Business doesn't stop just because you're snowed in. When your town is battered by a snowstorm or covered in ice, you need to keep working. That's where your smartphone or tablet comes in. With the right apps, you can have a productive day from anywhere — even if dangerous weather conditions prevent you from getting to the office. Your mobile device can help you access important files and programs, and even stage a remote meeting with employees or clients. And if work requires you to venture out into the storm, your smartphone can help you get where you're going as quickly and safely as possible. Read on for six of the best apps to keep your business running through a severe winter storm.
Access your work PC: Microsoft Remote Desktop (iOS, Android)
Your work computer has everything you need for a productive day, including all the programs you use and every file and document you're working on. But what do you do when bad weather prevents you from getting to your office PC? The answer is a good remote desktop application. Apps such as Microsoft Remote Desktop (available for iOS and Android) turn your smartphone or tablet into an extension of your desktop workstation. It’s like a direct portal to your work computer, allowing you to virtually access your Windows desktop. That includes letting you use your favorite programs from any device, so you can take advantage of the full versions of Microsoft Word or Excel right from your smartphone or tablet, for example.
Meet remotely: GoToMeeting (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
Winter weather inevitably leads to travel delays. That's bad news if you have an important meeting scheduled with your employees, colleagues or clients. But with the right app, you can meet face-to-face — or screen-to-screen — from anywhere. GoToMeeting (available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone) makes a solid videoconferencing app that lets you host virtual meetings, with up to 25 attendees joining remotely from almost any Web-connected device. The service streamlines the process of scheduling a meeting and sending out invitations. It also boasts such features as speaker identification, so you always know who is talking.You can share your screen for business presentations, and share your keyboard and mouse controls with other attendees for smooth collaboration.
Access your files: Dropbox (iOS, Android)
You can't keep working without those important business files stored on your work PC, but sometimes a severe thunderstorm prevents you from safely getting to the office. With a cloud storage app such as Dropbox (available for iOS and Android), you’ll never go anywhere without your files and documents. That’s because Dropbox syncs them to a Web server so they're accessible from any Internet-connected device, including your smartphone. Setting up Dropbox is as easy as designating a folder on your hard drive to act as a shared folder. Once your files are uploaded, any changes or edits will be synchronized across all your computers and mobile devices. It's a simple, lightweight and dependable file-storage solution that could really save the day during a snowstorm.
Suggest alternate directions: Google Maps
Bad weather means bad traffic. Commuting to the office or getting to an important meeting or appointment can be a nightmare during a snowstorm. To avoid being late, use Google Maps (available for iOS and Android), even if you know how to get to your destination. The app offers more than turn-by-turn directions; it also shows local traffic conditions in real time, using data collected by other motorists using the service. A route that’s backed up with traffic will be displayed in red, while a clear route will be shown as yellow or green. Better yet, you can discover the quickest alternate routes with just a few taps. Once you’re on the way, toggle on voice-guided navigation so you can keep your eyes on the road and get to your destination safely.
Running late notification: Tempo Smart Calendar (iOS)
Running late for a business meeting is cause for embarrassment, or worse. But dangerous conditions and traffic delays during a winter storm can make this scenario hard to avoid. Tempo Smart Calendar (an iOS exclusive) has a handy remedy for just such a crisis. If you use the app to schedule your meetings in the first place, it lets you send out a mass text message, selected from several default messages, to let all attendees know that you're running late. And you can do this with just a few taps, so it's easy to pull over and fire off a quick notification before you get back on the road. That eliminates the need to contact meeting attendees individually, and ensures that no one is left in the dark if you're running late due to severe winter weather. Android users can try Any.Do Cal for similar functionality.
Weather updates: NOAA Weather (iOS, Android)
When you're busy with the day-to-day work of running your small business, it's easy to miss news of an incoming storm. But with the right app, your smartphone can alert you to significant weather events that could disrupt your schedule. Like any good weather service, the NOAA Weather app (available for iOS and Android) provides forecasts, animated radar and current conditions. And when a storm is approaching, the app will ping you with a warning notification. That way you can plan around the weather and keep your business running, even during a snowstorm.