5 ways IT can support productivity when work can happen anywhere

Many business leaders have resisted remote work for years, thinking it would lead to lower productivity. But here’s a surprise: A mid-2020 study showed that knowledge workers, software developers, and IT professionals are all more productive when they work from home.

The study defined workplace productivity as spending more time on the right work—not merely being busy. Data from the study showed that compared to people working in the office, remote workers had a 4% increase in average daily time spent on their core work and an 18% decrease in time spent on emails, chats, calls, and meetings—adding up to an annual total per person of 58 more hours spent on core work, and 256 fewer hours spent on communication. That’s a huge difference!

Here’s how to support workers in delivering their best—wherever they are.

1. Help people feel valued, even when they’re far away.

When people aren’t coming to the office every day, technology plays a bigger role in helping them feel supported and cared for. Give employees PCs and accessories that are not only efficient but also a pleasure to use. Pay attention to things that make work more enjoyable, like design details, ergonomics, vivid displays, and crisp sound.

2. Champion the ongoing quest for work-life balance.

According to a study by NordVPN, the recent pivot to remote work meant more time at the desk for many people; at-home workers put in an average of two extra hours each workday.2 People need help maintaining a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout. When you introduce new apps, devices, or other tech that helps them do more—such as changing collaboration apps to “away” at a certain time each day—be sure to connect it with benefits at the human level.

3. Invest in technologies that make work flow faster.

Worker productivity depends a lot on fast, reliable, and high-performing tech. The last thing your IT team needs is to be deluged by support requests from slow, unresponsive devices. Look for PCs that deliver blazing-fast speed, high-quality graphics, and long battery life. Choose accessories that last a long time. That way, people don’t have to stop to recharge, close out extra tabs to free up memory, or fill up IT help desks with reports on broken tech.

3. Offload mundane maintenance tasks that gobble up IT time.

Remote management capabilities can help you handle things from afar— like upgrades and security patches—without needing your end users to do anything. They get back time to focus on their work, and you don’t have to wonder if they’ve made critical updates. The right solutions automate these processes, so they don’t burden IT teams.

4. Work closely with HR to understand employee needs better.

Your colleagues in HR have a direct line to employees. They know how they’re feeling about their work and what’s slowing them down. Schedule regular check-ins with HR to get these insights—which can help you find tech-driven solutions that help employees succeed.

When your IT is at its best, so are your people.

HP and Now Micro offer the world’s most secure and manageable PCs. HP Elite Notebooks are made for today’s challenges—with hardware-enforced security features and layers of protection below, inside, and above the OS to proactively prevent threats and quickly recover in the event of a breach. Sleek and light, Elite Notebooks offer advanced features like secure, wide-angle webcams, hardened security features like self-healing BIOS, 5G, and 4G LTE connectivity, Audio by Bang & Olufsen, HP Noise Cancellation, and the power and performance for smooth virtual collaboration. Now Micro’s collection of software and hardware solutions is perfectly suited to easily solve unique technical problems. Our solutions are used by over 60,000 users and have helped customers streamline their deployment process. With HP, Now Micro, Windows 10 Pro, and the Intel® vPro® platform, you get the latest software and out-of-the-box hardware security features to help defend your devices and your business.

Learn more about Now Micro’s partnership with HP, Intel, and Microsoft at https://www.nowmicro.com/hp.

How IT can improve virtual meetings for everyone

Some people love in-person meetings; others prefer the remote kind. However you feel about them, here’s an interesting discovery: A recent study found 86% of participants reported “as high or higher” levels of engagement in virtual meetings compared to face-to-face. That’s great news for the future of remote work—because if there’s anything we know for sure, there will be a lot more of them in our future. Here’s how to make them better for everyone.

Equip workers with the knowledge and tech they need to stay safe.

More than 50% of workers report not receiving any new security policies on working securely from home.

 A huge increase in virtual meetings hasn’t gone unnoticed by cyber attackers. New attack types are on the rise, and most meeting platforms have reported issues. Keep meetings secure by first ensuring that hardware and OSes are up-to-date. PCs more than four years old may not be able to take advantage of the latest patches, putting individuals and businesses at risk.

Equip teams for real work—not just talk.

Truly collaborative organizations are 5x more likely to be high-performing.

Setting a clear agenda and objectives for each meeting is key; you need the tech to support those intentions. Start with a high-definition webcam. Then think bigger—including wider mic arrays, enhanced audio, touchscreens, pen support, and tools like Windows Ink—to help teams collaborate through whiteboarding, marking diagrams and images, or sketching ideas. Tools that auto-generate meeting transcripts can help make note-taking faster and more accurate.

Manage bandwidth and eliminate lag time.

70% of network traffic is video

A big spike in videoconferencing has made lags more common. Help users test to ensure they have a solid Wi-Fi setup with enough bandwidth—using apps like Google Wifi. Some workers may need guidance on setting up routers or repeaters or using their phones as hot spots when the internet goes down. Here’s an easy win: Intel vPro-equipped devices with integrated Wi-Fi 6 offer up to 3x faster file-transfer speeds than Wi-Fi 5.5

Help employees make the most of virtual meetings.

As much as 93% of communication is nonverbal.

“Video on” has become a hallmark of the remote-work culture. Provide employees with tips on how to improve their virtual meeting experience—how to arrange lighting, troubleshoot audio, and upload professional headshots. Make a balanced plan that helps employees reduce stress by understanding when to have video on and when to have it off.

Utilize remote management tools to improve support.

According to ITDMs, after 2020, 49% of workers will be WFH at least part of the time.

Executives expect an increase in employees working remotely for at least three days per week—even 12 months after the global health crisis subsides. As this trend is here to stay, a modern approach to device management makes it easier for IT to support ongoing virtual meetings and work. With self-service features, windows 10 Pro simplifies device deployment, personalization, and user reset.

Collaborate better to move your business faster.

HP and Now Micro offer the world’s most secure and manageable PCs. HP Elite Notebooks are made for today’s challenges—with hardware-enforced security features and layers of protection below, inside, and above the OS to proactively prevent threats and quickly recover in the event of a breach. Sleek and light, Elite Notebooks offer advanced features like secure, wide-angle webcams, hardened security features like self-healing BIOS, 5G, and 4G LTE connectivity, Audio by Bang & Olufsen, HP Noise Cancellation, and the power and performance for smooth virtual collaboration. Now Micro’s collection of software and hardware solutions is perfectly suited to easily solve unique technical problems. Our solutions are used by over 60,000 users and have helped customers streamline their deployment process. With HP, Now Micro, Windows 10 Pro, and the Intel® vPro® platform, you get the latest software and out-of-the-box hardware security features to help defend your devices and your business.

Learn more about Now Micro’s partnership with HP, Intel, and Microsoft at https://www.nowmicro.com/hp.

5 reasons laptops are the ultimate solution for hybrid work

When the world pivoted to remote work in 2020, people didn’t simply pack up their office desktop computers and take them home. They asked for laptops—and these slim, powerful PCs have become essential to business productivity in the months since.

In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that laptops are now a must-have for workers in nearly every industry. As we transition into a hybrid of on-site and remote work, it’s worth asking: Why have laptops come out on top? We’ve uncovered five reasons why they’re a perfect fit for modern work.

1. Enjoy mobility, flexibility, and control.

A lightweight, ultra-slim form factor makes it easy to move away from ambient noise, find a more comfortable spot during meetings, or get work done in a small space. When employees need more screen real estate for complex work like spreadsheets or graphics files, they can simply connect their laptops to external monitors or desktop PCs. It’s the best of both worlds.

2. Make notes and share ideas in real-time.

A touchscreen makes workflow faster, with the ability to draw and add notes directly on the screen to communicate thoughts or show revisions. Forget trading multiple emails or creating lists— employees can draw and write on the screen and then capture it with a screenshot. Laptops become tablets with 360-degree hinge designs, making drawing fast and fun.

3. Be more productive—without even trying.

Collaborating, meeting, and accessing Microsoft 365 apps in seconds is easier. With Windows 10 Pro, people get new ways to stay organized and productive, with features like single sign-on (SSO) for remote desktop services, tools like Microsoft Teams for seamless remote collaboration, and whiteboard capabilities that help work flow more smoothly.

4. Streamline remote IT support and management—without changing your processes.

Supporting a hybrid on-site and remote workplace may require changes in how you approach PC management, but when you have laptops equipped with remote management tools, you can quickly make updates and provide support to reduce downtime.

5. Drop-ship fully secure PCs to employees for hands-off IT.

When laptops have built-in security, with protection at multiple levels—below, in, and above the OS—you can feel confident shipping them directly to your employees without needing to install security solutions beforehand.

A sophisticated choice to enhance productivity.

HP and Now Micro offer the world’s most secure and manageable PCs. HP Elite Notebooks are made for today’s challenges—with hardware-enforced security features and layers of protection below, inside, and above the OS to proactively prevent threats and quickly recover in the event of a breach. Sleek and light, Elite Notebooks offer advanced features like secure, wide-angle webcams, hardened security features like self-healing BIOS, 5G and 4G LTE connectivity, Audio by Bang & Olufsen, HP Noise Cancellation, and the power and performance for smooth virtual collaboration. Now Micro’s collection of software and hardware solutions is perfectly suited to easily solve unique technical problems. Our solutions are used by over 60,000 users and have helped customers streamline their deployment process. With HP, Now Micro, Windows 10 Pro, and the Intel® vPro® platform, you get the latest software and out-of-the-box hardware security features to help defend your devices and your business.

Learn more about Now Micro’s partnership with HP, Intel, and Windows, visit https://www.nowmicro.com/hp

Saving Money with a Managed Service Provider – By the Numbers

In previous blog posts, we have explained that working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help your company save money. But what does that mean? Below we will prove how MSPs will help your bottom line by the numbers.

  1. A recent IBM research report states that almost 27% of organizations outsource to reduce costs. 
  2. A McKinsey Global Institute study states outsourcing IT services reduces costs by 60% in the US. 
  3. An MIT Sloan Management Review study witnessed a drop of $121.14 million in non-IT operating costs as IT outsourcing increased to $96.14 million
  4. As per a Deloitte study, 64% of the companies consider cost-savings as the primary factor driving them towards outsourcing.

Outsourcing is the way to go if reducing costs is on your mind. But, you must be clear that it is more than just that. A cost-saving-focused approach to outsourcing is good, but you cannot disregard the other pros of outsourcing. It can save time, offer you the latest tech stack, let your managers focus on the core functions, and much more.

Outsourcing is undoubtedly the future, and if you need to stay competitive, working with Now Micro can take you to new heights. Now Micro’s goal is to provide services and solutions for every aspect of your technology needs. We have got you covered from end-users to enterprise data centers and up to the cloud.

6 Benefits of Moving to a Cloud-Based Infrastructure

What is the cloud?  

The cloud refers to servers that run on the internet rather than a local physical server. This system allows you to access data remotely. A few examples of cloud services are Google Drive, Apple iCloud, and Microsoft OneDrive, to name a few.  

What is a Cloud Infrastructure? 

A cloud infrastructure is much like a physical/on-prem infrastructure. A Cloud infrastructure mimics things like servers, switches, storage, etc. Computing, networking, storage, and virtualization make up a cloud infrastructure.  

What are some of the benefits of a business moving to the cloud? 

  • Increased Security 
  • Cost Savings 
  • Disaster Recovery 
  • Reduced Risk 
  • Collaboration across teams 
  • Better Accessibility 

Increased Security 

One of the most beneficial aspects of the cloud is security. Unfortunately, no matter who you are, you are at risk from hackers, malware, phishing, and other cyber-attacks. Moving to the cloud can add an extra layer of support for your important data.  

  • When you store a file in the cloud, your files are encrypted, which means the files are difficult for cybercriminals to access.  
  • The cloud provides consistent and regular patches, reducing malware infection risk. 
  • When a business has critical data, it is far safer to keep that information off-site.  
  • With the cloud, it is easier to maintain compliance requirements. 

Cost Savings $$$ 

Cost is a significant factor when businesses decide to move to the cloud or not. Therefore, looking at the initial cost of making the migration and all the benefits of a cloud-based infrastructure is essential. For example, 98% of organizations say a single hour of downtime costs over $100,000 https://www.the20.com/blog/the-cost-of-it-downtime/#:~:text=According%20to%20Gartner%2C%20the%20average,hour%20at%20the%20higher%20end.  

Disaster Recovery  

Disasters happen; we all know that. Unfortunately, downtime for a business can be one of the most costly challenges a company faces because it leads to a loss of productivity, revenue, and reputation. With a cloud-based infrastructure, your business can recover far quicker than you can if a physical server fails. 

Reduced Risk 

When your data is stored in physical hardware like a computer or server, it is at a greater risk of loss. For example, if the server fails or the computer dies, you might not be able to get your data back. Things like viruses, age, and natural disasters can all cause hardware to malfunction. In addition, they can also be lost or stolen, posing a security risk.  

You can access your data from any computer anywhere when you store your data on a cloud-based server.  

Collaboration across teams 

The cloud allows employees within the same organization to share information and collaborate on documents or other important company data. For example, with SharePoint, four employees can be working on the same document simultaneously, and the most recent version will be saved and accessible to all employees who have access.  

Better Accessibility 

Since the start of the pandemic, many businesses have decided to allow their employees to work from home part-time, if not 100% of the time. The cloud enables employees to access their company’s network from anywhere. In addition, they can access critical files and data from anywhere, increasing productivity and efficiency.  

5 steps to securing identity infrastructure

According to Microsoft, in Azure Active Directory, there are 50 million password attacks daily, yet only 20% of users and 30% of global admins are using strong authentications such as multi-factor authentication (MFA). Attackers who get control of privileged accounts can do tremendous damage, so it’s critical to protect these accounts. Read our checklist to learn more:

Strengthen your credentials
Strengthen your credentials by enabling strong authentication, banning commonly attacked passwords, implementing expiration rules, protecting against leaked credentials, adding resilience against outages, and implementing AD FS extranet smart lockout.

Reduce your attack service area
Reduce your attack service area by implementing cloud authentication, blocking legacy authentication, blocking invalid authentication entry points, implementing privilege access management, and restricting user consent operations.

Automate threat response
Automate threat response by implementing sign-in and user risk security policies, integrating Microsoft 365 Defender with Azure AD identity protection, and setting up monitoring and alerting.

Utilize Cloud Intelligence
To utilize cloud intelligence, your organization should monitor Azure AD, Azure AD Connect Health in hybrid environments, Azure AD Identity Protection events, apps, and consented permissions.

Enable end-user self-service
Implementing self-service password reset, self-service group and application access, Azure AD access reviews, and automatic user provisioning will create efficient ways for end-users to secure your organization’s identity infrastructure.


Now Micro Professional Services

Systems Management
We create a simplified desktop and data center management experience for your robust, complex, and heterogeneous environments. Through configuration and automation of systems management tasks, we allow you to keep control of your complex IT business, whether it is on-premises, in the cloud, or across the country.


Cloud Productivity
Now Micro helps you implement a cloud-based infrastructure, giving you unparalleled access, robust security, and greater control in your environment. Moving the infrastructure to the cloud pushes technology out of the way so you can focus on your job.


Identity Management
Our identity management solutions help you create simplified synchronization between identities on-premises and in the cloud while allowing administrators to monitor user access and behavior.

How to Equip Your Office for Hybrid Work

The ongoing pandemic is changing the way companies are structured. Remote work adds flexibility to workers’ lives and protects them from COVID-19, while in-person work allows staff to communicate nuances and socialize. Companies are now offering their employees the best of both worlds: a hybrid office. Read our top 4 tips on providing the right technology for a smooth transition into hybrid work.

Hoteling Stations

The new hybrid office system can look different for every company or for different departments within one company. For example, not all employees work on the same day in many companies, so to save space, a company could opt to have unassigned desks, also known as hoteling. Pairing hoteling with seamless workstations makes for a great hybrid office that saves space and money.

Invest in seamless workstations

After working the last two years at home, many employees have perfected their home technology to be able to work exactly how they want. However, with hybrid schedules, going back and forth between home and the office can be quite the hassle if you’re bringing things like laptops, headsets, and charging cables back and forth. A way to solve that challenge is to invest in seamless workstations for assigned desks or hotel stations. The arrangement can look different depending on each company’s needs. The setup used at Now Micro allows staff to bring only their laptops and plug them into monitors, which connect the laptop to charging, a wireless keyboard, and a mouse.

Conference Room AV Setup

Some days employees may choose to be in the office, while others work remotely. However, that doesn’t mean meetings have to only occur in person on only by video. Simply adding a small media player, a display on the wall, a web camera, and a speaker/microphone can equip conference rooms to help teams collaborate no matter where they are working.

Borderless Data Center

Storing company data can be challenging when employees are based in many locations. A solution to this is the borderless data center. The borderless data center is a hybrid cloud concept that brings the basic tenants of cloud computing to the brick-and-mortar data center for seamless application operation. Disaggregating the traditional physical infrastructure through a cloud-enabled Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) facilitates a software-defined, unified system combining all the elements of a conventional data center: storage, compute, networking, and management into a cloud infrastructure on-premises with lower costs, more control, and improved security.

Office setup and workplace culture are not going back to the way things were before. Therefore, it is essential to adapt to the times and equip offices that push us towards a more innovative future. Now Micro and its partners are here to help your office transition to a hybrid office. To learn more, visit nowmicro.com or email sales@nowmicro.com.

Now Micro Expands to New Location

Now Micro rang in the new year with a ribbon-cutting at our new headquarters in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. Just a short drive from the previous address in Saint Paul, the new facility accommodates a growing services organization, expands warehouse and production capabilities, and caters to a new hybrid workplace culture.

Hybrid Office

The move to a larger facility coincides with changing workplace dynamics driven by the pandemic. Thanks to today’s technology, most organizations can now accommodate both remote and hybrid work models. Accounting for accessibility, uptime, and security is essential for successful remote or hybrid environments, but it can be difficult for organizations to adjust quickly. As a result, IT departments and organizations have had to change strategies to manage PCs and peripherals, data centers, collaboration technologies and provide sufficient help desk support for end-users. 

We built our new facility with a hybrid workplace in mind. Permanent offices and cubes are available to anyone who chooses to be in the office. Hoteling cubes and workspaces are open to employees who split time between working remotely and in-office. Microsoft Always On VPN technology keeps our sales team securely connected to our ERP systems as if they were in the office. While Microsoft Teams has been in place for some time, it is now our primary communication tool. The use of video in calls has increased substantially.

Digital Signage

Having digital signage engineers on staff has been a big help in deploying visual communications throughout the building. There are 15 displays installed throughout the building, with the majority focused on tracking business metrics in the warehouse and manufacturing space. In addition, the displays in the front office serve to greet customers and provide real-time performance metrics to our sales team.

Solutions

Now Micro has embraced these changes to lead by example and help accommodate customers in this different work world. As a result, demand for our services has increased. So we’re here to answer the challenging questions:

1.    How can my organization successfully provide technical support if no one is in the office?

2.    Where do my end-users go if they need troubleshooting on their devices?

3.    How do I solve connectivity issues with an end-user’s home Wi-Fi network? 

4.    How can I keep track of my organization’s devices when users’ offices are across the state or country?

2022 is off to a great start at Now Micro. We are excited about our new facility, a new hybrid-work environment, and a new skill set to give our customers additional support to enable their digital transformation.

Five Reasons Why SMBs will invest in an MSP in 2022 

As times change, business owners need to adapt. Here are some reasons why an SMB may be considering an MSP

1. Modernizing IT 

As SMBs move to modernize their IT, they don’t have the expertise to keep up with the complexities of managing and maintaining their IT environment.

2. Employee Growth

Despite the pandemic, many organizations are growing rapidly. But unfortunately, some can’t keep up with the growth. For example, they can’t continuously upgrade and install the number of endpoints, onboard new employees, or educate them on the best security practices.  

3. Not enough IT support

Many SMBs do not have an internal IT employee, and one of their employees must take it on as an extra job responsibility which decreases productivity. If they do have an IT employee, they often are faced with more pressure than they can handle alone.

4. Outside threats

 Over half of businesses have faced some type of financial cyberattack in the last year; most SMBs don’t have the resources to combat these risks internally.

5. Compliance

Compliance is a tricky concept for most SMBs. Working with an MSP can help them adhere to the often changing regulations.

Since most businesses rely nearly entirely on the internet to perform their day-to-day operations, an important goal for SMBs is to strategize and prioritize digital transformation. Unfortunately, this is no small task and can be very overwhelming for SMBs. However, a Managed Service Provider can take on the entirety of IT management, allowing them to mitigate risk, get the best return on their technology investments, and educate their employees.

If you are interested in learning more about how Now Micro can help you manage your IT more effectively, or you’d be interested in receiving a free network assessment, reach out to Sydney Ellison at sydneye@nowmicro.com or check out our website.

The Consequences of a Cyberattack on SMBs

Nearly every company relies on the internet for its business operations, which means almost every company is at risk for a cyber-attack. In last week’s blog post, we discussed why Cybercriminals are targeting SMBs, but what are the consequences of falling victim to a cyberattack or data breach for SMBs?

Downtime

After a cyberattack, an SMB is likely to face significant downtime, which means their employees cannot do their jobs. While one can expect revenue to take a substantial hit from downtime, employee productivity usually is the most significant consequence. Employers are still required to pay their employees, they may be missing deadlines, and downtime may cause excess stress on their employees.

The cost of downtime = minutes of downtime x cost per minute.

Damage to hardware 

In the event of a cyberattack, malware, or data breach, not only is your data at risk, but it can also cause damage to your hardware such as PCs, Servers, and more. In addition, the repair or replacement of hardware can be very costly.

Fines and penalties

Legal and regulatory requirements seem to be constantly changing, which can be very overwhelming for a business owner. However, business owners must comply with these rules and regulations, and when they don’t, they are subject to fines and penalties costs.

Damage to reputation and loss of customers

When a company falls victim to a cyberattack, their customer data is often compromised, leading to a loss of customer trust, which leads to customers taking their business elsewhere. Data breaches also hurt attracting and obtaining new customers when the news is public.

High costs

In the event of a cyberattack, an SMB is likely to experience downtime, damage to hardware, fines and penalties, damage to reputation and loss of customers, and more. Each of these consequences has its own cost, and sometimes it is enough for a business to close its doors for good. Forbes states that the average cost of a single data breach on an SMB is $149,000. Additionally, 76% of SMBs have experienced a cyberattack in the last 12 months.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: It is no longer a question of if your business will be the target of a cyberattack, but when. Can you afford the consequences of a data breach?

Working with a Managed Service Provider can help you better secure your network and prevent cyberattacks from happening. To learn more about our managed services, visit our website or reach out to Sydney Ellison at sydneye@nowmicro.com.