Tools to make telecommuting cheaper, easier, and quicker
For ten years, I’ve jumped from one telecommuting job to another, and smartphone apps are easily the most radical, game-changing innovation in my work. Efficiency is always a struggle when you telecommute, and too-often the dragging pace of online work cuts into family time. The right mobile apps can help solve the coordination and information-sharing problems that often tangle telecommuters up, as well as helping you get work done on the subway, at the doctor’s office, or anywhere else you find time. Here are a few of the standouts, for Android and iPhone.
1. Dropbox (Android, iOS)
Dropbox is one of the real rock-stars of the cloud computing revolution, and their mobile app does not disappoint. Just like the desktop version, it allows you to share any files you want with a basic drag-and-drop interface. You simply put files you want shared in your Dropbox folder, and they’re instantly available on all networked computers. It avoids the wasted time and duplication that come with sharing email attachments, and it also allows you to share files between your home computer, mobile device, and your work computer if you have one. Rather than bringing along flash drives or sending yourself emails, you can just keep what you need on Dropbox, so it’s instantly available wherever you go. (Cost: free)
2. Evernote (Android, iOS)
Evernote combines some of the functionality of Toggl with that of Dropbox—it’s a notepad app that allows you to keep track of both your work and personal sphere, and share notes with co-workers or family whenever you want. It supports to-do lists, snapshots of receipts and business cards for reimbursement, and syncs everything you save across every device you authorize—that way, your notes are always available on your home computer, smartphone, or tablet. (Cost: free, with paid upgrade available)
3. Toggl (Android, iOS)
Time-management is easily my biggest struggle as a telecommuter. I love setting my own hours, but too often my “work day” ends up stretching past midnight, and that’s a sure recipe for burnout. Toggl is a time-management app to help you plan your day, as well as measuring the time you spend on each project against your stated goals. It tracks billable hours so you can stay honest and accurate about your work. The user-interface was designed for iOS, but we’ve test-run the app, after a few bug fixes, on Samsung cell phones without any trouble. (Cost: free)
4. Salesforce Mobile (Android, iOS)
If you’re involved in online sales, this app is a great way to coordinate information between sales reps and the main office. You can track notes on leads, how much of your product the client has purchased, client contact information, and when you need to ship another order. Obviously this app requires that your entire team be on board, but if you’re a project manager or small business owner, this is a great, free option to integrate your sales team. (Cost: free)
5. Dragon Dictation (iOS)
Voice recognition’s buzz peaked in the late 90s, when it was slow, clumsy, and inexact. You might be surprised to hear that the progress made by developers since then practically qualifies as an “ugly duckling” story. Telecommuters, more than most workers, benefit from the ability to multitask; with good dictation software, you can quickly and accurately write up emails and other documents while getting chores done, or work outside while you take a walk to clear your head. (Cost: free)
About the author: Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.