Applying Life Lessons to Improve Your IT

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Sometimes it can be challenging to manage your IT solutions, but much of the advice that applies to technology is just general advice for living a good life. Let’s take a deeper dive into these ideas and see if we can use specific life lessons in a business IT setting when it comes time to improve your IT.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Your IT infrastructure will present you with unexpected circumstances, so the best you can do is not let them catch you unawares. Your servers could fail someday, or a hacker could infiltrate your network and put your data at risk. You might even experience structural damage to your building, rendering it inoperable.

But believe it or not, you can prepare for these kinds of events. You need to understand that the unexpected can happen anytime, so you must implement preventative measures and plans to handle them when they do surface.

Don’t Skimp on Quality

There are certain parts of running a business that you can get away with spending a little less on, like the office K-Cups or generic brand snacks, but IT is certainly not one of these things. The lower the quality goods you purchase for your business, the more you are likely to spend in the long term finding the appropriate solution. You might even wind up paying more to replace hardware or purchasing new solutions entirely.

You should prepare to plan your expenses around the kind of business you want to run. This means implementing only what works best for you and not the accepted norm. Neither company is the same, so their IT shouldn’t be, either.

You Don’t Have to Know Everything

Just like life often is, implementing your IT solutions can be a long and confusing ordeal, one that is full of inaction and incorrect choices. While you might have a broad idea of what your IT infrastructure should look like, it can be hard to make the correct choices. This is fine and expected for someone who might not be an IT professional. Nobody knows everything, and you can’t expect yourself to.

There will always be parts of running a business where there is an apparent knowledge deficit, so make sure that you rely on experts in these fields whenever possible. You might choose to rely on an IT provider to improve your IT in your office, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Better to get it done right the first time!

To learn more about the services we offer and how we can help improve your IT, give 4 Corner IT a call at (954) 474-2204.

Tips to Curtail Burnout In the Workplace

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Burnout in the workplace is a severe problem in a business environment. If you are not careful, it can have profound effects on operations, productivity, and profitability in the long term. If you suspect that your employees are experiencing symptoms of burnout, you need to act on these symptoms and implement policies to protect your team from… well, themselves.

What Leads to Burnout In the Workplace?

There are many reasons why burnout can surface, including the following:

Too Much Work

Employees who have too much work to do will inevitably find themselves overwhelmed and burnt out. Not only can it affect how well a team works, but it can also have negative influences on health and wellness. According to the World Health Organization, long working hours contributed to 745,000 deaths in 2016 through various factors. This is a problem, so if you can identify employees suffering from it, you should do all you can to prevent it.

Lack of Workplace Recognition

Even if compensation is adequate for your employees, they still want workplace recognition in other forms, such as congratulatory messages and the appreciation of both management and peers. Otherwise, what is there to motivate them?

Lack of Control

People enjoy what they can control and don’t enjoy what they cannot; the same can be said for work. If employees feel like they have no say in their work, they can quickly lose motivation. Micromanagement and restriction simply for the sake of oversight can be disastrous, especially when it causes your team to burn out. Ask yourself how you might feel being managed in this way, and you’ll see what we mean.

Unfair Treatment

If there are apparent discrepancies in how different employees are treated, or even perceived ones, then there is a real possibility of it developing further into burnout. When bias and discrimination are involved, this is doubly so, and you should do everything you can to eliminate it.

Poor Workplace Relationships

Again, let’s flip perspectives and take a look at how you might feel if you had to spend hours out of your day working with strangers or people who you do not enjoy being around. Your employees certainly don’t want this, and while the case can be made that work doesn’t need to be enjoyable, this isn’t a narrative conducive to productivity and motivation.

What Can You Do to Minimize Burnout In the Workplace?

Here are some ideas to minimize burnout and help your employees regain the motivation to push forward.

Know the Signs

First, you’ll need to know when to admit that your team is experiencing symptoms of burnout. If they have issues concentrating, are increasingly more irritable at work, complain about aches and pains, or having trouble sleeping, or feel like they have accomplished nothing, they might be experiencing signs of burnout.

Identify Where It Comes From

Identifying warning signs is not the same as addressing where burnout comes from. If you want to eliminate burnout for good, finding what’s causing it will be paramount. Whether it is work, health, family drama, or otherwise, you need to find out if it’s internal and something you can control. If it’s not, then perhaps you can still find ways to resolve the problem more indirectly.

Give Your Team Back Control

If burnout comes from work-related issues, consider ways you can directly influence it. If you give your team some autonomy in their day-to-day tasks, you might be able to alleviate some of the pressure your team feels to perform as expected.

We Can Help Your Team Make the Most of Their Time

Suppose you are ready to eradicate burnout in the workplace. In that case, we bet that a good starting point is to implement hardware and software solutions designed to make employees’ lives easier and more productive. To get started with these automated solutions and managed services, reach us at (954) 474-2204.

5 Tips to Get the Most from Your Instant Messaging Solution

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Instant messaging is a solution that has picked up in the business world, and for a good reason. While email allows for more passive communication, instant messaging allows for more instantaneous communication, similar to a phone call in its urgency. But are you properly using instant messaging?

Establish a Usage Policy

Just like with other technology solutions, your company should have a policy in place that governs how your employees use it. This means that you must establish clear guidelines for the appropriate use of instant messaging. For example, having a group chat for a department is perfectly fine, but having a group that is exclusively for sharing distractions is a problem that can lead to too much wasted time.

Keep it Professional

You should always use greetings when sending instant messages, similar to the way you would if you were using emails. Using a salutation such as “Hi Name,” rather than opening the conversation with a question can make a world of difference. It would help if you also tried to use similar professional language in your IMs as you would in an email.

Keep it Short, but Keep it Clear.

As we previously mentioned, the big difference between IM and email is that IMs are designed for instantaneous responses and quick conversations rather than long, drawn-out, detailed messages. The best way to use IMs is to use it to your advantage and not use it like you would an email. If you expect someone to respond to a long IM that requires a detailed and analytic response, then it may look like the user is ignoring the message until they can find time to respond to it in the way that you expect.

Still, you’ll want to convey thoughts and ideas clearly, but instant messaging is a great place to encourage questions to prevent communication gaps.

Respect the Status Message

Most instant messaging applications allow the user to set their status. This might be something like Available, Away, In a Meeting, Busy, etc. If the user is anything but available, you should reconsider sending the message until the user is indeed available to take your message. Otherwise, there is a solid chance that the message will slip through the cracks.

Try to Encourage In-Person Communication Too

All of that said, an instant message is not a substitution for a good old face-to-face conversation. Whenever possible, you should make an effort to have in-person conversations with your coworkers and staff. This helps you avoid instances of messages being taken out of context and establishes that you can make time in your busy day to make connections in this way. It’s just good to remind your coworkers and employees that, yes, we are still people, even if half the time our communications are done from the other side of a computer screen.

4 Corner IT can help you implement the best instant messaging solution that suits your company’s needs. To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

Key Steps to Take Before Reopening Your Organization

key steps to take before reopening your organization

While many states have at least partially opened, it remains to be seen if they will continue a steady pace forward to an eventual full reopening, or if they will decide to pull back for a time. In other words, the process of recovering from a world-wide pandemic seems to be a two steps forward, followed by a one step backward process. Thankfully, many organizations have employed creative and innovative methods to keep their doors open as much as possible, while protecting both employees and the clients they serve.

For those who may have gotten off to a shaky start, we will provide some helpful tips on how to make the transition back to normal life as smoothly as possible.

Employee Safety First

While customers may come and go as they like, employees are obligated to remain in the workspaces their employer provides. Of course, organizations must follow government guidelines as to how many people are allowed within a building at the same time. Employers may need to expand the distance between employee workstations, whether they spend most of their time sitting or standing. It’s also a good idea to keep up with the latest information regarding PPE (personal protection equipment) to determine whether employees are being provided with the correct instructions on how to wear their various forms of protection. 

Stay Flexible

While many companies allowed their employees to work remotely right from the beginning of the pandemic, some have found today they need at least some of their employees to work within their physical buildings. Still, some employees may have pre-existing health conditions that put them at a higher risk, or they have a family member who is in a high risk group.

While in a normal world it may be advantageous to have these people back in the office, if they do get sick, not only will it add an extra burden to their physical and mental health, at best they’ll still be required to quarantine for a two-week period. Now is the time to remain flexible and realize it might not be possible to have the entire company operating as effectively as it could. 

Reassure the Public 

Let customers, vendors, and other company staff members with which your organization regularly comes in contact know that you are making every effort to honor their health and safety as well. This may include sending out a corporate email outlining all the steps your organization is performing to ensure their interaction with your employees will remain a safe, positive experience.

If an organization has a physical building that customers or vendors will enter, let them know what you are doing to ensure their safety as well as your expectations of them, by posting a sign on the door which they can read prior to entering. Some organizations may want to include some details about their safety practices in their corporate phone greeting. Others may want to inform the public by way of an advertisement shown on TV or through a radio commercial.

Reevaluate Corporate Technology Security

Many organizations have employees working in entirely different settings than they did before the pandemic. This could mean the new settings open them up to additional security risks as they use technology devices and software apps in a way they never did before. For employees in a remote work environment, organizations need to consider who in the environment may potentially have access to confidential information and/or computer equipment, including logins used for various apps. 

All the different ways in which employees now use corporate computer equipment and software applications must be reevaluated to ensure that a company’s technology system as a whole, remains safe and secure.

If you would like to know more about how to successfully navigate your organization through the pandemic, please contact us.

Documenting An Information Security Policy During the Pandemic

documenting an information security policy during the pandemic

The work environment that many organizations have today looks entirely different from the working environment they had pre-pandemic. Thousands of organizations now have their employees scattered throughout large geographical regions in environments that are not under the employer’s direct control. While the option to work remotely has saved many a company from going bankrupt, it also vastly changed both the physical and technological environment in which staff members work. While outwardly many organizations seem to be working from home fairly successfully, it is possible that their official information security policy looks exactly as it did before the pandemic, if they even had one at all. That is why documenting an information security policy during the pandemic is so important.

Starting Anew

Whether an organization had a previous ISP (information security policy) or whether they now realize they should draft one, the steps they must take to create one will likely be fairly similar since the working environment has changed for so many companies. The first step in drafting an ISP is to consider the scope of one’s business. Some organizations may interact with many vendors and/or suppliers, or they may only have a few. Other organizations have large customer or employee bases, or some combination thereof. Whatever the scope, companies must consider all the different components that could be affected by their new information security policy.

The next step is to set objectives in order to establish the overall direction of the policy, including factors such as legal, regulatory, business, and contractual security requirements. As those in charge of creating the policy gather information about the company’s operations, they must consider the structure of their risk assessment as it relates to the area they are evaluating, as well as use appropriate criteria in order to properly evaluate security risks.  

Drafting the Policy

While each organization’s ISP will be unique, there are a few standard points that most businesses will likely put in their specific policy. These items include enforcing a password policy where users must meet certain requirements such as password length, the type of characters required, and how often the password must be changed.

Other key points will likely include the requirements for handling data from third-parties, employees, and customers, along with establishing guidelines that outline what employees can and can’t do, with regard to actions such as internet usage and accessing controls. Some organizations may want to take their internet security policy one step further by ensuring their new policy adheres to certification programs that pertain to their particular type of industry, or technological certifications.   

Who, Where, What, Why 

A finalized internet security policy may not be that lengthy. In fact, a company’s ISP may not be longer than a page or two, however, it will answer some essentials questions such as who issued the policy — meaning it is under their authority. Other questions the policy will answer include where the policy applies such as specific departments and/or locations, what the overall goal of the policy is, as well as company-specific security issues it addresses.

Lastly, it will also answer the question as to why a new policy was needed. In most cases, this will be a statement discussing how the ISP will help ensure that a business continues to protect their sensitive data while operating under a new working environment. In addition, the new ISP is intended to safeguard the continuity of the organization, while maximizing their ROI.

Summary

The world-wide pandemic forced many businesses to make drastic changes in the way they conduct their business practices, including how they secure their corporate data, along with their hardware and software resources. Although creating an ISP for their new way of operations may represent a challenge during this time of uncertainty and upheaval, informing employees how to safely navigate through their new circumstances is essential for a successful future beyond the pandemic. If you would like more on how to create a corporate ISP for your new working environment, please contact us.