Keeping your team productive on the road

Staying productive on the road isn’t just about issuing your staff with fancy gadgets.

It’s about finding the right tools so you can make the most of every work day.

Work as a team

It’s tempting to start your mobile productivity push by shopping for gadgets. But like any IT project, the first step is to consider your requirements and set your objectives.

Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, you’re better prepared to evaluate the right apps, hardware and services to meet your needs.

If your team needs to collaborate on documents, your first port of call should be an online office suite. Google Docs, Microsoft’s Office 365 and Apple’s iWork are some examples of these.

To coordinate your efforts you might consider corporate messaging platforms like Slack and project management tools such as Basecamp.

There are plenty of collaboration services to choose from, so it pays to do your research and conduct a trial rather than leap in headfirst.

Look for platform-agnostic services (an app or service that works well no matter the device) and think carefully before embracing closed ecosystems that tie you to specific providers. This can make it difficult to change direction down the track.

Free services sound attractive, but it’s important to evaluate the paid business-grade options, not just in search of advanced features but also improved customer support and service level agreements.

The right gadget for the job

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to portable productivity tools.

Instead you need to strike the right balance between portability, usability and battery life depending on how your staff spend their days.

If you’ve opted for platform-agnostic apps and services then it’s probably not necessary for everyone to carry the same hardware.

This gives you the freedom to evaluate smartphones, tablets, notebooks and hybrid devices.

You can also explore business-issued and Bring Your Own Device options.

Rather than worrying about Windows versus Mac, or Android versus Apple, start by defining a few use cases and user profiles.

For example, some staff are desk-bound, while others spend the day on their feet.

Some demand an all-day battery life, while others are never far from a powerpoint or car charger. Some staff always have Wi-Fi at hand, while others need access to mobile broadband.

Portability is a key consideration for devices that will spend much of their time in a carry bag, while screen glare is an issue for gadgets to be used outdoors.

A decent physical keyboard might be important to staff who create and edit documents.

Once you know what your various staff require in a portable productivity tool, and the tasks they’ll be performing on the tool, it’s much easier to match them up with the best hardware for the job.

Keeping in touch

Reliable mobile voice and data access is critical for staying productive on the road, but there’s more to choosing a business telco than getting a good deal on your handset.

Many business-grade mobile plans offer competitive voice rates and even let your staff call each other for free, but these days you’re just as likely to be reliant on mobile data.

Look for options such as the ability to pool data allowances and incorporate separate data-only SIM cards for tablets and notebooks.

The larger your organisation the more important it is to look for business-grade tools such as a central portal to manage all of your mobile accounts.

Also read the fine print regarding excess data charges and global roaming rates to avoid any unpleasant surprises on your monthly bill.

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