Which Apps for Work?
It’s amazing what you can do with an app these days; you can learn, you can shop, you can interact with others, you can even manage your health and keep track of your money. In fact there’s very little you can’t do with an app. But while mobile applications have become a standard part of our social and personal lives, the use of apps for work is far less common, and yet more and more business is being conducted on the move, making apps the ideal way to increase efficiency and productivity in the modern business world.
Often individuals only use a small spectrum of work related applications and they tend to be the most common ones, but there are literally thousands of apps available that can be hugely beneficial in the workplace. Of course sometimes it’s the fact that there are thousands that puts people off even trying to find the right one, but when you do find ‘the one’ the effort will certainly be worth it, and all it takes is asking yourself a few questions.
What do you need?
The first question to ask is; what do you want help with/what do you need your app to do? This will be closely followed by how much do you want to spend? These are the two top questions that will impact which apps are right for you, but other factors may come into play e.g. does it have to interact with another application/software, are there security issue you need to consider etc. But those issues aside, task and price are likely to be the most important aspects.
Of course this doesn’t help if you’re still not really sure what it is you need help with, so we’ve come up with a few common examples of work related issues, and some of the apps that can help:
If you spend a lot of time driving that could be spent writing notes/e-mails/reports etc. then a dictation app such as Dragon Dictation or Voice Dictation could be the perfect answer. They allow you to make notes hand-free, meaning you can write reports while you’re in the car, at the gym or anywhere else you want to use it really.
If you’re a train commuter or prefer to make notes yourself then there are literally thousands of note-taking apps. Some are more advanced than others such as the hugely popular Evernote which allows you to create notes, edit incoming documents, record voice messages and take photos all from one app. For those who simply want to write notes on their phone or tablet there are an abundance of more straightforward apps such as Simplenote or ColorNote, but really whatever you need, you’ll find an app that can help.
For those who enjoy keeping up to date with news and online content, but struggle to find the time to search for relevant topics, or read it, then there are content curation apps such as Scredible that will get to know your preferences and then automatically curate and display relevant content to you, so you can find what you need without having to search for it. Or if you’d rather an app where you can simply save all of the useful content you’ve found yourself, then Pocket does just that, it also interfaces easily with a variety of other apps, such as Evernote, so you can transfer ideas and content between them.
Another time-waster is being kept on hold during phone conversations, but there are now apps such as Fast Customer or LucyPhone that will automatically detect when you’re on hold and temporarily disconnect you, then when your call is picked up it, you’ll reconnect, allowing you to get on with other things safe in the knowledge you’ll soon be connected to a real person.
Keeping in touch with your colleagues and customers is key, but if you spend a lot of time on the phone, you may miss important calls and callers may become frustrated at never being able to reach you. Fortunately there are automatic response apps such as Auto Reply that will send a bespoke message/voicemail to your callers so they know why you’re unavailable.
For individuals who have to attend a lot of meetings but don’t have time to travel to them, there is a wealth of virtual meeting apps including GoToMeeting and Skype that allow you to video/voice conference with other participants from the comfort of your home/office/car, meaning you never have to miss a meeting again.
There are also auto call apps that allow you to pre-schedule your calls/messages for upcoming days; they will then remind you of the call/message and proceed to initiate it if still suitable, ensuring communications aren’t forgotten due to distraction. There are a range of different apps that can help with this including Auto Call and Auto Call Reminder.
There are a whole host of work sharing options, from basic file sharing apps such as Dropbox and Google Drive that allow you to transfer files which can then be viewed by permitted participants; right through to more advanced project management apps like Basecamp and Asana that allow files to be shared alongside relevant messages, tasks to be assigned and reports to be generated.
If your role requires you to frequently sign off on documents then an auto sign app may be the perfect way to manage this process. Some simply allow you to add your signature, while others will do this and then proceed to inform relevant parties while also automatically sending the document back to the sender. AutoSign and DocuSign are some of the most popular, but there are many other options.
Almost all social networking sites will have an app to help you keep track of your content. However there are also social media apps that will allow you to monitor all of your accounts from one place, post content and review statistics which saves you from having to log in to all of them separately. Hootsuite, AgoraPulse and Sprout Social are some of the most popular for this purpose.
The above is just a very small snapshot of the apps available to help improve productivity and efficiency at work. It is far from a comprehensive list, they are intended to showcase the options available, but there’s a lot more to choose from. The choice you make will depend on the platform you use, the price you are willing to pay, and most importantly, what you need the app to do. Don’t just stick to the ones we’ve highlighted, shop around, read reviews and ask your colleagues what they use. Also make the most of free trials to test an app out before you commit, and keep your eye out for new options as there’s amazing developments happening every day so when it comes to apps, whether for social, personal or business use, the sky really is the limit.
Are apps part of the future of L&D? We ask occupational psychologist Sukhvinder Pabial his thoughts on what 2016 holds for learning in Enhance issue 8.