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Summary:

The use of the iPad by mobile workers is on the rise, and that brings with it both boons and challenges for productivity. Here’s how you and your remote staff can stay on top of iPad usage, lest iPad usage controls you and your organization instead.

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The use of the iPad by mobile workers is on the rise, and that brings with it both boons and challenges for worker productivity. Here’s how you and your remote staff can stay on top of iPad usage, lest iPad usage controls you and your organization instead.

1. These Are the Apps You Need; These Are the Apps You Don’t

Keep your productivity and entertainment app worlds separate on your iPad. I know it’s too much to ask that workers who are mostly using their own personal devices in the work place to use them strictly for work purposes, but everyone will be happier and better able to focus on getting work done if you keep your fun and games-related apps in a separate folder or folders. Keeping the productivity and work-related apps out in the open on the app’s home screen will give them priority seating when it comes to your attention span, and the distractions will be left just a little bit beyond finger’s reach, where they’ll be less of a temptation.

2. Carry a Keyboard

The iPad is a great consumption device, but as we’ve seen, people aren’t crazy about using it for data input. Having a Bluetooth keyboard handy makes working on the iPad exponentially better. You have a few choices when it comes to which keyboard to carry. I’m personally a fan of the ZAGGmate keyboard/hard case combo, which comes in both original iPad and iPad 2 flavors, but the official Apple Wireless Keyboard is an attractive option, too.

3. Have a Wireless Strategy

If you want to use the iPad to make mobile working easier, you’ll hit a wall pretty fast if you don’t have access to a reliable data connection. For users with a 3G-capable iPad, this means checking to make sure you have an active plan ready to go with the carrier of your choosing, and ensuring that your carrier offers service in the place you intend to use your iPad. If it doesn’t, shop around for a temporary carrier/SIM card for your working destination.

Verizon iPad owners will want to make sure that they have something other than a simple SIM switch in place for most international destinations, which largely use GSM technology to power their networks. Finding a provider that offers a pay-as-you go mobile hotspot solution might be a good workaround. Companies can help by issuing globally-compatible mobile hotspot hardware to remote employees who travel internationally.

4. Have a Battery Backup

Battery backup offerings for the iPad are many and varied, but carrying a reliable one that has enough juice to give your iPad a decent bump is a good idea. You never know when you might lose your power cord, or forget to secure an adapter before a quick stopover in an international destination. Check out Dave Greenbaum’s roundup of iPhone and iPad battery backups for a good look at some of the better options out there.

5. Enable Find My iPad

Losing an iPad really sucks. But what’s worse is losing your iPad having not enabled Apple’s free Find My iPad service. Through MobileMe, Apple can help you locate a lost iPad if it’s enabled, or at the very least, you can use the service to remotely wipe your device, thereby protecting sensitive personal and work-related data. Enterprise is already nervous about the potential security hazards associated with consumer devices in the workplace; help make them less so.

6. Lock It Up

It may seem obvious, but even more important than enabling Find My iPad is setting up your device to require a passcode upon waking. You can do this in the iPad’s Settings app, under General > Passcode Lock. By default, the iPad will use a simple passcode consisting of a 4 digit number, but you can turn this off, which will let you set a longer password that can combine both letters and numbers. If you’re storing sensitive information on your device, you’re better off using a complex passcode lock.

7. Invest in a Good Headset

The iPad truly can be a communications hub — even for voice chat and phone calls. But it’s not perfectly suited to that task out of the box. If you get yourself a decent headset, however, you can better make and take phone calls on your device using VoIP apps, and you’ll even be better equipped for using the many video conferencing options available for the iPad 2, like that provided by Cisco’s WebEx.

Share your tips for more effective iPad working in the comments.

  1. Re #1: Two iPads, one for work and one for entertainment, are preferable. Also, make sure that your work iPad blocks all calls from telemarketers and similar distractions. You have to jailbreak it to do this.

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  2. Not bad.
    But…
    While these are all good common sense devices, the single biggest obstacle is the lack of effective work software.
    There are several apps that let you do very narrow focused tasks, but the bread and butter, MSOffice type apps are seriously lacking.

    Be great to see a followup article on options for us work-aholic travel weary butt numb from an airplane seat road warriors who are trying to use the iPad (or other tablet device.

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  3. Seems like a lot of extra work to me, just to make a toy “productive.” Yes, the iPad is a TOY. It was designed for entertainment consumption, not as a business tool. For the cost of an iPad, plus keyboard, headset, and data plan, you can buy a really decent business laptop, and actually get some work done. Leave your toys at home.

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    1. Barry, that’s just a little to far in the ‘common sense’ territory to apply to anything iPad-related. Those who are drunk on the Apple Kool-aid will buy any number of accessories and even a second carry-all bag just to haul around a kit that does what my netbook alone can do. (And I’m leaving out how I rely daily on the USB ports along with weekly usage of VGA out.)

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    2. 25 years ago, all those silly “personal” computers were considered toys by almost every company IT department. How dare anyone bring any of those “toys” into their realm and then, (gasp!), want to network them, or worse, connect them to the universal truth of the mainframe!
      Innovation is where the users/customers find it, regardless of how misguided you may believe them to be.

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  4. Could this “article” been any more, well, obvious?

    It looked nice as a headline on Google but your advice is use a keyboard and a headset? What other fascinating insight is there — oh right, make sure I have power. Jesus.

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    1. You must wake up every morning and say “Thank goodness I’m so smart!” Seriously, did you ever think that maybe not everyone knows that you can use a keyboard with an iPad? These are actually some pretty good pointers for the iPad neophyte. And please try to be less profane.

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    2. Don’t forget: keep games in a separate folder. Because then magically you won’t know they’re there or want to use them.

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      1. Sheesh, you guys! Haven’t you ever heard “out of sight, out of mind”??? Sure, it’s not perfect, but it might work for some people. It’s actually a decent idea. I already put all my games in a games folder just to declutter but that’s not the point…

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  5. What a stupid, stupid waste of text this article is…

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  6. What a stupid, stupid waste of text this article is…

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  7. A highly sensible list, thank you. I’d add one more. iPad is unfortunately a magnet for thieves. In unfamiliar surroundings, be they a subway, airport or dark city street, hide iPad in a slightly beaten up boring looking business manila envelope. People assume it is full of boring paper, and not the hottest most beautiful iPad. Luck to everyone!

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  8. Get a ThinkPad…designed for business….serious business.

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  9. Ibrahim Jackson Monday, May 30, 2011

    This article was ok. It could be better for those who are not novice to the device or platform. I think the title is strong and could really be an attention grabber for more comprehensive and strategic information.

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  10. Nice starting point for every iPad owner.

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    1. Have 6G data on my iphone plan, hardly use 1G every month, any idea how to share data with ipad?

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    2. There’s an option (of supported by your iPhone provider) to turn you iphone into a wireless access point (similar to a wireless internet router). This enables you to connect your iPad or any other wifi enabled device to your iPhone (and spend this 6 gb of data)

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