Working 9 to 5 with iOS

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

On the 3rd of May 2016 I started my first ever job, and I quickly realised that I needed a multi-technology strategy to match the productivity of my work colleagues. Being an iOS user since 2009 I was sure that part of my technology strategy would involve my iPhone or iPad, and I wasn’t wrong.

In this post I would like to tell you about the physical make up of the said strategy, i.e. what device I am using, and how using iOS enables me to increase my access and productivity simultaneously. I believe this post will also act as somewhat of a testament to the fact that iOS can be used in an employment environment, and that iDevices are not just a luxury consumer electronics product which is sometimes a misconception in the broader society.

What about the Existing System?

It may come as no surprise that the existing system in my workplace is Windows based, and I use the popular screen reader called JAWS to interface with software such as MS Office, Internet Explorer and the internal corporate network. The aspects of the system I have mentioned are accessible, but there are other elements which are not accessible.

Some of the inaccessible elements are software such as Cisco Jabber, Pulse Secure and WebEx. The 3 examples I have mentioned are largely accessible and usable on iOS, which is fantastic as it allows me to access the same software that my colleagues are using, but more about that later.

Adding iOS to the Mix!

As my employer’s wireless network is hidden and largely internal in nature, it is a great advantage that the IT department have created a specially designed system for mobile devices owned by employees. The said system enables my iDevice to connect to the internal network which gives me access to the network and an individual app store specific to my employer.

Joining the system is required only once, and after the initial necessary actions have been carried out, the device I am using operates the same as any other. The said system which I enrol my iOS device into does mean that I am permitting the IT department to have control over my device if it is lost or stolen, but this is not a major concern for me personally.

What iOS Device are you using? I hear you ask!

For 2 reasons I choose to use my iPad specifically for employment purposes, and it is working out great. When I first started using iOS at work, I was using my personal iPhone 6S+, but for reasons I will explain in a moment, I decided to switch to my iPad.

The first reason for using my iPad relates to the available battery capacity. As I am regularly switching between my Windows PC and iPad, it is not used in an intense fashion at any one time, so the battery life is more than sufficient.

The second reason regards the ability to use my iPad with a keyboard case such as the Zagg Keys Folio, which greatly improves my productivity and typing speed. I firmly believe that it is necessary to use a keyboard with an iPad such as the to achieve the maximum level of productivity, and as an added bonus I can leave my iPad in its keyboard case on my desk without needing to held it when I want to use it.

Thirdly, I didn’t like the idea of mixing my work and personal devices and information. However, I did like the fact that I had the option to use the same device for work and personal purposes. Essentially, it comes down to personal preference I guess.

So, what are the benefits of using iOS at work?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post there are a number of software applications which my colleagues use, and which are not accessible to me on my Windows PC. Most of the same applications are also available on iOS, and the iOS versions of the said applications are accessible and usable.

Because the applications I use may be different to those which are used by other employers, I am only going to list the applications with a brief explanation of their purpose.

  1. Cisco Jabber - Voice Call and IM client.
  2. WebEx - Video conferencing tool.
  3. Pulse Secure - VPN client.
  4. Workday - Human capital management tool.

I also benefit from using the Mail, contacts and calendar applications and the Microsoft Exchange account specific to my work email. I can manage my email, meetings and contacts using the stock iOS applications which is much more efficient than on my Windows PC, i.e. Microsoft Outlook.

Considerations

There were 2 major considerations for me before I started using iOS at work, and they were as follows:

  1. Employer’s consent - I was sure to get the consent of my employer before I brought my iPad into the workplace.
  2. Headphone mixer - As I am using a screen reader on my Windows PC and iPad, I needed an audio mixer to avoid having 2 pairs of headphones and constantly switching between them when I wanted to use the other device.

Conclusion

Before I conclude this post, I would like to link to a post put together by Alex which mentions the use of the Apple Watch in the workplace. The post is not specific to the use of Apple products in an employment setting, but nevertheless I think it is very interesting to see a product like the Apple Watch being used in such a fashion especially in relation to notification filtering.

It has been a relatively short period of time that I have been using my iPad at work, but I have no intention of stopping as there are far to many benefits and capabilities that I couldn’t do without. I hope this post has been interesting to read, and I invite you to leave a comment if you have any thoughts or feedback which you would like to share.

Options

Comments

Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Saturday, May 14, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Niall,

I enjoyed your thoughtful blog. I remain fascinated at these Apple devices that truly help level the playing field for all of us. Access to the workplace has radically improved over the last thirty years and I look forward to even greater strides.

I'm very happy for your success at your new job!@

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Sunday, May 15, 2016

As an IRS employee, I don't think I would have been allowed to utilize my iPhone as apart of my interactions with the software environment, due to the security levels that the software required. I wasn't even allowed to connect a typical thumb drive to my PC at work. This is too bad because for some of those apps that I had to use, you had to be able to almost understand programming languages in order to utilize them.

I am glad your employer is flexible with you. Thanks for posting.

Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Friday, May 20, 2016

I love the way the Notes app now can sync with Microsoft exchange. Using Outlook on my work Windows machine I often type in something I want to paste to my iPHONE directly in to notes. (CTRL-Y in Outlook to get the folder list, arrow down to Notes and press ENTER. Once in Notes, CTRL-N creates a new note. Type what you want, or paste in a URL, whatever you need in that note. Press ALT-S To save.)
Once the note is created and saved, it will automatically sync with your iDEVICE. You can then pull up the particular note and go to the url you pasted there, or use the text you pasted to add info to a contact, dial a number, create a post, answer an email, whatever. I often run across an interesting book I want to read while at work, because I work for a college. But of course I don't want to read that book on the job. So I paste the name in to a note and then it's on my iPHONE, ready for me to paste in to an amazon or bookshare search.

I also find Dropvox quite handy for quickly capturing audio clips. I'm away from my desk and a co-worker tells me something I need to remember. Launching dropvox starts it recording and automatically saving the audio to my dropbox where I can pull it up directly on my PC at work.
I also use Siri to dictate in to notes when I have things to write and let them sync with outlook. Then I clean up the errors in the note, and paste it in to word to format or outlook to email. Siri also makes it trivial to change or add work appointments.
People might know that you can create multiple lists in the reminders tell Siri "create a Jones list" and you now have a list named Jones. Now you can say "add prepare the inventory to the Jones list" and siri will organize that to-do item where you need it to go.
I would also like to point out that there areJAWS scripts for Cisco Jabber which may or may not make it more accessible. They have to be downloaded by your Cisco administrator, directly from Cisco.

Submitted by eclectica on Friday, May 20, 2016

Hello, Nile. Thanks for the post. What headphone mixer do you use?

Submitted by smhy on Thursday, June 2, 2016

This was interesting, thank you. I do have to chime in and say though that i find outlook to be far more efficient for email than anything on the ipad. Quick keys are invaluable to productivity, as is the ability to move and delete emails without selecting them. All the shortcut keys in iOS are there in outlook, plus a lot more. And in outlook, you can attach far more things than on iOS. Also, window eyes interaction with the outlook calendar is quick and simple.

Submitted by Tisha Lyles on Monday, June 13, 2016

I completely enjoyed reading your post. I also found it to be very impressive and quite encouraging as well. I wish you continued success.

Submitted by Niall Gallagher on Sunday, June 26, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Hi Everyone,

I must apologise for the delay in this reply. I am normally quite good at keeping on top of things, but not on this occasion.

However, I would like to address all previous comments now.

Morgan, Roxann and Trisha, thank you very much for reading and your kind words, I appreciate your support. Deborah and Smhy, I really liked reading your additional tips, and I will enjoy trying them out for myself very soon.

Eclectica, I have pasted the link to the mixer I purchased below. The mixer I bought is more than sufficient for my needs, and a mixer with less channels would be enough, but I needed a solution quickly at the time and didn't shop around.

http://www.maplin.ie/p/alto-pro-zmx52-5-channel-compact-mixer-n19jt

I am very sorry once again it has taken so long for me to reply. I will start working on my new post soon, and I hope you will all take the time to read it.

Kind regards, Niall