Isn’t it incredible how some people can build bad habits over the span of several years, then break them and replace them with better ones? It might look like it’s easy, but the reality of the matter is that building bad habits and replacing them is an incredibly difficult and time-consuming process. The brain literally undergoes physical changes during this process, and it’s all thanks to a neuroscientific principle called neuroplasticity.
It’s good to go about your business with an abundance of caution, but sometimes this abundance of caution can lead people to see threats where they simply do not exist. In cybersecurity, this is actually quite easy to see happening, as cybersecurity is such a multi-faceted topic. But how much do these false-positive security reports wind up costing organizations?
Reducing Hardware Costs Anyone that has purchased a server knows how expensive it is to purchase, set up, run, and support. With hosted VoIP, your business gets a powerful business phone system without having to go through the headaches and expense associated with installing new phone lines. Anyone who has ever run telephone wire from a distribution hub through the walls of a building knows that it can be quite tedious. The costs of setting up your own telephone system, even for a smaller PBX deployment, are substantial. With hosted VoIP, the capital investment is transformed immediately into an operational expense once you choose to make the switch. By utilizing your company’s existing broadband connection, hosted VoIP costs less and offers more than traditional telephone systems. For the business, one of the largest expenses for any telephone system is the minutes the phone is being used. Every traditional phone system carries costs for long distance. It’s unavoidable. Many times, the zones are very confusing and calls you wouldn’t expect to be made at premium rates, are. Even if you find ways to control your costs, your business is limited. By eliminating the recurring expense of long distance, VoIP is able to present more predictable service fees. Additionally, when you consider the costs that go into adding a line to your business and the costs associated with employee mobility, the flexibility and scalability of a hosted VoIP platform can reduce cost expansively. Mobility & Options The most valuable part of a hosted VoIP platform for the end-user is the ability for them to take their phone number with them wherever they go. With the soft phone feature, their smartphone becomes a work phone. This provides a level of mobility that every business should try to embrace in today’s digitally-heavy environment. Additionally, a hosted VoIP platform can offer a lot of additional features such as video conferencing, text and instant messaging integrations, and many more. The more features that a hosted VoIP platform can provide a small to medium-sized business, the more value they will get out of the platform. If you would like more information about VoIP or if you would like to know how SRS Networks can help you with your business’ communications, call us today at (831) 758-3636.
The Impact of Remote Work There have been plenty of positive effects brought on by the implementation of remote work policies for businesses to only embrace it further. A recent study by Intermedia surveyed the owners of 250 businesses and revealed a telling selection of these effects, including: Increases in employee availability in 19 percent of these businesses Increased job satisfaction—15 percent—and life satisfaction—seven percent—alike Decreased overhead costs Improved employee attitudes Reduced work-related stress Increased engagement Out of these businesses, 85 percent had primarily functioned in a centralized office space, but with remote work exploding in prevalence as social distancing has been adopted, that number has gone down to 26 percent. Simultaneously, video conferencing increased in use by 27 percent, from a rate of 57 percent to 84 percent. This only makes sense, as businesses must continue their operations to remain open. If remote work is the only way to do this without jeopardizing the health and safety of their employees, clients, and customers, the smart play is to embrace remote operations. Will Remote Work Last Longer than the Pandemic? Admittedly, it can be hard to even think about the time after the current health crisis is over, as so much has changed in the relatively short time we’ve all been living this new normal. We don’t think that remote operations will go away, though. Consider the list of benefits that businesses reported seeing. The biggest concern that many of these businesses had was the matter of engagement: how could they attract and convert clients when face-to-face conversions were once their de facto strategy? However, these concerns were not fueled due to any influence by technology restrictions, as the explosion in conferencing we discussed above goes to show. As a result, we can confidently conclude that many businesses won’t shift away from remote operations when they are no longer required for survival. The benefits—increased team satisfaction and at least the same levels of productivity—are just too good to pass up. SRS Networks can help you embrace the remote capabilities that can help your business survive these challenges, along with many other IT tools and resources. Give us a call at (831) 758-3636 to learn more about what we can do for your business technology.
Spotting Burnout in Remote Employees As you would imagine, burnout in the home is remarkably like burnout in the office. The big difference is that there is no longer an office to leave workplace stress behind in. Furthermore, many people can’t help but see the inherent hypocrisy of the situation. Many people have pushed for the capability to work remotely in the past, only to be rebuffed, so now being required to do so can be frustrating. To be clear, these employees aren’t frustrated that they are still able to work, but some of the other impacts of this situation have caused no small amount of friction. For instance, many of the people who were furloughed because of recent events may have been paid as much as four times the amounts that those still working 40-hour weeks. While there’s little that most business owners can do about this, it has caused some negative feelings. These feelings could easily bleed into the work that your staff is doing. Another common factor that contributes to burnout is the loss of any separation between the responsibilities of work and of personal life. Your employees are still human beings, so the idea of not having any break between working from home and working on their home life can be frustrating. Without any downtime to spend recuperating and processing what has been accomplished, it can be hard to see these accomplishments. This is what makes our first tip so important: Establish Boundaries Working remotely doesn’t mean that your work hours change, you should just be working in a different location. Therefore, you need to be vigilant about how long you are working. While it is admirable to want to put in the extra hours, it is ultimately better for your performance (and your business’ budget) to stick to the schedule you would normally keep and spend your personal time taking care of personal things. Working from home also brings with it a new set of potential distractions to draw you away from your work. The people you live with can inadvertently cause a strain on your focus, as can any pets you may keep. Certain temptations are also present in the home that wouldn’t be found in the office, such as streaming services or social media. Establishing a space in your home that is dedicated to work can help you to focus better, especially by assisting you with our next tip. Minimize Distractions We’ve established that the home has plenty of stimuli that can draw your attention away from your tasks and responsibilities. A dedicated workspace helps to minimize these distractions, which in turn allows you to be more productive and reduces your temptation to work longer hours, diminishing the feeling of working all the time. Of course, the expectations that others have of us (or rather, that we think others have of us) can often contribute to the burned-out feelings that so many get. It is important that everyone on your team is able to keep the following in mind: while working from home isn’t the ideal situation for everyone, recent events made it the only feasible means of keeping the business open and operational. A little bit of stress now can help lead to a better future, with a job at a business […]
Include Your Staff This is as big of a crisis as any of us have ever dealt with. You need to have your staff on your side if you are going to get through this situation. Some ways you can make this happen include: Keep everyone updated. Transparency can be looked upon with a lot of respect. You don’t have to share anything with your people, but making an effort to keep them in the know will work to keep them engaged. Some things, however, don’t foster any optimism and should probably be kept to yourself. Set the tone. As the boss, your staff looks to you to lead. You, like millions of other business owners, have never had to deal with anything quite like this, but staying out front and positive will keep others from letting pessimism creep in and negatively affecting their opinion of their work. Trust your people. If you are one of the lucky businesses that have been able to work through the pandemic, you’ve probably learned that trusting your people is of the utmost importance. You may have gone into this situation skeptical and afraid, but the world has changed and your business will need to change along with it. Making Necessary Adjustments If you haven’t had to deviate from your strategy, you are in the minority. This situation has caused a lot of businesses to fail outright. Those that prosper have changed course somewhat. Here are some tips to help you make the adjustments you need to make during this turbulent time. Assess your business. With things slowing down, it gives you time to completely assess where your business is at. Do you have the necessary liquidity, is your technology and your procedures up-to-date? Doing a full assessment will go a long way toward building preparedness. Make the hard calls ahead of time. After your assessment, you will be in a better place to make difficult business decisions proactively. Inaction or ignorance could cost you everything, so staying out in front of your decision making is key. Adjust using new tools. Technology can be used to create new workflows that get your products and services out. COVID-19 has been good for innovation, consider doing a bit of that for your business. Keep Your Chin Up The most important part of staying positive is to keep a healthy frame of mind. Some tips to do so include: Ignore Negative Opinions. This can be harder to accomplish than you may think, but one way to keep from being overwhelmed with negativity is to cut yourself off from all the talking heads out there. They say ignorance is bliss, and finally there is a situation where that saying is an actual strategy. Help. Helping other people can bring a lot of positivity for both the people that need help and for you. The best way to stay positive is to help others find positivity. Managed IT services are good for cutting support costs and keeping your IT–which is critical now–running effectively and supported. Call SRS Networks today at (831) 758-3636 to learn more.
Right now most businesses have some sort of cybersecurity platform in place. whether they use a firewall or actively monitor their network or have a more comprehensive solution in place, Protecting their digital assets has to be something that every business does. Unfortunately, even with all the diligent cybersecurity that businesses put in place, some bad things still get through. Since these systems typically never stop, threats are coming into your network every single day. There have been calls for cyber-clemency. Unfortunately, this is the type of scenario that hackers thrive in. With most workforces working remotely, it stands to reason that they aren’t as protected as they would be if they were still working at their offices. As a result, efforts to improve endpoint security become important to maintaining data security. There are steps you can take to try and maximize your security, but the most important action that you can take is to train your workforce to know how to protect your business when completing their remote work. Here are four things they should know: How to effectively manage passwords – Each one of your employees should be versed in how to build a solid password. No two accounts should have the same password, and since most people need to access over 10 different accounts to complete their work, using a password management tool that allows them to secure their passwords in one central location is prudent. Know how and where to use the Internet – It can be extremely dangerous to use unsecured Wi-Fi in public places when working with proprietary or sensitive data. The fact is that any threat that comes in from the Internet could be a massive problem for your business. Knowing where to use the Internet and what tools they can use to secure data transmission (remote access, VPN, etc.) any member of your staff can help you secure your network by simply being cognizant of their connection decisions. Know how to identify threats – One of the best ways that your staff can help you to secure your network is by knowing how to spot phishing threats. Millions of businesses every year fall victim to phishing attacks and if you take time to train your staff, you can do well to keep threats at bay. Know how to react if something bad does happen – Bad things happen and your business is not immune from them. Whether one of your workers accidentally clicks on a phishing attack and it delivers malware into your network, or hackers use vulnerabilities to get in, problems aren’t the end of the world: as long as there is fast communication and action. You need to ensure that there is a clear pathway for your employees to pass on potential security issues to your IT administrators so that they can find a way to quarantine the issue before it becomes a major problem for your business. This is a strange time and with any semblance of normalcy still weeks (or months) away, some business owners are panicking. This is not the time for impulsive decision making. By staying calm, you will make more calculated decisions and you just may be able to get through this situation with your business intact, and with employees that are smarter than when […]
As we are an IT company, let’s focus on two of the major corporations that we are intimately invested in–Microsoft and Google–and what steps they have taken in the face of the current global health crisis. Microsoft Microsoft’s efforts have been primarily focused on increasing awareness. Bing now offers an interactive map that tracks the virus’ spread on both a global scale and by country. Pulling from the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and Wikipedia, there is a lot of data to draw from. The CDC has also joined with Microsoft to build a Self-Checker tool to help evaluate a person’s need to be tested. Powered by AI, a user can establish if it would be wise to be tested, and (while it offers no concrete medical advice) suggested next steps to take. As a result, emergency services can see a reduced number of patients calling upon them, as those without a need won’t be adding pressure to the already at-maximum capacity. Google Google has also taken considerable measures to assist in awareness and education efforts. The official blog currently features a collection of posts that detail their ongoing efforts and solutions–such as educational resources for students and teachers to use, handy advice to improve video calls and other remote collaboration tools, and other small business resources. Along with these ongoing posts, Google Search has been outfitted with features to further boost awareness. Any search that references coronavirus activates an SOS Alert, generating a sidebar that delivers a situational report: what coronavirus is, its symptoms, how to prevent it, how it can be treated, and other statistics. In addition, the top stories are committed to coronavirus content, and a graph of the cases worldwide and more resources frame your results on the right side. Speaking of your results, they will be filled with tweets related to COVID-19, suggested videos to watch, and even more news updates and resources. On YouTube, there is now a curated playlist dedicated to how to better work from home, called WFH Essentials. Admittedly, these videos aren’t completely relevant to the COVID-19 guidelines, as some endorse spending time in public, but other components can be seen as useful. There have also been some changes in how YouTube creators are compensated, dinging them for unhelpful, misleading, and inaccurate information. As far as financial contributions are concerned, Google has given SMBs, healthcare organizations and their workers, and governments more than $800 million. This sum includes the support of research and the production of personal protective equipment. Interestingly, they have also set aside $340 million in Google Ad credits for small businesses to use. If you have had a Google Ad account that has been active since the beginning of 2019, check your account for a notification. While we may initially see these huge businesses as impervious to these kinds of concerns, COVID-19 has proved differently. Fortunately, many investments have been made by these businesses to fight back. How has your business coped with this crisis? Tell us in the comments, and don’t hesitate to reach out to SRS Networks to learn how the right IT solutions could potentially reduce coronavirus’ influence on your business operations.
Efficient Team Collaboration Probably the most important consideration of rolling out a cloud platform for your business is the collaborative benefits that it brings. Since the cloud applications, infrastructure, or storage is hosted on computers outside your business and accessed through a web client or web browser, they can provide support for multiple users at a time. Many of these constructs allow for real-time collaboration irrespective of the users’ geographical location. User Tip: To get the most out of your team, consider adding in software that comes with mobile apps that allow for collaboration from smartphones. Productivity, Productivity, Productivity Studies have shown a major bump in productivity with the use of cloud. In fact, productivity for small businesses can improve operational efficiency up to four times. This means that four times as much can get done than with traditional computing structure. This uptick is largely fueled by the increased speed each task can get done with their collaborative features. User Tip: To boost productivity, cloud computing platforms have to be managed effectively. While cloud providers mainly handle the maintenance and security of the cloud resources your company uses, ensuring that someone is in charge of keeping files and resources managed properly is important. Save or Re-organize Capital For the business owner, this is undeniably the major reason to commit to cloud computing. You can save money in several ways. Firstly, you don’t have to roll out a server, and the thousands of dollars that accompany that whole process. Instead you just pay for the computing that you use for any given month. This is very attractive for businesses that need to scale their computing needs up and back frequently. The second way a business saves money with the cloud is in management and security. By playing for cloud services, you curtail a lot of management costs that are typically associated with having enterprise software. Your business gets the latest version of the software, providing access to all new features, and security patches, as they happen. The final way your business saves money is on the actual hosting of the hardware. Utility costs like electric and HVAC can cost companies a pretty penny. Those costs are rolled into the solution drastically reducing operational expenses and the space needed to properly host large centralized computing systems. Overall, a business’ cloud resources can be looked on as an operational cost, making it easier to manage. User tip: if you are looking at migrating your company’s computing to the cloud, start small. This ensures that the cloud is right for your company. For example, if your industry operates under strict regulations, public cloud platforms may hinder your business’ ability to comply with these mandates. Dipping your proverbial toe in the cloud pool to see how it affects your business is a solid practice. If you’d like to talk to one of our IT professionals at SRS Networks about expanding your business’ reliance on cloud computing, call us today at (831) 758-3636.
Women in the Workplace There is not a level of business that women haven’t demonstrated great skills and talents in, from reliable employees, self-starting entrepreneurs, and savvy CEOs. The younger generations are also showing great initiative. Out of all the workforce growth of women between the ages of 25-to-54, 86 percent of them are between 25-and-34 years old. Furthermore, only 12.3 percentage points separate young men from young women who are either employed or seeking employment – the smallest separation ever recorded for this metric. This could be for any of a number of different reasons. More women in this range have a college degree than men in the same age group, when greater education has been shown to correlate to employment rates. In addition to this, there has been an increase in single, self-supporting mothers – which means that there are more women out there who need to provide for their families. This has all been augmented by a general hiring increase in fields that have typically been populated by women, like education and health services. Having said that, it isn’t just these industries that are hiring more women. How Other Industries, Like Construction, Have Adjusted Their Hiring Trends As of December of 2016, the construction industry had employed 93,900 women. While this only totaled around 9.1 percent of the industry as a whole, there is some evidence that suggests this percentage is on the rise. For instance, the construction industry has dawdled considerably in adopting technology to assist in day-to-day processes, but there has been an increase in this adoption as of late. More advanced technologies and other solutions are more often being used in this industry’s processes. Due to this, it only stands to reason that women, the better-educated group on average, will be better prepared to take up the jobs that require the use of these technologies. Like any other industry, the construction industry is only going to continue its shifts – both in its technology and in its staffing practices. We can help you handle the shifts in technology. For assistance in implementing the solutions that your business needs to remain competitive, give SRS Networks a call at (831) 758-3636.