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The Workplace

Working From Phone

The apps making the Out Of Office message redundant, even when you’re on holiday – and why that’s a good thing

It’s the time of year when many of us will be abandoning our desktops and heading for a lounger in Positano, Palma or Patmos. It’s healthy to unplug, but if you’re going to squeeze in some work between each Aperol Spritz, you’ll want to make sure you work smart, leaving the afternoons free for selfies and siestas.

Despite its name, the smartphone is capable of doing some very stupid things, a pocket-sized vortex for productivity. There are now some 2.2 million apps available for Android users and about 2 million available on Apple’s App Store, but only a few of these genuinely enhance our efficiency. We’ve selected some of the best to help you set up a palm-top office among the palm trees.  

Organisation

The hastily scribbled business plan on the back of a beer mat is being replaced by a host of digital notation tools. One such is Evernote, which can store audio notes, lists, photos and documents in one easy-to-use app. It automatically syncs across your devices, so any work you do from the beach will be waiting for you when you log in back at the office. It also has a tagging system to help you file and browse. Alternatives to Evernote include Simplenote, which does exactly what it says on the tin by offering text-based lists in an uncluttered interface. To ensure that work doesn’t dominate your time off, try using MyMinutes to set time limits for any given task, such as checking your emails. And if a leisurely lunch takes an unexpected turn towards business, you can always use Shoeboxed to digitally upload business cards or the bill, and follow up at a later date. 

Conversation

We may be more productive when we’re alone, but we’re more creative in conversation. Staying in touch while you’re away is essential if you’re at a crucial moment in a project, but you need to be able to do so without opening the floodgates to unnecessary correspondence. Emails are an out-dated solution. Yahoo recently tracked 16 billion email exchanges to find that people who receive more than 100 emails a day answer only 5 per cent of them. That’s where apps such as Slack come in. Slack allows you to communicate with colleagues individually or through project-based group chats. It’s also one of the easiest ways to share files and can be integrated with other tools such as MailChimp or Dropbox. To stay abreast of the wider conversation around your business, use social media aggregators such as Mention to connect all your channels, synchronise any outbound activity and monitor “mentions” of relevant keywords such as your brand name or sector. 

Collaboration

Our working lives are increasingly complex beasts, with projects often requiring close collaboration across areas of expertise – from strategy to creative execution to website development. Tools that help plan this process are becoming increasingly popular and none more so than Trello, which allows you to divide projects into stages and workflows. With an app so simple that you can reassign tasks with a flick of the finger, tracking progress from afar has never been easier. Trello operates through a board on which group members can post tasks and mark them once complete, while the designated manager can see team capacity and redistribute responsibilities. Poolside project planning is obviously less than ideal, but may ultimately keep projects on the rails and clients smiling until September. Another handy tool comes in the form of When I Work, which gives you an overview of employee capacity and highlights any scheduling conflicts or resourcing issues. 

Remuneration

Mobile banking is booming, with KPMG forecasting 119 per cent growth in the next three years. Nearly a third of millennials would swap banks based on the strength of their mobile app alone, and PayPal’s most recent campaign relishes the fact that traditional financiers see them as “new money”. One of the most intriguing players in the mobile money market is Mondo, which offers a customisable dashboard that visualises your spending by sector and retailer, thus providing you with a worrying reminder of your monthly spend on Deliveroo. Estonian start-up Pocopay uses digitally native touchscreen commands such as pinch and swipe to make mobile payments more seamless, while services such as Invoice2go make payroll paperless, ensuring you can get paid while topping up your tan. Concern over security is one of the great barriers to mobile banking adoption, but secure wallets such as 1Password will keep all your logins securely encrypted in one place, while start-ups such as Atom are using facial and voice recognition instead of passwords.