What are the Common File Storage Options for Small Businesses?

For most businesses, data ranks high in the list of most valuable assets. It follows that every small business owner must have a good strategy for data storage to ensure its safety and ease of accessibility. The good news is that there are plenty of secure storage options for small businesses. 

Before we look at some of the common data storage options for small businesses, let us first understand why security is vital when choosing a storage option.

Security is critical when considering a storage option for your business.

As many businesses shift to remote working, the question of data security has become a big concern. 

Many businesses turn to virtual private networks, often referred to as VPNs, as a way to minimize data security risk. Unfortunately, this storage option may not be as secure as most people think and may be somewhat overwhelming, especially if your employees are not quite tech-savvy. 

Luckily, you can find better alternatives to VPN, such as a file server, which is a simple and secure way for remote and in-office workers to share daily work.

Other alternatives to VPNs include IAM (Identity and Access Management) platforms, PAM (Privileged Access Management) tools, and third party security platforms.

Common data storage options for small business


As the name suggests, an on-premises data storage solution involves having servers owned and managed by the data owner themselves. 

For larger organizations, the servers could be located at a private data center facility. However, a data storage system could consist of only a few machines in a dedicated room or closet for small businesses. 

Whatever you choose to work with, the defining factor of an on-premises storage option is that the data owner will have full responsibility for the premises on which the infrastructure holding the data is located. That way, you have greater control over the security and the accessibility of the data. 

However, on-premises storage may be a bit costly to set up compared to other file storage options for small businesses.


In the initial stages of your business, you may be content with an on-location data storage solution. But you may soon realize that your storage could be more demanding as your business begins to experience growth.

Fortunately, colocation may be a good option to help continue enjoying the control that is almost equal to an on-premises solution without having to deal with managing your equipment. In other words, you will collocate your equipment with a data center facility, which allows you to enjoy the features of the data center’s network infrastructure, such as equipment management and comprehensive security.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage is another excellent option for file storage for small businesses. Much like in colocation, the physical environment (or servers) is typically owned and managed by the hosting company.

One of the biggest advantages of using cloud storage is that it is cheap in that it does not require much in terms of investment. Additionally, cloud solutions provide for easy scalability, and your business can always source more storage space as needed without the need for extra hardware.

The main drawback to a cloud storage solution is its security risks due to its open nature. However, that doesn’t mean you could never use cloud storage for your business. 

For greater security, you may opt for private cloud deployments, which are implemented through vitalized infrastructure and offer better levels of security.

Final words

File and data storage is critical for any business. That is why you shouldn’t wait until you run out of space to create more. Instead, always plan ahead of time to avoid inconveniences that could cost you time and money.

Want To Lower Your Business Electricity Bill This Summer? Find Out How

Every business aims to increase production and reduce operating costs to the barest minimum. Electricity usage plays a crucial role in every business operation irrespective of the company’s sector. So, the higher the electricity utilized by a company, the higher the payment for the electricity bill.  

However, energy cost payable varies, and usage is subject to weather conditions. For instance, during winter, when the weather is cold and snowy, air-conditioning, refrigerators, and other cooling appliances usage drop drastically due to the cold weather, thus reducing the electricity bill. But the situation changes inversely during summer due to a high level of heat. 

To reduce your business electricity cost during summer, here are some tips to help you achieve your goal.

1. Install Daylight Control 

Daylight control is a technological device that uses sensors to adjust electric lighting in response to available daylight. This device reduces electrical bulb energy consumption, and it is suitable for a business situated in areas where sunlight is prevalent. With daylight control installed within your business premises, you will be able to minimize energy usage and cut down energy costs payable by at least 20% – 80%. 

In addition, if you newly install daylight control, ensure you check if it is compatible with your bulbs. However, if you have previously installed one before, check them out to see if they are still in good condition. 

2. Change The Air-conditioning Filters

When the weather is hot during summer, your air-conditioning needs to be in good shape due to rising heat. To minimize the cost of air-conditioning, always prioritize maintenance by changing the filter when the need arises. The continuous usage of a damaged filter usually causes the air-conditioning unit to overwork, leading to increased energy usage to power the appliance. In addition, if your business is situated in an area prone to dirt or dust, ensure you change the air-conditioning filter at least once per month.

3. Change your energy provider 

A lot of businesses use the same energy provider for many years, without realizing that they may be spending thousands of pounds monthly when there are cheaper options out there. The energy market is highly competitive and each company tries to offer the best price to their clients. Take advantage of this fact using this link and compare the pricing you are currently on with what other companies are offering. You might just be able to save a couple of pounds by just changing your energy provider. 

4. Nothing Compares To Natural Air

The primary purpose of installing cooling appliances such as air-conditioning and ceiling fans is to cool down the hot atmosphere, especially during the summer when the sun is more burning. If your company location is close to areas where the climate is cool at night and breezy during the day, using natural air to reduce heat is not a bad idea to conserve energy.

To reduce your energy cost and consumption, open your windows during the day, using natural ventilation to cool down the atmosphere without relying solely on air-conditioning and ceiling fans. Using natural ventilation is costless and healthier for the body system than air-conditioning other appliances.

5. Check out for insulation

Insulation is when air from outside enters the building, and conditioned air escapes through cracks. If your office space is insulated, it can be challenging to identify, making it difficult to ventilate. Always check through for any form of roof leakages to identify leaking spots. Eliminating the flow of air from outside and inside will keep your electricity consumption and cost at bay.

6. Unplug unused devices 

During working hours or close of business, ensure that devices that are not in use are correctly unplugged from their respective outlets. Depending on the company’s nature of business, only devices needed for daily operation should remain plugged. In a situation where some appliances or equipment will have to remain plugged consistently, you can reduce their energy consumption by using power strips. The use of power strips ensures that power consumption by devices is minimal when not in use. 

Every business needs electricity to sustain its operations. However, as a profit-oriented establishment, there is a need to block loopholes and manage cost-effectively. During summer, the weather becomes hotter compared to spring, autumn, and fall. To make the atmosphere around the business facility cooler, heat-controlling appliances such as ceiling fans and air conditioners must be in good condition. 

Following the tips outlined in this piece, you can effectively minimize your business energy cost all summer and reap the benefits of reduced energy consumption. Apart from saving you so much money, it’s also so much better for the environment. 

Top Tips to Help You Build Your App Faster and More Precise

App development has become a serious industry in the year 2021. It’s difficult to think about any brand or its presence online without using apps. Apps provide an attractive and easy way to connect users to your products and to brand your business. A lot of work goes into building the perfect app for your business. Whether your app will be designed to sell your product, communicate with your customers, or save pictures of cute cats, there’s a lot to think about. 

Developing an app is a great way to keep up with the times and bring your business more income. There are a lot of steps between having an idea for a great app and the final finished product. If you’ve ever wanted to know what you need to craft the perfect app, you’ve come to the right place! Here are the top tips you need to help you build your app the right way and in record time. Follow these tips to build your app faster and better!

Start with a Strong Concept

The first step in any successful business or personal venture is to make a plan. When it comes to creating and designing an app, it can be very easy to get muddled up in all the details. For starters, you need to identify what exactly your app will be providing to its users. Decide on the objectives of your app and what the overall concept is before you start the programming. Create a vision board of all the functions you would like to include to achieve your business goals through the app. Get creative and distill whatever great ideas you come up with into a solid, easy-to-follow plan that has room for improvement.

Who is the App For?

The next step in good app design is figuring out who the target audience is. The best idea in the world for an app means nothing if you don’t have a market for it. Identify your audience by researching the business potential of your app. This step is crucial for constructing both a successful and profitable app. Conduct some surveys, monitor the stats and trends, and ask around. There are plenty of ways to gain intel on who would be interested in your app. Once you’ve identified your target audience, you can begin to work on how to best connect with and provide for them.

How will your App Make Money?

Developing an app can cost a pretty penny. When developing a successful app you need to make sure that it will be profitable for your company in the long run. It’s important to ensure that the app is either lucrative or that development is effective and inexpensive. Outsourcing developers and app designers from flutter app development company is a great way to keep costs low while working. Outsourced professionals can finish the job quicker and better. There are many ways for your app to make money. In-app purchases, pay to download, or advertisements are all great ways to make sure that your app pays for itself. Research and decide on what would work best for your business.   

Features you Need and Features you Want

The next step in perfecting your app design and function is deciding on what features to add. Features make up a large part of why users like or dislike certain apps. Many businesses make the mistake of adding too many features to their apps which has a negative effect. When deciding on features, focus on the bare essentials. Take inspiration from popular successful apps and make them your own. When developing an app, adding is always easier than removing so think less is more when choosing what features to add. Prioritize function over beauty and your app will surely be a success.

Design and Develop your Prototype 

Now that you’ve answered all the tough questions, it’s finally time to start designing and developing. Get creative and find inspiration for your app design and have some fun with it. Choosing the color scheme, font, and animations is the easiest part. This part requires experienced graphic designers and developers. and After you’ve designed the wireframe, user journey, and user interface it’s time to begin the development stage. This is always the trickiest and most nerve-wracking part of app development. It’s important to not lose hope in your developers. Make sure you have the right team for the job or this stage will take a while. 

Keep your Team on the Same Page

The biggest mistake businesses make when developing an app is a lack of communication. In order for your app development to flow as smoothly as possible, you need to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Coordinating creative projects and projects that require a lot of people working together can be difficult. Remember to send those update emails, hold those meetings and try to stay on top of things. Take the necessary steps to ensure that everyone stays in the loop and that no one is doing their own thing without supervision. This will save you both time and money in the long run while you develop your app.

Review and Debug

After you’ve successfully released your prototype or final version of your app, you are officially done with phase one. Phase two includes reading through, listening to, and taking feedback from users. This phase is crucial if you want to develop a successful and respectable app. Consumer feedback can let you know about any bugs or problems that have slipped by testing. Constructive criticism from consumers can prove invaluable to your app’s longevity and future. Make sure to be open to suggestions from your audience and remember that a developer’s job is never truly done.

App development is a huge undertaking for any business of any size. If you want to make sure the development process goes as smoothly as possible you need to start off with a good plan. Having a strong concept beforehand and asking yourself the right questions is key. Doing the right research and planning ahead will save you both time and money. Finding the right team of expert designers, coders, and developers is necessary to get the job done right and fast. Keep your team on the same page and make sure that everyone is motivated and doing their job. Listen to your users and modify what you can to provide them with the best experience possible and your app is sure to be a success.

Understanding and Preventing Privilege Creep

Businesses are in the midst of a transition. Many are trying to determine what the right path forward is for them after the pandemic, as far as remote work or hybrid work. Some companies are bringing employees back to the office full-time, while others are going to implement more flexible policies.

There’s a lot to think about and potentially reconfigure for businesses right now after they were thrown into having employees work remotely because of COVID-19.

IT teams, in particular, are taking on a lot of that work. The IT teams in many workplaces are trying to figure out how to balance changing needs with cybersecurity risks that can come with long-term remote or hybrid work.

They also have to think about what it might look like to manage day-to-day IT concerns when teams are dispersed some or all of the time.

One big issue that can become more pervasive with remote work is privilege creep. It can go under the radar more if workers are on a hybrid or fully remote schedule, and it creates a significant cybersecurity threat.

With that in mind, the following are some of the main things to know about privilege creep and preventing it from occurring in an organization.

What is Privilege Creep?

Privilege creep is also known as access creep. This occurs when an employee, often gradually over time, gets more access rights than are needed to do their job.

Privilege or access creep can be the result of not revoking access that was granted for temporary or special projects or not making the necessary changes to reflect different job duties or requirements. When someone gets a promotion or takes on a different role in a company and they get new access privileges, but their previous roles aren’t revoked, it also contributes to this issue.

Basically, the overarching idea with privilege creep is that employees have access to data, resources, and applications not needed for their duties, which then puts the system at risk.

The biggest risk with privilege creep is often the potential for insider threats to occur. Also, a hacker may be able to get into higher levels of a company network if they have just one set of stolen credentials.

There are problems with compliance that can stem from privilege creep too. If your organization is one that’s in an industry handling sensitive data, such as health records, and there is privilege creep happening, you may not be in compliance with laws and regulations.

Along with cybersecurity issues that can come from privilege or access creep, there’s also an impact on productivity. You want your employees to only use what’s absolutely necessary for their job. The more access they have, the more time they might waste on things like recovering passwords.

Preventing privilege creep can have the added benefit of streamlining workflows.

Conduct Regular Access Reviews

One of the most important things you can do on a regular basis is conducting access reviews.

An access review should be part of your overall cybersecurity plan. Access reviews allow you to get a view of who has access to what. Set a timetable when you’ll regularly conduct access reviews to audit existing permissions.

You can analyze all the user accounts that are part of your organization. Make sure that everyone within the organization has access to only what they need.

If you’re part of a larger organization, you might rotate audits across departments.

Each employee should have access privileges reviewed at least biannually. Their current permissions need to be both assessed and justified during an audit.

You also want to take away permissions they don’t need and delve into why they have those permissions and why they weren’t removed.

Formalize Your Employee Change Process

A good way to avoid privilege creep and other cybersecurity risks is to formalize the steps in the process when an employee goes through a change. This might mean a demotion or promotion or any kind of change in role.

The IT department should be in the loop on these changes in addition to human resources.

Always Follow the Principle of Least Privilege

The Principle of Least Privilege or POLP is a reference to best practices to reduce cybersecurity risks associated with privilege creep.

The idea is that any user, process, or program has the bare minimum privileges required.

By adhering to this principle, you’re reducing the likelihood of an attacker getting access to sensitive data or critical systems.

If there is a compromise in the system, it can stay confined to its origin area, or at least that’s more likely what’s going to happen with POLP.

To provide an example, Edward Snowden leaked millions of files from the NSA because he had admin privileges. His highest-level role was creating backups of the database. Now, in the time since that happened, the NSA uses the principle of least privilege, and around 90% of employees have had higher-level access privileges revoked.

Another example is Target. Hackers got access to tens of millions of Target customer accounts because an HVAC contractor had certain permissions. Target allowed itself to have a broad attack surface because it didn’t implement the principle of least privilege.

A few best practice tips to implement POLP include:

  • As was touched on above, you’ll need to do a privilege audit. You should check all the accounts that currently exist and programs to make sure they have only the permissions needed to do their job.
  • All accounts should, as a rule, start with least privilege. Any new account privileges should, as a default, be as low as possible.
  • All admin accounts should be separated from standard accounts.
  • If someone needs elevated privileges, restrict them only to the time periods when they’re needed.
  • Set it up so that you can track individual actions.

Limiting privileges and maintaining principles of least privilege is an important component of modern cybersecurity. It should be one of the biggest priorities for an organization because not doing so creates an enormous attack surface and opportunities for lateral movement at a minimum.

3 Myths that Surround LMS – Learning Management Systems

Over the past few years, Learning Management Systems have become an indispensable part of the corporate world. There is a steady rise in the Global LMS Market. Businesses across a wide range of industries use LMS solutions, like Litmos LMS, to improve their employee efficiency and productivity. In addition to this, many schools, colleges, and universities are now using LMS to impart quality education without risking the health of their teachers and students during this pandemic.

However, the world is full of surprises. One such surprise is that some organizations are still skeptical about LMS. This is the result of business owners putting their beliefs in baseless myths and misconceptions that float in the market.

If you do not believe us, then keep reading this blog! Here, we have curated a list of the 3 most shocking myths or misconceptions that surround LMS

1. LMS Demands a Large Investment

The biggest myth about LMS is that installing or implementing them in your organization will cost you a fortune. It is believed that the burden it casts upon your financial resources far outweighs the benefits it can ever offer you. Unsurprisingly, this is entirely wrong. While integrating new technology like LMS into your business operations requires a considerable amount of money initially, it proves to be the most cost-effective solution in the long run. This is pure logic. Understand that once you implement an LMS, you will be conducting most of your employee training and learning activities online. LMS will cut down your cost drastically by eliminating the need to maintain physical classroom structures or hire external venues. It will also reduce the time and cost involved in paperwork, transportation etc.

Plus, the market is full of LMS that come with unique and affordable pricing structures. For example, Litmos LMS has a subscription-based pricing structure accompanied by a free trial. You can easily compare all the products available in the market and choose the one that best suits your budget.

2. LMS Only Supports Online Learning

Another misconception about LMS is that they only support online learning. Now, we cannot entirely blame people who believe this theory as the primary function of an LMS is to facilitate online learning. However, organizations need to realize that technological innovations take place at a very high pace. Thus, the advanced versions of LMS that are available today come with an in-built feature of offline access. This means that now your employees can access training and course material even without an active internet connection. They can download all the required content on their device and access it on the offline platform on the LMS itself and learn at their own pace. This feature is particularly beneficial if you are planning to offer employee training during this pandemic. It will allow your employee who might be working from a remote location to continue with his training without worrying about the stability of the internet. This will also protect such employees from feeling left out or inferior for missing out on the training.

In addition to this, LMS also supports Instructor-Led Training (ILT) by allowing you to conduct live classes using its virtual classrooms. Thus, one can truly say that the current learning management system (LMS) is a comprehensive package that encourages various types of learning and is no longer limited to online training.

 3. One Should Always Choose the Most Advanced LMS

The third most common misconception regarding LMS is that one should always choose the most advanced LMS. This is a very misguided approach because the decision of which LMS to implement should depend entirely on your organization’s needs. It is pointless to choose an LMS with all the latest features and uber-cool aspects if your company doesn’t really require them. Thus, instead of running after the most advanced LMS, you should compare and contrast all the available options to find out the one that best suits your needs.


The eLearning sector, like the rest of the world, is riddled with myths. Thus, you should be cautious and verify the accuracy of any information you receive to prevent these myths from affecting your organization.

What to Look for in a Kubernetes Management Solution

Finding a Kubernetes management solution shouldn’t leave you out of sorts or winded from warding off time-wasters on the attack. When you’re trying to deliver applications on time, you need tools to boost company efficiency, not hurt it. To ensure that your Kubernetes system is operating as planned, you should keep your eyes peeled for the following key features in a management tool. 

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is a container-based system designed to help the development and scaling of applications. Initially, Google developed Kubernetes. Later on, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation swooped in and assumed responsibility for management. Today, both big and small companies use this infrastructure because of how readily the entire system scales. 

This system works by creating containers, which are vessels for applications and their libraries. Virtual machines riding inside these containers deploy across nodes, which is a network of associated computers. Once they arrive, the container renders the virtual machines needed to carry out the application.

Kubernetes suits the purpose of creating databases and accessing application data. By dispersing the containers across many nodes, the computing power for the whole system gets distributed out, keeping any singular node from overworking. 

Key facets for a Kubernetes management solution

While many Kubernetes management solutions have all sorts of features, there are some key things to consider when choosing a management solution:

Production usability

A management tool needs to suit your production needs if it’s going to be useful. Security, accessibility, and native managerial tools are essential factors in making a management solution worth your time. You should also ensure that your management solution can scale well and keep up with your Kubernetes infrastructure. 


With the trend of multiple cloud solutions at full velocity, many businesses have rejected all-eggs-in-one-basket mentalities and started relying on several cloud vendors to meet their data and storage needs. For those business owners still searching for a management tool that can keep up with day-to-day business operations, this security trend will be crucial as your data needs evolve. 

Ease of use

Managing a cluster of nodes is a challenge in itself. If your management solution introduces another layer of complexity, your team will have a more challenging time keeping the system running well. 

In many cases, data analysis throws administrators for a loop. Luckily, several management solutions offer ways to analyze data natively, letting your admins work more on maintaining the infrastructure. 

Ongoing support and training

Make sure that your Kubernetes management solution comes from a vendor with solid support and training programs. Getting off on the right foot with training will help you launch your solution successfully, while support will ensure solutions as quickly as possible. 

In summary

A Kubernetes management solution should be ready for use at your business, allow you to grow with it, be easy to use, and have ongoing support from the vendor. Extra features sprinkled on top of those spotlighted above are simply frosting and won’t be the most crucial over the long term. 

So, the next time you shop for a management solution, keep these key things in mind to ensure you have the tool you need for the job. 

5 ways SMEs Benefit from Automated Call Center Services

Fact: any contact center can benefit from automation. Generally, contact centers are the part of the business that most benefit from automation.

Bringing down costs is often the main motivation, and that’s especially important for SMEs.

But the impact of automated inbound call center services actually runs a lot deeper than that. The other benefits may be less obvious… but that can have as big an impact on a company’s success.

1. Automation can improve the customer experience

If you say ‘automation’ in the call center context, many people think about systems which save money, but which also create horrible experiences for customers.

It doesn’t need to be that way!

Automation can have a major positive impact on how your customer interacts with your brand.

Take Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) for example. CTI can automatically identify customers when they call in.

That’s helpful because:

  • It cuts down on the time they spend in IVR
  • It means they don’t start the call explaining who they are to an agent
  • They don’t need to dig out some long-forgotten customer reference number

CTI is a small example. Automation also enables more ambitious call center services like virtual queueing. Virtual queuing is one of the best ways to reduce waiting time and means your customers don’t get stuck listening to hold music.

One more example – automated outbound SMS. Sending customers an SMS with whatever information they need might mean they don’t even need to wait for an agent. That’s a simple bit of automation that’s guaranteed to reduce call volume and make life a whole lot easier for customers!

2. Automation can improve the *agent* experience

Call centers are bad at retaining staff. Why is that?

One problem that’s common to practically every customer service team is this: they hire people who are bubbly, fun and chatty. After all, that’s the kind of person you want helping customers.

But – most of the work those people end up doing is data entry. And how many people are a good fit for both data entry work and customer service?

Not many.

Here’s how automation can help.

It’s actually pretty simple to automate data entry. In the last point we talked about CTI. Well, CTI means your systems know who your callers are, and can find them in your call center CRM.

And if your system knows who’s calling, it can record information about their call.

There are a ton of examples like this. Automating tickets, automating follow-ups, automating scheduling… the goal is to automate all the boring stuff that no agent wants to do.

That leaves them free to focus on having great interactions. 

3. Automation means clean and shiny data

While we’re thinking about data entry, let’s think about where it goes wrong.

The main issue is human error. Take this blog post – it’s written by a startlingly talented professional, but I’m sure there are a few typos in the mix…

Meanwhile, it’s almost unthinkable for an automated system to make a data entry mistake.

Therefore, if you can automate large swathes of data entry, you’ll get cleaner customer data. What’s more, you can automatically update data across *any* number of systems. 

Here’s an everyday example. An important customer gets in touch to discuss an ongoing issue which the agent is fully able to resolve for them.

No automation? Then the agent will need to update the call log, lose the ticket in your Helpdesk software and make a note in the CRM.

Yes automation? The agent only needs to close the Helpdesk tickets – that information is automatically replicated everywhere else. 

4. Automation makes you far more flexible

Is there anything more important to the long-term health of a contact center than flexibility? Probably not.

Flexibility means reviewing and improving the way you work… but there’s a catch!

If you change the way you work, you have to retrain staff. That costs money and it costs time. It can also be quite frustrating for agents if they;re forever playing catch-up.

But how would it be if your processes are mostly automated? Surely then they’re easy to update?

Yes! In theory… butin practice it 100% depends on how involved the contact center is in designing its own processes.

Here’s a crazy fact: under a quarter of contact centers enjoy full collaboration in the design of their own processes.

It’s for this reason that planners are turning to No-Code automation to bring their ideal call center services to life.

Because there’s no coding required, a non-tech person in the contact center can design and implement the processes they’ve always wanted – and that’s the ticket for an incredible amount of flexibility!

5. Automation can create super personalized services

This is counter-intuitive, right? The more you automate, the more you can personalize services. 

Here’s why.

With automation in the mix, you can design services for every eventuality. You can draw from every piece of data you have about customers and feed that into the service you provide.

Take call routing. The first step in a really personalized service because your ACD system will receive information from surrounding systems. That influences the routing decisions it makes.

What about automatic follow-up actions like SMS or email? You could even be totally proactive by automatically contacting customers with known issues.

And let’s not neglect those cost savings!

Back to where we started. All of the benefits we’ve covered here will, in their own ways, contribute to a healthier bottom line. Some, like clean data, reduce costs. Others, like greater staff and customer retention have a massive cumulative impact on costs.

OIt’s benefits like that which make automation such a must-have for modern call center services!

Best Security and Privacy Tips for Remote Work

With employees across the globe being sent home with laptops, the issue of cybersecurity has gained particular relevance for business owners. Not only do entrepreneurs have to accelerate the digitalization of their companies, but they also have to ensure their digital safety. And when the pandemic-related transformation of businesses comes to an end, a large percentage of employees might wish to continue working remotely. Therefore, it is essential to ensure business employees follow sound digital security practices while working from home.

Let’s take a look at the best security and privacy tips for remote work.

Enable two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is the access control mechanism that makes it more difficult for malicious agents to infiltrate your employees’ devices and your company’s network. With 2FA enabled, a randomly generated code, along with a password, is required to log in to an account. This code can be generated with the help of free apps such as Google Authenticator.

If a cybercriminal steals a password, which is not exceptionally difficult these days, they will not be able to immediately gain access to the system. Given the ease of use and the fact that 2FA is essentially free, this security tip is not to be ignored.

Establish a VPN connection

Virtual private network (VPN) apps allow remote employees to establish a secure connection to counter numerous digital risks.  VPN apps can help to anonymize your employees and shield their privacy, for example. They can also make it harder for cybercriminals to illegally gain access to your office resources such as databases, productivity suites and project management software, among others.

When properly configured, a VPN connection allows employees to use the Internet to access work resources safely while hindering unauthorized access for everyone else. With regards to configuration, it does not require too much technical know-how and can be set-up by virtually anyone. Therefore, even if your company does not have a dedicated IT department, don’t feel discouraged to set up a secure VPN connection for your employees.

Use an Antivirus

Although malware is a constant, unremitting threat, it presents more danger for remote employees than for your office workforce. Whereas it is possible to protect the latter with network and endpoint security measures, the former are left exposed. For this reason, remote team members should be encouraged to install the best antiviruses for Mac or PC. With a security solution running in the background, your employees would gain a considerable degree of protection, not only against malware and viruses, but also against hacking attempts such as phishing.

You are advised to opt for professional rather than free antiviruses. Unlike their free counterparts, professional antiviruses are much more adept at detecting dangers before they spread through computer systems. Also, some commercial security software offers an at-a-glance view of protected assets and prevents individual users from disabling the protection.

Backup critical data

The recent spike of high-profile ransomware attacks proves one thing: no matter how seemingly impregnable your firewall is, someone will eventually bypass it. If the worst does happen, your employees should be able to restore their data without paying an exorbitant ransom. And the most reliable path to recovering your data? That age old practice of backup.

Make sure your employees regularly backup their data to public clouds such as Amazon S3, Azure or Wasabi. With the use of automated data protection solutions, both backup and recovery processes can be effortless and fast.

Run cybersecurity training

No matter how reliable your digital safeguards are, if the workforce is not familiar with safe browsing habits and other essentials of cybersecurity, a breach will inevitably occur. Therefore, it is of huge importance to ensure that every employee knows how to protect their own and their company’s digital assets.

It does not matter that much who conducts cybersecurity training in your company. Whether it is a member of the IT department or a third-party contractor, the important thing is to run the training regularly. After all, the cybersecurity landscape is constantly shifting and you need to ensure that all employees have up-to-date knowledge on how to deal with any potential threats.

To Wrapping Up

As the number of high-profile breaches continues to increase, you have to take actionable measures to tighten cybersecurity in your company. Even with a small amount of effort in the areas where it matters most, you can noticeably improve your cybersecurity preparedness, thereby saving your company’s digital assets and protecting your employees’ privacy.

22 Remote Team Management Techniques That Will Save You From Stress

In 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, many companies were forced to shift employees to remote work. But not everyone was ready for such a sudden transition. Dealing with remote teams has caused enormous difficulties for managers. How do you motivate employees to work remotely? What tools and platforms to use? How to control employees and avoid mistakes?

Treat remote work with interest and remain calm. It is a great way to test the flexibility of your business processes and improve them. In this article, we’re talking about effective ways to manage your remote team to get great results from your work.

What Tools Your Remote Team May Need

For starters, divide all remote employees into several teams and assign supervisors. It is believed that one distributed team managed by a manager should not have more than 8-10 participants. Larger teams are more difficult to manage, especially remotely.

1. Choose a remote team and a project management system

To manage a remote team, you can’t do without a CRM system. You need to create a “virtual office” to concentrate the main work with projects there.

  • Microsoft Teams Direct Routing is a simple and uncomplicated way for businesses to make use of AVOXI’s worldwide voice inventory and superior call quality while using MS Teams. Through hosted SBC, AVOXI links voice effortlessly, allowing remote workers to simply route and accept calls from over 170 countries.
  • Trello is a colorful and user-friendly platform where you can create project boards, assign a person to be responsible for a certain task, etc.
  • Asana is a convenient tool for planning and working with projects, which is used by Uber, Airbnb, and Pinterest. Here, you can communicate with a remote team member, post-project tasks, and monitor employee productivity.
  • YouGile is another easy and convenient project management and team communication system. You can subscribe to any task, discuss it, and receive notifications.
  • Microsoft Teams is a corporate workspace platform. It has all the necessary tools for teamwork (chat, file exchange, video, and audio communication, notes).
  • Jira is a powerful CRM system, which is equipped with a variety of necessary tools for business and integrates with many cloud applications.
  • ClicData is a new dark horse in the cloud-based data analytics tools industry. Its platform proposes more than 200 connectors so you can easily import your data and create reports with centralized statistics. Since it is 100% online, your reports can be worked on and shared within your team effortlessly.

Try several platforms and choose the one you like best for the interface and features your team needs.

2. Select additional tools for employee interaction

It is important to find convenient programs for working remotely with projects and for communicating with each team member. We have selected the most popular and convenient tools that can be useful for you.

● Slack is a handy corporate messenger for communicating and transferring files. It easily integrates with Trello and many other applications.
● Zoom is a platform for video conferencing, which can involve several hundred people. It integrates with Dropbox and Microsoft Outlook.
● Google Docs is a resource for working with documents, which allows participants to simultaneously make edits, leave comments, and communicate.
● Zapier is a program to help sort out routine tasks. It can be integrated with Gmail and Trello so that emails automatically become new tasks.
● Miro is an interactive whiteboard for ideas and thinking. You can draw, write, glue stickers, etc.
● Creately is a platform for brainstorming and planning for remote teams.

3. Take care of corporate security

Employees store business information on laptops and smartphones, so it is important to protect that data. Use special programs for information security.

● Norton 360 is a multifunctional program that not only protects against viruses but also makes backup files in the cloud for PC, monitors connections between the protected device and other computers, and blocks unauthorized traffic.
● 1Password is a program for storing passwords.

4. Protect your employees from information overload

It is also useful to reduce all chats, emails, and conference calls to 1 or 2 programs, as it is extremely difficult to work with multiple tools, switching from one messenger to another, and so on. It takes so much time and effort.

Choose one CRM system, one messenger, one video-call program for your team, and that will be enough for a small business.

5. Invest in the right equipment and software for convenient work

We recommend providing employees with a headset (headphones + microphone) for good communication. Think about what tools and accessories your remote team might need.

For example, Automattic, the creator of WordPress, not only provides its employees with the equipment they need but also gives $2,000 to set up a home office.

Listen to employees’ suggestions about the need for any software to work with. For example, SEO professionals may need Key Collector software, so buy a license just for specific employees.

The First Steps in Managing a Remote Team

The “virtual office” is ready, now we need to deal with the training of employees. Remotely explaining to a person what is required of him is not easy. The manager needs to set up the business processes correctly.

6. Formulate ground rules for the remote team

First, write out how you see your remote team’s workday and create a manual for the work.

Prepare online training documents for remote interaction. Then distribute them for the team members so that they understand what programs and platforms they will have to work in with the rest of the team.

7. Assign a mentor to a new employee

A supervisor will help understand the work process, answer the newcomer’s questions, and support him in a friendly way. Skyeng, where 90% of employees work remotely, recommends scheduling daily meetings in the first week. Discuss with the new employee what they did well, what challenges they had, and why.

8. Make the schedule flexible

Some employees are productive at 7 a.m.; others are more comfortable starting at noon. GitHub, the largest web service for hosting IT projects, advises allowing employees to manage their own time.

If members of a distributed team live in different time zones, agree on a convenient time slot for everyone to be in touch. Don’t forget about the national holidays! Therefore, you can keep a shared calendar, where it will be clear what days which employee has a holiday. You can use Calendly software to do this.

Work Process and Motivation of Distributed Team Members

A good manager should be an example to the entire team. Show your employees how to set goals, fulfill tasks, maintain discipline, and be independent in their work.

9. For remote work, choose those employees who can work in this mode

First of all, assemble a team of specialists who know and like to work remotely. Not everyone is ready for this. Someone is constantly distracted by household chores, can’t sit still, is often absent from his or her workplace, and is difficult to contact by video link.

Therefore, we recommend testing the candidates on the ability to work remotely for 2-3 days. If the person is not quite suitable for such work, it is better to offer him a vacancy in the office.

10. Establish a trusting relationship with your team

Start with yourself! The manager’s openness will make the other team members feel relaxed. Share pictures of your home office, family, pet, establish a buddy relationship with employees.

11. Motivate employees to achieve their goals

Many employees care not only about financial motivation, but also the possibility of career growth, extra days off, a comfortable workplace, bonuses, training courses. So be sure to introduce an internal system of rewards and motivation for your distributed team.

For example, you can make a bonus system. For their help in solving tasks, each employee will have the opportunity to give bonuses to his colleagues. At the end of the month, the accumulated bonuses can be spent on extra time off or corporate gifts.

12. Focus on the result, not the activity

Many managers make the big mistake of managing a remote team by starting to track every step of the employees. This leads to an unwillingness to work effectively and damaged team relationships.

Forbes recommends that managers focus on results instead of monitoring every hour employees work. Give up micromanagement!

Allow the employee to allocate their own time and prioritize tasks. After all, you’ve assembled a team of experts, not interns. You can monitor the work of your employees without excessive control through the CRM system or weekly reports.

13. Try the 360° method for evaluating work

The 360° method involves evaluating an employee “from all sides,” i.e. not only the manager, but also colleagues, subordinates, and the employee himself. This is a great way to identify the strengths and weaknesses of employees and to outline a way to improve their performance.

Communication in a Remote Team: 7 Effective Tips

The main problem with remote work is the communication and distance barriers that prevent project participants from feeling like a team. Employees feel like strangers who cannot meet in person, chat in the office, have coffee together at lunch, or participate in a “live” discussion of project tasks.

The manager should help their team get rid of barriers and create a friendly environment for working together and interacting creatively. Here are a few tips that have helped many companies bridge the virtual divide between employees.

14. Don’t limit communication to text chat, communicate via video

During communication, people use about 10,000 nonverbal signals per minute. Therefore, face-to-face contact is necessary to better understand each other. Contact your employees by a video call from time to time or hold a mini-conference.

15. Separate chat, video, and email

All of these tools are necessary for communication, but you need to agree with your team when and how to contact each other. There is no need to make a video call for any reason, just a chat.

But if you want to discuss some task, it is better to talk via video call so that you can see the true intentions and emotions of the employee. This is necessary to avoid misunderstandings.

Email communication is better left for business communication with clients because this tool is not suitable for quick communication.

16. Do not forget about the corporate culture of communication

The manager’s task is to create a comfortable virtual office life for each employee. To do this, all members of the team should follow a few rules of online communication.

17. Use emojis when communicating with colleagues

Some companies think emojis are beyond corporate etiquette, but they’re not. Sara Rosso, director of marketing at Automattic, says she uses emoticons with her colleagues all the time. It is necessary to understand each other’s emotions.

Video communication is good, but not everyone is ready for this way of interaction every day, so use emojis to convey your mood.

18. Make gifs or stickers of your company

An assignment for graphic designers is to make cool stickers for your remote team. For a lunch break, you can make a sticker with an employee who eats whenever you text him or her. For acknowledgment of receiving a new task, make a funny “accepted” gif for the person who says that most often. Stickers and gifs will lift your spirits and brighten your workday.

19. Chat for non-work communication of employees

In a regular office, employees can chat in the hallway or in the kitchen. In a virtual space, there is no such opportunity. So make an informal chat group. There, you can talk about everything: the graduation of the son, the wife’s birthday, trips out of town, etc. Let this chat open all the time in the background, it creates that feeling of presence.

20. Encourage employees to turn off chats and not check email after hours

Many employees answer work emails even in the middle of the night, this shouldn’t be the case. A person should rest and clearly distinguish between working and non-working hours. Otherwise, such an employee is prone to rapid burnout, and eventually, he will stop coping with his work duties because of chronic fatigue. Advise your team not to forget the principle of 8-8-8 (8 hours of work, 8 hours of sleep, and 8 hours of rest).

Fun Activities for the Team

The secret to the success of a remote team is a friendly atmosphere, fun communication, and trust. Friendly relationships can be maintained at a distance, even if you have never met in person. The manager’s job is to rally the team and set a positive mood.

21. Have a fun get-together once or twice a week

Get together in video chats as often as possible to get to know each other better. Talk about the weather, hobbies, share skills, suggest movies, discuss computer games, have “remote” lunches. You can also set up virtual team-building events like escape rooms from Escapely to promote team unity and have a little fun with it! All of this is necessary to avoid feeling lonely. Create a remote office that is fun and comfortable for everyone involved.

22. Hold field trips

It is important for the team members to have the opportunity to meet in person, socialize, and have a great time at least once a year. Large companies arrange employee meetings in Thailand, France, or Montenegro, choosing locations depending on the preferences of the remote team. Such meetings are an opportunity not only to relax but also to bond.

For example, Automattic organizes a 7-day Grand Meetup trip for its employees from all over the world every year. Colleagues get to know each other, discuss projects, share experiences, and just have fun at the parties. Make it a practice in your company, too!

The first month of managing a remote team can seem like a challenge until you set up distance business processes. As soon as there is communication between everyone involved in the project, and there is team spirit, your company’s business will take off!

Allow employees to be more independent, encourage them, motivate them to work for results, enjoy on-site meetings, all this will make your team members friends who trust and help each other go to success.

10 Steps to Take If You Feel Stagnant in Your Career

If you’ve done the same thing every day for 10 years, it’s only natural that you would feel as if your momentum may have come to a screeching halt. Most of us like the idea of continuously advancing in our career, making more money, earning better and more important titles, and thereby feeling like we’re growing as individuals.

But sooner or later, we may hit a rut, and feel stagnating in our current role. Could this be a plateau where you’ll stay for the rest of your working life?

It doesn’t have to be. If you’re feeling stationary in your current position, you can take several steps to reinvigorate yourself and create new momentum.

Steps to Take to Achieve Forward Motion

Try some or all of these ten steps to breathe new life into your career:

1. Get a new certification

First, think about seeking a new certification. For example, if you work in accounting, you could pass the CPA exam to become a CPA. Depending on your current role and your certification, this might enable you to earn more money, have a shot at a substantial promotion, and even open a door to entrepreneurial opportunities. No matter what, you’ll get the chance to learn new skills and engage in activities that enable you to break from the norm.

2. Learn a new skill

You could also make the effort to learn a new skill, even if it diverges from your current areas of expertise. For example, you could take up computer programming or learn how to work with a new piece of software. This will keep you engaged, make you a more well-rounded professional, and could open the door to some interesting opportunities down the road.

3. Branch out to other departments

How often do you talk to people from other departments in your organization? If your firm suffers from a persistent silo mentality, you may rarely, if ever, reach outside your own circle. Getting acquainted with colleagues in other departments can help you understand better how your organization works, and give you an opportunity to network and learn new things – all of which can be good for your career.

4. Take on a new responsibility

Don’t request a new responsibility; take one on. Step in to address something that no one else wants to touch, or expand some area of the business. It can keep you challenged and interested in your work – and looks impressive when it comes time for supervisors to evaluate you for a promotion or raise.

5. Talk to your bosses

Are you feeling trapped or bored? Consider talking to your bosses about your status. They may have ideas or new directives that will help you to feel more challenged, or shift you to a new position entirely.

6. Start a side hustle

If you’re not getting what you want or need from your main career, why not attempt a side hustle? Pick up a hobby and turn it into a business, or dabble in a new industry you’ve always wanted to investigate. It could turn into a full-time gig later, if you choose.

7. Look for a transfer opportunity

If you like this company and you’re just tired of the same environment, look into the potential for a transfer. Moving to a new department or a different location could be the fresh breath of air you need to feel good about your career again.

8. Work for a promotion

You may already be doing this, but consider aiming for a specific promotion. Depending on your industry and the nature of the business, this could be a new role that’s several years off, but if you start laboring toward it now, you may feel a surge of inspiration and motivation that will carry you to your end goal.

9. Apply to jobs with other businesses (or start your own)

If opportunities are rare at your current place of employment, think about applying for jobs with other businesses. You could even start a company of your own in your industry.

10. Change careers entirely

Of course, if nothing else is working, or you’re just finished with the industry you’ve been in, you might plan a complete career change. It’s never too late to jump into a totally different line of work.

Embrace Change

No matter what you do, if you want to break free of your feelings of stagnation, it’s important to embrace change. Thanks to status quo bias (and a bit of laziness), most of us prefer to keep things the same for as long as possible.

But if you allow yourself to remain complacent and simply accept the patterns you’ve fallen into over many years, you’ll never make any progress. You have to change something if you want different results; there’s no other way forward.