Blog

May 4th, 2016

2016May4_MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_BApps. We need them for entertainment, organization and for work. In the 21st century, more businesses need more apps to stay ahead of the competition. And as iOS and Android phones continue to dominate the market with popular apps, the lack of services available for Windows phones put Microsoft in a tough spot. Here is a quick rundown of the problem facing Windows smartphones today and what they’re planning to do to fix it.

The problem

Since its release, Windows 10 Mobile has not been getting as much traction as Microsoft had hoped. One of the biggest factors to this is due to Windows 10 Mobile struggling to get popular apps like Instagram or Snapchat onto their platform. This would mean that customers would have to settle for third-party services that were usually quite obscure, and had a higher chance of shutting down since developers cannot maintain the app running for long without proper funding.

Furthermore, because of such a small market for Windows 10 phones, fewer apps were being developed. No app creator was going to spend time making an app for a platform that is constantly overshadowed by iOS or Android devices. The only thing the Windows 10 Mobile had going for it was its lower price point, but with barely any apps to make the entire device worthwhile, customers were going elsewhere for more popular alternatives.

The solutions

So, clearly, Microsoft needed to reevaluate their strategy to get people’s heads turning back to their devices. In pursuit of a larger user base for Windows phones, here are some of the features that Microsoft are planning to deploy:
  • Cross compatibility apps: In order to get on the same playing field, Microsoft has been trying to make apps that were only available on iOS and Android compatible with Windows devices.
  • Universal Windows Platform: Microsoft’s best solution for a lack of apps on the Windows 10 Mobile is to allow apps to run in several platforms. This means apps that were initially developed for PC, Xbox and Internet of Things (IoT) powered devices can also run on your phone. Instead of getting limited services from one device, you have access to all the apps available for any Windows 10 product.

Will this work?

We’re still uncertain if these strategies will make you want to run out to the nearest store and pick up the newest Windows Phone model, but it seems promising. Companies like Apple and Google have not been successful in unifying their apps for different devices. However, Microsoft’s large PC customer base and available apps can hopefully change that. It also gives Windows phones a unique selling point, other than their competitive pricing, which is sure to attract some customers.

These days, users are working with more than one device at any given time and as we begin to lose track of all the apps installed on our devices, a unified app platform can be just what we need for the future. So do you think you’ll be picking up a Windows phone anytime soon?

Want to stay up to date with the latest developments from Microsoft? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic windows
May 3rd, 2016

2016May3_BusinessIntelligence_BWhen it comes to marketing, it can be tough to determine the most effective strategies. There are so many different ways you can try to lure customers to your brand: a free ebook, email marketing and press releases are few strategies often used. But how do you know what’s most effective? It all comes down to looking at data to see what works best. We’ve done some legwork for you to show how this old school marketing tactic is still influencing customers as much today as it did decades ago.

What is one thing every consumer has in common? They all love to save money. This is why the marketing technique of offering coupons is still as effective today as it was decades ago. Shocked? Don’t believe this is true? Well, let’s explore some statistics.

A recent report by Valassis, a large marketing firm that serves clients across the globe, provided some enlightening information on the effectiveness of coupons. Here’s what they discovered in terms of how coupons influence consumers.

  • 82% of all consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally because of a coupon
  • 85% are influenced to try a new product because of a coupon
  • 84% are more likely to switch brands because of the weekly specials on offer
  • 24% choose to shop at another brand’s store over their preferred because of better advertised bargains
This same report also uncovers some interesting data about brand loyalists, revealing that 78% are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally patronize, due to a coupon. While this number is surprising close to the amount of total consumers influenced by coupons (as mentioned in the first bullet point above) this next bit of data may come as more of a surprise: 43% of brand loyalists have a more positive view of a company that offers coupons over those who don’t.

While this recent report goes a long way to revealing the benefits of coupons, how do they compare to another common marketing offer used today: free information products?

The appeal of coupons over information products

According to one marketing firm based in Waterford, Connecticut, a coupon was chosen 9 out of 10 times over an ebook when offered simultaneously. This raises an interesting question: why would a coupon be more effective than a free ebook or other information product? Let’s look at some common psychology triggers at play here.

Broad appeal - simply put, coupons have mass appeal. While information products are likely to be seen as more valuable to those with a higher education, a coupon can appeal to all income brackets - from the very wealthy to the very poor.

Instant value - to gain results from an information product requires a time investment and action. For example, if a customer receives a free 30 page ebook that explains how to get the best discounts on electronic equipment, he or she needs to read the book and then take action (and possibly create a plan) to gain the rewards of that time investment. Many consumers would rather spend their time doing something else, but a coupon on the other hand offers immediate value. Simply hand it over to the service provider, and you save money instantly. What’s not to love about that?

Uniqueness - the online marketplace is flooded with free information products. While they’re still an effective tool to gain a prospect’s email address, far fewer businesses offer coupons on their website, especially in the small business sector. By offering a coupon, you provide a free offer that immediately separates you from the pack.

The point here is that just because a marketing tool is popular doesn't mean it’s the most effective. This is why we encourage you to review data and statistics before implementing any marketing technique in your business. It can save you a whole lot of time and also make your business stand out.

Want more valuable business information that can help you connect better with your customers? Curious to learn how IT can help collect data more easily? Call us today to find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
April 29th, 2016

2016Apr29_AndroidPhone_BIt’s the middle of the month and you’re waiting to meet a colleague outside a restaurant. As you wait, you idly browse the web and check emails, and then suddenly you’re hit with the notification you dread most. Your Android phone’s data is almost out. Questions race through your mind...how will I make it through the last couple of weeks with limited data? Should I buy more? Should I just suck it up and use the slower connection once it’s gone? Let’s face it, these are all questions you want to avoid. And here’s how you can do just that with some tips to save data on your Android phone.

Data Saver for Chrome

We all know surfing the web sucks up data. But did you know there’s a way to reduce the amount of it used while riding the Internet waves? Google Chrome enables you to do just that by compressing Chrome pages, reducing data use by 30-35%. To activate this feature, press the three dots on your Chrome browser > Settings > Data Saver. Switch it on here, and start saving data now.

Video Compression on Opera

Google Chrome isn’t the only browser with a compressing feature that saves data. The Opera mini browser also compresses data, but with video instead. Of course, if you’re trying to save data it’s a good idea to avoid streaming video while not connected to Wi-Fi, but if you must do so, follow these steps on your Opera mini browser to load videos faster while saving data: go to Settings > Data Savings and tick the video compression box.

Eighty-six Facebook and other data-draining apps

This extremely bloated app has caused multiple problems for Android users. Not only has it been linked to causing Android phone slowdown, but it also consumes a ton of data. A few alternative ways to access Facebook sans the application are to use the web app Tinfoil or via your Google Chrome web browser.

And while we’re on the subject of applications, consider deleting other apps that consume high amounts of data. Of course you likely have dozens of apps on your phone, so how do you know what’s consuming the most? Simply go to Settings > Data usage. From here you can see what apps are consuming the most data and delete them if you so choose.

Restrict background data

If there ever was a nemesis to data usage, it would be background data. This pesky feature of Android consumes data when you’re not browsing the web or using an app. To prevent this from happening, click Settings > Data Usage > Restrict Background Data.

Mind your auto-updates

Just because a new version of an app is available doesn’t mean you should update it right now. Doing so when not connected to Wi-Fi eats up a lot of data, which is why it’s important to turn off auto-updates because when switched on your apps will update automatically regardless of whether you’re connected to a Wi-Fi signal or simply using data. So set your Android to only update in the presence of Wi-Fi by going to Google Play Store > Settings > Auto Update Apps > Auto-update Apps over Wi-Fi Only.

Hold-off on streaming music

We know you love streaming music on YouTube, Spotify, and similar sites but, let’s be honest, this is killing your data. There’s nothing wrong with streaming music from these sites in and of itself, simply wait till you can connect to Wi-Fi to do so. In the meantime, listen to music you have stored on your phone to get your tunes in.

Take your apps offline

Many apps provide an option to access them offline without consuming any data. Google Docs is a prime example. You can choose which documents you’d like to access while not connected to the Internet. Make it a habit to check which of your apps have offline access options and enable that setting whenever possible.

Saving data on your Android device is not rocket science. Most of the time you simply need to be a bit more conscious of your online activities, and you can save a tremendous amount of data in the process. Hopefully these tips will help you do just that. If you’d like to learn how else you can improve your Android devices, get in touch with our experts now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
April 28th, 2016

2016Apr28_Security_BHackers come in all shapes and sizes. From kids trying to gain notoriety on the Internet to political groups trying to send a message, the motives for a cyber attack vary widely. So how can you protect yourself? It all starts with getting to know your enemy a little better. Here’s a profile of four different types of hackers.

Script Kiddies

When it comes to skill level, Script Kiddies are at the bottom of the totem pole and often use scripts or other automated tools they did not write themselves - hence the name. With only an elementary level of technical knowhow, Script Kiddies usually don’t cause much damage...usually. The Script Kiddy virus known as the Love Bug which sent out an email with the subject-line “I LOVE YOU” fooled millions of people, including some in the Pentagon, in the early 2000’s. The virus reportedly caused around 10 billion in lost productivity and digital damage.

So who is a Script Kiddie? Most of the time they’re simply bored youth looking for a thrill or notoriety. Many never evolve into a full-time hacker, and instead just use their skills as a hobby. Oddly enough, many Script Kiddies find a career later on working in the security industry.

Hacktivist

If you’ve heard of Anonymous, LulzSec or AntiSec, then you’re familiar with Hacktivists. These groups are made up of members of varying skill levels, all the way from Script Kiddies to some of the most talented hackers in the world. Their mission is largely politically motivated as they aim to embarrass their targets or disrupt their operations, whether that be a business or government body. Two of the most common ways they attack their target are by stealing sensitive information and exposing it or denial of service (DDoS) where a server is overloaded till it finally crashes.

As a small or medium-sized business owner you are not necessarily immune to Hacktivist disruption. If your business or a company you’re associated/partnered with participates or provides services that can be seen as unethical, such as Ashley Madison (who fell victim of a major Hacktivist attack last year), then you too may be targeted by Hacktivists.

Cyber Criminals

Often talked about in the media and well-known by most SMBs, cyber criminals are after one thing: money. Their targets run the gamut, including everyone from individuals to small businesses to large enterprises and banks. But what do these targets usually have in common? They either have a very valuable resource to steal or their security is easy to exploit...or a combination of both of these. Cyber criminals can attack in a number of ways including using social engineering to trick users into providing sensitive information, infecting an organization/individual with ransomware or another form or malware, or exploiting weaknesses in a network.

Insiders

Perhaps the scariest type of hackers are the ones that lurk within your own organization. Insiders are made up of disgruntled employees, whistleblowers or contractors. Oftentimes their mission is payback; they want to right a wrong they believe a company has perpetrated toward them, so they’ll steal sensitive documents or try to disrupt the organization somehow. Edward Snowden is a prime example of an insider who hacked his own organization - the US government.

Now that you know what motivates your enemy, you’ll hopefully have a bit of an idea as to whether or not you’re a target. To learn more about how to secure your business from these types of hackers, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 26th, 2016

2016Apr26_Hardware_BWhen you’re tired of using an uncomfortable mouse or struggling with your laptop’s trackpad, it’s time to buy a new one. But with so many brands and models out there, where would you even start looking? Finding the right mouse to fit your hand comes down to two things: ergonomics and features. In other words, you’re going to want the mouse to feel comfortable while allowing you to work more efficiently. Here are a few tips that will help you decide on the right mouse.

Cable or wireless?

Choosing between a wired or a wireless mouse is a factor you have to consider if you’re planning on purchasing a new mouse. Wireless mice are generally more comfortable since your range of movement isn’t limited by a cable and they’re usually very travel friendly. However they tend to be less responsive than their wired counterpart, which can be a problem for users requiring more precise mouse control. In some cases, wireless mice can also interfere with other wireless devices nearby. Furthermore, wireless mice require batteries, which can be a drag if you forget to buy some at the store. If you’re planning on using the same mouse for both work and home, you run the risk of losing the tiny USB receiver for your wireless mouse.

On the other hand, wired mice are cheaper and easier to use since you simply plug it in and you’re good to go. The only problem you’ll have to worry about is dealing with tangled wires. So when you’re deciding on a new mouse, think about whether you’re looking for comfort or convenience.

Ergonomics matters

You’re going to be using the new mouse for a while, so it’s important to choose a mouse that feels comfortable in your hands. When deciding on the right mouse, focus on the size and the grip of the device. The size of the mouse usually comes down to the individual’s hand size. For example, someone with smaller hands might find larger mice quite unwieldy. Certain mice can also accommodate for different types of grips:
  • Fingertip grip: With a smaller and flatter body, this mouse allows you to control the entire device with just your fingertips. This type of mouse usually provides you with more precise control of your cursor. However, it doesn’t give any room for your palms to rest on, increasing the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Avoid using this grip unless your work requires a lot of photo, video or sound editing.
  • Palm grip: Palm grips are the complete opposite of fingertip grip mice. With a bump at the back end for your palms, this type of mouse reduces the stress on your forearm and wrist. This grip sacrifices precision for comfort so people prone to repeated stress injuries (RSI) should definitely opt for this type of grip instead.
  • Claw grip: This type of mouse is usually the one people are most accustomed to. Named after the shape your hand makes when you hold this type of mouse, claw grip mice give you the best of both the palm grip and the fingertip grip. Like the palm grip, your palms can rest on the mouse but this type of grip also gives you a bit more control. While the palm grip is still the most ergonomical mouse, the claw grip gives a good balance of both comfort and precision.

Do more than right and left clicks

Don’t just assume that extra buttons on a mouse would mean that it’s only meant for gamers. Extra buttons add more functionality to your mouse. For instance, you can assign your spare mouse buttons to Copy and Paste so you’ll no longer have to input keyboard shortcuts. Want to switch between open windows quickly? You can assign the Alt + Tab (for Windows) and Command + Tab (for Mac) to those mouse buttons. While this isn’t a requirement when picking a new mouse, it’s definitely a neat feature that will save you some time.

DPI (dots per inch)

For precise movements, higher sensitivity is a must. Whether you’re editing images, videos or audio files, you’re going to require more precise mouse movements to execute them well. If you ever had to move your mouse around because your cursor was stuck, then a high sensitivity mouse can solve your problems. Try looking for mice with 1200 DPI or greater for finer control.

Mouse specifications could be the last thing on your mind when it comes to buying new hardware. But comfort is important. A good mouse with the right fit, can make you more efficient and reduce the risk of injury. If you need some help setting up the best hardware for your company, give us a call. We’re happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
April 25th, 2016

2016Apr25_InternetSocialNetworkingAndReputationManagement_B500+ LinkedIn connections can seem like a lofty goal. You have a business to run, and probably don’t have much time to dedicate to the platform. However, carving out the time to grow your LinkedIn network can prove invaluable as it will provide social proof to yourself or organization and presents the opportunity to connect with new clients. So how can you get to 500+? Here are some ideas to get started.

Network every day

If you’re struggling to grow your LinkedIn network, you may not be spending enough time on the platform. If you want to become a power player, you need to use the social network often. So dedicate 15-30 minutes a day to network on LinkedIn, and make it a goal to reach 500+ connections.

Join and participate in groups

Utilizing LinkedIn groups presents an opportunity to meet other professionals (and eventually add them as connections) as well as learn and share valuable advice. The point is not to just join a group, but actively participate in them. This requires a degree of focus and smart selection.

How many groups should you join? Shoot for around ten. This will ensure you have time to participate in each group and connect with its members. As for the groups you join, you’ll obviously want to join those in your industry, but you should also diversify. So choose five within your industry and five that relate to your other interests or provide you an opportunity to learn from its group members. Some suggestions to consider are an alumni group for your university, groups that represent causes/charities you care about, and groups that relate to a new skill you’re hoping to learn. Obviously, all the groups you join need to be active. If members only post in a group once a week, this is a red flag to avoid joining.

Once you’ve joined, you should spend some time each day contributing in at least five of your ten groups. You can ask questions, provide advice, or share valuable articles or original content you’ve created. Once you’ve developed a rapport with group members, you’ll have an easy, non-awkward way to connect with them.

Personalize your “Connect” request

The less you know a person, the less likely they are to connect with you if you send a generic connection request. You know the one: “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Many people will simply ignore requests like this. This is why it’s important to include a quick note that either refreshes that person’s memory of you, mentions a common interest or connection you might share, or simply introduces yourself and your reason for connecting. The more personal your note the better.

Use keywords in your profile

Just like Google, Bing and the other search engines, keywords help you get found on LinkedIn. Plant these keywords in your professional headline, profile summary, and skill endorsement section. How do you know what keywords to use? Think about what you want yourself or your business to be endorsed for. What skills do you have to offer your clients? For example, if your business specializes in web solutions, some keywords you may think about using would include SEO or “web content”. As for your skills, be careful not to choose keywords that are too narrow. For example if your business is in the financial services and tax preparation industry, don’t use the names of niche tax solutions you specialize in like “estate taxes” or “small business taxes” as your endorsed skills. Instead, choose more general words like “tax preparation”. By doing this, your connections will be more likely to endorse you as it’s a broader category.

By following these tips and spending at least 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn, you’re sure to see the number of connections you have grow. And the more connections you make, the less work you’ll have to do to grow your network as more and more people will send you connection requests instead. This will provide more business opportunities and chances for you to meet new clients. If you’d like more ideas how to improve your social media efforts, feel free to email or give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 21st, 2016

2016Apr21_Office365_BMost of us like to think we’d never click on a suspicious link in an email. But the fact of the matter is this is one of the most common ways a business is hacked. We’re all human of course, and we make mistakes. Yet now Microsoft is trying to prevent this. Here’s an inside look at a new Outlook security feature that aims to protect the email of Office 365 users.

Aptly called “Safety Tips”, Microsoft Office 365’s new security feature is designed to help make your employees (and yourself) more aware of which emails may contain harmful content. By analyzing the data patterns of millions of emails, the feature uses a color-coded bar at the top of an email to help you determine what emails are safe, suspicious, or fraudulent.

How it works

Safety Tips uses a simple system to help you identify the safety level of an email quickly. The system consists of four colors that categorizes an email as suspicious, trusted, safe or unknown. The details of each of these categories are outlined below.

Suspicious email Color label: Red Description: This has either failed sender authentication or is a known phishing email. These messages should be deleted.

Unknown email Color label: Yellow Description: Exchange Online Protection marks this type of email as spam. However, you can move this item to your inbox by clicking it’s not spam in the yellow bar.

Trusted email Color label: Green Description: If this email comes from a domain Microsoft deems safe, then it falls into this category.

Safe email Color label: Gray Description: This type of email has either been marked safe by the user’s organization, has been moved from the junk folder into their inbox by the user, or the email is from a contact on the user’s safe sender list.

Color coding will look different between the Outlook app and Outlook for the Web. In the Outlook application, only suspicious emails will be flagged, whereas in Outlook for the Web all four types of emails will be color-coded. However, it should be noted that most emails won’t have any color code as they’re only added when Microsoft thinks they’re relevant.

With hackers getting smarter by the day, and human error a roadblock to a secure business, this new feature will hopefully add an extra layer of security to your organization. If you’d like to learn more about Office 365 or other security services we offer, get in touch today. A more secure business awaits.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
April 20th, 2016

2016Apr20_Web_BThese days, it’s almost impossible to see a business that does not have a website. Even small businesses have taken to the Internet to find more customers and create an online presence. The problem is, with so many companies creating their own websites, yours can get lost in the shuffle. Luckily, a great web design can make a big difference. Here are five web design trends that could help increase your web traffic.

Scrolling

Scrolling is a convenient method for traversing a website. Instead of navigating through confusing menus and drop-down tabs, a scrolling one-page site has a cleaner look and is usually more intuitive for the user. This web design style is definitely more important today, now that people have grown more accustomed to mobile web browsing.

You also have to decide how far visitors will have to scroll to get to know your company. While a long scrolling page gives you more white space and content to work with, a short scrolling page can quickly convey your company’s message and encourages call to actions. The next time you revamp your company website, consider the appropriate scrolling element for your page.

Flat design

To achieve an optimal viewing experience for users, many companies adopted a flat design for their websites. The flat design style replaces the elements that gives an illusion of depth, like shadows and textures, with minimalist typography and colors. For example, Google employed this style to get content to viewers more efficiently. The company added flat design colors and used a sans-serif font. This allowed the logo to load faster and made it was easier to read as well.

Animations

One way businesses have been setting themselves apart from others is by including customized animations to their pages. Now this doesn’t mean you should overload your site with flashy effects that take forever to load. If you want to use animations on your site, give it a subtle twist. For instance, Slack’s loading animation features their logo.

Additionally, animations can be used to increase user interaction and engagement. Hover animations will allow your users to mouse over your content and get an immediate response without having to move between pages. Slideshows on your homepage can also showcase what your company is about without throwing too much information at the audience. When deciding to add an animation to your page, figure out how a specific effect can enhance the user experience while showcasing your business.

Full-screen forms

More websites and apps are using full-screen forms to increase user interaction. Rather than being redirected to another page when your visitors decide to register or login to a website, you are welcomed by a full-screen form without leaving the home page. This is also especially useful for mobile users since they are less likely to misclick sections of the form.

Customized photos

The next time you want to use photographs to highlight your company, forget about using stock photos. Businesses who exhibit their own photography on their homepages look more personal and stand out from the competition.

While these trends are popular at the moment, don’t blindly adopt them all because it will end up looking very messy. The best way to approach these web design trends is by making sure that the design fits your target audience. You won’t exactly have mouse over animations for a website that doesn’t have very many images. Use the trends that are best for your company.

If you want to learn more about current web design trends, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
April 19th, 2016

2016Apr19_VoIP_BWhen considering a VoIP solution, many small business owners have a lot of reservations. What if the call quality is unsuitable? What if your staff struggles with the technology? What if you have to deal with the headache of installing an additional network? All these assumptions can prevent business owners from giving VoIP a try, but are they legitimate? Absolutely not. Here’s how you can avoid them while optimizing your VoIP solution.

Use the same network for voice and data

A popular reason many businesses choose VoIP is to cut costs, which is exactly why you should run voice and data on the same network. Running them separately will significantly increase set up and running costs. And doing so will add an extra layer of complexity to your business that is completely unneeded. Regardless, choosing to combine your voice and data does take a bit of thought to ensure you don’t bump into unnecessary issues. So ask your provider the following questions before getting started:
  1. Will you be able to scale the service as needed?
  2. How much bandwidth will you need to cover both data and voice? Does your business have enough?
  3. Can you make modifications to the network?

Prioritize voice communication

VoIP saves you money. But you don’t want to do so at the cost of the integrity of your business. If you have unreliable voice communications with clients and colleagues, this can tarnish your reputation. This is why voice needs to take priority on your network over applications and other Internet activity if a bottleneck occurs. You can do this by setting the QoS (Quality of Service) on your router to prioritize voice and VoIP traffic. This can help provide clear voice communications without lag or interruption.

Provide comprehensive staff training

As with most technologies, VoIP has a learning curve. While many business owners are happy to give a few quick tips to their employees along with a brief manual, the training often stops there. However, what if your employees encounter problems with the technology while they’re on the phone with a customer? With proper training you can avoid such scenarios. What’s more, your training also gives you an opportunity to share some of the more advanced features VoIP has to offer such as in-call coaching, hot desking, and call screening.

To ensure your staff can maximize their VoIP experience, your training should include the basics of how the software, hardware and data flow operates. You should also include the procedures to take when encountering a problem with the technology and how your voice and data staff can work together for optimum VoIP performance. Once you’ve done that, don’t forget to test your employees on what they’ve learned and answer any and all questions they may have.

VoIP presents a unique opportunity for your business to gain a more advanced telephony solution while cutting costs. Call quality does not have to take a hit. If you’d like to learn more about how VoIP can improve your business, call us now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
April 18th, 2016

2016Apr18_Productivity_BThere’s a lot of talk about BYOD policies these days. While most companies are more concerned with the security risks that go along with bringing your own device, far fewer business owners forget the productivity risks. Believe it or not, a poor BYOD policy (or lack thereof) can actually hurt your staff’s productivity. Here are some ideas to avoid this pitfall when utilizing mobile devices in the workplace.

Use the right tool

Some work tasks just aren’t cut out for mobile use. While using a mobile phone or tablet to send emails is an effective way to work on the go, trying to write long form reports on these same devices is a bad idea. As a general guideline, small tasks such as email, viewing documents, using search engines and project management apps are good for mobile work. Anything that is too detailed is probably better suited for a computer or laptop. Lastly, only train your employees to use and learn the mobile devices and programs that make sense for their role. If you want them to be most efficient, you don’t want to overwhelm them with every mobile tool your business uses.

Communicate face-to-face

Email is undoubtedly a valuable communication tool. But it’s also become the bane of existence for many of today’s employees and business owners. Too many emails kills your employees productivity, overwhelming them. And unfortunately, many times email is simply unnecessary. Instead of sending that email about a question concerning an upcoming meeting, simply go and ask in-person. You’ll likely get a response much quicker and you avoid adding yet another message to the email overflow.

Consider adding a face-first policy in your office. This means that every time your employees consider writing an email, they should question if it’s easier to just go talk with that person directly. If that person is located a quick walk away, then the conversation should take place in-person. This especially makes sense if your employee needs an answer within a few hours, as sometimes emails go unanswered for much longer than this. By enforcing an email policy, your employees’ inboxes are less likely to be overflowing and your communication will take place in a more timely manner.

Set boundaries

There’s no question that mobile tech can help productivity, but it can also hinder it. The problem is that many employees who utilize it have difficulty “switching off”. The lines between work and personal life begin to blur as completing work tasks is always right at their fingertips. While on the surface more work output from your employees may sound like a good thing, in reality it’s far from it. Being “always on” can quickly lead to burnout. And even if it doesn’t, if your employees don’t take time to break and recharge, their productivity will suffer. To demonstrate just how many employees fall into this trap of overworking, the 2015 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index surveyed 2,602 employees and found that a quarter of them regularly worked after standard business hours, and four out of ten worked on at least one weekend a month.

So how can you resolve this issue as an employer? Simply set boundaries. Create time frames for when work platforms and applications can be utilized and for when emails can be sent and responded to. Also, don’t encourage employees to work on off-hours by sending emails during the weekend. If your concern isn’t urgent, then by all means wait till Monday to send it out.

Be flexible

While it may sound a bit contradictory to the last point, being flexible in your work policy can be a smart decision to boost productivity. By being flexible, we mean the ability for your employees to work at hours and locations of their choosing. Most people work better and quicker at certain hours as they are more focused at specific times of the day. And some people will work better remotely than they do at an office space as there can be less distractions. The Staples survey supported this fact as 59% of the employees surveyed said that flexible schedules had a positive effect on productivity.

Cloud tools like Office 365 and Google Apps can help encourage a flexible workplace. But regardless of how flexible your office becomes, be conscious that parameters on work, mentioned in the last section, should still be in place to prevent employee burnout.

Mobile devices in the workplace can go a long way towards making your business more efficient and employees happy. If you’d like to learn more about utilizing mobile devices in the workplace or how you can leverage technology to make your business more productive, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business