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nbn small business

NBN drives Small Business productivity

As the long awaited NBN (National Broadband Network) continues to be rolled out across Australia, small businesses are already realising the benefits high speed internet connectivity can bring.

A study by the University of Melbourne showed that SMBs are set to contribute an additional $4 billion to Australia’s GDP after the NBN rollout is complete, linking business success with the adoption of new digital services.

A recently Telstra survey revealed more interesting statistics from small businesses already connected to the NBN:

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  • 41% reported improved productivity
  • 15% reported decrease in business costs (regional experience slightly higher at 19%)
  • 5% cited increased revenue as a result of the faster broadband connectivity

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What we really like to hear is that SMBs are making the most of the new infrastructure, using the NBN as an opportunity to capture greater productivity through technology. Following the switch to the NBN:

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Steven Peck, Director of NBN Business at Telstra says that to maximise the benefits of the network, SMBs are encouraged to invest and upgrade their technology.

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[quote author_name=”Steven Peck” author_description=”Director of NBN Business at Telstra ” size=”small” style=”simple”]

The increased instant asset threshold allows small businesses to claim an immediate deduction for assets that cost less than $20,000 excluding GST, and assets covered under this legislation are technologies including hardware (computers, tablets and mobile devices) and software purchased for business use.

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So what do you get when you combine small businesses and a really fast National Broadband Network? Increased productivity. Increased adoption of digital services. Increased revenue for the small business market.

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For more information on the NBN go to www.nbnco.com.au.

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cloud file storage

Cloud File Storage and Collaboration with Soonr

Before we moved our files over to a cloud file storage system we were struggling keeping our shared files organised. We were constantly emailing documents back and forth with external clients and partners. Working remotely and collaborating was always difficult.

We kept thinking, “there has to be an easier way!”

Well thankfully, there is. Watch our webinar below to learn more about Soonr, the cloud based file storage and collaboration platform that has transformed the way we work here at Grassroots IT.

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What does a good cloud file storage service look like?

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Mobile Productivity:

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  • Access & work on the files you need at any time from anywhere.
  • Online & Offline Access and Network files
  • Office-based and remote team members can collaborate as if in the same location

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Ability to securely SHARE information with anyone:

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  • Easy and secure sharing of files with internal & external parties
  • Branding & No Tool Adoption
  • Encryption of files

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Security & Control:

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  • Controlled access for content, users and devices
  • Version Control & File Retention: Access to the most current file version – no more confusion
  • Server support

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File sharing has had a significant changes on the mobility of business.

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File Sharing / Collaboration Challenges:

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  • Keeping everyone up to date
  • Sharing large files
  • Working on the go
  • Accessing files anytime
  • Organising files
  • Securing corporate data

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Impact of File Sharing Challenges:

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  • Significant impact on the business and productivity
  • Client facing employees & Executives
  • Workers who all interact with a large number of external partners, customers and teams

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Approved File Sharing  Systems:

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  • 78% didn’t have an approved file sharing system

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Key functions of Soonr:

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Company File Service / Hybrid Environment:

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  • Company file repository in the cloud with mobile access

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Deal-Room:

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  • Secure sharing with clients, partners and suppliers

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Dropbox for Business Replacement:

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  • Secure email alternative when dealing with large files

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Mobile Workers:

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  • Mobile office productivity, integrated editing, annotation, fax, etc. in one app

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Soonr gives your company full control over:

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Policies:

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  • Backups – allowed / not allowed
  • Password Policies
  • Session Policies
  • Online Editing Policies
  • Device Policies
  • Mobile Device Policies
  • IP address whitelisting

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Configurations:

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  • Branding
  • AD Integration
  • Single-Sign On

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Disable Data & Data Wipes:

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  • Remove Team members; re-assign projects and wipe data

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cloud file storage

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Try Soonr for yourself:

  • 30 Day Free Trial
  • Email help@grassrootsit.com.au to request your free trial
  • Utilise Grassroots IT services to set up Soonr as your Cloud File Server replacement

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Crafting the perfect Web Marketing Strategy with Jon Hollenberg

A good web marketing strategy doesn’t have to be hard, in fact, it can be quite simple. You’ve just got to know where to start. Our good friend and digital expert, Jon Hollenberg from Five by Five, answered all our questions and gave us some really awesome and useful tips to get us crafting the perfect web marketing strategy.  You can watch the webinar below and to make sure you get all the notes, they’re all below for your reading pleasure.

Crafting the perfect Web Marketing Strategy from Grassroots IT on Vimeo.

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5 elements of a high performing website

 

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Crafting the perfect Web Marketing Strategy (5)

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When someone comes to your website, we want to give them the best possible chance of getting in touch. So what should your website look like at first glance?

From a design perspective, this is what you should be doing with your website:

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  • Phone number top right hand corner of each page
  • Be really clear on what you do in the headline
  • Video on the homepage
  • Benefit ridden copy
  • Testimonials
  • Communicate proof and build trust through logos
  • Capture their details
  • Use guarantees
  • Team members photos & videos
  • Load time

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Crafting the perfect Web Marketing Strategy (1)

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Mobiles are generating upwards of 60-70% of traffic, so you should be thinking of a mobile first approach. Ask yourself if your website has a mobile responsive design ? Test it.

Grab your phone and look it up. Is it easy to read? Are the web forms easy to fill out on your phone?

You can search “Google mobile friendly test” and use that as a guide to know exactly what your website needs to be mobile responsive.

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Crafting the perfect Web Marketing Strategy (6)

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Content is King.

Creating and sharing your own content can lead to online traction. Using good quality content can build your brand image and brings leads directly to your website.

Content ideas:

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  • Blog posts
  • How to videos
  • FAQs
  • Product Reviews
  • Industry News
  • Lists

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Crafting the perfect Web Marketing Strategy (7)

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You want some level of interaction with your audience. You want contact details to continue the conversation and ideally in an automotive fashion bringing maximum leverage for you.

Here are some ideas:

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  • Give away something valuable
  • Opt-in
  • Build a list
  • Build a quiz

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Crafting the perfect Web Marketing Strategy (8)

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Everyone has a story to tell. Tell your audience why you get out of bed everyday and do what you do. There is a power to telling a story through your website because it builds an intimate, personal connection with your audience, before ever meeting them in person.

Examples of how you can tell your story:

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  • https://www.nqtc.com.au/
  • https://www.gallantplumbing.com.au/
  • https://www.missowealth.com/
  • https://www.tardisadvice.com.au/
  • https://www.justincoulson.com/

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Can’t get enough of Jon? Neither can we!

Listen to our podcast with Jon here.

Learn how to create a brilliant website with Jon here.

Visit Five by Five’s website and contact Jon here.

Get a copy of Jon’s book, Love at first site: How to build the website of your dreams, here.

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Outlook 2016 Productivity Hacks

Last month we successfully held our Outlook 2016 Productivity Hacks webinar. The webinar was designed to help everyday users of Outlook 2016 expand upon basic skills and use Outlook more efficiently. The webinar expanded on our previous blog post Getting the most from Microsoft Office 365.

We have provided you with a link to replay our webinar. Enjoy!

Outlook 2016 Productivity Power Tips from Grassroots IT on Vimeo.

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Skype Meetings in Outlook

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      • Schedule a Skype Meeting through Outlook
      • “Meeting Options” button lets you fine tune your meeting

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Auto Responders

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      • Auto Responders are a powerful way of keeping others informed when you won’t be responding to email as usual
      • Rules – EG: forward specific emails to a co-worked for action in your absence

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Outlook Rules and Automation

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Outlook Rules and Automation can do some amazing stuff to help streamline and automate parts of your workflow

      • Basic rules can move emails between folders based on simple criteria
      • More advanced rules can be triggered by a wide range of conditions
      • Once triggered a rule can execute a number of actions
      • Define any exceptions to the rule

Idea:- Play the Darth Vader theme song when you receive an email from your boss

Idea:- Print all attachments from an email then file the email automatically

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Attaching Files

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      • The new way of adding attachments to an email automatically shows the last few documents that you have worked with

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Quick Steps

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      • Quick Steps can provide a super useful way of executing frequently used actions, such as moving an email to another folder

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Clutter

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      • Helps you filter low-priority email, saving time for your most important messages.
      • The email server keeps track of the email you read and the ones you don’t.
      • Once you turn it on, Clutter is automatic. As new email comes in, it takes messages you’re most likely to ignore and puts them into the “Clutter” folder.
      • The more you use it, the better it gets.
      • If you find Clutter isn’t for you, you can turn it off.

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Outlook Mobile

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      • The new and improved Outlook app unifies your email, calendars, cloud storage and contacts, so it’s easier to get things done.
      • Outlook Mobile App has long provided similar functionality to clutter, although here it’s called your Focused Inbox.
      • Manage emails with simple swipe gestures and share availability with your contacts effortlessly on the new Outlook app.
      • Email signatures will not be copied over, but you can create your own text signature.

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Filter your Inbox

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      • Filter your inbox by unread emails, important emails or even create your own filter

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BCC a Meeting Invite

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      • Add a contact to an existing meeting without notifying the current attendees.

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Quick Parts

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      • Quick Parts for standardised blocks of text
      • New Email > Highlight Text > Insert > Quick Parts > Save Selection to Gallery

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Delayed Delivery

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      • Schedule emails to be sent when it is convenient for you

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New Search Folder

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      • Will show emails that match a certain criteria that you have specified
      • Will show emails in all your folders not just your inbox

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Task Bar Shortcuts

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      • Right-click task bar to create new email, appointment, etc

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Conditional Formatting

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      • View > View Settings > Conditional Formatting
      • Apply conditional formatting to emails in your inbox
      • Useful for VIP, Projects, etc

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Clipboard

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      • New Email will appear simply but hitting Control-V and pasting the content from your clipboard.
      • This works for new Calendar items

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Desktop Notifications

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      • Turn off desktop notifications, then on for VIP using a Rule

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Email Templates

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      • Email Templates. File > Save As > Outlook Template

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Favourites Folder

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      • Pin folders to ‘Favorites’

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Setting Appointments

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      • Create appointment date using natural language. eg: Next Monday

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For further information on setting an appointment in Outlook read our blog Sending the perfect Outlook Meeting Invite.

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How secure is your Cyber Security?

Do you have a good grasp on Cyber Security and how it affects your business? Or do you leave it to someone else to worry about, such as a manager or your IT guy?

On The Small Business Technology Show, we spoke to Dr Sally Ernst who is an expert in the area of cyber security and has written the book ‘Gotcha! Your Little Black Book to a Safer E-xperience‘. Her book is aimed at business owners who are short on time but want to be cyber safe. Our recent interview with Dr Sally on the podcast explains why you need to have a good understanding of cyber security and how it can affect your business, and here is a quick summary of the information we discussed.

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Dr Sally’s thoughts on cyber security:

The need now is to get people engaged in cyber security, and this includes business owners. A lot of businesses rely on blissful ignorance that their internal IT guy (or girl) is going to make sure everything is safe and secure. The reality is that it is not just one person’s responsibility to be working towards being less cyber insecure. There is a need for a mindset shift towards everyone being personally accountable.

It is important to have an understanding what your cyber security is and where it is. Many businesses are not even consuming the basic security that already exists. There is no excuse at a corporate level not to be operating under the best practices and frameworks.

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Cyber security implementation:

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Here are Dr Sally’s five tips to get you cyber safe and secure:

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  • Start small and start somewhere
  • Understand where your information functionality is
  • Know where all your information is stored
  • Prioritise how to start protecting it
  • Beware of Shadow IT

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(For more information on Shadow IT, click here)

Examples of security breach and practices to avoid them:

It’s important to understand what type of security breaches could occur and to think ahead to avoid any occurring. Here are some examples Dr Sally has shared with us.

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  • It’s not just as simple as knowing your email is with Microsoft Outlook and banking is with your banking provider. They’re not isolated. In fact, they are all very much interconnected.
  • Think on a larger scale – who has access to your network?
  • Email providers use an authentication as a backup for your password, like sending a text to your mobile. If you’re mobile is breached, then you only have one level of security.

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If you would like more information on cyber security click this link to hear the rest of our chat with Dr Sally.

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OneDrive for Business (p2): What to do in the case of replacement staff

Following on from our previous article, OneDrive for Business (p1): What to do when an employee leaves your organisation, OneDrive for Business is a bundle that comes with Office 365 used for storing and organising your work documents.

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All of the files that you store on OneDrive for Business are private until you share them, so when employee leaves your organisation and is replaced by a newcomer, you should rename the leaver’s account as soon as possible.

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You can just rename the leaver’s account to the new staff name and keep the emails intact by doing the following:

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1. Login to the Office 365 sign-in page with administrator permission.
2. Click on ‘Users’ and then ‘Active Users’ on the left pane.

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1.Login to the Office 365 sign-in page with administrator permission.

2. Click on ‘Users’ and then ‘Active Users’ on the left pane.

admin page

3. Search and click on the leaver’s name.

4. Click ‘Edit’on the right pane.

5. This will bring up the details of the account, rename ‘First Name’, ‘Last Name’, ‘Display Name’ and ‘Username’.

6. Select the appropriate domain for the new staff’s login for Office 365.

7. Click on ‘Additional Details’ and change the appropriate details.

8. Click on ‘Email Address’ on the left pane and add any other email address to this mailbox.

a. Enter other email addresses and select the appropriate domain for the email.

b. Click ‘Add’ then ‘Ok’. The new email address will be added to the email address list.

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Warning: Don’t remove any email addresses from the leaver’s account, as the new staff may need to be able to receive any outstanding emails that haven’t been dealt with. You can remove them at a later date once you have informed all your contacts.

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9. Click ‘Save’.

10. Reset the password and let the new employee know the login details.

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It may take up to 24 hours for these changes to be updated across all the services on Office 365.

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By following these simple steps, OneDrive for Business makes it easy for employers to control and manage who has access to company documents.

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Moving to a new office? Don’t sign the lease before you check these 5 things.

We help our clients with their office relocations and fit-outs all the time, but right now we’re working on fitting out a new office for ourselves, and I can tell you now, it’s harder when it’s your own. We’re super excited about moving from Albion to our new digs at Wilston, but there’s so much to think about!

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From the initial decision of how large an office you need, and where it should be located, all the way through to how many power points you need on each desk, there is a seemingly endless stream of decisions to make, a lot of which you will feel entirely unqualified to comment on!

Before you sign off on a new lease though, here are five things you may not have thought of that you need to check out first, before it’s too late.

Can you get reliable, high speed internet?

The speed and stability of an internet connection is usually dependant on the distance of your office from the local phone exchange, and the available infrastructure that the telecommunications carriers have available there. If your new office is located in the CBD, then you’ll likely be fine, however for most other locations it’s a good idea to check before you commit to a new lease.

Why all internet connections aren’t created equal

For small offices of up to five or maybe even 10 people, you may be okay with an ADSL2+ internet connection, but only if you don’t have any particularly demanding internet requirements. If your requirements are more demanding, such as a need to run automatic offsite backups, or important cloud apps, then you will likely want to look at a premium internet connection such as Ethernet over Copper (EoC).

Both ADSL2+ and EoC are heavily dependent on access to the telephone exchange, with the connection rapidly degrading in both speed and reliability the further away your office is located.

If your business is reliant on a good quality internet connection (as most of us are these days), finding out the bad news after you’ve signed a new lease could cause big problems.

Is the electricity supply stable and reliable?

Whether your business has an entire data centre or only two computers, you need a good, stable supply of electricity. In fact even if you have no computers in the business you probably do at least have a bar fridge to keep your lunch cool.

The thing about electrical devices is that they generally don’t like having a wildly fluctuating power supply, although some devices will cope better than others. If the electricity is unstable, it may not be show-stopper for your new office, it may be advisable to invest in your own power protection, such as UPS devices, for all of your important electrical equipment. This will help your computers, servers, and other electrical devices last longer and avoid burning out.

One good way to find out if this could be a problem is to talk to your (potential) new neighbours. If they’ve been there for more than a month or two, and the power is a bit flaky, they will know all about it.

Are you above the flood line?

2011 was a very, very big year for a lot of Brisbane businesses, for all the wrong reasons. Numerous business were very directly impacted by the massive flooding that over took  the city, many suffering substantial loss, with many more forced to close their doors permanently.

Even as we helped our clients defend their own businesses and engage their disaster recovery plans, we were watching the water rise from the local creek, closer and closer to our own office. The water never made it all the way to our building, but thankfully we had pro-actively engaged our own disaster plan in advance, as due to the proximity of the flooding our building did lose power and internet for a number of days.

Do you have a disaster recovery plan? Listen to learn more.

Before you commit to a new office, make sure you investigate not only how close you will be to the flood levels, but also what other secondary impact flooding may have on your business. In our case even though we weren’t flooded out, our office was effectively shut down without power and internet due to the close proximity of the water. I know of other businesses whose office was fine, but was physically isolated by the flood waters for a long time during and after the flooding.

The risk of flooding may be unique to some areas (such as most of Brisbane, it seems!) but each location has its own potential environment risks that you need to understand.

How good is the mobile phone coverage?

Most of us have come to rely heavily on our mobile phones as a business tool, but unfortunately strong mobile reception can’t be taken for granted everywhere. Before committing to a new office, take a walk around all parts of the building and surrounds with your phone, and check on the signal strength as you go.

If you notice that reception is poor, make a couple of test calls to a friend to see if you can get through. If you can’t it may be worth trying a different phone that’s on a different mobile network. Perhaps Optus coverage is poor, but Telstra is great.

We work with one particular client who relocated about two years ago to a new office about 10km from the CBD. The location is very populous with both residential and commercial operations, with mobile phone towers clearly visible. For some reason though, his actual office is a blackspot for reception. Most of the time his phone will ring, however to hold a conversation he needs to walk out of his office towards the main road about 10 metres away, where reception is solid.

Now this isn’t overly onerous, and we all know we should be getting up from our desks more, but with dozens of calls per day (not to mention what it’s like in rainy weather), you can see how this situation is less than ideal.

Is the existing fit-out suitable?

If you’re lucky you will be moving into a new office that was used for a very similar purpose to what you need it for. Need an office full of people at computers? Then hopefully you’re looking at somewhere that already has plenty of power and data outlets, and maybe even desks or cubicles in place.

If not, that’s fine, just make sure that you understand the potential costs of fitting out the tenancy to suit your needs. Each little power point on its own isn’t necessarily a big thing, but at an estimated cost of $250 per outlet, add them all up, and you may be looking at tens of thousands of dollars just to get the basics in place.

Given that we’re currently going through a full brand new fit-out for our new office, I can say from first-hand experience that there is a LOT to think about. Hopefully this list will help you ask some of the question that you may not otherwise have thought about.

 

 

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Telstra DIal-Up users to be disconnected

Telstra Dial-up internet users to be disconnected. Should ADSL be next?

Grassroots IT ~ Telstra dialup users to be disconnected. Will ADSL be next?

An interesting headline came across my news feed this morning making reference to this blog post by Telstra director Stuart Bird. In his post he announces that all clients still lingering on antiquated dial-up internet connections will be disconnected by December, 2015. To be honest I’m surprised this hasn’t happened sooner.

For most of us over the age of about 10, memories of screeching modems and painfully slow downloads are thankfully a thing of the past. What baffles me though is how those people still using dial-up internet connections can even operate effectively given the nature of the modern internet.

With most websites these days being dense with high quality graphics, and in some cases streaming media such as videos, it’s hard to image these dial-up users ever getting much past the minimalist Google search page.

My suggestion to you is that for a lot of Australian businesses, using ADSL internet is the 2015 equivalent of dial-up internet. We all know that ADSL internet connections can (if fortune smiles) be sufficiently fast for downloads, but we also know that ADSL upload speeds can be challenging at best. Combine that with poor SLA backing and support from the telco companies and it’s a wonder why many businesses struggle on with this inferior technology.

This is even more surprising when you consider how dependant most of our businesses are these days on the internet. At the very least we rely on the internet for email, but rarely is that all. More often than not we now see purely internet (or cloud) based applications such as Xero and SharePoint Online being used as core line-of-business systems that the business would struggle to be without for any real period of time. Sadly for a lot of businesses even when connected to the internet current ADSL speeds lead to a poor experience.

High quality internet connectivity is the price of doing business in the heavily online business environment we all operate in today. Struggling on with inferior connectivity may not only be costing you in productivity, but also putting your operations at risk. With quality connectivity now cheaper than ever before (even without access to the NBN), I encourage you to investigate your options.

 

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