If you are working in one of these sized businesses, you’d be well aware meetings can interfere with the very work they’ve been called to discuss and, ironically, deadlines for completion of that work may even be the subject of those meetings!
During busy periods in particular, it can be more efficient to conduct meetings during those idle moments when travelling from one location to another, such as from the construction site to the office. If you’re travelling by taxi or train obviously not in the quiet carriage it may be possible to conduct multiple meetings on the move.
The potential benefits of meetings on the move are considerable. Projects remain on schedule while customers, partners, bosses and other stakeholders are kept up to date. Travelling time becomes more productive and, most importantly, you can recapture time to spend with your family or undertake recreational or educational activities.
Select the right mobile tools for the job
So, what apps are available to help you get the most from these meetings? App stores include a host of apps designed to support workers on the move.
Skype for Business
Skype for Business enables you to meet with up to 250 people who have a phone or internet connection (and up to 100 people when conntected on a dedicated pool), while you can also schedule meetings in Microsoft Outlook, start conversations from apps such as Word and PowerPoint. However, if you’re having a confidential discussion, you may be better using audio rather than streaming video capabilities on 4G or 5G networks . This means a taxi driver, for example, will only hear one side of the conversation!
Yammer (available in a subscription with Office 365) is a private social network that businesses can use to allow you and other workers to start conversations, organise files and collaborate on projects.
You can use messaging apps such as WhatsApp to send text, audio and video messages to other individuals or groups. The group messaging function can be used as a team chat to get fast answers on simple questions or short projects.
People conducting sensitive meetings in shared environments (such as train carriages) have the option of using text messaging apps to maintain the privacy and confidentiality required while continuing to collaborate effectively.
During a meeting, it’s always handy to be able to access and refer to the necessary documentation, but lugging a filing cabinet onto the 3:15pm train to Parramatta is not an option. Box is an app that allows you to store all your content online, by enabling users to share, view and edit entire business files on any compatible devices, on the go.
As long as you have an internet connection and a compatible device you can quickly find that topical document. Users can also share files with team members, customers and partners, synchronise their web, desktop and mobile content, and capture content such as photos and videos directly from a compatible iPhone or iPad.
Finally, DocuSign is another popular app that simplifies the job of preparing and sending documents for signature, as well as signing and returning those documents without printing out or scanning a single sheet of paper. That new contract can be filled out, signed and returned in the back of the cab, ready for the next meeting.
Planning effective mobile workflows
How might you exploit the potential of mobile apps, so you can thrive in competitive industries such as construction, marketing and media?
The first step is to review your working patterns, focusing particularly on the number and type of meetings scheduled each week, as well as the time spent travelling between locations.
Doing so can reveal the extent to which you can boost productivity by conducting more of your meetings on the move.
For managers of small businesses with multiple employees, this exercise can help determine the extent to which a ‘meetings on the move’ project could improve overall workforce productivity.
The next step for both individuals and managers is to review any apps used by you or your team to be productive on the move. The speed of app development and the functionality delivered by the newest mobile apps means these reviews should be completed on a regular basis.
Finally, identify and deploy the apps that best support meetings on the move. Apps may differ depending on the context of your business and the tasks you might usually undertake.
So, next time you’re twiddling your thumbs on the train or in a taxi travelling between workplace locations, think to yourself, “Could I be using this time to meet with others to progress that critical project?” The answer will be obvious.
Choose the right tools for your business
With a wealth of choice available, choosing the right range of apps and software can normally be challenging. However, Telstra’s tech advisor platform, and range of business tools can make selecting the most effective tools a far more simple process.
Originally published September 23rd 2016. Updated July 31st 2019.