A Beginner’s Guide to Small Business Brand Monitoring for Growth

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Establishing a corporate identity is no small task, especially for small businesses. In 2020, small businesses have a variety of resources available to assist in the process, but remaining growth-oriented is a key component. As business has continued to shift to online, there’s no better time to develop a strong online presence than right now. In today’s blog post, we’ll look at some resources that your team can use to monitor these developments for your small business.

Small Business Tip #1: What’s in a Name Anyway?

Before we get too deep in today’s post, let’s talk a little bit about your business name. Whether you’re an established company, an up-and-coming one, or just starting out, your branding depends on the quality of your name. We’re talking about brand recognition here. While it might seem scary to change your name, it might make sense in some cases. 

For example, there may be a similarly named company that operates in a related field. It might also be a good thing to change your name if you cannot purchase a web domain with your company name in it. It can make the difference between gaining or losing customers. It comes down to authenticity. According to Stackla, 86% of consumers use authenticity as the key factor in deciding what brands they like and support. Consider it as a first step forward, especially if you’re looking to completely re-brand who your company is.

Small Business Tip #2: Branding Yourself

When it comes to establishing the online branding of your small business, it helps to understand how you are already perceived. If your company has been established, there’s a good chance that customers have perceptions about your organization. When you do an informal search, you might be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised by what people think. There’s no better time to use existing data to inform your new branding opportunities. A part of your company’s new online presence should address previous areas of failure. Moving forward with a new branding campaign means growing from the past and doing better.

Small Business Tip #3: Create Content

No matter the kind of small business that you’re running, drawing viewers and engaging customers is an important pathway to growth. How you create new content to entice your audience and represent your brand accordingly is essential to growing new business. This might take the form of short videos, written blogs, or both depending on your growth plan. Regardless of the forms used, sharing only the best content will put your best messaging forward. Depending on the size of your team, it might be beneficial to hire outside contributors to create this content on an on-going basis. No matter how the content is created, keeping things fresh and interesting will show viewers and potential customers that your company embraces growth, development, and keeping engaged with current trends.

Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash
Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

Small Business Tip #4: Use Multiple Platforms

As your content develops, it’s a good idea to diversify how you communicate with your followers and customers. Having a solid website is a great start, but modern consumers want to consume your offerings in many different ways. Consider adding a few of the following: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. You might be worried that keeping up with too many accounts will be stressful or problematic, but solutions exist to manage multiple accounts all in one place. One such solution is called HootSuite. In HootSuite, you can create and share posts to one, a few, or all of the connected apps. Once configured, members of your content creation team can create a post and share it simultaneously with the appropriate channels. A post management system like HootSuite can be used to create, schedule, and manage content easily. When your content can be created and shared easily, it’s impossible to forget to share the latest and greatest developments that your company has had.

Small Business Tip #5: Your People Matter

Another concept of small business brand development involves the human factor. While promoting and sharing aspects of your business is incredibly important, visitors to your website and social media accounts want to understand who your company is. This comes down to the humans on your team. Your employees function as brand ambassadors. To promote your brand is to promote the greatness of the members of your team. Embrace the uniqueness of your products and the people that create and manage them. Without their input and their stewardship, your brand would not be noticed.

Small Business Tip #6: Partner with the Right Experts

Revamping your brand growth is no easy task. It cannot be done alone and your team needs guidance. Finding the right collective of developers, designers, and consultants is essential to the overall growth and success of branding. As you create online marketing and branding, having access to a dashboard that will allow you to manage traffic can show the success of different aspects of your branding projects. Many web servers will provide dashboards with on-demand analytics to assist in managing the different aspects of content development and dissemination.

Solar VPS: Brand Management Tools for Small Business

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about growing your small business brand, it’s time to spring into action. The uniqueness of each and every organization presents successes and opportunities for your digital branding process. At Solar VPS, we will do our best to get your team on the pathway towards effective brand monitoring and growth. Don’t go it alone–contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in this transition.

Five Ways that SEO Drives Customer Traffic in Your Direction

Image by Katie White from Pixabay

Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) should be a crucial part of any website’s marketing strategy. SEO is an easy way to raise your company’s profile, but understanding SEO can be tricky. In today’s blog post, we’ll look at five ways that your team can use it to drive customer traffic to your content.

SEO Drives Traffic Way #1: Using the Right Words

The first way of driving traffic toward your web content comes down to using the right words. This can be achieved by generating appropriate content and messaging across all channels. Before you can reach a place where the right words are front and center, it’s essential that you understand who your audience truly is.  Depending on the type of content and the goals of your organization, chances are that this will look very different from any other company. As you learn more about your audience, you will begin to understand what messaging is the most productive for garnering their attention. Generating appropriate content comes down to what you say and why you say it.

SEO Drives Traffic Way #2: Genuine Social Media Posts

The second consideration that can increase web traffic for your company involves going multi-modal. While a website is good and can provide a clear picture of your organization, social media provides more opportunities to reach your core audience. The tricky thing that you might not have considered is exactly how diverse your social media offering should be to reach the greatest cross-section of viewers.

While most organizations that use social media are on the traditional apps–Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter–there’s a deeper layer to each of those apps. Building and maintaining content on each of these servers is a great start. However, there is an untapped market that happens with the roll-out of new features. Are your social media warriors using any of the following yet?

  • Instagram Stories (where a link can be embedded with content that leads to your webpage)
  • Facebook Messenger (where automated messages can be sent to users who opt-in for more information)
  • IGTV (an Instagram add-on that has become a stand-alone app–it allows your team to create longer promotional content that can be linked to existing accounts)

Of course, it’s important to remember non-traditional marketing apps like YouTube, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Learning how your customer base utilizes any app should be a part of any new or revised marketing strategy. Making small tweaks can pay huge dividends going forward. As your content evolves, your team will find new and innovative ways to use unique SEO terminology to pull viewers into your vortex.

SEO Drives Traffic Way #3: True Customer Engagement

The third way to drive more deliberate traffic to your content will come with time and growth. As your brand becomes more and more recognizable, your community of followers will grow. On social media platforms like Facebook, your most loyal and engaged followers will receive a special designation from the platform. Brand managers can easily detect these superstar followers by the designation and their interaction with social media content. As you find these followers, look for ways to interact with them.

The easiest way to interact with your top customers is to use social media and blog posts to encourage interaction. Post open-ended questions about your products, services, or upcoming promotions. Many of your top followers will have their interest peaked. They will tag friends who also follow your brand or other people they know that have never viewed your content before. Finding ways to answer their questions and comments personally can endear your brand to them for life. True customer interactions matter more than form emails.

Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash
Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash

SEO Drives Traffic Way #4: Post Blogs and Often

The fourth concept to consider is both the hardest and the most straightforward. To keep your content interesting and in the minds of viewers, you need to always be telling the world about it. This is going to involve blogging often. While you might be better suited to hiring professional bloggers to handle this task due to the sheer amount of time required to generate the content, know what your viewers want to see. 

Work closely with your writers (internal or external freelancers) to make sure that they understand the hot button issues involved. If there’s a new product line that you want to have highlighted, ask that they write to certain SEO keywords. The more that the keywords come up on your site, the more they will come up on search engines. If you want more traffic, your viewers need to feel valued and they need to be informed.

SEO Drives Traffic Way #5: A.B.R. (Always Be Researching and Revising)

The fifth way to use SEO to your advantage involves continuous education and re-education for your team. Generating the same content over and over again will do nothing to increase your traffic in any long-term way. In fact, it can lose you valuable traffic. One way to combat staleness is to always be engaging with content. Always be researching other publications and organizations that deal with the content you provide. Keep your eyes out for new trends and areas that could provide stimulating content for your viewers. At the same time, always be revising. This applies to your SEO phrases as well. If you use the same phrases over and over again, you aren’t showing any growth in your content. Find ways to change up your phrasing and keep things fresh.

Solar VPS: SEO Superstars at Your Service

Now that you’ve learned the top five ways that SEO can increase the number of eyes on your site, it’s time to partner with us. Solar VPS has long been designing custom computing strategies for customers from a wide variety of backgrounds. When you work with our experts, you can rest assured that you’ll put your best foot forward no matter the challenges involved. Don’t delay–contact us today!

A Beginner’s Guide to Web Hacking Prevention

hacking
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Could your website be a hacking target? Unfortunately, if you have a website at all, the answer is yes. Even if you run a small business or think that your site couldn’t possibly have anything that hackers would want, you must protect your site from hacking. 

These days, a lot of hackers attack small businesses, not because they’re after the small businesses themselves but because they’re using those small business sites as a means to an end. For instance, a hacker may use your site’s information to send phishing attacks to thousands of people. 

In any case, protection matters, so here is a beginner’s guide to upping your website security. 

Start with the Right Hosting Service 

Your hosting service can go a long way when it comes to hacking protection for your site. The right hosting provider will provide excellent security as well as total support in case of security breaches. Furthermore, a good service provider will have excellent physical security for their own infrastructure. 

Do your research before you choose a hosting service. Spend some time reviewing security measures, and if you want to know more about a service’s security options, reach out to the company and ask. 

Don’t Ignore Obvious Hacking Protection Solutions 

hacking
Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

Next, don’t ignore the obvious. Many people insist that they already understand these protections. Yet hackers get into accounts every day thanks to simple passwords and other obvious security mistakes. 

Speaking of passwords, here’s rule #1 for hacking prevention: Use a complex password, and change that password often. It’s the simplest thing you can do to protect your company website, but it’s often overlooked. 

The next seemingly obvious solution is making sure that you keep your system updated. This one is easy to forget because it’s not always convenient. You see that a new update is available, but you have other things to do. “I’ll get to it after I finish this project,” you think. 

Unfortunately, that line of thinking gives hackers the window of opportunity that they need. Don’t give them that window. 

Prevent Hacking with an SSL Certificate 

Next, keep your site safe by ordering an SSL certificate. This certificate is what puts the all-important “http” in front of your website’s address. With an SSL certificate, you verify that you own the site, and you give it added security. 

Not only will you make your website more secure, you’ll also help your clients trust your site as they use it. Today’s internet users know to look for the “http” before they use any site extensively, and many users will click away from non-secure sites to protect their own data. If too many users click away from your site within a few seconds of arrival, the search engines will take notice, and your SEO may take a hit. 

No matter how you look at it, the SSL certificate is just good for business. 

Enforce Your Access Control Methods 

We already mentioned your username and password, but hackers don’t only compromise websites through the website owners. They also gain access through end users. You can prevent this kind of hacking by enforcing strict password requirements. 

For instance, you might require that all passwords contain at least one number, capital letter, lowercase letter, and special character. You might also have a minimum password length. These regulations protect both your clients and your business. When you have a choice between convenience and safety, always pick safety. 

Avoid Letting End Users Upload Files 

If possible, avoid letting your end users upload their own files to your site. Files can come in the form of photos, documents, and more. Even if your end users have no intention of harming your site, you never know when the end users themselves have been hacked. They may unknowingly upload malware to your site through those files. 

Use Website Security Plugins 

Website security plugins give you a simple way to prevent web hacking. Again, this is where having the right web hosting service comes in. With an excellent hosting service, you can gain access to multiple plugin options, including security plugins. These plugins will provide simple security measures without a lot of coding on your end, so you can save time and protect your website. 

Use Google Analytics for Your Site 

Google Analytics can provide a lot of benefits for you as a business owner. This service lets you analyze your web traffic, gain insights on how your clients use your site, and help you make more informed decisions about your website. As a business owner, you may have already looked into using Google Analytics for these reasons. 

Did you know that Google Analytics can also help you spot potential hacking attempts? Because Google Analytics lets you see where your traffic comes from, you can see if you get any traffic from unusual locations. Plus, Google Analytics has a section where you can examine potential security threats. 

Often, the first step to managing your security is staying in the know. Google Analytics gives you one of the simplest ways to do that. 

How Solar VPS Prevents Web Hacking 

If you’re still looking for the right secure web hosting service, then consider Solar VPS. We take clients’ security seriously, and our team is dedicated to helping business owners like you protect their sites from hacking. 

First, we keep our physical infrastructure as secure as possible. We use premium level security methods to protect our hardware so that your software stays safe. 

Next, we allow access to hundreds of popular cloud apps, including security applications, so that you have all the tools you need at your disposal. 

We’re also here whenever you need us for support, answers, and addressing your security concerns. At the end of the day, our clients and their security is the most important thing. When you need help, we’re ready to get started. 

Have questions now? Ready to get a closer look at your hosting options? Take a look at your hosting platform choices, or feel free to contact us with your questions. 

Why Your Web Company Needs an Updated Code of Ethics

Ethics

This has been a challenging year for running all types of businesses. In these unprecedented times, many organizations are shifting into unfamiliar territory in an attempt to navigate the ever-changing Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

As your business adapts, it’s likely that some of your existing policies and procedures have to change to meet new work from home (WFH) or social distancing protocols. As these changes occur, it’s also a great time to take a look at your existing code of ethics. In today’s blog, we’ll look at a few reasons that your web company may need to update your code of ethics and conduct.

Reasons to Update the Code of Ethics: Time and Attendance

The first thing to consider about updating your web company’s code of ethics involves the unique situation that COVID-19 has put many organizations into. With so many employees working from home, now is a great time to reiterate and make adjustments to time and attendance policies. Over the last several months, virtually everyone has been learning new ways of adjusting to the unique challenges of a constantly evolving world event.

As we move into Fall 2020, many employees that have been working from home for the past few months will be inserting new challenges into their schedules: getting their children back to school. As these new challenges take effect, it’s essential that business owners and managers use discretion when allowing employees to adjust their working hours to meet family obligations. It is important to consider that many of the larger technology-based companies have not set any hard and fast guidelines for when employees will return to the office. Whenever possible, your code of ethics should maintain a degree of flexibility to accommodate all workers if possible.

On the other hand, it is equally important that employees remain accountable for their official time and attendance hours. If your organization uses a time card system, it’s necessary that employees still meet those clock in and clock out expectations. If your organization works on a project-to-project basis, employees should still be expected to dedicate appropriate amounts of time each working day to producing quality deliverables.

In discussing alternative time and attendance policies, it is important to consider the impact that video conferencing and remote work have had on our working lives in 2020. While searching for a balance between work and family has become more challenging, the majority of WFH employees have found ways to understand and appreciate the “new normal.” Forcing employees to return to a brick and mortar office too quickly may result in negative consequences and a loss of morale.

Reasons to Update the Code of Ethics: Day to Day Operations

The second thing to think about when updating your company’s code of ethics involves more structural functions of your organization. Based upon current Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, maintaining a minimum of 6 feet between employees may require some reconfiguration of work spaces throughout your office. In addition, face masks should be worn when moving throughout the building, but they may not be required when working in a socially distanced area.

Many organizations are using this opportunity to introduce more formal hand washing and self-protection protocols. While these will be difficult to formalize in any long-standing policy, providing visibility and access to such programming will show employees how much they matter to the organization as a whole. One way of completing all aspects of this idea is to provide each employee with their own personal care kits for use in the office. These might include: face masks, hand sanitizer, a personal thermometer, and log for tracking wellness on a daily/weekly timetable. Considerations should also be made for how to adapt working teams, lunch breaks, and other workday activities to meet shifting guidelines.

Reasons to Update the Code of Ethics: Office-Related Health and Hygiene

The third thing to consider when updating your code of ethics involves health and hygiene upon planning to return to the office. This section should go hand-in-hand with your company’s return to work plan. In the event that your business remained open on ground, there are likely a few things that need to be revised. The largest part of this section involves how employees and leadership will keep the office free of COVID-19. Depending on the size of your organization, you may have the bandwidth to be able to manually check employee wellness when arriving at the office.

Regardless of the size of your company, requiring employees to maintain a level of responsibility for their health and wellness will enable your organization to add a level of assurance that everyone shares the same goal of returning safely. Whether employees self-monitor their temperatures and other symptoms or have their temperatures checked upon arrival will vary depending on the guidelines established through the legal department. It is important that expectations be clearly established and displayed in multiple ways to ensure visibility to all employees.

Solar VPS: Helping Your Company Reaffirm Ethics

As our nation and the world at large remain focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19, remaining flexible and proactive in handling changes is essential. No one understands that better than the team at Solar VPS. Our experts have years of experience assisting companies of all sizes in making the right changes for their unique organizations. When you need assistance getting back, contact us to learn more!

Three Ways to Optimize WordPress and cPanel

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

In 2020, over 455 million websites use WordPress.com. That means that the WordPress market share is 35% of all websites in the world! That also means that WordPress users are in great company. However, understanding how it works can make a huge difference.

If you maintain a website for your business needs, chances are that you’re always looking for ways to make it easier to run both. Unlike the early days of the internet, web providers are trying to include options that take the pressure off your tasks. One of these tools is a control panel, also known as a cPanel. In today’s blog post, we’ll look at three ways that you can use cPanel to optimize your WordPress site.

What Is cPanel?

To put it simply, a cPanel (or control panel) is a way for an administrator to access information on their website. Whether it’s being used for analytics, content posting, or design maintenance, a control panel is your way of accessing how the world views your content. Without one, it can be extra complicated to get your website online and keep it there.

A cPanel will be designed and provided to your organization by your web hosting company. If you aren’t hosting your site, you aren’t sharing your site with the world. While the functions provided in your control panel suite will differ depending on your web host, understanding what it can and cannot do for your site is important to managing the site and reducing your frustrations. 

How Is cPanel Different from WordPress?

Essentially, cPanel is designed as an SMS or server management system, while WordPress is a CMS or content management system. They are designed to be integrated as one streamlined means of managing the server-side and the customer-side of your website. While the cPanel system is designed to allow you and your team to easily manage server and site performance, WordPress is where your website itself lives.

Using WordPress as your website and content building system can be simplified if you intertwine it with a cPanel suite. That means one login and some widgets can provide you and your team with a unified understanding of content and performance. Next, we will take a closer look at three ways that pairing these tools together can make running your commercial website an even smoother process. 

cPanel/WordPress Optimization Way #1: File Management

The first way that an integrated cPanel-WordPress can help your website operate more efficiently involves your file management system. Since your WordPress will be integrated into the cPanel, you will be able to better upload, remove, and move files around on your server. This is something that can keep your content fresh without losing items that would be good to have archived for future use. Depending on the size of your server, you will likely be able to create file backups, manage disk space, and otherwise organize your content in whatever way your business determines. In the next section, we’ll take a look at how using an integrated solution can improve email access and the overall workflow of your team.

Image of Website Hosting Service on Computer
Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay

cPanel/WordPress Optimization Way #2: Email and Workflow Improvements

The second option that your team can use to optimize your WordPress site with cPanel involves how emails and tasks are routed. While many teams utilize outside email structures, using Gmail or Microsoft Teams, that can be a time-consuming task–especially if you are regularly hiring new employees. When you integrate cPanel with WordPress, you can create new email accounts using your website address in seconds.

To put it simply: every cPanel client has an email management function. From an administrative level, the cPanel Webmail feature allows for firewalls and spam blockers to be administered at the top levels. Each email user will continue to have control of managing their own spam protections, out of office replies, and other essential account-level functions. When you want your team members to get away from having email addresses that end in @gmail.com, integrating cPanel and WordPress is the way to go. In the next section, we’ll take a deeper look at how these tools can be used together to manage website traffic and usage.

cPanel/WordPress Optimization Way #3: Managing Traffic and Use

The third and final tip to share about integrating cPanel with WordPress involves maximizing usage on your website. This might seem a little lackluster, but it’s important to consider how much your company pays for a web hosting plan. These expenses, coupled with the employee hours required to design, redesign, and produce content for the site, can be astronomical. Investing in a solid cPanel-WordPress integration is essential to getting the most bang for your buck. This is true in two different facets: in the amount of traffic that moves through your site and in the amount of revenue that you earn.

With respect to traffic, your business should have an active marketing plan that can be used to drive traffic or viewers to your site. The type of plan you have will obviously depend on the type of business that you are running. Sales-based organizations will run sales, do product launches, and use other means to encourage participation across different social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Creative or media content-focused companies will use social media and excitement to drive viewers to the site. Using your cPanel analytics is one way to review which methods are working and which need to be revisited.

Similarly, the amount of traffic that your site gets will have a direct correlation to the revenue that is brought back in. This revenue will vary depending on the type of site involved and the level of engagement that happens. When companies run sales, average order size will vary depending on the items included. When companies launch new campaigns or post new engaging content, word of mouth will change how much traffic is involved. Inside your cPanel analytics reporting, up-to-the-second data can reveal a startling amount about the successes and failures or the earnings and losses.

Solar VPS: Optimization Made Easy

Now that you’ve learned three ways that integrating cPanel and WordPress can enhance your web presence, it’s time to let our team lead the way. At Solar VPS, our experts understand how optimizing your business can make the difference between success and failure. We will help develop a precise plan that fits the unique needs of your team. Don’t go it alone. Contact us today to learn more!

Five Steps to Bringing Employees Back to the Office after COVID-19

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The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has presented unprecedented challenges around the world. As business owners and managers, it has drastically altered the way that our teams work. While many parts of the country are beginning the process of re-opening for physical transactions, some businesses are restraining themselves from re-opening too quickly. 

In an era of unbridled technological advantages, it’s much easier for tech-savvy companies to make the process of returning employees to offices happen slowly. In today’s blog, we’ll look at five steps that your team can take to bring employees back into the office.

Post COVID-19 Step #1: Design and Deploy a Clear Return-to-Work Plan

The first step to take in getting employees back into the office is to set a clear plan. If there’s one thing that can create anxiety, it’s failing to show a united front from management. Take some time to discuss all the contingency plans and possibilities as a senior management team before sharing your plan with employees. It’s important to understand that nothing will undermine the goodwill that your team has for you more than being disorganized.

Depending on the size of your team and working space, every aspect of the workday needs to be considered when designing this plan. Consider shifting to an electronic time sheet instead of using a physical time clock. Consider how breaks and lunches will work, especially if your employees are used to eating together. Take a good, long look at the floor plan of your offices. Will new safeguards need to be added to support social distancing mandates from the CDC?

Once the plan has been determined, deploying the messaging in a clear manner to employees is the next part of the return-to-work plan. Many businesses have been maintaining regular contact with employees to update them on the status of their jobs and other planning items. If you’ve determined that your office cannot adequately accept the entire organization back, consider alternating work schedules to limit the number of people in the building at the same time. For example, staggered schedules or only bringing employees back to the job site a few days a week can ease the burden of going too fast.

Post COVID-19 Step #2: Show Empathy and Flexibility

The second step to the post-COVID-19 return plan is to handle employee return responses carefully, utilizing empathy, flexibility, and emotional intelligence. While your business might have been lucky enough to keep employees working remotely, the same cannot be said for other businesses. Your employees will likely have outside challenges that have an impact on their ability to return to work as normal. The challenges that many parents have been facing are about to be increased exponentially as many schools and daycare centers remain closed or shift to virtual learning. As a result, employers should show understanding and appreciation for employees attempting work-life balance.

According to Troy McAlphin of xMatters, “this is an opportunity to embrace the blending of our already blended work-life balance and provide the worker with more control over their time-where trust is given and trust is returned.” Essentially, managers should provide reasonable accommodations to employees that need more time to get acclimated to these shifts. Fortunately, remote work has become much easier to manage–especially for something that had to happen in a sudden manner earlier this year.

Interestingly enough, research undertaken by Gartner suggests that remote work will increase by 30% in the next decade as a direct result of generational shifts in the workplace. This is happening due to a wave of technology native workers that will come from Generation Z entering the workplace and Baby Boomers and Generation X continuing and beginning to retire respectively.

Post COVID-19 Step #3: Maintain Open Communication at All Levels

The third step is an ongoing process of being open and honest in communicating with leaders and employees. As with other initiatives, some of this might have already been happening throughout your organization. Seeking opportunities to engage throughout the team can strengthen bonds, loyalty, and encourage open communication. These often take the form of virtual town hall discussions, virtual networking activities, and regular check-ins.

As with these meetups and touch points, clearly communicating the return-to-work plans well ahead of time can assist employees with arranging alternative logistics for children and other family requirements. Providing an additional line of trust and respect for those with complicated home lives can pay huge dividends towards building their loyalty.

Post COVID-19 Step #4: Instill a Culture of Safety

The fourth step is one that can take shape as employees begin to return to the workplace. As we’ve already discussed above, returning to the office safely is an important factor for many employees. Once these folks have come to the office that first day, what will they find? How will they complete extra activities like temperature checks? How will things be kept clean and safe between shifts?

Consider how additional safeguards can be put into place. How will your senior leaders encourage employees to remain sanitary and hygienic as they work? Consider adding hand washing and hand sanitation stations in common areas like the front door, break room, and conference room. Look at your floor plan to determine what makes the most sense.

Many schools and businesses have begun giving returning workers their own supply kits. These can be catered to your unique business for items like hand sanitizers, branded masks, sanitizing wipes, dedicated headphones or earbuds, and other goodies. These actions show the level of care and investment that leadership has in employees. These actions can also guide your employees to supporting healthy changes in company culture.

Post COVID-19 Step #5: Contact Solar VPS for Assistance Getting Your Team Back to the Office

Now that you’ve learned the tips for getting employees back to work, let our team provide a safety net. Solar VPS specializes in designing custom solutions. We work hard to help companies of all shapes and sizes. We look forward to helping your team get back to work safely. Contact us today to learn more!

Five Tips for Staying Productive During COVID-19 Work from Home

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2020 has thrown us all some serious curve balls. The COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) pandemic has had some significant impacts on how life functions. One of the biggest changes that many of us have experienced is the shift to working from home. The rapid movement to WFH has caused a lot of companies to make quick decisions to ensure the safety of employees while maintaining business continuity. In today’s blog, we’ll take a look at five tips that you can use to remain productive in the current WFH climate.

Work From Home Tip #1: Create a Designated Office Area

The first tip to share about working from home involves creating a designated office area in your home. If there’s one thing that we are all looking for right now, it’s a sense of normalcy. While you might be tempted to answer your emails from the couch with Netflix streaming, fight the temptation. To maintain your productivity, it’s essential that you have a specific space dedicated only to work.

If you have a spare room or an existing office, this process is probably pretty easy. If you do not have this, you should look for a corner of a room that can be blocked off as a work-only zone. While it might seem weird at first, make it a habit of going into your new office space to get used to it. The more time that you spend working there, the more focused and productive you will be. In the next section, we’ll take a look at how this new working process might help you maintain balance.

Work From Home Tip #2: Maintain A Consistent Work Schedule 

The second tip to consider about being productive as a WFH employee involves working a consistent schedule. Whenever possible, hold yourself to using your new workspace only during working hours. One way of doing this involves arriving at your desk at the same time each morning. Design a break and lunch schedule that allows you to appreciate walking away for a few moments. When you are working, treat it like you did when you went into the office. Close the door and be “unavailable” to family members.

At the same time, it’s important to only work during your scheduled times. This may be challenging since the physical distance between work and home may only be a few feet. During working hours, put away your unrelated electronics and truly focus on the work. In return, don’t look at work projects during off-hours. In the next section, we will take a closer look at setting and maintaining boundaries with your non-work contacts.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Work From Home Tip #3: Set Boundaries with Family, Friends, Appointments

The third tip about WFH to consider involves setting boundaries between your friends, family, and other types of interruptions. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year, many citizens are at home a lot more often than they were before. Pets, kids, partners, and roommates can create challenges, but your productivity depends on your ability to limit their interruptions. It will take some adjustment for everyone involved, but the end result will mean more focused time on work followed by more focused family/friend time.

As you begin working from home, you will likely notice things you didn’t before. Perhaps the dog barks at any outside sound; maybe the kids are jumping on the couch in the living room; maybe your spouse is running the blender a lot. Find ways to block these outside factors. Consider investing in noise-canceling headphones or earbuds. Many newer versions have the ability to connect to Bluetooth to improve sound quality on conference calls. It might also be helpful to find background music that feels warm, energizing, and encouraging. Avoid music with lyrics as these can be distracting. Ambient, Jazz and Classical music have been shown to reduce anxiety and improve productivity. In the next section, we’ll take a look at ways to feel more engaged with your work by reaching out to your co-workers.

Work From Home Tip #4: Find Ways to Interact

The fourth concept to consider involves looking for ways to increase your communications with co-workers, friends, and family members. While the work part of the equation is likely filled with conference calls, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams meetings, it’s important to maintain your connections with friends and family. A big part of being productive in WFH involves staying engaged with the outside world. It’s important to take a look at yourself and those in your social circles to ensure that support is available. In these unsure times, it’s easier than ever to get lost in isolation and depression. Find times to schedule a friends and family Zoom meeting. Just being able to look at your nearest and dearest from a distance can improve your mood and theirs. In the final section, we’ll take this idea a little further and look at self-care.

Work From Home Tip #5: Don’t Work Off the Clock / Find New Hobbies and Activities

The fifth and final tip for maintaining your WFH productivity involves what happens when you’re not working. While we have been encouraged to minimize our contact with the outside world to help flatten the curve of COVID-19, it’s still important to find ways to avoid cabin fever. Find ways to get outside and spend some time away from your home and working spaces. Research has shown that spending time in nature and doing outside exercise reduces stress, anxiety, and can allow perspective to reflect on all aspects of life.

If you just need some time to relax in your non-working hours, consider reading, watching a movie or television program, or explore cooking a new meal. Be open to possibilities that you might not have considered before. The bottom line with being productive while working from home: you are not alone.

Solar VPS: Your Work from Home Guides

In today’s blog post, we presented five tips for maintaining WFH productivity. These tips might not all work for you but we’re here to help. The team at Solar VPS has been assisting companies of all sizes to find working systems that make their jobs easier. When you’re ready to learn more about how we can help you, contact our team right away!