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Work From Home – Office Ergonomic Checklist

Even with the pandemic and the shift to work from home (“WFH”), business owners remain responsible for making sure employees’ home work spaces are safe, comfortable, and effective.  For employees working at a computer most of the day, bad ergonomics can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and sciatica.  MSDs can be uncomfortable or painful for employees.  Beyond the impact on productivity and job satisfaction, MSDs often require medical treatment and can result in longer term disabilities.

When employees work from home, the are unlikely to have the same chair and workstation options as they do at the office.  Businesses should do what they can to help employees maintain good posture and relieve strain.

This short checklist can help you evaluate work from home environments. Have employees answer these questions to determine if any changes are needed and appropriate. Often, small adjustments to the work space can improve ergonomics and reduce the risk of injury.

General

  • Are items that you frequently use located close by?
  • Are items positioned equally on both sides, i.e., not all on the dominant side of your body?

Chair

  • Are feet resting flat on the floor, with hips slightly higher than knees?
  • Does the chair fit the contour of your back? If you can, adjust the back rest up or down to fit the
    natural curve of your lower back with the curve of the chair.
  • Is there a two-finger gap between the back of your lower legs and the seat of your chair? If
    possible, adjust the seat pan forward or backward to correctly fit it to the length of your legs.
  • Are both chair arms are at the same height to prevent you from leaning one way throughout the
    day?
  • Can you use your keyboard and mouse without twisting or reaching? Note: If you can’t get the
    keyboard or monitor low enough for your body type then raise your chair and use a footrest to
    obtain the ideal height for the chair, keyboard, and monitor.

Keyboard

  • Is the keyboard close to elbow level to help keep the wrists straight? Note: Don’t use high force to
    type on your keyboard as force can put strain on your muscles and ligaments.
  • Is the mouse located right next to the keyboard so it can be operated without reaching?
  • Can you move your mouse cursor from one end of your screen(s) to the other without picking it
    up? (Adjust mouse/pointer settings as needed in your software)

Computer monitor(s)

  • Can you see the display of both monitors without looking downward or to either side?
  • Does the distance from your monitor(s) to your eyes allow you to read the screen without leaning
    your head, neck, or trunk forward or backward?
  • Is the monitor positioned so the top line of the screen is no higher than eye level? Note: If you
    wear bifocals and you feel like you’re always looking down, you should adjust your monitors lower
    than the normal height to use the bifocal part of your glasses.

Varying positions

  • When possible, do you make small adjustments to your chair or backrest to keep from staying in
    the same posture for long periods of time?
  • Do you stretch your fingers, hands, arms, and torso throughout the day?
  • At least hourly, do you stand up and walk around for a few minutes periodically?
  • If possible, do you perform some of your tasks in a standing position? Note: When adjusting height of your
    desk or monitor, ensure it is on a sturdy surface with proper adjustment of your mouse also.

If you cannot answer “Yes” to most, if not all, of these questions, we can help.  Cumulus Global can provide ergonomic aids — from keyboards and wrist supports to monitor arms and sit/stand desks. Email us or complete our contact form for information and solutions.

 

Google Workspace Storage Policy Changes Impact Business Subscribers

Earlier today (April 15, 2021), Google announced changes to Google Workspace storage policies for Google Photos and the suite of collaboration apps.  For Google Workspace subscribers on the Business Starter, Standard, and Enterprise licenses, these changes will impact how your data counts against your storage limits.

Policy Changes:

Effective June 1, 2021

  • All new high-quality photos and videos uploaded to Google Photos will count towards your storage limit. Any photos or videos uploaded prior to June 1, 2021 will not count towards your storage limit.

Effective February 1, 2022

  • Any new files created in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, or Jamboard will count towards your storage limit.
  • Existing files that you modify after this date will also count towards your storage limit.
  • Existing files that are not modified will not count towards your storage limit.

Impact

Depending on your use of Google Photos and the suite of collaboration apps, these changes to the storage policies means more of your files will count towards the storage limits in the Google Workspace Business tier licenses.

Business Starter

Storage limit: 30 GB per individual user

  • Prior to June 1, 2021: If you have users that regularly use Google Photos, review their usage and determine if/when they might reach the limit.
  • Prior to Feb 1, 2022: Review usage reports to assess how quickly individual users may reach the individual 30GB limit.

Action: Upgrade specific users to Business Standard or Business Plus, as needed to ensure they have the capacity they need.

Business Standard

Storage limit: 2TB per user, aggregated across the domain.

  • Understand your storage limit. Storage is aggregated, calculate your limit by multiplying the number of Business Standard users by 2TB and the number of Business Plus users by 5TB.  As an example, if you have 10 Business Standard users, your storage limit is 10 x 2TB = 20TB.
  • Prior to June 1, 2021: Review your use of the Google Photos in the aggregate across your domain. Project the rate of growth over the coming year to assess if or when the use of Google Photos may cause you to hit your storage limit.
  • Prior to February 1, 2022: Review your use of the collaboration apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) to estimate your rate of growth and file modifications.  With this estimate, you can project if/when you might approach your storage limit.

Actions: Running Business Standard licenses, you have options: (1) You can upgrade specific (higher activity) users to Business Plus, giving those users higher aggregated storage; (2) You can upgrade your entire domain to Business Plus, increasing your storage available to all users at the 5TB per user level; or (3) You can upgrade your service to a Google Workspace Enterprise license, giving your team unlimited storage.

Business Plus

Storage limit: 5TB per user, aggregated across the domain.

  • Understand your storage limit. Storage is aggregated, calculate your limit by multiplying the number of Business Plus users by 5TB.
  • Prior to June 1, 2021: Review your use of the Google Photos in the aggregate across your domain. Project the rate of growth over the coming year to assess if or when the use of Google Photos may cause you to hit your storage limit.
  • Prior to February 1, 2022: Review your use of the collaboration apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) to estimate your rate of growth and file modifications.  With this estimate, you can project if/when you might approach your storage limit.

Actions: As you cannot mix Business and Enterprise tier licenses, you will need to upgrade your service (all users) to an Enterprise subscription. This change will provide unlimited storage.

Next Steps

Contact us if you would like help assessing your usage patterns, planning your utilization, or assessing your options. We will schedule a meeting with one of our Cloud Advisors or members of our Service Team.

5 Strategies to Improve Workplace Collaboration

A work environment that doesn’t encourage teamwork is one of the top 5 reasons people quit their jobs, according to research by Ernst & Young. Many businesses face growing collaboration needs with aging technologies.  We need solutions — secure, reliable, scalable, and cost-effective — that make workplace collaboration efficient, effective, and enjoyable.

Here are 5 strategies to help improve workplace collaboration.

1 Use a Chat-Based Workspace

Team members often get stuck waiting for the feedback and sign-off they need to drive a project forward. Back-and-forth scheduling for conference calls burns up time and energy. When they finally do get on a call, edit documents, and send out the revised versions, they’re often stuck waiting again for sign-off.

Productivity changes when your team can quickly get coworkers and decision-makers on group or private chat, or in an online meeting with co-authoring. Teams can review, discuss, edit, and approve documents in real time.

2 Improve Online Meetings

Technology mishaps should be a thing of the past, especially struggling to participate in virtual meetings.  Too often, difficulty with connections or the joining process interrupts and delays meetings. These problems discourage people from working together and creates a barrier for our increasingly mobile workforce.

Empower employees to have better meetings with a single meeting application that integrates with the rest of your productivity software.
A positive meeting experience produces positive results for you and your organization.

3 Break Down Work Silos

All too often, team members are heads-down in their work and unaware of the knowledge and efforts elsewhere in your business. Lack of information and duplication hurt morale and have a material cost to your business.

Using a social network tool brings conversations online. Your team uses social networking in their personal life; bringing social tool into your business provides a means for your team to share ideas, information, and interests. With remote and hybrid workers, you can encourage and capture the informal conversations that foster collective intelligence, collaboration, and innovation.

4 Simplify File Sharing

Haven’t we had enough of emailing files and waiting for feedback and revisions.  The process of juggling messages and multiple copies with edits is an inefficient relic from the days of typewriters and routing slips.

Take advantage of the collaboration features of cloud-based file services:

  • Access documents anywhere, whether online or offline
  • Collaborate in a single document that’s always up to date
  • Seamlessly share large files
  • Use built-in chat functionality to discuss edits within a document
  • Control permissions of contacts inside and outside the company

5 Move from a Patchwork of Apps to a Productivity Suite

In our new mobile society, we are accustomed to downloading apps at home and in the office. The result: a hodge-podge of applications that all do different things, have different sign-ins, and may not deliver the security and compliance you want and need.

Moving to, and fully utilizing, a productivity suite gives your team the right tools to get their work done, the resources to communicate and collaborate, the integration to eliminate duplicate data and effort, and the security to protect your information, your people, and your business. Do not just deploy; help your team understand the apps, tools, and features they can use to be more efficient, productive, and successful.

For more on the topic, check out the eBooks and whitepapers in our Library. Better yet, schedule an introductory call and connect with our team of Cloud Advisors.

4 Approaches to Better Meetings

Without a doubt, meetings remain an essential part  of running your business. They ensure your teams stay on the same page with the information they need to get things done; they connect you with your customers; they help build stronger relationships. Unfortunately, meetings can also waste time and resources—ultimately costing your business.

Here are 4 ways to ensure meetings work to your advantage.

1 Define the need
Meetings without a clear agenda are often unproductive.  Ask yourself these 6 questions to determine whether a meeting is necessary.

  1. What is the action item of the meeting: decisive or informing?
  2. What is the size of the meeting?
  3. Is the meeting simply to inform a handful of people, can a memo or email share the information?
  4. Will the meeting solve a problem?
  5. Is there a better alternative, such as using a tool with real-time chat or team announcement features?
  6. Will canceling a meeting negatively impact your employees’ abilities to complete their work?

2 Simplify for success
A positive meeting experience produces positive results for you and your organization.

  • Follow a clearly planned agenda to minimize distraction from your primary purpose and keep your meeting on track
  • Make your expectations crystal clear, and this includes expectations for meeting participation
  • Keep meetings short to improve how employees do their jobs and help steer tangential discussions back on track
  • Ensure all members understand their role to create accountability

3 Meet like a pro
Lessons learned help improve success, particularly with growing use of inclusive meeting technologies.

  1. Provide a clear agenda
  2. Keep time in mind: start and end on time
  3. Ease the burden of not-taking by recording or capturing a transcription of the meeting
  4. Provide visuals to help members follow along
  5. Send a post meeting recap: Reiterate key discussions and decisions; thank members for participating
  6. Define clear action items and outcomes

4 Manage online meetings
Online meetings are here to stay.  If managed well, online meetings create new possibilities for involving team members and sharing information.

  • Ensure everyone has the right technology, invites, and call-in info.  Make sure attendees will be able to see, hear, and speak clearly
  • Keep attendance focused on those that need to be there, avoiding unnecessarily large meetings
  • Welcome members and outline how you plan to manage interactions, who speaks when, and use of the chat window
  • Use the mute features to minimize distractions
  • Keep your meeting secure using passwords and other features
  • Reduce uncertainty by recording the meeting or keeping a transcript for future reference

 

Meeting attendees will follow your lead, so make sure it’s a strong one. By continuously honing your meeting strategies and skills, monitoring what does and doesn’t work, and actively pushing to convert decisions into action, your meetings will become more effective over time.

For more on the topic, check out The Ultimate Meeting Guide. To review your meeting tools, conference room setups, and methods, schedule an introductory call and connect with our team of Cloud Advisors.

Google Workspace: The Marvelous, the Meh, and the Money

Last week, Google made one of the biggest announcements in the 12 year history of its business productivity suite history.  G Suite is now Google Workspace. More than a name and branding change, Google Workspace represents a wholesale realignment of the productivity suite. Offering Business and Enterprise product tiers, each with multiple licensing and package options, Google Workspace is structured to match the way businesses are running today, and expect to run in the future.

With any major change, the opportunity and the impact of Google Workspace varies by business.  As we focus on small and mid-size enterprises, in this post we take a look at the Marvelous, the Meh, and the Money of Google Workspace Business editions.

The Marvelous

Google Workspace Business editions align well with the features and capabilities used by businesses with 300 or fewer employees.

  • Business Starter: This edition is a continuation of the former G Suite Basic service.   Users have 30GB of email, document, and photo storage, up to 100 participants per meeting in Google Meet, support for single sign-on, and basic device management, reports, and audit logs.
  • Business StandardThis edition increases storage to 2TB per user, allows up to 150 participants in Google Meets, and adds Shared Drives with advanced permissions, approvals, and metadata.  Business Standard also includes internal Cloud Search, advanced Drive auditing and reports, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Drive.
  • Business PremiumThe Business Premium edition is the most similar to the current G Suite Business subscription with 5TB of email, file, and photo storage per user, Shared Drives, and Vault for email and IM eDiscovery and Archiving. Users can include up to 250 participants in Google Meets. This edition also includes secure LDAP services and a set of advanced endpoint management services.

With this realignment, you can now mix licenses within your domain.  Doing so lets you optimize capabilities and costs to the needs of individual users and teams.

Google is focusing on the collaboration and work environment support most businesses need. The ability to manage document approvals and create custom metadata labels and fields in the Standard and Premium subscriptions are the types of features we expect businesses to use to improve collaboration, work flows, and efficiencies.

The Meh

For organizations currently on G Suite Business, moving to Workplace Business Standard and Premium Editions means losing unlimited storage.  While the vast majority of small and midsize businesses do not need more than 2TB or 5TB of storage, respectively, some businesses may need to move up to the Enterprise tier.

Most of our customers on G Suite Business need Vault archiving for regulatory compliance or to comply with and manage internal policies.  These organizations will need to move to Business Premium or will need Business Standard with Vault as an add-on.

As with most changes, customers will have decisions to make about when to move to the new subscriptions. While you can choose to move to a Google Workspace subscription at any time, the current G Suite subscriptions will only remain available through March 2021.

  • If you are on the monthly flex plan, you can continue to use your current G Suite service until the end of March 2021.  You will need to select and move to a Google Workspace subscription before March 31, 2021.
  • If you are on an annual plan and your renewal date is before March 31, 2021, you can either renew your current service for 1 year or switch to a Google Workspace subscription.
  • If you are on an annual plan and your renewal date is after March 31, 2021, you will need to move to a Google Workspace subscription upon renewal.

The Money

While moving from G Suite Basic to Workspace Business Starter does not impact your costs, moving from G Suite Business to Workspace Business Starter and Premium Editions will increase costs for most G Suite Business subscribers.

For G Suite Basic subscribers, your cost of $6/user per month ($72/year) remains the same with Workspace Business Starter.

For G Suite Business subscribers, your cost of $12/user per month ($144/year) may change as follows:

    • Change to Workspace Business Standard at $12/user per month ($144/year) PLUS the cost of Vault for users requiring Archive/eDiscovery coverage
    • Change to Workspace Business Premium at $18/user per month ($216/year) for complete Vault coverage and the additional features
    • Remain at $12/user per month ($144/year) if you no longer need or want Vault coverage

In April 2019, Google changed and increased pricing for G Suite Basic and Business editions.  To mitigate the financial impact, Google authorized promotional discounts for upgrades and for renewals extended term commitments. For many businesses that took advantage of these upgrades, you saw a modest price increase in 2019, an expected step to standard G Suite pricing in 2020, and may not face another increase in 2021. We are sensitive to the budget impact and are offering options to avoid or mitigate the additional costs.

Your Next Step:

Your best next step is to contact us and schedule a Cloud Advsior session. We will review your current subscription and usage, discuss your options and costs, and recommend a preferred solution that best fits your business’ needs, priorities, and budgets.  For most, the choice will be which Google Workspace subscription is best. For some, particularly those still using MS Office desktop applications, switching platforms to Microsoft 365 may provide a better alternative.  Our team is here to listen, understand, guide, and execute. Let our expertise inform your decisions and support your actions and goals.

Partnering for G Suite Productivity

Partner for ProductivityG Suite is more than an email, calendar, and simple file sharing service.  G Suite is a productivity suite that serves as a platform for a range of tools that helps your team, and your business, work more effectively.

9 ways your team can be more productive with G Suite:

  1. Share Files, Not Copies:
    Stop sending attachments. Stop wasting time figuring out of the copy of the file in you inbox, on your local drive, or on a shared folder is the most current. Whether you use Google Docs for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations or you continuing using Microsoft Office, Google Drive and Team Drives serves your files rather than just sharing them.  People share via link, so all comments, suggestions, and edits are made within a single copy of the file. Versioning keeps this orderly and gives you the ability to look back and compare.
  2. Serve Files, Not File Servers:
    Use Team Drives and Drive File Stream to provide users with “explorer” access to files from Macs, PCs, and local software. Store files under central ownership and managed permissions; avoid performance and capacity problems with unlimited storage. Allow team members to work remotely and securely on computers, tablets, and mobile devices without VPNs and remote desktop services slowing things down.
  3. Communicate, Don’t Just Text:
    Most laptops now have microphones, speakers, and Bluetooth features similar to your smartphones and tablets. Have face to face conversations using Hangouts Meet instead of long email threads, phone tag, or text messaging. Communication is 55% non-verbal. Let you employees see and hear each other, your vendors, and your customers. You can share screens to live document reviews and discussions. Why pay extra for a conferencing service?
  4. Collaboration, Don’t Just Comment:
    True, Google Docs allow contributors to comment and suggest edits. You can also collaborate in real-time or as each participant is able. Version history lets you look back at who contributed, when, and where. You can name versions to track official revisions or specific working copies of documents.
  5. Schedule Productivity, Not Just Appointments:
    Your personal and shared calendars track your time as well as project or team activities. Resource calendars let you book rooms or any scheduled resource. Integrated with Hangout Meets, automatically include voice and video conferencing for the human touch. Integrated with Chrome for Meetings and you have 1-click video conferencing with screen sharing in your conference rooms.
  6. Manage Customer Relationships, Not Data:
    Integrated CRM applications, automatically pull person and company data into your CRM records and automatically track inbound and outbound emails with your prospects. Side panel gives you “pane of glass” access and context from within your Gmail inbox.
  7. Manage Communications, Not Data:
    Integrated sales and marketing tools, empower you team to better manage marketing, sales, and service communications without leaving your Gmail inbox.  Templates, mail merge, and tracking save time and energy as you drive your sales pipeline forward.
  8. Automate Tasks, Not People:
    Automate workflows and repetitive tasks, and build simple apps to boost productivity with AppMaker. The Low-code/no-code tool means you don’t need a cadre of programmers. Free up task time for more valuable activities.
  9. Protect Your Business; Not Just Data:
    Compliant archiving and e-discovery covers your email communications and your documents. Integrated solutions provide third party backup/recovery protection from accidental or intentional damage and loss. Cloud-to-cloud backup is less costly and requires less admin effort than traditional file server protection services.

Get the most value from your G Suite platform:

  • Verify you are on the right version of G Suite, with the capabilities that best meet your needs
  • Help your team learn how to use the G Suite apps to their fullest
  • Integrate 3rd party solutions for line of business needs, such as marketing, sales, and service

Please contact us for a free Cloud Advisor session to discuss getting the most value from G Suite.


 

Picking the Right Productivity Cloud: Look Beyond Familiarity and Cost

News from Cumulus GlobalWestborough, MA — It is no longer a matter of “if”, but “when” small and midsize businesses will move to the cloud. For most SMBs, the first decision they make will be on which productivity cloud to use– MS Office 365 or Google G Suite. As noted in Cumulus Global’s most recent eBook, Picking Your Productivity Cloud, SMBs are wise to consider more than familiarity and cost when making this decision.

“SMBs that rely on inertia and simply go with the cloud ecosystem that is most familiar often find themselves hitting roadblocks or underutilizing the service over time,” note Cumulus Global CEO Allen Falcon. “Picking the right cloud for email and productivity tools becomes the foundation of your cloud ecosystem. A broader perspective is needed.”

Picking Your Productivity Cloud looks at six critical factors to consider when choosing between Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite.  Beyond cost, the eBook discusses the impact of other IT systems and applications, company culture, and business goals. The ebook is available for free in our Resource Center Library.

Myth-Busting Monday: Office 365 is not just Office “Online”

Office 365Even with the growing adoption, many still see Microsoft Office 365 as “Office in the Cloud”.

In fact, Office 365 is an entirely different suite of services.  Yes, Office 365 Business Premium and Enterprise licenses include the MS Office apps we know and use — Outlook, Work, Excel, Powerpoint, and more.  But Office 365 is not just a suite of productivity tools.

Microsoft Office 365 is a business communication, collaboration, and information management ecosystem.

Office 365 licenses can include:

  • OneNote – Multimedia note taking from any platform
  • SharePoint – Collaboration platform for file sharing, intranets, document management, workflows, and information management
  • OneDrive – Personal and shared file storage
  • Skype for Business – Voice, secure IM, video meetings, and presence management
  • Yammer – Social collaboration for business
  • Power BI – Wizard driven business analytics
  • Sway – Web 2.0 publishing to tell your story
  • Planner – Project and task management

As important as the suite of tools, Office 365 can change the way your team works together.  With your data secure and in the cloud, you share information rather than attaching files to endless chains of emails. Your team has the ability to work anytime, from anywhere, from nearly any device. Your people are connected because the data and information they use is connected.

So if you haven’t moved into the cloud, stop thinking of Office 365 as hosted email and some apps. Start thinking about how you want to improve your business. Then use Office 365 to make it happen.

Already on Office 365 and feel like you’re not using it to its fullest potential? Ask us about our adoption and engagement programs.


This is the first of a multi-part series designed to help companies better assess the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions.  Contact Us for more information or a free Cloud Advisor session.


 

Webcasts

Productivity Suites: Google and Microsoft Revisited

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, May 18th at 3:00 PM

Cloud productivity suites, particularly Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, have evolved from leading edge concepts, to mainstream solutions. Along the way, both services have evolved with multiple iterations of branding, features, and subscription options, adapting to the growing use and needs of businesses adopting the solutions.

Which productivity suite is right for your business, today?

In this month’s 3T@3 Webcast, we take a fresh look at Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 and how each might best serve your business. Rather than a feature-by-feature comparison, we take a strategic look at positioning, architecture, services, subscription options, and integrations. Our objective with this session is to help you assess which suite best supports your business goals and priorities, best enables productivity, and best empowers your team to succeed.

Whether you are in the cloud or getting ready to move, join Cumulus Global CEO Allen Falcon and gain a better view of your future.

Watch the recording on-demand



Data Protection & Security

Next Normal: WFH and Remote

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, April 20th at 3:00 PM

COVID-19 and the events of the past year have, and continue, to change the way we run our businesses.  While some of these changes are temporary, many will become part of our next normal.

Now part of the norm, Work From Home and remote work changes your IT service needs.

This month’s 3T@3 Webcast, is the third in our “Next Normal” series looking at how we adapt, prepare, and respond to economic, social, and business changes. To some extent — small or large — employees working remotely and from home will continue to be part of how we run our businesses.

With “WFH and Remote”, we explore how Work From Home and remote workers alters your IT service needs.  Taking a holistic view, we look beyond using apps and accessing files. In this session we look at factors that protect your business and support productivity.  We use our PARS model (performance, availability, reliability, and security) as a framework to explore how to effectively create, manage, and support your team — wherever they may be working.

Watch the recording on-demand



Data Protection & Security