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Moving Beyond Band-Aid Collaboration Tools

The impacts of the coronavirus on business culture have forced a critical need for unified business communication technology that goes well beyond commonly used band-aid solutions.

As we all continue to grapple with social distancing and lockdown protocols, everyone is searching for innovative ways to get back to “normal life.”

This has prompted business leaders to rethink customer interaction and strengthen remote collaboration in their B2B and B2C environments – while making it all work seamlessly.

  • Incorporate everything your team uses to connect and be productive in one system.
  • Choose technology that supports all of your collaboration needs with these three features – Dedicated Workspaces, Task Management, and Shared Files for each project.
  • Create an ideal environment that allows for quick responses with features such as Messaging, Telephony, and Video – no matter what your system includes, it’s important to keep it Unified.

Ready to make the switch from your emergency solution to a long-term solution? We’re here to help. Contact TCI today: (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Strengthening Collaboration in the Evolving Workplace

Today’s pandemic has changed the way small and medium businesses perceive the workplace. Responding to stay-at-home mandates, SMBs with existing remote work programs have expanded them, and those that lacked work-from-home options prior to the pandemic started implementing them.

The Hybrid Workplace

Some employees will eventually go back to the office full-time when the pandemic subsides. Many will continue to work at home full-time, while others divide their work between home and office. The workplace is also likely to remain fluid, accommodating changing business and employee situations on the fly.

People who had turned off their cameras for online meetings started turning them on. In the process, everyone has become accustomed to the occasional technical glitches and security breaches, or scenes of family life playing out in the background. But video conferencing is not the only online tool that has helped sustain businesses…

Cloud to the Rescue

Cloud applications – remote IT and access, real-time collaboration, file sharing, backup, security, and identity management – have proven their value in supporting remote work and keeping businesses operational.

Integrating a mix of old phone systems, web and video conferencing, SMS, file-sharing and other tools often cost more – in terms of both time and money – than it does to move to a unified solution where the applications work together.

Unified, cloud collaboration solutions pull all of the things you need to do every day into one place. Many cloud solutions offer integration with key business applications, such as email, CRM, human resources, and other solutions to help streamline business workflows and help remote workers thrive. For example, your communications can be arranged to integrate with G Suite, Salesforce, SugarCRM, Microsoft Office or Microsoft Dynamics. Unified collaboration solutions also offer enterprise-grade security and reliability safeguards that businesses need.

Making the Transition

As your business transitions from meeting immediate needs to long-term planning, taking a more holistic approach can help you bring people and processes together, and put your business on the path to sustainability and growth as the workplace continues to evolve.

Collaboration in the evolving workplace can be a big challenge. TCI can help make it happen. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Remote Work is Here to Stay… Keep Your Staff and Customers Well Connected over the Long Haul

Only a year ago, the typical business provided voice and IT support on-site, from within the company’s offices. With the pandemic, things changed suddenly, requiring your IT team to deliver more support to everyone at home.

The concept of work as an activity primarily done within a company’s office has been completely transformed. Many employees now prefer the ability to work remotely for greater flexibility and to minimize health risks. Many companies are responding with a hybrid approach enabled by new technologies.

Reliance on the Cloud

The need to support remote and dispersed working scenarios will only grow as more organizations develop an appreciation for their flexibility and efficiencies. Defining a cloud migration strategy with your trusted technology partner should be among the top priorities of every business.

Artificial Intelligence  

AI has proven extremely helpful in responding to fluctuating demand during COVID-19. A company’s cloud contact center, for example, can make it easy for staff to work from home and easily manage the influx of orders and support requests by leveraging an AI-based chatbot that helps offload higher call volumes. AI can also be exploited to better manage network traffic and access, and perform data analysis so you can refine your operations with better information.

Supporting Flexible Work Arrangements

Additional requirements that will need your IT team’s attention…

  • Ensuring that there are enough devices for all remote employees and that users are adequately equipped for multiple work environments
  • If any employees will be using personal devices, IT will need to confirm that each employee’s setup supports encrypted communications
  • Securing remote devices to meet data privacy and compliance requirements when they are in an open environment

Some organizations were caught flat-footed last March because they never imagined a scenario in which all their workers would be remote. Since then, many have adapted, but we recognize that deploying and managing remote work and hybrid arrangements will always be a big challenge.

Need help? Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

The ABCs of Successful Remote Work – “Always Be Communicating”

Remote working can be tough if you haven’t done it before – especially when many people have had to embrace our new reality whether they like it or not. Fortunately, the transition is easier for everyone when processes and systems are in place to keep lines of communication open.

If you don’t share information and give team members visibility over what you’re working on, important files disappear, deadlines get missed, productivity collapses, and projects are scrapped.

  • Use Collaboration Tools – You need to make it as easy as possible to communicate with other members of the team. Email is the most common means to communicate easily, but it is not always the best platform, especially for conversations about ongoing matters or real-time progress updates. Collaboration tools like MiTeam Collaboration Software or Teamwork provide an instant messaging approach to team communication. Ideas, suggestions, feedback, and comments can be pinged back and forth between the team easily, regardless of where they are and what device they’re using. It’s a simple, easy, and fast way to keep everyone in the loop.
  • Centralize your files – Once you’ve ensured your lines of communication are firmly open, you then need to make sure all your files are centralized. This allows relevant parties to access key documents, even when you’re not present. The easiest way to store documents centrally is to use cloud apps such as Dropbox or Google Drive. If you can work and organize in the cloud, then your ability to perform together effectively as a team is greatly improved.
  • Document your processes – You can’t achieve success without having documented processes to follow. Laying out your standard operating procedures in black and white not only gives you a consistent approach to your regular tasks, but it narrows any mistakes made down to two causes: the workflow wasn’t followed or your process needs updating. Achieving effective communication is done through a process of trial and error built upon identifying pain points. Each time you try something new, you create a new process and fine-tune that process until you’re happy with it.

When everyone has a shared sense of how to update one another – and by implementing the right software solutions to achieve this end – you will improve work practices across the organization and see dramatic results.

Need help getting the most out of your remote work initiatives? Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Share these Productivity Tips for Working at Home with Kids and Pets

The spread of coronavirus has forced parents far and wide to move work from the office to their homes. It can be a challenge to try to stay productive while working from home, especially with children or noisy pets. If you find yourself in that situation, here are some tips that can help.

  • Create a Schedule – Kids do better and behave better when they know what to expect. Let them know what your meeting schedule looks like, when quiet time will be, and when they will need to be doing an activity. Let them know when lunch and snack time will be so they’re not tugging on you.
  • Keep Kids Entertained – Getting blocks of time where you can knock out projects, whether 15 minutes or an hour, is heavily dependent on ensuring you can keep the kids entertained. Plan activities ahead of your workday.
  • Separate Roles – If you don’t make a conscious effort to separate both the role of parent and businessperson, you will most likely never fully feel like you are doing either particularly well. If you can, set up a special place in your home that will be your workspace. This will help you separate work and home time, enabling you to focus on work when you are in this space.
  • Get Help If Necessary – First, a partner or spouse can be a wonderful source of additional support with kids. As much as possible try to take turns watching the kids in between projects and work calls. Sometimes additional help is needed. Working from home doesn’t necessarily translate into not needing childcare, at least not every day.
  • Manage Expectations – Often, simply helping a boss or coworker know what to expect can save you both a lot of grief. If you have young kids that need a lot of attention, for example, working with your manager to set realistic and somewhat flexible deadlines (plus or minus a few hours to account for tending to children) is usually much better received when you set that expectation ahead of time.
  • Giving Pets Attention – Much like kids, people find that if they make sure their pets have enough attention, they tend to behave better and create fewer inopportune distractions. A well-placed distraction for your pet can make all the difference.

Working from home with children or pets (or both) can be challenging, especially in this uncertain time. While it might be difficult, keep in mind that continuing to work from home right now can be the difference that keeps employees safe and organizations operating.

Make sure your remote workers have the technology they need to stay productive… Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

Ransomware Attacks Scale Up As Hackers Go After Remote Workers

While the switch to home working has allowed many organizations and employees to remain productive, it has also brought additional risk as IT and security teams try to deal with overlapping personal and corporate networks.

Ransomware attacks soared during the first half of 2020, as cyber criminals looked to spread their file-encrypting malware as millions of people shifted to work from home.

According to an analysis of collected malicious activity published in Skybox Security’s 2020 Vulnerability and Threat Trends Report, ransomware has proliferated, with a 72% increase in new file-encrypting malware.

Security vulnerabilities in remote-desktop protocols – combined with the use of weak passwords by staff – have provided cyber attackers with easy access into many IT networks.

Home workers who have not been provided with clear cybersecurity training are even more vulnerable, and smart hackers know that IT teams are already bogged down trying to support remote working.

To protect against ransomware attacks during the pandemic – and beyond – it’s vital to close any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. This includes having a full view of all connected corporate IT assets so gaps can be identified and remediated.

Need help safeguarding your mobile workforce technology? Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

10 Ways TCI Host Service Connects Your Mobile Team and Makes Managing Tech Easier

Without the right tools in place, transitioning from in-office to home-office communications gave a lot of businesses a taste of how difficult it can be to keep conversations going.

In today’s remote working world, don’t you wish your team could be connected seamlessly no matter what device they’re using?

If you’re exploring ways to improve how your team communicates, TCI Host provides a locally supported, customized service with all-in-one collaboration and mobility tools, so your business won’t miss a beat.

How TCI Host keeps your employees connected and simplifies your job…

1. Never Lose Your Place with One Stop For Communication.

How much time do you waste by losing the thread of the conversation? TCI Host makes all your communications available from a single hub on your desktop. It’s always there but never in the way. Keep an eye on every call and message and never lose sight of important details.

2. Work From Anywhere, Together.

Gone are the days when teams worked in close proximity and shared a simple project document. In paper, no less. Nowadays, though, team members can be anywhere – at home, on the road, in another country. To stay connected, multi-party videoconferencing, desktop sharing and audio conferencing are key. Everyone on the team can collaborate in real-time.

3. Take The Conversation Smoothly From Text To Voice with Ad-Hoc Meetings.

Big deal on the table? Need fast thinking and even faster decision making? TCI Host helps you connect with the one person who has the information you need to close the deal – at the precise moment you need their help. With one click, start a meeting and keep the conversation going.

4. Respond To Important Messages Faster With Visual Voicemail.

Nothing ushers in a greater sense of urgency – and stress – than checking your voicemail after a long morning of meetings. With our Outlook voicemail integration, messages are sent to email so you can scan and prioritize who to call back first.

5. Get To The Right Person At The Right Time.

The flexibility to work anywhere is a benefit – except when an answer is needed fast. With presence, employees make their whereabouts known to everyone in the organization. So, when a customer calls asking the question only a subject matter expert can answer, everyone knows where and how to reach them.

6. Know Your Communications Will Be There.

Communications is the heart of any business. You can’t afford a moment of downtime, especially if you’ve invested in integrating your line of business apps with your phone system. If you’re seeking fail-proof redundancy that’s affordable and easy to manage, TCI Host’s architecture and system redundancy is designed to be reliable.

7. Be as Productive On the Road as in the Office.

Working outside the office is often frustrating because employees don’t have access to the tools they have in the office. But TCI Host transforms this experience. With its mobile app, employees take the office everywhere and get the same experience on the road as they do on at their desk. Whether in the office or on the road, they can join a meeting with a single click, without the need to enter those cumbersome participant codes. It’s that easy.

8. Live In Your CRM…

Which does your sales team love more? Their phone or their CRM? Please, don’t make them choose! When you integrate your phones with your CRM application, salespeople never have to switch between the two. They stay in the CRM to make and receive phone calls. Plus, it saves them from the dreaded task of data entry. Just by answering their phone, items are automatically added to their to-do lists.

9. …Or in Outlook or G Suite.

Sales teams shouldn’t be the only ones who have all the fun. TCI Host also integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook and G Suite, easing adoption of your new phone system throughout your business.

10. Do More, Spend Less.

Here’s one last thing you might not know, and it may be the best part… You can have a seamless and reliable communications and collaboration tool without breaking the bank. TCI Host offers everything as an affordable monthly subscription.

The good news doesn’t stop there… Our project team handles all the transition details to get it all going for you! Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

 

Work Arrangements for Reopening… Supporting Hybrid Workers at-Home and in-Office with UC

COVID-19 has become a global orientation session for remote working and opened the eyes of many to the productivity advantages of working from home.

As some employees start returning to the office while others remain at home – some permanently – it’s time to consider the best technology solutions for supporting this new hybrid work arrangement.

Unified Communications (UC) delivered from the Cloud offers a straightforward way to bridge your home and office workers. The cloud makes it easier to access company resources, like documents and spreadsheets, as well as meet and collaborate using built-in audio and video conferencing and messaging tools.

Mitel CMO David Silke sits down with Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst of ZK Research, to explore the technologies and practices that will support the emerging hybrid work environments many businesses will adopt…

Watch the 27-minute Video

When it comes to customizing technology for your business or non-profit, we can map out the best mix of cloud, on-premises and hybrid deployments to connect your workforce at the office, in the field and at home.

Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

 

Adjusting to Work at Home… Small Changes Can Help

Many of your employees and managers are still adjusting to the new challenges they face while working at home. These are unchartered waters for everyone.

Some of the folks you lead may have little or no experience working remotely.

Add in some young children who can’t go to school or daycare, or the need to provide care for an elderly parent, and you can begin to appreciate the stress of trying to balance work and family responsibilities.

Whether you are a manager or an employee, we are all called to be more patient and flexible. We’re all looking for ways to manage our converging responsibilities at home. With that in mind, here are some strategies that can make life easier.

  • Keep the focus on getting the work done as opposed to number of hours worked.
  • Take more breaks to relieve stress, improve your health, and maintain a better work-life balance.
  • Get outside and move… You’ll give yourself an energy boost so you can be more creative, productive, and responsive.
  • Consider extending the workday (or week) – start earlier or end later – so you have more time for family matters, chores, and catching up with friends.
  • Resist the urge to watch TV, view social media or shop online – before you know it you can waste a good part of your day.
  • Dress properly… You never know when you’ll receive a request to join a video call with a client or colleague.

Of course, it will take more than changing our behavior to overcome the challenges of working at home. Also essential are having the right technologies, connections, and apps in place to enable work to be performed efficiently and effectively. This is where TCI comes in.

We have proven remote workforce solutions for any size organization. Contact TCI today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.

6 Ways to Organize a More Productive Home Office 

For some of us, remote working is nothing new, but COVID-19 has changed working from home from novelty to necessity. These tips on how to organize a home office for productivity will help your teams make the most out of their home office.

Tip 1: Select Your Office Space Carefully 

When selecting a space, keep in mind the amount of daily foot traffic and noise in that area. You want to minimize distractions. Being able to shut the door can be a big help. If you can’t get a separate room, you can alleviate some issues by purchasing noise-cancelling headphones and a standing, foldable screen that separates you from the rest of the family’s movements.

Tip 2: Natural Light

Try to set up your workspace in a room that has a few windows. Studies show access to natural light can have an impact on your overall work performance, mood and wellness.

Tip 3: Invest in Seating 

Investing in a chair that offers adequate back support may well be worth the investment. Since this is where you will be spending most of your day, you don’t want to end up with a bad back.

Tip 4: Decluttered Workspace And Storage

You’ll want all the items you need for work within arms’ reach. Keeping those items properly stored is key to minimizing distractions. If your desk doesn’t have drawers, invest in a rolling filing cabinet to store documents and miscellaneous objects that would otherwise clutter your workspace.

Tip 5: Computer Screen Configuration

Many people use multiple screens at their office for daily work. If this is the setup you’re used to, it’s best to mimic it at home. You can purchase monitors and mounts online that are easy to configure. And, be conscious of what people see in your background when video conferencing.

Tip 6: Customize Your Space 

There are an endless number of ways you can customize your home office for your personal productivity – choose what’s right for you. Printer, shredder, mouse or track pad, external keyboard or built-in keyboard – arrange everything you need to get the job done.

Remember, working from home takes getting used to, but following these tips can help put you on the right track. Providing the communications technology to keep you connected is our job.

Contact TCI today at ( 703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com.