It wasn’t planned, but necessity made it happen: stuck in extremely busy times working entirely off the iPad (and a mini at that). So what’s all this about mobility, on any device anytime, anywhere? Can we be productive?
Short answer: yes.
Slightly longer answer: read my notes below to understand what worked, how it worked, and what didn’t (at least for me).
By the way, I am sure if I had had the bandwidth to search for solutions/apps when I encountered challenges, it could have been solved. But I didn’t. Simply too busy. So I invented new ways of getting things done.
My plan was to stop carrying my laptop when travelling on short business flights for meetings – the iPad mini fits into the handbag and does not even have to come out when passing through security, as it is seen by the scanner as a mobile telephone. So I downloaded Office-To-Go from Nexscience and created my first document during a flight which I could later email to myself, edit and forward/send to the people I wanted to email. Creating a straight forward text was easy and intuitive and it did not reformat when moved between applications.
Getting back to the office, my laptop – died. No time wasted, turned to Chatter on the Salesforce1 platform on my iPad to update my co-workers on the project in the appropriate Chatter group. It saved me having to write meeting notes! In fact, I could share more information more directly – because you get lazy when you have to type it all on the small iPad mini keyboard. Within 20 minutes, all the details discussed in the meeting were shared with those co-workers working on the project who would then be alerted to them in their Chatter feed.
- Less is more – direct messages in a collaboration tool gets the information directly to your co-worker who does not have to open yet another document and read through a lot of prose. And can respond right there in the same feed for everyone else to see. No “reply-all” – it’s a need-to-know only solution
- Productivity indicator – saved 30 minutes – no need to organise your notes to write a structured report. And immediate sharing, instead of another dreaded set of meeting notes lying around that need to be written “when you have a moment”.
Running your business from an iPad
And then I logged a ticket with our IT hotline – also in Chatter – to get help fixing the laptop. Obviously, as I could not log it from the laptop. Duh… Considering I work offsite (#anywhereization) and it being a hardware issue, I braced myself to be stuck with the iPad for at least another day.
Opening emails as the first thing you do makes little sense if most of the interaction you have is in the Chatter feed – including just getting an overview of what happened overnight in a global company that never sleeps.
Working on the iPad mini means you can work everywhere, so why not right there with coffee and a toast without even getting up – and it is not nearly as uncomfortably hot as a laptop on your knees. Who hasn’t had a “laptop-burn” on their thigh at some point – or fried a battery charger under the covers.
- You end up working in the most awkward positions.
- Productivity indicator – Down at least 60 minutes, as I should have been up and in the office instead.
In preparation of a new project briefing to be kicked off in a conference call later that day, I had planned to create a fabulous Powerpoint slide deck with nice images, amazing graphics and charts. But that was not an option with just your index finger and an iPad mini screen size. So I opened Keynote which I knew was a cool app. But since I am not a Mac-User (yes, my laptop is in fact a PC) I never checked it out. Now was the time. It took some trial and error, and I never figured out how to import the cool graphics and charts and nice images. But all the information needed for the briefing suddenly fit into 5 slides – just text and itemized lists and links to other sources of information. No fancy stuff that is nice to look at but not really carrying any information.
- Keeping it simple also gets the information out.
- Productivity Indicator – Saved 60 minutes of searching for the perfect graphic, the perfect photograph, creating the perfect pie chart and reformatting into the perfect colour scheme.
But what about the conference call? We mostly use GoToMeeting so that was a fast and free option to download to the iPad and then log into my existing userID. But I never figured out how to schedule a meeting for later, so had to open one in meet now and then let it beep in my ear until the meeting started 20 mins later. I experimented to be sure it all worked once the co-workers were joining to save everyone the frustration of a failed conference call, but it meant I had to live with the beep. Honestly, folks at GoToMeeting, could you not give us some music, instead? The beep eats my brain cells. I had sent everyone on the call my fantastic Keynote presentation with only 5 slides for them to read, which was greatly appreciated – so it all started off on a really nice note and we had the most agreeable session where everyone agreed, and we agreed on who should make it happen: me – but that’s another blog, I fear.
- Learn how to SCHEDULE a GoToMeeting on the iPad as soon as you can to avoid the beep.
- Productivity Indicator – saved 30 minutes, as everyone had the clear, short itemized briefing and we did not share any slides on the call to go through in presentation mode where everyone wants to comment (at least in Sweden) and knocks you off track. No questions asked = agreement was quicker and based on the facts only.
Laptop fixed, off into the office to plug it into the docking station…. and it died again. Motherboard fried. Back to the iPad. My eyes were swimming – also because the iPad mini screen is so small that it is really tiresome to work for 8 hours squinting like that.
By now, I found myself checking Salesforce1 notifications continuously rather than checking emails – it is just quicker to get the issue/request sorted within the app, so that any links to information that is already part of Salesforce is there without having to copy/paste it into an email. As a matter of fact, I find copy/paste very difficult to execute on the iPad – maybe my fingers are not the right size.
All is not well when you really need to get your head down to business, though. When a process is not designed intuitively for the mobile interface, some things just cannot be done. Such as updating Google Docs. Painfully, I realised that I had to start writing apologetic Chatter posts to my co-workers that dealt with the more logistical aspects of our ongoing projects – you know, budgets and stuff. The beauty is, that the apology posted on one co-worker’s Chatter feed actually resulted in two others reading this post and offering to help with completing all the steps that I cannot currently take care of from the iPad. So – in fact – I did not ask for help, but help was offered. And saved me the humiliation of casting the towel and delaying the process impacting everyone in the chain of events. Running complicated projects on a tight timeline requires a well oiled machine where every link is the strongest link. And I am the weakest link when unable to complete my own tasks.
- Until all business processes are intuitive and integrated in the mobile interface – not just VIEW but also CREATION, you need friends when stuck on the iPad.
- ProductivityIndicator – Lost at least one full day in the progress of the project. Not a good thing.
Waiting for my replacement laptop got me another day on the experiment – and made me realise that a big screen is probably a better choice when I need to write more than just a few brief messages. So I ended up working in a hybrid – and perhaps a little less smart – but hey, it worked.
You just need a bigger screen, sometimes
My private laptop is big – really big. I use it for playing computer games. You need a big screen to find all those monsters in the dark. Today, I created long documents (including this blog) on this fantastic device with a proper keyboard and ergonomic mouse – and emailed them to my company email to process on the iPad either as another email now going where it was supposed to go, or as a briefing/post in Chatter. It’s backwards, but at least my eyes are not swimming. And easier to make sure there are no typos – or unintentional bloopers – in the information that I share.
- You are physically challenged if you work intensively and long hours on an iPad – need more meetings or other non-computerrelated activities to break the spell
- ProductivityIndicator – Minus 50% productivity on the day, having to send documents back and forth between devices and formats requiring reformating/editing.
Looking forward to my laptop tomorrow, you are still my best friend. But iPad Mini – you saved me and will always remain close to my heart. Or in my handbag.
Please excuse any typos – as this was proof read on an iPad Mini.