4 Ways Your Business Can Prepare for Hybrid Operations

Woman in hybrid work place sharing her time between an office and working from home remotely, EPS 8 vector illustration

The future can be unpredictable at best, especially in today’s times. You never know when your company will suffer from circumstances beyond your control, whether it’s a disaster that uproots your office or a pandemic that forces your entire workforce to transition to remote operations. Thankfully, even in today’s trying times, technology presents opportunities to overcome these challenges.

Let’s examine some technology solutions that will help you stay successful both now and in the future, even if you have to transition to hybrid or remote business operations.

Hardware Solutions

To prepare yourself for remote or hybrid operations, consider equipping your staff with hardware that allows them to get their work done even when outside of the office. You probably won’t want to give them complete workstations, but you can provide laptops and smartphones to help them stay connected to the workplace even when out of it. If you need a hand with procurement, we would be happy to recommend some of the best deals and solutions out there.

Cloud Computing

With access to hardware out of the way, you will need access to data and software to utilize that data with. The cloud is a perfect solution for this, as the applications and data essentially live in an online environment where they can be accessed as needed. There are many cloud-based solutions to consider, but we recommend a unified communications solution, a data storage solution, and a productivity suite as the absolute bare minimum for any organization hoping to keep operations running while remote. Of course, your needs are different from most other businesses, so it’s best to speak to us about them to give you a better idea of what you might consider for your company.

Unified Communications

Your team will need access to various solutions that allow them to stay in touch with each other while out of the office. Unified communications solutions offer a centralized location for employees to access the plethora of services you might implement, including email, instant messaging, video chat, conference calling, and your voice-over IP solution. Unified communications is an incredibly effective solution for any company that anticipates remote or hybrid operations shortly.

Infrastructure Access Technology

Finally, we come to arguably the most critical aspect of all—security. You want to ensure that only your employees have access to your network infrastructure while out of the office. You can accomplish this by using a virtual private network and remote desktop access applications, both of which allow your employees to access files on the company network or their work desktops remotely through the cloud. Furthermore, you will want to ensure that your company-owned devices are kept secure with unified threat management tools to keep them safe, no matter the type of connection they use for wireless access.

4Corner IT can help you prepare for a future when your organization’s operations may be disrupted due to circumstances beyond your control. To learn more about the technology that makes remote or hybrid operations possible, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

Strengths-Based Development Can Take Your Business to New Heights

red dumbbells pattern on teal background

Imagine that you are a kid again, and you get low marks on a test in school. The natural response from your parents and teachers is that you need to double down on studying for that subject, as it is clear that you struggle with it. The same can be said for any professional shortcomings, such as public speaking, interpersonal communication, and other performance-based skills. But what if we flipped this concept on its head and focused not on our deficits but instead where our strengths lie?

This concept is called “strengths-based development,” which has gained a lot of traction in recent years. A study reported by Gallup in 2018 found that businesses involved in the study who embraced this strengths-based approach enjoyed several benefits. This study examined 49,495 businesses, 1.2 million employees, and 22 organizations, all of which fell into seven industries across 45 countries. The participants were split into workgroups, one of which received strengths-based development interventions while the other acted as a control group.

As reported by Gallup, “Ninety percent of the workgroups studied had performance increases at or above the following ranges: 10 percent to 19 percent increased sales, 14 percent to 29 percent increased profit, 3 percent to 7 percent higher customer engagement, 6 percent to 16 percent lower turnover (low-turnover organizations), 26 percent to 72 percent lower turnover (high-turnover organizations), 9 percent to 15 percent increase in engaged employees, 22 percent to 59 percent fewer safety incidents.”

When you think about it, this makes sense. When people do what they are good at, it just feels good, and they are more likely to succeed and stick around to see the benefits of their work. Gallup expands on these numbers a bit by claiming that 67 percent of respondents who felt that managers focused on their strengths were much more engaged with their work. On the flip side of this statement, only two percent of employees who felt their strengths were not utilized were engaged with their work. You can see how strengths-based development can pay off in spades.

But what happens if you need a role fulfilled but do not have any internal talent to tap for it?

More organizations are outsourcing services to external talent than ever before. While it might not immediately feel great to admit that you do not have the talent to handle something, there is absolutely no shame in relying on trusted experts to handle certain aspects of your organization’s operations. One area that is often outsourced due to hiring a dedicated staff is IT management and maintenance. While you theoretically could have your employees manage their own technology, this can be counterproductive and frustrating for those who do not have strengths in this field.

On the other hand, managed IT is a great way to let your employees focus on their own personal strengths. Since they don’t have to worry about their technology solutions, they can instead focus on innovative new initiatives that they wouldn’t otherwise have time for. 4 Corner IT is happy to provide businesses like yours with managed IT services so that you can take a hands-off approach with your organization’s technology.

To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

How Parents’ Views on Remote Work Have Shifted

woman working remotely from home at her desk smiling at her toddler son pointing at the computer screen in front of her.

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that remote work should not be counted out as a possibility. Employers were forced to make rapid changes to their operations. Still, for some employees—particularly parents—the shift was both disruptive and frustrating, leading some to question whether they should change careers entirely given the impact on their work-life balance.

Your organization must consider how the pandemic has influenced your employees with families. It might be a tough conversation to have, but we are sure that they will appreciate you making this effort moving forward.

How Has COVID Influenced Work-Life Balance?

The COVID-19 pandemic influences the entire family dynamic. While it might originally seem like a great thing to stay home with your family more often, many employees are finding out that it isn’t as simple as that. It takes a lot of effort to keep a family safe, healthy, and educated even under the best circumstances. Even before COVID, many parents opted for childcare services, and when they were not being cared for by others, they were safe and sound at school. However, even the most responsible of parents relied on others to take care of their children. With social distancing guidelines throwing a wrench into these arrangements, parents had to adapt, once again, to the circumstances. It became clear that being a good parent as a working adult would be exponentially harder until the pandemic resolved itself.

This is especially difficult for parents who want to maintain any semblance of professionalism while also maintaining their personal and familial relationships. While some parents are looking forward to returning to the office, others are a bit mixed on the matter, having several concerns related to the following: childcare (49 percent), exposure to COVID (53 percent), decreased work flexibility (48 percent), lowered work-life balance (46 percent), and office politics (31 percent).

Other Concerns for Parents and Remote Workers

Parents might have several other professional concerns about returning to the workplace, and they all might play into a parent’s decision to do so.

  • 60 percent of parents are feeling burnt out, compared to the general population rate of 56 percent.
  • 41 percent of parents say that they are worse off in terms of mental health than before the pandemic, as opposed to the general population’s 38 percent.
  • 19 percent of parents worry about their opportunities for promotion while working remotely, whereas 14 percent of all respondents do.
  • 22 percent of parents claim that their skills have diminished, compared to the general population’s rate of 19 percent.
  • Working parents struggle with setting boundaries, along with a whole other plethora of issues, from working remotely:
    • 40 percent overwork themselves or work longer hours than they should
    • 36 percent deal with distractions unrelated to the workplace
    • 28 percent must deal with unreliable Internet connections
    • 26 percent struggle with technology issues that require troubleshooting
    • 24 percent are sick of video meetings
    • 18 percent have issues maintaining their relationships with coworkers
    • 16 percent have issues maintaining their relationships with their bosses

On a similar note, raising children while working remotely may have a lasting influence on employment as a whole:

  • 43 percent of parents have seen no impacts
  • 21 percent cut back on their working hours
  • 16 percent quit work while planning to rejoin the workforce later
  • 4 percent had a partner reduce their hours
  • 2 percent quit work with no intention of returning
  • 2 percent had a partner quit as a result

Remote Still Works for Employees… Some of Them, Anyway

Despite the countless challenges and obstacles that have cropped up over the past year, employees do value remote work, at least some of the time. Moreover, it is clear that businesses have managed to keep the lights on through this whole situation, so it is reasonable to think that remote operations can continue in at least some capacity moving forward.

Even removing a commute has been a huge boon for some parents, as they can spend more time with family and enjoy more flexibility with scheduling. Some have predicted that remote work can lead to many more benefits, including increased productivity, improved work-life balance, a healthier office environment, and others like gender equality.

Is your business prepared to make the jump back to normal business operations? If so, what does “normal” look like for you? Will you maintain some remote operations moving forward? 4Corner IT can help you prepare no matter your decision. To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

How to Make the Most of Your Business’ Communications

team at work gathered around a table facing each other talking with papers and laptops on the table

Business communications have seen some significant changes, particularly with recent events being what they have been. Instead of your team members having the opportunity to simply turn to one another in the office, there are now added hoops that they must jump through. Let’s go into how your internal and external communication practices should adjust to meet these changes.

What Challenges Has the Hybridized Workplace Introduced?

Let’s consider the options that your team members had to communicate when they were all in the same centralized location, whether they were conversing with your clientele or within their own ranks. In addition to the digitized methods that first come to mind when discussing business communications, your team members could also take advantage of their proximity to one another to have face-to-face conversations.

Once remote work was so suddenly implemented en masse, this final approach was suddenly removed from the situation. This resulted in many companies struggling to pick up the slack with their other solutions.

Ultimately, communications suffered for many, but as time has passed, the situation has improved again. Let’s share a few best practices that have been successfully implemented by many in the attempt to reinforce their internal and external communications.

Internal Communication Practices

  • Lead by Example: When trying to encourage internal communication practices, a company’s leadership needs to walk the walk in addition to talking the talk. Getting your message across—in terms of the importance of consistent and comprehensive communication—will become much simpler if you set the precedent and encourage managers at all levels to do the same.
  • Personalization: Particularly while you’re communicating with your internal team, feel free to ditch the pomp, circumstance, and business-friendly language. In order for remote communications to have the effect they should between teammates, they need to be concise, to-the-point, and clear while also remaining relatable. Don’t be afraid to share details from your own life. Video conferencing helps to reintroduce the concept of in-person meetings and the casual nature that many meetings can take, and setting aside a channel for off-topic conversations can help too.
  • Switch It Up: Be honest… how many email threads have you subscribed to that you now just skim over, if not ignore entirely? While consistency is good in these kinds of messages, it can potentially also lead to messages being overlooked. Don’t be afraid to make use of all of your different tools and capabilities to keep your team primed and fresh.

External Communication Practices

  • Keep Your Contacts Updated: It’s one thing to have the capability to communicate with the members of your business’ audience and customer base. It’s quite another to utilize this capability. By prioritizing proactive communication with these tools, you can benefit from the improved awareness of your services that your customers will have after receiving your communications.
  • Emphasize With Current Issues: Regardless of your industry, your clientele are not a monolith—an issue that impacts one could very well have no influence on another. A key aspect of your interactions with them is to listen to these concerns and express that you hear them and are there to help.
  • Speak Directly Whenever Possible: If you’re trying to build up the trust that your clients and prospects have in you, it helps to communicate with them as directly as possible, so that they can hear your voice. With automation being implemented more and more, this kind of direct relationship makes an impact and helps to encourage greater communications.

4Corner IT is here to help you collaborate with your teammates and communicate with your business contacts through the IT solutions and services we provide. Find out more about what we have to offer by calling (954) 474-2204 today.

Tip of the Week: Selecting the Right Productivity Suite

Smiling female programmer working on computer at night, side view.

The productivity suites now available to businesses have come a long way in a relatively very short time. However, when selecting one, it is still crucial to compare your options based on a few key variables. Let’s go over these variables to make sure that the software suite you’re using is the right one for your needs.

Cost of Productivity Softwares

Naturally, we must first discuss costs, as this is perhaps the most pressing variable for most businesses. While it may be tempting to default to the least-expensive option, take a few moments and dig into the features more closely to check for any benefits that may make a slightly more expensive option the most cost-effective productivity suite.

Compatibility With Your Systems

There are a lot of platforms out there—the classic battle between Macs and PCs, and the corresponding Android versus iOS head-butting. On top of these, there are now cloud platforms to consider as well as you decide on the productivity suite you and your team put to use. Consider the headaches that would ensue if half of your team used laptops running ChromeOS, but your productivity suite was only compatible with Windows. As such, you need to make sure your chosen solution has some availability on all (or at least most) of the major computing platforms.

Mobility

On the subject of platform compatibility, it is usually best to select software that has some kind of mobility functionality. There are two reasons for this—first, mobile devices are now used more often than any other kind. Second, with so many people now functioning remotely, the kind of access that mobile options provide contribute a lot of value to the productivity suite’s platform you’re considering.

Security

This is important for obvious reasons, so you will want to check up on the security that each solution features. Today’s two most popular productivity suites, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace, are delivered through cloud technologies. This was once problematic, as you’re effectively handing your data over to an external provider, but nowadays these cloud platforms are built with security at the forefront.

Communications

With communications and collaboration so critical to businesses—especially now—a productivity suite with integrations enabling such dialogues make it easier for teams to accomplish their shared goals. As a result, many of today’s most prevalent options feature some kind of collaboration baked into them, often including an email platform, video conferencing, and/or VoIP.

We can help your business acquire the IT tools such as productivity suites that are needed for modern success. Give us a call at (954) 474-2204 to learn more.