The 2016 workforce is a demanding one. Even if you might not be looking for a new career, there are some skills every employee needs to have to be successful – especially technologically speaking. Using essential tools like mobile apps to stay organized or understanding basic troubleshooting skills will keep any employee sharp on a day to day basis. What’s more, plugging into social media and keeping up-to-date on current work related events will keep you energized and maybe even give you a leg-up on the competition.

Social Media

These days, marketing yourself is just as important as marketing a brand or company. It doesn’t matter what the area of expertise, there are always folks to connect with through social media. Twitter is a wonderful way to find and follow those who have similar areas of business. This is not only good for your own career, but it could possibly translate to business for your employer. This doesn’t have to mean checking and updating your feed every day, but stay active in the community as often as possible.

In addition, cleaning up your own social media footprint is an especially good idea. Setting up work accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is a must. This isn’t to say you have to be work-oriented all of the time. If you’d like a platform for your family and friends only, just make it private. Speaking from experience, if you have information or media out in the World Wide Web that you don’t particularly want clients or coworkers to find, clean it up or get rid of it because I guarantee everyone that you don’t want to see it, will. Everyone should be confident in their internet presence.

Mobile Apps

Thousands of new apps are being invented each and every day. Staying in the know about innovative tools is always an excellent idea. Not only can you keep yourself up-to-date with interesting apps, but there may be fresh tools worth passing along to your co-workers or even management.

Tools like Google Hangouts or Slack chats can be downloaded directly to your smartphone so you can let management or your team be aware of critical information at any time from anywhere. If your job requires your team to be in different places throughout the day an app like Locqus allows both the employee and employer to track tasks accomplished throughout the day in various locations. Finally, if you’re trying to be a little more eco-friendly, many apps allow for the creation and storage of many e-forms. These can be transferred to any storage device, like a computer, but all the information is right at your fingertips.

These are just a few examples of crucial apps for today’s businessperson. Most apps are made compatible with the latest devices like the iPhone 6s, but many also work with other devices. Take a look through your smartphone, tablet, or computer, and you’ll undoubtedly find an app that will make your life and your co-workers lives a little easier.

Microsoft Excel / Google Drive

The reason I lump both of these together is the fact that many jobs now require knowledge of various programs such as Outlook, Word, and more. These two tools are extremely valuable for any business person to stay organized and efficient.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that knowing how to use spreadsheets is extremely common in the workplace. That being said, spending some extra time with the essentials like Excel will make your work life much easier. First of all, you won’t have to deal with that awkward “I have no idea what I’m looking at” feeling. Secondly, you’ll be able to communicate and track just about anything right through a spreadsheet. Many of us (including myself) have not spent as much time as we could have checking out all the interesting things that Excel can do. Do yourself a favor and make some nonsense tables and graphs. Then, the next time your boss wants to know exactly what’s been going on this quarter you’ll already have a professional spreadsheet ready to go.

Anything from note taking to writing up a proposal can be done through Google Drive. Spreadsheets can also be done through this system, but some might argue that Excel is a little bit better at getting that job done. Whatever the case, Google Drive instantly saves all updates and edits to any documents. It also doesn’t take up any storage on a shared computer which is a definite bonus. Lastly, Google Calendar works well on a laptop and smartphone. You can get and send invites to anyone who might need to know your schedule. That’s just a scratch on the surface of all the versatile tools available through the Google Drive.

Basic Troubleshooting

Restart, hard reset, power cycle, clear cache – these should all be familiar terms for you and everyone should know the right time to use them. Calling off a meeting or not being able to do work because of a computer problem is not a favorable situation. Of course, there are always situations outside of our control that do require expert help. However, if you can fix it with a simple solution, there’s no reason not to do so.

Being put on the spot because of a frozen computer or a system crashing isn’t ideal, but don’t panic. Before you get placed into a situation that is less than convenient educate yourself through online courses or even YouTube videos with instructions. Knowing a few details about basic troubleshooting might just make you a lifesaver when no one can get the projector to work at your next work meeting.

Researching / News Watching

In the same vein as social media, every good employee should know what’s happening in the news (in regards to your career). Staying clear about breakthroughs in your field will not only help you to keep your personal goals clear, but it will keep you fresh and inspired. Constantly keeping “your nose to the grindstone” so to speak will lead to an immediate lack of motivation.

Share your findings with your team. You never know what kind of creative influence this might have with your group. Needless to say, don’t steal anyone else’s work, but researching and understanding industry standards, as well as possible future scenarios will set you up for inevitable success.