Best Practices, Productivity, Technology

Five Best Practices for Working Remotely During a Disaster

Rocket IT

As Irma makes its retreat and Jose makes its way through the Atlantic, disaster recovery has officially left the planning stage and become a stark reality for many organizations. With several US states under a state of emergency this weekend into this week, many companies kept their employees at home for their safety. Even once the storm has passed, it still may not be safe for your employees to return to work. Downed trees, ravaged buildings, and more could prevent your team from returning to work.

So how can you keep increasing revenue when your workforce is stuck at home? Enable your workers to stay productive as long as they can safely work from home by incorporating telecommuting in your organization’s disaster recovery plan.

Here are five ways to make sure your team can thrive while working remotely.

Invest in the right tools.

Does your team need to be available over the phone? Consider using a phone system that allows your team to use a soft phone application through their computer or smart phone so they’re reachable at their usual number.

Also, if your team needs to work remotely, make sure they have the right devices to do so. Do they need to connect if they lose wireless access? Consider equipping them with a wireless hotspot or unlimited data on their smart phone so they can stay online if needed.

Make sure the necessary software is installed in advance.

If your employees need to work remotely, at home or abroad, it’s best to have all of the software they need to do their jobs effectively already installed and tested on their devices before they need it.

Set up a virtual private network (VPN) so your team can connect securely.

Make sure your end users are connecting to your network securely. If they’re using public Wi-Fi or another insecure connection, your sensitive data could be open to people from outside your organization. Setting up a VPN for all your employees before disaster strikes and they’re forced to work remotely will allow your team to get back to work right away, increasing efficiency and decreasing risk.

Keep devices charged.

Of course, having the right software and connection won’t help much if your team’s devices aren’t charged. Make it a policy to shut down laptops when not in use so the battery doesn’t drain as quickly, and use battery-saving techniques like dimming your screen, using the native battery saving tools for your devices, and closing background programs when not in use.

Document your telecommuting policy.

If you don’t already have a telecommuting policy in place, you should create one before it’s needed and make it easily accessible to your team. If your employees need to be accessible between certain times or if their availability can be more flexible, outline it. Make sure they know the security guidelines for connecting from off-site (like only connecting to your shared networks through a VPN, not saving secure documents directly to their personal drive, or saving all work to saved networks for access by the rest of the team later).

If you’d like an experienced Virtual CIO to help you build the right disaster recovery or business continuity plan for your organization, contact us. We’d love to help.

 


 

About the Author-

Eric Henderson is Rocket IT’s virtual Chief Information Officer. He is also the tallest person at Rocket IT (by a fraction of an inch).

 

The average cost of unplanned downtime per minute in 2016 was nearly $9,000 per incident.

Your organization doesn’t have to eat the cost of dead time. Download our free whitepaper now to learn five easy steps you can take to capture dead time.

 

 

 

 

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Best Practices, Entrepreneurship, Technology

Security in the Age of Ransomware Webinar

Rocket IT

Nearly 77% of small businesses think they’re safe from cyber attacks, yet more than 40% have already been victims. Where is this disconnect, and how can you protect your organization?

In the new age of ransomware, security has to be a top priority for every level at your organization. Find out what you can do to decrease the risk of costly downtime and data loss due to a security breach.

Join Rocket IT vCIO Eric Henderson on October 19th, 2017, at 1:00 PM EST for our Security in the Age of Ransomware webinar.

Eric Henderson is the virtual CIO for Rocket IT, a technology company based out of Duluth, GA.  He received his B.S. in Management from Georgia Tech in 2003, and has worked in a variety of industries.  Eric serves on the National Board for 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to creating websites for other nonprofit organizations, and on the Endowment Board for the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology. He is passionate about technology, leadership, and seeing people and their businesses thrive. 

Eric lives in Atlanta with his wife Heather, and their two sons, Thomas and Jonas. 

 

 

 

 

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Best Practices, Productivity, Tips & Shortcuts

Ten Productivity Hacks

Rocket IT

With everything you can do from any of your devices, technology can sometimes be more of a distraction than a help. But there are several great tools and tricks to keep you on track with your tasks. From waking up early and engaging in regular exercise to attempting to manage all of your social media pages at once, here are ten ways you can increase your productivity this week:

1. Wake up early

Sleep Cycle can help you wake up at the right time so that you can maximize how much rest you are getting. By waking up during your lightest sleep stage you will feel energized and ready to take on the day, thus increasing your productivity.

2. Exercise

Research has shown that a midday workout can dramatically increase your productivity. Only have 30 minutes to spare? Check out the Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout app. All you need is a chair and (literally) 7 minutes to get your blood flowing.

3. Humin

This app was created to connect your phone, Facebook, and LinkedIn contacts, in addition to information pulled from your calendar, email, and voicemail to help categorize your contacts and give some context as to who they are and how you know them.

4. Strict Workflow

This Chrome extension uses the Pomodoro technique which breaks your work into 25-minute intervals with short, 5-minute breaks in between. One Pomodoro is a focused 25-minute working interval, with one 5-minute break; complete four and you can reward yourself with a longer break.

5. Roboform, LastPass, and Dashlane

These password managers help you save time from resetting your password for the third time this week. One of the nice features of LastPass is the password generator. Let it generate your password and then save it for you, all in one place.

6. To-do lists

Wunderlist has compatibility for almost all devices so you can have access to your list on your phone or computer. Easily turn emails into actions, set reminders, and share your lists with colleagues with this app.

7. Keep track of your notes

Stop searching for the notes from last week’s meeting and start using OneNote. This app allows you to keep everything organized and all in one place by simply clicking between various tabbed sections.

8. Rescue Time

This download tracks your computer usage to show you just how well, or not well, you are using your time. The premise is for you to understand your daily habits so that you can increase your productivity.

9. Social Media Management

If you are managing multiple social media accounts, I recommend Buffer. Not only does it post to all of your social media accounts from one place, it also helps you to schedule your posts for later so that you can share content at the best times possible.

10. Team Collaboration

Trello is the easy way to visually manage and organize your projects with all the team members included. From start to finish, Trello helps to outline each project, assign tasks, and see the progress that has been made along the way.

 

Do you have any other great productivity hacks? We’d love to hear about them! Join the conversation and tweet us @RocketIT.

 


 

About the Author – 

Bria Mays is the Office Administrator at Rocket IT. Bria has a BS in Psychology and is passionate about volunteering and blogging.

 

 

 

Nearly 77% of small businesses think they’re safe from cyber attacks, yet more than 40% have already been victims.

Join us to learn how to mitigate this risk and what comes next after being infected by ransomware on July 27th for our Security in the Age of Ransomware webinar presented by Rocket IT’s vCIO, Eric Henderson.

 

 

 

 

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Best Practices, Leadership

Living Company Values – An Employee’s Perspective

Rocket IT

Company culture is a hot topic right now. It’s headlining industry magazines, touting its name on awards, and (for those of you active on social media) it’s all over LinkedIn newsfeeds. At Rocket IT, it’s something our team is very intentional about.

As someone who interacts on our organization’s behalf out in the community in both a marketing and a recruiting capacity, I’ve had a unique opportunity to both share my experience and hear from very different perspectives how others see Rocket IT’s company culture.

One of the highest compliments I hear is how much others love that Rocket IT lives out its values. That other people from outside our organization can look in and see how much our team loves to help others and be passionate stewards for those we serve is incredibly rewarding.

One of the questions I’m asked most often (though not nearly as often as Matt Hyatt, our Founder and CEO, I’m sure!) is how Rocket IT has sustained a company culture that lives its values when so many organizations struggle to name theirs.  It’s easy to get buy-in on company values from the leadership teams that created them, but how do companies get everyone else across all levels to do the same?

Basically, how did the Rocket IT leadership team get me and others as invested in the Rocket IT values as they were?

When Matt created our company values, he started with why. Our purpose is to help others thrive. As Matt says, we just happen to do this through technology, but it’s at the core of everything we do at Rocket IT, and our company values help us define how.

Connect with people. Be passionate stewards. Find a better way. Have a blast!

Matt and the rest of the Rocket IT leadership team have fostered a company culture that lives these values in three simple ways.

 

Our values are stated in simple language that makes sense.

When Matt wrote our company values, he didn’t bury us in corporate jargon and buzzwords. Our values are simple, and it’s to see how we can act on them.

Take a look at our values listed above again. They’re simple, clear, and easy to remember. You could ask any employee at Rocket IT about our values, and they’d be able to tell you about all four (and even our secret fifth value – Eat ice cream).  There isn’t a single buzzword in any of them, and each value is four words or less.

 

We regularly engage in open dialogue about our values.

If the only time your employees discuss your company values is when they get a list of them in their onboarding packet, they probably won’t be able to name them one month later. Values are something that should be a regular conversation topic when you want your company to live them out.

At Rocket IT, we talk about what our values mean, how we can be mindful about them in our roles, what they mean to us, etc.. We talk about them in all-staff meetings, team huddles, and during our Café Tuesdays where Matt invites us to bring our lunch into the Rocket IT café and talk with him and each other about what’s on our minds.

Our values weren’t created in a vacuum, and they don’t exist in one either. If you want your team to invest in your company values, you should engage your team in regular conversation about them.

 

Rocket IT’s leadership verbally (and publicly) acknowledge when employees embody a company value in the way they act or what they do.

There’s a lot of power in simple recognition, and when our leadership team positively recognizes team members for living out company values, we become more invested in understanding and acting in line with those values.

It’s not unusual for individuals to be lauded for “being a passionate steward” or “finding a better way” during our staff meetings. And it’s not unheard of for someone to receive an Amazon gift card for exemplifying one of our values in their interactions with our clients.

 

Our company culture of living our values is hinged on our values being very real, active goals for us. They’re not just words on our website or phrases in our employee handbooks for HR to recite by rote and other team members to forget immediately. From the perspective of the general “everyman” employee, if you want buy-in from employees at all levels of your organization, follow these three tips to make your values meaningful to them.

 

 


 

 

About the Author-

Jacque McFadden is the marketing specialist at Rocket IT. While a large portion of her job focuses on the more traditional side of marketing, she is also responsible for finding great new employees. Jacque is originally from Indiana. 

 
The average cost of unplanned downtime per minute in 2016 was nearly $9,000 per incident.

Your organization doesn’t have to eat the cost of dead time. Download our free whitepaper now to learn five easy steps you can take to capture dead time.

 

 

 

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Best Practices, Technology

Five Easy Steps to Capture Dead Time

Rocket IT

The average cost of unplanned downtime per minute in 2016 was nearly $9,000 per incident.

Your organization doesn’t have to eat the cost of dead time. Download our free whitepaper now to learn five easy steps you can take to capture dead time.

From more efficient integration to beating your inbox addiction, this paper gives you the tools to increase your company’s productivity by 2.5% at no additional payroll cost.

 

 

 

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Best Practices, Technology

The Reality of BYOD

Rocket IT

If there were a list of technology buzzwords in offices this year, “BYOD” would be near the top. The Bring Your Own Device craze is sweeping through workplaces all over the US.

It’s easy to get pulled along in the tide of popularity that BYOD is riding right now. On the surface, it appears to be more cost-effective for companies, and it gives the employees more control over what devices they use. And, since many end users prefer to use more of the latest technology for their own devices, companies get to reap the benefits of this without shouldering the full cost.

But beyond what’s already on the BYOD sales brochure, what is the reality of adopting a BYOD policy at your organization? Here are five things to consider before making that final decision.

 

Compatibility

BYOD isn’t limited to just smartphones; many organizations include laptops in this policy. When employees are providing their own laptops, they typically want to decide what devices and systems they’re going to be using… And that can raise compatibility issues. Will your CRM and other software systems run on every employee’s computer, using the same version and interface? If not, will additional training be required for different versions?

To avoid this issue, you can set technology standards and provide a list of approved devices for your employees, but end users tend to be less enthusiastic about the freedom of BYOD program when it comes with boundaries.

 

Lack of privacy

When using your work computer or work phone, there’s an understood (and oftentimes stated) agreement of acceptable use. For employers who allow use of personal devices for work activities, acceptable use becomes increasingly difficult to enforce and define. And for employees, keeping your personal files and data private can feel virtually impossible.

In addition to that challenge, BYOD creates an interesting new dilemma when employees leave the company. The device belongs to that employee, so now companies need to get their proprietary information and files off leaving employees’ phones and laptops, which can become difficult or awkward, depending on the situation.

 

Risk of involuntary disclosure

This is arguably a risk associated with any device containing confidential data that an employee can remove from the building, but with BYOD policies, organizations run a higher risk of involuntary/voluntary disclosure of their proprietary information. While your employees (hopefully) won’t run over to your competitor to share secure company information on their laptops, the data is more susceptible to theft by third parties. Many people don’t keep a lock on their personal devices, and if their laptop or phone is ever stolen, those thieves have access to company data as well as that belonging to the employee.

Organizations can curtail this risk by setting a policy that requires every employee keep a secure passcode lock on every device they use that stores or access secure company data.

 

Security

We’ve posted before about the security risks of BYOD. Honestly, there can be a lot of them. Not only are you at risk of physical theft, any data kept on your employees’ devices are susceptible to digital theft. With enterprise equipment, you have standardized security software (antivirus, firewalls, etc.) that your employees may not use or may even disable on their own equipment.

In addition, while people tend to be more careful about their browsing habits and what links they click on when using a company-owned computer, they’re less suspicious of that attachment from Jim two houses over that is “guaranteed to make them fall down laughing!” than they are of misspelled links in their work inbox. And if their device with access to your servers and shared drives is compromised, that can easily spread to the rest of your organization… Or even your clients.

Before putting a BYOD program into practice, make sure you have security standards set that workers must meet in order to use their personal devices for work purposes.

 

Compliance issues

With security of your organizations’ data becoming harder to manage, so too does your compliance with state and federal regulations. When your business falls under compliance mandates, there are specific requirements regarding data protection and information security. When individuals own these devices, it’s difficult for the employer to monitor and ensure compliance.

You can audit the compliance and security of your office’s devices regularly and set standards for your employees to mitigate this risk, but telling individuals how they can or can’t use their own property rarely goes over well.

While a BYOD policy may cost less up front than the standard company-issue programs, the costs of noncompliance and risk of data loss can be significantly steeper than that initial investment.

 

 


 

About the Author- 

Erica Lee is the Assistant Service Manager at Rocket IT. Erica was an exchange student to Germany as a high school junior and, because of that experience, went on to earn Bachelor degrees in German and International Affairs from the University of Georgia.

 

 

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Best Practices, Technology

How to Prepare for Working Outside the Country for the First Time

Rocket IT

Are you getting ready to travel outside the country? You’ve probably run down the typical checklist: give your itinerary to a trusted friend or family member so someone knows where you are, check in with your embassy, get your passport and (if necessary) visas up to date, stay hydrated, etc. But how can you make sure you’re ready to work and collaborate with your team stateside after you get off the plane?

Whether it’s your first time traveling to a foreign country for work or you’re just looking for a few new tips, here are five steps you should take before checking in for your flight.

Check your security

Are you confident in the security of your means of connecting to your home office when using potentially compromised public networks in a foreign country? Before you leave for your trip, set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection and test it from your home to make sure you can safely connect to secure information you may need abroad.

Ensure your phone will work

You don’t want to get to the hotel room and find that your phone doesn’t work at all where you are. Call your phone provider and activate an overseas plan. This is a good rule of thumb for all of the services you typically use locally and will need abroad, so be sure to call your bank to let them know when and where you’ll be traveling, as well.

Choose the devices you need to bring

Do you really need to bring that laptop? Laptops can be heavy, unwieldy, and are a huge target for theft. Can you get away with just a tablet and/or phone?

Make sure you have the right charger adapter for all your devices

As funny as it was when someone tried to plug an American hair dryer into a European plug in the movies, it’s not amusing when it’s you. Pick up a few adapters for your electronics. Depending on where you’re traveling and where you’re recharging, you may need a charger adapter that adjusts voltage. You can tell pretty quickly when a plug isn’t going to work, but it’s not as obvious right away when the voltage is too high. Check the voltage capacity of your devices before plugging them in so you don’t risk overheating them.

Set up contingencies

You’ve already contacted your embassy. Your spouse has your complete itinerary and flight information, and your banks and phone providers have set up your accounts for overseas service. But what about your work contingencies? Does your team have all the appropriate information they need in case you’re delayed or unavailable?

Before leaving for your trip, make sure your peers and reports have everything they need from you to make sure critical work gets done if you are out of pocket while abroad.

Wouldn’t it be easier if more things in business came with an actionable checklist? Your technology strategy should. How’s your IT plan and budget coming along? Do you think there’s room for improvement? We can give your leadership team a clear path forward for wise technology investment that supports your business goals.

Do you have any availability next week to discuss?

 


 

EH 2About the Author-

 Eric Henderson is Rocket IT’s virtual Chief Information Officer. He is also the tallest person at Rocket IT (by a fraction of an inch).

 

 

1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.

 

 

 

 

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Best Practices, Leadership

Creating Quiet Space for Employees in an Open Office

Rocket IT

Like many offices today, Rocket IT’s headquarters has an open floor plan. This is fantastic for collaboration, accessibility to leadership, and anyone who suffers from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), but it can create a deficiency in quiet spaces to work.

We posted previously about ways employees can focus in and block out distractions in an open office setting, but what can you do as an employer to help?

One way we mitigate this issue is by creating dedicated quiet spaces in our office that anyone can use.

While our main floor plan is open, we do have a few individual offices throughout our space. Several of these offices are taken by members of our leadership team who deal with sensitive information and have weekly one-on-ones with their direct reports where they require privacy. But a few of these offices aren’t occupied by anyone. But that doesn’t mean they’re unused.

Instead of doling out all the available offices, we decided to make these available for use to everyone on the team.

These rooms are equipped with monitors, docking stations, phones, and everything else our team needs to pick up their work from where they left off at their own desk. Anyone can book time in one using its resource mailbox, and they can view the office’s availability within the resource calendars in Outlook. This method provides a more streamlined, standardized, and auditable way for these rooms to be utilized.

 

How exactly do these reservable work spaces help Rocket IT employees thrive?

Each office has a melting pot of eclectic personalities. You have your extraverts who think out loud as they work through new solutions, introverts who prefer white noise over small talk, and those of both personality types who sometimes need a break from background noise or who require privacy for a client phone call.

Creating a space for anyone in your office to reserve some time can diffuse some of that workplace tension that occurs from many different personalities in the same open floor plan.

If your team has expressed a need for some quiet time to get work done, this floating office could be your solution. When the open space becomes too distracting (which can happen in an office where projectiles have been known to fly on occasion) or someone needs a quiet place where they know they won’t be interrupted during a webinar or a conference call, they can go into one of these offices and have everything they need to continue working seamlessly right there at their fingertips.

Interested in seeing how these spaces work for yourself? Come join us on February 23rd from 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM for our ribbon cutting event! RSVP to jmcfadden@rocketit.com.

 


 

MB About the Author-

 Michael Bearchell lives with his wife and three children in Gwinnett County. He is an Inside Support Technician at Rocket IT and has found out the hard way that it is tough being a New York sports fan in the south.

 

CTA Infographic 7 Ways PreviewWe’ve all heard stories of wayward IT consultants holding critical company information or other resources for ransom. This is one of the biggest concerns we hear from potential clients. There are several ways you can protect yourself and your business when you outsource your IT. Download our FREE infographic to learn the 7 Ways to Avoid Being Held Hostage by Your IT Consultant here.

 

 

 

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Best Practices, Technology, Tips & Shortcuts

Sending Emails to Large Groups without Giving Away Your Address Book

Rocket IT

Have you ever received an email and winced when you saw the email addresses of about 25 other executives in the recipient line?

For those of you who have been the ones sending those emails, sending one mass email to everyone instead of many individual ones is certainly the fastest and most efficient way to get your message out, but there is a better way. To send an email to a large group of people without giving away your address book (and giving out the email addresses of people who may not be too keen on having them shared out to people they don’t know), use blind carbon copy for your recipients.

Using blind carbon copy (BCC) allows the people entered in the BCC field to remain concealed from the other recipients. Doing this can also prevent accidental Reply to All emails.

When you enter email addresses into the BCC line of an email, you don’t need to enter any recipients into the standard “To” line. Just enter all your recipients in BCC, include your subject and your message, and you’re good to go.

You can also use the BCC function when sending a meeting request to multiple recipients. Of course, this isn’t meant to trick people so they don’t know who else is attending a meeting. When inviting executives to a large event you’re having, you may have the same message for a large group of people, and many of them may not want their email addresses to be public knowledge.

To use the BCC function in Outlook when sending a meeting request, click on the “To” box next to the text area after creating the request and enter your recipients into the Resources field. This will effectively BCC those guests.

Why are people so reluctant to have their email addresses shared with others?

Well, some people use those emails that go out to a group of people to add to their own mailing lists without getting permission from the sender or from that individual whose email address they’re adding. Many executives prefer to not receive cold emails, and when they see their email address shared with a large group of people, it may negatively impact your relationship with them. Using the BCC function is a quick and painless way to preserve the privacy of your contacts.

Now that you know how to use the BCC function, we encourage you to go forth and use it wisely!

 


 

About the Author – 

Patrick Richardt is an Implementation Engineer at Rocket IT. He was born on Thanksgiving Day, and he currently resides with his wife and two children in Gwinnett County.

 

 

Want technology and leadership content sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe to Rocket IT’s monthly newsletter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Best Practices, Technology

Protecting Yourself from Phishing Attacks

Rocket IT

We’ve recently seen a good number of VERY sophisticated phishing emails that could’ve resulted in significant financial loss. As phishing attempts escalate, and scammers find increasingly crafty ways to elicit money from their victims, we must stay vigilant.

One clever phishing email scheme we’ve seen increasing recently goes something like this:

An employee receives an email from their boss, boss’s boss, or the CEO. This decision maker asks the employee to send them the state of the company’s accounts and/or requests the employee wire funds to that decision maker. From the email address, down to the signature, the email looks almost exactly as if it has come straight from the hands of that executive.

That’s because a scammer has spoofed their email address, making it appear as if the email came directly from them.

How can your organization avoid losing significant amounts of company money to scammers like this?

Ensure all employees have a strong password, especially executives and those with access to financials.

These emails can often come from the mailbox of the actual executive if their account is compromised. So the best thing to do is to prevent them from getting hacked to begin with. Make sure your password stands the test here.

For extra security, you can also set up two-factor authentication. This will trigger an additional security question before a user can access their account after logging in with their username and password. This security question should be equally as strong as your password. Using questions and answers that can easily be found via a quick google search will defeat the purpose of using this extra step.

Confirm. Confirm. Confirm.

Follow up with that executive and make sure they truly made that request. If you can, follow up over the phone or in person. If you respond directly to the original email, that response will go straight to the scammer. And, if the decision maker’s account has been compromised, any emails asking to confirm that transaction request could still be intercepted by the scammer.

Ensuring that all significant financial requests are verbally agreed to by the person requesting the transaction can prevent loss of funds to scammers like this.

 

 


 

MB About the Author-

 Michael Bearchell lives with his wife and three children in Gwinnett County. He is an Inside Support Technician at Rocket IT and has found out the hard way that it is tough being a New York sports fan in the south.

 

1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.

 

 

 

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