There’s little doubt about it – mobile devices have become central to our lives and businesses. The days when your mobile phone was an accessory to your desktop or laptop computer are behind us. More and more, people are relying on mobile devices as their primary devices for getting work done.

Mobile devices free us from being tied to the office and let us get things done anywhere. Before you dash out of the office though, leaving your desktop computer behind for the freedom of your deck, the beach, or your local cafe, it’s important to take a minute to be sure you’re set up correctly.

Chose the right devices

Are you going to need a laptop, or will a tablet device work as the center of your mobile lifestyle? The choice will mostly be driven by the kind of work you do and the applications you need to run.

  • Do you write long documents? Tablets, particularly those that allow you to use them with an external keyboard are getting better at supporting writing work, but still aren’t as easy to use as a laptop.
  • Are their mobile versions of the applications you need? These may even be mobile versions of web applications, but if they aren’t available, you’ll need to stick with your trusty laptop to get anything done.

Connectivity

The key to going mobile is good connectivity. Before walking out the door, make sure you:

  • Have a connectivity solution that works with all your devices. Phone tethering is great a way to provide a mobile “WiFi bubble” that follows you everywhere, but needs to be enabled on your phone carrier’s account beforehand. It typically adds to your monthly cost, as well.
  • Will there be public WiFi at your destination? If there will be, what will you do if it isn’t working correctly?
  • If using public connectivity, how are you protecting yourself from sending confidential information in the clear?

Virtual Filing Cabinets

A frequent challenge for mobile users is being able to get to files and other data when on the road. There are any number of safe, secure online storage options now available that you can use as a “virtual filing cabinet.”

  • Select a business-class service – generally one you pay for, rather than any of the free offerings. You get what you pay for in terms of security and reliability.
  • Select a service that works across all of your devices – phone, tablet, and laptop/desktop so that all of your files are synchronized across whatever device you’re using at the time. You want to be able to work, not worry about where the latest version of a file is stored.

Safety and Security

Working with mobile devices presents some security and safety challenges that are different from working on a desktop computer in an office. Consider these before you go out:

  • Mobile devices go missing more easily. Be sure you have a way to track a missing device, and to wipe it of confidential information at need.
  • Just because you’re storing data in the cloud doesn’t mean you shouldn’t back it up somewhere. A single copy of an important file is still a single copy, even if it’s stored by Google or Amazon.
  • Public networks are public. Be sure to use encryption and Virtual Private Networks when working on a public network.
  • You get what you pay for. Free services are attractive, but generally come with no guarantees about service and even less support. Stick to paid services unless you’re a thrill-seeker.

Working mobile can increase your productivity and be a great strategy for saving money or improving morale. By taking the time to prepare for mobile work beforehand, you can avoid the frustrations and enjoy your new work style.