Staying Productive ­– Virtually

February 28th, 2011
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If you’ve ever missed a connection because of a delayed flight, or been stuck in traffic for hours, you understand one of my biggest pet peeves: inefficient use of time.
Because we – and our clients – are spread around the world, we use a variety of tools to keep us productive and efficient from virtually any location. These tools allow us to work remotely and sometimes they even eliminate the need for commuting or travel.
Some tools that we use include:


  • Skype: Great for making international calls from a cell phone (as long as you have an internet connection – look for free WIFI when traveling) and for videoconferencing from a Mac or PC. Macs also have videoconferencing capability (iChat) built into the operating system.
  • Web-based conferencing solutions: Including WebEx, GoToMeeting, Fuze and Onconference, to name a few. Of these only WebEx has video capability. Warning: Just because these tools help make meetings virtual, doesn’t mean they can’t still be derailed by a lack of group focus.
  • Web-based project management tools (We use Basecamp): Basecamp serves as a virtual project hub to keep track of documents that require input from multiple team members. It’s a great resource for version control.
  • Online contact management tools (our favorite is Highrise): Online contact management is useful if more than one person on a team is interacting with a contact. These tools provide a way to capture notes and dates from phone calls and meetings so that others on the team stay current.
  • Dropbox: A free cloud storage service (though heavy users may need to upgrade to a paid license), Dropbox is an easy way to access a file from multiple devices (laptop, smartphone, iPad). It is also a great way to share very large documents that cannot be emailed. Simply copy a file to your Dropbox folder, send a link to that file, and the recipient clicks the link to download the file.
  • Penultimate and Note Taker HD: The need for paper has been greatly reduced thanks to email but note taking in meetings is often still a paper-based task, unless you have an iPad – in which case you have options. These two apps allow you to write on your iPad using a stylus or finger and then email the notes. Note Taker is the more feature rich of the two, but requires a little effort to learn whereas the simpler Penultimate sports a more intuitive interface.
  • Quickbooks Connect: For invoicing clients from the road there are a number of web-based solutions that also offer a mobile app. We use the Quickbooks Connect iPhone app to access our Quickbooks data, but there are many others that offer varying degrees of both accounting tasks and connectivity options. The choice of small business accounting software can be a daunting task and one that you may want to ask your accountant or financial advisor about.

What is your experience with streamlining your workplace environment with technology? Has an agile, cloud-based technology ever come in to save or increase your productivity in a pinch? Share your tech solutions with us here.

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About the Author:

I co-founded Popper and Company more than ten years ago to help life science companies at all stages of development and of all sizes address inefficiencies in health care. Along with my team members, I focus on helping clients develop and implement strategies that enable the application of technology and processes to improve health care in novel ways, often through the establishment of relationships with industry partners. Click to send me an email.