5 Tips for Making the Most of VoIP with Microsoft

microsoft 365 business voice

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology is gaining popularity as a cost-effective alternative to traditional telephone services. Microsoft provides easy-to-use solutions that allow businesses to take full advantage of this modern technology. Here are five tips for making the most of VoIP with Microsoft:

Invest in a Reliable Internet Connection

For optimal performance, it’s essential to invest in a reliable internet connection to ensure uninterrupted service when using VoIP with Microsoft. High speed broadband connections provide a much faster and more efficient experience than slow dial-up connections, so be sure to take this into account when choosing an internet service provider.

Utilize Dedicated PSTN Lines and IP Phones

To ensure superior call quality when using VoIP with Microsoft, consider investing in dedicated PSTN lines and IP phones. These specialized solutions will give you access to advanced features like voicemail-to-email integration, automated attendant services, and many other functions that can improve customer satisfaction.

Take Advantage of Advanced Features

Microsoft’s VoIP solutions come packed with lots of useful features that can help maximize efficiency while improving customer service. Consider taking advantage of these features by setting up voicemail-to-email integration and other automated processes that could streamline your business operations.

Ensure Your System Meets the Minimum Requirements

In order for your system to run optimally, it’s important to make sure it meets the minimum requirements for running VoIP from Microsoft. Be sure to check if your current hardware is compatible or if you need any additional equipment before getting started. If necessary, you may need to upgrade certain components such as networking switches or routers before using the service.

Consider Hosted Solutions

If you don’t have an IT staff on hand or are looking for ways to minimize costs without sacrificing quality, then consider investing in a hosted solution for your VoIP needs. Hosted solutions offer numerous benefits such as scalability and cost savings compared to purchasing hardware and software separately—making them an ideal option for small businesses looking for ways to save money while still taking full advantage of all the features available from Microsoft’s VoIP services.

How Much Bandwidth Does Your Company Need?

All successful businesses must depend on a reliable internet connection in order to stay relevant and remain competitive with other companies. Without the appropriate bandwidth, staff productivity and communication solutions can crumble. Continue reading to learn more about the complexities of bandwidth and how to determine the ideal amount of bandwidth your business should have in order to sustain productivity and effectiveness in the workplace.

The definition of bandwidth

To many people’s surprise, bandwidth and internet speed are not interchangeable. Although it does have some influence on the speed of one’s internet connection, bandwidth is not necessarily the speed of the internet connection. Bandwidth is the actual measurement of data that is sent over your internet connection and across your network within a specific time frame. It is measured in megabits per seconds (Mbps). The more bandwidth your network has, the more tools and data can be used during the workday. Knowing and understanding your bandwidth limitations can be essential for the success of your company.

What do you need to know about your company’s bandwidth needs?

Firstly, and most importantly, you should have a reliable internet service provider, or ISP. Many times ISPs work well for residents and consumers. It is important to remember that businesses are not only consumers but they also need to serve their own clients as well. Therefore, companies need to know and understand the needs of their organization. Continue reading to learn about the factors to consider when shopping for an internet service provider and bandwidth. 

The more devices connected, the more is needed

The amount of devices that are connected to your network will affect the amount of bandwidth that you need. These devices will continue using the network connection to send and receive data throughout the work day with various internet based applications. You must also take into account the number of mobile devices as they can outnumber the amount of workstations and other important hardware. 

The more applications used, the more is required

Your company has various unique applications that are utilized throughout the work day as part of business operations. The particular needs of your organizations will determine how applications will be used. While some companies use mostly web browsers during daily operations, other businesses might use more intensive applications, particularly those that require communication solutions. Some of these include VoIP, video conferencing, streaming, and cloud computing. All of these communication solutions will use bandwidth; therefore, you need to take into account the amount of applications that will be used during the work day. Daily business operations greatly depend on the amount that you have. 

At AE Technology Group, we can help you identify and determine how much bandwidth your company might need. We can also inform you if your current internet service provider will be able to meet the needs of your business. For any questions or to learn more information, contact us today at (516) 536-5006. 

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Improve Engagement in Hybrid Environments

The modern workplace looks different as many roles have moved to remote work while others remain in the office. The hybrid work environment can be challenging when working through collaboration and participation, particularly in meetings. Creating a work environment that embraces equity is essential to ensure all workers can contribute and communicate equally. How do you ensure that your hybrid workforce, regardless of location, can participate equally? 

How to Improve Engagement and Participation in Hybrid Meetings 

Meetings in a hybrid work environment can be beneficial for several reasons. They provide a level of flexibility and can be recorded for future use and to recall meeting highlights when needed. While there are many benefits, challenges can arise that may stifle engagement and participation. Often meetings are dominated by those physically in meeting rooms, while remote workers can feel more like an audience. 

Inequity within a hybrid workplace can lead to workers feeling discouraged, morale lowered, and their well-being compromised. When worker morale is low, companies see an increase in turnover and lose key employees. Increasing engagement and participation requires the efforts of everyone on the team, from management, in-house workers, and remote workers. 

Actions for Remote Employees to Improve Engagement

  • Keep Camera Turned On – Having the camera on for all remote workers creates a more inviting interaction for all parties. With the camera on, workers feel seen and increases participation.
  • Encourage Engagement – You want to encourage engagement by directing the conversation, asking questions, and directing them to feel comfortable and engage as if they were in person. 
  • Do Individual Checks Meeting Software – Ensure your remote workers meeting software is working properly and that they can hear and speak without issue. Ensuring they have everything in working order helps motivate remote team members to participate. 

Actions for In-Person Employees to Improve Engagement 

  • Remember the Remote Experience – It’s important to remember that remote work and attending meetings has their own set of unique challenges. When a remote member has issues, in-house workers should show empathy and wait for the issue to resolve. 
  • Save Side Conversations for After the Meeting – Stay on task, focus on the meeting at hand, and avoid starting side conversations with in-person attendees to avoid making the remote team feel left out. 
  • Speak to the Camera as if it Were a Person – Make sure when engaging remote workers treat the camera as if they were in person. Make eye contact and use the same cues in a normal, empathetic conversation to encourage remote workers to get more involved.

Actions for Meeting Host 

  • Set Aside Speaking Time – As the meeting host, you must ensure everyone feels included. You should actively call on everyone equally or even set an agenda that includes roles and duties on the topic of discussion. 
  • Engaging Small Talk – At the beginning of the meeting, start with some controlled small talk to personalize the experience and start fun discussions that make everyone feel involved and help everyone get to know each other better. 

A good hybrid workforce that collaborates and communicates well requires a great IT team. AE Technology Group can help equip your employees with the tools they need to support any workplace strategy. Call us today at (516) 536-5006 to learn more about how we can help you with your technology needs. 

What is Digital Friction and How to Reduce It in the Workplace

Friction can present itself in many ways in your organization. With the transformation of many workplaces moving towards more digital collaboration, friction has become an increasing concern. Friction in the workplace can be harmful to everyone involved and negatively impact job performance and productivity.

Digital or workplace friction needs to be addressed by employers to create a successful environment where employees can thrive. Digital friction is an unnecessary effort exerted by employees while using technology for work that can reduce productivity. What causes digital friction and interpersonal friction, and what can be done to help resolve these issues to ensure the business continues to be productive? 

The Impact of Friction in the Workplace

Digital friction can have a negative impact on your employee’s workday. It is often caused by more tools and applications, multiple systems to find and store information, and more communication channels than needed. Too many systems and tools can overwhelm employees, hindering focus and productivity. 

Communication with coworkers should be a straightforward process, but when every coworker is engaged in conversations through chat channels that may not pertain to them directly, it can be a stressor, especially when they are trying to focus on a particular task. While digital tools were created to help teams communicate, connect, and collaborate more effectively, they create an environment of unnecessary stressors.

How to Ease Digital Friction in the Workplace

Streamlining is the simplest way to reduce the impacts of digital friction in the workplace. Reducing the number of tools needed can ease frustrations and create a more productive workplace. Review your tools, apps, and processes and determine which are the most efficient and can continue to add value to your team. Once your remove anything unnecessary, you reduce the friction your employees feel in their day-to-day.

Interpersonal Friction in the Remote or Hybrid Workplace

Interpersonal friction is another type of friction common in many workplaces, and with the increase of remote work, it has become more of a challenge to overcome. Interpersonal friction is the conflict between at least two people within a team or organization. These conflicts can occur from poor communication, differing perspectives, or interfering with goals. It’s a friction that can also easily go unaddressed as it’s hard to identify with working in remote locations, and management tends to want to wait to address situations in person.

This animosity team members can feel towards each other can impact their work, productivity, and focus and directly impact their success. In any situation regarding interpersonal friction, it’s important to manage it as soon as it has become observable. Be vigilant in spotting potential issues such as changes in tone or body language during team meetings, whether through conferencing software or through calls. Ensuring the team has great tools for communication, without overloading the number of tools, to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively can help eliminate interpersonal and digital friction. Many modern platforms offer diverse modes of communication to help best fit the team member and the project. 

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Healthcare Technology: Improving Privacy

It seems that the healthcare system is finally catching up with the rest of the world from a healthcare technology standpoint. Advancements in healthcare IT are aiding in stabilizing costs and increasing access to healthcare treatment. However, these innovations, while much needed, raise serious concerns about data privacy and cybersecurity. Today we’ll take a look at how exactly the healthcare system is advancing technologically, and what that means for your data privacy. 

Technological Improvements to Healthcare

While drastic improvements are being made to technology within homes and businesses, for many years it seemed that the healthcare system was stuck with the same outdated methods of doing things. Luckily, recent technological advances in Healthcare IT are bringing our antiquated healthcare system into the 21st century and making big improvements to its function and accessibility. 

Easier Access to Medication

One of the biggest holdups when it comes to medication delivery has always been gaining prior authorization, meaning patients cannot gain access to their medication without a prescription from their doctor and insurance approval. This process used to take days or longer to complete, but with the digitization of the prior authorization process, patients no longer have to wait this excruciating amount of time before starting their treatment. 

Smarter Medical Devices

Smart healthcare IT devices such as EMRs allow doctors, nurses, and patients to gain access to essential medical information faster than ever before. EMRs are electronic medical records, and they have completely changed how medical record keeping is done in doctor’s offices and hospitals. Not only does this make doctors’ appointments faster for the patient but allows healthcare workers information that may not have been available to them in the past. 

Better Emergency Strategies

The COVID-19 pandemic, while a tragedy, has taught the healthcare IT world a lot about the essential updates needed in the event of another global emergency. Healthcare organizations now use advanced databases and other online tools to get ahead of potential outbreaks of contagious diseases quicker and with more accuracy. 

How Does this Effect Data Privacy?

While all of this advancement is wonderful and has so many benefits for healthcare professionals and patients alike, It isn’t a perfect system yet. The more the healthcare system turns to technology for personal health information (PHI) storage and sharing, the greater the risk of cyberattack. This has been an inhibitor of advancement in Healthcare IT for many years, as cybercriminals are always on the hunt for an individual’s personal information, and nothing is more personal than PHI. 

Therefore, the more healthcare organizations and insurance companies focus on healthcare IT implementation through databases like EMRs, the more they’ll have to invest in cybersecurity. Since this is such a new issue, there are currently no regulations on the issue. There’s a push in the U.S. to have the Food and Drug Administration establish clear cybersecurity guidelines that organizations must meet to protect their patient’s information.

Have you noticed an increase or change in the use of technology at your recent doctor’s visits? Leave your thoughts in the comments! 

Visit our other blogs as we discuss how technology is evolving and what that means for businesses and society today. 

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