If there is one thing that technology has done, it has made it easier to work wherever, and whenever, you want. The days of being chained to your desk from 9-5 are gone, and while some may lament the blurring of the lines between work and leisure time, there are other payoffs:flexible working arrangements, a better work/life balance and the ability to access information from wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection.
One of the great levellers of the playing field has been the popularity of the smartphone and the increase in availability of high-speed mobile internet connections. But sometimes you need extra screen space. Tablets, while not quite the laptop killer they may have originally been billed as, are becoming increasingly useful to business users. The arrival of the iPad Pro – both the 12.7-inch version and 9.7-inch one that followed shortly after – heralded that move. Samsung has also unveiled its own line of Pro devices, with the Tab Pro S for those who want to stick with Windows.
Regardless of whether you stick with a laptop, shift to a tablet or rely on your smartphone, there are plenty of apps and software out there that can help make your working life a little easier. Having a note-taking app can help keep your information in one place; having it uploaded to the cloud, available across all your devices, is useful. Micrsoft’s OneNote works across mobile devices and desktops, from iOS to Windows; Evernote allows you to clip things from the web and drop them into your account in addition to giving you space to store your notes and fi les; while GoodNotes turns your tablet into a notebook replacement with the help of a stylus or Apple Pencil.
Cloud storage is another essential for most businesses, as it eliminates the need to carry files on your device. Portable storage isn't exactly bulky these days, but it can be easily misplaced, putting your fi les and information at risk. There are different options for fi le storage depending on your budget, file sizes and privacy needs, with Dropbox, Google, Apple and others all offering online file storage.
It's worth bearing in mind that cloud storage isn't guaranteed to be bulletproof when it comes to security. Anything that goes on the internet could potentially be at risk. If your fi les are confidential and you want to ensure there is no risk of them leaking, keep them off the internet – including public cloud storage services.
But half of the battle is choosing strong passwords for your accounts, usually involving a complex series of numbers, letters, symbols and capital letters that won't be guessed by a malicious user with a smattering of information about you or your business. Keeping track of these passwords is slightly more difficult, which is where password managers come in. Dashlane, LastPass and1Password all offer varying levels of free accounts. Although the password managers themselves aren't infallible – LastPass had a high profile security issue last year, although no details on users were compromised – at the very least they make users aware what a strong password should entail. And no, changing one digit every month won't cut it.
If you are carrying equipment on a regular basis, having a way to keep track of it and secure it is helpful. Kensington locks are one of the best ways to secure equipment, such as your laptop, if it is going to be in a public place or if you are travelling.
But what about leaving a device behind on a plane or in a taxi? In recent years, a number of companies have devised Bluetooth tags that can be used to keep track of everything from your wallet and keys to your laptop and tablet by connecting them to your smartphone or tablet. Tile is one of the better-known options, offering a slim tag that can be attached to most devices. Your item’s location istracked by pairing it with your phone, and you can “ring” the tag to find it should you misplace it. Its last known location is shown on a map, and if it is out of Bluetooth range, you can enlist the Tile community to help find it by marking it as “lost”. Another option is Chipolo, which has a Classic and a Plus option. The Classic has a non-replaceable battery; the Plus does not. Like Tile, when the Plus tracker runs out of battery, a new one can be purchased at a discount. Later this year, Chipolo will be selling its Chipolostickers, approximately the size of a paper clip, which can be attached to everything from your sunglasses to smaller tech items and tracked in a similar way to its Classic and Plus tags.