When you think IT company, you don’t necessarily think about much employees traveling too much- and usually, we don’t have to. Most of the work can be done from our office. But most of our employees do travel out of state at least once or twice a year for a conference or seminar.
We’re not asking engineers to work service tickets during a conference. But the reality is for most people, other work doesn’t go away while you’re traveling. Here are some of our favorite apps and services for staying productive on the road.
Stay Productive Everywhere
Office 365 + Skype for Business
It’s no secret that we’re big advocates of Office 365. But we’re also Office 365 users and it’s the main reason our team can stay productive when they’re outside of the office (whether it’s traveling, working from home, or accessing information from a client site). Having our emails, files and Office programs in the cloud allows us to access anything we need from any device, as long as it’s connected to the internet (all PTG employees have hot spot enabled phones, so that’s usually not an issue, even when traveling).
As part of our Office 365 plan, we have our phone system on Skype for Business. Employees can send and receive calls on their office phone no matter where they are. Our sales team in particular likes this one since they don’t have to worry about potentially missing a call from a customer because they’re away from the office (and our customers don’t have to try calling multiple phone numbers to get in touch with our team).
DocuSign is an app made to digitize the process of signatures. For us, the biggest selling point of DocuSign is the integration with Office programs. You can create and send documents for signature from directly inside Word. As Office 365 users, this saves us a lot of time.
DocuSign works especially well for travel since it eliminates the need for printing and scanning signed documents. Everything can be done directly on your computer or phone with impressive security and compliance features.
Office Lens is a mobile scanner app from Microsoft that scans documents, pictures, whiteboards, and business cards. If you’re scanning documents, pictures, and whiteboards, there are a few different options for what to do next including saving directly to your phone, saving to OneDrive or sending it to an app like Outlook.
If you’re scanning a business card, it can convert it directly to contact information in your phone (really nice for the conferences where you get a ton of business cards).
Part of staying productive while traveling is using your time wisely. Some of our employees use travel time (and even commute time) to skill up with podcasts and audio books. This isn’t exactly ground-breaking advice, but it works well for us. Finding the time to learn new skills can be difficult, so this is a nice place to fit it in.
Not surprisingly, we tend to lean towards technology and business related podcasts. Some employee favorites include the Southern Fried Security Podcast, Microsoft Cloud Show, Security Now, Manager Tools, and The School of Greatness.
Make Travel Easier
These apps aren’t necessarily going to make you more productive, but they certainly take some of the stress out of travel. And a happy (or at least a non-frantic traveler) is a more productive traveler.
TripIt: TripIt keeps track of your travel itinerary like flight information, hotel information, and rental car information. It can be connected to your email account to automatically add this information to the app as you receive your confirmations (or you can forward your confirmations to a specific email).
App in the Air: App in the Air tracks your flight information and puts them in timeline form and tells you how long you have for each stage (e.g.: check in ends in 15 minutes, take off will be in 1 hour). One of the nice features of App in the Air, especially if your flight is delayed or you have a long layover, is the Airports tab with incredibly details maps and information about airports (including user tips – most of these are helpful information like where you can charge your phone and which restaurant is the best)..
Waze: Waze is a navigation app similar to Google Maps. Waze will find the fastest route for you and alert you to upcoming obstacles (like an accident or a car on the side of the road). You can send your ETA via text and the recipient can check for real time updates.
A note about security
It’s easy to get lax about data security when traveling, especially when it’s in the name of convenience and productivity. The free airport and hotel wi-fi may seem nice, but they’re notoriously unsafe. The cost of providing your employees hot spots (or hot spot enabled phones) or 4G enabled devices so they can work on a secure connection is much less than the cost of a data breach. Travel can be stressful enough as it is – don’t add the stress of dealing with a data breach on top of it.