For most of us, our mobile devices have become an extension of who we are. We feel lost and out of the loop if we leave the smartphone behind when we head out for the day. Some of us can't go more than a half hour without checking to see if there are messages or alerts waiting for us on the phone.
Since your phone is so important, wouldn't it be great if you could transform it into a functional mobile office? What if all you needed to work from anywhere was something you always have in your pocket anyway? Here’s a quick guide on how to turn your smartphone into a mobile office:
Choose the right phone
Despite the fact that there always seems to be a new "latest and greatest" smartphone on the scene, everyone has their own preferences. In order to be able to work comfortably on your device, you need to choose the right operating system, style, and size that fits your comfort level. The good news is that just about every smartphone can be transformed into a mobile office, so choose one that works best for you.
Get the right apps
The foundation of having a mobile office on your smartphone is the apps. Or, more accurately, the combination of apps. This is another area where you will need to go with what you're most comfortable with. Choose specific apps that work on your device and for your work style. To get you started, here are some areas to explore when stocking your phone with work-enhancing apps:
- Email management: In some cases, the native email client on the device may be all you need. But if you’re looking for something a bit more robust, check out the new Outlook app – it keeps a central list of recent file attachments to make it simple to work from your mobile device.
- Contacts/CRM: Native contact apps may work for basic information, but there are CRM apps that will help you take customer management to a new level. Check out SugarCRM or Batchbook.
- Remote data access: This is a must-have for those of us that don’t want to be lugging a computer around all the time. Without a data backup service that allows you to access your files from anywhere, it will be very difficult to work from your smartphone.
- Time tracking: There are many different time-tracking apps that let you seamlessly track your time from your desktop, to your laptop, to your tablet, to your smartphone. If you’re a consultant, or in a job where you bill by the hour, this can be a huge time saver and ensure you’re getting paid for all of the work you do.
- Word processing/spreadsheets: If you're going to be writing, reviewing documents, or working with spreadsheets, you need apps that help you access and modify these files.
- Scanner: Scanning and printing can be hurdles when you're mobile, but the former, at least, can be accomplished with a mobile scanning app, like Genius Scan or Scanner Pro.
- Expense tracking: If you travel a lot, an app that helps you track your expenses is vital. Look for one that syncs with your bookkeeping software. Expensify is one option that syncs with several accounting platforms and ERP systems.
- Task and project management: Many desktop project management apps have mobile versions so you can stay in the loop with your team no matter where you are.
- Payments: If you need to take payments through your phone while on the road, a mobile payment app that accepts credit cards is a necessity. PayPal, Square and Venmo are great options accepting for mobile payments.
- Social media: Most smartphones come with Twitter and Facebook installed, but if you use a social media management app like Hootsuite, make sure you grab the mobile version so all of your activity is tracked in one place.
Do a search in the app store to find tools you can use to meet each of these needs, plus any others that are important to your business.
Go paperless and embrace the cloud
As you work on creating your mobile office, consider going paperless. When you're paper-free, all of your important documents are accessible via the cloud which means you literally have all of your data at your fingertips.
Once your smartphone is armed with all of the necessary tools, you can take your business on the go and work from anywhere. Imagine how a mini mobile office could make your productivity soar. Do you use your smartphone for more than communication? Let us know in the comments section.