Microsoft Office Lens Lets You Scan Virtually Anything

Microsoft Lens

How Microsoft Office Lens Lets You Scan Virtually Anything

As businesses move online, more of their documents become virtual. Even with the mass migration to the digital world, however, there’s still plenty of work done on paper and other real-world canvases. From sticky notes to whiteboards, important information can be crafted and presented in a physical format only to be erased or thrown out moments later. To prevent the loss of data, one would normally have to manually input it into a digital format. That is, unless they make use of Microsoft Office Lens. Learn how Microsoft Office Lens lets you scan virtually anything.

How It Works

Think of Microsoft Office Lens as a portable scanner. It’s an app for your mobile device that lets you scan a variety of different documents. Once these documents are scanned, they are saved in a digital format as an image. While its basic functionality makes it sound no different from a camera function, its extra features take the app to the next level.

With this app, any document you scan will automatically be enhanced, cleaned up, and cropped as needed to make its information easily readable and accessible. Shadows will be eliminated and images will be rotated as needed to get rid of any potential warping of the information due to odd angles. The app can even go so far as to transform images that were drawn by hand into isolated and movable objects. Every object that the app makes from any scanned information can be edited completely as well.

The Four Operational Modes

Microsoft Office Lens features four distinct modes that apply to different scenarios. Each has its own unique function, but they all work to digitize documents and images. The four modes are:

  • Photo: The standard photo mode accomplishes what you might expect from any kind of camera app. You can take pictures of people or any kind of scenery, and the app will automatically remove glares and shadows as well as crop the image to be easy to see.
  • Business card: With this mode, the app will automatically extract important information from any business card and then populate your phone’s contact information with the relevant text. This works with a variety of languages as well, which is useful if you’re dealing with non-English-speaking businesses or clients.
  • Document: The document mode is best used to clear up any text that’s difficult to read. One primary example of this would be scanning a restaurant menu. Each of the options would then be digitized and able to be edited individually.
  • Whiteboard: One of the most popular settings is the whiteboard mode. When you’re in a brainstorming session with your team and you have a whiteboard full of ideas, this mode can put all that information into a convenient digital format. Any glares from the whiteboard are also automatically removed. Keep in mind that this works for blackboards as well.

Where Do the Scans End Up?

Once you scan any kind of image using Microsoft Office Lens, where it ends up is largely up to you, as there are several options available. As you might expect, you can save the images as JPEG files, which can then be exported to OneDrive or OneNote. You can also save an image as a PDF document, as part of a PowerPoint, or as a Word document. Once the file type is established, the images can then be treated as any file would be.

With Microsoft Office Lens, you can enjoy all the benefits of having a portable scanner in your pocket. Save your notes with confidence!

Did You Really “Reply All” On That Last Email?

Please Stop The Reply All Emails

Office Workers Rejoice: Microsoft is Finally Subduing the Dreaded’ Reply All’

Do never-ending reply-all threads emails put a damper on your business chewing up precious time and resources? The good news is, Microsoft rolled out Reply-All-Storm Protection to all Microsoft Office 365 users, an update announced in 2019 that seeks to ease the email disruption to business continuity. Microsoft is finally subduing the dreaded Reply-All function. Your office workers can now rejoice! Last year, at the Microsoft Ignite conference, Microsoft announced it would work on a feature that would help prevent Reply-All email storms on Microsoft 365 Exchange email servers. Microsoft says the “Reply-All-Storm Protection” feature will block all email threads with more than 5,000 recipients that have generated more than 10 Reply-All sequences within the last 60 minutes.

Please Stop The Reply All Emails

The Flow On Effect of Reply-All Email Storms

When a Reply-All mail storm happens in your organization, it can easily disrupt business continuity. In worst-case scenarios, it can throttle the rest of your organization’s email for a significant period. Emails already drain 5 hours of worker’s time every day without having email servers slowing down or crashing. What happens if the number of recipients in an email chain is large when multiple employees hit the Reply-All button, then the ensuing event generates massive amounts of traffic that will either slow down or crash email servers. Events like this happen almost all the time sometimes because a few employees participating and amplifying Reply-All storms are using this as a prank. Microsoft itself has also fallen victim to Reply-All email storms on at least two occasions, the first in January 2019, and a second in March 2020. The Microsoft Reply-All email storms included more than 52,000 employees, who ended up clogging the company’s internal communications for hours.

How Reply-All Storm Protection Works

Reply-All Storm Protection in some ways sounds pretty simple, but there’s some pretty cool stuff going on in the cloud, that makes this possible: When Microsoft detects what looks like it might become a Reply-All storm, anyone who subsequently attempts to reply to everyone will get a Non-Delivery-Receipt (NDR) message back instead. This basically tells them to stop trying to Reply-All to the thread. Once the feature gets triggered, Exchange Online will block all replies in the email thread for the next four hours, preventing email servers from crashing or slowing down. This feature allows servers to prioritize actual emails and shut down the Reply-All storm.

Further Updates Expected

Over time, as Microsoft gathers usage telemetry and customer feedback, they expect to tweak, fine-tune, and enhance the Reply-All Storm Protection feature to make it even more valuable to a broader range of Microsoft 365 customers. Microsoft said future updates are expected as they will continue working on the functionality going forward, promising to add controls for Exchange admins so they can set their own storm detection limits. Other planned features also include Reply-All storm reports and real-time notifications to alert administrators of an ongoing email storm so that they can keep an eye on the email server’s status for possible slowdowns or crashes. “Humans still behave like humans no matter which company they work for,” the Exchange team said. “We’re already seeing the first version of the feature successfully reduce the impact of reply all storms within Microsoft.”

Microsoft Outlook: FindTime With Colleagues

Microsoft FindTime

Everything You Need to Know About Operating and Using FindTime

Scheduling meetings seems like it should be an easy task. However, anyone who does business knows with everyone’s busy schedules how difficult it can be to find a time that works for everyone who needs to attend. FindTime is an Outlook add-in that can help companies manage the task of organizing meetings that fits into everyone’s schedule. The following is everything you should know about FindTime.

 

1. What is FindTime?

FindTime is an add-in from Microsoft’s Outlook that is used to simplify the process of scheduling meetings. FindTime was first introduced in 2015. A few years later it was changed and renamed Find a Time. In 2017 FindTime was back again. With FindTime a business can eliminate wasted time playing email tag just to schedule a meeting. Microsoft made sure FindTime was as secure as possible by encrypting personal information such as email addresses. In fact, everything including email subject, the email body, and the attendees the information is sent to is encrypted.

2. How Does it Operate?

Invitations to vote on meeting times can be sent to a variety of email addresses. These include Yahoo, Gmail, and other providers. With the data provided by users, FindTime can quickly figure which days and times will work best. The program can find openings in each person’s schedule that will work for meetings. The individual sending out invitations can then propose several selected times for the meeting. The attendees that have received invitations will all vote on the time they want. After a meeting time is chosen, FindTime sends out a notice to each attendee.

3. Who Can Use It?

To use FindTime, it’s necessary for the individual or business organizing the meeting to have Microsoft 365 Apps for Business. It can also be used with an Enterprise account that has Exchange Online. It’s important to know that the recipients of meetings scheduled using FindTime do not need to have the add-in installed. If a person is sent a request by someone that has FindTime, this person can still vote on meeting times without actually having the app. In fact, they don’t even need Office 365. It’s only necessary to have an email to be a recipient.

4. How Does Installation Work?

Installation is incredibly easy. All a person needs is Microsoft 365 Apps for Business. It can also be installed on Exchange Online through an Enterprise account. According to Microsoft support, it’s necessary to take the following steps to install FindTime from Outlook for the web.

  • Open Outlook
  • Select New Message
  • Select the Ellipses Button
  • Select Get Add-ins
  • Select FindTime

It’s also possible to install FindTime in Outlook Desktop and from the FindTime site.

5. Why Does Your Company Need FindTime?

FindTime is easy to implement and can be used by any type of employee. Saving time and squeezing more productivity into the same 24 hours is something every organization is striving for. TechRepublic states several good reasons why a company would want to use FindTime.

  • FindTime is easy to use.
  • FindTime is necessary only for the individual scheduling the meeting.
  • FindTime ends the hassle of back-and-forth between those trying to schedule a meeting.
  • FindTime sets up the meeting and informs each person who is invited.
  • FindTime is part of Microsoft 365, which many people already have.

FindTime is an add-in that nearly any type of business, large or small, will find useful. Spending more time trying to schedule a meeting instead of actually attending the meeting will be a thing of the past with FindTime.

Microsoft FindTime

Microsoft Teams Options Improve Remote Presentations

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Options Improve Remote Presentations

Until the recent rollout of Microsoft Teams background customization feature, videoconferencing was a sometimes less-then-enviable communication vehicle. Users would have to tidy up the workspace, scrunch the camera to only capture their face or suffer that “lived-in” looking home office or kitchen table in the background. Aside from having the capability to see someone while talking, background distractions and disheveled spaces were significant negatives.

Microsoft Teams

Now comes Microsoft Teams’ background customization feature that opens the door to a wealth of possibilities. Work-from-home professionals can now erase coffee mugs and laundry baskets from the video feed that didn’t necessarily convey the right message. The new feature allows Microsoft Teams users to not only improve presentations but also make them your own.

How To Customize Your Microsoft Teams Video Background

Before diving into the technical steps users will need to follow, it’s important to keep in mind that personalized background customization may only be available for scheduled meetings. The relatively new Microsoft Teams’ personal image feature could evolve to impromptu video chats down the road. For now, users should plan ahead if they want to employ anything other than the curated images. These are the necessary steps to customize your background.

  • Open or Join a Teams meeting
  • Click on the three dots at the screens’ bottom
  • Continue to Meetings controls
  • Click through More to Show Background Effects
  • You now have the option of selecting None, Blur, or selecting a standard Microsoft Curated Image.
  • Preview your custom background and click Apply if satisfied

Business and educational Microsoft Teams licenses with video conferencing up to 250 users reportedly enjoyed early rollouts. And while this background customization option certainly stands head and shoulders above real-life living spaces, there are other features and possibilities that can take remote presentations to the next level.

Maximize the Potential of Microsoft Teams Rooms

What may prove to be the game-changer for remote presenters is the wide-ranging customization tools beyond background cleanup. The rollout adds features that transcend ordinary talk to expansive visuals and futuristic information collaboration. Microsoft clearly aims to stay ahead of other applications that offer real-time video chat by delivering a few eye-catching bells and whistles. These include the following.

  • Whiteboards: Microsoft provides a feature that allows multiple users to collaborate on thought development by inserting notes and visuals on a virtual whiteboard.
  • Closed Captions: Microsoft video conferencing includes a feature that will enable hearing-impaired users to follow the real-time text.
  • Privacy: Groups can now create a specific channel that contains files and essential elements for unique purposes. This eliminates the need to start from scratch when leveraging digital meeting spaces.
  • DLP: Administrators gain Data Loss Prevention tools to secure sensitive information and prevent leaks.
  • Events: Microsoft 365 allows real-time events with up to 10,000 participants. This can be utilized for anything from live streaming entertainment to virtual industry conferences.

Taking maximum advantage of these tools delivers exponential creative presentation enhancements. Between the background customization and other tools, remote presenters will have plenty of outside-the-box ideas.

But the ability to upload personalized images may be the defining item. That’s primarily because niche industries sometimes have radically different ideas about what constitutes professionalism, enhancement, or is just plain cool. Now that Teams allows users to upload unique and specialized backgrounds, remote presenters can genuinely make it their own.

What You Need to Do to Protect Your Team From Coronavirus Phishing

Coronavirus Phishing

How to Protect Your Business From the Surge in Phishing Websites

Look at the spike in phishing websites during the coronavirus. Learn how cybercriminals are leveraging the pandemic. Find out how to protect your business.  

As the entire world is worrying about the coronavirus, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the global crisis to line their pockets. Google reports that there has been a 350% increase in phishing websites in the last two months alone. This threat is genuine, and you need to take steps to protect yourself, your business, and your data.

Coronavirus Phishing

What Is a Phishing Website?

Phishing websites are designed to steal your information, but they can work in a variety of different ways. For instance, a cybercriminal may make a website that looks like your bank site. You think the site is real so you enter your username and password, and then, the criminals have everything they need to access your account.

Similarly, a phishing website may look like it’s for a charity helping people with the coronavirus. Still, in fact, it’s just a scam designed to steal money and credit card information. In some cases, phishing websites download malicious files to your computer when you visit them — once executed, these files may encrypt your data until you pay a ransom, copy all your keystrokes, or steal information from your computer in other ways.

Rise in Phishing Websites During the Coronavirus

In January, Google reported that it knew of 149,000 active phishing websites. By February, the number almost doubled to 293,000. As the virus began to take hold in the United States in March, the number increased to 522,000. That’s a 350% increase since January.

During the coronavirus, the most significant increases in phishing sites have happened during the most stressful times. The most significant day-over-day increase occurred on March 21st, the day after New York, Illinois, and Connecticut told their residents to shelter in place. The second-biggest increase? March 11th, the day the World Health Organization declared the virus as a pandemic. Both of these days saw about a threefold increase.

Unfortunately, no one is immune — one survey indicates that 22% of Americans say they have been targeted by cybercrime related to COVID-19.

Critical Strategies for Protecting Yourself From Phishing Websites

To protect yourself and your business from phishing websites, you need to take a multi-pronged approach. Keep these essential practices in mind:

  1. Educate your employees about the risks of phishing websites. Send out a newsletter, set up a training session over videoconferencing, or find another way to talk with your employees about how to protect your business from phishing attacks.
  2. Don’t click on links in emails from unknown senders. A lot of cybercriminals use phishing emails to direct users to their sites. If the email appears to be from someone you know, double-check the sender, and consider reaching out to them directly before clicking on any links.
  3. Invest in quality cybersecurity tools that block malicious websites, prevent your computers from executing approved applications, or protect your network in other ways.
  4. Be aware of the signs of a phishing website. These may include misspelled names of companies or charity organizations or forms that ask for information you usually don’t provide. For instance, a phishing website trying to steal your bank details may ask for your username, password, and PIN, while your bank’s actual website only requests your username and password.
  5. Advise your team to be selective about the websites they visit. Ideally, if they are searching for information on the virus or trying to donate, they should go to sites that they know and trust, rather than going to unknown websites.
  6. Work with a cybersecurity specialist. They can help you safeguard your network, which ultimately protects your money, your data, your business, and your reputation.

To stay as safe as possible from cybercrime during the coronavirus, you need to be aware of the heightened risks. If your team is working remotely, your network is likely to be even more vulnerable than usual.

To get help, reach out to a cybersecurity expert. In essence, they can guide you toward the right products, scan your network for vulnerabilities, and take other measures to ensure you are as protected as possible.

COVID-19: Safety How to Clean Your Phone Effectively

COVID-19 Safety How to Clean Your Phone Effectively

How to Protect Your Phone From the Coronavirus

Find out how long the coronavirus can live on your phone. Learn how the coronavirus gets onto phones. Get tips on how to clean your phone or other devices. 

Around the world, people are taking unprecedented measures to protect themselves from the coronavirus. Schools and businesses have closed, and many people are sheltering in place, only leaving their homes for essentials.

While you may already be taking many of these precautions, you also need to be aware that your phone could be harboring the virus. Keep reading to learn how to protect yourself.

COVID-19 Safety How to Clean Your Phone Effectively

Can the Coronavirus Live on Your Phone?

Research indicates that the coronavirus can live on inanimate surfaces such as the metal or glass of a phone for up to nine days. If you’ve handed your phone to a friend to watch a video, had your phone in the vicinity of coworkers or other people, or even just held your phone after touching potentially infected surfaces, you need to clean your phone.

Even if your phone hasn’t been anywhere in a while, you should still clean it. This can be especially important if you are a senior or are immunocompromised or if you let your children use your phone.

How the Coronavirus May Get on Your Phone

Because people use their phones so much, they’re likely to touch their phones without even thinking about it. To illustrate, imagine you’re in a store grabbing groceries. You are very careful not to get within six feet of other shoppers and of course, you sanitize the shopping cart before use.

However, you end up touching items on the shelves or the credit card machine while you are paying. If someone with the coronavirus has touched these surfaces or coughed near them, these surfaces may harbor the virus.

After touching these surfaces, you are aware that you may have picked up some germs on your hands so you avoid touching your face until you can sanitize your hands, but you still reach for your phone to use mobile pay, check your bank balance, or to look at a text. While doing those routine tasks, you potentially put germs onto your phone.

In other cases, the spread of germs to your phone can be much simpler. For instance, you walk into a store, touch the door handle, and then pull out your phone. People are so used to checking their phones frequently that they are often overlooking these risks.

Why You Shouldn’t Touch Other People’s Phones

Additionally, a lot of people bring their phones into the bathroom, and the coronavirus can be transmitted by fecal matter just as easily as it spreads with droplets from your mouth.

To protect yourself, avoid touching other people’s phones. If you work in an industry where you have to touch people’s phones — for instance, if you work in phone repair or handle tech support for a business — you should wipe off phones or devices before touching them.

How to Clean Your Phone

Now that you see how easily these germs may get onto your phone, check out these tips for properly sanitizing your device.

  1. Find a sanitizing product. If you don’t have hand sanitizer, you can make a solution with 0.1% bleach or 62% to 71% ethanol and water. You can use Clorox disinfecting wipes or similar products safely on most phones, but you should not use aerosol sprays, pure bleach, or abrasive cleaners.
  2. Put the cleaner on a soft cloth. Don’t apply it directly to the phone.
  3. Wipe off the phone with the sanitizing wipe or a microfiber rag moistened with cleaner. Throw sanitizing wipes away after use, and put rags directly into the wash. Keep in mind those items may harbor germs so you want to avoid reusing them or putting them somewhere they could spread more germs.

The coronavirus is more contagious and significantly more deadly than the flu. People are also contagious for quite a while before they show symptoms. As a result, you need to take protective precautions very seriously, and you should make sure your phones or other devices are as clean as possible.

Hackers Target Zoom Meetings for Cyberattacks

Zoom Security Issues

Zoom Scrambles to Address Cybersecurity Issues in Meeting Platform

As the usage of Zoom has skyrocketed during the coronavirus outbreak, the company has had to respond quickly to security flaws and potential phishing attacks  

As Zoom usage skyrockets around the world, so too do the opportunities to exploit users unfamiliar with the tool.

The Zoom platform has increasingly has been the target of hackers exploiting the vast numbers of users working from home. For context, the company noted that as of December 2019, the most significant amount of daily users was 10 million. In March, that number ballooned to 200 million.

How Are Hackers Exploiting the Zoom Platform?

For many exploits, it starts with a website.

According to Check Point, more than 1,700 domains had been registered using the word zoom in the first three months of 2020. Many of those domains point to an email server, which can indicate the site is part of a phishing scheme.

Remote workers may receive seemingly official meeting notices using the Zoom platform. Hackers ask recipients to head to a login page and enter their corporate credentials.

It’s a perfect storm that’s playing into the hands of hackers. It also means companies need to be vigilant in helping users understand how to access and use the platform and other tools used in this paradigm shift of how work is done.

“Zoom users should be aware that links to our platform will only ever have a zoom.us or zoom.com domain name,” a spokesman noted. “Prior to clicking on a link, they should carefully review the URL, being mindful of lookalike domain names and spelling errors.”

What Is Zoom Doing to Protect Users?

Zoom has had to take several steps recently to address security concerns related to its dramatic usage growth. The company has increased its training sessions and reduced customer service wait times. Here are several of the other issues that Zoom has addressed:

  • Zoombombing. Multiple incidents of zoombombing have arisen in recent weeks. Uninvited visitors to online sessions have gained access and harassed participants by playing music loudly, displaying pornography and disrupted sessions. That’s led to more explanations of passwords, muting controls and sharing settings
  • Windows 10. The company has addressed an issue that affected those using Zoom’s Windows 10 client group chat tool. If chatters used the tool to share links, the Windows network credentials of anyone who clicks on a link were exposed
  • Facebook Interface for Apple Devices. Zoom removed Facebook’s software developer kit from its iOS client to prevent it from collecting users’ device information
  • Privacy Issues. The company removed features, including the LinkedIn Sales Navigator app and attendee attention tracker, to address privacy concerns. It also issued updates to its privacy policy

The company announced it was freezing all feature enhancements to redeploy software engineers to focus on what it calls “our biggest trust, safety, and privacy issues.”

How Can You Protect Zoom Users from Cyberattacks?

Here are some tips to ensure that Zoom users are protected:

  • Use password features to require meeting attendees to log in before being allowed access
  • Update the software. Users should be alerted that upon finishing a meeting, the software will check to see if an update is necessary
  • Encourage managers to use the Manage Participants section features, which can control the use of users’ microphones and cameras. Sharing restrictions are also a good practice
  • Be careful about recording meetings. The recording sits in a file, either online or the host’s computer and could be stolen

Cybersecurity is a sad reality in these turbulent times. However, a focus on prevention and detection are important deterrents to cybercriminals and can reduce the risks to your business.

Coronavirus Forcing Your Workers to Stay Home? Quickly Shift to an At-Home Team in the Midst of Crisis

Coronavirus Work From Home

How to Create a Work-From-Home Team Quickly As Your Business Deals With the Coronavirus

Stay productive and secure your tech network as you deal with the coronavirus. Get support for at-home employees. Learn how to switch from an in-office to a remote team.  

Coronavirus Work From Home

In the midst of the coronavirus, business owners are facing a host of new challenges. To slow the spread of the virus, you may have been asked to suspend services or allow your employees to work from home. At the same time, however, you also need to continue to bring in revenue, stay productive, and focus on growth as much as possible.

Making the shift from an in-office to a remote team quickly, especially at a time when everyone is dealing with untold stresses, can be difficult, and the right approach is essential. Check out these tips.

1. Decide What You Need to Stay Productive

Creating a remote team isn’t as easy as handing your workers a laptop and telling them to check in once in a while. If you don’t have a current work-at-home policy, you need to create one from scratch, and you may need to adjust workflows, find new tools, and create new security policies. As you try to facilitate this shift, keep these types of questions in mind:

  • What can my employees accomplish from home?
  • Can they handle core business activities from home?
  • Even if my business is deemed essential, can I send some employees home?
  • What types of projects do I want to prioritize during this time?
  • What applications do I need to facilitate workflows and keep everyone connected?
  • How can my employees work from home without compromising the security of our network?
  • What can I do to make this new arrangement as productive and comfortable as possible for myself and my team?

2. Consider Providing Employee With Devices

Don’t necessarily encourage your employees to use their own devices when working from home. Their home computers and tablets have all kinds of music, videos, images, and other downloads that may be infected with malware, and their devices are usually not equipped with the same level of antivirus or malware software you use in your office.

To reduce the threat of cyberattacks, consider providing your team with company-approved and secured devices. However, if you already have a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy for your office, you may want to continue having employees use their own devices because in this situation, you’ve already taken steps to secure those devices.

3. Help Your Workers Secure Their WiFi Access Points

As a general rule of thumb, your employees home WiFi networks are probably less secure than the WiFi you use in your office. To secure these access points, instruct your team to do the following:

  • Use stronger encryption
  • Create more complex passwords
  • Hide your network names
  • Use firewalls

To help your employees with these steps, you may want to create detailed tutorials or contact an IT managed services provider to help you.

4. Route Traffic Through a Two-Factor Authentication VPN

To secure your tech environment as much as possible, consider having your employees access your network through a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts all the information passing from your employees’ computers to your network. Even if a hacker gets onto your employee’s WiFi network, they cannot see keystrokes or any of the data being transmitted.

If you don’t already have a VPN, look into services such as GoToMyPC or Zoho. Also, try to choose a VPN that supports dual-factor authentication. Then, your employees have to enter a username and a password, but they also have to use a second authenticator such as a code texted to their phone number or email address. This layer of security provides extra defense against cyber criminals.

5. Consult With an IT Managed Services Provider

Returning to business as normal may not be possible for a while, and a managed IT services provider can help identify the tools and processes you need to support your new working environment, while also taking steps to ensure your network is as secure as possible.

In difficult times, you want your business to survive, but if possible, you should try to thrive. Our managed IT services can help you adapt to this quickly changing environment. We can help you choose the tools, the processes, and the resources you need to stay as productive as possible.

Remote Workforces Deliver Business & Employee Benefits

Remote Working Coronavirus

When considering the employee and employer benefits of working remotely, businesses are wise to change. The alternative could make your outfit less competitive.  

If you would like to gain a little perspective on how radically our culture has changed, try this exercise. Pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and write out a half-days’ worth of emails rather than send them electronically. You will probably discover the first one looks more like scribble than cursive writing. And, your productivity will completely tank.

Remote Working Coronavirus

At first blush, the exercise demonstrates our reliance on electronic devices and real-time communication. But on another level, it shows that thought leaders are wise to embrace technological advancements as they emerge. Remote workforces rank among the more innovative trends of the business landscape today.

“To remain competitive in today’s work-from-anywhere environment, companies will need to invest in responsive technology infrastructure and enhanced virtual collaboration tools, as well as training and tailored performance management and incentive strategies for remote workers,” director of HR at the Gartner research group Emily Rose McRae reportedly said.

This shift away from in-house staff to people working from home or on the road once earned mixed reactions from industry leaders. But the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted businesses across the globe to find a way to have valued employees work from home until health crisis passes. Employers and employees alike are discovering this advancement tend to be mutually beneficial when utilizing platforms such as Microsoft Teams.

Mutual Benefits of Remote Workforces

The health crisis has motivated businesses to shift to Cloud-based systems and Microsoft Teams strategies as a short-term measure. But HR departments may want to take the opportunity to scan the workforce landscape because work-from-home expectations are expected to surge and impact hiring.

“By 2030, the demand for remote work will increase by 30 percent due to Gen Z fully entering the workforce. Gartner’s most recent ReimagineHR Employee Survey found that only 56 percent of managers permit their employees to work remotely. Organizations without a progressive remote-work policy will be at a competitive disadvantage for attracting and retaining talent,” according to Gartner.

That being said, these are the reasons why the global trend to remote productivity is well-received by management and staff.

  • Commute & Stress Reduction: No one can dispute the fact that commuting to the office adds unpaid work hours. Sitting in traffic or being packed into commuter rails tends to be an unpleasant way to begin and end each day. Employees and employers share this stressful routine. Remote work platforms such as the Cloud and Microsoft Teams allow all parties to sit down with a morning beverage and log on from anywhere. No hustle, no bustle, no extra hours, and no commuter expenses.
  • Talent Without Borders: Before the massive cellphone footprint, people used landlines with rotary dialing, and long-distance was expensive. In those days, it was common to pay a premium just to call someone in the next state over. But just as your cellphone can connect you to people far outside your region without added expense, so can the Cloud. When projects are conducted in Microsoft Teams via a Cloud-based network, your remote talent pool expands exponentially. A skilled person 1,000 miles away can secure a job they are qualified for, and employers gain access to talent otherwise unavailable.
  • Reduced Infrastructure: An increasing number of organizations that do not necessarily require a brick-and-mortar footprint. These outfits can eliminate that cost in some cases. Other operations can reduce office space expenditures. With remote workforces, less can be more.
  • Live-Work Lifestyles: Millennials and the Gen Z crowd tend to see work and life more closely aligned in their lifestyle than previous generations. The Cloud has been a boon and securing offsite positions allows employees a preferred professional lifestyle. Raising children no longer comes attached to childcare expenses or limited “parent hours” jobs.

Microsoft Teams Supports Remote Workforce Culture

With dispersed workforces increasing, Microsoft Teams ranks among the most business supportive products on the market. It seamlessly works with Cloud-based networks and delivers real-time communication. The platform offers chat, video conferencing, managed channels, shared calendar options, and project space that can provide supervisors with top-tier oversight. In these troubling times, Microsoft Teams use has surged by tens of millions. But industry leaders may also want to consider the long-term benefits of embracing remote workforces into the future.

Top Tips for Improving Data Analysis with the IF Function in Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel Training

Improving Data Analysis with the IF Function in Microsoft Excel

Have you ever wondered what the IF Function in Microsoft Excel actually does?  Here we explore a few top tips for making it save you time while evaluating data. 

 

There’s no doubt that Microsoft Excel is a robust program. Companies all over the globe utilize this application to analyze, track, and otherwise organize data in an easy-to-read format. But how much do you know about it and the various features that are available? And are you taking the right steps to ensure you’re looking at your spreadsheets in the most efficient manner possible? Here are a few of our tips and techniques to help you save time and improve your data analysis by using the IF Function in Microsoft Excel.

Tip #1: Understand What the IF Function Actually Does to Help Your Workflow

The first real step in making sure you’re using Microsoft Excel’s IF Function appropriately is to understand what it actually does. The IF Function tests whether a condition is true or false, and then performs an action. These actions can be calculations, data entry, or something closely related. The function is incredibly useful if you have large data sets or need to make significant changes, as it is a great way to save time in your workflow.

Tip #2: Creating the IF Function is Incredibly Easy

Creating the IF Function effectively starts with knowing the three parts: the logical test and then a value if true and a value if false. From there, all you have to do to make it work with your spreadsheet is to choose the data sets that you want to evaluate and determine what you want the true and false results to be. To do this, use the IF Function on the Insert a Function menu. Click okay and enter the conditions as you are prompted to do so on the screen.

Tip #3: Knowing How to Nest Functions

It is possible to use multiple IF Function formulas at the same time. In some cases, you might have multiple different possibilities or different levels of data that you want to compare. That’s when knowing how to nest multiple IF Functions becomes important. Nesting functions adds the ability to build more comparisons within your formulas instead of having to complete them separately.

Tip #4: Adding AND and OR to Your Functions

You can also add AND and OR to your IF Functions to make the results much more specific. While this is technically part of understanding how to nest functions, knowing how to do this is an effective way of utilizing the IF Function in a more efficient manner. An example of this is comparing two columns of data: one showing the amount of sales and one determining if an employee has completed training. By adding AND or OR to your IF Function, you can show a specific result, such as those employees that hit a specific sales goal and finished the training program you provided. As you can see, this can be a really easy way to get the information you need without having to spend a ton of time scouring through your entire spreadsheet.

Tip #5: Using Range Names to Make Data Easier to Sort

Range names are essentially a stored label that allows you to identify a range of one or more cells. They are incredibly useful for navigation, formulas, and even printing off specific parts of your spreadsheets. For use with the IF Function, you can utilize data ranges to save time when you’re working on a specific block of values as it allows you to use that range name instead of specific cell names. Range names can have letters, numbers, or an underscore, but cannot have spaces. And they are not case-sensitive, but title case is recommended for ease of viewing.

Tip #6: Remembering to Use Quotations with Text Strings in Your IF Function

Using the IF Function is an incredibly easy way to add text to a specific cell when certain criteria are present. However, you do need to remember to use quotations around your text strings in your IF Function formula. Failure to do this can really mess up your data set and make the formula not work correctly. Should you have a problem getting the IF Function to work for you, this is one of the first things you need to check.

Tip #7: Changing Text with Conditional Formatting Based on Your Result

Not only can you add text or insert a formula with the IF Function, but you can also change text visually with conditional formatting based on your result. It can be done automatically and setup within Excel under the Home tab. Examples of this option in use include turning a specific number bold and red if it does not meet the criteria of your IF Function, or highlighting it in yellow if it does meet certain requirements.

Conclusion
Microsoft Excel is a great way to analyze and interpret datasets. The IF Function allows you to do this in an easy-to-read and simple manner while saving you tons of time in the long run. These quick tips are a great way to skip complicated formulas and really make your spreadsheets work for you.

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