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Use Your Smartphone for Dictation Tasks

Apps 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.

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Use Your Smartphone for CRM

Apps 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.

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Sync Your Smartphone With Your PC

It'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.

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Stay in Touch While Traveling Abroad

One 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.

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Stop Lugging Around a Projector

Do 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.

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Sound-proof

If 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 décor, 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.

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Do Double-Duty With Open Spaces

You don't need a big conference room to convene an all-hands-on-deck meeting. These days, more and more offices are using lobby areas that double as meeting spaces for impromptu gatherings and stand-up (read: quick but important) meetings. If your enterprise is big enough, you can use a building atrium as a space where workers can attend or at least view the main event taking place on the ground floor. Open spaces aren't just for meetings, though. Lobby and other open space areas do great double-duty if your company is hosting a neighborhood, chamber or local industry event or lecture--and can allow you to not only make connections in the community but also convey an impression of your brand to guests. (Decorate carefully!)

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93. Do a Stand-up Job

Gone are the days of slow sit down meetings, where long-winded debates and meandering conversations wander off-topic. Modern meetings are fast, frequent, and may call for just a handful of people at a time. Aside from quick desk-side huddles, many businesses are using quick, short stand up meetings and making more space to facilitate them. Consider standing-height tables in collaborative areas, offer write-on/wipe-off materials on walls, and make standing-height tables available in kitchen/coffee stations (in addition to regular tables) so workers can spread out while sipping a cup of joe or nibbling on a sandwich. Wouldn't it be nice to see them collaborating and bonding rather than slumping back to a desk and computer screen?

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Make Walls Flexible.

Many teams and sub-teams working on high-priority projects need their own temporary war room environment. Consider using moveable walls on casters or sliders to create cordoned-off areas where workers can hunker down together and use a combination of collaborative workspaces, tables, workstations, sitting areas, and write-on/wipe-off walls for quick modeling and decision making. If moveable walls aren't an option, curtains, shelving or other dividing systems can help create a sense of dynamic, temporary space where a team can burn through a deadline. Having the capacity to make an ad hoc in-office environment can help communicate a sense of mission and urgency, and spur motivation among the workers driving important projects.

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Consider Low Cube Walls.

Traditional 6-foot-tall cubicle walls are isolating, but having no separation whatsoever between workers' desks can lead to a perceived lack of privacy. Many companies now use low (4-foot-tall) cubicle walls to create a sense of separation between workspaces but allow enough visibility among workers so they don't feel isolated. In addition, lower cube walls tend to allow for eye contact between those sitting in their workspaces and those circulating within the office--meaning that passers-by will self-regulate their inside voices out of respect and acknowledgment for the fact that cube-dwellers are hard at work.