How to Onboard Remote Employees More Efficiently

Remote Staff Onboarding

How to Onboard Remote Employees More Efficiently

As more companies switch to remote work, employers need to embrace the best onboarding practices to enhance new hires’ experience. Alignment involves updating various tools and processes to ensure seamless onboarding. Additionally, organizations are working tirelessly to leverage productivity hacks for remote teams.

Onboarding new employees remotely change the entire experience for both sides. Hence, the company’s approach to onboarding new hires makes a significant difference. A recent Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) survey in the US revealed that more than 30 percent of managers found coaching and onboarding new employees more challenging since that pandemic started.

This reality compels companies to adopt viable policies and approaches to resolve remote onboarding challenges. Resolving these issues is critical, given that the remote work trend will continue into the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, streamlining the remote onboarding process comes with significant benefits. These advantages include reducing training or coaching time and increased retention rates. New hires are more likely to stay on the job if the onboarding process helps them understand roles and responsibilities. Well-planned remote onboarding enables new team members to build a connection with colleagues.

Remote Staff Onboarding

Remote Onboarding Best Practices

Onboarding remote employees involve a relatively different process than the traditional procedure. When handled appropriately, the virtual process helps new employees feel a sense of belonging. Thus, schedule several virtual meetings to ensure effective communication. Interactive seminars and training courses help familiarize themselves with organizational processes.

Here are the best practices to onboard remote workers more effectively.

Invest in the Right Technology

The first step to ensuring a smooth onboarding process is to invest in the right technologies, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. These tools provide a reliable and secure connection when conducting training and interactive seminars. They provide chat and video meeting functionality to suit your organization’s needs. However, you should ensure that the new hires know how to use these communication tools.

Set Onboarding Goals

Unlike in-person onboarding processes, virtual introductions require more than just a warm welcome. You need to create a comprehensive list of objectives and procedures to enhance the new employee’s experience. Onboarding virtually may make some individuals feel uncomfortable asking questions. Thus, share the onboarding plan before the scheduled video call. In doing so, you ensure that the new team member knows what to expect.

One of the best ways to prepare for the sessions is to compile a detailed checklist of tasks and objectives. For instance, you can plan to complete human resources paperwork, set up Microsoft Teams accounts, and liaise with relevant stakeholders by the end of day one. You can also target to conduct security training and help the new employee get a feel of various tools by the end of the first week.

Host Virtual Introductions

Hosting a meeting between new hires and the rest of the team helps new members feel welcome and break feelings of isolation. Scheduling the video calls allows you to explain the team structure and generate enthusiasm. In the end, the entire team gets a sense of shared goals.

Help the new staff members remember people’s names easily by providing resources to refresh their memory. One way is to present them with a document listing the team members’ names (including photos), contact details, and position in the company. The document can also outline the organizational structure. Update the resource regularly to ensure accuracy.

Meeting people via video call makes it difficult to remember the names of team members. The process can be overwhelming.

Integrate Company Traditions Into the Onboarding Process

If your company has longstanding traditions that enrich the onboarding process, find ways to integrate them into interactive seminars and virtual training sessions. For instance, you can give new hires gift cards to local eateries if your company provides complimentary lunches on specific days. Likewise, you can host happy hours via video conferencing platforms like Microsoft Teams.

Assess Employees’ Feedback

Once the new hires complete the onboarding process, ask them for feedback. You can achieve this objective by asking the new team members to complete a short survey. In the survey, they can highlight likes and dislikes about various aspects of the onboarding procedures. In addition, encourage the employees to share ideas on how to improve remote onboarding.

Schedule Ongoing Check-Ins

Regularly checking in with the new staff members allows you to identify any issues and resolve them. Doing so ensures that the new hires feel connected to the onboarding process. Also, pair new team members with carefully selected mentors. This approach allows the new remote staff to avoid feeling isolated.

Can You Automatically Record Microsoft Teams Meetings?

Recording Microsoft Teams

Can You Automatically Record Microsoft Teams Meetings?

If you’ve ever been annoyed by the fact that every time you start a new meeting with Microsoft Teams, you have to manually enable the program to record the meeting for later use, you’re not alone.

A quick Google search will show you that this question — and the frustration that goes along with it —is all over the Internet. Moreover, with Microsoft Teams being used more now than ever before because of COVID-19, the issue has become even more pressing.

The truth is most people who use Microsoft Teams want to be able to automatically record their meetings, and why wouldn’t they? Recorded meetings can be used for follow-up studying when teaching virtual classes, and they’re often needed for legal reasons in order to ensure industry compliance. Plus, some people just like to have their recorded meetings on file in case they need to go back and revisit a topic or concern that was already discussed.

So, let’s get to the question at hand: Can you automatically record Microsoft Teams meetings?

Well, you’re probably not going to like the answer we have for you.

If you’re looking for a way to automatically record Microsoft Teams meetings, you are unfortunately out of luck. Alternatively, you’re simply going to have to wait because this feature doesn’t currently exist.

Recording Microsoft Teams

Why Can’t You Automatically Record Microsoft Teams Meetings?

This is a question we can’t quite answer, but if you do ever find out the reason why Microsoft Teams has not allowed users to automatically record meetings, please let us know.

Otherwise, you’ll have to ask Microsoft and their engineers about it.

Manual Meeting Recording: The Struggle Is Real

Naturally, the fact that you can’t automatically record Microsoft Teams meetings is a problem for many people. Even though recording is still an option if you do it manually, it’s easy to forget to set this feature up before starting the meeting. When this happens, you’re completely out of luck. Indeed, there’s no way to go back in time and record a meeting that’s already happened.

The Internet at large is frustrated with this. Any company or individual user who uses Microsoft Teams on a regular basis has probably wondered about this feature. Many of these individuals and employees have voiced their concerns on Reddit and Microsoft Teams forums. You can find lengthy back-and-forths between everyone from tech experts and software engineers, to professionals and laypeople — all trying to figure out the best way to code in this feature or use a third-party program that will enable the automatic recording.

What Should You Do if You’re Frustrated by Teams’ Lack of Automatic Recording?

For many, the only alternative is to use a different video conferencing program like Zoom.

Zoom came on the scene relatively quickly after COVID-19 caused basically everyone to start working and video conferencing from home. Many people like its easy-to-use interface and modern features — one of which is the ability to automatically record meetings.

You can go into the settings on Zoom and predestine all video conferences, meetings, classes, and sessions to be recorded. Alternatively, you can choose only certain types of meetings, conferences, etc. to be recorded.

If you like Microsoft Teams, however, or if your company or organization uses Microsoft Teams and doesn’t want to change, there’s really nothing to be done right now. You simply have to wait for Microsoft to catch up and add this feature to the program. A few commenters have hinted that there’s talk of adding the auto-record feature at Microsoft. Unfortunately, nothing firm or official has been released as of now.

For most of us, therefore, we’ll probably just continue to leave sticky notes on our screens that read “don’t forget to record the meeting!” Until the next update … fingers crossed!

SOC 2 Type 1 vs. Type 2: Here Is What You Need To Know?

SOC 2 Compliance

SOC 2 Type 1 vs. Type 2: Here Is What You Need To Know?

Cybersecurity continues to occupy a prominent spot in companies’ priority lists. As such, companies commit substantial amounts of money to bolster cyber defenses. Norton’s 2019 data breach report revealed that bad actors breached 4.1 billion records in the first half of the year.

Breaches can lead to significant reputational damage and financial losses. Hence, information security is a critical concern for organizations irrespective of whether they outsource IT functions or handle them internally. Thankfully, organizations can mitigate the risks by hiring service providers with a SOC 2 Type 1 and Type 2 report.

Organizations need to understand the differences between SOC 2 Type 1 and Type 2.

SOC 2 Compliance

What is SOC 2?

Service organization control (SOC) 2 reports come in two types: Type 1 and 2. They form part of an auditing framework, which helps maximize data protection by ensuring that third-party service providers adhere to standard practices when handling clients’ sensitive information. Many organizations have a mandatory requirement for reports when hiring service providers. This approach safeguards data privacy and security.

What is SOC 2 Type 1?

A Type 1 report covers the relevance of design controls and a description of a service provider’s approach. On the other hand, the Type 2 report focuses on the effectiveness of a service organization’s controls.

One of the key aspects of Type 1 is that it considers the specifics of an approach or system based on a particular timeline. The auditor presents a detailed report ‘as of’ date after reviewing relevant documentation. Software as a service (SaaS) firms need to prove that they implement best practices.

In turn, the report confirms proof of compliance to the auditing process set out by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Service organizations derive a wide selection of benefits from obtaining the report. For instance, SaaS companies gain a competitive edge, and the report assures potential clients that the firm complies with AICPA procedures.

Small and large organizations need assurances that a service provider keeps their data safe. Working with a SOC 2-compliant vendor bolsters confidence, particularly for organizations handling sensitive customers’ financial or medical information. It is no surprise that there is an ever-increasing demand for SOC 2 Type 1 reports.

Service providers receive the report immediately after completing a readiness assessment. In contrast, the process of obtaining SOC 2 Type 1 reports takes up to 12 months.

What is SOC 2 Type 2?

Type 2 reports provide superior assurance regarding the compliance of service organizations.

Vendors undergo a comprehensive assessment than with SOC 2 Type 1. AICPA procedures for Type 2 cover a service provider’s internal control practices and policies.

Thus, vendors showcase the highest compliance level when it comes to data security and control systems. SOC 2 Type 2 compliance makes it easier for SaaS firms to work with larger corporations. Vendors adhere to the best practices regarding processing integrity, availability, data privacy, and security.

Although obtaining these reports can be time-consuming and relatively pricey, service providers can stand out from the competition.

Key differences between SOC 2 Type 1 vs. Type 2

The most obvious difference between the two reports is the duration of the assessment process. While Type 1 audits cover controls for a specific date, Type 2 audits encompass an extended period ranging between six and 12 months. The latter assesses operating effectiveness for the specified period.

Type 1 audits concentrate on the design effectiveness of a service provider’s controls. Additionally, auditors assess the applicability of the vendor’s internal controls. These measures should be sufficient to achieve specific objectives.

Vendors need to commit more time, effort, and resources to obtain the Type 2 report compared to Type 1. On the upside, the extra effort can prove worthwhile on the market. Companies are happy to work with vendors that take data security and privacy seriously. Likewise, insurance firms, partners, and other stakeholders can also find this approach appealing.

Closing Thoughts

In a nutshell, the two audits cover procedures and controls implemented by service providers to ensure data security and privacy. When it comes to differences, coverage timeline is the main factor that distinguishes one from the other. Although service organizations can skip Type 1 audits and start with Type 2, experts recommend going through Type 1 as the starting point.

Attempting to obtain the SOC 2 Type 2 without undergoing Type 1 can prove complicated. During the assessment process, your team will likely struggle to showcase controls and policies while demonstrating that the controls have been functioning effectively for a minimum of six months.

Undergoing the Type 1 audit undoubtedly prepares your team for the Type 2 audit. You get a feel of how the SOC assessment process works. It becomes easier to identify areas that require improvement. In addition, you can establish control objectives.

The Need for Your Business to Set Up Network Security Is Urgent

Network Security Assessment

The Need for Your Business to Set Up Network Security Is Urgent

In the early 20th century, if a crook wanted money, they’d rob a bank or steal a woman’s purse on the street. Real masterminds might devise an elaborate heist to hold up a Brink’s truck or befriend a millionaire, then make off with their riches.

Today, these crooks look much different. That’s because an increasing number of them are not out on the street taking gold, jewelry, and cash. They’re sitting behind desks, somewhere in an unknown room where they will probably never be found, hacking your data.

Why data?

If you didn’t realize it already, data is now one of the most — if not the most — valuable commodities on earth. And if you’re not protecting yours, you’re making yourself and your business a huge target for cybercriminals.

Network Security Assessment

“Since when does every business need network security?”

Businesses, small and large, ask this question a lot.

“Since when do we have to have all this network security? I’m trying to run a business here. Why is everyone telling me to focus my attention on firewalls, data loss protection, adware, ransomware, phishing scams, etc.?”

We get it.

To help orient yourself to the critical importance of network security, however, you need to think of it this way: Say you own a jewelry store — a brick-and-mortar jewelry store. Are you going to pay attention to security? Are you going to invest in security cameras and highly durable doors, windows, and locks? Are you going to have a robust alarm system? Perhaps even a security guard on standby to investigate possible burglaries?

Of course, you are.

Well, the same preventive and recovery protocols need to be arranged for any business that deals either publicly or privately on the Internet.

Certainly, there was a “Wild West” phase of the Internet where cybercriminals hadn’t quite mastered their own art of hacking systems and stealing or corrupting data.

That phase is over.

Now, if you don’t have “locks on your doors and windows,” so to speak, you’re a sitting duck for a host of security issues that could bring your business to the ground.

“But my business is small/mostly offline/not in a typically lucrative industry. Do I still need network security then?”

Yes. Absolutely.

All businesses — no matter the industry or size — should have robust network security to protect their valuable IT data and network systems.

One thing to remember is that network security isn’t just to prevent hackers from stealing or corrupting your data. This is certainly a big issue that you want to prevent. However, network security also ensures business continuity.

Say, for example, a cybercriminal is able to hack your system but doesn’t obtain your data. That’s great, but they may have upended your network or impacted your ability to access your data for a time, which can severely impact your business productivity. Network security solutions incorporate data storage and critical backups that can be used if you lose access. These are crucial if you are ever hacked, but they are also useful if, for example, a technical problem crashes your system or a huge storm upsets your ability to access your network.

“What else can network security solutions do?”

Network security solutions can also improve your business’s performance. Managed service providers who know their industry inside and out have the best technologies at their disposal. Ideally, they also know your industry inside and out, so they can make recommendations on the best tools to enhance your productivity and ultimately, your profitability.

Finally, if you are in an industry that requires network security compliance (for example, if you are in possession of medical patient data or personal financial information), you already know that you need to abide by specific regulations in order to ensure personal privacy and data protection. Your managed service provider can help you establish compliance as well.

“Where should I go for the best network security solutions?”

It’s always good to look for a managed service provider in your specific industry. They’ll have experience with similar companies and be able to recommend the best technologies and security solutions for you and your company.

What Are the Key Differences Between IT Services and Consulting?

IT Services

What Are the Key Differences Between IT Services and Consulting?

When business leaders create annual budgets, IT typically ranks among the top investments. More than $4 trillion was spent globally in 2019, and the average company funneled 8.2 percent of its total revenue into IT. The primary focus for too many companies was IT services, without consulting support. Putting all of your eggs in the IT services basket could lead to work stoppages and problems that could otherwise be avoided. By understanding the key differences between services and consulting, informed decisions can be made about an organization’s IT health.

IT Services

What Are IT Services?

There are plenty of technical explanations that define “IT services.” But a direct way to understand this term is from the customer’s perspective. You invest in IT services to help accomplish tasks and goals. Company leaders typically broker a deal with an experienced IT services firm to ensure things run smoothly. In other words, you hire someone to keep everyone on your team working at a high level and minimize disruptions. These generally include the following:

  • Technical & Help Desk Support
  • Backup & Recovery Services
  • Software Management Services
  • Cybersecurity Monitoring & Threat Response
  • Cloud Migration & Maintenance
  • Internet-Based Communications Services

The underlying premise of IT services is that a third party is generally under contract to help you maximize productivity and solve routine issues. Companies don’t usually invest in technology for technology’s sake. It’s a necessary tool that requires an expert to maintain.

What Makes IT Consulting Different?

The million-dollar question is that if you already have IT services in place, why invest in a consultant? That’s a fair question from the consumer’s point of view. Your email works, computer restarts are at a minimal level, and Cloud-based systems enable your outfit to connect with remote workers and business partners in real-time. If it’s not broken, why fix it?

The primary reason to invest in IT consulting is that it is proactive by nature. A consultant reviews your critical operations and makes an analysis of the next steps and long-term technology planning. An IT consultant may be only minimally interested in the software and services your organization uses to complete tasks and further goals today. Instead, they consider solutions for the future that deliver the following benefits:

  • Bring an Objective Perspective: Your IT service provider and staff members have a way of conducting operations every day. While their methods may work at a high level, an outside perspective can help companies take advantage of emerging technologies.
  • Proactive vs. Reactive: It’s essential to understand that IT services are crucial. They can react to technical problems and resolve them quickly. By contrast, IT consulting focuses on future disruptions and innovations and advises business leaders about preventative measures.
  • Increase Leadership Focus: When management teams get bogged down with technical problems, they cannot devote the focus necessary to maximize an organization’s potential. An IT consulting firm brings a wealth of knowledge to the table that allows leaders to make high-level decisions about the state of their technology.

As an industry thought leader, perhaps the best way to understand the differences between IT services and consulting is that they are different cogs in a machine that makes your company go. One without the other limits your potential to achieve goals and compete. Technology changes quickly, and companies require IT services to maintain operational integrity and consulting experts to get you ready for critical next steps.

Microsoft Makes Anti-Spam Changes

Microsoft Antispam

Microsoft Makes Anti-Spam Changes

The year 2020 is not the only thing that is coming to an end. Microsoft is slowly rolling out changes meant to deter spam. This is causing some features to come to an end and changing the way a few Microsoft products, most notably email, is used. As a business owner, it is important to stay on top of changes with the software and programs that your business utilizes. Here is a little bit more information about the anti-spam changes and what those changes can mean for your business.

Microsoft Antispam

Why Is Microsoft Making Anti-Spam Changes?

Microsoft recently released an add-on: Microsoft Defender for Office 365 Plan 2. Many of the anti-spam changes were made when this add-on released, and a few more are expected to roll out at the end of January 2021. The primary reason for these changes is to better protect your business against phishing attacks, spoofing attacks, and to limit the number of spam emails that are sent. Some of these changes affect all Microsoft products as a whole, while others are geared toward specific products, such as email.

Why Should Your Business Be Aware of These Changes?

Your business needs to be aware of these changes because they can alter the way your business operates. You may need to update software or you may need to retrain your staff on how to use products. As these changes roll out, many IT professionals are already receiving phone calls from those that they serve letting them know that they can no longer use certain features and asking for a workaround. Releasing an email to your staff or providing them training as a group can help prevent mass emails or phone calls to your IT professional.

What Types of Changes Is Microsoft Making?

One of the biggest changes that Microsoft has made so far is disabling automatic e-mail forwarding. This has changed the way that your office may forward emails to other employees in the business and clients outside of the business. One of the major changes that is expected to happen at the end of January 2021 involves no longer allowing the “allow list” or “block list” from the SPAM policy setting in Exchange Office to function. Instead, you will need to add your allow or block list elsewhere. Finally, Microsoft is making subtle changes to all license-level software to increase protection and decrease phishing and spoofing risk. While you may not necessarily see these changes, you may find that you need to update your software if it does not automatically self-update.

Microsoft is making anti-spam changes to decrease spam and to help prevent phishing and spoofing attacks when using Microsoft Office 365. If you own a business, you need to be aware of these changes, as it can impact these products. Your IT professional can help advise your office on the changes that are being made and update your software to ensure you are using the latest Microsoft Office products.

Top 15 Microsoft Teams Tips and Tricks

Microsoft Teams Tips and Tricks

Top 15 Microsoft Teams Tips and Tricks

Microsoft Teams is one of the most popular and influential digital team-building solutions available for startups and business teams of any size. Using Microsoft Teams as your company’s preferred collaboration tool provides access to myriad features, from private messaging and group chats to file and document-sharing. With a few tips and tricks, optimize your time and productivity whenever you and your team put Microsoft Teams to use.

How Can I Get Better Organized with Microsoft Teams?

In order to use Microsoft Teams as efficiently as possible, getting organized with the system is a must.

1. Bookmark Important Messages and Content

Whenever you receive a noteworthy message or content from another member of your team, select the bookmark icon next to the message. You can search for bookmarks by browsing for content within the message you are trying to find via your search bar or by typing the command “/saved” into the bar when searching for a list of your saved bookmarks.

2. Use Drag-and-Drop Features to Stay Organized

Use Microsoft Teams drag-and-drop features to organize messages, teams, files, as well as calendar events and important dates.

3. Create Groups for Users

Grouping members of your team or users who have joined you on Microsoft Teams is a way to keep better track of those you communicate with throughout each day. Create a new tag for specific groups to communicate with more team members in less time.

4. Select Favorites

You can also choose favorite channels and teams when using Microsoft Teams to gain quick access to those you use most. Favoriting or bookmarking channels and teams will keep them at the top of your list.

How Can I Increase Team Engagement?

5. Add Subject Lines

Adding subject lines throughout conversations and group messages can help to keep communications more organized and clutter-free. The icon for creating subject lines is located in the bottom left corner of the messaging section of Microsoft Teams.

6. Use Animated Graphics (GIFs) and Other Visual Media

Using visual media is a great way to break up conversations, make a point, and send a message without a wall of text. Use GIFs as well as other relevant imagery or visual media during conversations to keep track of the overall theme and direction of the conversation.

7. Use Urgent Messages and Notifications When Necessary

If you are looking to get in touch with a member of your team immediately, send an “Urgent” message from the messaging tab of Microsoft Teams.

8. Use Polls to Increase Engagement

Increase the engagement of your team members by implementing a question or a poll with the messages you send out en masse.

9. Use Eye-Catching Headlines and Titles

Use appealing and eye-catching headlines and titles when communicating with your team to keep them focused and interested in the content of your conversation or meeting.

Improve Meetings Altogether With Microsoft Teams

10. Putting Together Mode to Use

Use Together Mode from Microsoft Teams to emulate a full conference room of participants.

11. Instantly Call a Team Member Within a Chat

If you are in need of more one-on-one communication, instantly call a team member from directly within a private conversation.

12. Record Your Meetings

Record your meetings from the main control panel in your Microsoft Teams account. It is also possible to use this section to transcribe each of your meetings for future use and reference.

13. Use Microsoft Teams Meeting Notes

Using Microsoft Teams Meeting Notes section is another way to keep track of conversations, topics that are covered, and tasks for teams and individuals alike.

14. Blur Out Your Current Background at Home or at the Office

Whether you are working remotely permanently or want to minimize and limit distractions during team meetings, you can blur your background from the main settings area of your Microsoft Teams bar.

15. Title and Log Meetings Appropriately

In order to maximize overall productivity, be sure to title and log all of your meetings and conversations in Microsoft Teams appropriately for future searches and use.

Using Microsoft Teams for your business, startup, or brand is a great way to effectively communicate with co-workers and team members remotely, regardless of your location and time zone. By taking the time to optimize Microsoft Teams for you, increase productivity and overall efficiency among all of your team members and employees.

Need a quick book on Microsoft Teams: Click here to check out one we recommend.

Microsoft Teams Tips and Tricks

9 Meeting Tips for Using Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Meeting

9 Meeting Tips for Using Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a simple, yet effective tool for hosting meetings. It has both audio and video capabilities as well as a chat feature. It can handle conference calls and one on one meetings, with members of your organization as well as guests. Plus, it has a convenient chat feature that can be used to share documents and spreadsheets. Here are a few tips for using Teams effectively in meetings.

Microsoft Teams Meeting

  • Send Invites through E-mail: Anyone in your organization who has access to your company communications can be easily searched and added when you create a new meeting. But if you’d like to add someone from outside of the organization, all you have to do is enter their email when you create an event or add it later on. They will receive an invitation in their inbox that will allow them to enter the meeting when it starts.
  • Admit Guests from the Lobby: Members of your organization who are invited to the meeting will be able to join automatically when it starts. But those who are not must be admitted. When guests enter the meeting, they will be placed in the lobby to await your admittance. You will receive a notification and see them waiting in the lobby – all you have to do is click the checkmark next to their name and they will be able to enter the meeting.
  • Keep the Noise to a Minimum: Conference calls can get noisy. A loud air conditioner or nescient conversations in the background of one guest’s location can disrupt the entire call. Attendees can mute themselves while others are talking to reduce interference. Or if one particular guest is not complying with the request, as the host you can mute them.
  • Make Sure Guests Download Teams: To join a Teams meeting, guests must download the app or browser extension. It’s free to download and doesn’t require any fancy plugins. But guests may be confused if you don’t make them aware that the call is being conducted through an app.
  • Decide on an Audio or Video Call: Teams has video capabilities as well as audio. It may be awkward for some if they are not aware that they will be visible during the meeting if it’s a video call. So, to make things run smoothly decide beforehand whether a video call is necessary and make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Share Documents in the Chat During a Call: The chat feature allows you to seamlessly share and view documents and text communications while on a call. If you have an important memo or chart you want everyone to see, simply drop it in the chat and participants can view it without leaving the call.
  • Join with Audio Conferencing: Teams is generally run through Wi-Fi, but if you or a guest is in an area with limited internet access, you can always join a call through audio conferencing. Audio conferencing allows members to dial in manually using their phone line. Those who have audio conferencing available will see dial-in instructions provided alongside the meeting info.
  • Record Your Teams Meetings: Teams has a recording function if you want a video of the meeting to reference or transcribe. All you have to do is select the “…” button in the meeting and press record. But keep in mind, you may want to make participants aware that they are being recorded, so no one feels uncomfortable.
  • Share Selected Applications: Teams allows you to share selected applications with meeting participants, rather than your entire desktop. So, if you want to show your browser, but not your email, you can do so with application sharing.

Teams is a powerful app and there are a variety of innovative yet simple features you can play around with. Employ these tips in your next meeting to increase your productivity and efficiency.

What’s New With Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms

What’s New With Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms gives you a plethora of features to utilize to your advantage. It easily creates useful documentation for your business and is accessible to virtually everyone in your organization. Forms integrate well with many other Microsoft Office products, including Outlook, and it is completely free to use. Microsoft Forms makes it possible to organize documents, create tracking data, and support large-scale projects — and in today’s dynamic business environment, nothing is more important than data collected and analyzed. Microsoft Forms is an essential piece of software that transforms the way we work by connecting everyone into a collaborative environment.

With its many features, Microsoft Forms makes it easy to visualize real-time data and use an automated form of predictive analytics to capture rapid insight. Customization allows users to create forms that fit their own needs. Businesses use Microsoft Forms for more than just keeping track of data; they use it to implement customer research and manage their various social media presences. Sales teams can collect and organize all of their prospecting surveys and then store and analyze the results of their data collections to the cloud.

Businesses can use Microsoft Forms tools to survey employees, gather feedback, and even ask for advice on projects and other key decisions. Many businesses also use it to share interactive quizzes that allow them to create proprietary data stores, which they can then mine for insights.

Data Visualization

Another great benefit of the Microsoft Forms tool is visualized data. Once the form data has been collected, the online software converts it into graphs and charts that make your data more accessible and easy for others to interpret. Easy data visualization is at the core of Microsoft Forms, and what they have can be seen as an upgrade over other top survey tools.

There are also advanced analytics capabilities along with an impressively professional user interface. With all of these upgrades over other online survey alternatives, it becomes clear why Microsoft Survey has been gaining so much traction. Microsoft Forms allows for handling multiple surveys at a time. This not only makes it easier to gather data, but it also makes it a better tool to manage your surveys. Quizzes can handle complex functionalities, even when built from scratch, due to the modular user interface and extensible components that the software affords.

Microsoft Forms in the Classroom

Forms are set to become a vital, fundamental, and integral tool for ensuring that students are continually up to date with the world around them. Using Microsoft Forms, students can conduct transactions, undertake research, and apply real-time data to various tasks. In addition to taking advantage of all the Office Online tools and bringing with it the power of Office Web Apps, Forms sports new features that help with collecting surveys during specific time periods, retrieving input from third-party software, and integrating it with Microsoft Teams — another platform that is gaining an impressive following from the academic community.

One of the powers of Microsoft Forms lies in its ability to bridge student needs from both web, email, and text, facilitating communication along with the data that drives it. With Microsoft Forms, students can maintain private electronic environments — which comes in handy for classes run by the same institution. The software is slowly becoming the standard for student needs, and as such, it is imperative that students effectively utilize Microsoft Forms when interacting with external and unstructured data sources. By staying synced online in an isolated cloud environment, students can also use Microsoft Forms for composing collaborative survey documents, a practice that students have used as a vital tool for research purposes.

As Microsoft continues to fit their needs, a growing number of students will continue to get the most out of their academic careers by utilizing the platform’s features.

Microsoft Forms

Beware: COVID-19 Vaccine News May Lead to New Wave of Phishing

COVID 19 Vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine Related Phishing and How You Can Protect Your Organization

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives across the globe and infection rates continue to soar, scientists are continually looking for a solution to end the world’s suffering. In the past weeks, vaccine manufacturers, such as Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, have published encouraging results from the last stages of their vaccine trials, giving the world a glimpse of hope.

However, with all these vaccines that have been developed and those in their final stages, none has been officially released for mass consumption. As the population continues to get overwhelmed with pandemic fatigue and scientists get closer to developing a real vaccine, cybercriminals are now using the developed vaccines as a ploy in their extortion activities.

COVID 19 Vaccine

What are phishing emails?

Phishing is a form of social engineering often used by cybercriminals to trick their targets into providing them with their personal information and account data. Once this information is obtained, these malicious actors use the targets’ credentials or install malware into their systems to obtain data. Phishing is carried out via text messages, instant messages, social media messaging platforms, phone calls, or email. However, phishing emails are the most common. The recipient of the email is usually tricked into clicking on a malicious link, which may lead to the installation of malware that may obtain sensitive information or freeze the recipient’s system as a way to deny services as part of a cyberattack.

At the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, these emails came in different forms with luring subject lines such as:

  • What to do if you have come into contact with someone with COVID-19.
  • Free COVID-19 testing emails.
  • Advice on what to do if you have violated COVID-19 health protocols.

The main aim of these emails was to exploit the anxiety surrounding the pandemic. With the vaccine in sight and the topic naturally arousing excitement and attention, these emails are now being tailored to announce the promise of COVID-19 vaccines.

How can you identify phishing emails? As an organization, you have probably already started seeing vaccine-themed phishing emails or may expect to start seeing these emails in the next few weeks. But how exactly do you distinguish these fake emails from verified ones to protect your employees and ultimately protect your organization’s systems?

Here are several tips to help you identify phishing emails:

  1. Legitimate companies don’t request sensitive information via email: The chances are that if you receive an email purporting to be from a legitimate institution that provides you with an attachment or link and asks you to provide sensitive data, it’s a scam. Most verified organizations don’t send emails asking for credit card information, account usernames and passwords.
  2. Legitimate companies don’t send unsolicited links or attachments: Unexpected emails that contain links and attachments reek of hackers. Authentic organizations don’t randomly send you emails with links or attachments; they usually direct you to their websites.
  3. Look out for spelling errors: The easiest way to recognize a phishing email is terrible grammar. Emails from a verified organization are usually well-written.
  4. Legitimate companies have domain emails: Don’t only check the name of the person sending you the email, also check the email address. Most companies use their domain email addresses when sending out emails. However, this is not a foolproof method of identifying phishing emails.

How can you protect your organization against phishing attacks?

To protect your organization from phishing attacks, you need to practice vigilance. Training your employees on what to look out for when it comes to distinguishing phishing emails goes a long way toward protecting your organization from malicious attacks.

The following pointers will help to mitigate risks for phishing attacks:

  • Use two-factor or multifactor authentication methods to add an extra verification layer when logging in to sensitive applications.
  • Integrate firewalls to establish a barrier between your internal network and incoming traffic from external sources to block malicious traffic.
  • Keep all your software and applications updated.
  • Install security software such as antivirus, antispyware and anti-malware programs to help detect and remove malicious programs.
  • Enable email filtering to filter out incoming emails for phishing content and automatically move them to a separate folder.

No matter how secure your company’s network is, it only takes one reckless employee to fall victim to a phishing attack and send your company’s data into the hands of cybercriminals. Your employees need to understand and be able to recognize phishing emails to protect your organization.