Category: Productivity

What Are the Most Helpful VoIP Features for Small Businesses?

Just five or six years ago, VoIP was still considered a “different” type of business phone system—one that wasn’t the norm. The pandemic, however, changed that way of thinking. Firewell Technology Solutions believes that Internet-based phone systems aren’t simply the norm now—they’re mandatory for business continuity.

During the pandemic, VoIP and video conferencing have skyrocketed by over 210%. This is largely due to the move to remote work and hybrid offices. Sixty-seven percent of surveyed companies say switching to VoIP helps improve call handling.

So, no longer is the business phone system tied to a physical location. This enables fluid management of a business with staff spread out over many locations.

Additionally, VoIP significantly reduces costs for businesses. The technology is much cheaper to use than a traditional landline-based system. Calling plans are also often less expensive, and a company can add new numbers for very little cost.

VoIP has several helpful features for small businesses. But owners are busy and may not have time to have all of them enabled.

What are the best features to drive efficiency, productivity, and positive caller experience?

Here are some of the best features of cloud-based business phone systems to leverage.

Automated Attendant

In many small companies, the person answering the phone also has a lot of other duties. You can free up that person’s time and give the caller a better experience with an automated attendant.

An auto-attendant acts as a company directory. It will forward calls to the correct department or staff member for you. Record a pleasant greeting and ask the caller a few questions. Such as, “Press or say 1 for sales, 2 for technical support,” etc.

The caller gets the person they need without having to explain why they’re calling twice. Once to the person that answers the phone and once to the person they’re transferred to.

Find Me/Follow Me

What’s the most favorite user feature for VoIP? According to 77% of surveyed employees, it’s the Find Me/Follow Me feature. This includes the ability to use a virtual phone number that is accessible from all devices. Staff can also transfer calls from one device to another with ease.

Whether you are on a PC, in a conference room, or on your smartphone, you can get your calls. This feature reduces friction and allows people to give out a single phone number. Callers can then use that number to reach the person via mobile, home office, or onsite office.

Hold Music

Playing pleasant music while your callers are on hold might seem like a small thing. But it can have a big impact on customer satisfaction and lead generation activities.

We found some eye-opening statistics from a study on hold music versus silence. In the study, researchers kept people on hold for 1 minute. Results showed:

  • On hold in silence: Over 50% of the callers hung up
  • On hold with music: Only 13% of the callers hung up

Additionally, 45% of the silent group that did not hang up thought they were on hold for 3-5 minutes. They were on hold for just one minute. While on the music side, 56% of people thought they were on hold for less than one minute.

So, you can see the power of activating that one simple feature of your VoIP system. You may notice happier customers and fewer leads hanging up before they reach anyone.

Voicemail Transcription to Email

When you’re coming out of a meeting, going through a string of voicemails can be frustrating. You have to listen to each one to figure out the people to call back first.

Voicemail to email in VoIP services, provides recorded voicemails emailed to you. This also comes with a transcription of the message. You can quickly glance through the emails and scan the text to rank callbacks. No need to listen to every message first.

Ring Groups

Ring groups are an especially helpful feature if you have a small team. It allows a group of numbers to ring simultaneously until one person in the group picks up.

This means that another staff member may be able to assist a caller, rather than them needing to leave a message. Ring groups are great to set up for sales teams, accounting teams, and customer support teams.

Call Reporting

Another bonus of VoIP phone systems over analog is that you get real-time call reporting. What are your busiest times when you need more staff? Do you have a problem with calls not getting answered fast enough?

Your call reporting can give you insight into those things and more. Make sure you check out these reports and then automate the ones you like so you’ll see them regularly.

Local Support

This isn’t a system feature, but it’s important to have. If you sign up for VoIP from a company halfway around the world, you don’t have any local support when you need it.

Having someone that can come to your office is important. They can set up VoIP desk phones and help you optimize ring groups, mobile apps, and more. Your business phone system is one of the most important pieces of technology you have. Make sure you have the local support you need to keep it operating reliably. Firewell Technology Solutions proudly offers and supports VoIP services from the top brands in the market.

Looking for Local VoIP Solutions?

Get expert VoIP services and local support. We’ll integrate your cloud-based phone system with your entire technology environment. Contact Firewell Technology Solutions today for a free consultation.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

7 Pro Tips for Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is the most popular of all major office productivity software, and not only do we support Microsoft 365 at Firewell Technology Solutions, we use Microsoft 365 a ton! It has 48.8% of the global market share, just edging out Google’s apps, by a couple of percentage points.

It’s used by individuals, small & mid-sized businesses, and larger enterprise organizations. It does everything a modern office needs. Including from word processing and spreadsheet work to cloud storage and video conferencing.

Because Microsoft 365 is such a vast platform, with over 20 apps in total, it can be easy to miss helpful features. People tend to stick with what’s familiar. But this often causes them to miss out on time and money-saving bonuses in M365, beyond the core apps.

Some of the many apps you get, depending on your subscription plan, include:

  • Excel
  • Word
  • Powerpoint
  • Outlook
  • To Do
  • OneDrive
  • Teams
  • Forms
  • Defender
  • SharePoint
  • Yammer
  • Lists
  • Access
  • Bookings
  • Intune
  • Planner
  • Visio
  • And more

Firewell Technology Solutions can help you use Microsoft 365 with more value. Let’s go through some of the most helpful apps and features in Microsoft 365 that you may now know about.

Get More Out of M365 With These Tips

 

1. Skip the Menu Bar by Using Search to Find Functions

We’ve all been there at one time or another. You know there is a way to do something in an app, but you can’t find it in the menu. For example, trying to change your margins in Microsoft Word to give you more space on the page.

You can stop wasting time clicking through one tab after another, and instead, use the search box at the top. It’s not just for searching for help topics. You can use a search to quickly jump to settings like margins, page orientation, and many more.

Search

2. Leverage the Free Stock Images, Icons & Videos

Most businesses need to have nice-looking images from time to time. They’re used on websites, brochures, and presentations. But finding good business images can be expensive.

You can’t just do a Google search to find them because they may be copyrighted. You need to have images that you can use commercially without any problems.

Inside Word, Excel, and PowerPoint you have a treasure trove of images. These are free to use in your marketing. You also have videos, icons, and even 3D models, all there for the picking.

Find them by going to Insert > Pictures > Stock Images

Use the tab at the top to tab between the different media. Then, click to insert it directly into your document, spreadsheet, or presentation.

Stock Images

3. Save Time by Using Data Types in Excel

Researching things like the population of a city or the nutrition value of a new menu can take days. Did you know that inside Excel you have access to several databases?

You can leverage facts and figures stored inside Excel’s “data types.” They include topics on everything from chemistry to yoga poses. Use data types to populate tons of data in seconds for various topics.

  • Start by adding your list (e.g., a list of menu items)
  • Highlight your list.
  • Then, click the Data tab.
  • In the Data Types window, choose the type of data it is (e.g., Food, Plant, etc.).

Excel Data Type

  • Next, click the small database icon that appears at the top of the list.
  • Choose the type of data you want.
  • The details will populate into the next open column on the right for each list item.

Excel Data

4. Save Time on Customer Surveys with Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms is one of the best-kept secrets of M365. This cloud-based survey and form builder makes it simple to send out surveys to people. You get the results back as soon as they click “submit” on the cloud-based form.

You can even download the results directly to Excel. Using them for graphing or uploading them into a software template.

Microsoft Forms

5. Use PPT’s Presenter Coach to Improve Your Skills

Do you worry when it comes time to give a presentation to clients or your own team? Not everyone feels comfortable about public speaking, even if it’s virtual.

PowerPoint can help with a handy AI-powered feature called Presenter Coach. Turn this coach on when practicing your presentation. It will give you tips on your pacing, use of filler words (e.g., umm), repetitive language, and much more!

Look for the “Rehearse with Coach” option on the Slide Show menu.

6. Save Recurring Email Text in Outlook’s Quick Parts

Do you have certain emails you send to customers that have the same paragraphs of text in them? For example, it might be directions to your building or how to contact support.

Stop retyping the same info every time. Outlook has a feature called Quick Parts that saves and then inserts blocks of text into emails.

  • Create a Quick Part by highlighting the text to save in an email.
  • On the Insert Menu, click Quick Parts.
  • Save Quick Part.

When ready to insert that text into another email, just use the same menu. Then click to insert the Quick Part.

Outlook Quick Parts

7. Create a Keyboard Shortcut to Paste as Unformatted Text

Keyboard shortcuts are great for saving time. But there’s not always one there when you need it. One handy keyboard shortcut to add for MS Word is to paste as text only. This method removes any formatting that copied text might have had so your document isn’t messed up.

Here’s how to make a keyboard shortcut for this:

  • In Word, click File> Options.
  • Click Customize Ribbon.
  • At the bottom of the panel, next to Keyboard shortcuts, click Customize.
  • Scroll in the left pane to All Commands.
  • Look for “PasteTextOnly”
  • Type your keyboard command, then click Assign.

Keyboard Shortcut

PasteTextOnly

 

Need Help Optimizing Microsoft 365?

Microsoft 365 has many security-enhancing, time-saving, and dollar-saving features. Learn how else Firewell Technology Solutions can help optimize your Microsoft 365 experience by scheduling a free consultation today!

 

Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

5 Mistakes Companies Are Making in the Digital Workplace

The pandemic has been a reality that companies around the world have shared. It required major changes in how they operate. No longer did the status quo of having everyone work in the office make sense for everyone. Many organizations had to quickly evolve to working through remote means via a digital workplace (including us here at Firewell Technology Solutions).

During the worst of the pandemic, it’s estimated that 70% of full-time workers were working from home. Even now that the pandemic has hit a new waning phase, remote work is still very much a reality. 92% of surveyed employees expect to still work from home at least 1 or more days per week.

This transformation has forced companies to rethink the tools and policies they use. Many have also needed to completely revamp how they work. They’ve had to switch to a cloud-based digital workspace to enable a hybrid team.

At Firewell Technology Solutions, we believe that this transition has brought a variety of newfound benefits:

  • Lower costs for employees and employers
  • Better employee work/life balance
  • Higher morale
  • The same or even improved productivity
  • More flexibility in serving clients

However, the transition to a digital workplace has also brought challenges and risks:

  • Vulnerable networks and endpoints
  • Employees feeling disconnected
  • Communication problems
  • Difficulty tracking productivity and accountability
  • Increased risk of data breaches

Alarmingly, 20% of organizations experienced a breach during the pandemic due to a remote worker.

Overcoming the challenges and reaping the benefits takes time and effort. It also often takes the help of a trained IT professional, so you avoid costly mistakes.

Below are some of the biggest company mistakes when building a digital workplace. For the statistics, we referenced IGLOO’s State of the Digital Workplace report.

1. Poor Cloud File Organization

When companies go virtual for their workflows, files live in a cloud-accessible environment. If those cloud storage environments aren’t well organized, it’s a problem. It can be difficult for employees to find the files they need.

About 51% of employees have avoided sharing a document with a colleague for this reason. They either couldn’t find it or thought it would be too hard to find. It’s notable that this is the highest percentage recorded for this stat in the IGLOO report. Meaning that this problem is getting worse.

Some tips for making shared cloud storage files easier to locate are:

  • Keep file structure flat (2-3 folders deep)
  • Create a consistent hierarchy and naming structure
  • Don’t create a new folder for fewer than 10 documents
  • Archive and delete older files monthly to reduce clutter

2. Leaving Remote Workers Out of the Conversation

No one likes to hear people start talking about something at a meeting and realize they’re lost. They missed an important piece of an earlier conversation. Many companies haven’t yet overcome in-person vs remote communication challenges.

In fact, nearly 60% of remote workers say they miss out on essential information. This is because colleagues first communicated it in person. Efficiency suffers when in-office workers make decisions without regard for remote colleagues.

Managers and bosses must lead the way in changing this culture. While old habits do take a while to change, mindset can transition to be more inclusive of the hybrid world.

3. Not Addressing Unauthorized Cloud App use

Unauthorized cloud app use (also known as Shadow IT) was already a problem before the pandemic. That problem escalated once people began working from home. Which is often using their personal devices.

Over half (57%) of employees use at least one unauthorized app in their workflow. When this happens, organizations can suffer in many ways.

Some of the risks of shadow IT include:

  • Data leakage from non-secured apps
  • Data privacy compliance violations
  • Redundancies in-app use that increase costs
  • Unprotected company data due to a lack of visibility
  • The employee leaves and no one can access the data in the unauthorized app

4. Not Realizing Remote Doesn’t Always Mean From Home

Remote employees aren’t always working from home, connected to their home Wi-Fi. They may also be working from airports, hotels, a family member’s home, or local coffee shops.

Companies that don’t properly protect company data used by remote employees, can be at risk of a breach. Public networks are notorious for enabling “man-in-the-middle” attacks. This is where a hacker connects to the same public network. Then, using software can access data transmissions from others on that
network.

It’s advisable to use a business VPN for all remote work situations. VPNs are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. The employee simply enables the app on their device. The app then reroutes their data through secure, encrypted servers.

5. Using Communication Tools That Frustrate Everyone

Are virtual meetings giving your team problems? As many as 85% of remote workers say that they’ve had 1-2 meetings interrupted by technology. It’s getting so you can hardly have a virtual meeting without someone having a technical issue.

Communication is the oil that makes the engine of a digital workplace run. Effective cloud-based video calls, audio calls, and chats depend on the right technology. This facilitates a smooth experience.

Don’t rush to use just any communication tools. Take your time and test them out. Get help optimizing settings to improve your virtual meetings. Additionally, ensure your remote team has tools to foster smooth communications. This includes headsets, VoIP desk sets, webcams, etc.

Boost the Productivity of Your Hybrid Office

Reach out today to schedule a technology consultation with Firewell Technology Solutions. We can help you improve the efficiency and productivity of your digital workplace.

 


Featured Image Credit

 

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Google Search Tips Worth Knowing to Save You Time

Over 2.4 million searches happen every minute on Google. It’s often the first stop people make when they go online. Internet life is so much easier when you know some semi-advanced Google search techniques.

We search daily for both personal and work needs, and—often—searching the right information can take a lot of time if you have to sift through several irrelevant results.

One study by consulting firm, McKinsey, found that employees spend an average of 1.8 hours daily, or 9.3 hours each week, searching and gathering information. This can be a productivity sinkhole as more web results keep getting added to the internet every day.

Firewell Technology Solutions believes that one way you can save time on your personal and work-related searches is to learn some “secret” Google search tips. These help you narrow down your search results and improve productivity by helping you find the information you need faster.

Search a Specific Website Using “site:”

Sometimes you need to find information on a specific website. For example, you might need to locate a government statistic that you know is out there but can’t seem to bring up on a general search.

You can use Google to search keywords on a specific website by using the “site” function.

In the search bar use the following:  site:(site url) (keyword)

This will bring up search results only for that one specific URL.

Find Flight Information Without Leaving Google

When you need to access flight information, you’re often on the go. Either getting ready to head to the airport or waiting for someone to arrive. Having to load multiple site pages in your browser can take valuable time. Instead, get your flight results directly from Google.

Just type in the flight number and the name of the airlines, and you’ll get a listing of flight information without having to click to another page. You can even tab to choose flight info for that same flight on different days.

Look for Document Types Using “filetype:”

If you’ve just been tasked with coming up with a presentation on sustainable energy, it can be helpful to see what other people have done on the same subject.

Searching websites can give you a lot of details to sift through but searching for another PowerPoint presentation can provide you with even more insight into how others have distilled that information down into a presentation.

Google has a search function that allows you to search on a file type, so instead of webpages showing up in your results, files of the file type you searched will appear.

To use this function, type in the following: filetype:(type) (keyword)

In the case of wanting to find a PowerPoint on sustainable energy, you could use the following in the search bar: filetype:ppt sustainable energy.

All the results will be PPT presentations.

You can also use this function for other file types, such as:

  • DOC
  • PDF
  • XLS or XLSX
  • SVG
  • and more

Narrow Down Timeframe Using the “Tools” Link

One frustration is when you’re looking up something like a population or cybersecurity statistic and you end up with results that are too old to be relevant. You can spend valuable time paging through the search results, or you can tell Google what time frame you’d like to search.

To narrow your search results by a specific timeframe, do the following:

  • Enter your keyword and click to search.
  • Under the search bar, click the “Tools” link.
  • Click the “Any time” link.
  • Choose your timeframe.

You can choose from preset timeframes, like past hour or past year, or you can set a custom date range for your results.

Locate Similar Sites Using “related:”

When you’re researching a topic online, it’s often helpful to find similar websites to the one you are viewing. Seeing related sites can also be used if you’re trying to find a specific product or service online and want to do some comparison shopping.

Google can provide you with a list of related websites when you use the “related” function.

In your search bar, type the following: related:https://website.com

One more way that you can leverage this search tip is to look for competitors by entering your own website URL in the search.

Get Rid of Results You Don’t Want Using “-(keyword)”

Non-relevant results are one of the main timewasters of online searching. You have to page through results that have nothing to do with what you really want to find, just because they use a related keyword.

For example, say you were searching the Ruby Slipper Cafe in New Orleans. But in your search results, you keep getting pages related to the movie the Wizard of Oz. You could eliminate those irrelevant results by using the negative keyword function.

Just type: (keyword) -(keyword)

Basically, you are just putting a minus sign in front of a keyword that you want to exclude from your search. In the example above, you would type: ruby slippers -oz.

Looking for More Ways to Boost Productivity & Save Time?

IT consultants aren’t just for large projects, we can also help you boost productivity in your everyday workflow to make your life easier. Contact Firewell Technology Solutions today, and we can have a non-salesy chat about how we can help you and your business thrive.

 


Featured Image Credit

This article, adapted, has been republished with permission from The Technology Press.

How OneNote Can Streamline Team Collaboration (And Four Tips to Make the Most of This Program)

 

OneNote is a digital note-taking tool that comes with plenty of benefits for users. But what you may not have realized yet is how powerful this app can be for enhancing team collaboration.  

Note-taking.

This is an essential part of day-to-day operations for many business owners, managers, and teams. After all, people can’t rely on their memory alone to recall everything that gets talked about each day—especially when it concerns important matters.

When it comes to note-taking, traditional methods such as pen and paper are effective but aren’t easily shareable and accessible, yet modern-day businesses need something that allows them to work fast and collaboratively. That’s why Firewell Technology Solutions helps businesses opt-in for digital solutions like Microsoft OneNote.

OneNote is a productivity tool that leverages cloud and Microsoft technologies to make information capturing, storage, and sharing a breeze.

Think of OneNote as a hub for all notes that allows you to organize them in many ways. It even allows pinning multimedia documents next to simple text.

If you’re looking for a robust digital note-taking tool, OneNote may be the solution for you.

Keep reading to discover the numerous ways in which this tool can be helpful for you and your business.

Why Should You Rely on OneNote?

OneNote is not just a powerful tool for notetaking—it’s also a useful tool that allows you to perform various functions for easy information processing.

We here at Firewell Technology Solutions particularly like Microsoft OneNote because of benefits like these:

Benefit #1: Promoting Real-Time Collaboration

OneNote is part of Microsoft’s fully-cloud based Office 365 suite. This means OneNote users can share files with other team members or clients in real-time. Multiple people can view and edit their notes simultaneously, allowing for a seamless collaboration anytime.

A great thing about real-time editing is that you can track all changes to the file. You can even restore the previous version of a document in case of accidents.

Businesses that run in multiple locations can benefit from this feature as well, for people located across the country can work on the same project without affecting team collaboration.

Simply put, there’s no need to trade emails and waste time waiting for responses—managers can have an easy time collaborating with their team instantly without ever leaving the office.

Benefit #2: OneNote Secures Sensitive Information

Doing business online and sharing sensitive data comes with security risks. This is especially true for notebook software. Fortunately, OneNote comes with a set of security features that protect your data from being exposed to third parties.

For example, you can lock specific sections with passwords while having all your information secured with 3DES encryption at all times. And if your password-protected documents remain inactive for a long time, the software will automatically lock them to prevent data leaks.

Benefit #3: Integration With Other Software

Like other Office 365 suite apps, OneNote has great integration abilities. You can sync your OneNote with Outlook to send email information directly to the app and vice versa.

What’s more, you can integrate this software with non-Microsoft apps as well. Some notable plugins include Zapier, Slack, Trello, Evernote, Dropbox, Salesforce, and many others. This integration keeps all your essential apps synchronized which allows your team to be more productive each day.

Benefit #4: OneNote for Project Management

OneNote has dozens of uses for general business. However, it’s especially suitable for project management.

Project managers often deal with issues such as team member misunderstandings, communication delays, or project bottlenecks. But thanks to Microsoft’s note-taking tool, many of these issues are quickly alleviated.

Project management can become more straightforward. It’s because OneNote makes it easy for the manager to track each team member’s achievements. They can update timelines, check off completed tasks, or assign new ones with ease.

Take OneNote to the Next Level 

If you have never used OneNote before, you may be interested to learn about some tips to help you get the most out of the software.

Tip #1: Creating Quick Notes

Quick Note is a great feature that lets you write down a thought when you’re out having lunch or away from the office.

Imagine being in the store and remembering you haven’t responded to an important email. You can take your phone, open the One Note app, and create a Quick Note reminding you of this task.

The next time you open OneNote on your computer, you’ll see the message there.

This feature is similar to Sticky Notes, as it lets you jot down any idea or thought in a matter of seconds. All your notes will be saved in the “Unfiled Notes” section of your “Quick Notes” notebook, a place where all your notes are saved by default.

Tip #2: Searching Across All Notes

Searching for notes becomes more challenging as time passes. If you’re an active user, you can find yourself storing hundreds of notes in a matter of months. But don’t worry, as there are tons of options to organize your notes as well as search for it.

OneNote has a built-in search option to make note finding easier.

All you need to do is click on the magnifying glass or hit “Ctrl” (or “Command” for Mac) + “F” on your keyboard and look for a phrase or word. The software will go over all your typed, handwritten, and even picture notes.

You can further narrow the search by selecting the drop-down arrow and choosing the desired option. You’ll see all matching results highlighted in your notes.

As you find the note you needed, you can close the search by pressing “X” on the right-hand corner.

Tip #3: Using Pre-Made Templates

OneNote is designed to have a blank canvas for each new note. And it’s what gives users a whole lot of flexibility. However, you can find this approach to be too basic sometimes. So, why not add some style, structure, and color to the app?

Thankfully, there are tons of pre-made templates to choose from. You can download a template with decorative backgrounds, to-do lists, planners, and more.

Note that you can use the templates only on new OneNote files. The ones that already contain text won’t work since most designs require content to appear in a specific place on the page.

If you need to add a template to your existing note, simply create a new one, then copy the existing text over.

Tip #4: Scanning Documents from Your Smartphone

Do you need to take notes from a scanned document? That’s not an issue for OneNote. You can use the Microsoft Lens: PDF Scanner App (available for Android and iOS) to take high-quality scans of multiple documents using your phone and upload them to OneNote.

Become the Master of Notetaking

Digital note-taking tools have helped thousands of workers and managers become more productive. OneNote is one such software that seems to have it all – abundant features, flexibility, and ease of use.

Whether you’re a business owner who wants to boost your team’s performance or a project manager that needs better tracking of the project timeline, OneNote has something in store for everyone.

If you’d like to learn more about how this powerful tool can help you make your business better, feel free to reach out to us. We can have a 10-15-minute chat about this topic or about other ways Firewell Technology Solutions can help with your business technology.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

The 7 Effective Features to Maximize Your Productivity on Microsoft OneDrive

 

Microsoft OneDrive is more than a file-sharing platform. It allows you to streamline your work in ways you never thought were possible. Learn how it can help boost workplace productivity. 

We’ll be frank: Firewell Technology Solutions strongly believes that organizing your business is crucial to its success!

The truth is that dealing with messy files and folders is of no help to you, to your colleagues, nor to your clients. Instead, it keeps you unproductive and negatively impacts your business in a variety of ways.

Fortunately, Microsoft OneDrive can be a significant help in this area—especially when it comes to improving workflow in a business. This suite of apps has tons of features that can help the whole team be more effective at handling their workload.

For example, you can organize your folders on a cloud platform starting with 1TB (1024 gigabytes!) worth of space, do file backups, share files, etc. You can also share your PDFs, audio, photos, slides, and important work files in one place.

Overall, you can maximize your productivity on Microsoft OneDrive by tapping into several handy features. This article lists 7 of them.

The 7 Features

Feature #1: Sharing Files While Controlling Access

Microsoft OneDrive has robust sharing capabilities that allow for work collaboration. All you need to do is click on a file or folder you wish to share and create a shareable link or invite others to access that file.

What’s more, every file and folder on this platform has its own sharing link that’s highly customizable. You can also determine user permissions for each item – whether the person with access can only view or can edit or comment.

Additionally, you can add a time limit for file or folder access.

Feature #2: Publishing Files to the Internet

Microsoft OneDrive is among the best platforms out there for publishing files online. You and your team can access the uploads from anywhere in the world so long as you have an internet connection.

A great thing about published files is that they sync to all devices that use the OneDrive app. This means the files you uploaded to your computer will be visible on your phone app and vice versa. All it takes to access those files is signing into your Microsoft OneDrive account.

Feature #3: Voice Typing

If you need to upload a written file on OneDrive, you can use Microsoft Word and dictate the text instead of typing. This will save you a lot of time when working with both short and longer files.

You can use words such as “period” and “next line” to let the recorder know how to organize your speech. Once you’re done recording, proofread your text to finish.

Feature #4: Assigning Tasks to Employees With Comments

Microsoft OneDrive makes it easy to tag a person and assign them a task for a specific file section. Whether they need to revise, proofread, manage sources, or rearrange their work, you can easily let them know what they need to do by adding comments.

Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Open the file that needs task assigning on Microsoft Word.
  2. Use your mouse to highlight the part that needs reworking and right-click on it.
  3. Select “Comment” for the Comment section to appear to the right of the highlighted text.
  4. Type “+” or “@” then a person’s name to tag them in that comment. You can also tag people by entering their email addresses.

The tagged person will then receive a notification about this action and be invited to open the file.

Feature #5: Using Templates

Microsoft OneDrive supports free templates for a variety of Microsoft Apps. You can use Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, all loaded with hundreds of templates for different project types.

To choose or look for templates, open the app you want to use, create a new document, and choose one of the templates available; you can browse for more templates by clicking the “more templates” option.

Feature #6: Sorting Your Files by Size 

Microsoft OneDrive sorts your uploaded files and folders alphanumerically by default, although you can sort by date modified. This is useful because it gives you quick access to files you work with often.

But if you want to free up some OneDrive storage space, you may want to sort the files according to their size and delete the ones you don’t use often that take too much space.

Microsoft guarantees 93 days of file retention in the case that a file was accidentally deleted. Firewell Technology Solutions also implements backup systems that will retain infinite versions of your OneDrive files for a year or more.

Feature #7: Doing Advanced Search

Maybe you’re searching for a document with specific keywords appearing in multiple files. In this case, you can use the advanced search on OneDrive. The platform allows you to filter your results by location, file type, owner, shared with, date modified, and more.

All you need to do is click on the “Search Options” icon at the far right of the search bar.

Get the Most Out of Microsoft OneDrive

Organizing your files is crucial to making you and your employees more productive in running your business. And Microsoft OneDrive more than proves its worth in this aspect.

OneDrive is a great tool that comes with numerous features to help you organize your files and folders, share them with the world, assign tasks, exchange valuable information, and more.

The seven features mentioned above will help you streamline your work processes and make file creation, sharing, and search more straightforward.

If you’d like to learn more about how Firewell Technology Solutions and Microsoft OneDrive (and, by extension, Microsoft SharePoint) can help you improve your business, I’d be happy to tell you about it. Get in touch with us today to have a 10-15-minute chat on this topic.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Timeless Methods of Improving Your Productivity – Here are 8 Things You Can Do to Be More Productive

Low productivity can be a massive obstacle to growing your business. Luckily, there are many ways to solve this problem.

Many people struggle to finish the task at hand. No matter how long they’ve been in the business, productivity seems to evade them regularly.

And this probably happens to you, too, even if you’re an experienced business owner.

Your to-do list is long… but you can’t focus when you try to get down to work.

You try to concentrate… but you can’t make any headway.

You might have been doing something all day… but none of your tasks are finished.

Simply put, you’ve been busy but not productive.

Luckily, there are many methods to get out of the slump. You need to work on your productivity, and this article will provide some of the best ways to do so.

8 Methods to Boost Productivity 

Method #1: Improve Your Focus = Improved Productivity

When you have many obligations, you can easily get overwhelmed by the sheer number. As a result, you end up sitting idle and unable to do anything.

Instead of tackling many things at once, choose the most important task. Hone in on it, and don’t let anything else distract you. Your mission should be to complete the job to make your day successful.

Once it’s out of the way, you’ll get a powerful sense of accomplishment that will drive you to keep going.

Method #2: Don’t Forget the Importance of Good Sleep

One of the main reasons affecting your productivity is a potential lack of sleep. Working while feeling sleepy is counterproductive, and the only way to combat it is through this:

Get some sleep.

Experts recommend getting at least seven hours of sleep every night to improve workplace productivity. It lets you wake up fresh and ready to take on your office assignments.

Furthermore, avoid going to work as soon as you get out of bed. Prepare yourself mentally for about half an hour before starting your workday.

You should also figure out your ideal bedtime. Most people go to sleep early and wake up early, but that may not be effective for you. You’ll need to determine the most suitable timing.

Method #3: Give Intelligent Planning a Shot 

Intelligent planning teaches you how to boost productivity by enhancing your time management. Research suggests your working intervals shouldn’t last more than 1.5 hours. Rest periods should be distributed between, allowing you to recharge your batteries.

That said, trying to leave work early might be tempting, but it’s usually counterproductive. You skip your rest time, and job quality plummets.

To remain productive and focused throughout the day, clear your mind by doing exercises. They can improve your performance while benefiting your mental and physical health massively.

Some of your best options include yoga and a short gym session. They help reset your brain and fill you with positive energy to help you handle the rest of your workload.

Method #4: Get Rid of Distractions

Another great way to increase productivity is to weed out distractions, such as chatting with your team members and surfing the web. The urge might be strong, but you’ll need to resist it to enhance your workplace efficiency. 

To do so, turn off computer and smartphone notifications. You may still encounter some interruptions, but they won’t be caused by social media or other trifles.

If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, Microsoft Viva allows you to book Focus Time on your calendar so both you and your colleagues will see that you’ve scheduled time to focus and not be distracted by meetings and such.

Method #5: Do the Most Challenging Tasks First

Most productive days start by taking care of the most difficult task first.

You’re at your best in the morning, which is the perfect time to address the biggest problem for the day. It’s during this period where your mental energy surges and you’re more likely to produce innovative ideas to solve tough challenges.

After tackling the most complex tasks, the rest of the day will be much easier. You’ll be left with routine activities (e.g., checking and answering emails) that require no creative efforts.

Method #6: Don’t Work Without a Break

This might sound counterproductive, but you need to take breaks during your workday. Remember, you’re not a machine that can work non-stop and produce impressive results. And if you try to be like one, your productivity is bound to plunge. In fact, a recent study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests that micro-breaks have the potential to impact productivity and performance particularly among workers with low work engagement (Kim, Park, & Hedrick 2018).

To avoid mental exhaustion and productivity lapses, get up from the desk and stop working for a couple of minutes.

As previously mentioned, you can perform a few exercises to refresh your energy. Another option is to have a cup of coffee or go for a walk. You should return more focused and ready to complete your tasks.

But don’t go overboard with your breaks. Try to limit them to about 30 minutes and avoid watching YouTube or going to entertaining websites. It can lead to further procrastination and less productivity.

Method #7: Learn to Delegate

Everyone needs help, even the most skilled business owner.

So, delegating your assignments should be a staple of your workday, as it helps you save time and remain productive. Best of all, it allows you to focus on complex duties that can make or break your business.

The easiest way to delegate duties is to assign them to trustworthy team members.

After entrusting your responsibilities, don’t supervise your workers closely. Otherwise, you may start micromanaging them, which may cripple their motivation and confidence.

Instead, provide your employees with all resources necessary to complete the task and let them work in peace. If possible, teach them how to automate the assignment using modern technology.

Again, this can help take your productivity to new heights by enabling you to deal with essential duties only.

Method #8: Create and Manage a Task List

Remember that book Getting Things Done by David Allen? Among a collection of gems, perhaps the most useful is the habit and practice of writing tasks down on a list. Allen writes that “there is an inverse relationship between things on your mind and getting those things done.” Therefore, both David Allen and Firewell Technology Solutions suggest that you write a task list to free up your cognitive bandwidth from worrying about what tasks you need to do so that you can use that extra bandwidth to do those tasks. Furthermore, checking items off of your task list will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to keep going; just don’t forget to take those micro-breaks!

Don’t Let Your Workplace Performance Suffer 

Running a company is satisfying, but you need to perform consistently to obtain the best results. Hence, your productivity should remain high, and Firewell Technology Solutions believes these are the eight best ways to increase it.

The key takeaway is to eliminate distractions, take appropriate breaks, organize your tasks in a list (Microsoft To Do is great for this) and tackle the most daunting tasks early. Don’t forget to allocate some of your workload to your team members and get a good night’s sleep to keep a sharp focus.

For more tips on staying productive in your office, contact us today. Let’s arrange a 10-15 non-salesy chat to figure out the biggest productivity challenges your business faces and how to overcome them.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.