IT directors: Educate workers about the tablet keyboard

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.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
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.

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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.

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