I’ve been a telecommuter for over ten years, and smartphones have been by far the biggest game-changer in the way I do business. The right mobile apps can not only strengthen your connection with your main office, they can make their smartphone nearly as versatile as your laptop, so you can get work done at the doctor’s office, on the subway, or anywhere else you find down time. Here are a few of the standouts, for Android and iPhone.
1. Dropbox (Android, iOS)
This is probably the most important tool we can recommend for telecommuting moms. Dropbox allows you to share any type of document in a simple, click-and-drag interface, so everyone can access and edit the same files, without the complication (and duplication) of sending email attachments back and forth. It’s equally valuable for individual telecommuters who alternate between working from home and coming into the office; rather than bringing along flash drives or sending yourself email attachments, you can just keep important files in your Dropbox, making them immediately accessible from your home computer, office computer and smartphone. (Cost: free)
2. Toggl (Android, iOS)
Time management is the bane of telecommuters. Setting your own hours with no supervisor to keep you in line is one of the biggest benefits of telecommuting, but it can also stretch out your “work hours” and make it difficult to balance work and family. Toggl is a time-management app that not only allows you to plan your day, but also allows you to measure your actual time spent on each project against your goals, so you avoid wasting time. It also tracks billable hours, so you can keep an honest and exact accounting of your work. (Cost: free)
3. Evernote (Android, iOS)
Evernote is another great way to integrate notes and to-do lists with remote co-workers; and it’s also a big help for independent telecommuters who struggle to organize their data as well as their work hours. You can use it to create to-do lists, save receipts for reimbursement, and share everything you save across any number of devices—that way, you’re never without important notes, whether you’re on a trip or stopping by the main office. The interface is better-suited for iPhone and iPad users, but recent bug fixes for Samsung cell phones appear to have smoothed out the conflict. (Cost: free, with paid upgrade available)
4. Dragon Dictation (iOS)
Voice recognition hasn’t caught on in the business world, probably because it peaked too soon: in the late 90s, when voice recognition caught most of its publicity, it was clunky, slow, and wildly inaccurate. The functionality has improved by leaps and bounds, but dictation software still hasn’t lived down its awkward adolescence. For many telecommuters, multi-tasking is a good idea; for WAHMs, it’s basically a necessity. Having a good dictation program can make it much easier to draw up notes, send email, and brainstorm while you wrangle kids or fold laundry. It can also be a good option to get a change of scenery—sometimes ideas come faster while you take a head-clearing walk around the block. (Cost: free)
Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son and their Labrador retriever, Darby.