IT directors: Educate workers about the tablet keyboard

IT directors: Educate workers about the tablet keyboard

Summary: Workers are bringing tablets to work more and more. These tablets are good on their own, but workers may be more productive by occasionally adding a keyboard to the mix.

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(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Tablets are great for a lot of tasks while held in the hand and used solely by touch. That's what they're designed to do, after all. In the workplace, where tablets are appearing more and more, sometimes it makes sense to use a keyboard with the slate. Those in charge of IT for businesses should make sure employees are aware that keyboards are available for nearly every tablet.

I regularly use keyboards with my tablets for work, although not always. If a given task is better accomplished with a keyboard, I use one.

I own several tablets and have good keyboard options for each. Having the keyboard can go a long way to turning a frustrating work session, caused by typing on a virtual keyboard, into a pleasant one.

See related: Five best iPad Air keyboards (hands on): April 20149 best iPad keyboards (hands on): March 20135 best iPad mini keyboards

I work in coffee shops all the time, often with a tablet and keyboard. The employees at my regular work spots notice all the different tablets I use, and the different keyboards for each. I am regularly asked how well the keyboards work and if I like them.

Most of the folks asking about them are students at a nearby university, and seeing how well the various keyboards work for me they realize they'd work for their school work, too. They ask me to demonstrate how they function with the iPad, Android, or Windows tablet I'm using that particular day. 

It's not just students; I'm also approached by others with the same curiosity about keyboards. Their employers allow them to bring their own tablet to work, and seeing how well they work for me they realize a keyboard may be a good fit for performing work tasks.

The problem facing these folks is a lack of information about tablets and keyboards. There aren't many students, or those in the job force, who are aware that viable keyboard options exist. They certainly aren't aware that for many tablets there are quite a few keyboards available.

These aren't tech-savvy folks, and they are missing out on the opportunity to leverage their tablet more productively at those times when using a keyboard makes sense.

Those in corporate IT need to educate workers using tablets at work. If workers had keyboards, they'd likely be more productive doing certain tasks than they would without them, and that's to the company's advantage.

Keyboards for tablets don't require much, if any, support from the IT staff so there's nothing to lose in making sure workers are aware of the options. Educate employees on using keyboards with tablets. The company can only benefit from doing so.

If your company deploys Surface tablets by Microsoft, odds are they are handed out to workers with one of the keyboard covers. Why not do the same with iPads or Android tablets assigned to employees? The keyboard is no less useful for those tablets than it is for the Surface.

And please, don't fall back on the mistaken belief that instead of using keyboards with tablets you may as well use a laptop. That overlooks the ability to use the tablet without the keyboard, which most tablet owners will spend plenty of time doing. The keyboard is not permanently attached to the tablet, it augments it when needed. It's a low-cost option that adds value to a tablet, and provides an advantage to both the employee and the company.

Topics: Mobility, Tablets, Bring Your Own Device

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7 comments
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  • Docks

    Just offer USB docks (mouse, keyboard, monitor). Costs up to 100$ a piece, if you reuse an existing monitor/mouse/keyboard. That's low enough to be budgeted under office supplies.

    If they find the keyboard useful, they will start looking for portable solutions on their own at that point.
    Sacr
  • Stop with the silly articles..

    Lets buy a car and attach a bed and call it a truck. If you want a truck then buy a truck. Stop with the silly articles that suggest people are not educated about keyboards. Businesses do not want any liabilities for giving a worker a 10 in screen and cramp keyboard for 8 hours.
    rgatl
  • From our own testing

    My team is tasked with client system evaluations and management. We have a host of various mobile devices for testing and use case development. We got various keyboards for both iOS and Android devices and what we have found is that after a while most of these keyboard covers got discarded for the sake of weight and thinness. I have been carrying around a iPad Mini and it really would be weighted down by any noticeable keyboard.

    The only exception to this has been the Surface and the Surface Pro devices. The RT version, mostly because the touch cover was as thin as a regular cover and added no noticeable weight or bulk. The type cover on the Pro because in actuality almost everyone used it as a little laptop.

    iPads and Android tablets are lousy content creation devices. The virtual keyboards seem to be enough to create quick email replies and such.
    Rann Xeroxx
    • You obviously haven't tested the ZaggKeys Cover for the iPad mini...

      Single easiest to use, slimmest, lightest and most versatile iPad keyboard (available in the Air version as well) out there.
      Playdrv4me
  • How could anyone not know about keyboards for tablets??

    Seriously- they sell them at the apple store, they are all over best buy. Anyone who spends more than 4 minutes at a starbucks or on a commercial jet has seen dozens of them.

    Not sure what coffee shop you met these folks who were ignorant of keyboards.. did you explain to them the big news about 3.5" floppy discs no longer being needed with the advent of CD-Rom drives?
    multipleshotsfired
  • As an CEO of an IT Outsourcing Company... I've Educated the Team Already!

    It's not practical to use IOS or Android devices when a Keyboard is required. As to why we use the Surface Pro 2 as our portable device of choice.

    Smart Decisions = Great Results!!!
    ITMedCEO
  • My iPad mini is worthless...

    ...without my ZaggKeys Cover keyboard. It would literally sit on a shelf at home and rot if I had to carry it around and hold it in my hand the whole time I wanted to use it. One of the biggest advantages is not just the keyboard itself (which I'm using now), but the ability to have a small complete package (WAY smaller than even the tiniest of laptops so don't go there) that I can open up and set anywhere without having to hold the stupid machine while I eat or just want to relax my arms.

    It makes me cringe to think of carrying my 13 inch MBP retina, or even a MacBook Air to the same places and situations I use my iPad mini and ZaggKeys Cover keyboard in. That said, there are a lot of AWFUL keyboards out there.
    Playdrv4me