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Collaborating on the Go: Tools to Keep in Touch

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Working on the road all day has a way of isolating a worker, cutting him off from co-workers and supervisors. But thanks to modern technology, those workers can stay in touch with the home office, as well as others in the field, giving them the sense of community usually only found in an office environment. 

Whether these tools are needed to dispatch new assignments or update the status of current assignments, all a mobile service worker needs to successfully connect to everyone else is a mobile device with a strong 4G connection and the right collaboration software. Here are four types of tools that can help, including the pros and cons of each.

Project management and collaboration

There are a number of great apps, with online capabilities, that allow a mobile worker to collaborate and manage tasks on a project. Basecamp is designed to help teams collaborate on projects, putting all important information on one page. Armed with an iPhone, mobile service workers can be included in team communications even while they’re on the go. Asana is another solid project management tool with an easy-to-use mobile app that allows users to update project status and track specific tasks within a project.

Dispatch and job scheduling

Apps designed to assist in dispatch and scheduling of mobile workers can save an operation thousands of dollars by using advanced technology to locate and move workers. vWork lets dispatchers assign duties based on where a driver is currently located. Workers receive assignments and log proof of delivery, allowing the home office to keep track of where each assignment stands at all times. GeoOp is another solution that offers real-time job scheduling, quoting, and GPS tracking of mobile workers-;all of which is hosted in the cloud and syncs directly back to the team in the home office.

Communication

If you simply need the ability to communicate with other team members, Yammer is a great solution. Billed as a social network for business, Yammer lets employees communicate with each other in a secure, social media-like format. The mobile app works on iOS, Android, and Windows devices. JIVE is another communication and collaboration platform for modern, mobile businesses, which allows a company to create a sort-of ‘Intranet’ page where in-house and mobile workers can communicate and share business-related items and materials.

Sharing paper documents

Eventually, every mobile service worker will have a need to share a paper document with the team back at the office. Rather than tracking down the nearest overnight package outlet, an app like CamScanner or DocScanner can capture and send a high-quality version of a document directly from a smartphone.

Being on the road doesn’t have to get in the way of being part of a team. These tools allow mobile service workers to communicate, collaborate, and remain as paperless as possible while still maintaining a high level of customer service.

Last updated: Jan 28, 2014

RAMON RAY | Columnist

Editor and technology evangelist at Smallbiztechnology.com, which covers technology trends for small business. His latest book is the Amazon.com best-seller Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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