With faster speeds, stronger devices, and more work being done in the cloud, working from a smartphone is now a reality for many businesses. Hardware, software, and networking advances allow professionals, including remote workers and business travelers, to stay in contact and get more done while on the go.
But easy access can have a price. A smartphone can also lead to distractions from games or social media, hitting productivity. Accessing work information on a personal phone can also cause security issues, and accessing personal accounts on a work phone can lead to the same problems.
However, when utilized correctly, mobile phones can help professionals knock out work, especially smaller tasks, which could potentially boost productivity. Here are 11 tips from professionals for working from your smartphone.
SEE: BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy (Tech Pro Research)
1. Request a separate work phone
Separating personal and work into two phones can negate security concerns caused by accessing company documents on personal devices, and vice versa. Two devices can also reduce distractions by keeping non-work apps and personal calls away while you're working.
"While many people have chosen to use a single phone for business and personal use, it opens the door for too many distractions, which you will have enough of anyway working on the go," Walt L. Jones III, principal of SEQ Advisory Group, said. "Remember, the key word in 'mobile office' is 'office.'"
2. Download apps you can use across platforms
Several office staples have smartphone versions of their apps, including Office 365, Google's G Suite, and collaboration tools like Slack. The mobile-friendly options could allow you to work on the go and see the changes automatically reflected on desktop versions. You can also use collaboration apps to stay connected and available.
When downloading apps that you don't already use, look for ones that have a desktop version so you can access notes or documents across platforms.
3. Keep your setup simple
There are a slew of productivity apps and others that offer ways to improve your workflow, but it is best to keep your phone simple, Jeff Miller, co-founder of AE Home Group, said. Know what you need, and don't download more than that.
"Most executives want to install a variety of apps to solve a variety of problems, but this often makes working from your phone difficult and confusing," Miller said.
Fewer apps also means fewer distractions and more storage space.
4. Set communication guidelines
Outline policies for contacting you so you don't feel attacked from multiple communication channels. For example, Phil Scarfi, founder of Pioneer Mobile Applications, said he uses Slack for non-urgent messages, email for formal requests, texts for quick responses, and calls for urgent issues.
5. Utilize voice technology
Whether you have Siri or another voice assistant, use it to accomplish small tasks. For example, use voice dictation to respond to emails, said Alexander Lowry, executive director of the master of science in financial analysis program at Gordon College.
"Once I realized I could essentially just talk to respond to emails, I found myself spending less time with my laptop," Lowry said. "The reality is that I can speak a lot faster than I write."
Voice assistants can also help pull numbers or complete other tasks that may be easier on a laptop, allowing you to continue working from your smartphone without switching devices. You can also use them to set up reminders.
6. Link your business email to your phone
Some companies may not allow this due to security issues, especially if you only have a personal phone, but link your business email to your phone if possible. This can help you answer quick emails during downtime, as well as keep your inbox clear.
"I know it can be annoying at times but having your email keeps you present and on top of what's going on in your business," Sharlrita Deloatch, BossWomen Elite founder, said.
7. Try out some tools
Additional tools can help make it more comfortable to use a smartphone, potentially making you more willing to perform certain tasks there instead of waiting to get back to the office. For example, a portable Bluetooth keyboard can help craft long responses to emails or type work documents, Michael Mehlberg from Modern da Vinci said.
8. Check out a remote desktop app
There's bound to be a situation where you simply need access to a desktop. For those times, try a remote desktop app like LogMeIn, Mehlberg said. Having access to your desktop could help reduce the number of times you push something off simply because you are missing a file.
9. Know your boundaries
While smartphones make it easier to stay in contact, they can also make it easier to overload yourself. Know when to turn off your work phone to maintain a good work-life balance, Scarfi said.
Also, it's OK to take phone breaks during the workday. Too much work could cause burnout, which may decrease your productivity.
"Resist the urge to check your smartphone all the time," AJ Shankar, CEO of Everlaw, said. "Give yourself time to think big-picture thoughts. It's a constant interruption."
10. Optimize your home screen
Organize your apps so your home screen holds the ones you use the most, Todd Green, CEO of PubNub, said. The most important ones should go in your dock, and then the rest can be on your first page.
Keeping social media and other non-work apps off of the home screen could help productivity as well, because you may be less likely to tap on them aimlessly.
11. Keep security in mind
Keep a device secure when holding or accessing company information on it. Look up different security features, figure out what works best for you, and then implement it on your device, Marcus Harjani, co-founder at FameMoose, said.
Prevent crossover between personal and work accounts and devices, if possible, and be wary of storing sensitive information on the device.