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Protect Yourself from Personal Devices

(Published 4/12/20 – Get our Sample Policy)


For many businesses, employees are working from home for the first time. Given the rush to change how our businesses operate, many of those employees will be using home computers or personal devices.  While enabling companies to continue operating, doing so can place your business, data, customers, and employees at risk.

If you do not already have a policy in place, we have published a sample policy covering employee use of personal computers and devices. The policy, intended to augment your existing company policies (such as appropriate use), covers Company and Employee responsibilities.  Since you may need to install software and utilities on the device to ensure compatibility, secure access to your systems, and compliance with your data privacy and protection requirements, the policy strives to create a balance that ensure employees will not lose personal data or use of the device for personal reasons.

You can access the Sample Policy here, free of charge. Please review the policy with your HR and IT resources and modify it as necessary for your business.

As noted in the policy, you should expect to provision current versions of software and the necessary data protection tools. For example:

  • Most Office 365 licenses allow you to install the desktop software on up to 5 computers and 5 tablets/smartphones for each user.  These rights mean that you can provide employees with the same software on their home computers as they use in the office. Doing so improves productivity.
  • Employees may have antivirus protection software installed, which may or may not be current or sufficient for your needs.  You may want, or need to layer on advanced threat endpoint protection software that will not interfere with existing tools, such as Webroot.
  • Employees likely do not have dns/web protection services installed.  As the computer is used for personal activities, adding web protections can prevent web-based malware from impacting your data and business.

Please contact us for a complimentary Cloud Advisor session.  Without obligation, we can discuss your needs, discuss how to best protect your data/business, and recommend affordable solutions to consider.

5 Tools for Remote Team Success

One of the challenges we face with nearly everybody working remotely or from home, is how to manage teams.  In particular, customer-facing teams and teams whose members normally work together in person require more adaptation.  here are

Managed Live Chat for Web Sites

If done well, Live Chat on your web site improves your ability to engage and service your current and prospective customers. In addition to providing real-time connections to site visitors, robust live chat systems let you classify operators, message between operators, and hand off responsibility for chats. Leveraging live chat, your customer facing teams — sales and service — can work more effectively and with greater coordination.  Contact us to discuss how we can broker tools like Olark, and get you up, running, and trained quickly.

Managed Shared Inboxes for G Suite

Customer facing teams often share an inbox to managing incoming messages.  When the team is remote, tracking who is responsible for each email thread becomes even more difficult.  Tools like Hiver let you manage, route, and track shared inbox messages across your teams.  Contact us for more info and check out this webcast and demo.

Team Planning Tools

Tracking tasks, projects, and dependencies among teams requires some organization.  In Office 365, the Planner app provides a simple format for tracking team members, assigned tasks, and basic dependencies.  As part of the Office 365 suite, Planner integrates with users’ inboxes and calendars, and with personal and shared storage.  Planner can also be added to Teams channels as a Tab.

In the G Suite environment, we recommend Hive as an affordable, easy to use, planning and task management tool.  It is similar in functionality to Planner and other tools, like Trello, and integrates well with your G Suite identity, Drive, and more.

Contact us for help and guidance getting your project tools in place.

Bookings in MS Office 365

Designed for use by appointment-based businesses, Bookings is an Office 365 app that lets individuals schedule appointments themselves.  Customers can select the time, a particular person, or the first available when scheduling. You control available times, available staff, and appointment defaults. If you are reaching out to your customers, Bookings is way to speed up the appointment setting process.

Intranet Sites

With teams working remotely, access to files on in-house services may be limited, difficult, or slow.  Remote access tools like desktop sharing and VPNs add complexity and increase users’ frustration.  Moving files into Intranet sites can provide fast, secure, reliable access.

    • In G Suite, you can turn Drive folders and hierarchies into Intranets in a matter of minutes with OverDRIVE.  The software lets you create and manage web sites quickly and efficiently, using Drive as the content repository.
    • In Office 365, Sharepoint sites provide an easy mechanism to share files and other content relevant to teams.  You can connect Sharepoint to Teams and Groups, giving users secure access to files and resources vai the methods easiest for them.

As you assess your operations and your needs, we are here to help.  Please contact us for a Cloud Advisor Session.  Our assessment and recommendations are free and without obligation.

Resources for Remote Work

To assist you in coping with the impact of the COVID-19 emergency, we are providing this list of resources to help you fully leverage remote work.

We have additional business and technical resources listed in our COVID-19 Resources for SMBs blog post.

(Updated: 3/27/2020 — Updates in italics)

 

 


Fast and Easy Intranets and Customer Portals in G Suite

  • Secure web sites are a great way to stay connected and engaged with your team and with customers
  • While Google Sites is somewhat limited, there are other options
  • OverDRIVE automates the creation of web pages and sites, using Google Drive as the content management system
  • Click here for more information and to arrange a demo or a trial, or contact us for assistance.

Cloud Access to On-Premise File Servers

  • We have the ability to quickly setup remote, mapped drive access to on-premise file servers via the CentreStack cloud service.
  • This service provides a secure, easy to setup and manage solution that gives your team access to your on-premise file server without the need for expensive and difficult-to-manage VPN services.
  • As a month-to-month, affordable service, CentreStack gives those working remotely access to critical files and data.
  • Contact us for more information.

Simple Tools to Coordinate and Manage Tasks

  • With Office 365
    • Most Office 365 licenses include access to Planner, a simple tool for tracking tasks, individually, and across teams, departments and working groups.  Let us know if you need some guidance or training.
    • Teams is a comprehensive tools for social collaboration with built in Wiki’s, file sharing, and audio/video conferencing.  We can help your team learn and use this powerful tool
  • G Suite
    • You have access to Keep for notes and reminders. Contact us for a demo or assistance.
  • Other Tools
    • Hive, Trello, Slack, and others give you social teamwork and project management capabilities that are easy to adopt and use.
    • Hiver let’s you quickly setup shared mailboxes for customer service and team functions (see a webcast and demo here).

Cloud Access to QuickBooks

  • We can move your on-premise QuickBooks (or other application) setup to the cloud and provide secure remote desktop access.
  • Doing so can provide, as needed:
    • Secure access to multiple users
    • Export of reports and data to Excel or other systems
    • Local printing of checks, reports, and invoices
    • Fast, reliable access without VPN hassles and expense
  • Contact us for more information.

Emergency Server Migrations / Hybrid Clouds

  • We have staff on-hand to move file and application servers to the cloud, providing secure access for remote/virtual workers.
  • Contact us to assess your needs and possible solutions.

Flexible Communication Services

  • If you are not able to extend your business phone service to workers at home, please contact us.
  • We have a number of VoIP and number matching services that can fill this need.
  • We can also address other issues, such as the need for separate or additional voice/text services.

Free/Discounted Phone and Communication Services

  • Several VoIP and online meeting providers are offering free or dramatically discounted services for up to 90 days.
  • Providers include, but are not limited to: Dialpad, UberConference, RingCentral, and Cisco WebEx.
  • These services can be configured to work with your existing phone services to extend access and features to employees that do not normally work remotely
  • Contact us to discuss your needs, workflows, and options.
News from Cumulus Global

Working the Way You Live

Our own Bill Seybolt was featured on the Main Stage at the Launch Out 2015 conference in Nashville, TN. View his entertaining take on working remotely, below.

 


Interested in working remotely or on the go? Contact us about the tools that make it easy.