A business needs to think about a mobile-first workflow. Employees and management are constantly doing work from smartphones or tablets. Not only is it convenient when on the go, but it's a time-saver: replying to a message or an email can be done quickly while discreetly pretending to pay attention in a meeting.

When it comes down to it, a ton of work is going to get done in a mobile format. And all of those files, projects, and other key pieces of information from your company need to be available, in a secure form, to your team.

Making this future work for you requires some planning and thought about how the team should be working. Here are five basic guidelines to follow that will enable a successful and secure method for such a workflow.


Best Practice #1: Find the Best Path to the Cloud

Most companies have come to terms with the need to move to the cloud -- the problem is how to get there. One intriguing solution I’ve found recently is AppBridge, a company that specializes in helping a transition to Google Cloud Platform.

The work was so good apparently that Google bought the company. Expect to hear more about this integration as Google pushes its Cloud Platform as a viable option. Essentially, it helps a company transition without losing key data or their minds while they send over all of those files. It’s a big task, and one that must be considered before any major transition.

The key is to ensure that new projects and infrastructure goes straight to the cloud. For existing content that is still attached to local storage or perhaps team-run data centers, find a way to make the transition gradual or when it makes the most sense. Getting to the cloud is key and has numerous benefits, but there’s no need to rush it.


Best Practice #2: Streamline Mobile Workflow Efforts

It’s not just enough to assume that everyone is connected and efficient in how they use their mobile devices. If a team doesn’t establish, then reinforce clear expectations and processes around how mobile work gets done and evaluated, things can quickly dissolve into chaos.

The most important thing your team can do is to choose which cloud-enabled and collaborative methods you'll use. If using Office 365 then Excel sheets with authoring, available to those who keep Office 365 files in OneDrive, then set up templates or dedicated files that the team will connect with.

Another underrated tool that is really effective is Dropbox Paper, mostly because it takes that collaborative concept first pioneered by Google Docs and extends it to more of a free-form canvas.

The new G Suite feature Team Drives are a step above what you can do with the traditional Google Drive platform, as it gives administrators considerable control over files, ensuring that just because someone leaves the organization that things won’t disappear.

No matter the direction, there’s no reason to be endlessly sharing file attachments back and forth as email attachments. There’s a much better way.


Best Practice #3: Streamline Communications

If you’re drowning in email on the desktop, imagine how much more annoying that will be to handle on a mobile device. Yet email just won’t die, no matter how hard companies like Slack and others are trying to kill it.

The strategy instead must be about managing the deluge. For example, an Office 365 shop should definitely make use of Microsoft Teams. It comes with the suite of software, and can provide the team with a real-time capability to exchange ideas. Slack has no sign of slowing down, although to get a permanent record of all your messages and other goodies you’ll need one of the paid services.

It’s worth noting that real-time chat applications haven’t solved the email dilemma. Our inboxes still overflow. The artificial intelligence work being done by apps like Microsoft’s Outlook with its focused inbox is the better way.

Focused Inbox can do some of the thinking for you when it comes to what deserves your attention.

Both Google and Microsoft are racing to put more artificial intelligence into their products. When it comes to dealing with the volume of communication we have, it can’t come soon enough.


Best Practice #4: Embrace the Apps and Services Your Team Actually Wants to Use

The world of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) was born out of the premise that employees would have more choice over their mobile future. No need to stick them with a subpar phone or force them to carry around two.

But when it comes to the apps they have to use, that is another story worth following. Giving the team some choice in what applications are used can help make for happier team members. For example, Expensify is a well-built and popular app for making expense reports. But too often businesses build a custom, in-house solution that may interface with the company’s systems well, but is clunky and burdensome to use.

There are too many quality apps across the mobile ecosystem to waste time on building your own, unless you absolutely have to. If there is some proprietary software need or a security concern, then it may be the right choice. But email is done just fine by services like Gmail and Outlook, and messaging can be performed by Slack or Microsoft Teams. Save the development costs for more insular, specialized services that don’t have a good third-party solution.


Best Practice #5: Own the Mobile Strategy

In the end, it’s really about setting a clear course of communication and collaboration for the team. The right digital tools are going to be different for everyone. Or they may be decided like higher-apps, as such decision makers will often call the shots on if you use Office 365 or G Suite. But keeping a team connected, clarifying what software everyone is to use, and sticking to those Skype calls will keep everyone on, to borrow an analog term, the same page.