Essential Safety Tips for Your Smartphone or Tablet

Whether you are upgrading to the latest model or buying your first smartphone or tablet, you need to secure your device properly from the start. Modern smartphones are closer to supercomputers than traditional telephone handsets, and they need to be secured as if they were computers.

The same is true of tablet computers, yet the owners of these devices often do not take security as seriously as they should. If you doubt the need for smartphone and tablet security, just think about how you use the device. From online banking and financial transactions to email and web surfing, the places you go online leave behind lots of tracks – tracks a criminal could follow to raid your bank account, hijack your email and wreak havoc with your personal and professional life.

With that in mind, here are some smart safety tips to secure your smartphone or tablet from day one. Taking these safety ideas into account can prevent unauthorized access and keep your private information under wraps.

Create a Strong Password
A strong password or PIN is your first line of defense, and it should be the first thing you do once your smartphone or tablet is up and running. Make your password or PIN as long as possible, and use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters whenever you can. The more complex you make your password, the harder it will be for a thief, or anyone else, to crack.

Do not forget to secure your cloud storage space or online backup with a password that is just as strong. One of the great things about modern smartphones and tablets is that they can easily be synced to your cloud account. That means that everything on your phone will end up in the cloud, and if that cloud storage site is not secure, it will be easy for a hacker to access it.

Research the Apps You Plan to Install
You will want to install lots of apps on your new smartphone or tablet, but do a little bit of homework first. Check out the apps, read the reviews and search online for notices of security holes and other issues. Only download apps from trusted sources, and immediately delete any apps that do not perform as expected.

You may want to wait a few weeks before downloading a brand new app. Some security problems are not apparent right away, and you may not learn about them until other people have been using them for a while.

Turn On the Remote Location Features
Smartphones and tablets are highly portable – that is what makes them so useful. But their portability also makes them easy to lose, so protect yourself with remote location features.

Remote location features make it easier to track your lost smartphone or tablet, vastly increasing the odds of getting it back. Before you download a single app, you should make sure the remote tracking features are turned on.

Enable Remote Wiping
The ability to remotely wipe your smartphone or tablet if it is lost or stolen is just as important as the ability to track it. Some smartphones have remote wiping features built in, while others require owners to download a special app. No matter what the situation, having the ability to remotely erase your personal data will give you extra peace of mind.

Protect Yourself with a VPN
Wireless connectivity is one of the best features of any smartphone or tablet, but public Wi-Fi networks are notoriously unreliable and often dangerous. Using a virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best ways to keep you safe when you surf.

Businesses routinely use virtual private networks to protect their data and allow employees to connect to the office network. You can use the same technology to keep your personal surfing secret, especially when you are using the free Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop or similar location.

 

No matter what kind of smartphone or tablet you own, you need to take steps to protect it. These devices bring a great deal of convenience to our lives, but they also come with their fair share of risks. Taking the time to secure your devices now mitigates the danger and allows you to enjoy the advantages of modern technology.

How Modern Office Spaces Are Improving Our Overall Health

“For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking”
Martha Grogan, Cardiologist, Mayo Clinic

Traditional office environments are often a “one-size-fits-all” approach. You may know the type of space we are referring to very well: a room lined with cubicles, each containing a desk and a chair, waiting for occupants to arrive and spend the day seated in one place in order to get as much done as possible. Flash forward a few decades, and a few research studies later, and the traditional office environment is making way for a more modern space, one which allows for workspace flow that promotes movement during the day.

As many studies have unveiled, the act of sitting at a desk all day can have a significant impact on health and wellness. Moving from a stationary workstation to one that promotes movement, like active seating and sit-stand desk set-ups, are said to have a variety of positive benefits that can improve overall health, including a reduced risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and lower long-term morality risk (source).

As we make the shift from traditional workspaces to active workspaces, companies like Ergotron have developed products to make a healthy workday happen. Ergotron is redefining the 21st century workspace with an emphasis on health, productivity and affordability.

Ergotron WorkFit workstations bring new flexibility to traditionally static environments, increasing your options for equipment placement, improving workflow, and enhancing social interaction.

That’s good for a company’s bottom line.

Retrofit your current workspace now! The WorkFit-T comes fully assembly, so no installation is needed. Whether you are upgrading an existing space or designing for a new build, WorkFit units are easy to install and use. They offer tool-free adjustment to suit individual users, and are tested to help ensure years of trouble-free up-down movement.

“Obesity is increasing not only in numbers but in severity;
More than 1 in 4 Canadian adults are obese;
Obesity costs economy up to $7-billion a year..”
Source

Sitting less and standing more is healthy and in-demand. Not only can it help increase your bottom line, it can help maximize office real estate space and assist with talent acquisition and employee retention.

Product Spotlight:
Ergotron WorkFit-T, Sit-Stand Desktop Workstation

ergotron-workfit-t-sit-stand-desktop-workstation

See the difference sit-stand stations and other ergonomic products can make for your employees and the boost it will bring to your bottom line. Find the full assortment of products on eway.ca.

 

Is Bad Technology Holding Your Employees Back?

Is outdated technology holding your employees back from doing their best work? In the 2016 Workplace Index, nearly 75% of people reported not having access to the latest technology that would help them do their job more effectively and efficiently.

Investing in new technology for your company may seem like a costly undertaking that you might not feel ready or willing to commit to, however not upgrading may be holding you and your company back. If you weigh the costs of updating your technology against the benefits of how the right technology can propel your business forward, the results will probably speak for themselves. Giving your employees access to the right technology can dramatically increase efficiencies. Even simple improvements like switching an on-the-go employee’s computer from a desktop to a laptop or tablet can help give them immediate access to work from beyond the office walls. Adding or updating technology in your conference rooms can take presentations and business meetings to a more professional level.

So how do you know if your current workplace technology is holding your employees back from doing their best work? Use the Room to Room Checklist to take a quick audit of the essentials so that you can ensure your company and employees are set up for success.

Room_to_Room_TechCheckList

PC Enhancements At Your Fingertips

Here’s a silly question: If you could enhance the performance of your PC — using tools already installed on your computer — would you do it? Of course you would.

With a few easy-to-use applications that came prepackaged on your PC, you can make your computer run faster and more efficiently, protect yourself from malware and increase your privacy while browsing the Internet. Soon you can enjoy better computing by using these tools for Windows and Internet Explorer.

Enhancing Speed and Performance
Have you noticed your PC isn’t running as quickly as it once did? Does it take longer to start up? Do your applications seem sluggish? Is web browsing slower than usual? If so, you may need to use these tools to give your PC a tune-up.

Defrag Your Hard Drive
Your computer has a strange habit: Sometimes your PC will break files into different parts and then store these file fragments in separate areas of your hard drive. Your PC does this for efficiency, but as the files update and multiply, the retrieving and rebuilding of these files when you need to use them becomes more work for your computer. Thus, your PC slows down.

To put the file fragments back together and help your PC run more efficiently, you will need to run your Disk Defragmenter tool. This tool is found on your Control Panel under Administrator Tools. Note that you will need to be signed into your PC as an administrator to use this and the following tools.

Remove Disk Errors
Every once in a while, a program on your PC will crash or you will experience a power outage. The result of such an event is often errors on your hard drive, errors that result in a slower PC. To repair these errors and improve performance, run the Check Disk tool, which is found on your Control Panel.

Remove Temp Files
Your PC is a bit of a hoarder. Each time you surf the Web, your computer stores temporary files on your hard disk that make Web-page loading faster. Also, when you use programs like Word, your PC keeps many temporary files to ensure that you don’t lose important data. Eventually the sheer bulk of these files adds up, and they slow down your computer.

To rid your PC of these unnecessary, temporary files, use the Disk Cleanup tool.

Manage Startup Applications
Some software applications may be set to start automatically whenever you turn on your PC. This can be useful for programs you consult frequently, but too many programs running automatically can cause startup delays. Use Windows Defender in your All Programs list to limit your startup applications.


Remove Malware from Your PC

Spyware, viruses, adware —you can hardly surf the Web these days without running into them. And if you do contract some of this malware, not only can it compromise your personal privacy and information, it can reduce your PC’s performance. As these applications run in the background of your PC, they take up processing power, leading to slowdowns.

Many people have already purchased an anti-malware program, but those who haven’t can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free. This tool removes existing malware from your PC and prevents further infections.

Enhancing PC Privacy
Maintaining your privacy is important when surfing the Web. Keeping your critical data hidden from hackers can thwart identity theft and financial loss. Hackers are also keen on tracking the Web sites you visit, keeping tabs on pages viewed and even recording each keystroke you make while there. Such keystroke trackers can reveal your passwords to hackers.

We’ve already discussed the use of anti-malware programs, but there are a few other utilities packaged into Internet Explorer that can enhance your PC privacy while you use the Internet.

InPrivate Browsing
This Internet Explorer tool allows you to surf the Web without your PC storing data about your browsing session. Information such as history, cookies and temporary files is not collected, keeping this data from being usable by hackers. You can access this tool through the Safety menu.


SmartScreen Filtes
Some hackers set up Web pages that are made to mimic the appearance of other sites. They may create pages that look like your bank’s Web site to try to coax you into giving up passwords or account information. Or, these pages may appear to offer free downloads of popular programs, which instead download malware to your PC when you click Install.

The SmartScreen Filter available with Internet Explorer detects these scam sites and blocks the pages from loading.

Other Internet Options
If you click the Tool icon on the Internet Explorer toolbar and choose Internet Options from the drop-down list, you will see there are other tools available to enhance your security and privacy while surfing the Web.

On the Security tab, you can set the level of protection to be used while you surf. You may wish to lower or heighten this level depending on the kind of browsing you do. You can also specify lists of trusted and restricted sites.

Under the Privacy tab you can set your personal privacy level (Accept All Cookies; Medium; Block All Cookies). This is also the place to turn on the Explorer pop-up blocker, which prevents pop-up advertisements from opening while you surf the Web.

Finally, under the Content tab, the types of Web content that can be viewed while surfing can be controlled. This is where you will find options for parental controls as well.

Rate Your PC’s Performance
Your PC is a bit of a hoarder. Each time you surf the Web, your computer stores temporary files on your hard disk that make Web-page loading faster. Also, when you use programs like Word, your PC keeps many temporary files to ensure that you don’t lose important data. Eventually the sheer bulk of these files adds up, and they slow down your computer.

To rid your PC of these unnecessary, temporary files, use the Disk Cleanup tool.

3 Ways to Make Telecommuting Work

It likely comes as no real surprise that the telecommuting is on the rise and quickly becoming a norm in most workplaces, certainly making it a workplace trend that’s here to stay. According to a Staples Advantage study, in 2015 at least 86% of companies reported having at least some employees who telecommute, and that’s up from just 67% only five years prior. And as reported a few weeks back in the Love Your Office post, the number of people searching terms online that include “work from home”, “remote”, “part-time” and “telecommute” has increased 42.1% in just the last two years alone (Business Insider).

The fact of the matter is, there are many benefits to both employees and companies who opt to include telecommuting as part of the regular business practice. Employees can save precious time from long commutes, arriving to their desks less stressed and more focused each day. And companies can seek to bring on top talent regardless of city or region. Additional benefits companies listed as part of their telecommuting policies included:

  • 36% cited lower travel and transportation costs
  • 32% said telecommuting increases employee retention
  • 17% believe telecommuting reduces overhead costs
  • 12% find telecommuting boosts productivity

Keeping these highlights from the Staples Advantage survey in mind, here are a few important notes to remember when implementing a telecommuting policy.

Give employees the right tools for the job.
Make sure your remote workers don’t miss a thing. Arm them with the right technology and access to the right programs, including teleconferencing tools, messenger applications, and mobile phones, tablets or computers. All these things allow for spontaneous communication and group communication, no matter where your team members are.

Make sure employees are in the loop.
Keeping employees engaged is hard enough when they’re in the same office—how do you keep your remote workers engaged and happy? First and foremost, make sure to keep the lines of communication open. Keeping them up to speed on company affairs including internal communications becomes even more important when they’re not in the office to hear any announcements or  project updates first hand. Including your teleworkers in company events whenever possible, and finding tangible ways to demonstrate your appreciation.

Make other departments part of your plan.
As many as 66% of companies from the survey noted that they don’t budget for their workers who spend some (or even all) of their time working from home or on the road. This can make the procurement process much more challenging. It raises the important reminder of keeping other departments such as your procurement purchasers, IT, and HR, up to speed on your work from home policies so that those departments can ensure they have the right tools and practices in place to deal with any issues that may arise.

Have you seen success with your telecommuting policies? Comment below or tweet us at @StaplesAdvCan.

 

4 Tech Gadgets For A More Productive Business in 2016

The Tech Gift Guide is out, and this year’s tech trends are sure to make navigating through your daily work routine a little bit easier. From the desk to the boardroom and every stop in between, these tech gadgets make being productive on the go a breeze!

Surface Pro 3

surfaceproThe Surface Pro 3 is the tablet that can replace your laptop. The portable tablet provides the perfect balance between performance and value. With the ability to run desktop software, a full-size USB 3.0 port, and an integrated Kickstand, Surface 3 is the perfect productivity device for school, home, and on the go. With a 12” display, Surface Pro 3 has the power of a laptop in a lightweight, versatile form. Plus, work anywhere with the multi-position Kickstand. The integrated Kickstand now features multiple positions so you can work comfortably whether you’re on the plane, at your desk, or in front of the television.

3M™ Dual-Swivel Monitor Arm

MonitorThinking of a sit-stand workstation for 2016? Known to improve productivity, a standing workstation could be the perfect addition to your workplace. This adjustable dual-swivel monitor arm allows for several height options for placing your monitor in the best ergonomic position, while offering more desk space. This highly adjustable monitor arm moves up, down, forward and back. The height adjusts up and down through an 8″ range, swivels 180° and tilts forward and back +15°/-90° for optimal ergonomic positioning. Plus the monitor can rotate portrait or landscape.

CS540 Wireless Office Headset System

HeadsetPlantronics legendary CS family is setting a new wireless standard for desk phone communication with the CS500™ Series. The streamlined design and improved performance adds reliability for hands-free productivity and has made the CS family a best-seller for nearly a decade. With up to a 300′ range, voice dedicated 1.9 GHz DECT Techology, and up to six hours of talk time. It’s convertible with three wearing styles and noise-canceling microphone on extended boom makes for clear conversations.

WeMo Switch

wemoThe Belkin Wi-Fi enabled WeMo Switch lets you turn electronic devices on or off from anywhere. The WeMo Switch uses your existing home Wi-Fi network to provide wireless control of TVs, lamps, stereos, heaters, fans and more. Simply download the free WeMo App, plug the switch into an outlet in your home, and plug any device into the switch. You’ll be able to turn that device on or off using your smartphone or tablet. You can set schedules for your devices and control them remotely using a mobile internet connection. You can also add additional switches to your home to control more devices. Whether you want to turn on a light from your kitchen, front yard, or office, WeMo Switch has you covered.

Shop for these great tech gifts and many others in the 2015 Tech Gift Guide.