Upgrading Servers Can Save You Money

Upgrading Servers

Unless you’re running a one-man operation, there’s a high possibility that your entire business runs on a server or two. If you’ve been thinking about replacing or upgrading servers or wondering how you can improve your network performance, overall, you’ll want to continue reading.

We all know that computers and other devices have to be upgraded from time to time; however, we often forget about the servers that store our data. They have never been more important than they are now. As more of our daily operations run on servers, the computer is just a device that we use to access our servers.

As we wrap up our series of section 179 tax deduction articles this month, we want to delve into a topic discussed last week: how can you use your tax deductions to your advantage when it comes to upgrading your systems?

Again, as a quick disclaimer, we are not tax experts. Take these articles purely informationally. Before you make any changes based on tax deductions, be sure to consult your company’s CFO or tax professionals.

The Times Are Changing 

As technology has increased the usage of servers in our business practices, they play an important role in day-to-day activities. The main function of a server is to store data for a network of computers. With this storage unit, employees can work together, collaborate, and share projects. Whether you are aware of it or not, if you work in an office, it’s highly likely that your work is stored on a server. 

Having a server inside a building that is physically connected to other computers has been the standard for decades. However, in recent years there has been a push to allow people to connect to these servers remotely. The reasons for this vary, but there are typically two main reasons.

One reason is to allow employees to travel, yet have access to their company’s network and projects. We’ve seen this for years, especially for salespeople and executives who’ve had to travel from location to location. This is still a common practice and works well, so it probably won’t change. 

Secondly, people regularly working from a remote location need access to the servers. Recently, there has been a greater push for companies to have more of their employees work remotely. In this case, each remote employee needs to connect to the company’s servers quickly, easily, and without network interruption. 

The people in the first case are only accessing the servers when needed, while people who work from home or small satellite offices work exclusively on these servers every day. A good high-speed connection is crucial in either case. 

With the current worldwide pandemic, remote work tested companies’ servers. Businesses found out quickly if their networks and servers were, literally, up to speed. 

Understanding Your Options

If you’re finding that your server is sluggish or unstable, you have three main options:

Upgrade — This could be a software or hardware upgrade. If you’re set on keeping your current server, adding more ram or memory could make it more functional. This would be the most cost-effective option. 

Replace — While this is the most expensive option of the three, it will end up giving you greater results. Upgrading your system rather than replacing it limits you because of the aged hardware. By replacing your server, the sky’s the limit! You could literally have anything you want and often get a new warranty plan with it as well.

Migrate — This is an option that has become increasingly popular in recent years. With this, you will slowly transition to a cloud-based solution off-site, instead of having a physical server on location. This may be the best option for you if you have an operation that doesn’t demand all that much from the central system. One of the biggest pros of moving to a cloud-based solution is having zero maintenance. After all, there’s nothing physical to maintain. The hosting company and IT professionals take care of all upgrades and software maintenance so you can have peace of mind.

Now Is the Time for Upgrading Servers

Companies will be putting more and more stress on their servers as the working remote trend continues. We’re the first to admit that servers are not cheap, especially ones with the functionality needed to connect large groups of people over large distances. However, you need to make big moves to stay ahead of your competition and maximize productivity.

In addition, there is an available financial benefit to upgrading or replacing your servers now. That’s the key message of this blog — don’t forget about the tax benefits! 

Some companies are continuously looking for ways to write off their profits to avoid paying too much in taxes. Meanwhile, other businesses may have more than enough loss to help them at the end of the tax year. You still have time to make an upgrade this year and take advantage of Tax 179 benefits. If you’re looking at a loss for this year, now is the time to begin planning for an upgrade at the beginning of the year to get an early jump on tax benefits. 

Are you considering upgrading or replacing your servers? Or have you considered moving to a cloud-based solution like a virtual office? Either way, contact us today to see what your best options would be. Even if it would make more fiscal sense to do this next year, it’s never too early to start planning!

Prepare for 2021

prepare for 2021 - tax + covid-19

We think we’re safe when we say that 2020 has been…less than ideal. After the first quarter, we quickly found ourselves — both professionally and personally — in uncharted waters. But, 2021 is just around the corner and we want to be optimistically prepared.

The continuation of this month’s series of section 179 tax deductions covers how the rapid changes of 2020 can actually benefit your 2021. The good news is that this is actually good news!

As a disclaimer, be aware that we are not tax professionals and this article should only be viewed as informational. Before making any changes related to your company’s taxes, consult with your company’s CFO or other tax professionals.

Overcoming 2020 – The Worst Crown Ever 

Who would have thought this time last year that the entire world would be crippled by a tiny little organism? COVID-19 changed everything overnight. For the most part, those changes were devastating. Of course, hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their lives by the time of this writing. Many businesses have also shut their doors or drastically cut back operations.

What seemed like temporary changes (such as sending your employees home to work) soon became the new normal. Businesses like Zoom became overnight successes because of the change in the landscape. We don’t know what will happen with COVID-19 in the coming months or years. We believe, though, a lot of these changes are probably here to stay. So, your company may as well make the most out of it.

Prepare for 2021: Be Smart About Deductions 

Most companies had to make changes besides simply sending employees home. Perhaps they had to change or upgrade software, purchased equipment for employees to use remotely, or simply had to downsize. These are all examples of things that can be written off at the end of the tax year.

As a refresher from our last article, the more you spend, the more you save. Even though you may have shelled out more than originally budgeted to accommodate for 2020 challenges, at least you can avoid paying tax on those expenses. What are some examples of changes in the last year you can get some benefit from?

Maybe you found that your company needed more mobile hardware to address a more mobile workforce. Write-off.

Perhaps you moved office space as the decreased workforce (either from layoffs or employees working from home) didn’t justify your former space. Write-off.

Even better, maybe you took our advice and decided to migrate to a hosted environment or virtual office. First of all, thanks for listening! Second, write-off.

If you haven’t done any of this, you still have two months to upgrade your business operations. While these deductions don’t make the upgrades free, they do make the decision much less painful in the short term. Then, the upgrades themselves make it worth it in the long term.

Prepare for 2021: Don’t Just Sit There 

If you’re reading this article right now, we congratulate you on surviving in an extremely difficult environment. If you want to remain in business and even grow in the coming years, it’s time to make some upgrades. Now is the best time, as well, while you can utilize the benefits of tax write-offs.

One of these changes is the aforementioned virtual office. It essentially involves creating a virtual workspace where employees can log in and do any of the sorts of work that they would do in a physical office. The primary benefit of a virtual office is allowing your company to be flexible; giving you the option to have employees anywhere in the world and yet still be productive.

This virtual office setting not only stores data like in a traditional cloud solution, but it includes all software and line of business applications to facilitate full productivity. When administered by an experienced company such as ourselves, you end up having a very lean yet safe solution.

If you want to see how your company can get itself in a leadership position in this new climate, contact us and see how we can help put your section 179 tax deductions to work for you!

Writing Off Technology Purchases for 2020

Tax 179

Regardless of your line of work, all businesses have one common goal in mind: to generate revenue. Of course, we all want to make a difference in the world and have satisfaction from hard work. However, if you’re not earning more than your spending, you need to make some changes. While large black numbers at the end of the year put a smile on your face, the tax bill that comes along with them usually wipes it right off. Thankfully, there are ways around giving up all of your hard-earned profits to Uncle Sam. Relief can come in the form of section 179 deductions. But what are these and how can you legally use them to write off technology purchases and maximize your company’s profits?

In our series of blogs for the month,  we will be discussing just that. Before we get too deep into the weeds, know that we’re not tax professionals, and these articles are purely informational. If you want specifics as to how Section 179 deductions can work for you, please consult accounting professionals.

Time to find a Write-Off? 

Everyone loves to talk about write-offs, though few people actually understand the specifics around them. Basically, a write-off involves reporting a business expense to the IRS to avoid taxation on the money used to pay for it.

Write-offs seem great for a business owner or manager. Though, in practice, you have to be very careful to avoid trouble with the IRS. After all, you can be sure that they will be scrutinizing any revenue they lose. You’ve probably heard of people who went a little write off crazy in the past now find themselves with 3 square meals a day for free in federal prison!

Can You Write Off Technology Purchases?  

How do you know exactly what to write off and how does this apply to technology? Basically, you can categorize business write-offs into six forms:

Business Personal Property

This includes just about anything that could move from your business base. These can range from office supplies (like pens and staplers) to electronics or even heavy equipment like forklifts. If it is relatively easy to move from one location to another, then it’s considered business personal property. Often technology upgrades will fall into this category, so you can write off technology purchases. They could include new desktops, laptops, servers, or converting everything to the cloud.

Office equipment

This category covers larger objects that you cannot easily move. For example, you can think about larger printers, medical diagnostic machinery, etc. If not covered under business personal property, you can write off technology purchases, here.

Machinery

This is really a category for anything else that produces for your company. Examples in this category might include industrial machinery that you couldn’t just put on the back of a pickup truck. These would usually include the sorts of large machines that you would find in a factory or business like that.

Business vehicles

This is a category that could get someone in trouble quickly. A vehicle, such as a car or truck, purchased by the company and only used for company purposes at any given time falls into this category. Sometimes, a vehicle is used for a combination of work or personal purposes. If that’s the case,  report the percentage of the time the vehicle is used for business versus personal trips.

Property

This includes any buildings or land that your company owns and is used exclusively for business purposes.

Capital improvements

By definition, capital improvement is a structural change or restoration of property that will enhance its value, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses. This does not include any sort of work you do to a property. For instance, the addition of an air conditioner or furnace could be considered capital improvement while doing interior decoration is not. New cable runs to enhance Internet access to your building may also fall into this category.

Tax Write-offs Are Income! 

For many of us, tax returns are a bonus. Perhaps if you get one, you take that money to go by a new television or go on vacation. However you use it, most of us consider tax returns a little bonus, not something in our personal budgets.

This should not be the case with businesses. Section 179 deductions are not bonuses, but rather strategic ways of not paying too much in tax. One of the reasons that good tax people are worth their weight in gold is they save your company from paying too much in taxes.

A good company will factor in write-offs when making their budgets and factoring quarterly and yearly profits. For some companies, particularly small companies, those write-offs might be a large portion, if not the entirety, of their profits for the year!

Write off Technology Purchases to Plan for the Future 

While many write-offs are incidental or just factoring in day to day business expenses, planning well can make a huge difference in future projects. For example, if you’re in the black more than you anticipated this year, take the opportunity to refresh your technology, consider moving to the cloud, implementing virtual office space, or making server upgrades. By doing something like this, you can make sure that you are benefitting your business while still turning a profit.

The IRS put section 179 in the tax code for the purpose of letting businesses do business without punishing them to death with taxes. They know that if there is an incentive for companies to spend, it will work out well for everybody in the end. So, don’t be afraid to make investments before this crazy year comes to an end. If you need help to strategize your next project, just reach out to us.

The Shrieks and Chills of Working from Home

Working from home

This year has been…interesting, to say the least. One minute businesses were running normally. Seemingly overnight, many of us got the work-from-home position we always wanted. Within and beyond the pandemic, many companies have been transitioning portions of their workforce to work remotely. As technology marches forward, the image of the modern office changes with it.

That being said, cybersecurity is completely different working from home versus an office with dedicated IT support to set up and maintain all computer systems. Cyber thieves are all too aware of this and have acted quickly to take advantage of these new vulnerabilities.

This final Cyber Security Month article discusses protecting yourself and your business from the new threats lurking at home.

Security Dangers Working From Home

When working from home, we generally can’t use the same equipment we enjoyed in the office. Many businesses told their people to use their personal computers when they scrambled to send them home in March. Even if they’re using traditional security techniques, working online makes them more vulnerable to attacks.

For example, maybe they’re relying on the standard Windows firewall. There’s a reason Microsoft constantly pushes security updates to cover the holes in the OS exposed by hackers. This firewall is simply not secure. Perhaps they are extra responsible and installed a computer grade antivirus program. That’s fine against some automated threats, though not for active hackers trying to get access to the system.

Additionally, with many kids learning at home, that same computer may now have additional programs that create vulnerabilities. Many school districts are using software that has had breaches in recent months.

Finally, there’s the latest trend for remote work: VPNs. While some people swear by it for security, last week’s article focused on all the reasons VPN security isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Options to Create a Secure Environment Working From Home

When possible, it’s best to provide the computers and other devices that your employees need when working from home. That way you have complete control of the programs they use and how you set up and maintain their systems. This is often, however, too costly and complex to supply and control systems used in the office and remote.

You could also deploy a relatively new option: a virtual office (or hosted desktop solution). Essentially, this creates a secure place online for employees to log in and do their work from home or any other remote location. This is different from a VPN because a VPN protects only the connection itself, whereas a virtual office gives you a safer harbor, of sorts, to do all your work and store files. This can be extra effective as you know who you’re dealing with from beginning to end and if any sorts of problems arise, they can be fixed from a single source.

Who You Gonna Call?

If the idea of supplying your employees with company-owned devices or the setup and maintenance of a virtual office seem overwhelming, don’t worry! Even many large corporations find this to be too difficult or time-consuming to do on their own. In fact, a recent study showed that more than half of all of the companies surveyed use external services to help with their IT needs, and that number goes up significantly with a larger percentage of their workforce working remotely.

This is complicated stuff and no one expects someone from a nonrelated field to be a pro, which is exactly why we work so hard to make sure these processes and services are as seamless as possible for our clients. We’re a managed service provider — this is what we do. We make sure that when some specter hangs overhead and requires your company to have your employees work remotely (even on a moment’s notice), we can be there to make the transition as smooth as possible. Even if you currently have some sort of remote work arrangement in place currently, we can assess your current setup and make sure that you are optimized for what the business world may throw at you today or in the future!

Password Security: Don’t let your Password Haunt You

October is National Cybersecurity Month and password security is a big part of that! Cybersecurity is so important and appropriate to discuss considering how scary it is out there! As we regularly cover, hackers are getting more advanced by the day, despite security measures improving by leaps and bounds. Of course, no monster is all-powerful and there are ways to protect yourself against these dangers.

In this article, we’ll be discussing a feature that we all use (and abuse) every day: passwords. How insecure can this security feature be and what can you do to protect yourself and your business?

A Necessary Evil 

We don’t think that there’s anyone out there that actually enjoys creating and using passwords. After all, they’re just another barrier between you and your data. However, that barrier is exactly what’s going to protect that data from the outside world.

Password Security Struggles

Since many of us struggle to remember passwords, we end up making a lot of common mistakes. These include:

  • Making the password as short as possible
  • Reusing passwords for multiple accounts
  • Not regularly changing the password
  • Using a word that’s easy for us to remember.

We’ve all been told that we should avoid these mistakes ad nauseum, but why?

A Real Monster

When you think of a scary beast like Frankenstein’s monster, what gives us the chills? The sheer physical strength that can break down any door you hide behind. There are software programs that work pretty much the same way, using Brute Force Attacks.

These attacks are codes/programs that test possible password after possible password using random combinations of letters and numbers until something works. Dictionary Attacks operate along the same lines, using all the words in the dictionary instead of just random letters and numbers. Passwords that are too short or too simple feed the success of Brute Force Attacks.

One recent program could crack any 8-character password in less than six hours! Once a hacker cracks that password, they then have access to anything that shares that password. If you use that password for business purposes, the payload is even bigger.

Is Your Password Worth It? 

Although cyber pirates still buy large lists of passwords and other stolen data off of the Dark Web for quick hits, they’ve shifted in the past few years focusing on more time and effort on fewer but larger targets. These attacks may take up more of the hacker’s valuable time, but it brings in massive returns.

Naturally, there’s only so much you can milk from a single victim, but a company or organization has much deeper pockets and a lot more to lose. Think about the amount of cash in your personal bank account versus what your company may have at any given time. On top of that, think of all the resources your company has at its disposal that may be vulnerable in the event of an attack.

Fixing the Problem: The Password Security Silver Bullet

We’d be lying if we said there is a cure-all solution to the problem of password hacks because there isn’t any. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re completely vulnerable either. Below are a few ways to keep your password as safe as possible:

  1. Change your passwords regularly — In theory, a hacker could get your password correct eventually. If you keep changing it on a regular basis, you’ll keep them guessing, even if they got the old one correct. On average, we recommend changing passwords every 1-3 months.
  2. Get creative — The best defense for a dictionary attack is not to use words in the dictionary. Either create nonsensical strings of characters or use a combination of words that wouldn’t appear in any standard dictionary. Also, consider using upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers and special characters. As a general rule, the more difficult a password is to remember, the longer it would take for a software program to guess.
  3. Don’t reuse passwords — Having to remember multiple passwords can be a pain. For some of us, we have to use over a dozen passwords before we finish our first coffee! This recommendation keeps as much information as safe as possible if one of your passwords is compromised. Think of a ship or submarine with multiple compartments — if one springs a leak and fills up, close a door to mitigate the damage. If all of your passwords are the same, one lucky guess could bring your digital world crumbling.

Bring in a Champion

As hard as you might try, there’s only so much you can do to protect yourself and your company from threats to your password and overall security. Plus, keeping your system safe can be a full-time job in this world, and you already have one of those.

Instead of trying to fight this monster single-handed, consider bringing in the help of a professional monster killer! Our experienced team is more than happy to swoop in and assist your company with the strongest cyber protection on the market, including password management. Even if your walls have already been breached, we can help in the cleanup and future protection.

Be Cyber Aware: If You Connect It, Protect It

Cyber Aware

In today’s age, we all must be cyber aware. The average American today has access to more than 10 Internet Connected Devices in their household. Most have at least 2 computers and 2 smartphones. Across the world, an estimated 30 billion+ devices connect to the Internet. This connectivity generates massive potential for advancement; but in turn, creates a paradise for hackers. This is nothing new. Hacking has been on the rise since the dawn of connected technology. And here’s the problem. Most businesses have maintained the same security protocols for just as long. The theory is that what they’ve done so far has worked, so why is there any reason for change? Here are the seven reasons why technology is more dangerous than ever before:

Side Note: Why focus on cybersecurity now? October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. For the past 17 years, during October CISA and partners have focused on cybersecurity. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for more tips and tricks throughout the month. 

Let’s Be Cyber Aware About Ransomware

The first computer virus was introduced in the 1970s. It took over systems by replicating on the hard drive until the user didn’t have system space to operate. It was actually built as an experiment and had no malicious intent/implications. Today, viruses aren’t child’s play or experiments, and the most dangerous one takes over the hard drive completely, encrypting every piece of data.

If you’re connected to a network, it can then infiltrate the servers and start encrypting there. If your data backups are also on that network, you lose all access to a clean backup.  The only way to get this data back is paying the ransom (not recommended under the vast majority of cases), or working with an IT company to revert back to a clean data/decrypt the files based on the specific ransomware in play. Either way, you’re spending a lot of money and time to get back what’s yours to begin with, your precious data.

Part of Being Cyber Aware is Knowledge of Phishing

Phishing emails at one time were super easy to spot. The Nigerian prince desperately needed to send you money if you inputted all of your personal information. Since then we have become more cyber aware, but phishing attempts have improved. Today, phishing attempts are a whole lot smoother. The perpetrator researches enough to identify your boss, then sends an email under his/her name asking you to discretely transfer money or send identifying financial information. Unless you’re looking at the exact email address it’s coming from (typically spoofed by one or two letters in the domain), all of a sudden you’ve transferred $40,000 into an unknown person’s account thinking it’s your CEO.

You won’t think anything of it until you speak with your CEO later and realize that is wasn’t really them. These honest mistakes cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars every year with very little recourse to get the money back where it belongs. Some experts say that employee mistakes cause nearly 92% of breaches.

Insider Threats

As more people work remote, particularly with the urgency of the past six months, businesses have lost tight control on their data, increasing the threat of malicious insiders. While we want to trust every person working for us, that one disgruntled employee who decides to store a copy of the customer data before putting in his two-week notice, could wreak havoc on your business when they decide to work for your closest competitor. Virtual Office solutions can alleviate a lot of the pain this could cause and allow you to keep every piece of data exactly where it belongs.

Data Leaks and Password Practices

Malicious insiders can cause these leaks, but they’re also the password leaks from major players that you hear about frequently. You may be wondering how a LinkedIn password breach can really hurt you in the long run (after all they really just gain access to your professional resume). 53% of people admit to reusing their password on multiple accounts. Hackers rely on this. They can sell the password or utilize that password to hack much more dangerous things, like your banking institution. Our best recommendations: use complex passwords, don’t reuse passwords, use a password vault to keep track of all your passwords, and implement two-factor authentication wherever you can.

Become Cyber Aware About Cryptojacking

Cryptocurrency is a hackers’ favorite payment method. It is untraceable and extremely valuable. Beyond requiring cryptocurrency for the vast majority of ransomware attempts, some hackers infiltrate a system and use it to mine cryptocurrency without the user’s knowledge. They get in utilizing a malicious email link or through malvertising (advertising that carries nefarious code). A user may recognize slightly slower performance, but they more than likely never know that someone is using their system to mine cryptocurrency. Some codes also spread throughout networks, so that hackers can maximize their financial gain using someone else’s resources.

IoT Hacks

As we connect more devices to the Internet, particularly those items in our homes – stoves, cars, Alexa or Google – we open another target for hackers to infiltrate our lives. They may canvas homes through your connected camera system or baby monitor, install viruses on your stove or vehicle that impact performance, or begin speaking to y0u randomly from your device. IoT can be safe, but you must make sure you’re utilizing as many security precautions as humanely possible.

Hacker Advancement

The greatest advantage for hackers is they have become more sophisticated and educated overtime, and the good guys haven’t been able to keep up. If you’re relying on internal IT or an MSP without security expertise, your team is most likely behind on the threats and not implementing everything they need to keep your staff safe. They should implement things like phishing tests, employee education, dark web scanning, hosted back-up solutions, crisis planning, multi-factor authentication, and professional-grade permissions control for administrative privileges to keep you safe. If you’re unsure of your security level with your current IT solution, contact us.

Virtual Office Scalability: Is Your Technology Setup Scalable?

If you aren’t thinking about virtual office scalability right now, you should be. Thanks to a microscopic virus, everything changed in an instant, including the business world. While we know that things generally fluctuate over time, markets rarely change so drastically without some leading indicator.

So, what does this mean for you? No doubt, you’ve already found your employee needs changing quickly. While some businesses are seeing consistent falls, others are picking up speed quickly or fluctuating month by month. As such, your employee requirements may be changing over time. Adding, removing or changing employee roles can often be a major hassle, wasting time and resources in the process.

If you’ve been following our series this month, you know that we’ve been focusing on virtual offices mobility and security. In this article, we’ll be focusing on how virtual offices can help to keep your operations as scalable as possible.

Virtual Office Scalability: Quick Review

A virtual office is a system where all of your office technologies are cared for and stored in a cloud-based service rather than using on-premise servers. It allows seamless access, wherever you are, while maintaining security. They work well because, depending on your industry, few (if any) of your employees really need to work in a physical office all the time.

Under a true virtual office setup, all of your programs, communications and storage operate like you’re at the office regardless of device. Since your MSP still monitors the network, they maintain a safe atmosphere and can quickly resolve any issues.

Pre-COVID Operations

Most businesses fluctuate in their employee needs over time, with many designed to be seasonal. But what happens if you need to hire, replace, move or eliminate employees in a hurry. The short answer to that has typically been “You can’t” or “These sorts of things take time.” After all, you need to find them a place to work, equipment to work on and, of course, software licenses depending on their role in the company. In addition to this, you have to worry about the maintenance and upkeep of both their physical workspace and equipment.

As a result, bringing on new hires, replacing people who have left, or scaling up and down quickly becomes a major burden. You either end up holding on to a bunch of technology just in case or scrambling every time you hire. But not scaling effectively can cost you even more in the long run in terms of lost productivity and opportunities. It’s a bit of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” proposition.

A Brave New Solution for a Brave New World

Virtual office is the answer to any scalability challenges. To understand just what we’re talking about, let’s use a made-up, real-world example.

Let’s say there’s a company with 50 employees. The owner realizes that the sales, marketing and accounting people have no need to actually be in the office to do their jobs, especially under current circumstances. So, they sent all of them to work at home using their own devices. Remote servers handle the computing rather than the systems themselves, eliminating concern over the speed or age of computers at home. The typical VPN security concerns also go out the window. As long as they have a stable internet connection, they are good to go!

A little while later, the owner decides that they need to ramp up staffing to prepare for busy season.  Said owner gives their MSP a call, explains the situation, and the technician sets up all the new licenses needed within the hour. Simple as that! Instead of having to wait to provision and deploy hardware, IT can handle any scaling seamlessly.

Virtual Office Scalability, Taking Advantage of the Opportunity

While 2020 quickly changed our idea of what a normal office is, it’s really been a long time coming. Companies have been migrating to similar solutions for almost a decade with varying degrees of success. However, with current technology and infrastructure, it’s never been easier to implement a virtual office solution like this.

If you’re struggling with a piecemeal system you rushed together earlier this year or if you are looking for a way to make your technology more scalable, contact us today! Virtual office scalability is something all companies should be actively maintaining. We can show you how affordable a virtual office can be and just how quickly it can be in place. If there is any silver lining to this interesting year of ours, perhaps it’s the kick in the pants we needed to move our businesses into the future.

Virtual Office: Can You Gain Mobility?

In our last article, we discussed the security benefits of using a virtual office. In this blog, we’ll cover how a virtual office can help to make your job easier and more enjoyable.

Let’s face it, you can have a beautiful corner office — but it’s still an office. Very few normal human beings enjoy being stuck in an office let alone commuting to one everyday. Thankfully, it seems that physical offices are becoming sparser these days for a wide variety of reasons.

Virtual Office: Why Consider Mobility?

Many of you reading this might have been skeptical about the idea of a mobile office. Back in the 1980s, mobile working meant having a giant word processor, dot matrix printer and wired car phone. Compared to what we have available today, that seems more like a nightmare than progress. Today, you may be concerned about how you can effectively manage your employees in a remote environment.

For the past decade or so, more businesses have been moving to mobile workers. This allows for flexibility, creates an always-on (or always-accessible) workforce, and eases national recruiting. Once the recent pandemic hit, much of their day to day operations continued without consequence. Those that hadn’t considered mobility were quickly forced into finding a way to send employees remote. Since we don’t know how long the current crisis will continue or what the future may present, the current COVID-19 pandemic is an excellent example of why it’s best to consider creating a virtual office.

If you can work from home or on the go, you’re free from the office and can work wherever, whenever. Have a doctor’s appointment? Keep up with your clients, so you don’t have to take personal time. Did last night’s weather make the roads unsafe? Run your reports from your home office while not putting your life at risk. It’s no secret that employees who have the option to work from anywhere are happier employees who often stay at their company longer.

Virtual Office: An Office In Your Pocket

Here’s an important question: why do you go into work all? Some people have to be at a location to do a specific task. For example, you won’t find too many jobs as a carpenter working remotely. If a particular job requires that a person be on location, there isn’t much you can change.

However, many of us come into the office every day just to sit at a computer and use commonly available software to do our job. Other than meetings (that can usually be an email) or for workplace gossip at lunch, there’s no reason you have to go to that office to sit at that computer. If a portion or all of your workforce fits into that category, why bother wasting all that money on a large workspace? Many companies find that even if a few employees have to be in the office, they can still cut down the size and location of facilities significantly. It’s not uncommon to see a company with 100+ employees using an office with less than a dozen offices or workstations.

A Real Solution

Up to this point, we’ve only talked about this concept of a mobile office in the abstract. What exactly is a mobile/virtual office?

You can log on to any system mobile, desktop, laptop or otherwise and have the same exact experience as you would have on your desktop computer. All of the apps are there, in full functionality, all with single sign-on and secure multi-factor authentication.

Besides being as secure as a bank vault, this style of a virtual office gives you the ability to work at any location on any device. Just a generation ago, no one could have dreamed of this kind of freedom or flexibility! Start your day off on your desktop, run a quick errand while connecting to your smartphone, sit on the back porch with your laptop, then end your workday lounging on your tablet—all while connected to the “office.” What happens if your device gets lost, damaged, or stolen? Nothing. Your data isn’t stored on the device itself and logging in requires multi-level authentication, which we routinely monitor.

While it’s true that other types of systems have existed in the past that allowed remote access to systems, they were rather clunky, slow and nonsecure.

Bring your operation into the 21st century! If you can move some or all of your workforce into virtual offices, now is the perfect time. Contact us today to see how we can quickly get your operation virtualized and running at peak efficiency—anytime, anywhere!

Is your Virtual Office Secure?

Many companies have found themselves forcing employees to work from home throughout the pandemic and now as we navigate hybrid learning environments. This trend has been a long time coming, but it seems like we’ve progressed more in the last six months than the previous 20 years combined.

Pandemic or not, remote working will be the future for many of us if it isn’t already the case. This month, we’ll be going over various reasons why you may want to consider making a move to a virtual office. In this article, we’ll be discussing a reason that’s near and dear to our hearts: security. 

Virtual vs Physical Office 

When some of you hear the term “virtual office,” you’re probably thinking of someone at home on their computer, all their work online. While that’s true, it’s important to understand that what we’re talking about is more specific than that.  

A proper virtual office allows someone to actually go to work in the most literal way possible without even stepping foot in a building. All the software and data that your employees would need would be available after logging into your system, often via a login on your company’s webpage. Once inside, your employees can literally do anything they need to do. They would be remote clients of every software your company uses, including accounting packages.  

A Safe Solution 

Virtual offices are one of the safest ways for your company to do business remotely. The biggest reason for this is the lack of any software on your employees’ own computers. Even if their computer gets hacked, there’s nothing on the hard drive that would belong to the company. In addition, since the employee is logging into the system, unless someone is literally behind their shoulder, there is no way for them to see what they’re doing.  

Much of the time, hackers get information based on the connection between your computer and the server you’re communicating with (the website’s hosting server). You could think of it like being wiretapped — the person listening in can get all the information you’re sharing with your friend on the other line. With a digital office, you’re basically entering a digital building, doing all your business inside, then leaving for the day.  

What a Digital Office Is Not 

Some of your smarties reading this article might be thinking, “Oh! They’re talking about a VPN.” While VPNs and virtual offices share some similarities, there are a few important differences. For one, VPNs work by encrypting your communication between you and the website you’re visiting. However, once you’re in contact with that website, you’re still vulnerable. What if the site uses cookies to track you or if their servers have been compromised? That VPN won’t do you a lick of good. 

Also, VPNs are often used on a network. It’s true that the entire network will be better protected with a VPN than without one, but if one device on the system gets infected, your entire network is defenseless. Even entire VPN services have been hacked in recent months, leaving millions of customers vulnerable. 

Let’s use the example of your child opening an infected email. If you’re using a virtual office, none of your company’s files, passwords or any other type of data will be in danger. The only way to access that information is to have the credentials to enter the entire system.  

This might make you think that gaining access is just as easy as someone stealing your password. However, entering the virtual office would require a password in addition to multi-factor authentication that would be monitored by your MSP. While any system could theoretically be breached, this form of accessing the system is about as ironclad as you can get these days.

A Smart Solution 

Of course, we’d be lying if we said that virtual offices are an impenetrable castle wall that would be 100% safe. Even with physical castle walls, it isn’t just the bricks and mortar that protect that people inside — it’s the design, workmanship and upkeep that stop the enemies from rushing in. 

Understanding how a virtual office works, best practices in its implementation and maintenance is what will decide the quality of your system in the long run. This sort of workspace can be complicated to set up and get used to, but once your company works this way for a short while, the peace of mind you have will make you wonder why you didn’t do this years ago. 

Naturally, with something this important, you’re going to want a company that knows what they’re doing from years of practical experience, not just from learning by watching a YouTube video on the topic. Especially when putting all your eggs in one basket (so to speak), you better make sure that basket is made from galvanized titanium covered in diamonds. Well, maybe not literally, but you get the point. 

Our team has been working with virtual offices (in whole or in part) for decades. We know what needs to be done and understand the very real danger of not doing it right the first time. If you’re finding your workplace become more and more sparse with your employees working remotely, don’t wait to call us today. We’d be happy to go over your specific needs and help develop a solution that will make your virtual office a secure workplace.