During the COVID-19 pandemic, countless companies around the world have embraced the concept of remote work to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus. As a result, more employees than ever before are currently working from home, many of them for the first time.
If you’re part of this cohort of newly minted remote workers, you’re in luck. Today, it’s easier than ever to transform a home into a workspace thanks to a handy device you probably already have: a smartphone. No longer just for taking photos, texting friends, or keeping up with social media, the smartphone has proven to be an invaluable work tool for home-based employees. Read on for a look at some of the ways you can make the most of your device when you’re working from home.
Explore remote work apps.
Before the advent of digital technology, working from home could feel very isolating, but today’s extensive array of remote work apps and platforms has changed that dramatically. While it might not be possible for you to walk down the hall to a coworker’s office for a chat or to host a team meeting in an office boardroom, you can approximate it through the myriad videoconferencing and other team communication apps that make it easy to stay in touch with colleagues, clients, and other vital members of your working life.
Depending on your needs and those of your company, you can choose from major apps and platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, and many more. All of these do an excellent job of delivering the feel of an in-person conversation without having to be in the same location. Beyond videoconferencing, apps and platforms such as Slack or WhatsApp facilitate other forms of team communication and help you and your coworkers stay on the same page with key projects, no matter how far apart you are physically.
Use your phone’s built-in features.
Apps can help you with just about every aspect of your remote work life, but don’t forget that your smartphone also has plenty of built-in features to offer. As a home-based employee, you’ll especially want to take advantage of smartphone digital assistants like Siri or Google Assistant. These handy helpers can assist you with all kinds of work tasks, from organizing your calendar, to reminding you when it’s time to take a break, to taking down and sending voice-dictated messages or e-mails.
Manage distracting apps.
While there are plenty of productivity-enhancing apps you can use on your smartphone while working from home, there are just as many apps—think social media apps and games—that can make your day disappear in the blink of an eye if you’re not careful. If you’re using your smartphone as a remote work tool for the first time, it’s a good idea to have a plan for eliminating or minimizing the distractions posed by these kinds of apps.
Explore your smartphone’s settings to find options for managing access to non-work apps. You could set a timer that will alert you when you’ve spent a certain amount of time on a particular app or block access to some apps altogether during designated work hours.
Your smartphone is an incredibly useful work tool as it is, but you can get even more out of it with the right accessories. For example, Bluetooth and other wireless headsets allow you to make hands-free calls with minimal effort, wireless charging stands eliminate the need to mess around with cables to plug your phone in, and wireless keyboards help save your fingers from the effort of typing on a tiny screen for eight hours a day.
Monitor your data.
Now that you’re using your smartphone for work all day, every day, it’s important to keep an eye on your data usage. Many remote work apps, particularly ones used for videoconferencing, eat up considerable amounts of data, so if your home or home office doesn’t have a reliable Wi-Fi connection, you might find you reach your monthly data limit much sooner than you expect. Make sure you regularly check up on your data usage in your smartphone settings so that you can make any necessary changes to your work habits, and/or speak to your employer about covering charges for excess data use as a result of work demands.
Keep your phone in peak condition.
To make the most of your smartphone when working at home, you’ll want to make sure it’s in great condition at all times. Regularly delete apps or files that you’re not using to free up storage space and keep your phone running at top speed, back up key data to the cloud or storage platform of your choice, and keep your battery charged. Finally, be sure to clean your device regularly by wiping it down with a soft microfiber cloth.