Workplace Safety: Online and Physical

Managing safety in the workplace — both in the office as well as online — is becoming a more complicated task by the day. Whether the concern is about hackers coming for your intellectual property, or process ownership during building maintenance, the security of your people is nothing to take for granted. Here are five things any company leader can do to make a greater effort in the name of safety.

Make Sure Everybody Understands What’Be Prepared’ Means

The impression that the world is unsafe and violent has only been amplified by popular media. We have, regrettably, let ourselves fall victim to a false narrative where our collective security is concerned. Nevertheless: it’s clear that when unfortunate events do occur in the world, they can happen just about anyplace.

What does “being prepared” look like for your workplace?If you ask different employees, will they tell you different things? Does everybody have a planned way out of the building or off your campus? It might sound too theoretical to justify spending time on it, but your company should have detailed contingency plans already drawn up for a variety of possible events — be it natural, as in extreme weather events, or something regrettably more man-made.

Perform Intermittent Online Security Audits

Since we’re talking about online and offline security, let’s talk about how business leaders can know, one way or another, whether their employees are practicing good security “hygiene” at work. There are two things you should be doing:

  1. Consider having an outside security company perform penetration testing for your company’s networks. They should be able to help you find any weak points that would-be criminals could exploit purposefully, or undisciplined employees could trigger accidentally.
  2. And when it comes to employees, have your IT team or that same third-party consultant perform or schedule fake phishing attempts for all of your company email addresses. Done correctly, the email will look like a plea for personal information, a reply, or for the user to click a link. Knowing how, and whether, your employees are interacting with emails like these, even fake ones,will tell you something about how at-risk your organization is.

Take Another Look at Your Building and the State of Its Maintenance

With the exception of companies that get started in attics,basements, and garages, most business visionaries take great pride in their immediate surroundings, including their business locations, their employees’accommodations and any environment in which a customer or client might find themselves.

We’re talking about two different things here. The first is curb appeal and “atmosphere.” Your workplace should present itself as a harmonious, well-considered space with tasteful and comfortable furnishings.Someplace employees can feel at home, in other words — since we know (workplaces with objectively pleasing aesthetics) tend to encourage creative free-thought,lower levels of aggression and heightened productivity overall.

But the second part of taking stock of your location and its amenities is a little more serious. It concerns the environment within your building, including its temperature during highs and lows and the quality of air your people are breathing all day. The phrase might sound alarmist, but”Sick Building Syndrome” is very real — and it generally results from poor air circulation in an environment already compromised by end-of-life HVAC systems, dirty duct work and noxious chemicals in furniture and building materials.

Implement BYOD Policies Responsibly

In another return to online safety, so-called “BYOD culture” is worth a look at as another potential threat vector in the well-being of your company and its employees. If the work you perform is conducive to it, you’ve likely already implemented, or plan to explore, BYOD policies. The benefits to company morale and productivity can be significant.When employees can do their work on familiar platforms and using hardware they’re comfortable with, it makes sense that they’d get more done.

The thing is, even if your workflows aren’t necessarily conducive to BYOD culture, your employees and guests might be bringing in smartwatches and other devices that aren’t as obvious. You might even have deployed these and other IoT devices yourself, as part of an internal wellness program. This itself can be a great influence on your organization’s collective health, and consequently your safety and productivity.

You’ve likely heard something about the several recent high-profile data breaches, including several, like Wanna Cry and Petya, which preyed specifically on unsecured and unsiloed IoT devices. Objects like these can be a boon in the workplace for many reasons, but the least you can do,safety-wise, is create a separate internal network for any connected devices you can’t vouch for 100 percent, including for employee BYOD programs as well as guests to your campus who might just want to use some free Wi-Fi.

Know Who’s Accountable and Have a Reporting Process in Place

This final point is a reminder about accountability in the workplace. We’re not talking about pointing fingers — we’re talking about”process ownership” and the idea that anything significant that requires doing deserves a specific appointed person to oversee it. If you do business in a climate where employee or customer safety depends on contacting snow removal companies quickly, you need a chain of command to get this and any other mission-critical safety or productivity concerns taken care of.

And that’s not all, either. When something unexpected happens, whether it’s an accident, damage to company property or infrastructure, bad-faith bookkeeping, or workplace harassment of some kind, your employees deserve some kind of accommodating, anonymizing reporting process for elevating their concerns to their managers or impartial third parties. They shouldn’t be left guessing who to talk to, or what to do if they’ve just been through something upsetting.

You’re going to find that your employees are only too happy to help you keep your company and its work areas safe and sound. But they need to know what’s expected of them and they need to know they have your ear when they have concerns of their own. As usual, it’s about communication.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

Communicate Using the Cloud for More Business

The cloud has made many aspects of business more efficient.

387d685As a result, cloud communications is one area that is growing at a fast rate and can enhance many organizations; companies will find numerous benefits in moving their communications to the cloud.

Managed System

As the following article looks at, what may be the biggest benefit for companies using cloud-based communications is the fact that they don’t have to manage them.

When they use a company that provides managed services, they don’t have to worry about monitoring the infrastructure or handling problems.

Business owners and managers can add or change services and features as the need arises. They don’t have to switch phone systems or hardware, leaving them free to focus on other aspects of the business.

More Flexibility

More companies are changing the way employees work while others are simply enhancing communications with employees who are out in the field.

In the past, an employee who was working away from the corporate office would have to wait to obtain information once he or she was back at the office.

Now, cloud connectivity allows that person to connect to the main office even when working on location or meeting with clients.

Organizations are no longer limited to working with employees who live in the same town and can come to the office to work every day.

They can hire from another state or even another country and still be connected as if the person were working in the office next door.

Enhanced Customer Image

Businesses look more professional when customers can call in on one number and reach someone regardless of where they are working.

Instead of handing out cell phone numbers to clients based on who they want to speak with, one phone number will reach the person. This becomes more important as companies move to the BYOD or bring your own device strategy.

Customers also feel more confident with a standard method of communication.

They will feel more assured that their concerns or issues will be handled promptly. In many cases, the staff member can resolve the problem immediately because he or she will have access to the customer’s file.

At the same time, the employee feels more secure because the customer only knows the company phone number.

Cost Effectiveness and Improved Quality

Cloud communications systems are less expensive than traditional phone systems.

This is especially true for companies that do business overseas. A low rate enables them to save money and work more efficiently.

Another benefit is that the quality of the communications is improved over other systems. Phone calls are not dropped or muffled as long as the business has a solid network connection.

Communications in the cloud has changed how companies do business. It enables them to be more effective and cost-efficient and provides a solid return on investment.

No matter what size company you have, you will find one or more of these benefits apply to you if you choose to move to a cloud-based phone system.

About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including business and technology.

BYOD in the 21st Century

Wondering what BYOD means or if your school is ready for it? In this 8-minute Pedagogical Quickie, I present some of the many advantages and limitations of this concept for education. Published by Marc-Andre Lalande @malalande