn’t just responding to email. True mobility is the ability to do our jobs from any location at any time without disruption. To be most effective, we need a reliable set of feature-rich mobile and communication tools that ensure we can connect with people, projects, business processes, data, files and resources no matter our physical location.
By 2015, the world’s mobile worker population will reach 1.3 billion, representing 37.2% of the total workforce, according to an IDC forecast. As work becomes mobile and distributed, both small businesses and corporations are relying on these mobile devices to be successful. Today laptops, smartphones and tablets are a professional necessity, as they support everything from audio and video conferencing to social collaboration, file sharing and so much more.
Video communications are improving communication efficiency and reducing travel costs. Virtual office space is putting all the files, documents and programs we need at our fingertips and making them sharable with clients and colleagues. Companies that have adopted this highly successful “work where you want, when you want, how you want” attitude know that when choosing collaboration tools, the solutions must be cloud-based and support mobile devices. And in every case, this flexible, mobility-centric approach is empowering companies and individuals to be faster, stronger and wiser than their competitors.
So, by now you’re wondering: what exactly do mobile workers need to work efficiently from anywhere? It’s not a long list, but each item on it should be considered carefully to ensure it delivers the necessary features, functionality and results to support a productive and mobile business lifestyle.
The 7 Must-Have Apps and Gadgets for a Productive Mobile Workday
3G or Mobile Wi-fi
Everyone needs Internet access, but don’t assume hotspots with free Wi-fi are everywhere. Be prepared by tethering your smartphone or tablet to your computer. For this connectivity option to work, the phone must be 3G enabled, and you need a data plan from your provider that covers tethering or hotspots. You can secure the connection through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or a USB port and the appropriate cord.
If you want to avoid adding another data plan to your wireless bill you can consider using mobile applications for tethering, or a Wi-fi card. Wi-Fi cards are available for laptops and mobile devices alike and you can get them at most electronic stores.
USB headset and headphones with a mute button
When you’re working on the go and attending audio conferences or online meetings regularly, you need to optimize your audio input and output. That means using a quality headset.
When you’re attending meetings from a laptop, use a USB headset for optimized audio. The better the microphone quality and the bigger the microphone’s diaphragm, the better you’ll be heard. Comfort is the main consideration when choosing between a single ear (mono) and both ears (stereo) headset configuration.
When you’re attending meetings from your smartphone or tablet, plug in a pair of headphones with a mute button to the device. On mobile devices, you’ll always be using the built-in microphone, but with headphones, you’ll be able to hear meeting attendees better. A mute button is a great to have in case of sudden sneezes, barking dogs or other unexpected background noise.
Reputable headset vendors include Logitech, Plantronics, Freetalk and Sennheiser.
Remote access to your main computer
Your designated work computer is usually the one loaded with the programs and sometimes the file you need. Invariably the one program or file you need while you are away from the office is not on the laptop in your hands. Adding remote access to your work computer ensures that you never have to say, “I’ll take care of that when I get back to the office.”
When you can access your main computer from another computer, tablet or smartphone, you are able to use those files and programs just as you do when you are in the office. You can work from your work computer no matter where you are and finish your projects as if you were behind your desk and connected to the local network.
Mobile file sharing
To be successful in mobile working, you need to be able to access, edit and send files as if you were in the office accessing the local servers and network. Cloud-based, mobile file sharing stores your files in the cloud and allows you to access and send them. This is essential for maintaining your workflow. The best file-sharing solutions support desktop and mobile devices, encrypt files to keep them secure, offer online folders for storage and support file versioning.
Video conferencing app for mobile devices
Meetings happen whether you are in or out of the office, and you need to be able to attend and host web conferences from anywhere. To make sure you’re always able to attend or host an online meeting, you need a mobile video conferencing application that supports multi-person video and sharing content for presentations.
In addition, some web conferencing solutions offer local, international and toll-free calling. If your team travels internationally or is dispersed internationally, it’s necessary to find an audio plan that is most cost-effective for your needs.
High-definition web camera
Just as it’s important to be heard audibly in online meetings, it’s important to be seen clearly in video conferences. To be fully immersed in a virtual, face-to-face meeting, you need a high-definition webcam.
Most laptops have integrated webcams today, but the quality is usually poor. To attend or present on video conferences, the relatively low cost of a high-definition webcam is well worth it.
Also, integrated webcams are not able to capture anything beyond the person sitting directly in front of them. To stream video from anywhere and at any angle, you need an external webcam.
When choosing a high-definition webcam, Logitech, Microsoft and HP have great reputations for quality. However, many smaller companies are producing solid webcams as well. The key is choosing one with high-definition capability.
Mobile and social work platform
Social workspaces allow you to collaborate with your team asynchronously from anywhere. As you accomplish tasks or run into workflow snags throughout the day, you can show progress or ask questions to your team within a workspace, which they can consume via an activity feed wherever they want to work. Social workspaces get you out of email into your workflow, making communication more effective and less time consuming. When you are away from the office, you need a centralized workspace to upload files for team review, provide status updates on projects, as well as monitor updates from your teammates.
With these seven essential tools and resources at your fingertips, there are no boundaries to where and when you can work.