People are busy, working fast, tired, and overly trusting. Cyber crooks are targeting people's preoccupation and fears around the coronavirus. IT can do its best, but one bad click can breach a system. Learn about current COVID-19 related IT threats in our latest ebook.
Returning to Work: Prioritizing Safety with IT Too
Your business has the OK to go ahead and get back to work on-site. You want to return to your office, but you don’t want to risk people’s health by doing so. After all, some say it’s too soon to go back. Plus, others predict a second wave of COVID-19 is likely. These suggestions can help you return to work while prioritizing safety.
Not everyone will welcome the call back to the corporate environment. Some employees may still be in a population vulnerable to the virus. They may want to take leave instead of returning to the work environment. Others may simply not show up.
Have your HR team send out a written notice informing employees of the timeline for returning to the office. Educate them about precautions you’re taking to provide a safe work environment. Ask for a written response of your employees’ intentions. Then, IT can start establishing procedures for getting everyone back to work.
You may have had great success with remote working during the quarantine. This could position you to allow workers to stay home if they are at risk or oppose the idea of returning “too soon.”
For those coming back, support social distancing by phasing in people’s return. Your business could also use a hybrid IT solution to allow people to come in just three days a week, and they could continue to work two days at home. This allows staggered re-entry and reduces the number of people on-site at the same time.
You may be thinking you already have all the tech you need to go back to the office. C’mon, you were already working from there before this whole thing started. Plus, now you have all the new tools you added to support remote-employee productivity.
Still, you may not have invested in a long-term remote-work solution that will now support a hybrid model. Or perhaps the on-site tech you’ve long relied on isn’t meant to handle remote working for the long haul.
To achieve a flexible hybrid model, go with cloud solutions like Microsoft 365, or expand on-site IT. Do you need to add infrastructure to handle remote employees using virtual private networks (VPNs)? Both on-site staff and off-site workers might need to securely access systems at the same time.
Adopting cloud collaboration software allows co-workers to access network resources simultaneously, regardless of location. Or with virtual desktops, employees can access the same files and business applications on their work machines or on a personal device.
Bringing people back to the office, you’ll want to rethink the physical setup. Support social distancing by spreading employees’ seating arrangements out more. This will require moving around computer hardware, too.
If you were previously sharing technology, you’ll also need to add more desktops. Or you might invest instead in more laptops or portable devices. This could mean securing more software, too.
Added IT Precautions
Finally, cybercriminals are opportunistic. They’re already exploiting people with malware promising vaccines or cheap masks. These bad actors are also looking to exploit the tech demands on businesses. Many businesses adapted to a new way of doing things: they moved files to the cloud, and they allowed employee access from personal devices, but they did so quickly.
Explore any new vulnerabilities from your transitions. This is a good time to double-check permissions. Ensure that accountant Jane can access staff wage data but that receptionist Jenny can’t. Also, confirm that all virus protection and security patches are current.
Active planning is the answer to a smooth return to work. While offering protective coverings and ramping up cleaning in the office is important, make sure that you don’t overlook your technology needs.
Our IT experts can help you adapt nimbly. Contact us today at 432-279-0671!
Make Us Your Technology Sherpa
They don’t always get credit, but climbers reaching the summit of Mount Everest rely on a Sherpa to guide them. Making information technology decisions can feel like climbing a mountain, but there’s help for that, too. A managed services provider (MSP) like N-Line Technologies can be your technology Sherpa.
With so many of us working off-site right now, digital transformation has moved from “wouldn’t it be nice?” to “we need to be there now.” Technology is as essential to business success as oxygen is to those scaling Everest. Going digital can be daunting, especially when under pressure to get your business back on track. Where does one even begin?
By working with us, you will partner with consultants to help you navigate the technology mountain.
Even before COVID-19 sent so many people home to work, We provided IT help:
- researching new technologies to help customers collaborate better and work more efficiently;
- finding cost savings and ways to streamline business processes;
- offering cybersecurity and data backup strategies to suit business needs;
- monitoring and maintaining IT networks, systems, software, and applications;
- keeping systems up to date and secure;
- migrating business applications to the cloud.
The current environment is challenging businesses to pivot quickly, yet it’s business as usual for the US. We have prepared for decades to help businesses enable work from home and save money.
Taking the MSP Route
Working with an MSP, you gain the assistance of IT consultants to make the right tech decisions. This isn’t just deciding what online meeting platform works best for your needs (although we can do that, too). We work with you to take the time to learn:
- how you do business now;
- what technology is available;
- how users engage with the technology (on-site, mobile, a hybrid?);
- what your end users are looking for;
- short- and long-term business goals.
With this information, we can provide IT help at the business-strategy level. We will help you to see what works and what doesn’t. Drawing on a depth of experience with other customers, an MSP like N-Line can avoid expensive mistakes. We have a wealth of contacts with technology vendors and so we can often find you better deals.
At N-Line making IT work is our sole focus. You can spend your time on other important areas of your business. For a consistent subscription fee that shows great ROI, we will work to:
- improve efficiency and flexibility;
- enhance security and compliance;
- monitor and maintain your business systems;
- reduce costs and streamline processes;
- identify new technologies that can boost your users’ productivity.
Technology Tailored to Your Needs
Up until now, you may have been taking the guided bus tour approach to technology. You pay for an IT service and expect it to take you from point A to point B without a hitch. When you work with us, you’ll get a tailored IT solution. After getting to know your technology, user practices, and strategy, we will develop for you a customized journey. Your digital transformation will follow a step-by-step approach that considers your particular characteristics.
Let N-Line Technologies be your guide. Our experts can help you pivot if you need to. We can help you allow staff to work at home, securely, and efficiently. We can help you save money. We can help downsize technology if that’s what the current situation requires and make smarter decisions as you scale Mount Technology with the help of our experts.
We can even work virtually to provide the strategic support you need. Contact us today at 432-279-0671!
Tips for Trouble-Free Online Meetings
Online meetings are the new norm for many, but that doesn’t mean people magically know how to enjoy a trouble-free online conference experience. These tips can power more successful meetings.
Many businesses today are working from home with a reliance on Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or GoToMeeting. But even with these platforms offering voice or video capabilities, there can be tech problems. These tips can minimize the trouble and enhance business collaboration.
1. Go Wired
Connecting to Wi-Fi offers flexibility and mobility. Yet when it comes to an online meeting, prefer a wired connection. Enjoy a more reliable meeting connection by plugging your laptop or desktop into the internet router using a network cable.
If you need to use a mobile device and can’t connect via cable, reduce Wi-Fi obstacles. Call in from as a close to the wireless access point as you can. Wi-Fi signals are a form of radio wave, which means they can be hindered by:
So, that important meeting is not the one you join from a cement-bricked basement, not when your Wi-Fi router is in an upstairs bedroom and your neighbors are all relying on Wi-Fi signals, too.
2. Prioritize Your Meeting
When you have a scheduled meeting, announce it to the rest of the household. Ask kids not to get on Xbox or stream movies at the same time as you connect to your meeting. See if you can’t persuade your partner, who is also working from home, not to download large files or new software at the same time as your meeting.
Program your devices to back up at times that won’t compete with your work hours. In the office, your IT team scheduled updates or security patches outside of business hours. Now that you’re doing it all at home, be smart about when you do upgrades. Depending on your home internet speed, trying to do too many things at once can cause trouble for everyone.
3. Test Connections Before the Meeting
You may feel that all you’re doing is meeting online right now. Why would you need to test audio and video each time? Well, every time you unplug a device such as a microphone or headset the settings will return to the default. That means the next time you connect you aren’t set up the way you want to be. You were expecting to listen in using your USB headphones, but the last time you unplugged them your computer switched back to the next available audio input (e.g. your monitor or built-in laptop speakers).
By checking the connection first, you also make sure you have the most up-to-date platform software. You don’t want to be late to a call because your device has decided it needs to re-install Skype right at that moment.
4. Use the Right Equipment
Headsets and external microphones limit the ambient noise. You’ll hear better. Plus, it will make your contributions easier to hear, too.
Muting your microphone when you’re not talking also helps – it reduces the noise pollution. Problems can arise when your mic picks up other people talking through your speakers. This precaution also saves you from apologizing when your dog barks ferociously at the FedEx delivery person.
5. Pick the Best Setting
Plan the best place to take that online meeting. The closer you are to your wireless access point, the better your connection.
Plus, you want to avoid high-traffic areas, as you’re more likely to be distracted. A child or furry colleague could make an unplanned appearance.
Select an area with a simple background, too. Sitting in front of a window may seem like a good idea, but it makes your face darker and more difficult to see on video. Ideally, you want to be in a well-lit room with a plain wall as your background.
6. Take Full Advantage of Online Meeting Features
You may have done conference calls in the past. Everyone called in, spoke when necessary, and that was that. But much of the top business collaboration software offers added features:
Online meetings are efficient and cost-effective. With the current health crisis forcing many of us to adapt to connecting virtually, implementing these ideas can help.
Need help setting up your online meeting platform or deciding on the solution that’s right for you? We can help. Contact us today at 432-279-0671!