5 Reasons Remote Monitoring and Maintenance is Essential

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While reliable technology support has always been important, the sudden and widespread adoption of remote work by so many businesses has made it an essential component for an organization’s success. However, for your team members to have technology that continues to serve them as they do so, it is important that they are able to receive the same support as they would in the office. To accomplish this, remote monitoring and maintenance has proven to be a critical resource, providing a litany of benefits. Let’s go into what these benefits are, and how they take shape through the implementation of this method of receiving support.

What is Remote Monitoring and Maintenance (RMM)?

As a managed service provider, a considerable portion of our responsibility is to be sure that our clients’ technology is operating as it should. To do so, a methodology known as remote monitoring and maintenance is employed.

RMM solutions give our team the capability to keep track of our clients’ technology solutions from a distance, thereby enabling us to diagnose, mitigate, and resolve many IT issues that would otherwise cause operational headaches (or worse). As such, we can deliver considerable value to those we serve. With our real-time monitoring tools, many issues can be detected before their impacts become noticeable.

This, in turn, translates to considerable benefits. Let’s go over these benefits now, to demonstrate how RMM supplements a business’ operations:

Proactive Maintenance, and All That Comes With It

Our services as an MSP are all about embracing proactivity whenever the opportunity arises, and remote monitoring and maintenance is the perfect vehicle to this very outcome. Our solutions will keep an eye on your infrastructure, alerting our team at the first sign of an issue and enabling us to solve it—often before you or your team members realize that an issue is present.

In addition to active issue resolution, this proactive maintenance means that we’ll also keep track of any updates that are available for your solutions and apply them appropriately.

Minimized Downtime

As any business owner knows, “downtime” is technically a four-letter word in the workplace. Depending on the severity of the event, even a brief instance can incur significant financial costs. Thanks to the inherent proactivity of RMM, most downtime events can be avoided (and their financial repercussions sidestepped) so that your business processes are effectively untouched by any issues.

Improved Security

RMM can also help you to keep your business better protected against threats. One of the primary reasons that cyberattacks can get to be so severe is that many are not detected until long after the fact.

However, with remote monitoring in place, our team of professionals can be alerted of even the smallest sign of a potential breach. This puts us in place to resolve the underlying problem and keep your business safe.

Ensured Productivity

Let’s jump back to the impacts of minimizing downtime for a moment. One of the most important, and most prioritized, aspects in any business is the level of productivity that can be maintained. Eliminating your downtime is one of the few ways to do so that can have a 100 percent impact on your productivity. The fewer issues your employees encounter, the more they will be able to accomplish—something that our proactive maintenance facilitates.

Streamlined Cost of Ownership

Everyone likes to save money, right? Unfortunately, a lot of the technology that a business relies on can swiftly cause costs to rise expeditiously. A lot of this is due to the combination of maintenance needs after the fact, and the downtime that is incurred in the meantime.

However, by avoiding this by means of proactive maintenance through a predictable and budgeted service, these costs can be reduced significantly, helping your business that much more.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the benefits that remote monitoring and maintenance provide—or you’d like to experience them for yourself—give 4Corner IT a call at (954) 474-2204.

Tip of the Week: How to Engage Remote Meeting Participants

better remote meetings

Over the last few months, many businesses have had to hurriedly adopt remote work as an alternative to in-house operations. While many have done so successfully, it isn’t uncommon for certain elements to trip them up, including remote meetings. As these meetings are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, we wanted to share a few tips on how to engage remote meeting participants.

Boost Engagement with Responsibility

The experience that participants of an in-person meeting have is naturally going to be very different than it would be in a remote meeting. The natural flow of conversation is interrupted by the limits of the very tool that enables the conversation to take place at all. This can lead to inconsistent participation and side conversations taking place… bad enough in person, but debilitating to a remote session. Preparing an agenda ahead of time and giving each participant something that they will be responsible for during the meeting can help to minimize the chances of this.

Streamline Your Meeting

Just as is the case in person, a remote meeting that involves too many people can be counterproductive and ineffective when collaboration is the goal. With an overly large group, there are just too many potential distractions to derail your efforts. Lagging technology and excessive background noise can swiftly diminish a meeting’s value, so to minimize the chances of this happening, resist the urge to pack your meetings and stick to those whose presence is essential. This also helps to add to the engagement that participants can have, as a smaller group offers more opportunities to speak.

Disable Muting

When someone has muted themselves during a remote meeting, they have effectively disengaged from the conversation. Consider it: by muting themselves, they can no longer contribute, and there’s the potential that they could allow their attention to wander more easily. While briefly muting can help to minimize interruptions, it should not be sustained longer than necessary when meeting.

How have your remote meetings gone? What have you done to make the most of them? Share your approach in the comments!

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.

6 Cyber Security Must-Haves for Remote Work

6 cyber security must haves for remote work

The quick transition to remote work that many companies have had to make has revealed security risks that IT professionals are not able to monitor or correct as closely as they would be able to when employees work in-house. To mitigate these risks and protect data, employees will need to follow security best practices and abide by the requests made by IT. Fortunately, skills and security measures like the following that employees will need during these times help not only their employers in the present but protect them from personal security risks in the future. 

Secure Wi-Fi

The convenience provided by an open wireless network doesn’t mitigate the risk of sensitive data falling into the wrong hands, and this applies to personal financial information as much as it does to data relating to work. Employees will need to secure their home wireless networks with the most advanced protection available to them. Users should also have the latest firmware.

Encrypted Traffic

IT departments can consider a virtual private network, or VPN, on top of secured wireless networks to encrypt all traffic data. There are downsides to VPNs, however, including slower connection speeds. Some users may not like that their employer can monitor their network usage with a VPN, either.

Phishing Prevention

It doesn’t matter if a company uses the most advanced security software or the most impenetrable hardware if the user is the weak point. Employees should undergo training to detect and avoid phishing scams and their various modes — phone, text, and email —  before working remotely, even if they’ve already issued this training in the past.  All it takes is a careless click to give access to a user’s login information.

Fortunately, modern security software can even warn about potential phishing attacks.

Smart Password Usage

Not only is it risky to use the same password and username for multiple websites, but choosing simple passwords that are easy to crack also puts a user at risk. Because users won’t necessarily opt for best practices such as strong passwords that they periodically change, companies should ensure that their software systems require these password security measures and even use password managers to generate and store strong passwords. Businesses should also encourage two-factor authentication, which requires that users enter a second code that is typically sent via email or text, to log in.

Company-Issues Devices

Many of the risks listed above can be minimized when a company issues devices that prevent unauthorized changes and have the appropriate software installed so that employees have all the resources necessary to complete their jobs. Sending employees home with company devices keeps sensitive data away from personal devices, which may be less secure and more likely to be compromised, and companies can install enterprise-level security software to prevent malware and phishing attacks. 

If this is not possible, companies should set standards for which devices can be used, including software and hardware requirements, to ensure the devices being used are as secure as possible and to avoid the risk of “shadow backups” to personal cloud storage accounts.

Data Backup

Assuming that users abide by security best practices and a company’s software is set up securely, there is always the risk of hard drive or another mechanical failure, which is why a company must have a plan in place to back up data. Many companies opt for cloud storage, a solution that is especially useful when the office is inaccessible; however, some choose physical servers that their IT team members maintain themselves. 

Companies that want to increase security measures for remote workers or ensure that their systems are secure enough for telecommuting can contact us for a cybersecurity analysis.

6 Tips for Supporting Your Remote Workforce During the Pandemic

6 tips for supporting your remote workforce during the pandemic

During this pandemic, businesses have been forced to quickly adapt to changing realities. One of the major changes we have seen in society is the shift towards telecommuting. Teams are working remotely to avoid having to go into the office. It can be difficult to acclimate to this new reality, so you need to provide your employees with the necessary support they need for your team to be successful. Today, we will be going through six tips for supporting your remote workforce during the pandemic. 

Focus on Team Building 

Just because your team is working remotely, that doesn’t mean that you can forget about team building. Working on improving communication and rapport between team members will lead to better collaboration and improved performance. According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work Report, one of the top challenges remote workers face is loneliness. 

Although team members can’t get together physically, you still want them to be able to chit-chat with each other and create meaningful relationships. Consider setting up an after-hour video chat “work party” or create a group “coffee room” chat. It is important for each team member to have a feeling of belonging to the team. 

Up Your Communication

A top challenge for remote teams is communicating effectively. In the office, team members can drop a note on their manager’s desk or walk a few steps to a colleague to ask for advice. Managers can regularly check in with team members when they bump into them in the office.

When managing a remote team, it is important to make a concerted effort to increase communication. Check in with your workers every day to ask if they need anything, and tell them not to hesitate to contact you if they have any sort of question. 

Set Up Effective Channels

Every remote team should be utilizing video chat. One-on-one chats allow you to check in with individual team members and stay on top of their progress, while group chats can take the place of daily briefings and meetings. However, not everything has to take place over a video chat. Assign different channels for different tasks — for example, team members can use email or a group chat board instead of video chat for more mundane tasks and questions. 

Create a Schedule and Set Goals

Creating a schedule can help teams stay focused and productive. This doesn’t have to be a full-blown schedule planned for the entire day; it can be a simple 15-minute briefing at the same time every morning or a 15-minute progress check at the end of the day. Establishing a ritual is important, and so is setting goals to help your workers stay focused. 

Be Flexible and Understanding

Another major challenge of working at home is facing distractions. Some team members may have children running around — kids aren’t going to school either. Offer understanding and flexibility. In addition, not every team member will need the same level of communication. For example, some team members may have a lot of questions and doubts and will benefit from an open communication channel; others may not need to ask as many questions and may flourish better when left to concentrate on the task at hand.

While it is important to stay on top of things and check in with your employees regularly, you may have to stay on top of some employees more.

Invest In Quality Cloud Solutions

If you haven’t yet done so, now is the time to invest in high-quality business cloud computing solutions. This will help avoid hiccups and ensure that your business runs smoothly day-to-day.

Contact us for more information on how we can set up versatile and reliable cloud solutions for your workforce so your team members can work from wherever they are, on any device.