Prior to this year, IT service providers have worked with businesses to develop robust “disaster recovery” plans… meaning how will a company react and survive during an extended outage or security event at the corporate office. The paradigm of “disaster recovery” has been flipped on its head since February 2020. We are no longer just talking about what happens when there is an outage at the office. Now, we are talking about the need for converting your office to a remote workforce.
What should businesses do now? And, what should businesses consider going forward?
The ability to communicate effectively is of utmost importance. Phones, email, collaboration, and chat across secure channels allow people to work remotely while still keeping touch with their co-workers and management.
Modern VOIP phone systems should have the ability to employ “soft phones” running on iOS, Android, or on a laptop; call forwarding to mobile phones; voicemail-to-email, etc.—so employees are always available to each other and customers and suppliers.
Collaboration tools like Microsoft TEAMS, Google Hangouts, SLACK, and others allow employees to remain in close contact with each other, enabling document collaboration, white boards, video and voice calling. Tools like these are excellent whether workers are all in the same building together—or working remotely.
If you are a Microsoft customer, TEAMS is likely included in your Office365 subscription. Likewise, Hangouts may be included with your Google G-Suite account. We steer people away from public chat applications like Facebook Messenger because they don’t offer the same security protocols as enterprise applications.
Email has been a highly critical business communication tool for many years—however, as the email systems companies use are becoming more cloud-based, the need for backups of these systems has become more critical. Companies that still use in-house email servers certainly back those up regularly… but those companies that have moved to cloud-hosted email systems should consider a third-party backup of those systems.
Can’t we just use a VPN? What about Quickbooks?
IT service providers can provide access to the company’s computer network through traditional methods like a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The pitfall of this strategy is that an employee’s “home computer” may not have the necessary security posture to allow access to the corporate network. With a VPN, if an employee’s home computer has a virus or malware, that could easily jump to the corporate network. In cases where an employee is using their personal home computer to attach to the company’s network, we often use a portal that allows remote access without letting the home computer attach to the network.
Once a user’s VPN or remote portal is activated, they can log onto company resources and largely work with full capability as though they are in the office.
One pitfall of using a VPN is that some applications just don’t work well across a VPN. Quickbooks is one of those applications. We require that folks running Quickbooks remotely have a VPN or portal connection to the network, but also that they “remote” into a computer that is still on premises so that Quickbooks’ company file isn’t corrupted.
Isn’t “The Cloud” supposed to allow us to all work from anywhere?
The Cloud … for all its promises, many companies still cannot function without on-premise servers, databases, and applications running. Some of the capabilities of applications running on Cloud-based systems are amazing… but many line-of-business applications don’t port over to Cloud-based systems easily… and many companies are reluctant to spend money on a monthly bill for these services. So we still have a long way to go.
What about security?
Regardless of whether or not your computers are managed by an centralized IT service—or if they have a managed antivirus system and other protections—CyberSecurity issues are still a huge issue, and we can spend many hours talking about the pitfalls of employees unknowingly causing security breaches by clicking on the wrong place.… Suffice it to say—when working from home, your security awareness needs to be highly sensitive. If something doesn’t seem right, it is always best to err on the side of caution.
From a corporate perspective, security also involves protecting corporate assets. This may sound trivial, but things like customer lists, contacts, and sensitive documents belonging to the company can suffer a loss of security with workers accessing that data from remote locations. Not only can accidents occur, but disgruntled employees have much more time to siphon off company information when they are not inside the four walls of the company’s offices. For that reason, many companies impose much stricter security requirements on employees as they work remotely. You should expect that anything the company provides to you is owned, monitored, and maintained by the company … and that would include tracking documents that are moved to personal storage devices, emailed off the company email systems, phone conversations, etc. Most companies have a detailed policy in place that explains that the assets that are provided by the company belong to the company and shall not be abused.
If your company needs help during these troubled times—please contact us. We are happy to go over some of these recommendations and strategies with you.
This week’s newsletter is different from the usual one—because, while it’s true that there is something happening in the Upstate 365 days a year, right now what’s happening is people are staying home and playing board games rather than going out. They’re working from home, schooling from home, eating takeout at home. The events we usually promote in the UpstateVibe365 newsletter are cancelled or postponed, and we thought about whether we should even send one out.
But then we decided to highlight acts of kindness, the ways we are helping each other, and the things we can do to help when we don’t know how.
People who know me on social media know that a lot of the things I share fall into two categories: silliness and what I like to call “humans being beautiful.” No matter how awful things are in the world, there are always stories to be found of humans being beautiful to one another, and that is certainly true in these unprecedented times of social distancing due to COVID-19 and the economic consequences that go with that.
Sure, you hear stories of people fighting over toilet paper and bleach, and I’m sure it is not a fun time to be an employee at Costco or Walmart right now. Opportunities to come together in the ways people do after a natural disaster or other tragic event are limited by social distancing. The things you can think of to help your neighbors and community feel so small.
And yet—people do help, in acts of kindness that are big and small, and they add up. I’m a huge fan of Mr. Rogers, and one of my favorite quotes from him is one you’ve no doubt seen in times like this: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.”
Here in the Upstate, people and organizations are helping. They are finding ways to show kindness to their neighbors, in their community, and to perfect strangers. Whether it’s making sure kids who rely on school lunch programs have something to eat or neighbors offering to run errands for their elderly neighbors, they are helping.
We want to hear your stories of kindness. Do you know of a person or an organization who is doing something to be a helper? Can you share a link to a program that is helping? As long as this social distancing continues, we want to highlight those people, so please email me your stories, your links.
No matter what else gets cancelled, kindness will not be cancelled. And even if events aren’t happening and museums and venues are closed, there is still something happening in the Upstate 365 days a year. Kindness is happening.
Pass it on.
by Sharon Purvis, Ten at the Top’s Director of Outreach and Special Projects
With schools, organizations, businesses and many others canceling events and altering schedules due to the COVID-19 virus, having access to reliable and timely information as well as details about available resources is critical.
Though our current health crisis calls for “social distancing” to keep the virus from spreading, it does not mean that it is a time to stay within our geographic and stakeholder silos. To the opposite, this is a time for coming together to help lift each other up and ensure that everyone across the Upstate (and of course our entire nation and globe) is able to withstand this crisis by having the information and resources they need.
We really are “stronger together” and are very fortunate here in the Upstate that we have many non-profits, local governments, businesses, and institutions working to ensure that resources are available to help everyone get through this public health crisis.
In our role as a regional connector, Ten at the Top is working with local entities to try to compile and maintain a repository of links to information individuals, businesses and institutions may need regarding the latest cancellations, available community resources, and health information.
We will continue to update the page with additional links as they become available. If your organization has a resource or information link specifically related to the COVID-19 response, please send it to Sharon Purvis (email@example.com).
Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, Ten at the Top (TATT) has made the decision to postpone their signature young professional event, Pique, until June 15th. It was originally scheduled for March 23rd. The event will still be held at the Huguenot Mill and Loft in downtown Greenville, with ScanSource as the presenting sponsor, and local author Sallie Holder as the keynote speaker.
Ticket sales were suspended late Monday afternoon after the decision was made to postpone, but now that a new date has been confirmed, tickets are once again available for sale. Attendees who have already purchased tickets will be issued a refund if they are unable to attend at the later date; those who have tickets and do still wish to attend do not need to take any further action.
The event focuses on connecting young professionals across the Upstate, giving them opportunities to network as well as to hear from experts on topics that are relevant to their working lives.
In this 5th year of Pique, the program will feature 3 breakout panel sessions along with executive roundtables, a LinkedIn Lounge, and keynote speaker Sallie Holder. Additionally, there will be plenty of opportunity for networking, sharing ideas, and discussion of future collaboration.
During each of three breakout sessions, attendees will have four choices: one of two panel sessions, the executive roundtables, or the LinkedIn Lounge, sponsored by AFL, where they will have an opportunity to have a professional headshot done.
There will be three panels, each running twice to give attendees the option of hearing them all if they choose. The first, “Negotiating Your Best Career,” will focus on knowing what to ask for in order to achieve professional goals; in the second, “Community Engagement: Building Your Career Outside of Your Office,” panelists will talk about how community engagement can help you become a well-rounded and outward-thinking individual; and the third, “Conflict Management: Effective Communication for a Peaceful Workplace” touches on a topic that can be challenging at any age.
For many young leaders who want to make an impact on their local community, one major barrier is having access to current decision makers who are helping shape the region. Pique hopes to foster collaboration and bridge the gaps between young professionals and the Upstate’s top executives through the executive roundtables that have been a very popular feature of past Pique events.
Local author Sallie Holder will be the keynote speaker. Her book, Rock Middle: The Roadmap from Empty Success to True Fulfillment, was released in January, and copies will be available for sale at the event.
A graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of South Carolina Law School, Holder previously served as an attorney at Ogletree Deakins Law Firm and lives in Greenville. She coined the phrase “Hitting Rock Middle™” and the revolutionary BE BOLDER strategy to help people create their biggest, boldest, most successful careers. In addition to her recently released book, Sallie is a dynamic speaker who leaves audiences with the tools they need to make the changes they desire. She’s an expert on leadership, teams, change management, mindset, and motivation.
Following her talk, attendees will head to the reception, which will once again be catered by Cribbs Catering.
Registration and networking begin at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, June 15th, at Huguenot Mill and Loft (101 West Broad Street, Greenville, SC 29601), with the event beginning at 2:00 p.m. The reception will begin at approximately 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here. For more information, visit the website or contact Sharon Purvis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At our 10th anniversary luncheon in November, I proposed that as TATT moves into our second decade, we need to enhance our approach to collaboration and growing the collective capacity in the Upstate by not only convening, connecting and incubating, but also by starting to “ignite” projects that have the potential to positively impact economic vitality and quality of life in the Upstate region.
As an example of that enhanced philosophy, we announced the creation of the Upstate Mobility Alliance along with an $825,000 grant from the Michelin Corporate Foundation to support mobility in the Upstate.
Because Ten at the Top is a long-term strategic regional capacity builder and not an immediate programmatic service provider, once an actionable plan has been incubated through TATT’s collaborative process, a subject-specific partner must be found to lead and fund long-term implementation. This often results in a delay as projects attempt to move from incubation to action while resources are identified.
To help combat that challenge, we are creating an “Ignition Fund” that will allow TATT to help jump start an effort and showcase it for future funding and partners. The ignition process will ultimately be faster, more efficient, and more impactful.
The fund will be controlled by a committee of the TATT Board of Directors, who, in consultation with organization staff, will have the discretion to provide funds to projects that have gone through TATT’s collaborative process and are at a stage where they are in need of funds to advance. The funding allotments will be determined based on project needs, anticipated impacts, and long-term ownership plans.
The goal for the dedicated fund is to raise $300,000 over three years ($100,000 per year) above TATT’s general operating budget. I am pleased to announce that we have kicked off the fund with a generous $10,000 contribution and are excited about this new opportunity to impact economic vitality and quality of life in the Upstate.
If you would like to learn more about helping TATT ignite the Upstate please click here or feel free to contact Dean directly to set up a time to get together.