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Are You Having A Technology Emergency?

Pileus Technologies Blogs

Pileus Technologies has been serving the Kansas area since 2018, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Can Businesses be denied Cyber Insurance?

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In our world of constantly evolving and varied cyber threats, many organizations consider cyber insurance to help them get back on their feet should they fall victim to a cyber event. Data breaches and ransomware attacks can also require specialized expertise and funds to deal with. For these reasons, many business owners choose to purchase cyber insurance for financial protection should an incident occur. Here are some reasons why you get denied cyber insurance  

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Cybersecurity Insurance- 5 Reasons Why you need it

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Cybersecurity insurance, also referred to as cyber insurance or cyber liability insurance, is insurance that your business can buy to reduce risks to data loss. A cybersecurity insurance policy will transfer some risk to the insurance company for a fee. 

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Who Should Handle Your IT?

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In our evolving COVID-19 world, we've had to re-learn the way we act and think. What worked for our businesses in the past might no longer help us in the future. The pandemic caused a seismic shift for many small businesses. Those who learned to adapt to the changes thrived and survived. With COVID-19 not off the table yet, we're now in a time where business owners need to be strong, flexible, and determined. That is why we will show you why you need a Managed Service Provider to handle your IT.

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Are Cybersecurity and Internet Safety the same?

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We use it, but we don't think about it. Modern society is dependent on technology. Whether it’s your TV, the Internet, a laptop, or a phone, there's no denying how much life has changed over the last two decades. This online access means that individuals and businesses need to be diligent about their Cybersecurity and Internet Safety.  

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Beefing Up Your Communication Security

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When it comes to personal or business data security, you must know how to spot bogus links. Recognizing fake email links that might lead to fraudulent pages is a challenge for many people. The fact that hackers are using more advanced methods makes it worse for all of us. That is why beefing up your communication security is very important for your business data.

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Modern-Day Communication, The Dangers Behind It

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When it comes to IT security solutions, there are a large number of threats facing us. Modern-day communication technology has opened up a massive amount of potential for people; however, it also poses a significant threat in terms of security. Threats are increasingly advanced as time passes by, and this is endangering the safety and security of our data and private information. That’s why we have come up with this blog. We want to bring light to the dangers of modern security and how you can get professional support to avoid these risks. 

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Clicking Fake Links, The Horror Behind It!

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When it comes to using the internet, you know how things can go wrong. We all like to think that our online activities are safe and protected. However, the reality is that hacking methods are increasingly creative to get people to clicking fake links. As such, today, we're here to draw attention to the horror stories that occur when people fall for bogus email links and the best tips for fake link prevention. 

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Spot Fake Links in your Emails

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Opening unknown links can be a risk factor for your business and staff. As a result, more and more business owners have incorporated fake link prevention strategies into their security training. We’ve come up with a few tips to help ensure that your staff members have the critical information on how to spot fake links. This training can help prevent hackers from gaining access to your business. In cases like this, it is better to be proactive rather than reactive after a breach. 

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Shifting Your Workplace – What have we learned so far?

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In our latest series of blogs, we’ve talked about how the Covid-19 pandemic provided us with an ideal opportunity for shifting the workforce. Let’s take a look at what we’ve learned! 

Back to work supplies 

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we run our businesses. There have been some advances that perhaps wouldn’t have happened for decades without it, if at all. IT equipment and software is the first thing that springs to mind when we think of advancements in the workspace. Thanks to the need for remote working, we’ve now got a whole host of collaborative conference room technology to help us in this new working world. Conference room webcams, interactive whiteboards, and noise-canceling headsets are all things that have developed in the last year or so. For businesses returning to the office or a hybrid working scenario, these items are now necessities. 

It’s not just technology that employers are considering. Many employees have relished the chance to work from home in comfort, so many employers are now attempting to mimic the home environment with soft furnishings, plants, and refreshments. Also, relaxing the dress codes is a great way to shift the workforce back to the office. After all, it’s likely that employees have been just as productive in their sweats and t-shirts. 

Overcoming workplace distractions 

Our second blog in the series focused on avoiding distractions in the workplace. Whether an employee works remotely, in the office, or a mixture of the two, they will likely experience many distractions. There are ways employers can prevent workplace distractions, and it's a great idea to look at working environments. Are they clutter-free, organized, and quiet? If not, employers have lots of ways they can make them so. Providing employees with noise-canceling headsets is a good idea for both the office worker and the remote worker.  

Distractions online can also be a problem. There are many programs now that block these popular sites during working hours. However, one vital step is to ensure that there is mutual trust and respect with colleagues. Never underestimate the power of a strong working relationship. 

Workplace culture reboot 

The post-Covid-19 return to the office provides the ideal opportunity for employers to shift their workforce towards a culture reboot. It's a great time to introduce new concepts and practices and ingrain them into the day-to-day life of the business. Our third blog post in the series looked at what employers might consider about their company culture and the importance of creating a positive workspace. Some ideas included having a healthy snack bar, incorporating daily team huddles, investing in team building, and empowering the staff. 

Final thoughts 

While there have been so many negatives over the past months, having something positive to focus on, like shifting your workforce culture, can do wonders for your business and employees alike. We hope you try to make things more positive for everyone.  

We hope these tips are helping you run your office more efficiently. And, as always, if there is ever anything you need help with, contact us, and let's discuss some solutions. We're here to help. 

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Shifting Your Workforce: Workplace Culture Reboot in the post-Covid-19 pandemic era

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With the many changes that have occurred since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent crisis, employers are facing crucial decisions on how to shift their workforce into a new workplace culture reboot. This is the ideal time for looking at what we’ve learned over the past year. It's an opportunity to focus on inclusion and diversity, and to create a positive workspace.

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Shifting Your Workforce: Preventing Workplace Distractions

It's fair to say that everyone gets a little distracted at work from time to time. Even with intentions not to procrastinate, it can be a real challenge to stay on task. It can seem almost impossible to avoid distractions. According to statistics, workplace distractions account for a sizeable loss in productivity. Typically, a manager has an interruption every 8 minutes. Also, employees will spend around 28% of their working time dealing with unnecessary interruptions. So, how can we work towards preventing workplace distractions? Let's take a look at some strategies to reclaim focus. We'll also look into the different distractions that can be problematic for remote workers and those in the office environment.

How to be distraction-free from your workplace

Having good habits and sticking to them is one strategy for eliminating distractions. Start by focusing on your working environment. Encourage employees working from home to organize their home office so that there are few temptations to get stuck on something other than work. This task isn't easy, however. Given that most people rely on computers for work, it is easy to be distracted by non-work-related sites. It might be wise to consider using an app that blocks certain websites during working hours. 

For employees in shared offices or shared home working spaces, closing doors or using noise-canceling headsets can be helpful. Another idea is to put your phone somewhere out of reach and put it on silent mode. For those employees in open offices, it might be a good idea to try and move to somewhere quieter. Some studies show that workers in open offices report more distractions than those working in more isolated areas. 

Averting workplace distractions for remote workers

Given the rise in remote working, many people who managed to work in an office environment without distractions have found themselves with distractions they have never encountered before. 

For employees who shifted to work from home during the pandemic, many were distracted by their children. Some workers had to be full-time or part-time childcare at the same time as holding down their job. Thankfully, childcare has resumed, so remote workers are more 'alone' when working remotely. This fix doesn't, however, mean that distractions have vanished. 

Many people working from home have partners who look after young children, so the distractions or potential for distractions remain. Other distractions include realizing some jobs need doing around the house, like laundry or cooking, pets, partners popping in for a quick chat, unexpected visitors, and parcel deliveries. 

One solution to preventing workplace distractions is making it clear to others at home that disruptions aren't welcome. A simple ‘do not disturb’ sign might do the trick when paired with a noise-canceling headset. 

Preventing distractions from your office work

After reading the above section about remote working, it might be easy to think that remote workers are more distracted than office workers. This idea isn't the case, however. According to Airtasker, remote employees are more productive than office employees and are less distracted. So, what is distracting our office workers? 

More often than not, it is other employees that cause distractions for office workers. Co-workers who come over for quick chats, phone calls, Microsoft Teams messaging, Google Workspace, or even emails will all slow down employees. Other non-work-related distractions include switching over to check social media, time management, and even chatting in the breakroom. 

Some solutions that help to prevent these include:

Ensure employees are aware of workplace etiquette when it comes to talking to colleagues. Be sure they know your thoughts on how much chatting is allowed about non-work-related topics. 

Have communication policies in place with regards to emails and reply turnaround time. 

Consider using software to block certain websites that might cause distractions (like social media) 

Have a telephone policy in place so everyone knows your expectations when using personal phones at their desks. 

Teach your employees how to organize and mute notifications in Teams, M365, etc. 

Hold regular, but not too many, team meetings and discuss distractions and how to overcome them. It's possible that there are communication issues that will never be resolved unless they're brought to your attention.

Final thoughts on preventing workplace distractions 

While you cannot prevent distractions altogether, there are things you can do to help your employees stay on task. Don't underestimate the importance of having an open working relationship built on mutual trust and respect. Many employees work their best when they're trusted to complete their work without micromanagement. In a trusted environment, they might find themselves more focused on their work as a result. If you have any questions about shifting your current workplace, contact us today. We are here to help. 

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Latest Back to Work Supplies That Will Make Working Easier

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With the world slowly seeing things get back to work in the traditional sense (as opposed to remotely), workplaces are refreshing their back-to-work supplies and procedures. The Covid-19 pandemic has been catastrophic. It has also meant changes as to how we view work and the work environment. Never before have we had so many people working remotely with such success, and it's argued that a hybrid workforce might remain in the future.  

We've all seen the news stories about remote workers quitting instead of returning to the office. This new trend needs attention. Companies owe it to employees who do a great job remotely to listen to their concerns about returning to the office. 

This task is not an easy task. In this week's blog, we will bring awareness to this subject. And, for those returning to office spaces, what back-to-work supplies do we need to consider? 

Back to work supplies for the conference room

One shift we've seen has been an increase in the use of technology to allow employees to work remotely. The pandemic motivated people to work tirelessly on creating new platforms, improve existing platforms, and invest in new technologies. There are many new collaboration tools available that are useful. One such invention is conference room technology like a webcam that follows the speaker. A conference room webcam is very different from a standard home webcam. Typically, the whole conference room can participate as the camera can capture any speaker thanks to its cameras that pan through 360°. This device makes for an excellent collaborative conference room with people participating both in-person and remotely. 

Another great tool is an interactive whiteboard. This board works the same way as a regular whiteboard, but the writing is shareable collaboratively. They're essentially large-scale touch screen computers used by teachers in school classrooms. They're now finding their place in collaborative conference rooms too. 

Technology and working with others 

Many remote employees have forgotten just how distracting a work environment can be. With phone calls, office conversations, noisy printers, and photocopiers, the work environment is a noisy one. One great idea for back-to-work supplies is buying noise-canceling headsets for the workforce. These headsets will help people as they reacclimate to being in a noisier environment while working again. 

These will also help when people are having conference calls in open spaces while on Teams or Zoom. Just because people are coming back into the office doesn’t mean conference calls are a thing of the past. It's likely for these to continue. They probably have a permanent place in our work-life going forward. Typically, at home, most people had little background noise. In the office, people have to navigate their calls with lots of background noise.  

Back to work supplies that mimic the home environment 

While there were some teething problems with remote working, there were many positive aspects of working from home. To continue these benefits and to ease workers back to their desks, it might be a good idea to source back to work supplies that mimic home environments. Soft furnishings, plants, refreshments, etc., will all help to achieve this. 

Other practices for shifting your workforce forwards 

One idea is to allow dogs in the workplace. This choice comes with lots of consideration and planning. But, it's been great for many remote workers over the last 12 months. Having a pet close by definitely has benefits. 

There's been an increase in loungewear sales over the past year. This surge is due to people working from home and embracing comfier attire. As you ease back into the office, perhaps consider relaxing the dress code somewhat. If productivity hasn't been affected by home working attire, are suits and jackets needed for your workspace? 

Enjoy your Free Time 

Finally, we must not underestimate the importance of work-life balance. What many have enjoyed about working at home is the lack of commute. This time-saver has undoubtedly improved work-life balance. It might be beneficial to structure a workforce schedule that works well for everybody. Ideas such as hybrid working and flexible working hours are considerations. 

We hope these tips help you transition remote employees back into the office a little more smoothly. If you need to upgrade or install new technology for this process, give us a call. We’re here to make things easier for you! 

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Do You Have A Data Recovery Plan?

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You might be aware that disasters of varying types can have devastating consequences on businesses. The key to mitigating such occurrences is to have a data recovery strategy plan in place. This means that you have a structured and documented approach detailing how your organization can resume work quickly after an unforeseen disaster. This is an essential tool for your company's continuity plan and applies to all parts of the organization that is dependent on your IT infrastructure. This data recovery plan will help you resolve any data loss and will allow the recovery of your system’s functionality. This means that you can continue operating your business with minimal disruption. 

Types of Disasters to consider 

Potential disasters are plentiful. We’re not just talking about hacking and data breaches, but natural disasters too. Being able to handle disasters efficiently means there will be minimal impact financially. Having a data recovery strategy plan will allow you to ensure that all requirements for compliance are met. The plan will also provide a clear recovery roadmap. Here are some of the potential disasters that might affect your businesses: 

Building disaster (Fire, power outage, etc.) 

Communication failure (Due to data breach, hacking or natural disaster) 

Application failure (Outdated hardware, viruses, etc.) 

Datacenter disaster (Hacking, data breach, natural disaster) 

City disaster (Earthquake, tornado, flood, etc.) 

Regional disaster (Power grid outage, wildfires, etc.) 

National disaster (Epidemic) 

Multinational disaster (Pandemic, computer viruses, ransomware) 

You can see that this list covers lots of different types of disasters. It's worth noting, however, that it's not exhaustive. When making data recovery strategy plans, businesses need to consider their potential individual circumstances. If you’re based in the Midwest, for example, it’s very unlikely that your business will be affected by a volcanic eruption. But there are other natural disasters like floods or tornados that are more likely to happen. With that said, the 2010 Iceland volcanic eruption had repercussions worldwide, so you never know! 

Considerations for your Data Recovery Plan 

A data recovery strategy plan should begin at the business level. You need to determine what infrastructure is most important to your organization. The plan should implement an RTO (a recovery time objective), which describes how much time each application could be down for as a target.  

A data recovery strategy defines your business’s plan for incident response. To determine your optimal data recovery strategy, you must consider the following issues: 

Resources (both facilities and personnel) 

Finances 

Insurance  

Data 

Technology 

Risks 

Compliance requirements 

The supply chain 

How to write a Data Recovery Strategy Plan 

A business can start its plan by prioritizing a list of contacts and vital software programs so that the most important information is easily and quickly accessible.  

The data recovery plan should define each team member’s role and responsibilities in the recovery process. This is so there is no panic or time wasted should an unexpected disaster occur.  

There are many important points to write into a data recovery plan. These include: 

A policy statement or statement of intent. 

Specific tasks assigned to staff. 

Goals of the plan. 

Passwords and other authentication tools essential to data recovery. 

Geographical factors and risks appropriate to the local, regional or national area. 

Advice on dealing with the media. 

Legal and financial information with points of action. 

A history of the plan – and any amendments that have been made to it. 

As you can see, being prepared for these events is not difficult, but it will take some time. It is, however, very important that you take the time to complete it. You should also run through the plan in a mock rehearsal. That way you’ll find out if you’ve missed any steps or if there are gaps in your plan. 

The bottom line is, you want to be as prepared as possible for any disaster that causes data loss. After all, keeping your doors open when other’s can't sure makes you the popular choice over your competitors. 

If you need advice or want help to build your data recovery strategy plan, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can book a consultation at any time. 

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How Natural Disasters, Breaches, and Hackers Affect Businesses Big and Small

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The success of a business is often attributed to the strong decisions of its management. Yet, that is not the entire story. Often, both failure and success can be determined by how a business deals with situations out of its control. A business may fail because it wasn’t prepared for an unexpected event. Conversely, another business might be able to survive a natural disaster simply because it had a plan in place for such an event. 

All businesses, whether large or small, have lots of potential threats. If one of these threats happens, it can have devastating consequences. According to ZDNet, the top three threats to society include cyberattacks, natural disasters, and extreme weather. Interestingly, they put cyberattacks on the same level of devastation as extreme weather and natural disasters. It is unfortunately true. The consequences of natural disasters, breaches, and hackers lead to threats to businesses and data loss. Since many businesses rely on connected services and the internet, the damage from cyberattacks can be huge. It's one of the biggest risks the world faces today.  

Types of natural disasters 

There are many types of natural disasters. All of them can affect businesses and data loss. Here are some examples of natural disasters: 

• Earthquake 

• Fire 

• Tsunami 

• Flooding or extreme precipitation 

• Hurricane, tornado, cyclone 

• Volcanoes 

• Lightning 

• Famine and drought 

• Landslide 

• Extreme temperature (heat or cold) 

• And, as we’ve seen, pandemics 

Impact of natural disasters 

Before we delve into exploring businesses and data loss from natural disasters, we can’t ignore the devastating results of these natural phenomena outside in general. According to Our World in Data, there are around 60,000 deaths from natural disasters worldwide. The deadliest of natural disasters is usually an earthquake. Typically, natural disasters affect poorer populations more heavily. This is often due to a lack of protective dwelling construction or adequate response to the event.  

How does disaster impact businesses?  

No one is ever 100% prepared for a disaster. Whether the disaster is an earthquake, tornado, or flood, an organization's plans can be thrown into disarray. There might be a breakdown in supply chains. Maybe employees are unable to reach the premises. Or there may be damage to the facilities, equipment, or the power or internet may be down. In any disaster, including the technological kind, a business will need to find ways to deal with the situation at hand. This is why it is important for all businesses, regardless of size, to have contingency plans for disasters. It should be a priority. 

How can businesses plan for natural disasters? 

Businesses should ensure they look at their entire operation and consider how a natural disaster might disrupt every branch. It’s not just about planning emergency evacuation routes or having emergency supplies. Businesses also need to consider things like how to contact employees if connections are down.  

Depending on the business type, an organization might also need to think about how to sort out their supply chain if they are unable to access the major transit routes due to natural disasters. Having an alternative plan if facilities can’t be used is a must for survival. 

Natural disasters, data breaches, and hackers for businesses, and data loss 

While we’re talking about disasters that affect businesses, we must also consider technological disasters like hackers and data breaches. These can have just as much of an impact on businesses and data loss. In some parts of the world, these events are more likely than a natural disaster. According to Forbes, hackers and cybercrime are more devastating to business operations than a Transit Strike, a Fire, and even Floods for small and medium-sized businesses.  

Final thoughts 

While we can’t prevent any of these disasters from causing problems for businesses and data loss, there are steps that we can take to reduce their impact. The main takeaway is to plan for all possible scenarios. For the impact of events to be reduced, there must be a detailed process in place.  

One solution is an on-site BDR (Backup, Disaster, Recovery) unit. A BDR automatically backs up all your data every 15 minutes. It is connected to an auxiliary power unit so it can back up everything when the power goes out. 

There are also Cloud solutions that backup your data safely, in multiple locations. This ensures that your data is always available, no matter what happens. 

If you have any questions about Backup solutions or would like to change the ways you are currently saving your data, contact us any time. As your Managed Service Provider, the safety of your data is our concern too. 

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Why is Disaster Data Recovery important for Business?

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What does disaster data recovery mean? This term describes the method businesses use to regain access to stored information after a disruptive event. Any event, like a cyberattack, ransomware, a natural disaster, or even something new like the Covid-19 pandemic. When data is lost, businesses can employ a variety of methods for their disaster data recovery plan. 

How does disaster data recovery work? 

Disaster data recovery relies on the data being replicated in an off-site location that has not been affected by the outage. When a server goes down due to a cyberattack, equipment failure, or a natural disaster, businesses can recover their lost data from a backup location. When the data is backed up on the Cloud, businesses can access their data remotely so they can continue to operate. 

What are some key elements of effective disaster data recovery plans? 

We need a plan! A data recovery team will assign specialists to create, implement and manage the data recovery plan. Should a disaster occur, the data recovery team will facilitate communication with employees, customers, and vendors. 

Risk evaluations. An effective data recovery plan needs to assess all potential hazards. Depending on the type of disaster, the risk assessment will dictate what needs to happen for the business to resume operations. For example, if there were a cyberattack, what measures will the data recovery team use in response? A natural disaster will require a different response. 

Identification of critical assets. For a disaster data recovery plan to be effective, it needs to include a list of all assets. Vital resources, systems, and applications that are critical to the business are at the top of the list. Next, it’s important to have the steps that need to be implemented to recover the data. 

Backing up your data. An effective data recovery plan needs strategies and procedures for backups. You should know who will perform the backups and how often they will be done. Those responsible for data backups must also work out the business’s recovery time. Calculate the amount of time the organization can be ‘down’ after a disaster and work from there. 

Optimization and testing. The data recovery strategy should be tested and updated continually to protect the business from new threats. In this way, the business will be able to navigate challenges successfully. Planning a response to a cyberattack ahead of time will make sure your team will know what to do. 

Types of disaster data recovery 

There are a variety of options when it comes to data recovery. Perhaps the simplest method is backup. Your data is stored on or off-premises, or both for extra safety. However, relying solely on data backup gives minimal protection for businesses. If there is no backup of the IT infrastructure as well, there could be even bigger issues. For example, are your critical programs backed up as well? 

 Using DRaaS – Disaster Recovery as a Service 

DRaaS is another way in which businesses can protect their data and infrastructure in the event of a disaster. Your business’s computer processing happens on the DRaaS cloud infrastructure. This means that the business can continue to operate seamlessly, even if its servers are down. A DRaaS plan can be either a pay-per-use or a subscription model. A similar solution is Back UP as a Service. But this only backs up data and not infrastructure. 

Why is IT disaster recovery important? 

There exists no business that can ignore disaster data recovery. Having a plan in place for this means that businesses can protect themselves from closure. Most businesses can't even afford to close for one extra day. With a strategy in place for disaster data recovery, businesses will be able to get back to normal operations much more quickly. They might even be able to continue operating as normal. Why would anyone risk their business without a Backup Disaster Recovery plan? 

As your Managed Service Provider, we can assist you with your Backup Disaster Recovery (BDR) plan. You know how valuable your data is. Don’t run the risk of losing it! Contact us today and we can go over our data recovery solutions. 

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Your Vendors: How To Manage Them

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When a Business relationship with vendors is good, it can form a strong and strategic partnership that strengthens and develops your business.

Many businesses don't have the capability or skills that are needed to build marketing and sales in their business plans. Vendors can support businesses in this area. Vendors have the resources to tap into their expertise and provide guidance on how your business can promote your services. A vendor can give advice on which marketing goals should be a priority.

Establishing solid relationships with your vendors is crucial to staying competitive. This is true in both customer service and business growth. Take care of them and they will take care of you.

Two-sided relationships 

The relationship isn't a one-sided one. Both you and the Vendor need to engage with one another to establish in-depth growth and development plans. Hold one another accountable. Vendors can also help businesses execute strategic plans by providing services that may be out of reach. These could be marketing resources or technical recommendations. Vendor partnerships with strong foundations also lead to efficiency in operations. Having a good vendor allows you to reduce the number of resources required with simpler, automated processes. As you can tell, this is good for your bottom line.

A positive vendor lifts you up 

Vendors have lots of expertise and valuable advice to share with you. Whether they're forthcoming or not depends on the relationship you have with them. Just like any working relationship, a relationship between a business and a vendor is not just transactional. The traditional format of the vendor-buyer relationship is no longer enough to stay competitive. You both need to go much deeper than that. To have a vendor that lifts you up requires you to establish a two-way relationship and dialogue. Strive to help each other.

Both parties have key responsibilities. Vendors should listen to their clients to discover what services, support, and products they truly want. You, on the other hand, should engage proactively with the Vendor to gain access to price promotions, bundles, and Marketing tools. This will help you provide better services to your clients and stand above your competition.

How can you get more out of your Vendor? 

Often, small businesses don't have enough budget or time to plan and carry out marketing programs on a big scale. Vendors can plug this gap. You can ask vendors how they invest in making their client network a success. Another question to ask is, do they create activities for lead generation? To help support the vendors become actively involved in their promotions.

You need to work to make the most out of your vendor partnership. When dealing with a Vendor, articulate your needs clearly. In turn, your Vendor has to make it easy for you to have access to the materials and resources you need to sell your services. There is no place for being timid here. Ask the Vendor how they can help you and what the available support is. Examples of this might include payment plans with added flexibility or discounts to help with your cash flow.

Build your relationship 

Often, business owners are quick to criticize a vendor for not providing or offering the support that was expected. We must remember that this is a reciprocal partnership and a two-way street. The relationship needs to work for both parties. Sometimes, owners find that their Vendor isn't creating the positive effect on their business that they would like. For this to happen, you must engage fully with the Vendor to set achievable, common goals. Spending time to establish the right partner is an investment SMBs often can't afford to miss. Having a trusted partnership with a vendor impacts your company's success.

Collaborate with technology 

Simply listing each other's company on your website is not a collaboration. For the relationship to go deeper, it should involve the integration of technology. An intertwined technological relationship will open up ways to create more innovative services. Your vendors have a larger budget for research and development than you do. Being collaborative as a technology partner is an important consideration that many businesses can benefit from.

What if your Vendor is negative to your day-to-day operations? 

Strive to build and maintain good relationships with vendors. Remember, vendors also have to play a positive role in the relationship. Some vendors aren't good for your business and it's important to work with the ones that are. As MSPinsights.com describes, sometimes vendors alienate themselves by offering "channel" products that mean they have direct contact with your clients. You might even find vendors that offer competing products to the end clients or require them to sign contracts. This kind of 'offer' often suggests that these vendors are not interested in treating your business as a legitimate partner.

Final thoughts 

For best results, you need to become your Vendor's favorite partner. Essentially, you've got to find someone who wants to build a partnership that works two ways. If you need a little help managing your vendors, remember that we can do that for you. Contact us and we’d be happy to get the ball rolling.

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Remote Working in Today’s World

This is the final blog post in our series of four on the topic of remote and hybrid working. In it, we’ll summarize what we’ve talked about in the previous three blogs and finish with a quiz so you can see how much you’ve taken in. 

The start of the Covid-19 crisis seems like it happened a long time ago. But these past 12 months or so have caused the biggest shift in working practices in modern times. Before 2020, few companies were offering their employees the chance to work from home. You'd see the occasional ‘hot desk’ company or the workers who logged onto coffee shop Wi-Fi for a change of scenery. Ultimately, though, remote working wasn’t common practice.  

A few stats 

COVID-19 changed the way we do business. Social distancing caused us to modify the way we interact. Owners are deciding how things will look in a post-pandemic world. Some business owners seem to have a “trust” issue with employees they cannot keep an eye on. Many workers and businesses don't see a complete return to office working anytime soon. 

Pre-pandemic, less than 20% of employees across the country worked from home. 

Currently, up to 70% of employees work from home at least one day a week. And that number is expected to grow. 

Surprisingly, almost 50% of businesses in the U.S. do not allow their employees to work remotely. There are many reasons for this, but the number one reason is usually this: productivity. 

However, the statistics show a completely different story. Several studies came to the same conclusion; remote workers have less unproductive time, work more hours per week, and are up to 47% more productive than the workforce in the office. 

Moving forward, we see more of a hybrid model taking place. Many businesses were able to downsize their office space, so they can’t bring everyone back. And, the fact is, the employees are getting used to the new arrangement. At least 50% of remote employees wish to remain remote, even after the pandemic has run its course. 

The benefits of remote work

Forced to adopt the practice of remote working, many businesses call it a success. What started as a challenge has turned out to be a benefit. Most businesses are planning to keep their employees remote at least on a part-time basis.  

This means companies have had to improve the performance of their networks. Their IT infrastructure has changed to be more efficient. MSPs have certainly played a role in this and have had a big part in improving the IT systems for businesses around the world. 

Small and large companies have turned to MSPs to help them with their IT needs during the pandemic. These MSPs can access the latest technology and offer 24-7 support, Around-the-clock support isn’t possible with in-house IT teams who work 9-to-5. 

Remote working risks revealed 

Of course, with such changes, companies have experienced the downsides to remote working too. With remote workers, there’s often a higher risk of cyberattacks or security breaches. MSPs have helped in this regard too. They monitor for threats, back up data, and give peace of mind that they're always on the lookout for threats. 

After the Pandemic 

Many companies have enjoyed the new way of working more than they anticipated in the first place. With the experience and confidence in remote working, it is thought that many companies will strive to keep at least some aspect of remote working going forward. And it will remain even once the pandemic has ceased.  

Hybrid working means different things for different companies but essentially, employees have more freedom as to their working pattern. They might be required to work in-house for one or two days a week and be at home the rest of the time, for example. There are lots of ways in which hybrid working might work but it is likely to mean that there isn’t as much need for office space in the future. With hybrid working being highly likely, we expect to see an increase in Managed IT services too. 

MSPs and the hybrid workforce 

Many companies had to adapt during the pandemic, but so did MSPs. It could be said that their challenge was greater in some ways, given that they had to learn and adapt quickly so that they could help their clients more efficiently. 

MSPs were able to help companies be available for their clients with great success and have shown how they are key partners in a company’s functionality. That’s not to say that MSPs have taken over and there is no need for in-house IT teams, quite the opposite. MSPs’ work complements that of existing in-house teams.  

Conclusion – remote work in today’s world, is it for you? If you have any questions about supporting a hybrid workforce please contact us. As a Managed Service Provider, we can help you find the perfect solution. Remember: we’re your business growth partner, so take advantage of our knowledge. 

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Solving the Challenges of the Hybrid Workforce

hybrid workforce 3

In our last blog, we mentioned how companies have adapted their workflow amid the pandemic. We now expect that this new hybrid practice, where employees mix home working with office working, is here to stay. To put a figure on it, the Institute of Directors carried out a study, which showed that 74% of companies are going to offer support to employees who work remotely after the pandemic. Of course, this is good news for many but it is also a challenge for those in IT. 

When the majority of employees only visit the office a couple of times a week, it becomes important to have a smooth-running IT infrastructure. There are many challenges to overcome, including data security, reduced visibility, and home Wi-Fi connection issues. To work effectively and keep businesses moving forward, hybrid working needs IT support. 

COVID-19 Challenges 

The global health crisis of 2020 created many challenges for most companies. It was an opportunity for us to enhance, shift, and adapt to our new reality. Managed Service Providers quickly learned how to help businesses stay available for their clients as well as their employees at home. However, many companies still used static and inflexible network designs. This meant they had to make big changes to be able to support their remote workforce. Poor bandwidth was the first big hurdle. Security issues and increased cloud traffic meant many companies had to turn to IT professionals to help them adapt. 

MSPs as key partners 

Managed Service Providers have worked tirelessly to help solve the new problems arising from the increase in remote working. What makes MSPs effective in their role as a key partner is their relationship with the network operators. This means they can find the best available services for their clients to help them solve their problems. MSPs also help remote workers with phones, software, data storage, and security. 

An MSP complements any existing in-house team. They can monitor network security and server performance and prevent potentially costly outages by increasing security. Essentially, a good MSP minimizes disruption to key functions in a business. 

Another thing that MSPs can offer is mobility support. This means they can arrange plans and devices for remote workers to help them be just as effective at home as they were on site. Setting up phones, tablets, and webcams will ensure your team never loses connection with you. 

Cloud Technology 

With remote working at an all-time high, cloud technology has been essential. Forbes believes that almost half of the data in the world will be cloud-based in 2025. MSPs can help businesses migrate their IT infrastructure to a cloud-based system. This means employees can continue being just as productive wherever they are working. This ease of accessibility needs to be secure, and MSPs are there to help. 

Automation 

Automation can help the hybrid workforce by removing a lot of the friction they encounter. For example, repetitive processes – e.g. data entry – can be an automated task. That means employees can focus on other, more complex tasks. They become more productive as a result, which means the business can grow. 

It is also possible to automate other things, such as diagnostic tools. With automated diagnostics, employees can troubleshoot, identify and fix small issues on their own, remotely. This reduces pressure on other team members and saves the company time. 

Automation also helps improve visibility in the organization. It means that interactions, progress and updates are kept in check for all to see. This is vital to preserving transparency when hybrid working is involved. 

Final thoughts – helping companies adapt to their new ‘hybrid’ way of working 

The hybrid workplace is going to be around for a long time. Perhaps forever. MSPs can help companies embrace the changes that the pandemic forced upon them. They can help businesses maintain their continuity and provide them with the support they need for their future growth. Simply put, an MSP can help companies reap the rewards of a solid IT support base. 

If you have any issues or questions concerning your network infrastructure, or about creating a hybrid workplace, please let us know. As your MSP, we are here to help you with everything technology related. Contact us to discuss your needs! 

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Hybrid Workforce: Understanding Nuances and Pitfalls

hybrid workforce 2 blog

Since Coronavirus turned things on their head, businesses across the globe have responded well to enforcing remote working. And now, things are on the move again. Businesses are trying to decide how things will look in a post-Covid world. Many workers and businesses don't see a complete return to office working anytime soon, therefore introducing a hybrid workforce.

Recent surveys tell us that over 50% of workers in the U.S. favor a mix of office and home working. Other surveys predict the numbers of remote workers will double before they begin to drop. Pre-pandemic, less than 20% of employees worked at home. Whatever the final number happens to be, businesses need to be flexible to the constant changes.

Present Arrangements

Currently, businesses are dealing with these changes in different ways. Some companies have set dates for their employees to work remotely until the summer of 2021. Others have started to bring back people into the workplace on varied schedules. 

And some are letting the individual employee decide where to work. Everyone is trying to figure out the best possible life/work arrangement. 

Longer-term Expectations

Companies across the globe are beginning to consider what things will look like in the long term. They're looking at how to structure work hours, office communication, and physical presence. What many businesses are considering is a hybrid working model that combines office working with remote working.

What would Hybrid Workforce look like?

When we use the term ‘hybrid’, it sounds like we’re giving employees more freedom. With hybrid working, employees often decide where they work and when they work. This means employees have more autonomy to decide how their work fits in with other things in their lives. In an ideal world, hybrid working provides sociability and structure alongside flexibility and independence.

One common approach is to decide on specific days for working ‘at the office’. On such days, there are meetings and discussions. And on ‘remote’ days individuals can focus on their own specific tasks.

With hybrid working becoming more common, companies will likely reduce the amount of office space they rent. They simply won't need to accommodate so many office workers at any one time. Plus, downsizing office space is a great way to trim the budget.

What is the Optimal Amount of time in an Office?

Current studies show that two days of remote working is the optimal time for balancing quiet work with collaborative work. This will also allow employees to benefit from commuting less. Of course, you need to decide what works best for your business.

What does Hybrid Working need to be successful?

Companies need to aim for equalization between workers. In an ideal world, all employees would attend the office during the same hours.However, this will make social distancing difficult.

It is also important to instill an ethos of transparent communication.This means that all communication is shared with everyone equally as needed to avoid unnecessary conflict. Every employee, no matter where they are working, needs to be on the same page.

How to make a Hybrid Workforce work.

Arguably the best legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic is the improved focus on employee wellbeing and health. This is paramount to success. Prioritizing a safe working environment and healthy work practice is going to mean businesses retain workers while improving efficiency.

Without the necessary technology, support, and resources, a hybrid team simply won't work. The team needs to be equipped with the devices and technology they need to do their job while working remotely. Businesses need to consider video conferencing software, how to share documents and files, Wi-Fi connections, and messaging apps, just to keep track of everyone.

It’s clear to see that remote working is going to play a big part in many businesses in the coming years and the future beyond. Companies should start planning for hybrid workforce.  Proper planning will make it work well for you and your employees.

If you have any questions about setting up remote workers, or if you need to restructure your office network, contact us.  We can make sure you’re set up for any workforce structure you need.

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Are Your Apps Dangerous?

are your apps safe

Apps make the modern technology world go ‘round. If it weren't for apps, smartphones and other mobile devices wouldn't be nearly as useful. Of course, there are many factors to consider before using an app. You should ask yourself, could this be a potentially dangerous app? This is especially true if you're using a device for business purposes.

Earlier this month, we asked and concluded that allowing cookies is safe in most circumstances. In this week's blog, we will be delving into using apps for business purposes and whether or not they pose a risk to your safety.

Apps for the Business Place 

There is literally an app (or 50) for just about anything you can think of. However, even helpful apps can be a breeding ground for people who want to steal your information.

Generally speaking, most app makers are honest and ethical. However, because it is so easy to make an app, you may find less than trustworthy creators offering new apps. Securitymagazine.com stated that  “71% of healthcare and medical apps have at least one serious vulnerability that could lead to a breach of medical data.” Of course, other general business apps often have similar vulnerabilities.

Additionally, some people create apps specifically so they can steal your personal data. When you download and install an app, it will typically ask for various permissions. It may ask for the ability to use your microphone or have access to your contacts. Some apps ask for just about every piece of information you have available. You may find yourself simply handing over all of your personal data without even realizing it. This is where apps can become very dangerous. Even if you come to this realization and delete the app, your device could already be infected with spyware.

Personal Apps Can Be Dangerous

On the other hand, even if you only use trusted apps for business or no apps at all, you need to be careful of the apps you download for personal reasons. Just like with business apps, you may find that people have created an app for a particular reason — and that reason may be to gain access to the data on thousands or millions of mobile devices.

Be honest with yourself: how many times have you downloaded an app that you've never heard of just because someone told you it was the greatest app ever? Later, when you feel uncomfortable with how the app works you immediately delete it. We've all been there at some point. The scariest part is that the damage is already done once the app is successfully installed. Any information you use for your business (such as emails and customer information) is now freely available to the app developer.

Data Breaches

Another potential threat is using a legitimate app from a valid organization that becomes hacked and breached. As an example, this past year, the Walgreens app was victim to a major data breach. The hack allowed access to private conversations containing personal information. This breach was exposed through various apps that were designed to track COVID-19 cases. This happened to a major corporation using high-security apps. Many people wouldn't think a pharmacy app from a well-known company could be dangerous. Nonetheless, hackers breached highly sensitive information victimizing paying customers. On that note, it's important to be aware that anyone can fall victim to a data breach if security measures aren't closely examined.

Hackers have targeted major apps like Instagram, Tinder, Tik Tok, and Snapchat recently. How many of you have at least one of these apps installed on your phone or other mobile devices? While most of us know not to use Tinder on a work phone, you may have some of these apps on your devices. Even if you only use these apps on your personal time, they can lead to major consequences with your private business data. What is fun for you may compromise the security of your customers.

Create A Solution That Works 

Let's say you personally avoid all these pitfalls and have never had any issues with apps on your phone or other mobile devices. If you have an organization with multiple people, there's a very good chance that somebody is going to download an app that may have damaging security implications in the future. While these people may have good intentions and never mean to do any harm, we all know that life can change in an instant in this modern world.

By creating and implementing a plan among your employees, you can help control security breaches. Increase your security measures by not allowing devices to download random, potentially dangerous apps. It's important to have security policies and other measures in place. Maintain mobile device management, effective policy, and as many security protocols available.

If you want to make sure your organization is as safe as possible from unexpected risks, contact us today. We’ll set up your organization's devices to keep them safe while still allowing your employees to do their job effectively.

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