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March 18, 2016updated 28 Mar 2017 5:38pm

When Mobile Goes Bad

By John Oates

Mobile technology is fantastic. But sometimes people forget it also has its limits.

There are times when tasks should really be carried out in a quiet office or workplace and not on a train, in a plane or while queuing for a coffee.

Firstly think about security – if you’re having a sensitive conversation in a public place think about the worst person who could possibly hear it, and assume that they are sitting behind you.

Don’t discuss sensitive customer negotiations or private personnel issues in public. If you’re on your way to big industry conference then there are very good chances that other passengers will know who you are talking about.

Conference calls are another no-no. Sound quality is already likely to be compromised without you dialling in from a noisy street. If you really can’t be in an office then you need to find somewhere as quiet as possible.

And you need somewhere you can spread out your notes, get relevant files open on your laptop and write or type up your responses and ‘to-do list’ from the call. If you’re on a call where you don’t need to listen as carefully as this then maybe you don’t really need to be on the call at all.

Choose tasks which are suited to your environment.

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Don’t decide to use a train journey to write a lengthy, detailed document. Instead use the time, and the patchy Wi-Fi, to do a bit of housekeeping. Sorting emails and drafting short replies for instance is easy enough on a train where you’re likely to get distracted.

But it is not a great time for lengthy mobile calls, updating complex spreadsheets, creating great looking presentations or writing a sensitive letter or memo.

Even editing an existing document is easier in that environment than creating one from scratch.

Some people find trains great places for broader, deeper thinking. Gaze out of the window and take notes on a pad but don’t spend the time with a precariously balanced laptop trying to write anything lengthy.

Sitting at an airport, which is likely to be for a longer time, can be a better time to attempt longer pieces of writing or planning.

However much we’re all becoming ‘road warriors’ there are still huge benefits to a quietish office, a stable desk, a comfy chair, a proper keyboard, a big screen, fast and secure internet access and having files to hand.

Some tasks are made infinitely easier by having colleagues on hand too.

A five minute chat with work mates over coffee can radically reduce time spent on some tasks. If you’re really lucky you might even be able to farm out some of the work to someone else.

Likewise if you’re working on a presentation with a colleague – sitting down together, or getting them to look through it in front of you – can save hours of backwards and forwards with the world’s best work share or document sharing system.

We are used to hearing a lot about the of benefits from mobile technology – and few modern enterprises could survive long without them.

But don’t let mobile technology blind you to the benefits of the old fashioned office, desktop computer and even the joys of using a printer.

And don’t forget the other benefit of the office – your colleagues, the chance conversations and spotting parallels and synchronicities between your work and everything else which is happening in the organisation.

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