In this article we’ll address how SMBs can and should be using technology to future proof their organization and establish a stable foundation for their operations no matter how or where their teams need to be working.
Forward thinking SMBs have transitioned to a culture of digital hypercommunication. Tools like Zoom have become household names, but most SMBs neglect the power of communications platforms they’re already paying for.
Communications and collaboration tools
Any SMB using the Microsoft suite has Teams included in their subscription. Teams is a communication and collaboration platform that delivers video conferencing, voice calls, chat, file sharing, and more. If you’re not a Microsoft shop you may opt for a solution from Google or a third party tool like Zoom. No matter your choice, we recommend using the one that integrates seamlessly into your workflows to provide your staff with remote access to one another.
VOIP phone systems
While VOIP phone systems may have already been a part of your pre-pandemic operations, many small businesses aren’t fully capitalizing on this tech to enhance communications between their team.
If you have certain members of the team who are regularly working from home, you need them to be as connected in their home office as they are at their company workstation. That said, lugging around office equipment is about as inconvenient as it gets. Plus you’ll risk serious damage to your expensive hardware.
Most VOIP solutions offer a softphone solution that allows you to take calls from your laptop or home computer and use a headset for convenience, sound quality and ergonomics. If your solution doesn’t already equip you with and highly recommend the usage of soft phones be sure to check with your IT partner as this simple shift will quickly deliver a positive ROI in terms of productivity, security and morale.
Productivity and Efficiency
Collaborating on projects with some or all of your team working from home means no “over the shoulder explanations'' or shouting across the office to figure out where a file is stored. It definitely rules out all of the in person brainstorming and collaboration sessions in the meeting room.
The solutions below are some of our more frequent recommendations to support increased productivity and efficiency while working remotely.
Teams allows you to chat back and forth in an easy to organize way and saves your message history for later so you can search for those important notes your colleagues drop in with. It also allows for simple file sharing so you can be working on a file in multiple locations with multiple people, all the while sharing screens and going over the document or file in question in real time (almost as if you were in the office).
Sharepoint is Microsoft’s high powered and equality as underutilized intranet platform. It allows for company wide updates to be shared via a customized dashboard that is set up specifically for your company. Think of it like the default desktop or start screen for your organization, it’s where everyone starts when they first login. Plus you can access all of your company’s most important resources, links to critical files and company information. In fact, Sharepoint is so robust that it often requires an IT professional or team to help SMBs get their full value from it, but it’s well worth it after it’s been implemented.
The most successful SMBs are those that think about the big picture when making decisions about their operations. One of the most critical is how your business will handle emergencies such as hardware failure that takes months or years of company records with it, or user error that deletes critical data (especially when working outside of the office).
Moreover, with the frequency of cyberattacks having increased by more than 600% since the start of COVID-19, planning for emergencies is no longer optional, even for SMBs that don’t consider themselves a target. .
If you’re on the Office 365 business or business premium suite, you already have access to Azure, Microsoft’s data backup platform.
With the help of your friendly neighborhood IT experts you can implement a system to regularly (daily in most cases) backup your entire company’s data without anyone so much as lifting a finger.
Expert IT resources like the ones you get at MyITpros can help you establish a system of regular backups that allow you to keep your business running.
Onsite servers crash? You’re backed up. Employee deletes the entire file of a major account? It’s in the cloud. Cybercriminal breaches your network and threatens to delete your data? You’ve got copies.
We just covered the dramatic increase in cybercrime as a result of the pandemic and can’t complete this article without mentioning cybersecurity measures. With so many people working from home and outside the safety of their office networks, plus all the digital communication being sent back and forth between colleagues.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to secure your remote team and dramatically reduce your vulnerability. The topic of cybersecurity is really deserving of its own article (or several). We have resources on the topic to help you better prepare your organization for operating in an age of unprecedented cybercrime.
- This article outlines the fundamentals of email fraud, the top 3 email based types of cyber-attacks and why user awareness training for your team is so important.
- Given the article above will likely inspire you to take immediate action, our User Awareness Training Deck is a powerpoint presentation you can deliver to your entire team that goes over the most common types of attack, the impact to the business, and most importantly, how they can take simple (free) measures to protect the company and themselves against the devastating impact of a breach.
- While you’re evaluating your cybersecurity posture you may want to identify whether or not you’ve been breached in the past. Our Complimentary Dark Web Scan will tell you whether or not any of your company’s sensitive data is out there on the dark web for cybercriminals to exploit.
At this point you have several actionable steps you can take to pandemic proof your business. Most of the tools we recommend are already at your fingertips, you just need to implement them. If you’re interested in having the support of an expert partner to help you through that implementation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here.