Want to be more productive at work? Consider how you're spending your time. The average professional spends over half of the workweek gathering internal information and reading and answering email, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report.

And that's not necessarily a good thing. Workers can be much more productive, the reports says, by implementing technological improvements in their communication habits. This applies especially to the middle market-companies with annual revenues between US$100 million and US$1 billion. Two-thirds of mid-market executives surveyed in a recent Deloitte study are planning on or have already developed mobile apps of their own, and the sector as a whole greatly relies on mobile to increase efficiency and boost workforce productivity. With these four apps, you can achieve exactly that.

Stay on task

Distractions like e-mail and social media make it hard for workers to focus, and Asana, a collaborative task management service, is a great way to stay on task. The app was founded by Facebook alums Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein with a clear goal in mind: efficiency.

To achieve this, Asana features a three-pane interface that includes projects, tasks and a news feed showing team progress. With the app, users can collaborate in a digital space dedicated to conversations and ideas. Available for web, iOS and Android devices, Asana fosters an interruption-free work environment-without e-mail, tweets or "check in" meetings.


Cut down on admin

Another app that can help you be more productive at work is Hightail, formerly known as YouSendIt. An option for the web, as well as iOS and Android, Hightail users can both take their files with them wherever they go and modify them with ease. They can save time by avoiding cumbersome tasks, like filing paperwork or scanning signed copies of contracts.

Considered one of the pioneers of e-mail file sharing services, the app has transitioned into a complex, secure file collaboration model. Today, it's a great option for companies working on contracts, video, photography or presentations.

With a sleek design and delivery capabilities up to 10GB, Hightail features unlimited storage plans for its half-a-million business customers. But the app's most notable service is its e-sign feature. Users can modify contracts on their mobile devices and have clients sign with their fingers or a stylus. Immediately, those changes are visible to the rest of the team. Other useful features include file sending with "read receipts," encryption during transit, password protection and expiration dates.

Manage expenses

Then there's Expensify, an expense management app available for web and iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone. The app tracks car mileage, provides travel updates, and logs and bills hours to clients. Another plus? It offers users an Uber ride as soon as their plane hits the ground.

During business trips, users can also benefit from a mobile receipt capture function named SmartScan. With this function, they can take pictures of receipts and immediately upload them to an expense report, which is then connected to the credit card expense.

The data is organized for accountants, who can issue approvals and reference them later for tax purposes. Expensify integrates with several business and accounting tools like NetSuite, Intacct, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP and Oracle. These integrations, the company says, cater specifically to middle market companies.

"Our goal is to decrease the amount of time it takes both the submitter and accountant to do an expense report," says Ryan Schaffer, head of marketing at the San Francisco-based company. "The approval workflow means no more chasing emails and gathering signatures."

On average, the app reimburses approximately $10 million dollars a day. And in one case study, it was found to save one VP of sales 20 to 30 minutes per expense report.


Find contacts with ease

Much like Expensify, RelateIQ makes work easier. The Palo Alto-based company, which was purchased by Salesforce for US$390 million this July, calls itself the "world's first relationship intelligence platform."

Sales professionals in mid-market companies can often be overwhelmed by a high volume of clients. RelateIQ strives to improve these relationships. It saves users from manually entering contact information or meeting notes.

Instead, users sign up and connect their e-mail, calendar and social-network to the app. The software combs through the data and creates a living address book, which it updates continuously. "Automatic data capture is key to any growing business," says Armando Mann, VP of sales at the company. "[They] can then spend more time interacting with customers and closing deals."

A mobile app available on iOS and Android phones adds a few extra touches: It tracks phone calls and also scans business cards. RelateIQ's algorithm even pinpoints the most important contacts and sends its users reminders to follow-up.

It can also improve productivity: RelateIQ says their app saves customers between four and 10 hours per user per week. "For a typical business," Mann says. "This adds up to tens of thousands of dollars in employee time saved every year."

- Slate