Social Distancing? Best Work At Home Tools For Business Continuity

My Post (12).pngAs Coronavirus forces millions of people to work from home, employers and employees alike are looking for ways to stay connected and stay productive while the upheaval lasts. For most, the answer lies in technology and particularly the use of cloud-based tools and apps that can be accessed over the internet. To help, here are some of the best work from home tools and apps we’ve found.

Employee motivation and wellbeing tools

Social distancing adds a whole new dimension to working from home. People who normally work in the office will have to adjust to a working environment where they usually spend their free time – and this can make it difficult to get motivated. They also need to deal with the demands of looking after their children while at work and cope with all the wellbeing issues that long periods of confinement and lack of social contact can lead to.

Luckily, there are several tools to help improve motivation, wellbeing and positivity. The first of these is Chimp or Champ, an online portal where team members can give anonymous feedback, expressing how they have felt during the previous week and giving the reasons why. This feedback is then collated for managers in a weekly report that includes the team’s anonymous actionable feedback and an analysis of the team’s overall happiness score. This allows managers to make changes that will help your employees adapt to working from home in a way that makes them happier.

Another crucial motivational tool is to reward your employees. This is especially important when they are working in unusual circumstances. The online and app platform, Wooboard, is ideal for this as it provides a fun way not just for the manager to reward good work but for employees to recognise and praise each other. What’s also great about this tool during social distancing is that its social and gamification features help maintain the important daily interactions that can be easily lost when the team is socially isolated.

 Project management and collaboration tools

Keeping projects on schedule during the Coronavirus pandemic is going to be a challenge for all businesses, especially when teams that normally work together are isolated from each other. However, remote working is nothing new in the digital age and over recent years a growing number of high-quality project management and collaboration tools have been developed.

For teams that use Microsoft Office applications to create documents and send emails, especially users of Office 365, then the most useful tool may be Microsoft Teams, a teamwork hub built into Office 365. Accessible over the internet on any device, the tool has a long list of features and enables you to keep all your team’s documents, meetings, chats, files and apps together in one place – enabling you to communicate, collaborate and work simultaneously on instantly synced documents. Watch the video below to find out more.

MS Teams EMBED CODE

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An alternative to Microsoft Teams is ProofHub, another high-quality collaboration tool that provides seamless interaction between team members and comes with a wealth of remote project management features, as well as online proofing, discussions and feedback-sharing chat. And then, of course, there’s the well-known and very popular Slack, a messaging app and collaboration tool combo that easily integrates with all the tools your team uses and has a string of highly useful features.  – Read more

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How to Maintain eCommerce During Coronavirus

My Post - 2020-03-27T115752.517.pngWhile public health has to be the number one priority during the Coronavirus pandemic, eCommerce companies should be making plans to maintain their business during the current economic volatility. With large scale disruption likely, companies will likely face problems with supply and demand that can seriously impact cash flow. To put your business in the best position it can be, here are some things you may wish to consider.

Product availability issues

As an eCommerce company, you cannot operate if you do not have products to sell. The widescale effects of Coronavirus in China, the origin of so many products and components, means that the supply of many retail goods has already dwindled.

As the pandemic spreads and other countries see reductions in manufacturing capacity, supply is only going to get worse. In all likelihood, employee illness, factory closures and travel restrictions will mean that the products eCommerce companies want to sell will be manufactured at a lower rate and be delivered significantly later.

What then can eCommerce companies do to continue their operations? One solution is to start sourcing these products in areas that haven’t been widely affected by the virus and as time goes on, to look at areas where its impact has receded. Having multiple sources also means you don’t lose your entire supply if one manufacturer or wholesaler goes out of action. Sourcing products domestically can also be helpful as they will not face the same shipping disruption as imported goods.

Product cost issues

With fewer manufacturers or wholesalers working at capacity, many of them are taking advantage of scarcity by increasing their prices. In particular, these companies are prioritising customers who are putting in large orders and paying inflated prices. Smaller eCommerce companies, unfortunately, have been put to the back of the supply queue.

To keep supply going, smaller eCommerce companies may have to look at a wider range of suppliers and accept the higher prices being charged. Whether this cost can be absorbed or passed onto the customer depends on how well-stocked your competitors were before the pandemic began and how well they can absorb the increased costs of new stock themselves.

Cashflow issues

The effects of supply disruption, higher prices and a possible drop in orders means cash flow will be a major concern for all eCommerce companies. To cope with this, businesses will need to reduce spending and find other ways to increase income. With product scarcity likely to be common, there will be less choice for customers. One possible solution that arises from this is to hold on to items that would previously have been put in the sales and to continue selling them at full price to maintain margins.

Another area of consideration is advertising. If there are items in your inventory that are not going to sell because of Coronavirus, travel-related items, for example, then there is little point spending money on advertising them. With all advertising, eCommerce companies need to ensure that ROI is providing the value they need. Focussing on SEO and content marketing to improve organic traffic and shifting towards email marketing which doesn’t have a high acquisition cost, are all ways to bring about efficiencies that can help cash flow over the short term. – Read more

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5 Ways Cloud Will Develop in 2020

My Post - 2020-03-12T125543.750.pngCloud computing is set to continue its remarkable development this year with technologies like 5G, Kubernetes, AI and machine learning increasing the scope and scale of the operational uses it can be put to. In this post, we’ll look at these technologies and see how they will change the face of cloud computing and how businesses use it.

1. IoT boosted by 5G

The long wait for 5G is finally over and, with its introduction, we’re set to see it play a critical role in the connectivity of IoT devices, extending that connectivity way beyond the limitations of wi-fi and enabling the development of edge computing.

The exponential growth in the number of IoT devices is coupled with an equally gargantuan collection of data. As the value of that data for delivering rich insights prevents enterprises from deleting it, companies are left to find a way to store and process it all. They need massive data storage capacity and vast compute capabilities. At the same time, some of the new technologies being developed for IoT use, self-driving vehicles being a prime example, require network latency to be almost eradicated.

5G can help with all these issues. It can connect devices where wi-fi and cabled connections are not available and at exceptional speed, it enables storage and compute services to be installed at the edge of 5G networks, shrinking latency to less than a millisecond while reducing the type and volume of data being stored in datacentres.

2. More stringent security standards for public cloud

Security is a critical concern for all enterprises and one new area to consider is the issue around 5G as it becomes part of the cloud network. The UK’s decision to use Huawei technology for its 5G network has already become a political hot potato. This, together with other concerns, is likely to lead to more stringent security standards, particularly over endpoint security, for cloud providers.

It is expected that tighter regulations will be introduced for the architecture of hybrid clouds requiring full data separation between on-site and public cloud environments. Brexit will also play a part, as the UK goes its own way in implementing standards regarding data protection.

3. More users adopting hybrid cloud

While many companies have considered hybrid cloud, its technological challenges have led to most of them adopting a purely public cloud model. And while there are workloads which are better suited to a hybrid solution, the lack of flexibility to deploy both on-site and cloud infrastructures is a hurdle which many enterprises are not equipped to overcome.

In 2020 and beyond, we’ll start to see new tools that can overcome these management and migration challenges. These tools will split migration into two separate processes where companies can first become familiar with their new programming and management models on-site before finally moving their infrastructure to the cloud. This is particularly helpful for those organisations that want to move to the cloud but don’t want to abandon the investments they have made in their datacentres and hardware. – Read more

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