Working without some key high tech tools in the workplace can end up more counterproductive than cost-conscious. In fact, some are free and just need to be enabled by a manager. And, often, the right tools enable your office the perks of information mobility; which can lead to higher productivity and efficiency in the workplace. Here are our picks for the seven high tech tools your workforce can’t live without in most professional jobs.
1. A Tablet with the Right Business Apps
Purchasing an iPad or Android tablet is only the first (expensive) step to being connected and productive wherever you are. Integrating that slate of glass and circuits into your work, with the things you do every day to connect the dots, is a much longer walk.
So grab these tested apps of productivity for your tablet: “7 Business Apps Every Professional Should Download” and others that include alternative keyboards, texting tools, printing apps and better email, for starters. The sky really is the limit; you just have to find the apps that cater to your job and workflow best.
2. A Better Keyboard for that Tablet
If you’re going to pretend to really manage email and work on documents with your go-anywhere tablet, you want a keyboard for that thing. Not a huge bag-hogging thing, but not a flimsy board that reminds you of your friends’ Palm Pilot, either. We concur with the Wirecutter’s recommendation of the Logitech’s Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard for iPads and Android tablets, and recommend the upgraded Type Cover (distinct from the “Touch Cover”) for Windows 8 tablets.
3. Better Telecommuting Tools
We’ve already made the case at WorkIntelligent.ly for essential tools to make your job easier for those days when you can work from home. And we recommend you suggest these tools to your manager and/or head of your IT department. If you want to take matters into your own hands, you can try out Just Beam It for file sending, Basecamp for discussion/task tracking, Join.me for no-download meetings, and GroupMe for texts that reach everybody on a specific team.
4. A Different Browser than Internet Explorer
This writer totally gets that there are certain apps, data, and services that demand the use of Internet Explorer. You need not remove Internet Explorer, or even delete its shortcut. Just make some room for a browser that can do more.
What more, exactly? With extensions that work on any modern browser, you can edit images quickly with sharp results, track your internet time (be warned: it might not be pretty), schedule and send email back to yourself, and write better messages and memos.
5. Smarter Expense Tracking Tools
Most firms provide only the last step of expense reimbursement: the form you fill out with the expenses. What about the really early stages, where you are begging your brain to remember a cab ride after a long post-conference dinner?
Two apps come to mind, both ‘mostly’ free. Expensify can track what you’re buying and spending in any number of convenient ways, including automatic credit card/bank import. It’s available on a personal level or as a business-wide service. Evernote is a much more wide-angle track-everything tool, but works fine for expenses if you keep up with it: photo-snapping, tagging, and entering in expenses as they roll in.
6. A Phone / Tablet Charger for Any Situation
It feels good to be prepared for an unexpected battery shortage on your phone or tablet. It feels better to be able to lend a hand to a peer or boss in a similar tight spot. It feels best when you don’t need to lug around a bulky battery backup to achieve that kind of Lithium-ion-MacGyver status.
What you need are the right cables, and a device that can charge as well as plug you into an outlet when it comes available. I really like the Bolt charger and its 3-in-1 cable for this, but so do a lot of people, so it’s often sold out. There are other joint wall/recharge packs out there, like the Mophie Juice Pack, or Tylt’s Energi packs, or a tiny $20 Ankher charger. In either case, you’ll want to have the right cables on hand. You could just get what your phone needs, but having micro-USB (Android and lots of other devices), Lightning (newer iPhones and iPads), and 30-pin (older Apple gear) cables on-hand would make you a savant.
7. A File ‘Syncing’ System
Whether you’re a Google Drive (formerly Docs) die-hard, a Dropbox disciple, or a fan of Apple’s tightly connected iCloud / iWork system, there’s more these systems could be doing for you, wonderful as they may be. They’re convenient, sure, but they’re not quite as accessible and automatic as they could be.
Check out these productivity hacks for each service. You can work in Drive offline, you can make Dropbox sync any folder, and you can force iCloud to show you all the files it really has, rather than guess which app can open them.
Is there a high-tech tool you recommend that wasn’t mentioned? We welcome comments.