Extreme makeover — work edition
Reflect for a minute. Just one minute, on how much has changed since you began your professional career? We used to have stacks upon stacks of folders filled with forms, rolodexes and Post-It notes covering our desks. Even further, remember when we didn’t even have computers at our desks?
Granted, my professional career hasn’t been decades long — yet — but even I can count numerous changes to the way I’ve done my work.
I come from a generation that will have always had the Internet in their homes. We have had cellphones since we’ve been driving and to us Google is the encyclopedia of 20 years ago. That has also translated over to the workplace.
Let’s take a look at some of the hardware changes that you may find useful in this advancing workspace.
Dual Monitors are something that I’ve been using for quite some time now, although at one point I am sure I was convinced that was excessive. However, I’ve discovered in this increasingly digital documented world, having the extra screen real estate is rather nice. I can have my email and my social media feed running on one screen that is always open, and I use the other as my workspace. Definitely something to consider if you spend anytime monitoring, or maintaining social media or have heavy email traffic.
USB Flash Drives were starting to be something I thought I would be using less, between “The Cloud,” NAS drives and FTP I assumed that there would less and less use for them. I was mistaken. I am still not 100 percent behind allowing everything, especially sensitive information, out into the Cloud, so I use Flash Drives now to cart around the files I don’t want at risk.
USB Power Strips are something I have now decided I can’t give up. Increasingly we’ve seen them installed into homes, outlets that have a USB port to charge your devices with, eliminating the need to carry the block part of your charger with you at all times. Now you can get them in the form of short power strips and have multiple functionality — charge your mobile devices and keep your workstation powered.
Wireless Peripherals like keyboards, mice, speakers, etc., are all much more commonplace than even a couple years ago, and they are fantastic! You can’t tell by looking at my desk, but by integrating more wireless components, my workspace is definitely less cluttered than it was. Using bluetooth, or wireless, components also gives you the freedom to move things out of your way for larger projects that you want to lay out — just don’t forget which part went where.
Software is the other component to bringing your workspace up to speed and when you combine it with quality hardware you can really see a difference.
Cloud Storage as I mentioned above, is something I have increasingly become a fan of using. There are tons of options out there: Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Apple’s iCloud, and AirFrame from Piston Cloud, which allows you to DIY a Cloud of your own. The options are seemingly endless. I personally have found myself using primarily Dropbox and Google Drive. Both have Desktop applications that allow me to access them on my home computer, web interfaces for access anywhere, and to me they seem to have the best mobile integration. I have actually written each of my columns using Google Drive to store my drafts so I can work on them from multiple places. It may not be the be all end all (yet), but Cloud Storage is definitely worth checking out.
Social Media Aggregators like Seesmic (which is now being bought by HootSuite), or Tweetdeck, or the aforementioned Hootsuite allow me to monitor my social media feeds so I am as informed as I possibly can be. Not only can they bring in my friend’s information, but the media groups, like TechCrunch, Wired and Mashable, also come into the feed giving me the latest on Android/Apple hype and all the new tech news.
Internet Browsers may not seem like a recently innovated piece of software — you just browse the internet on them right? Wrong. Browsers like Chrome and Firefox’s newest iteration showcase some of the power that can be contained in the browsers themselves. It is also worth noting that some companies, like Google, are working at developing and improving browser based operating systems. While that still has some way to go before it’s mainstream it’s definitely something to keep you eye on, especially as you grow your mobile workforce and look to faster, lighter business tools.
The Way We Work
How we’ve changed, or learned, our work habits is just as notable as the tools we’ve used. Remember when the phrase, “The check’s in the mail” used to mean something? Now, thanks to Square, I can take credit card payments at my garage sales or lemonade stand. It used to be if I wasn’t at my desk, you had to leave a message. Now, if I’m not at my desk, Facebook message me, sends me a tweet or a text. Even travel has become easier. Your workforce can now be mobile without losing connectivity to their email, proofs and files.
As a result, this has changed the results our customers, business partners and associates expect. Technology has allowed us to offer more personalized service on greater levels, be in contact when we previously weren’t and be in more places than ever before.