Social Distancing has affected solo and small businesses globally. A few weeks ago, many of us were on the go. Punching in a time clock, dropping into customer locations to say hi, and hanging out in coffee shops to work and collaborate. All of that has ground to a halt which leaves many businesses scrambling to figure out how to stay in business. Fortunately, we live in the digital age and the Internet offers a lot when it comes to keeping your business operational, allowing you and your employees to work remotely, and keeping in contact with customers and connections. Wondering how you can use the Internet to work remotely? Here is my list of tips to help you and your business keep the cash flow coming in.
1. Make sure you can roll out a mobile workforce. It's easy to say that you want to have you and your workforce work remotely, but can you actually achieve it? The most important tool that you need to have at your disposal is high-speed Internet. What is high-speed Internet? Well, high-speed internet is an internet service that offers download speeds 25 Mbps (Megabits Per Second) or higher. Do you or your workforce currently have those speeds? To find out, visit Ookla's Speedtest (www.speedtest.net) Anything less than 25 Mbps can lead to problems connecting to your office VPN or cloud-based application. If you and your employees don't have access to land-based high-speed Internet, look to your mobile carrier and see if a mobile hot spot is for you. Many mobile carrier plans can help you get access to higher internet speeds and a hotspot can work as a router, allowing to connect other computer peripherals such as tablets, printers, and routers to them.
2. Disinfect Your Tech. The CDC is informing everyone to wash their hands, but clean hands and dirty tech doesn't add up. Disinfecting computers and smart devices is very important. The coronavirus can live on surfaces for up to 96 hours. Smartphones especially need to be disinfected as they sometimes have more germs than your average public bathroom. If you and your workforce have access to products like PhoneSoap,(www.phonesoap.com) which use UV rays to kill flu germs, encourage them to disinfect their devices with these devices. If they don't, there is a wonderful product called Pure and Clean (www.pureandclean.us) which can kill flu viruses. You can always have them create a homemade disinfectant with 50% Water and 50% of 70% Isopropyl Alcohol. When disinfecting devices with a cleaning solution, make sure you let your cleaning solution sit on your devices no less than 4 minutes, before you wipe away the solution. If you're thinking about using Clorox or bleach wipes to clean your devices, don't. These harmful chemicals can damage your smart devices.
3. Have an automatic backup of company data. This should already be part of your company playbook, but if it isn't', you need to start today. Pandemic or not, you need to make sure you and your company have a backup of all of your company data. At Integral (www.callintegralnow.com) we run into countless solo and small businesses that aren't backing up their stuff. The solution is simple. Implement a cloud solution like Carbonite (www.carbonite.com) or BackBlaze (www.backblaze.com) that will constantly back your data up. For both services, pricing starts at $72 dollars a year. A small price to pay to save your precious data.
4. Educate Your workforce on the importance of cybersecurity. One of the most important things solo and small business owners need to understand is that 99% cybersecurity attacks require user interaction ... which means as long as you're not clicking on stuff that you aren't supposed to, you can keep your business data safe. You're probably thinking that if you are working remotely, you can't infect the office network, right? Well, you're wrong. Lethal attacks like ransomware are designed to destroy the data on local computers and networks as well. Phishing attacks are how most businesses are 'hacked'. Educate you and your staff on how to avoid this. Check out these sites to quiz yourself:
You can also hire a cybersecurity firm like my company Integral to do routine checks to verify you and your employees aren't falling for these scams.
5. Agree on a collaborating Platform. Are you and your staff going to log in to the office VPN? Will they use a remote desktop? These are questions you need to answer before working remotely. For quick collaboration for solo and small businesses, I have to say Microsoft office 365 or Google Docs is great for coworking. If you’re looking to interact face-to-face, I would have to go with Skype (www.skype.com) for one on one communication (FaceTime will work too) and Zoom (www.zoom.us). Zoho also makes great collaboration tools for employees and customers.
6. Have a solid tech support team for you and your staff. Hopefully, you have a dedicated tech team for your company, but if you don't now is the time. You want to work with a tech team that is responsive to your needs and the needs of your remote workforce. If your tech team has to send a technician to your office or to your remote employees' home, make sure they are taking steps to minimize you and your employee's risks to the coronavirus by disinfecting themselves and their technology.
7. Stay social with social media. I knew 2020 was going to be the year in which many businesses need to make a major shift to using social media to stay in contact with customers and prospects. With everyone socially isolated, it's time for you to up your social media game. Keep in contact with your customers by posting pictures and videos with how your business is going to help them during the pandemic. Remember, Live streaming video goes up to 5x more connections so get in front of the camera and communicate.
8. Minimize other hazards that can happen. With work devices, it's important to keep them as work devices and take steps to make sure they and the information they old don't fall into the wrong hands. Enable utilities such as Microsoft, Apple and Android's 'Find My Device' to locate or remotely wipe the data off devices if they are lost or stolen. You will also want to encrypt your mobile devices to keep company data safe. Encryption scrambles your data making it virtually impossible for prying eyes to see your information. With Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, it's just a matter of putting a password on your devices. With Windows and Macintosh computers, you need to go through a more complicated process. Apple users, need to enable File Vault. Windows users need to have Windows 10 Professional to use BitLocker encryption. Finally, make sure the work computer is only used for work. Letting kids play games on your office computer can lead to your computer and devices getting compromised with a virus and ransomware which can put your business at big risk.
Having a remote workforce can help your business stay afloat during this period of social distancing. Make sure you and your business take the right steps and precautions so your business will continue to thrive in 2020 and beyond.
Want to ask me a tech question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to connect with me on social media, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter and watch great tech tip videos on my YouTube channel. I love technology. I've read all of the manuals and I want to make technology fun and exciting for you.
If you need on-site or remote tech support for your Windows\Macintosh, computers, laptops, Android/Apple smartphone, tablets, printers, routers, smart home devices, and anything that connects to the Internet, please feel free to contact my team at Integral. My team of friendly tech experts are always standing by to answer your questions and help make your technology useful and fun. Reach out to us a www.callintegralnow.com or phone at 888.256.0829.
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