2. Make sure you use the premium versions of apps with offline sync
Many knowledge workers tend to grab the free version of an app like Evernote without realizing there is a premium version of these apps that provides offline syncing. If the Internet is down or there’s a network problem, the user can keep working locally. When the access is restored, the app will automatically sync the files. The premium version if usually not that expensive. For example, Evernote Premium costs $50 per year to use the offline mode.
Michael Starostin, the CTO of managed hosting company PlexHosted, said it’s important to investigate which apps have offline modes. Gmail has an offline mode that’s in beta. If the employee connects to an Exchange server using Outlook, there’s a simple button that switches from online to offline mode. The SharePoint Workspace lets you continue working on projects even when you are not connected to the network and then syncs later.
The two most prevalent business productivity and collaboration tools – Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps – now enable offline functionality in their desktop applications, enabling document creation and editing with transparent syncing of files when connected,” adds Sumeet Sabharwal, vice president and general manager of NaviSite. “These same offline features also extended into their mobile application which also enable a rich user experience on tablets and smartphone devices while providing the users the convenience of portability.”
3. Train employees on how to stay productive
Many employees go into a panic mode when they can’t access their files or use Google Docs. There’s even a tendency to freeze up and don’t know how to keep working.
Jonathan Levine, the CTO at cloud hosting provider Intermedia, says employees sometimes don’t realize they can continue working and access files locally. He says their file storage app SecuriSync, for example, syncs files locally. When the employee makes changes to local files, they are synced once the access is restored. Employees sometimes don’t realize they have an offline mode for files, email, scheduling and other functions.
Of course, IT plays a major role here in selecting apps and services that do offer an offline mode. And, it’s a cost control issue – even for an app like Evernote Premium that costs $50 per year, that cost can add up quickly when there are hundreds or thousands of employees.
“The rules are changing quickly and companies must move beyond basic Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies to enable mobility in a more comprehensive manner while taking offline access into account,” says NaviSite’s Sabharwal. “This implies making this an explicit selection criteria when evaluating and selecting key productivity tools, and providing employees with a comprehensive set of instructions to enable offline access across each of these applications.”
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