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.