Tip of the Week: Ways to Improve Focus

While we all like to think we are paragons of productivity, the reality of the matter is that it’s far too easy to become distracted while trying to get work done. How do you stay focused when there are so many distractions out there? It all starts with controlling your environment and changing the way you approach these workplace distractions. 

Don’t Ignore Distractions 

If you ever try to ignore something that is bothering you, then you know that ignoring it doesn’t do much to help the issue. Let’s say that you are trying to write an email, but people are always visiting your office and distracting you from writing it. If you don’t address the issue–-in this case, people visiting your office–-then you can’t complete the task, or at the very least, the solution will be prolonged more than it needs to be. Now, if you close the door and ignore the distractions, then you might be able to get the task done in a timely manner. You can take this approach to many types of distractions; acknowledge that there is a problem and act to prevent it. 

Focus on Being Proactive 

When it comes to your day-to-day routine in the office, how much time do you spend responding to issues rather than actively working to prevent them? This is one of the biggest distractions out there. You might be too busy responding to various things that pop up throughout the day, preventing you from getting to your own tasks or whatever you have scheduled. Instead of reacting to others, take a proactive approach. Be intentional with how you spend your time and work to actively prevent problems from derailing your productivity. One big way you can minimize distractions is to keep your technology in proper working order through proactive maintenance. If you keep your computers up-to-date and maintained, then they will be less likely to create distractions for you when they break down entirely. 

Minimize Digital Distractions Whenever Possible 

Technology might be great for fulfilling your daily duties, but it can also be an unnecessary distraction. If you utilize services like social media, then you know how endless notifications can be, and that’s not to mention all of the emails, text messages, phone calls, and more that you might deal with on the regular. You can disable certain notifications during the workday to ensure that you can stay on-task while in the office. Better yet, separate yourself from your mobile device entirely or put up website blockers to keep yourself from wasting too much time on these websites or applications. 

 

It can be difficult to keep yourself away from distractions, but it doesn’t have to be. With AE Technology Group on your side, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle just about any technology-related distraction. To learn more about how we can help you stay on task throughout the workday, reach out to us at (516) 536-5006. 

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4 Steps to Make Cybersecurity Training Effective

Lecture and cybersecurity training in business office for white collar colleagues

Real cybersecurity preparedness is, like most things in a business, a team effort. Everyone needs to be aware of the best practices involved in cybersecurity. Naturally, this will involve training. In the interest of making sure this training is as effective as it needs to be, we’ve assembled a few best practices to keep in mind as you design a curriculum.

The Purpose of Cybersecurity Training: Awareness

That’s the really important benefit that any training needs to emphasize, but particularly any efforts you make to educate your team about cyber threats and dealing with them. They need to understand how prevalent threats really are, and how often small businesses are actually targeted (it’s often, by the way).

Of course, you want this training to be as effective as possible, so there are certain steps that you should take.

How to Effectively Train Your Team Members

Understand Where Your Employees Stand

In order to train your team members properly, you need to have an understanding of what they do, and critically what they don’t know about cybersecurity at the present. Are they aware of the risks that they face and how to spot them, and—most crucially—do they give these risks as much attention and respect as they should? You need to establish all of these benchmarks and see to it that they appreciate the severity of the risk.

Adjust Your Cybersecurity Training to Their Needs

Once you’re familiar with your team’s training requirements, you can better shape the training they undergo to better fit their existing strengths and shortcomings. Customizing the training that each of your team members receives is crucial as each of them will have a different perspective… and different weaknesses as a result. A one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t be effective amongst a team’s members.

Don’t Rely on Scaring Them

Likewise, while an approach based on fear can be effective in some situations, teaching your team about IT best practices is not one of them. While fear can occasionally help prevent a mistake from happening, it can just as (if not more) often lead to an employee trying to cover up a mistake and exposing your business to greater issues as a result. Try inspiring them by appealing to their confidence, reassuring them that they can be successful in their cybersecurity.

Train, Measure, and Repeat

Now, we reach the final part: measuring the impact that your training has had and running it again, trying to make it that much more effective each time. This will take some time, particularly as you account for different learning styles that your various employees will almost assuredly have. Once you’ve trained them up on the security precautions and processes that you expect them to follow, test them. By evaluating their preparedness on a semi-regular basis (so as not to become predictable), you will be able to more accurately identify where work needs to be done, and by whom.

We Can Assist You in Your Cybersecurity Training

Turn to AE Technology Group and our team of experts to improve—amongst other things—your team’s cybersecurity training. To enquire about this or any other of our managed IT services, give us a call at (516) 536-5006.

How Get the Most Out of Your POS System

hand working point of sale system at a store

Many small businesses that provide goods or services have a Point of Sale, or POS, as the primary workstation. As such, many of the business’ core processes run through it. These systems have a plethora of great features that are built right into them, and if you fail to take advantage of them, you could be wasting valuable time and resources.

The truth is that a POS system is not just a cash register; it is a central hub for the management of your business. Some of their more advanced options can fly under the average user’s radar, so let’s make sure you don’t miss out on taking advantage of them!

Choose the Right Terminal Structure

POS systems require terminals to work, and there are several different ways that these terminals can appear. You should choose the right one to fit your organization’s needs. Here are four ways you can implement a POS system:

In-store

Traditional on-premise POS systems are your typical systems. Basically, the business hosts the server at the location, and the POS system runs on local hardware. In-store POS systems are great for small businesses that don’t require anything too technical in the backend computing system. This type of POS system is common in retail and hospitality, and they have some higher costs in terms of hardware maintenance and management, but they are overall quite easy to use and secure.

Cloud-hosted

If you host your POS system in the cloud, you can reap the benefits of saving on capital costs. You also don’t have to worry about maintaining hardware, as the provider will likely be the one handling that responsibility. Cloud-hosted POS systems are generally quite affordable and reliable, as long as your Internet connection is stable. With most cloud systems, however, security can often be a sticking point, and you are out of luck if the Internet goes down for any number of reasons.

Mobile

Mobile POS systems use some type of external hardware connected to a tablet or smartphone. These can save businesses plenty of money, but there are downsides when it comes to maintaining the technology, as tablets and smartphones are prone to damage every so often compared to a register that just sits on the counter all day.

Kiosks

Self-service kiosks have really taken off in popularity as of late, as they reduce the need for customer interaction, saving time and money by freeing employees to perform other tasks. This has the downside of alienating customers who are not particularly tech-savvy, though, and customers might complain when they inevitably experience problems with the system.

Before you can choose the correct POS system for your business, you must first understand what the consumer needs. From a retail perspective, something with a barcode scanner integrated into it would be ideal, as well as a reliable printer. A restaurant, on the other hand, might need a scheduling program that can handle reservations. The same can be said for a hotel or salon, which might need booking systems. Therefore, we urge you to carefully consider what the best fit for your business’ customers is.

Understand POS features

While there might be many different POS systems to choose from, there are even more decisions to be made in terms of specific hardware and software. Other features you should consider include:

  • Inventory control
  • Payment processing
  • Return pricing
  • Labor management
  • Integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) capabilities including supply chain management
  • Reports and analysis

These features are some of the most common ones that provide high-efficiency gain for businesses when used with a POS system. With integrated ERP capabilities, companies can more effectively control the supply chain right from the POS system, taking inventory management to the next level. Out of all of the above, we think this has the possibility to make the biggest difference for businesses.

Let’s use a restaurant owner as an example. With a label maker, you can easily manage inventory by adding barcodes to products on your shelves. This helps staff know when it is time to order more products, and it is only possible in any easy capacity thanks to a POS system utilizing the above system.

POS systems can even handle the time management aspect of your business, including scheduling, reservations, employee time cards, and other needs. Thanks to cloud-hosted solutions, scheduling, and other employee information can easily be shared online so that businesses can ensure they are always staffed accordingly.

If you correctly utilize all of the features of your POS system, you might be surprised by how much control this gives you over aspects of your business that you might not have foreseen. You can even customize reports and analyze operational information, giving you the knowledge it needs to make informed decisions.

AE Technology Group can help your business implement the correct POS system for its needs. To learn more, reach out to us at (516) 536-5006.

How to Get Control of Your Email Inbox

Photo of computer screen up close showing email inbox with 179 unread emails

As you read this sentence, think about the current state of your email inbox. Is it clean and crisp with only a handful of new emails on a daily basis, or is it an entangled mess filled with hundreds (or even thousands) of unread and often unimportant emails? If it’s the latter, you’re in luck; we’ve got some tips to help you finally get a grip on your email inbox.

First, we need to start by controlling the level of emails that flow into your email inbox. Let’s discuss some of these methods.

Send Fewer Emails

This is a pretty simple rule; if you cut down on the number of emails you send, you should, in theory, cut down on the number of emails you receive. Generally speaking, email is meant to be used (and is most effective) for tasks that are not immediately pressing. While we understand that this isn’t always possible, even a little action on your part could make a world of difference. If you send one fewer email a day, you can potentially cut out at least one email in your inbox per day.

Depending on the topic, you might be able to use an instant messaging application or a phone in place of the email. These are generally more reserved for immediately pressing tasks rather than the passive nature of an email, but you do cut down on the chance that your email will be lost in the ether.

Unsubscribe from Email Lists

A business owner needs to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings in their chosen industry, and doing so might entail subscribing to email lists. These are automated lists that send you emails on a regular basis, and if you don’t keep up with them, it is easy to lose track of how many you have subscribed to. These quickly add up and can often drown out emails that actually are important.

A good rule to follow is that, if you have not opened an email newsletter from a particular organization or website in the past month, it’s safe to say that you are no longer interested in reading their content. Granted, some email newsletters are monthly, but if they are, they shouldn’t be clogging up your inbox. We’re talking about the real offenders that might send you several messages a week (or even a day). Many email newsletters have an Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the message, but you should be careful with these; the last thing you want is to walk into a phishing attack.

Archive Whenever Possible

The idea of deleting an important email can paralyze you with inaction. While you could organize your inbox into folders and other segments for management, even this can sometimes create situations where you start to accrue too many messages. The fact that you don’t know what will be important in the next couple of months or years is also a challenge, as you cannot possibly expect to predict the future.

An email archiving system that is backed up and maintained by your organization can resolve these issues. If you have important messages that you need to keep around, you can simply archive them in a system where they can be searched for and pulled out at a later date. Most cloud-based platforms like Office 365’s Outlook or Google Workspace’s Gmail give you this capability.

Schedule Time Every Day

If you are having trouble making a dent in your inbox, you just do whatever you would normally do for a large and daunting task: break it down into more manageable chunks and chip away at it over time. If you delete or archive more emails a day than you receive, you should theoretically be able to clean it up in a respectable amount of time. Devote a short amount of time each morning or afternoon to checking and managing your inbox. You might be surprised by how much this helps in the long run.

Implement Spam Protection and Technology Solutions

AE Technology Group can help your business manage its email and implement great new technology solutions that keep threatening or time-wasting messages out of your inbox. To learn more about how we can help you with spam and email management solutions, reach out to us at (516) 536-5006.

6 Cyber Security Tips for Remote Workers

cyber security tips

As we transition into the #WorkFromHome life, staying safe remains our top priority. Don’t forget to consider data security and cyber threats while working remote. Viruses of a different kind can throw a wrench in productivity and compromise core systems and information. Stay safe at home with these 6 Cyber Security Tips for Remote Workers.

Best Practices for The Best Remote Office Experience

Transitions are the perfect opportunity to review best practices and ensure your company is operating at maximum efficiency. Preventing cyber attacks begins with a thorough review of your organization’s security and compliance. 

Review employee password requirements and ensure your company is following the recommended security protocol to keep your sensitive information from slipping into the wrong hands. Protect your clients and your team by requiring two-factor authentication and passwords that consistent of a phrase or sentence with capitals, numbers, and special characters.

Ensure employees have logged out of all devices aside from their designated work computer. Be clear with your team that personal devices should not be used for work purposes. These devices are unsecured and may compromise integral security. This includes transferring files with confidential information between work and personal devices.

Support your crew with sufficient resources such as tablets, work phones, and laptops for on-the-go business instead. For easy data transfer, opt for convenient and secured Cloud storage solutions.

Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Portals, email, and CRM’s aren’t the only platforms that require strong security. Remote work should always be conducted via a secured Wi-Fi network. This ensures that sensitive information is not transmitted through compromised channels. For staff that are currently working from home, offer a DIY IT workshop to get them started. 

Change the router password to meet best practice standards and consider installing firmware updates and cracking down on encryption levels. 

Protect Privacy

Cyberspace is a dangerous realm. You never know who may be viewing your information and tracking your supposedly private IP address. From advertisers to phishing scams, accessing sensitive information and demographics is surprisingly easy.

Get your team outfitted with the protection of a virtual private network or VPN. A company wide VPN supports secured browsing by masking the IP address (or digital footprint) of each user. These helpful tools encrypt internet traffic, keeping company data protected and private information secured.

Check for Updates

Good anti-virus software is only as good as its last update. Think twice before hitting the “later” button on daily or weekly updates. Although keeping software and applications in top shape can seem like an extra annoyance in your busy day, these updates contain essential information and patches for vulnerabilities.

Firewalls, anti-malware, and anti-virus software are the most critical components to prioritize. These programs are constantly adapting to capture and quarantine new, evolving threats. Ensure an automatic update schedule has been enabled. Taking a few minutes to streamline applications will save you a lot of grief in the event of a cyber attack.

Don’t Be a Victim of Cyber Crooks

There’s no better time for a company refresher on the importance of cyber safety. Phishing scams are on the rise since the increase in remote workers. These devious cyber crooks typically operate by sending scam emails, calls, or texts in order to gain personal and financial information on their target. Make your team aware of recent scams and threats while keeping each member up to speed on what they can do to prevent a data breach.

A few SOP’s for remote work might include a cheatsheet of information you should never give out via phone, text, or email, as well as helpful tips on how to spot a phishing scheme.

Be Prepared

One positive element to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is that the current situation underscores the value of preparedness. Data loss can happen to anyone, whether by human error or cyber breach. Be sure your company is prepared with a backup plan in case the unexpected happens.

Investing in a robust Cloud storage system provides a sufficient backup in case of disaster. This simple solution is typically the most convenient and cost effective for small to mid-sized businesses. If all else fails, AETechnology Group has your back(up) with disaster recovery options for our Long Island and New York business clients.

Contact our experts today for all your remote work needs as we continue to empower businesses to prioritize safety alongside productivity.