Top 5 Productivity Boosting Tools for the Virtual Worker

By Stefanie Mosca June 14, 2012

Thanks in part to the latest technology tools that have changed the way we work and live, gone are the days of being tied to one’s desk 40 hours a week or working obscene shifts into the wee hours of the morning at the office. Whether your role requires you to travel from event to event for your company as the director of sales or marketing or your job as CEO of your organization means bouncing back and forth between offices, today’s technology enables employees to virtually be in any number of places at one time.

Whether you are on the road or working from home, these five productivity boosting tools will ensure that you never miss a beat in your workday regardless of the location your laptop calls home.

A Smart Device
You cannot expect to remain a connected employee without the help of a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. Whether your organization provides you with the device of its choice or encourages the BYOD (bring your own device) movement, mobile devices today allow users to access the Internet, emails and documents or even jump on a video conferencing call whether you are at a conference in Barcelona or at the Starbucks down the street from your office. If you are still hanging on to your feature “flip” phone because of its practicality for voice, it’s time to join the rest of the mobile workforce and upgrade.  Not only do smart devices allow users to utilize the latest in voice, text and enhanced applications, but the most advanced organizations actually use their devices to connect to their company’s internal communication systems using VoIP technology, which further enables remote employees to be connected to the office at all times. 

A Wireless Headset
Did you know that the use of a wireless headset in a work setting can significantly increase your level of productivity? If you aren’t currently using one, it might seem unlikely, but think of the possible benefits of multi-tasking when you aren’t distracted and tied up holding a handset to your ear while on a call. Whether you work in an office, from the privacy of your own home, or you are forced to take calls from the road while on the go, a wireless headset provides the convenience of being hands-free and can also reduce health issues related to muscle tension and neck strain. Jabra, a well-known headset provider, offers a number of different options for wireless headsets including equipment geared towards contact center employees, those in the transportation industry and business professionals looking for more advanced unified communications options.

A Reliable Laptop with an Internet Connection
Sure, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets offer a number of helpful features to keep you connected when you can’t be at your desk, but a reliable laptop is still necessary to get your actual work done. For those remote workers constantly traveling, a dependable laptop is imperative in order to have access to your files, documents and whatever internal platforms your company runs that cannot be accessed from your mobile devices.  And furthermore, what is your laptop without a solid Internet connection? Any virtual worker knows that one thing that is never guaranteed is a reliable Internet connection, whether you are at a conference or working from a client’s office for the day. Always have a back-up plan. Invest in a wireless card or a smartphone that can be turned into a mobile hotspot to ensure that you always have connectivity in the event of an emergency. You never know when your bosses are going to demand you to hop on a conference call or send them the RFP they’ve been waiting on since Friday.

An IM or Presence Platform
One downside to being out of the office is not being as closely integrated in everyday conversations that occur. If your company does not offer an internal IM or presence platform, there are a ton of free instant messaging platforms out there you can utilize to ensure that you are kept in the loop in terms of what’s going on back at home base. Skype, for example, provides an instant messaging platform that allows for single or group messaging as well as easy-to-use video conferencing services at no cost. If you work for a larger organization, a Web conferencing platform like Cisco’s WebEx can provide more than just a chat forum, including file and presentation sharing capabilities all from the convenience of your browser. 

Task/Project Management Tools

Just because you weren’t sitting at the round table at Monday morning’s meeting doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be up-to-date on the latest developments on your team’s current project. Online project management tools provide features such as time tracking, task management, scheduling, budgeting, project roadmaps and  calendars just to name a few. For example, Clarizen allows team members involved in projects to access and make real-time updates, changes or additions based on what a particular project requires. If you don’t require all the features an online project management tool like Clarizen has to offer, Google Docs is a great and easy alternative, allowing members of a team to view and alter a document in real-time as well. With an increase in remote workers in the workforce today, staying on the same page at all times is imperative to ensuring that all internal processes run smoothly at all times.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Managing Editor

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