Use Your Smartphone for Dictation TasksApps such as WinScribe, Philips' Dictation Recorder and Nuance Communications' Dragon Dictation let you speak what you'd otherwise have to type so you can compose e-mail or brainstorm aloud while driving. How much of a time-saver is that? Nuance says it's about five times faster than typing. Some dictation products are available for specific industries, such as health care. One example is PortNexus' TelAssociate, which some wireless carriers offer under their brand, such as AT&T.
Use Your Smartphone for CRMApps such as Nice Office CRM and SAP for BlackBerrys let you work on these tasks from the field and during what otherwise would be downtime, such as riding in a cab. Look for apps that sync the work done on your smartphone with your PC, such as via a server, so you don't have to update everything manually once you're back in the office. Bonus: Smartphone CRM apps can make you more responsive to your clients' needs, a potential market differentiator.
Sync Your Smartphone With Your PCIt's easy to sync your calendar, tasks, contacts and e-mail when your smartphone and PC use the same operating system (OS), such as Windows or Mac. But what happens when they're running different OSes? Enable interoperability between devices with different operating systems--such as syncing Entourage's calendar, contacts and tasks on your iMac with your Windows Mobile smartphone--using software such as CompanionLink and Mark/Space's Missing Sync. Expect to pay about $40. Bonus: This strategy gives you more flexibility in picking a smartphone because you're not locked into a single OS, but with no productivity trade-offs because you still can easily transfer all of your must-have info and files.
Stay in Touch While Traveling AbroadOne option is to get a phone that uses GSM technology--such as those sold by AT&T and T-Mobile--but be sure to get a version that supports multiple bands because many countries use different spectrums than North America. Another option is to rent a phone once you've landed. Both of those options can be expensive in terms of roaming fees or the international long-distance charges that your clients, colleagues and friends pay when calling your rental phone's number. Enter a third option: a global, mobile voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service such as Truphone Local Anywhere, 8x8's MobileTalk or Skype so you and the people trying to reach you don't have to pay through the nose. Check whether the VoIP service can be used over cellular networks, too, or just when your smartphone is connected to Wi-Fi. You'll still have to pay a roaming fee to the wireless carrier, but you won't have to pay international calling charges on top of that or hunt for a Wi-Fi hotspot just to make a call.
Stop Lugging Around a ProjectorDo you often need a projector, such as for sales presentations? Instead of buying and lugging a full-size one--a huge drag on your shoulder and one more thing to unpack and repack during the airport security gauntlet--consider a pico projector, which is pocket-sized. Several models are available from vendors such as Microvision, Optoma and 3M. Some can get their content from a smartphone, potentially freeing you from carting a laptop, too. Prices start around $175. Keep an eye out for a new breed of laptops and smartphones with built-in pico projectors.
Sound-proofIf you're making workers do more in less space, make sure they can hear themselves think. Sound-proofing is a better alternative to earplugs and headphones--although, that said, there's nothing wrong with workers electing to pop them on when they're concentrating on a tight deadline or cranking out a crucial report.
Start with the small stuff: Use wall-to-wall or area carpets and curtains, along with other fabric dÃÂ©cor, to buffer sound's ability to travel. If you're in a new office and are investing to get the space properly configured, investigate sound-proof foam or sound-proof panels, which can be mounted on (or within) walls as well as on ceilings.