How to Make the Most of Your BYOD Policy

There’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 by overwhelming them. 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 more quickly 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. 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, as mentioned in the last section, should still be in place to prevent employee burnout.

Mobile devices in the workplace can go a long way toward making your business more efficient and your 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 at (800)421-7151.

New Office 365 Feature for More Secure Email

Most 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. 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 at (800)421-7151. A more secure business awaits.

Picking a Mouse that you Click With

When 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 ergonomic 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.