Posts in collaboration

Company Culture: the secret to success

August 13th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Community, Staff 0 thoughts on “Company Culture: the secret to success”

Some parts of a business require a lot of work, time, and focus to create and maintain. Others will happen whether you work at them or not. The biggest (and maybe most important) example of this is company culture. Think about it. We’re social creatures, and it is natural for us to function as a cooperative group. It’s something you see happen even in temporary groups, like people waiting to get on a bus or standing in line at the store. There’s an unspoken give and take, an acceptance (and sometimes disregard) for the norms of the situation. No one is discussing it, planning it, or even consciously directing it. But it happens.

The same thing happens in a business. With a group of people brought together to support a common cause for 40 or more hours a week, how could it not?

The question isn’t “Do we have a company culture?”, because the answer to that is always “Yes.” The question is “Do we have a company culture that supports our employees, our clients, and our business goals?” The answer to that question will determine everything from employee productivity to turnover rate. In an industry with a notoriously high turnover rate, like IT, company culture can make all the difference in your business’s ability to thrive.

 

Starting at the Top

Actions speak louder than words.

We’ve all heard it a hundred times, but we rarely take the next step to understanding the implications of that simple truth.

Many businesses have instituted wellness programs to help support and encourage their employees in making healthier life choices. To the tune of $50 billion a year. This sounds like a lot of action in the right direction, so why isn’t it working? A recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that these wellness programs haven’t increased workers’ health much at all. Or improved their experience at work.

This is because a policy or program can’t actually change company culture. Until it’s modeled by the leadership, it’s just empty words.

 

Setting the Example

Take a moment to think about what you’re modeling for your employees and coworkers. Are you answering emails late at night or well before work in the mornings? Do you skip lunches, rush from one meeting to the next, and cancel plans with your family on a regular basis? Are you showing up to work when you’re sick, injured, or exhausted?

The story we’re told is that you have to work hard to succeed, and sometimes that means sacrifice and struggle. This can certainly be true, and there’s nothing wrong with hard work and sacrifice. But is what you’re gaining worth what you’re giving up?

You have to remember that as the boss you set the tone. Your employees will follow your example, and you have to decide if this culture is sustainable, productive, and reflective of the business you want to create.

 

What You Value

One way to look at this is that it all comes down to what you value.

Do you want your employees at their desks for 8 hours a day, pushing regardless of what their actual level of productivity is?

Or do you want your employees working at their best, producing high quality work, regardless of whether that happens in 1 hour blocks or means they take a day off when they’re sick, have a family event, or just need to manage their stress level?

You have the opportunity to create a business that is both supportive and successful. Are you ready to do it?

7 Tips for Training Tech-Savvy Employees

June 6th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Staff 0 thoughts on “7 Tips for Training Tech-Savvy Employees”

Updating your technology on a regular basis is an important part of keeping your employees productive and efficient as well as protecting your company from cyber security threats. But keeping employees up to date on how to use all this new tech can be a challenge. Here are 7 tips to help you train more tech savvy employees and keep your business moving forward.

  • Know why –Most people resist change. It’s just human nature. But if you can explain WHY it’s worth their time and effort to learn and use this new tech, you’ll find your employees will be a lot more cooperative. And maybe even excited.
  • Recruit inside– Some employees will naturally be more apt and more interested in the new tech. Recruit them to help you train the others. This will help bridge the knowledge gap as well as getting everyone involved on the project together.
  • Get hands-on –As often as possible, have your employees learn by doing. The more engaged they are, the more likely they are to retain the information.
  • Documentation –Ever wish there was a manual for that? So do your employees. Give them written instructions (preferably with screenshots) whenever possible. This will help them learn more quickly and provide a handy reference guide for later.
  • Keep it small –Breaking your employees into smaller groups for tech training gives them more opportunities to ask questions and engage with the instructor, helping them learn more quickly.
  • Everyone is different –Some employees will pick up the new tech and run with it right away, but others will require more time and effort to get them going. Be prepared for differing rates of progress and be patient.
  • Get their thoughts –Your employees can provide you will valuable feedback on the learning process and how the new tech is impacting the company, if you ask and are open to listening. Do this during the transition and afterwards to help keep tabs on the bigger picture.

7 Skills of a Successful Digital Leader

May 2nd, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Staff 0 thoughts on “7 Skills of a Successful Digital Leader”

As the role of IT evolves and becomes more integrated with the very foundations of our businesses, it’s vital for you to evolve with it. It’s no longer enough to know the ins and outs of business tech, now you need to have the leadership skills and business savvy necessary to make all that tech knowledge an integral asset at every level, from C-suite executives to end users.

 

Talk less, communicate more

It’s important to ensure that IT solutions, as well as time and money spent, are all in the best interests of the company. So, it’s important to listen to what people are saying, sift through to what’s actually needed, prioritize what will benefit the company most, and then communicate the value of the proposition as well as how it will be accomplished. This requires an open mind, good listening skills, and abstract reasoning.

 

Focus on simplicity, efficiency, and agility

With so many IT solutions available for each need, it’s important to remember that more isn’t more, but neither is less. What you want is the right fit for your business, and that will change as your business grows and evolves. This requires an IT leader with a focus on keeping your processes simple, a willingness to cut anything that isn’t efficient, and an eye to keeping the business agile enough to shift and change when and how it needs to in order to stay competitive.

 

Hire adaptability

People are inherently resistant to change, so it’s important that you actively seek people who are interested in challenge and growth. A growth mindset means they won’t run from change, they’ll lean into it. And even better, they’ll get curious and start asking questions that may open up new avenues of thinking or opportunities that will help your business move forward.

 

Get your hands dirty

It’s unrealistic to tell a group of people to do something without being willing to do it yourself, and adopting new mindsets and approaches to technology is no different. Get involved with your teams, help them work through the problems and challenges, and let them see you working to learn with them. It will encourage a healthier dynamic and improve adoption of new technology and processes.

 

Change the way you view mistakes

Teams who are afraid to fail are also afraid to try, and you can’t make progress until you’re open to both. You can help your team by establishing a culture that treats mistakes as an opportunity to learn and do better.

 

Value different perspectives and relationships

Bridging the gap between IT and business can seem overwhelming. It gets a lot easier when you have a pool of contacts to draw from that spans both sides. These different perspectives will help keep you from leaning too far to one side, and they will help you see your challenges and opportunities in a whole new light.

 

Focus forward and keep adapting

Consistent change is the new normal, and the pace increases every year. Now is the time to embrace this and learn how to use it to your advantage. Rather than seeking out a “perfect” structure or solution, allow your ideas and your approach to be flexible enough to take advantage of “great for now”. And then be prepared to change again when your business outgrows that solution or a better one becomes available.

Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Devices, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources”

As technology becomes more essential, more versatile, and more complex, it also becomes increasingly difficult to manage. This can be especially true for SMBs as they balance the need to grow and stay competitive with limited budgets and less IT expertise. Luckily, there’s more than one way to look at IT, and how you approach it makes all the difference.

 

The Challenges

As the demands of your business reach the limit of your IT department’s ability to keep up, you may find yourself experiencing some of the following growing pains:

  • IT is spending most of their time putting out fires, which means recurring problems are becoming more common.
  • Deployment of software, apps, and initiatives is getting more complex, and you’re seeing more delays, failures, and down time.
  • Keeping up with break/fix work is keeping your IT staff from focusing on developing strategies and solutions that will benefit the business long term.
  • System down time is becoming more frequent, and it’s resulting in a loss of productivity and profit.

 

The Right Team with the Right Resources

As the role of IT expands, it’s important that you have the right team in place with the right expertise. It’s not just about having more staff; it’s about having access to expertise in cyber security, cloud migration, data mining, collaboration, etc. But, while you need access to these types of expertise and support, it doesn’t make sense for most SMBs to have these high-level experts on staff full time. Which is why many businesses are excited to discover the benefits of Managed Services.

To get the most out of your IT, both internal and through outsourced partnerships, make sure to have these three types of resources covered:

Generalists

These are your “go to” people. They’ve got the basic knowledge necessary to solve most of the day-to-day issues that your employees will encounter quickly and reliably, and they have the people-savvy necessary to provide high-quality service. This is a point of pride at Think. Our Support Desk staff is carefully selected, highly trained, and respond to most service tickets in an hour or less.

 

Specialists

With the rapid advancements in tech, IT departments are often expected to be experts in a variety of ever-changing specialties. To keep all the different aspects of your business tech running smoothly, you need access to a wide range of specialized skill sets. But, while these specialties are vital, they’re not necessarily something you’ll need forty hours a week. This is where the collective experience of a Managed Services team is key. With the right partner, you get the expertise and experience you need when you need it.

 

Advisors

IT has evolved from a convenience to a catalyst for innovation and future growth. But with each department working from their own perspective and towards their own goals, it can be difficult to see the broader picture and create a strategic place for IT in your business. An IT advisor with an outside perspective, a solid understanding of business and tech, and the ability to help you develop a plan to move your business forward is in an invaluable asset that can change the course of your entire organization for the better.

 

Bottom Line

Balancing the needs of your business with budget considerations is an ongoing challenge, and IT is no exception. But with the right combination of resources, you can ensure that your business receives all the benefits IT has to offer without sacrificing in other areas. For many organizations, this is where teaming up with a Managed Services partner gives them what they need, when they need it.

Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 r2 Are On Their Way Out

February 14th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Data, Desktop, Devices, Disaster, Hackers, Managed Service Provider, Security, Services, Windows 7 0 thoughts on “Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 r2 Are On Their Way Out”

All good things come to an end, and that includes operating systems. This time around it’s Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 r2. As of January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates for these systems. This means that any devices running on these operating systems will become vulnerable to security threats after January 14, 2020.

What You Can Do

We encourage you to begin planning for the upgrade of these devices to a newer, more secure operating system. The sooner you start this process, the easier it will be to ensure that you can:

  1. Have time to determine the most beneficial IT solutions for your business.
  2. Work in the transition period during a more convenient time for you and your staff.
  3. Plan for the expense of the upgrade.

What You Don’t Want to Do

Put it off until the last minute. Something this vital to your business operations and security isn’t something you want to rush or push to the side.

We’re Happy to Help

Here at Think our engineers are ready to help you find the best IT solutions for your business. And with their extensive experience and knowledge, they can help make the transition as smooth and convenient as possible for your business and your staff. To schedule a consultation with a Think engineer, contact us today.

For more information from Microsoft, you can read their information page here.

blog header image engineer's week

Celebrating Engineer’s Week

February 12th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, byod, collaboration, Communication, Community, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Celebrating Engineer’s Week”

Engineer’s Week is February 17th – 23rd, and here at Think we’re pretty excited. In part, because engineering is a huge part of what we do and who we are, but also because engineering is amazing. This is the perfect chance to shine the spotlight on some of the wonderful things engineering has helped us accomplish as well as recognize the dedicated engineers who’ve made them possible, throughout the world and here at Think.

When most people think of engineering, their minds go to fantastic bridges and skyscrapers, which makes sense. Structural engineering makes a splash, because we get to see and use bridges and buildings.

But we have some pretty amazing engineering feats happening right here at Think as well, and some pretty amazing engineers making them happen.

Dan Palmer, Network Engineer, recently received Cisco Certification CICD-Implementing Cisco Collaboration Devices.  By obtaining this certification he has demonstrated knowledge of administrator and end-user interfaces, telephony and mobility features, and Cisco UC solutions maintenance.  This means that he’s ready to help businesses take advantage of systems that facilitate unified communication in offices large and small, from VoIP voice services, visual voicemail, instant messaging, chat, and presence.  Dan sought out this certification because it’s important to him (and to all of us at Think) to provide the best possible support for our customers in all the services we offer. He’s currently working with a new client to set up the communication services that will support their business’s needs and help make communication easy and efficient. Dan is dedicated to doing what it takes to provide the experience our customers are looking for, and we’re happy to celebrate him and all he does.

Some of Dan’s favorite engineering marvels are The Hubble Telescope and NASA’s Voyager. Honestly, it doesn’t get much cooler than seeing galaxies that are billions of light years away and visiting distant parts of our solar system.

Darrell Brooks, Director of Network Infrastructure, recently earned his certification as an Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). This is one of the most highly regarded certifications in this area, and it allows Darrell to help businesses take care of their security from a business perspective as well as a technological perspective. This is a vital step in information security, because even the most advanced technological security solutions can be undermined by inefficient or incomplete policies and procedures. And all the best intentions in the world can’t compete with well-trained and educated employees.

Darrell chose to pursue this certification because it was important to him to have a more complete skill set that allows him to support our clients on multiple levels. Every business, no matter the size, needs information security. And every business has the opportunity to create policies and procedures that will keep the core of their business secure, stable, and successful regardless of the ways technology and technological threats evolve.

One of Darrell’s favorite engineering marvels is the Internet, because it allows us to access knowledge that wouldn’t have been available in the past. Want to see the pyramids? You can do it from your living room. Need to do a home repair project, but don’t know how? There are videos for that.

To Dan, Darrell, and all of the engineers of the world, we want to extend our thanks. You’ve made the world a better place for so many people and in so many different ways. It doesn’t get any more worthy of celebration than that.

relationship issues blog post header

Relationship Problems: 5 Ways Your Outdated Tech is Getting Between You and Your Staff

February 12th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, byod, collaboration, Desktop, Internet, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Relationship Problems: 5 Ways Your Outdated Tech is Getting Between You and Your Staff”

Technology exists to make our lives easier, our work more efficient, and our businesses more productive. It’s the perfect marriage of need and solution. At least it’s perfect until these 5 issues start causing downtime that interferes with your staff and their ability to do their jobs. Are any of these outdated tech issues getting between you and your staff?

1. Low Bandwidth: Nothing is quite as frustrating as waiting for a slow internet connection. Whether it’s downloading files or folders, accessing a database, or waiting on that important email, low bandwidth can make simple business functions torture for your staff. This can lead to everything from frustration to high turn-over, and both of those will impact your bottom line. Create an easy and enjoyable experience as well as an efficient work day for your staff by ensuring that your hardware and network are set up for optimum speeds.

2. Security Issues: Your staff is responsible for handling information that is vital to your business every single day. It’s important that this happens in a safe and productive way. In a digital age this means up to date firewalls, backups, security patches, and policies to ensure that your staff can do their jobs without worrying about an outside threat. Because losing data or getting hacked could cost you far more than just money; it could cost you your business.

3. Outdated Hardware: Old hardware can be the source of all kinds of issues, from overheating components that can fry entire systems to outdated software that leaves your system wide open to digital attacks. The good news is basic maintenance and regular upgrades are a lot easier and less costly than dealing with aging hardware and band-aid fixes. And your staff will be able to focus on their tasks instead of spending their time troubleshooting themselves or with technical support.

4. Inefficient Solutions: Sometimes the biggest problem a business has is not knowing what the best solution is for their IT needs. There are multiple options for every kind of hardware and software need, and choosing the wrong one will slow you down and ultimately cost you. Is cloud the right solution? How advanced is your antivirus? What is the best firewall? Do you have the IT policies and procedures in place that will ensure the security and success of your business? Knowing the right direction for your business will ensure that your staff is as productive as possible.

5. User Error: All the high-end technology in the world can’t save you from an employee who isn’t prepared to use it correctly. This can be devastating when there’s a security breach or a network outage because an employee misplaced a password or deleted the wrong setting. Taking the time to properly educate and train your staff on the digital aspects of your company will not only save you trouble, it will give your business an important edge. We always recommend a business have an IT policy and properly train employees on the BYOD culture. This will give your staff the peace of mind that comes with knowing they’re doing the right thing the right way.

Did a few of these sound a little too familiar? The good news is everything on this list is easy to address, which makes for a happier and more productive workplace. Who doesn’t want that?

Are you ready to get your relationship with technology back on track, but don’t know how? Think’s engineers are highly trained and certified to assist with all of your business technology needs. Contact us for a consultation.

Videoconferencing

Videoconferencing: Why You Need It

December 19th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Desktop, Internet, Managed Service Provider, Services, video 0 thoughts on “Videoconferencing: Why You Need It”

Cut Cost and Increase Productivity

Save time and money, boost collaboration and cut emissions – these are just a few of the reasons behind the growing popularity of videoconferencing. Here’s a look at the many business benefits and why your business needs to utilize videoconferencing.

Benefits of Videoconferencing

While your travel points may take a hit, videoconferencing can lead to a huge reduction in business travel time and cost while increasing productivity. A study by the Carbon Disclosure Project found that businesses could achieve a return on investment in as little as 15 months, while also curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Other videoconferencing benefits include a faster decision-making process, maximizing the input of key employees and lowering stress on staff, resulting in improved morale and better work practices, such as allowing for telecommuting.

Strategically, videoconferencing can help businesses get to market faster and improve customer responsiveness, while speeding response time to crisis events.

Gigoam Research found that 87 percent of remote users “feel more connected to their team and process when using videoconferencing.” When your colleague in another city is suddenly right on your screen, staff discussions become a lot more engaging – although telecommuters will need to ditch those pajamas for office clothes.

What System Should I Use?

There are lots of software and hardware options to facilitate videoconferencing.

Common bundles allow you to conduct interactive videoconference calls while collaborating on individual projects. Depending on the bundle, these services may include new telecommunication devices or computer workstations which operate in unison with advanced software.

These systems allow businesses to converse with their colleagues in rural locations or overseas while working on the same report or file, allowing for document sharing and storage.

How Can These Systems Cust Costs?

Business travel is a thing of the past with videoconferencing, since the only travel required is moving to the conference facility in the office, or to your desktop computer or smartphone.

In addition to the savings in business travel time and cost, the high quality of collaboration allows businesses to avoid project double-ups and the time-consuming process of back-and-forth file exchanges.

Videoconferencing can unlock considerable cost savings for any organization while delivering productivity gains through enhanced collaboration, along with improved morale and environmental benefits. For businesses that embrace the trend, global communication is just a screen away.

Get in Touch

Think offers technology solutions for businesses including state-of-the-art video and audio conferencing, instant messaging and more. Our solutions allow communication in any workspace and on any media, device or operating system.

Think’s highly certified engineers will work with you to identify and implement the most efficient and reliable collaboration solutions for your business. Contact us to learn more!

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