Ditch the Laptop: How to Work From a Tablet
BY Aaron Aders
Working from a tablet: the best and worst roles, how to set up your workspace & more.
With tablet sales projected to pass personal computers at the end of this year, the popularity of these devices cannot be denied.
Sure tablets are excellent for entertainment, music and leisure activities, but can they cross the line into being a functional work device?
After a few weeks of working from my tablet, here are the processes, apps and accessories that I have found helpful to drop your laptop or PC and work strictly from a tablet.
Best Roles for Tablets
Communications and note taking are the strengths of tablet devices and no other role in business is better fit for tablet use than sales. Communications via email, conference calls and video conferences all have an enhanced experience on tablets. The simplicity in the applications and the touch-screen interface make communication-based activities more enjoyable on a tablet device.
Note-taking is also more enjoyable on a tablet, especially if you are a hand-written note taker. Using an application like Evernote will ensure that your notes are never lost or destroyed. Evernote can also transcribe hand-written notes with incredible accuracy for easy transcription to other applications like salesforce or CRM systems.
Management or Personal Assistant
Senior management roles are also heavy on note-taking and communication. Team communication, note taking and reading reports can all be done with simplicity and ease on a tablet. Deep analysis in excel or other applications isn't possible, but requiring your team to convert spreadsheets to PDF reports or slideshows can ensure a complete tablet experience.
Worst Roles for Tablets
Any type of professional design role requires the majority of your time spent inside a software set that is just too complicated for a tablet device. Whether it's Photoshop, [apple video software] or AutoCAD the design professional will find the tablet experience too limiting to accomplish tasks. A table device for a designer is best used for wire framing designs or note-taking. Unfortunately, professional design work requires a fully-functional PC.
Analyst, Technical or Individual Contributor Roles
Deep analysis using excel or other analytical software is just not as productive on a tablet. Excel has a tablet version, but you cannot run macros or complicated functions on the tablet versions. Most analyst, technical or individual contributor role typically requires a software set that requires more functionality than a tablet can provide.
Setting Up Your Workspace
No Desk Necessary
The entire point of working from a tablet PC is to get away from the desk, so avoid the tiny keyboards, desktop stands and other accessories that simply turn your tablet into a less-functional laptop.
For my at home tablet working experience I prefer the FLOTE tablet stand. Working long hours from a tablet can cause considerable neck strain, so a floor-based tablet stand is crucial to not breaking your neck over a long day on a tablet. A tablet stand also allows you to use two hands, which really speeds up navigation on your tablet. I love the FLOTE because it looks great in my house, it is well built and will hold my tablet at nearly any angle or position that I can imagine. It also integrates well with my desktop working experience by adding another interactive display just floating off to the side of my workspace.
More Power for All-day Usage
Exclusively working from a tablet will require more battery power than the device provides, especially if your tablet uses a cellular card to access the internet (Wifi access is way easier on the battery). Solutions like the Mophie power station can provide that extra battery life necessary to get you through the workday with heavy usage.
I personally am not a fan of using a stylus on my tablet. These devices were made for your finger, which still seems to be the best tool in my experience. For those who do prefer the stylus, there are three basic options: rubber, foam or a plastic tip. The Verge did an excellent video review of the best tablet stylus options on the market.
Overall, working from a tablet does take away some serious computing power with familiar business apps like Excel, Photoshop and others. If your primary use of a computer is communications, report analysis or note-taking then a tablet will simplify your work and allow a desk-free workspace. How has working from a tablet changed your workspace or habits?
AARON ADERS: Aaron is co-founder of DigitalRelevance™, a national leader in earned media and inbound marketing services. Building on more than a decade of Internet marketing experience, Aaron steers the strategic vision behind DigitalRelevance market research and collateral. @drelevance