It’s a rare employer these days that expects workers to stay consistently at one desk, in one office: travel and flexible working practices are the order of the day.
No longer does the word ‘workplace’ designate a cubicle: instead, it implies a state of readiness for a mobile workforce that is expected to spring into action any time, any place… at home, on a train or at a hotel, on a plane or in an airport, or at your company’s other offices. To make yourself ready for these situations, then, you’ve got to think tools: which apps can best facilitate your transition into mobile working? Here’s a few to get you started….
A free download, Box is a cross-platform file-sharing application that means you’ll never be unable to access your work documents. It’s easy to use, too; just create an account and you’ll be off. You can set up collaborative spaces to share with colleagues or clients, and you’ll have secure access to departmental folders within your company’s ‘folder tree’ if they set one up. You get 5GB for free to start you off, and there’s password policies, firewall and SSL encryption to help keep your files secure.
OneNote comes bundled with all WP8 phones, so don’t worry about downloading it. It’s a note-taking app, which is handy, of course, but it’s more than that: it allows you to add photos and audio to your notes and it syncs everything to OneDrive (more on that later). A good note-taking app allows you to ditch the paper and pen, and a cloud-based backup means that you’ll never leave your notes behind on the train by mistake. OneNote also has a very comprehensive desktop service that’s included with newer versions of Microsoft Office – get that on your laptop and you can add hand sketches, and if you’ve got Windows 8.1. software, you can use your machine’s camera to scan images. A great all-round notetaker that will make your working life easier.
This is Facebook for the workplace: a social media tool that restricts access to anybody but your colleagues. That means you can communicate and share info with your workmates from a distance in a secure environment. You can also open Microsoft Office and PDF files from within the app, meaning you can send one another project files via Yammer (all connections to Yammer are secured via SSL/TLS). Again, this is a free download, so give it a trial run and see if it’s useful for you: your co-workers will have to sign up, too, if it is to work. Spread the word!
A free news app from one of the world’s largest news providers, CNN gives you access to all the latest headlines as well as stories on politics, tech, and entertainment stories, national and international news and opinion pieces. From a business perspective, receiving automatic live updates (you can choose not to enable them, of course) via the CNN tile on your device’s home screen is great, but being able to access the financial news from anywhere is particularly handy.
This is a fantastic tool for mobile workers: it gives you remote access both to your computers and to those of your co-workers, as long as they use the service too. You’ll be able to switch on your computer and make changes – such as, for instance, upload files to the Cloud so you can access them on your Nokia Lumia or another device. It’s compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux, so it works for all users.
The original and most famous of all video-calling services, Skype allows you to make video and voice calls without using your allocated minutes. Add credits to your account to call landlines and mobiles at a reduced cost. Skype can be synced with your existing Microsoft account, which means you can carry your pre-existing contacts across. It’s great for checking in with colleagues and the video function is particularly useful when you’re out and about and need to show your boss something. Make sure you have a good data allowance or are on Wi-Fi, though, so you don’t spend too much on data costs.
This is a handy one for networking events or meeting clients outside the office: use it to take a photo of other people’s business cards. The app will save the contact details to your Nokia Lumia’s People hub. It understands sixteen languages and it allows you to map addresses, visit websites and make calls right from the contact page. The app is free to begin with but it’ll expire after sixty days if you don’t sign up to the full version. We reckon it’s worth it if you’re out and about with any degree of frequency.
Not a freebie, but affordable and representing excellent value for the service it provides, Business Trip is a very convenient way of organizing and tracking your trips and their associated expenses. As well as planning your trip by searching out and tracking flight, car and accommodation options, it’s an excellent way of noting all your expenses. Take pictures of receipts, list your expenditure by category, set up reimbursement reminders and generate expense reports that you can then email from within the app: it’s considerably more thorough than filing assorted slips of paper in your briefcase and dealing with them upon your return.
This allows you to interact with your desktop, or laptop, version of Microsoft Office from your Nokia Lumia. It effectively uses your phone as a remote control and lets you use Word, Excel and PowerPoint from the other side of the room. This is brilliant for any office worker, but it’s particularly convenient when you’re giving a presentation in an unfamiliar environment and you’re unsure what facilities they’ve got. The swipe controls you’ll have on the remote make for a very smooth Office experience. You’ll need Microsoft Office 2013 and Bluetooth on your computer, but the app itself is free.
The service formerly known as SkyDrive, Microsoft’s OneDrive is an excellent cloud-based storage system. Save any kind of files you like and access them across devices and on the go, move, edit, rename files, and invite other people to share them. So far, so good, and so useful for mobile workers – a bit like Box. What we especially like about OneDrive, though, is the way it’s integrated into the Windows Phone environment: all your photos are automatically uploaded to your OneDrive account. You get 7GB for free, and another 3GB if you enable photo uploads.
With these apps installed, we think you’ll be able to put your Nokia Lumia in your pocket and be a certified mobile working professional. Any other apps you’ve unearthed that help you thrive in the mobile working world? We’d love to hear all about those, and about your experiences of the above, in the comments section.