Time on the road can be a major part of doing business, and keeping projects on schedule and teams on track can be a challenge when you’re not at your desk. Arming yourself with the right tech tools and apps can make you more productive when you’re in transit or staying in a hotel room in a different city. Stay productive with a special purse, a business card reader app, video conferencing, and more.
Review these productivity-enhancing tools before your next trip.
A dead phone battery can lead to hours of lost productivity, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find an available outlet for charging when you’re working at an airport gate or crowded coffee shop. Packing a portable reserve battery can keep your gadgets running. Mighty Purse, the EMTEC Power Pouch and Anker external batteries are some tools that will keep you from being tethered to the airport terminal wall—as long as you juice up your external battery before you hit the road.
Collaborate on the cloud
Sharing materials with your team via cloud-based services allows you to collaborate on projects from anywhere. Free or low-cost services including Dropbox and Google Drive™ let you work together on live documents wherever you have an Internet connection, so you don’t have to pause any aspect of your work when you’re on the road. Research your options to find the option that best serves your business. Train team members on how to use it properly, so you can continue your projects without interruption.
Adopt a video conferencing app
Whether for a quick confab with a staffer or a virtual team meeting, apps including Google Hangouts™, Skype™, and Tango let you connect face to face from afar. These free services let you make Internet voice or video calls from any distance, and they function on any device. They are best suited for use by smaller groups; if you need to meet with 10 or more people, consider a paid service such as WebEx™, GoToMeeting, or AT&T Connect®, all of which include mobile apps. If you often conduct video conferencing in a crowded environment, you might invest in a pair of headphones with an attached microphone from vendors such as Jabra® or Logitech®.
Set up your own hotspot
Setting up a mobile hotspot turns your smartphone into a Wi-Fi router for your other devices. You can connect your laptop to the Internet anywhere you get cell reception, which means you avoid the hassle of finding and paying for Wi-Fi. Most phone carriers provide monthly mobile hotspot subscription services for an additional charge, so research payment plans with your provider. The AT&T GoPhone® device allows you to keep several devices online at once, or invite up to 10 colleagues to log on as well.
Capture contacts and coordinate receipts
Business travelers tend to return home with pockets full of business cards and expense receipts, and organizing that information can be time-consuming. Mobile apps help you capture it as you go and ensure it won’t get lost. Apps such as inDinero and Shoeboxed all offer reliable receipt tracking and keep your expenses organized. If your work is heavily business-card-dependent, consider networking apps such as ABBYY® Business Card Reader and CamCard, which use optical character recognition to scan business cards with your phone’s camera.
Access files remotely
Set up a virtual private network service to remotely access documents on your company’s server. Services such as VyprVPN™, AccessMyLAN® from AT&T, or QuickVPN for Small Business from Cisco allow a highly secure pathway to everything in your business databases, encrypting information so it remains protected no matter where you access it from. Most such services are based on monthly subscription fees, and they work with multiple systems and devices.