I love being able to work from anywhere, and thanks to technology – largely the cloud and online applications – this is becoming increasingly easy.
Why do I like being able to work remotely so much? Mobile working isn’t purely the domain of the digital nomad, trekking around the world, nor is it predominantly for the ‘online marketer’ – although that is my field. No, mobile working has many advantages for everyone.
When you’re a busy business owner, particularly if you’re trying to juggle networking, client meetings, children, running your home, and the countless other tasks we ladies tend to take on, every minute counts. Whether you’re queuing for your coffee, sat in a café waiting for a client who’s stuck in traffic, or just stood for ten minutes at the school gates, information is at your fingertips. In that otherwise wasted time, you could send that invoice so you’ll get paid sooner, add a reminder to your to-do list, or save an article for a blog later. All this saves you time for when you really need it, and helps make sure you can enjoy your weekend off.
When asked for my top recommendations for mobile working applications, I have a fairly long list I could talk about for ages, but here are five apps I’m loving at the moment:
Moving our accounting online was one of the best decisions we made. While you can reconcile bank transactions and raise invoices directly from the app, my bookkeeper and accountant typically do that. I use it for peace of mind. In two minutes, I can see how up to date our accounts are, check balances and see whose invoices are overdue. What I really love though is simply being able to upload and log my expenses straight away. No longer do I have to dig through a purse full of receipts; I simply scan them there and then, sometimes even at the point of purchase, and it’s done.
If I have a new idea, or I see something on the web I want to revisit or reference later, EverNote is great for organising notes, photos, and audio or web clips – you can share notebooks across a team too. It’s also a fab little scanner in your pocket. I was recently at home on medical leave with no access to a scanner, but when I needed to get some post to a contact, I just scanned it with EverNote and emailed it. No need to pile up papers to take to the office and scan – we’re almost a paperless office now, and I love it!
This I love. Last year I was lucky enough to take six weeks to travel round Australia, and this little app saves so much time. You know how it is when someone sends you an email with an attachment that needs you to sign and return; you have to print it off, tick a box, write and sign your name, scan it back in and email it. It’s even worse if you happen to be abroad and need to start hunting for somewhere with a printer and scanner. This saves you all of that. You can easily tick boxes and add text boxes, and you simply sign using your stylus or even your finger. Seriously, download it and just play the demo. I’ve shown that demo to so many people! If you’re concerned about whether it’s legally binding, they cover all of that in the FAQ too. You can sign or request up to 20 signatures per month for free, which is probably sufficient for many people, or if you want to use it for your customers and use it a lot, then it has a paid version too. I love this so much I wish I needed to use it more!
This one’s a long-time favourite of mine. Using SlideShark, you can carry your presentation on your phone or tablet, present from your device or plug into a projector or screen. You can even use it to broadcast your presentation online remotely. My favourite bit – you can use your phone as a remote control. Everyone loves that, and it’s so much more intuitive than a clicker. We’ve had loads of people ask us what software we used for our presentation. Disappointingly, SlideShark no longer has a free version even for low-volume users – you can get a 30-day free trial, but otherwise you do need to pay for an annual licence now. It’s still the market leader in its field though, in my opinion.
This isn’t a specific app as such, but whatever CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) you choose, I wouldn’t choose any that doesn’t have a mobile web application. There are lots of great CRMs out there – some are more expensive than others, and some are free; some are better at sales management and others excel at project management. Which one works best for your business only you can decide. Some choices include Basecamp, Hubspot, Solve, Salesforce and Asana. Having your CRM on your mobile device is liberating. Need to check where the team is up to on a project? Tick. Need to find an email someone else sent to your client? Tick. Want to reorganise priorities for next week, or reschedule a meeting? Tick.
Thanks to these and a number of other great applications, my team and I can work remotely. At Engage Web, our team has flexible work-from-home options and all they need is a good internet connection.
While mobile apps are fantastic, it’s still important to make sure the work doesn’t leak into your life all the time – it’s very tempting to continually do a bit here and there, and I’m as guilty as anyone of doing that. My top tip? Create a folder on your phone or tablet for ‘Work apps’, preferably on a screen away from the dashboard or home page, so you have to actually make a conscious decision to use them. Wherever possible, keep notifications switched off or to a minimum. Make sure you keep the mobile working to office hours, or otherwise wasted time, and make time for yourself and your family.
Apps like these really do make the workplace the convenient and flexible place it should be in 2016, and working away from the office is sure to get even easier in the coming years, helping the mobile businesswoman at every turn.