I’m in no way shape or form what one would consider to be an office worker, desk jockey, pencil pusher, etc… I’m a railroad mechanic by trade. Aside from ordering the necessary parts to complete my job or to complete the appropriate work orders to receive pay I have very little use for a computer day to day at work. If it can’t be beat with a sledgehammer, cut with an oxygen/acetylene torch, welded, or taken apart with a wrench I have no use for it in my professional life. Probably the most tech friendly thing I use in my job is using my phone to stream music via Google Play all day long to keep me in the proper mindset while working. It’s been years since I’ve worked indoors and held an office position so when I recently injured my back and had to take sick leave I was thoroughly shocked at just how much one can accomplish in the way of “office work” from the phone, with the office smartphone. What office work could I possibly be doing while on short term medical leave, you might ask? Well let’s just say I have a ton of documents from doctors, insurance companies, the Railroad Retirement Board, and my employer to complete and move from point A to point B in the way they require. I’ve been able to do this all from my phone and keep the amount of physical paperwork to a minimum. With a couple tips I’m about to share from my recent experiences, you can too!
The Galaxy Note is legit
Right out of the gate this whole experience made me super happy I use a Galaxy Note. Last year I picked up a Note 5 for my birthday and as my first foray into the world of Samsung (aside from past Nexus devices) I haven’t regretted the buy one bit. Now I’m not saying that every other smartphone out there isn’t more than capable of being your office work weapon of choice. I will say however, the S Pen has made all the difference for me. Sure anyone can lug around a capacitive stylus or try to make do with their finger but nothing compares to having a Wacom stylus inside your phone and ready for use at all times. During this current situation of mine I have continuously used the S Pen to sign documents to fax or email to someone, jot down quick notes while on a call so I don’t forget something, and to highlight/make my own notes inside of a document sent to me for personal reasons. So in my humble opinion, if you have an office-type of career that requires you to field your work on the go you should definitely consider the Galaxy Note series.
Aside from the obvious advantages of having the S Pen the Note has plenty other features that really help for office work away from the office. First up is the camera. The camera on the Note series has been top notch for a long time. I have snapped tons of shots of documents to email or fax to someone via my phone and every one of these shots have came out almost as good as if I had scanned them. There are of course plenty of other competitive shooters on other phones out there so the Note obviously isn’t the only “duck in the pond” on this front. Another feature I used quite frequently was the Multi Window feature to view two apps side by side. This is such an irreplaceable feature that similar is already being done with some manufacturer skins like LG’s, it will be baked into Android soon, and the iPad finally had this feature as of iOS 9.
The cloud is your friend!
I hate paper. There is no measure for how much I hate to store and file paperwork. During this sabbatical from work I am constantly receiving medical reports, lost wages reports, records releases, etc… All of this can stack up QUICK and can be an all out hassle to deal with. It’s especially nerve racking when you’re out and about and need access to something immediately only to find that all you have is a physical copy of a document. There is simply no excuse for this anymore with such easy access to the cloud. Chances are that if you own an Android device you already have Google Drive pre-installed so it’s super simple to use, seamlessly integrated into the OS, and offers 15GB of free storage. Even if you’re rocking iOS it’s a damn fine service and app to use. For the proverbial “cherry on top” all your photos can be stored for free so long as you use their “reduced file size” setting and all of it can be accessed via Google Drive or Google Photos.
Not a fan of giving Google more info than they already have? I get it. As time marches on Google has seemed to find a way into more and more areas of our lives and therefore holds the key to an insane amount of information on many of us. For this reason many distance themselves from Google or even from any one company possessing all their stuff. No matter how you slice the pie there are more than enough solid cloud storage services out there to fit your needs like iCloud, Dropbox, Box.net, and OneDrive. All are great services, offer a decent enough amount of free storage, can be accessed from any connected device, and have reasonable plans to purchase more storage to suit your needs. So whenever you get a bit of paperwork do yourself a favor and scan it/take a picture of it and upload it to the cloud. In most cases you can save yourself a lot of physical storage space and in a digital world it’s simply easier to deal with this way.
For the dinosaurs
Unfortunately despite our technologically advanced society come relics of communication refuse to die. It seems like we will always need both traditional mail and to send faxes. Both of these two forms of communication are a blight to anyone away from the office, without quick/easy access to a fax machine, or a far distance from a postal drop box. With a little searching through Google Play for apps to these archaic needs I came up with two solid apps that I’ve recently used on a regular basis.
For “snail mail” I discovered Spletter. This app is really well built and will allow you to compose whatever letter you need and mail it off for the reasonable price of $1.99 USD per two pages or $2.99 for two page international mail. Sure this is more expensive than a $0.47 a stamp but sometimes convenience is worth it. Plus with Spletter you can add photo quality prints to your letters which is well worth the money in my opinion. I’m not a daily iOS user and I don’t travel out of the U.S. often but I do know their are apps for both to send traditional mail. So next time you’re at dinner or on vacation and you need to send something through the postal service give this a try.
Next up is faxes. Let’s be honest, not many people have regular access to a fax machine and the number of people who do shrinks by the day. It’s a really stupid form of communication in my opinion but alas many businesses still require you to fax them documents. For all my fax needs I use FaxFile. This app won’t win any awards for design but it had a really great rating in Google Play and gets the job done. Faxes can be sent for 10 credits per page and the lowest tier of credits will run you $2.50 USD for 50. This app supports sending PDF, Word (.doc or .docx), and JPG/PNG images. If a fax initially fails the app will retry to send it at no additional charge and upon delivery you will receive a confirmed status within the app. It’s all really standard fare in the world of faxes and I found it to be easier to use than most fax machines I’ve encountered in my time. Once again, I don’t use iOS often but I do know that FaxFile has a well received app in the iTunes store. There are also plenty of other apps out there across all platforms to accomplish sending a fax. So if FaxFile isn’t your cup of tea there is no shortage of apps out there for you.
The definition of the “office” has changed in the traditional sense. No longer do you have to be in that dusty old cubicle filled building to accomplish the workload that you need. Every day as time marches on the filing cabinet, copy machine, fax machine, and scanner are being replaced by the mighty smartphone just as it did with the casual point and shoot camera business. I didn’t cover the other more obvious things like file conversion, email, calendar, and document editing apps as all of those have become synonymous with the smartphone world at this point. Instead I chose to talk about the ways in which I had never used my office smartphone until just recently and I hope that my experience helps you all, even if just a little.