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The Process of Building an Office Space

Business owners have many concerns to address in order to make their businesses successful. One of these concerns is that of space, and many businesses require buildings to be erected in order to house employees and operations. Erecting such a structure is an undertaking in its own right, and it takes a lot of resources and time. Here is a breakdown of the construction process in order to give you an idea of what the process entails.

Materials and Tools

Building a business’s office space requires materials, and those materials will vary in type and amount from project to project. Skyscrapers, for instance, are typically built using steel girders or concrete for support and typically feature a much higher percentage of window space than other types of building. On the other hand, smaller office buildings are often made in a method and using materials that are more in line with building a house. Brick and wood structures are more common for these purposes. Most buildings also require a sturdy foundation, which is usually made from concrete. However, a skyscraper will require an even sturdier foundation, in which case bedrock is used.

 

As you might imagine, building a large structure often requires similarly large tools that are more powerful than usual. While smaller tasks that can be performed with smaller, handheld tools have a place in erecting a structure, larger projects like this often require the use of tools like cranes. Cranes can be used to piece together the skeletal structure of a building more easily and safely than human hands. Tools like these are often rented instead of purchased, unless the company in question is a construction company. To find such a rental agreement, consider searching “crane rental Lafayette, Indiana,” for example, in order to find local options. The operation of cranes and similarly large tools requires additional training in order to use safely, both because of their size and the fact that they are often merged with a vehicle.

Safety Requirements

Construction is an infamously treacherous task, and safety is constantly top of mind as a result. Construction projects typically involve a variety of tools that can be as destructive as they are productive, and they need to be handled with care in order to avoid injuries. Likewise, there are often large teams working in tandem on construction sites, and that means that every member of the team needs to be aware of each other in order to avoid accidents. Construction site safety is legally mandated and enforced, but it also depends heavily on the training of the workers. Therefore, an ample training program is a crucial part of the construction process, especially for contract workers who may not ordinarily work within a larger team.

 

Commercial buildings need to meet certain safety requirements in order to house employees, and those requirements are an essential part of the process from the ground up. The aforementioned foundation needs to be solid and sturdy, for example, as a faulty foundation can result in the collapsing of a building. Likewise, a faulty roof can result in leaking, and water damage can wear down the building’s structural integrity over time; plumbing needs to be free of leaks for similar reasons. These safety requirements will need to be met in order for the building to pass an inspection before the building can be used commercially.

Time Frame

Building a structure can often take a staggering amount of time. Building a meager house can take many months, while skyscrapers can take multiple years to build. The amount of time it takes to build a structure can be estimated along multiple guidelines, such as the size of the building and the skill of the workers involved, for example, and that estimate can be used to plan the construction project in advance. The goal of this step is to ensure that the building is finished well before it is needed.

 

Erecting an office building, or any other kind of structure, inevitably requires the investment of time, resources, and money. Knowing the steps involved can give a greater appreciation for the work being done, and it can give you a more informed perspective of the costs of construction.

Publish Date: June 18, 2020 7:10 PM


4 Ways to Maintain an Office Space

Owning a business can be a challenge in many ways. One such challenge that faces business owners is the maintenance of the workspace itself. There are many factors that can render a workspace insufficient, and it is a priority for business owners to keep their place of business in tip top shape. Here are just a few factors you need to keep in mind in order to maintain your office space.

Pest Control

As much as humans are loath to admit it, there is no fool proof way to separate oneself or one’s space from the natural world. There are a number of ways in which this may have the occasional negative impact upon your office space, one of which is pests. Pests like mice, rats, termites, and more can take up residence in your office space under the wrong conditions, and they can create a chaotic and potentially unsafe environment. Therefore, pests need to be evacuated from your building if the problem arises, and this must be done professionally in order to ensure the process itself is safe for employees. If you're in Raleigh, NC for example, a business needs pest control, a quick Google search can provide you with local solutions to your pest problems.

Water Damage

Water damage is consistently a major problem as a result of a minor occurrence. Minor faults in buildings can allow rain to leak into the structure when it rains, and that can cause major structural damage over time if not taken care of. Repairing water damage can be costly, but leaks can often be spotted well before water damage takes effect. Therefore, one can easily prevent water damage by having the leak repaired once it makes itself apparent and spend less money on this minor repair. Water damage can also result from faulty plumbing, which can be harder to detect. However, the problem is no less serious. If anything seems out of sorts with your office’s plumbing, have it investigated by a plumber as soon as possible. While one may be hesitant to call a plumber on a hunch alone, the price pales in comparison to that of repairing water damage.

Dust and Mold

Dust is a fact of life, in a sense, as it continually builds up in any interior. However, dust must be cleaned. Not only is it preferable to work in a clean environment, but it is also necessary in order to avoid health and mechanical problems that dust can cause. The unregulated buildup of dust can clog up machinery, which is why air conditioners, for example, have removable filters. These filters protect the machine itself from this buildup by allowing it to be removed easily. Likewise, a lot of dust circulating a space can trigger existing respiratory problems and may even contribute to lung problems in the long run.

 

Mold, on the other hand, can technically be avoided entirely. However, mold is the result of mismanaged moisture, and as stated above water can surprise you. Mold is predominantly a problem in restrooms and other places in which running water is a feature. This is because water can splash unpredictably, meaning that is often not dried. Mold spores are essentially everywhere, but usually in quantities that are going to cause any problems. With excess moisture, however, mold can take root and grow to the point of producing enough spores to have an impact. Like dust, excess mold spores can be problematic to the respiratory system. However, as with water damage, extensive mold growth can be difficult to remove, so it is imperative that an effort is made to avoid the problem in the first place.

 

Maintaining an office space requires a lot of attention, because there are many forces of nature that oppose human structures, in a sense. Therefore, vigilance and know-how are required in order to keep a building in working order over a long period of time, and it takes frequent action to accomplish this feat. With this guide, you have a better idea of the problems you may face and how to reduce your risks.

Publish Date: June 16, 2020 1:54 AM


Using IOT Sim Cards For Call Center Businesses

The “Internet of Things” is a term that you’ve almost certainly heard before, but it’s potentially easy to miss the way in which this design philosophy is taking root around you. In fact, IoT technology is proving to be a major boon to just about every individual and organization, and it’s revolutionizing the way people live their lives and conduct business. An example of this is the IoT SIM card. Here are just a few of the many ways that IoT SIM cards can help you and your business.

IoT SIM Cards in Phones

Smartphones are already great examples of what IoT can do, as they offer a wide variety of additional functionality as a direct result of giving cell phones the power to connect to the internet, satellites, and the cloud. The presence of additional services like GPS, for example, have done much to elevate cell phones from a phone you can take with you to an all purpose multitool that can assist with everything from research to navigation on the fly. However, IoT is poised to further elevate the power of cell phones, among other devices, with the addition of a IoT SIM card.

 

IoT SIM cards offer a number of benefits that put it a step above traditional SIM cards that make the upgrade a no brainer. For starters, IoT SIM cards are built for longevity, which is always a good quality to strive for in the tech industry. IoT SIM cards also offer global coverage, a far cry from provider specific coverage granted by traditional business models. IoT SIMs can offer tremendous potential for a business like a call center that already depends on telephones. One advantage of this upgrade is the ability to provide SIMs with global coverage to agents that may be working remotely, and the increased durability can help when it comes to long distance shipping. The connected nature of IoT also provides the potential for automatic versions of traditionally manual tasks such as recording calls for quality assurance purposes and tracking call times.

IoT SIM Cards in Other Devices

The IoT design philosophy as a whole stands to gain major benefits from IoT SIM card technology. While we typically associate SIM cards with cell phones, they can have many more uses in the IoT landscape. Industrial strength IoT SIMs can help increase the power and and lower the maintenance costs of automated machinery, for instance. Factory equipment can be fitted with IoT SIMs to allow the machine to communicate directly with a database as a means of flexible programming, for starters, and that’s a two way street in which recording performance data can become completely automated. By virtue of upgrades to longevity, these SIMS will last much longer than traditional SIMs in an industrial environment, as well, making them much cheaper in the long run.

 

SIM cards are the primary means by which location services work in traditional smartphones, so it stands to reason that IoT SIMs can provide a similar tracking feature to IoT devices that become lost or stolen. However, IoT connectivity presents the possibility of automatically alerting law enforcement in the case of theft. Along similar lines, IoT Sim cards can also bolster the security of your business in multiple ways. One increasingly prominent method of doing so is using IoT technology in security cameras, as it eliminates the need for physical storage of the footage by supplanting it with cloud storage, and IoT cameras have even more untapped potential that could revolutionize law enforcement. Likewise, a retail business could implement IoT technology into electronic article surveillance infrastructure in order to automatically request police involvement for faster response times in case of theft.

 

The internet of things may have seemed at first to be something of a fad, but it’s clearly here to stay. After all, upgrading the devices people commonly use with additional features that improve or add to what said devices were already capable is obviously a great idea on paper, and it has proven successful many times. IoT SIM cards are poised to make the process of integrating IoT features more accessible, which stands to make the devices themselves and better and more accessible.

 

Publish Date: June 9, 2020 9:48 PM


Dress the Part and Put Your Best Foot Forward at Your New Job

When we start a new job, we hope to start off on the right foot. Making a good impression and showing that you are ready for whatever comes your way sends the signal that you were truly the right hire. Unknowingly, you may sabotage that signal if your appearance sends the signal that you don’t care. Make sure that you don’t fall into that camp and remind them that they hired the right person with these tips on dressing the part.

Shoes

Shoes can be a component of the dress code that people pay the least attention to but they are just as important as pants and tops. Matching your shoes to the level of professionalism at the office is key to your success, as this is an area where people often find themselves underdressed. The level of formality at your office should be reflected in your shoes. If your office leans toward flats, high heels and dress shoes, you certainly do not want to show up in old sneakers. Even for offices that are casual in their dress code, don’t look like a slacker with old, worn-out shoes. Instead opt for a fashionable pair of leather sneakers to show that you pay attention to the finest detail.

Wrinkles

Wrinkly clothing is a sure-fire way to show that you don’t care or that you pay little attention to detail. By not ironing your clothes that need to be ironed, you look like you rolled out of bed. While it is normal to have your clothes wrinkle a bit from your commute, these are often minimal. Don’t let wrinkles get in the way of presenting yourself as a professional. To avoid looking like you wore the outfit last night, consider taking a moment to iron your clothes or choosing wrinkle-free fabrics that you immediately remove from the dryer when done. This will ensure that you give the air of professionalism when you show up in the office looking fresh and clean.

Ill-Fitting Clothes

A lot of issues around ill-fitting clothes have been addressed when it comes to women wearing too tight or short of ensembles, but not enough attention has been brought to ill-fitting clothes that may sag or be too roomy. Many people will swing to the opposite side of the spectrum to ensure that their clothes aren’t snug or to hide areas of their body that they may be uncomfortable with; however, this can actually do you a disservice. By opting for clothing that doesn’t fit properly, this can signal a frumpy and unprepared look. Consider opting for a fitted suit or work clothing that fits securely without restricting or making you feel uncomfortable so that your colleagues will know you’re someone to be taken seriously.

Makeup

The use of makeup in the office has been thought to be a fickle thing. Makeup has been speculated to give women a leg up and be taken seriously in the office, but too much of it is counterproductive. It is important to understand the balance between professional makeup and too much. If you aren’t comfortable with makeup, opt for less than more and use it as a way to highlight your natural beauty. Showing up with a full face of dramatic makeup will be sure to backfire.

Fragrances

There is nothing worse than that person who you can smell from a mile away due to their scent use. The use of fragrances in the office is an easy mistake that people can make. You can become unaware of your own smells and nose blind to your own scent. Because of this, you may not be the best judge of the appropriate use of scents. Avoid being the person everyone gags around and use very little fragrance, if any when you start your job.

It can be very easy to go wrong in your wardrobe when embracing the dress code of a new job; however, this is a critical factor in your professionalism at the workplace. With a few tips and tricks, you can be sure to easily navigate your new office culture and be the person your team was thrilled that they hired.

Publish Date: June 7, 2020 12:03 AM


6 Effective Organization Tips For Your Business

It can sometimes seem nearly impossible to keep your business organized and running smoothly, particularly in the current climate of confusion and ever-changing rules and regulations. If you are having trouble staying productive at work, here are some tips that can help you and your employees to regain focus.

Organize Your Office Items

This may seem silly, but disorganization in your workspace can cause serious stress. Papers scattered everywhere, office supplies not properly organized, and old dishes from lunches past may seem harmless, but this clutter can fill your mind with unnecessary stimuli, causing your already limited productivity to come to a total halt. At the end of each workday, clean your office up so it is actually pleasant to walk into in the morning. In fact, 83% of small business owners believe that having an organized office is a vital part of their business.

Cleanse Your Data

If your computers and servers are full of unnecessary documents, it is time to do some data cleaning. Delete duplicate files for starters, and also delete anything that is old and no longer needed. If you need a deeper clean but lack the manpower to assess every bit of information on your servers, consider data cleaning or scrubbing software that will take an analytical look at your information and alert you to any inaccuracies and remove/fix them if necessary. This leaves no room for user error and is a great time saver for your technical staff.

Define Your Goals

Especially now, it is important to define your business goals and ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same endgame. If employees seem off track or confused about what they should be focusing on, give gentle, positive reminders. It may even be beneficial to have some virtual team-building exercises, like catch-up happy hours or quick meetings, particularly if some people have recently begun working remotely, just to check in and be sure that everyone is performing their duties successfully. You need to take the reins and guide people so you can meet your business goals, even though things are a bit different for everyone currently.

Make To-Do Lists

Once your goals are defined, create a list of all of your to-do items so nothing is forgotten. Arrange the list from most important to least important so you can tackle the most pressing tasks first. Once you have finished a task, cross it off and take a well-deserved break. There is little that is more satisfying than crossing items off of a list, so take pride in the times when you are able to do so and let them serve as motivation to keep plugging on.

Keep Up With Emails

It can be very easy to fall into the trap of opening emails and forgetting to respond, especially if you are one of those people whose inbox is constantly overflowing. The best solution is to respond to an email as soon as it is opened, if at all possible. This will keep you from building an overwhelming backlog of unanswered emails that continue to be ignored because you don't even know where to begin. Most importantly, responding to emails in a timely fashion will keep employees, customers, and partners happy!

Encourage Productive Use of Time

Productivity should not be confused with the idea of doing as much as you can in as little time as possible. This cyclical way of work is actually not very productive, as people tend to burn out quickly and jump from task to task, unable to focus on just one thing and leaving multiple tasks unfinished. Encourage "micro breaks," such as little walks around the building or snack time, so that employees can reset their brains and recharge their energy. 

A chaotic business is much more likely to fail than one that is able to stay organized. Follow these easy tips and you'll have a productive and happy team of employees. 

 

Publish Date: May 23, 2020 4:51 AM


3 Ways the Internet Gives Us More Control Over Our Work

“Money makes the world go ‘round” is an old adage, but it remains as relevant today as it ever was. The average person has to maintain a job in order to maintain the funds necessary for the things they want and need. However, the internet has opened a Pandora’s Box of sorts that has changed much of how the modern world functions, and making a living is no different. Online jobs offer a variety of jobs that, while unconventional, offer flexibility not only within the job itself, but also in the way a job affects your life. Here are some examples of online jobs that can give you more control over your finances.

MLM Companies

MLM stands for “multi-level marketing,” and it refers to a certain type of business that has actually been around for a while, but it has still been revolutionized by the internet. You would work for an MLM company as a freelancer, rather than as an employee, and this implies a few things. For starters, freelancers typically have less long term obligation to the company they work for. MLM jobs like LeVel’s Thrive Experience program operate by selling freelancers their product at a discounted rate that they then sell to interested parties for a profit. Since you invest in the supplies you’ll be selling, the company loses nothing if you abandon the job, so the reigns are much looser than traditional work.

Working for Commission

The internet, especially social media platforms, offers a chance for individuals to promote themselves and their skills, and that opens up a world of possibility for creative individuals. Artists have been able to use social media like Twitter and Instagram to leverage their artistic skill in order to make money. In order to make this “job” work, you’ll need to compensate for the lack of infrastructure that a job would normally provide. This means that you’ll need to develop a following in order to find clients, and you’ll need to develop, and share, a portfolio that showcases your talents. You’ll also need to find the right price points for both your skill level and your reputation, or lack thereof, or you’ll risk losing interested parties. You will also need to be patient in order to make this work, as clients may not be effective at communicating their wishes, which can make the process more laborious than it needs to be. There is also a chance that a given client simply won’t pay you, which can be a huge waste of your time and energy.

Content Creation

Content creators have won the day, as far as internet enabled jobs go. This is the dream job of the digital age, so much so that is often deemed to not be a “real job,” despite often being much more work than a typical example of a real job. As such, it is worth noting up front that success in this arena is hard won, and you should never count on it working until it has already proven successful for you. Like making art on commission, you’re going to have to grow an audience before anything financial can come from content creation. You’re going to need equipment, as well, which can end up being very costly. It is advised that you use inferior equipment early on so you don’t break the bank on what is ultimately a gamble. However, if you treat content creation as a hobby and continue to work a more secure job, you may be able to make it work for you. In order for this path to pay off, you’re going to need to find a unique pitch, or you’ll just blend into the crowd. A low barrier to entry means that your first idea will have been the first idea of someone who got their first.

Everyone needs to work to get by, but if you play your cards right, work doesn’t have to be the necessary evil it can often be. The internet provides us with more options and more control over the work that we do. With these examples in mind, you’re ready to find the job that fits your desires and your lifestyle.

 

Publish Date: May 19, 2020 8:01 PM


5 Reasons a Realtor Should Drive a Luxury Vehicle

You don’t often see a real estate agent driving an old beat-up car that’s a mess inside, with fast food bags and file folders scattered everywhere. Most realtors drive a late model sedan or SUV that sees the inside of a car wash and a detail shop on a regular basis. A significant number of agents drive luxury cars with all the bells and whistles, including buttery soft leather interior and the most advanced GPS system. Some even have a cooler for bottled water. It’s not just about ego or showing the world how successful you are, at least not entirely. There are some very practical reasons for it.

  1.     Mobile Office

The introduction of the cellular phone has allowed more people to conduct business outside of their brick and mortar offices. Add the laptops, tablets and other portable devices, and you can text a photo, email a video clip, fax documents or participate in a videoconference from wherever you are. For a real estate agent, much of the work you used to do from your office can easily be done from the comfort of your car between appointments with clients. Since most agents spend a significant amount of time driving, it makes sense that their automobiles should be as comfortable as possible. When you finish a showing at 4:55 and end up in bumper-to-bumper traffic with everyone else who is trying to get home from work, it’s nice to have a good stereo system and hands-free phone capability. With as much time as you spend in your mobile office, and how much of your business takes place there, you owe it to yourself to invest in a luxury vehicle.

  1.     First Impressions

It’s true that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Since buying a house may be the largest investment some people ever make, they need to trust that you know what you’re doing. You want to show your clients you’ve been at this a long time and have done it well enough to be able to afford such a nice car. And if you’re fastidious about the way you take care of your luxury vehicle, clients may assume you will bring the same level of care to finding them the perfect house, negotiating the best deal and providing flawless documents to ensure a smooth closing process. Whether you’re representing the buyer or the seller, it’s important that they trust you and have confidence in your abilities, as this is often a stressful and sometimes even highly emotional time for your client.

  1.     Business Expenses

When you use your personal car for business purposes, a portion of your auto expenses may be tax deductible. Auto loan rates are low right now, and if you finance your car, the interest on your auto loan may be one of those deductible expenses. For example, if you drive your car for business purposes 50% of the time, then half the interest may be deductible. Your tax advisor can answer questions regarding your specific situation. There are two methods you can use to calculate the amount of your deduction. You can either use actual expenses, which means keeping receipts and a detailed record of what you spent for the year or using the IRS standard mileage rate. If you use the standard rate, you must keep track of your business mileage and total mileage for the year. Ask a tax professional for details or visit Irs.gov.

  1.     Shuttling Clients

Most of the time your clients will meet you at the property for a showing. However, when a client is new in town, rather than asking them to find their way around on their own, you will probably offer to shuttle them from property to property in your car. If you’re showing properties to a couple or a family and you have a compact car, someone will end up riding around in the cramped back seat for what will seem to them like a very long time. Think of how much happier your client will be if they can ride in comfort in the backseat of a spacious, elegant, and immaculate car.

  1.     Showing Success

Yes, driving a luxury vehicle does give the impression of financial success. It says that you’ve worked very hard, probably missed a lot of family dinners and worked on weekends and holidays in addition to the normal work week. Given all that sacrifice, you deserve to spend your time on the road in comfort and style. However, you may not want to drive a car that costs more than your client makes in three or four years. You don’t want to give your client the impression that you’ve already made more than enough money, and your continued success is not contingent upon whether or not they buy a house from you. If you can afford an expensive Italian sports car, more power to you! But since it would be very impractical for passengers, perhaps it would be best to drive that car in your off hours, unless you’re selling mansions in Beverly Hills. In that case, you’d fit right in.

 There are many reasons to believe that a real estate agent will benefit by driving a luxury car. Making a good impression on clients is important and chauffeuring them around town in style is one way to provide a positive client experience. It’s also important to know who your typical client is. Show them that you are successful because you’re good at what you do. But avoid giving the impression that you are so successful you no longer care about serving the average client. Know your demographic and choose your vehicle accordingly. It’s also important to drive a car that is reliable and fuel efficient. You certainly don’t want to have a mechanical failure when you have clients in the car. More important than what you drive, however, is the way you treat people. Behave with integrity, be trustworthy and respectful, and you’ll be able to drive anything you want.

 

 

 

 

Publish Date: April 23, 2020 8:27 PM


How to Achieve Financial Security

Financial security is important for a satisfying life with a feeling of safety. Being financially secure provides a safety net for the bad times, and allows you to live life as you want to.

Building up a healthy financial base can allow you to rest easy that you and your family's needs will be taken care of. There are several ways to go about creating a financially stable life, here are just a few tips. 

Budget

In order to achieve financial security, you want to create a budget. Be aware of where your money goes and limit any expenditures that are unnecessary. Take a look at places where you are spending more than you need. Perhaps you could make some cuts to optional entertainment costs or eliminate subscriptions or memberships that you no longer use. 

Save

Saving money is absolutely necessary for good financial health. You need to have a plan in place and accumulate a balance to draw upon in case of an emergency or to make a large purchase. 

You also need to set aside some money each month for retirement. The sooner you begin to save, the easier it will be to accumulate the amount that you need. If you put off saving this money until later in life, you will need to budget more of your paycheck for your retirement savings.

Purchase Life Insurance

One good way to build financial security is by purchasing a whole life insurance policy. A whole life insurance policy allows you to access the cash value built up in the policy in some cases. The idea of using a life insurance policy as a financial safety net is taken from the Infinite Banking Concept. This concept means that if you fund a dividend paying life insurance policy, then you will have access to funds that you can rely upon in the event of an emergency. 

Keep in mind that the death benefit of a whole life insurance policy will be reduced if you use the cash value in advance. You can pay more into the policy at a later date to make up for this. Make sure you do your research and determine which type of policy is best for you. 

The infinite banking concept is a good idea because it allows you to essentially borrow money from yourself instead of taking out a loan with a bank that could have high interest rates.

Consolidate or Refinance

If you have a lot of debt such as student loans or credit card balances, you could consider consolidating this debt. Consolidation means that you would take out a new loan from one entity to cover the cost of all of your combined debt from all different creditors, usually at a much lower interest rate. You use the consolidation loan to pay off the higher interest creditors. 

Consolidating your debt can make it easier to manage your money since you will be paying one single payment towards the consolidation loan each month, instead of many creditors.

You can also consider refinancing your home to see if you can get a better interest rate. Work with your bank to see what is available and what you would qualify for. A lower rate will save you money going forward. 

Invest

Investing some money in stocks or other assets is another way to build financial security. The money that you use for these ventures should not be money that you need to use for your day-to-day living expenses. You should only use extra money that you won't be needing in the short term since you won't be getting it back for some time if you truly want to benefit. Stocks can be bought and sold, with the money reinvested as new opportunities and information arise.

You could also work to accumulate assets to build wealth. For example, if you have a second home, you could consider renting it out for additional income. There are many ways that you can build-up your finances. The sooner you begin, the better off you will be and the more secure your financial future will look.

Publish Date: April 23, 2020 3:34 AM


How AI Can Increase Your Security

How AI Can Increase Your Security

One of the fastest growing technologies is Artificial Intelligence, or AI, and it is being applied to everything from household management to cybersecurity. This technology has the capability to react to data more quickly than a human can, bringing suggestions and solutions to the problem before you realize that there is one. While AI is widely accepted in business as a marketing tool, cybersecurity professionals are slower to integrate this tech into their processes and potentially miss out on potential benefits.

 The Definition

So, what is artificial intelligence, exactly? In popular fiction, AI is an intelligent machine that replaces humans and is usually portrayed as the bad guy in movies and books. This type of hyper-intelligent machine is outside of current reality and integrating it into your security department will not replace the whole team. AI is not exactly machine learning either, though the terms are often used interchangeably. Artificial intelligence is a machine which can understand data and respond to it. Knowledge and action are the defining characteristics of this technology, both of which are necessary in your security plans.

The Uses

Currently, AI is being used to help monitor systems and stop cyberattacks as they happen. Since the technology can use knowledge and action at computer speeds, many malicious actions can be blocked before your IT or cyber security teams know that there is a problem. Phishing schemes are increasingly popular and one way that AI can increase your security. Because the system has the knowledge of how these schemes are built, and can learn more about them with each attack, the AI can block the emails, track them and identify fake or malicious websites.

The Benefits

Artificial Intelligence can help you design and streamline processes and policies to improve overall security, protect passwords and provide verification, to just list some benefits of using this technology. Integrating AI can save your IT department time on routine tasks, freeing your professionals up for other things and saving you the cost of hiring more people. Using this technology to monitor your systems, you can better spot when a hardware, software or personnel component is acting unusually. This can help you replace faulty hardware before it fails, spot hackers using your login information and update software on schedule.

The Risks

There are some risks involved in using this technology, however, so it is a good idea to keep those in mind before you start integration. The first one is a big monetary investment; some companies will not have the capital needed to integrate AI into their systems or to get the resources necessary to train the tech for security. IT departments will need to get data sets of codes, malicious or not, as well as anomalies to train the AI, and a significant increase in computing power.

The biggest risk for businesses regarding Artificial Intelligence, however, is the fact that hackers can use their own AI to run malicious attacks in bulk against your system. This lets the hacker learn from each attack at cyber speeds and increases the chances of success.

The Solutions

The best solution to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of Artificial Intelligence in cybersecurity is to have a security plan that works well on its own and then add AI to it. This will give you a robust security team monitoring your firewalls and other features with Artificial Intelligence as a backup or tool that they can use as needed. When you are attacked by a hacker using this technology, having an AI of your own to throw at the problem can help track the assault to the source, block the bulk attacks and learn more about how malicious actors operate.

Artificial Intelligence in cybersecurity is both a valuable tool and a potential threat. The sooner you can integrate your already robust security plans with AI, the more prepared you will be to face potential threats because your tech will have more time to learn about and counter the attacks. You can use this technology to streamline many of your processes and even to help you write new ones to save money while increasing security.

Publish Date: April 19, 2020 12:38 AM


7 Technologies that Are Changing Homes

Technology has come a long way in just a few years. You likely have some rather advanced technology already at your fingertips such as a smartphone or tablet. The goal of many of these devices is to make lives easier. To help achieve this goal, home technologies are on the rise. From smart thermostats to personal assistants (and much more), technology is changing homes all across the country and around the world.

Smart Thermostats

Your thermostat is the control center for your HVAC. It used to be that you would have to manually adjust the knob every time you wanted to raise or lower the temperature. Programmable thermostats have replaced older styles, enabling homeowners the power to set heating and cooling schedules. Smart thermostats take that power one step further by enabling you to alter the temperature of your home from anywhere.

Lighting Control

You no longer need to get up from your seat to turn the lights on or off. With the right set-up in your home, you can control your lights from your smartphone, automated system, or touchscreen panel. You can even program your lights to turn on or off during certain times of the day, which can be incredibly helpful when you’re away on vacation. By controlling your lights while you’re away, you can make it appear as though someone’s home, even when you’re not.

Smart Toilets

Smart toilets have many amazing features. Some have automated flushing or deodorizing systems. Others have heated seats, which are particularly beneficial in the cold winter months. There are even toilets in Japan that perform a urinalysis, letting you know if you have diabetes, are at risk for diabetes, or pregnant. By alerting you to issues you might not know about, you can more quickly get the medical care you need to maintain your health.

Personal Assistants

Personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home can do all sorts of useful things. They can let you know that packages have arrived. You can use the assistant to make a list, order something, or simply play some music. You can also use your assistant as a hub to control all of your other home technology. Speaking to your assistant, you can turn on lights, arm your alarm system, and so much more.

Solar Panels

More and more homeowners are looking for ways to go green or reduce their energy bills. One way to do that is by installing solar panels. The panels collect sunlight (which is 100% clean, renewable, and free) and convert it into energy that can then be used to power your home. If you’re thinking about switching to an alternative energy source, a solar quote can give you an idea of how much the project will cost.

Cleaning Robots

Cleaning robots like Roomba, iRobot, and Neato have been around for a while now. These little autonomous robots go around your home, cleaning it for you. While these robots can’t clean crayon off the walls or scrub bathroom tile, they are very helpful for keeping up with little daily messes like dust, dirt, pet hair, and the like. Some companies are working on other types of robots that can do more than just vacuum. While they aren’t available yet, it won’t be long before we have robots that can pick up items or help tidy other messes.

Smart Appliances

You can find many home appliances these days with touchscreens and sensors. Some are even internet ready and have apps associated with them that allow you to control them from your phone.

Some home appliances have gotten even smarter. You can use your phone to look inside your refrigerator to see exactly what you have when you’re at the store. Or, you can warm up your oven before you get home so that it’s ready to start cooking as soon as you walk through the door.

Numerous technological developments have changed the lives of individuals all around the globe. Technology for homes is helping to make life easier, increasing home values, and saving homeowners money.

Publish Date: April 16, 2020 4:05 AM


5 Tips for Streamlining Your Business in 2020 and Beyond

Customers want communication from businesses nearly instantaneously. Employees need to have good morale to be productive and be happy in their jobs. Today's fast-paced business world simply doesn't have time for slow, outdated organization methods. These software trends and productivity trends are essential in 2020 and beyond if you hope to have a thriving company.

 

1. Automate the Mundane Tasks

Automating tasks you do regularly saves time and money. Instead of paying someone (or doing it yourself) to perform repetitive tasks, the computer system does it for you. This frees up you and your employees to take on more important work. Automation software can do everything from auto-respond to emails or instant messages or post on your social media, to send payment reminders, set appointments, and much more. You set up the process once, and the software does everything else. Simply check the software once or twice a month to ensure everything is running smoothly.

 

2. Upgrade Your Software

Purchasing software for an entire company is often expensive, so it's no wonder you want to keep using the same version for as long as possible. The problem is that your effort to save money could actually be costing it. Outdated software means your employees lack key features that could help them work more efficiently and provide better customer service in the process. Human resources tools, customer relationship management software, and employee tracking programs are all vital for a streamlined business. The upfront investment may be more than you'd like, but business experts agree that it will pay for itself quickly.

 

3. Ask Your Employees What They Want

If you're a solopreneur or only have one or two employees, you probably have a good idea of what your company needs to streamline. However, larger businesses may be a little out of touch with what would make an employee feel more productive. The best thing you can do is to ask them what they want. If you have an open-door policy (you should!), have a one-on-one chat with each of your employees and ask them what would make their job easier or help them to be more productive. If you don't have an open-door policy, create one, and send out an anonymous survey in the meantime. You'd be surprised at what your employees need that you may have never considered.

 

4. Use Tracking Software

How much of your day do you spend looking at your calendar, rifling through emails to find the important ones, entering tracking numbers for packages from your vendors, or simply looking up information? Probably too much, right? This is why you need tracking software. Applications are available for a variety of situations. Use one to track your employees' hours, wage, paydays, benefits, and productivity. Use another to remind you of appointments or let you know when your vendors are due to arrive. You can even find applications for less-considered needs, such as tracking how much time you're wasting on Facebook during your working hours, or keeping tabs on the patent status for your new invention. Even if you have an idea for something you don't think is trackable, be sure to Google for solutions. You might be surprised at the options you come up with!

 

5. Put Your Company on the Cloud

More than 90% of businesses already use the cloud, so what are you waiting for? When your business goes paperless, you show your clients that you care about the environment, not to mention make your own job easier. Cloud storage allows your employees to access everything they need at once, whether they are at the office, at home, or on the go. Updates are shown in real time, which provides more opportunities for collaboration. Even better, if you lose an important hard drive, you don't need to worry. The information will still be on the Cloud. You can use it for everything from managing files and sharing spreadsheets to tracking expenses and time.

 

Don't let being set in your old-fashioned business ways lead to the demise of your company over time. Be proactive now. Implement the digital technology your company needs to appeal to today's market and watch as your business starts thriving again.

 

 

Publish Date: April 14, 2020 5:34 AM


Important Skills Call Center Employees Need

Being a call center employee requires specific skills in order to obtain and hold on to a successful career. Developing a strong understanding of how to enhance these skills to deal with various types of personalities will help you become more productive, work effectively, and save time and efficiency to provide quality service to your company’s customers. Collectively, these valuable skills will sharpen your ability to be a valuable employee in any call center.

Communicating Effectively and Skillfully

Call center employees spend the majority of their time speaking to individuals over the telephone, so being able to speak clearly and efficiently is at the very core of doing this job well. Communicating clearly and concisely without being redundant will save time and energy, and will help to improve the overall productivity of each and every call center employee.

Empathizing With the Caller

Listening to the clients’ requests and/or complaints, and being able to understand frustrations and exact purposes of specific needs are essential to providing quality customer service in any call center. Having sincere empathy and compassion requires good listening skills which will increase the ability to understand a caller’s perspective about product or company matters and will promote the best possible outcome for employee and client relations.

Knowing the Company’s Mission

It is imperative that call center agents be trained on the specific logistics of the company’s services and/or products in order to understand their daily mission, and to thoroughly provide quality customer service on a regular basis. Having a strong working knowledge of the company will help build loyalty and integrity between the company, the agent, and the client.

Being Gracefully Adaptable

A flexible personality will help to reduce the stress of working in a call center. Being calm and confident under pressure and being able to adapt to dealing with varying types of personalities will ease the burden of a difficult work day and show a good representation of the company. The call center agent may benefit from negotiation training to better help develop adaptability when assisting customers over the phone.

Showing Strong Organization Skills

Being organized from the very first interview, to the very first day and onward shows initiation, and employers and customers will recognize this valuable skill. It is also helpful to know how to mentally compartmentalize your daily tasks, and also keep your workspace organized in order to maintain intellectual acuity on a daily basis. Possessing strong attention to detail in an organized manner will increase alertness and ability to assist in any customer call.

Maintaining a Patient and Positive Attitude

At times there will be unsatisfied clients who will want to discuss in detail their frustrations and each specific account that may have led up to the current problem or situation. And that’s okay, because by patiently and thoroughly listening to them, you’re putting the customer’s best interest first. Being able to pause and allow the client to explain their situation and then offering a positive solution will help to ease their frustration, create a middle ground, and hopefully positively influence the client to be a returning customer.  

Working in a Timely Manner

Using your time wisely is crucial to completing a highly productive day. Knowing how to efficiently answer questions and complete customer service related issues effectively will help save you and the company time and money. But also using good “timing” when talking with a customer is a valuable skill. You never want to interrupt a client and ask questions that may be out of context.

By learning each skill and developing a strong application of each skill will help to launch call center employees to higher level work value. Practicing each tactic in a call center work day, and everyday life, will promote a productive work day, build a strong bond with their company and fellow employees and improve the skill set of each call center employee.

 

 

 

Publish Date: April 12, 2020 5:41 AM


Tips For Keeping a Clean and Organized Workplace

Keeping your workspace clean and organized may seem like a daunting job, but if efficiency is a priority for you, then it’s worth it to take the time to get your desk or office organized. Having a clean desk makes you look more productive. Knowing where everything is makes you more productive.

Deep Clean

To really do the job right, you need to get back to your original workspace and give it a deep cleaning. Clear off your desk (even if at this point, everything is going into a box) and thoroughly clean the surface with a disinfectant spray. This will get rid of dust and any lingering germs. Use this opportunity to clean the computer keyboard, phone, draw pulls and other high-touch surfaces. Repeat the procedure until all the desk drawers and shelves are cleaned. Next consider deep cleaning the flooring and furniture. You can search for upholstery or carpet cleaning near me or use a mop and sanitizing solution if you have tile. Once everything is cleaned completely, put a weekly reminder on your phone for a weekly wipe down of all heavily used items and spaces.

Create Space

If most of the work you do is on the computer, your computer is likely at the center of your desk. Reserve sacred space to the right of your keyboard (if you’re right-handed) for whatever else you need related to what you are working on. When you finish with that task, immediately remove those papers or files to another area, keeping that little square of real estate dedicated to whatever is the task at hand. Don’t pile papers here, and don’t put your coffee cup here. Keep the one-foot square space for current work only. Commit to keeping this area uncluttered.

Create additional space by moving all technology that you can off your desk. If possible, move hard drives to the floor under the desk or to an adjacent filing cabinet or table. Do the same for modems or routers or large desk phones that are not used often.

Simplify Your System

Instead of stacking tray upon tray to handle every possible configuration of work, simplify your system to two main categories: to do, to do something else with. The “to do” should contain individual folders or neatly binder-clipped documents that need work done on them. Once the work is done, the papers get shifted to the “something else” basket. This pile contains a neatly labeled stack of work that needs anything else done to it. If your boss needs to sign it, put a tab on it with that information and put it in that tray. If it needs to be mailed somewhere, do the same. If papers need to be filed, ditto. When you get to work each morning, spend 10-20 minutes working through the “something else” basket. File what needs to be filed. Send the reminder “papers are ready to be signed” email to your boss.  Walk the documents down to the mailroom. Once you have worked through as much of this basket as you can in the allotted time, return your focus to your “to do” tray.

Neatness Counts

You may love pens and sticky notes, but how many do you need on your desk at one time? Round up everything but your very favorite office supplies (like the pen you dig into your desk drawer to find even though there are three others right in front of you), bundle them together with a rubber band, and put them in a bottom drawer. If for some reason, you need an additional pen, you’ll know right where there are, but extra pens won’t be rolling across your desk. Tidy up your cords and cables so they are out of your workspace. Keep a trash and recycling bin handy so that you can clean up in real time. Give your desk a once-over before you leave and reset everything for the next day.

Decluttering, cleaning and organizing your workspace can save you time and mental energy each day. Take control of your desk for your own wellbeing. You will probably find yourself better able to tackle work problems more efficiently. 

 

Publish Date: April 7, 2020 8:13 PM


Tips For Entering the Business World Right Out of College

The thrill of graduating from college is, up to that point of graduation, the peak of many graduates' lives. But what many recent grads soon realize after taking in their final weekend on campus is that life after their years on campus is slightly more difficult and has a lot more that you have to figure out. The challenges of adjusting from college life to the business world are many. Welcome to a world with no meal plan, expensive apartments and the need to find a stable job or thing to do. When you enter the business world right out of college, the culture change and pace of your days can be quite a shock to the system. Here are some tips for entering the business world right out of college.

Keep Your Work Habits

When you were in college, odds are you made some kind of itinerary or to-do list each week with all of your assignments. For finding success in the business world, try to keep those same work habits each week. Life in the office will consist of many different tasks assigned to you throughout each day, never mind each week. In order to find success right off the bat, you're going to need to maintain solid organizational skills. One line of faulty logic some new professionals use is that in college, you are juggling multiple classes at once, unlike the business world, where you are simply doing one line of work all week. This type of thinking negates the fact that there are all kinds of facets of a business job that you have to juggle each day. Maintaining the mentality that there are multiple tasks going on at all time that create a necessity for efficiency is the best way to think about your work in the business world. It'll pay dividends.

Take Mental Breaks

Coming from college, it can be easy to go into your job in the business world with a head full of steam trying to move up the corporate ladder as quickly as possible. Plus, with less structure in your day, it can seem like you can just work endlessly through every meal from the moment you wake up the moment you fall asleep. This line of thinking risks burnout. Your career in business will most likely be upwards of almost 50 years. When you think about your work habits over that long of a period of time, think about how going all out and losing sleep right at the beginning of your time in the working world could compromise your sharpness and effort levels over the course of your career. Your mental health and physical health should both remain priorities for you in addition to your job in your first year in the business world. Prioritize taking breaks when you feel like you've done a good job at work for the day. Mental and physical breaks will only give you more energy to put in a better, more focused effort when you are working.

Find Joy

The business world can sometimes seem soulless after years on an energetic college campus. In order to maintain your sanity and keep you excited to go to work each day, try to find the joy in going to work or to your gap year program like the joy you found in college. Whether that comes from your friends in your new city or the projects you are working on, finding joy in the business world will keep you energetic and ready to take on any challenge that comes across your desk.

Keeping your work habits, taking mental breaks and finding joy in the working world are three ways that you can make your transition from college to the business world as smooth as possible. It may seem like a rough transition at first, but with the right attitude, you can embrace it for the better and thrive.

Publish Date: April 3, 2020 6:34 PM


2 Big Ways to Learn More About Your Customers

The old adage says that "the customer is always right." This is all fine and good, of course, but wouldn't it be helpful to know what the customer really wants instead of just blindly agreeing with them? In order to best serve your customers, you need to go above and beyond satiating their current needs. Simply answering their questions in the moment is good, but not great service. To perform great customer service, you need to know their backgrounds, their industries and potential questions that they might have in the future. In order to reach this goal of great service, you will need to get to know your customers on a deeper level than you do now. Here are the two most useful ways to do so.

Send Out Customer Surveys

One way to get to know your customers is by going directly to them yourself. You can perform this by sending out customer surveys. While you may not get the majority of your customers to fill out these surveys, they can be avenues for authentic feedback coming straight from your customers themselves. Surveys can be sent out through your webpage, email or any other channels that you use to communicate with your customers.

These surveys can include questions that highlight multiple aspects of your business. To start, try asking the customer how often they use your product or service. Right off the bat, this question can be used to find out how essential your business is to this customer, as how often they use it is typically an indication of how much they rely on it to perform their job. Then, try asking how effectively your product or service helps the customer accomplish their business goals. The customer's answer to this question will tell you how your product or service is performing its most important functions: helping your customer's business interests through getting them to their goals as efficiently and effectively as possible. A third question to ask on these surveys is what aspects of your product or service your customer would most want to improve. This will highlight your business's shortcomings as well as let you in on what the biggest needs of your customer are.

Surveys are powerful tools for you to get to know what your customers know your product or service as, how it works for them currently, and how it can improve for them. In turn, the answers your customers provide to these survey questions show you what they focus on most in operating their businesses and using your product or service.

Use CRM Software

The second big way to get to know your customers is through the use of CRM software, which stands for customer relationship management software. CRM software is primarily used to track the stages of the relationship between your business and the customer. This relationship starts from the emails you first exchange to long after a deal is closed and you are helping your customer with their products and services. Looking at helpful CRM examples shows that CRM software goes a long way in how you can earn the trust of your customers. Once you do earn this trust, it can lead to customer loyalty, recommendations of your services and more money spent on your business among many other benefits.

Using CRM software to get to know your customers better also helps your sales team in the process leading up to getting a deal done. The sales team is the primary liaison for your company when you are in talks with a potential customer, so you'll want them to be in the know as possible about what that customer's priorities are. With CRM software, salespeople have the ability to see what type of product or service the potential customer is looking for, what their biggest needs are, how much they typically spend and how much money they are currently making. Being able to see these metrics helps you reach out to customers with realistic offers for your services and makes the entire sales process more personal and efficient. 

Customer surveys and CRM software are the two most useful ways to get to know your customers. When you know what your customers want out of your product or service, it will only help you evolve into providing the best user experience possible. Getting to know your customers is essential to running a successful business, and the tools that you are able to use with surveys and CRM software will help you get there.

 

Publish Date: April 2, 2020 2:48 AM

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