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.

Use These 5 Steps to Implement Your Business’ Technology

Implementing new technology into your IT infrastructure is not something that can be done without serious consideration. If you skip the planning process, the last thing you should expect is for things to work out in your favor. Start by weighing your organization’s specific needs, then consider all of the ways that those needs can be met. Today we are going to discuss how you can make all of this happen in the easiest way possible.

The process, as you might expect, is a multi-layered one. Start with a business needs analysis, then transition into identifying technology that addresses these pain points, how you will afford said technology, focusing on what your business does well, and calling upon the feedback of employees to strengthen the implementation.

Analyze Your Business’ Needs

Understanding your business’ needs should come first. Be sure to consider what challenges your business must tackle moving forward, as well as how you might overcome them. We want to emphasize one point: only implement new technology solutions that solve problems for your business. If you are too liberal with the employment of new technology, your infrastructure could grow in a negative way, making it more difficult to administer maintenance and keep things up-to-date or in proper working order.

Consider the Price Point

As a small business owner, you know all too well how large costs can set you back, especially with investments in new technology solutions. This makes it significantly harder to budget for. While you could implement new technology by paying for it up-front, there is value to using the “as a service” model for new solutions, as well, many of which provide services based on a monthly payment model. Since these products are scalable, they can be easily budgeted for.

Lean Into Your Strengths

On a micro level, you already do this by delegating duties to your employees based on their roles within your organization, but on a macro level, you can do something similar with your technology solutions by putting your efforts into investing in technology that augments these strengths. One example is the business that prides itself on customer service. This type of business can provide even better service by utilizing help desk solutions or instant messaging chats. Basically, you supplement what your business is already good at with technology that makes doing that even better.

Ask Your Employees

If you are stuck on where to implement technology, you can always get feedback from your employees. Consider asking them what challenges they face and how they can be addressed. You can use this information to implement technology that helps them perform their day-to-day duties in an easier and more efficient way. This approach also helps to give your employees a voice within your organization, which is a value that you cannot underestimate.

Work with a Managed Service Provider

If you are not sure how to address any of the above, we can help your business approach implementing new technology solutions by doing so with intention. To learn more about how you can reach your business goals, facilitated by technology, reach out to 4 Corner IT at (954) 474-2204.

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.

Microsoft Collaboration Tools for the Remote Office

microsoft collaboration tools

In the past decade the corporate world experienced a steady trend toward remote work, however even a year ago, no one could have predicted this alternative method of working would experience such immense growth in such a short period of time. As it turned out, remote working options were a key component of not only keeping many companies and even nonprofits afloat, indeed, it allowed many organizations to notably flourish during a very challenging time.

As internet service continues to improve, both in terms of speed and available access, it’s likely that remote work is here to stay for many industries. 

A Changing Landscape

Many organizations managed within a matter of months, to successfully shift almost their entire workforce to a new working environment. The fact that so many organizations were able to pull off such a massive undertaking with minimal disruption to their customer base, is a testimony to the ability of their employees to quickly deliver agile and creative solutions to solve complex issues.

It’s impossible to predict when the pandemic will fade into history, but given the success of the rapid transition to remote working, it’s probably safe to say that even as COVID-19 fades, the option of remote working will continue to see very strong growth for the foreseeable future. 

A New Kind of Work Environment

If employers view remote work as a loss of control over their employees, today’s sophisticated collaboration tools, along with other useful software tools and apps will prove over time that employers are still very much connected to their workforce. In fact, very large companies that traditionally housed thousands of employees within a massive skyscraper may actually see a significant improvement in communication and collaboration levels within their workforce.

Whereas formerly, an employee had to get on an elevator and walk through multiple cubicle areas to speak with someone in person, now these same employees have chat apps or video conferencing software right at their fingertips for conversations with management and other co-workers.

Of course, some organizations will require training for staff that formerly worked in a more traditional office setting. It’s important for these companies to invest in adequate staff training as much as they invest in the collaboration tools themselves, in order to take full advantage of all the rich features of today’s remote work software tools.

As companies become more comfortable with the shifting work environment, they will likely rely much less on face-to-face communication. Organizations may find that renting a conference room for weekly face-to-face meetings is more than sufficient for their needs. 

Microsoft Teams 

If there is any communication and collaboration tool that is ready to fully support an entire workforce, it’s Microsoft Teams. From the beginning, Microsoft understood that all forms of online communication are only truly successful if they reside on a safe and secure foundation. Regardless of an organization’s size, if they decide to use Microsoft Teams, they will have access to Enterprise level threat protection that meets more than 90 regulatory and industry standards. 

Residing on the Teams secure foundation are a wide range of helpful tools designed to offer both management and staff a variety of ways in which to communicate and collaborate, not just within their own company, but with members outside their organization.

Employees have a multitude of tools to help them communicate in a group setting, or as a simple one-on-one conversation. Along with traditional voice communication, Microsoft Teams also offers video conferencing, a chat feature, and file-sharing that works intuitively with Microsoft’s other productivity apps such as Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Microsoft Teams also provide useful bots to automate tasks within an organization, as well as private hubs for individual departments that can be specially designed to meet their unique needs.

We Can Help

If you would like to know more about the Microsoft tools that can make remote working a success for your organization, please contact us.