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Distributed Teams: What You Need to Know

Distributed teams have been commonplace in many industries for years. With the recent uncertainties faced by companies in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, remote work has become a necessary adaptation for even more organizations.

As many teams adapt to a distributed model in the short term, it’s helpful to consider some of the pluses and minuses involved. Fortunately, there’s a lot to learn from teams do distributed work. Here’s what you need to know about distributed teams. 

What is a Distributed team?

A distributed team is a team that works together remotely across any distance. Unlike in traditional office models, they do not share physical office space. People in a distributed team can be located anywhere- they may be in the same city, or all over the world. 

Challenges

One of the most challenging parts about distributed teams is relationship cultivation. Without regular and spontaneous physical interaction like in an office space, it can be hard to develop and maintain rapport as a team. This can have a negative impact on spur of the moment clarifying questions, feedback, and general information sharing. One way to mitigate this is to schedule regular check-ins through a communication channel. A daily or weekly meeting can really help curb unnecessary delays in communication or misunderstandings. 

Another challenge for distributed teams is related to boundaries. When people are working remotely, there is no shared sense of physical space and time. As such, it can be difficult to navigate expectations of when work should occur, where it is occurring, and the like. It can be especially tough to set boundaries between home life and work life for teams, especially if they are working at home. Further, if team members are working across time zones, work overlap can vary drastically. 

It’s important for everyone to discuss time boundaries for working and communication. The relative degree of flexibility or rigidity required for different teams and team members should be explicitly defined up front. When everyone has a clear sense of their role, they can better adapt to challenges as they arise. 

Benefits

Despite the challenges, there are a few notable benefits of distributed teams. For one, if the team is distributed over time zones, around-the-clock work may be reasonable. If planned for properly, this can help lead to extremely efficient work timelines. 

Remote work also allows a large degree of flexibility for teams. Team members may be able to easily work at times they normally wouldn’t in the office. This can lead to both high productivity and the ability to meet challenges on the fly. With the right balance of team overlap and individual flexibility, a team can truly thrive when distributed. 

 As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to build distributed teams. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

3 Tips For Conducting Remote Job Interviews

Conducting a remote interview can require a bit of an adjustment if you haven’t done one before. There are a few guidelines you can follow that will help you streamline the process and get the most out of your interview. Here are 3 tips for conducting a remote job interview.

Choose the Right Technical Setup

One key part of a successful remote job interview is selecting optimal communication and collaboration channels. It’s important to choose the right setup based on what you want out of the job interview. For example, if you want a face-to-face mode of communication along with the ability to look at specific elements of websites and documents in real time, you might use a tool like Zoom to incorporate video chatting and screen sharing. You would have a much less efficient interview if you tried to coordinate the same activities by phone.

Overcomplicating your interview should be avoided as well. Too many tools that aren’t being used will only cause confusion and create barriers to getting to know job candidates. Overall, you should pick the tools that will best align with your goals for the interview. 

Establish Expectations and Give Directions Ahead of Time

The best way to allow job candidates shine is to give them clear expectations before interviews. This is especially important with remote interviews, where technical setups can add layers of complications. Some of these expectations can be purely practical. You might want to ask candidates to position themselves in a quiet space so you can hear them clearly. Or, if there are multiple steps involved with getting into a virtual meeting space (like in Skype or Zoom), you may want to give detailed instructions for these steps and ask candidates to go through them prior to the interview. This can help avoid issues and delays due to platform updates, device incompatibility, and lack of familiarity with tools. If you want candidates to conduct any work before the interview as part of the process, these same ideas apply. Make sure you give instructions on preferred file types and how to upload or share documents before the interview. 

Prepare for Multiple People in an Interview

If you are conducting an interview with multiple people at the same time, either with your team members or multiple interviewees, this is all even more important to get right. The more people who are involved with the interview, the greater chance there will be a technical difficulty that could hinder progress. It can be helpful to establish a point person on your team to handle any setup and technical difficulties that may arise. Provide their contact information to candidates to help streamline communication. They can also be the go-to person for everyone internally. If you take the time to go through these steps, your interview will be well on its way to success!

 As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to hire remote workers. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

How To Identify A Team Player During The Interview Process

Most products and business processes require employees to work in teams. Employees need to communicate well with others, collaborate on different tasks, and interact with different kinds of personalities. That’s easier said than done and often requires some innate skill. Not all professionals are team players; many can’t handle working with others on high-pressure assignments or environments. If teamwork is a vital aspect of your business processes, it is crucial to hire the right individuals for it.

What is a Team Player?

A team player isn’t just someone who can do their work efficiently while being a part of a team. They go above and beyond to ensure their team is successful. These professionals provide helpful feedback to their fellow team members, ask relevant questions about different aspects of a project, work well with colleagues at different levels, and focus on team success over personal achievements.

Identifying a team player during an interview process can be challenging. Most prospective candidates know companies value collaboration and will frame their answers accordingly. Here are some tips on how to identify a team player during an interview process:

Look at Past Experiences and Collaborations

The best way to identify team players is to look at their past collaborations. Ask them about different projects, teams, challenges, and other such influential factors. Ask how the candidate contributed to such projects and their team. The answer will tell a lot about their working style and ability to be a good team member.

 

If a person dismisses other’s efforts and uplifts their contributions, they may not be the right candidate. If they highlight how every member of a team contributed and how much they put in, you may have a winner.

Ask the Right Interview Questions

Focus on questions that rely on behavior and experience instead of personality and habits. Some of the most important questions to ask are:

  • Have you worked in teams?
  • Have you assumed any leadership positions?
  • How do you work with a team on a challenging project?
  • How do you handle failure or mistakes as a part of a team?
  • Are you happier working in a team or alone?
  • What does it mean to be a team player?

Answers to such questions will give you a better insight into the candidate and their ability to work in collaborative environments. Focus on their past experiences, so you have more concrete answers.

Discuss How A Person Will Handle Team Conflicts

No team is without conflict, even if you find the most level-headed employees. Handling team conflicts is an essential skill that every member must master to work successfully. Discuss how your candidate handles disputes between other members of the team. Ask them how they get into or get out of personal disagreements. A person’s ability to diffuse conflicts or step back from an argument gracefully can help them thrive in a team environment.

Can They Work With Multiple Small Teams at Once?

It’s common for skilled professionals to contribute their expertise to different teams at the same time. A true player will know how to juggle all teams, different deadlines, and different priorities efficiently. You should determine how they can handle virtual groups or team members they have never met personally. Some professionals are comfortable communicating online while others struggle with it.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

 

What They Don’t Teach You About Project Management

Project managers juggle several tasks at the same time. They communicate with all teams, make sure everyone is reaching their targets, keep an eye on the budget, and much more. While most project managers get project management training or formal education in the field, they learn several skills on the job through hands-on experience.. Here’s a brief look at some of the skills you learn on the job as a project manager.

Delegating

Project managers must learn the fine art of delegating if they want to keep a project on track. People fresh out of school or working on their first few projects find it very difficult to delegate important tasks. They don’t trust their team members or even understand their competencies enough to delegate effectively.

Experienced project managers eventually learn how to delegate important tasks to people who will get things done effectively or on time. They also know how to hold people responsible and determine whether a team member deserves a second chance if they make mistakes. If a project manager doesn’t know how to delegate, they won’t be able to grow as a team leader.

Choosing the Right Team

Project managers rely on their team to get work done. They need to select people they can trust to do a job well. In most cases, project managers break work down into sections, determine what kind of skills each section needs, create an employee profile based on that, and then recruit. Most experienced project managers know that this approach, while useful, is often limiting.

A more direct approach of hiring as many competent, talented, and qualified individuals for the project as possible provides more flexibility. In this approach, project managers aren’t restricted by their employee profiles and can recruit more versatile candidates with multi-disciplinary skills. These people end up bringing more to the table on a project, which has a positive impact on the results.

Communications

Most school courses place a great deal of emphasis on communication, but it is still something project managers learn on the job. Every manager develops their method of approach when it comes to communication. They learn how to express their expectations, issue reprimands without discouraging team members, and praise good work without making others feel left out.

Project managers with excellent communication skills also know how to remove people from their teams if necessary. This can be quite challenging for new managers because firing people is never easy. Most inexperienced professionals linger over the matter for weeks, or even months without acting on it. That can slow down a project or also harm the final results.

Negotiating

Where there is a team full of competent individuals, there’s bound to be some form of conflict. People have different opinions, approaches, skill levels, and temperaments. These can clash and create conflict in a team, which ultimately affects a team’s overall productivity. A good project manager learns how to handle different personalities and negotiate between them.

They know how to read a situation and diffuse an argument without looking like they’re taking sides. This is an important skill to develop as it ensures your team remains productive. Conflicts will happen regardless of how carefully you choose team members, especially in the initial stages. People who have just started working together will take some time to become comfortable and adjust to different personalities. It is a project manager’s job to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Managers must also be flexible enough to handle changes in project priorities, goals, and targets. They need to come up with ways to alter their plans smoothly, add more people to the team, and ensure everything keeps moving without any significant disruption.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

8 Amazing Ways Technology Has Transformed Business Over The Past 20 Years

Technology has changed significantly in the past 20 years, and it has influenced every aspect of our lives. People rely on modern tech for everything from daily chores to complex tasks. Technology has had a significant impact on the world of business as well. It has disrupted several industries, abolished a few, and transformed how we work on an everyday basis. Here’s a look at some ways in which technology has changed business.

Instant Communication

Instant communication, regardless of distance, has been one of the biggest influences on businesses. It allows different branches of a company to interact seamlessly, for multiple teams to work on a single project without any delays in communication, and so much more. Rapid communication has improved productivity and also influenced how customers interact with businesses.

Impact on Customers

Technology has changed the way customers shop. It has given them access to all the information they need so they can make informed decisions. People can now read online reviews, watch demo videos, and see ratings or testimonials before making a decision. They’re also not hesitant about sharing their experiences online or approaching companies with complaints if a product or service doesn’t live up to their expectations.

Access to Data

Data is a gold mine for businesses. It gives them insight into customer mindset, competitors, industry trends, and the impact of cultural and political trends on business. Entrepreneurs can use this information to refine business practices and reach a wider audience.

Greater Access

Modern technology has made it easier for people to start ventures. Prospective entrepreneurs can open an eCommerce store or sell products on websites like Etsy or Amazon with very little investment. Even people who don’t have much capital can start their own business, which wasn’t as easy 20 years ago.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing has proven to be an equalizer, helping small businesses with limited resources shine. Companies can approach customers through different channels with minimal investment. It is easier for entrepreneurs to advertise online, create effective digital marketing campaigns, and make content to draw people in. Even regular smartphones can shoot professional-quality marketing content like pictures or videos.

Global Reach

Many modern businesses have an international presence, regardless of their size. Technology has made it easier for a small business in Japan to sell products to customers in the UK. It is easier to expand, get global customers, and communicate with them seamlessly. Social media helps companies connect with a broad audience too. Products go viral and draw attention from unexplored markets.

Transparency from Businesses

Modern customers hold companies up to a different stand compared to customers a few decades ago. For example, many customers care about personal products being cruelty-free or technologies being environmentally-friendly. They also expect businesses to follow modern ethics by providing an environment free of discrimination, racial bias, gender bias, and other oppressive factors. Technology has facilitated this- people online don’t hesitate to raise their voices against companies that don’t live up to these standards.

Influence of Influencers

In the past, companies would hire actors, musicians, and other such celebrities to promote their products through advertisement or other marketing content. Modern technology and platforms like YouTube or Instagram have given rise to influencers, who are much more effective in promoting products than celebrities. These influencers are people entrenched in the industry. They test different products, provide opinions, and offer recommendations. Influencers can sway customer opinions, which makes them an excellent investment.

These are just some of the many ways in which technology has changed the way businesses are run.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

Facts About Data Security You Should Know

As a result of increased data collection and data sharing by government institutions and companies, cyber threats have now become widespread and incredibly challenging to handle. Irrespective of the nature of your personal or business records, you can now quickly become a target of a hacker set on destroying your business. Here are a few useful facts that will provide you with a better understanding of data security.

Facts About Data Security You Should Know

Small Business Are a Target of Roughly 50% of Cyber Attacks

In most cases, a small business typically lacks the data security of a multi-million dollar business. This gives hackers a clear path to hack into a small business’ affairs. Most small business owners often feel that they aren’t vulnerable to hacking because they have nothing worth stealing. However, hackers often steal consumer information and personal data from businesses of all sizes. Roughly 60% of all businesses experience malicious hacks like DDoS attacks, phishing, and more.

Damages from Attacks Will Reach $6 Trillion By 2021

Based on data collected by Forbes, damages from hacking will amount to around $6 trillion in costs by 2021. For reference, this is a figure significantly higher than damages from natural disasters in the United States annually. This threat looms large in the future partially because of the easy availability of secure VPN services. Attackers can now hide their identity as well as their location, which makes it nearly impossible to track their activities online.

Bad Actors Use Bitcoin for Illegal Activities

Bitcoin has introduced a unique system of digital currencies. It has presented users with a quick transfer option, safety, and anonymity. However, as a result of this anonymity, bad actors are now using Bitcoin to carry out illegal activities.

Malware Attacks Have a Serious Impact on the Healthcare Industry

Malware attacks affected approximately 75% of the healthcare industry in 2019. This includes various health insurance agencies and other treatment facilities. Typically, the personal histories of patients are targeted by hackers. Additionally, medical research is often attacked and sold to the highest bidder. The negligence of data security by medical institutions and hospitals is the primary reason for these attacks.

Data Security Is Now Mandatory

Both small and large business owners are now focusing on protecting their data by investing in cybersecurity software. Any highly-effective antimalware software can verify and segregate threats from the system before a malicious attack.

It Takes About 5 Minutes to Hack IoT Devices

IoT devices like smart watches, smart cars, and home control systems can easily be hacked under 5 minutes once they’re connected. This is because they cannot escape the internet when being used. This makes it nearly impossible for them to disconnect from the internet altogether.

Today, hacking tool kits and software are easily accessible on the dark web for as low as $1. Third-party apps are readily available on the internet as well.

Pernicious Emails to Organizations Are Rampant

Recent reports have stated that public administration organizations now receive one malicious email per 302 emails. Although this number may seem small, there are a large number of public organizations. Each organization has numerous employees with company email addresses. This increases the chances of an employee falling into a hacker’s trap.

Fortunately, there are thousands of data security tools available online and of them are free or low cost. Once you have a better understanding of the usage and implementation of these security tools, you will gain a sense of confidence in protecting your personal information.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things Desk Workers Can Do To Get Healthy

Desk worker health is a pressing issue. Individuals who work in office spaces are relatively less healthy than those who work at jobs that are physically demanding. Recent data suggests around 86% of all workers in the United States alone sit for the majority of the work day. This is a problem because of the negative health outcomes associated with high rates of sitting. These outcomes include an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and musculoskeletal disorders, just to name a few.

However, there are several things that desk workers can do to get fit at work. Here are 10 things desk workers can do to get healthy.

10 Things Desk Workers Can Do To Get Healthy

Walk to Work

If your workplace is located close to where you live, consider leaving your car at home and walking. Although it might not be possible to do this every day due to bad weather or lack of time, walking will definitely get you fit.

Use a Standing Desk

Sitting all day is incredibly harmful to one’s health. Health experts now say that sitting is the new smoking. If your job demands that you sit all day long, consider opting for an adjustable desk. This way, you can switch between standing and sitting when you are at your desk.

Use a Fitness Ball

Another great way to get fit is by replacing your chair with a fitness ball. You have to balance yourself on this ball while working, and although it looks a bit goofy, it’s a great way to train the muscles in your back and legs.

Avoid Outside Food

Another major problem that several office workers face is that they cannot control themselves from eating food outside. Although it’s convenient to pick out something from the cafeteria, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthy option.  An excellent way to stop eating outside food is to pack your own lunches and snacks every day.

Get Some Exercise Gear

You don’t have to head to the gym to get exercise. You can always carry your own fitness gear and perform a few essential exercises during breaks. Keep a few lightweight dumbbells and elastics in your workplace. Perform exercises while reading notes or even while making calls.

Take Periodic Breaks

We always tend to wrap up our work as rapidly as possible so we can leave the office on time. But it doesn’t mean you have to be glued to your chair all day long without taking any breaks to stretch. Those who avoid taking breaks end up feeling mentally inactive. Some believe that taking periodic breaks means they get less work done; however, that isn’t necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, taking frequent breaks can be more productive. The idea is to take a short break to rejuvenate and get work done at a clipping pace.

Work Out During Breaks

Rather than sitting down during your lunchtime and other breaks, consider spending that time performing some basic exercises. If the weather permits it, you can also start going out for a walk as opposed to being cooped up indoors. Find a colleague to walk with you during breaks. Start doing this regularly, and you will feel healthier in no time.

Be Hygienic

While carrying out your daily duties, it may not be possible to get up and wash your hands each time you want to. However, you can always keep a hand sanitizer on your desk. This makes it easier to avoid infections that can spread from shaking hands with people that have a cold or cough.

Maintain Good Posture

People who use computers at work have to spend hours staring into a screen, and they’re slowly drawn to it. This means they stretch their neck forward. Over time, this puts a considerable amount of stress on their spine and neck. However, you can easily avoid this by carrying out some basic desk exercises.

It is crucial to remember that everything must be done in moderation. Just because you’re keen on getting fit doesn’t mean that you stop enjoying a beer with your colleagues. However, you must be watchful on how often you place one thing over the other.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

 

 

 

 

An Overview of CES 2020 

CES, or Consumer Electronics Show, happens every year in Las Vegas. CES is a grand exhibition of some of the most cutting edge upcoming technology. More than 4,500 brands showcase their products to over 180,000 attendees, a group made up of tech journalists, bloggers, influencers, and consumers. The event has 250 conference sessions and highlights everything from standard consumer electronics to prototypes of technologically-advanced products. Here’s an overview of what happened at CES 2020.

An Overview of CES 2020 

1. Sony Introduced an Electric Car

Electric cars have been steadily growing in popularity over the years, so it isn’t surprising that different brands have started to develop versions of these vehicles. Despite this, Sony was a surprise entry into the market. They unveiled a sleek, beautifully-designed concept car packed full of Sony tech. The car is a compelling piece of technology, though it isn’t for general consumers and won’t even see a limited edition run.

The car’s expansive dashboard display is its most attractive feature. It includes a media and entertainment center, quad motors, 200kwh battery, and can go from 0 to 60 in around 4.6 seconds.

Sony wasn’t the only brand to showcase its electric car at CES this year. Attendees also caught a glimpse of the Mustang Mach-E, which is available to customers for a starting price of $45,000 and will start shipping next year. Manufacturers also showed off the Rivian RT, which is expected to ship this year.

2. Samsung Introduced a New 5K Monitor

Samsung is always practical yet adventurous, and this year is no exception. Their 5K, 49″ monitor is an excellent replacement for a dual-monitor set-up. It has a stunning display and is suitable for gamers, content creators, video editors, digital artists, and other related professionals. The monitor spans a user’s entire view and contains the latest display technology Samsung has to offer.

That’s not all the company had to offer. It also introduced a new 8K TV with some of the thinnest bezels available along with an in-built sensor that helps it rotate with your phone. You can watch vertical videos at full resolution on the television screen.

3. Robosense and Blickfield Featured Autonomous Vehicle Technology

Autonomous vehicles are no longer considered futuristic, but few people consider them reliable. RoboSense introduced new sensors that use LiDAR technology to detect the space around an autonomous car. This combination of lasers and radar is more precise than traditional radio waves, which should mean fewer accidents.

Blickfield is another company that is working with LiDAR to improve autonomous vehicles. They have introduced the Cube and the Cube Range sensors, which detect near-field and distant obstacles. These sensors will make autonomous cars safer for both city streets and long-distance travel.

4. Canon and Nexoptic DoubleTake Showcased Cameras and Binoculars 

Canon showcased its most powerful camera yet to an eager audience. The Canon 1DX MK shoots 5.5K 60fps raw footage. One drawback is that it doesn’t have autofocus for raw modes. The camera is so powerful that autofocus would require some serious processing to handle raw content shot at 60fps.

Nexoptic DoubleTake introduced a pair of next-generation binoculars that use camera technology to help users see everything with peak clarity. The device is also capable of capturing 4K video and has image-enhancing technologies built-in. These binoculars could be a great tool for explorers, but they are quite pricey.

Other technologies introduced at CES 2020 include devices to improve home security, AI-powered displays, transparent car fronts powered by advanced image processing technology, brain-sensing wearable devices, and so much more. There was something new in almost every category this year.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.