Posted on January 3, 2022 by Lon Baker
The New R&R
The future of business recruiting and remote working is evolving. And no one knows it better than us. Since 1998, helping companies and teams work and communicate from anywhere has driven the VirtualPBX squad. We constantly improve the transition and communication processes for remote employees because we know the remote work lifestyle is here to stay.
Remote Control Mode
Building a remote team that can thrive has many challenges, and they all are minor compared to one thing — 99.9% of the most talented people in the world do not live anywhere near your company’s physical location.
By opening up the parameters of the hiring process, you cast out a wider net to meet talented and innovative individuals. This fundamental principle has driven our recruiting approach and allowed us to retain an expert team. But once you attract the talent, there is another step.
The Laws of “Employee” Attraction
To attract talented team members in today’s business environment requires more than just offering excellent pay, benefits, and challenging work. Respecting a person’s time is equally important.
Asking employees to commute to an office, attend in-person meetings, tote their laptops, belonging, and more around all day can drive dissatisfaction and impact productivity. Removing as much of the “overhead” in an employee day should be your top priority.
Following the 80/20 rule, leveraging technology to allow employees to work from home and save time and actual commuting costs is an easy win for both sides.
How To Keep Connected
At VirtualPBX, we rely on our Voice, SMS, and Video platform to allow team members to work together from anywhere in real-time. Also, we leverage Google for email and calendaring to ensure everyone is in sync and being productive.
To succeed as a distributed team, managers and supervisors must realign their processes and communication with measuring performance based on quality and timeliness of work product, not physical presence or proximity of your team.
Now You’re Stronger Than Yesterday.
As they said in the Six Million Dollar Man — We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster.
The same is true for the future of business – for your business and for your team.
Posted on December 29, 2021 by Paul Hammond
As we approach the end of 2021, I want to take a moment to thank you for your patronage, reflect on this year, and look ahead to what’s coming in 2022 for VirtualPBX.
Whether you are a new customer of ours or one that has been with us since the beginning, I can’t stress how much we appreciate you coming on this amazing adventure with us. We have had so many milestones to be proud of as a company, and sharing them with all of you is the best part.
Taking a Look Back
This year more than most, has been one of reflection. In February, we lost our founder and one of my dearest friends, Stephen Lange, to a battle with cancer. Steve was an amazing and truly talented man with a kind heart. He began VirtualPBX out of his father’s basement in San Francisco over twenty years ago. Even in his last weeks, he was always keen to know how we were doing and ensure that we continued the business that he started with the same passion and integrity that he showed during his time with us.
While his loss has been heavy, we are encouraged by his legacy to press forward in providing an excellent service. One of the final projects we worked on with Steve was turning down our legacy platform and migrating customers to our newer, more robust, and capable platform, which was completed at the beginning of 2021. It was a monumental and pivotal task that required all teams to work in unison and laid the foundation for our growth.
How do we define growth? We push to constantly add more features and benefits by committing to listening to you, our customers, and what you require to be successful and sustainable. At VirtualPBX, we care about what you think, and we care about your story. Here are some highlights from our year.
- Added New Integration with Microsoft Teams
- Added Send SMS Action in Zapier
- Honored With 2021 TMC Teleworking Solutions Excellence Award
- Extended Local Calling to Canada and Mexico
- Made Significant Updates to Our Referral Partner Program
Of course, this company would not be where it is without each team member here and their unwavering dedication and loyalty to the core tenets in which we share our work. Several of our employees celebrated 5+, even 10+ year work anniversaries this year, and we added new faces to our Sales, Marketing, and Support Teams.
Through the collective efforts of our team, we make the most incredible differences. I’m proud of what we have achieved together. Our individual teams’ commitment to staying on mission to provide product excellence, customer care, support, and operational efficiency was second to none.
The success of 2021 is a credit to you, our customers. It has been a privilege, and we thank you for allowing us to participate in your business. To say I am excited about what 2022 will bring is putting it mildly. We have so many exciting projects on deck, and the energy in the company is at an all-time high.
Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday and a cheerful and hopeful new year.
Chairman & CEO, VirtualPBX
Posted on July 7, 2021 by Casey Houser
Today’s guest post was written by HostingPill, a reviewer of website hosting options for individuals and businesses.
Taking precautions to protect your WordPress website can help ensure you are protecting your business’s website from cybercrime activities. Today, we’ll share five WordPress security tips that are easy to follow yet effective in keeping you safe.
Reports conducted by WP WhiteSecurity show that 73.2% of WordPress installations are vulnerable to exploitations. With a little preparation, you can keep your site outside the bad end of that statistic.
WordPress is one of the major players in website hosting and building, but this doesn’t make it invincible to these kinds of threats. Take a few minutes today to check your website, make a few simple and practical updates, and keep it safe and secured.
1. Update Your WordPress Site, Themes, and Plugins
It’s important to update your WordPress website, themes, and plugins regularly. The changes you receive as part of updates may seem insignificant at first, but small changes can provide you with more than a couple of user-facing feature changes; they may be mandatory for your site’s security.
A lot of small website owners opt to skip updating their websites. They assume that hackers will avoid their websites as they consider themselves of lower value. When in reality, hackers tend to check on smaller sites. They have weaker security measures, making them susceptible to exploitation.
Understandably, some users may find themselves struggling to find the theme appropriate for them, and one that’s regularly updated. There are popular WordPress themes you can try; many are also free so you can easily find one that fits you well. Free versions of plugins can also be of excellent quality and have security updates applied to them regularly that you should take advantage of.
2. Always Update and Make Strong Passwords
In making passwords, it is tempting for most of us to create short ones. It is easy to remember and effortless to input. However, short passwords are considered weak passwords. Hackers can access your website by trying multiple combinations and guesses.
Research done by securityboulevard.com shows that 65% of internet users reuse their passwords. Despite the fact, all of us knew the risk associated with reusing a password. Another issue with weak passwords is users make passwords based on their pet’s name, birthdays, or any significant detail about themselves. It is advised to prevent using passwords made out of personal details.
To create a strong password, you can use an online password generator. It can be burdensome because it is composed of random numbers and letters. But, there are also apps and online services available that can keep your password safe. It is better to have a confusing password than being hacked for a password like “123456.”
3. Opt to Limit User’s Access to Your Site
Security can be created from the inside and the outside. When you have fewer users with access to your site, you create fewer opportunities for security breaches from both angles.
Hackers need only look for the easiest method of attack to gain entry to your site. With respect to multiple users, they may find that one of your logins has a simple password attached to it. By taking advantage of easy entry, they can inject malware, and attempt to access your sensitive information.
Furthermore, you may have created separate logins for staff members and contractors you work with. You should limit their permissions on your site as much as possible to start. Then if you stop working with any of these individuals, it will be necessary to remove their usernames and passwords. You don’t want them sitting around as a possible entry point for bad actors.
You can additionally make sure to limit login attempts to your site by using a plugin. Be sure to keep it updated! A plugin like this will let you set a maximum number of login attempts and, when that number has been exceeded, can automatically block the person at that IP address from accessing the login page for a certain time. This is an excellent way to prevent brute-force attempts at logins to your site.
4. Use HTTPS on Your Site
A lot of site owners are not aware of the difference between HTTPS from HTTP. The hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) was created without specific protections in mind; it doesn’t have robust security measures in place to guard sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, while a person is browsing your website.
This WordPress security tip largely applies to the safety of your users. If you complete financial transactions on your site or you handle sensitive user data (including any type of on-site login process), you will want to use hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS). Using HTTPS on your site will offer protections for your users on both public and private networks so individuals are protected from wherever they browse your site.
Although HTTPS costs a few bucks more than an HTTP, it offers additional services that HTTP lacks. It uses TLS to encrypt HTTP requests and responses that result in secured communication over a computer network. You can check with your hosting service providers as to their HTTPS offers. There are a lot of awesome hosting service providers for WordPress to choose from.
5. Protect With Firewall and Malware Protection
Though not all of our WordPress security tips should come from the use of plugins, we can deny their abilities to make tasks easier. Plugins that offer a firewall or malware protection can offer a great way to make sure the content on your site is clean. A plugin like MalCare that offers both a firewall and malware scanning can reduce the number of apps you need to rely on for these purposes.
This type of plugin, no matter which brand you choose, can detect malware and clean it for you. You will receive an alert about any issues with the content on your site, and you can choose how to handle them — including whether or not to delete them.
Firewall protection can assist in mitigating potential hack attempts. By filtering visitors by their IP addresses. A blacklist can restrict users with IPs from specific regions, or which are associated with poor usage, and keep them from accessing your site in any way. Together, preemptive blocking of users and secondary scanning of files can go a long way toward keeping your site safe.
Try These WordPress Security Tips Today
We hope that these WordPress security tips will make it easier for you to protect your website. It isn’t always an easy task to keep your site secure, but with an application of the fundamentals and a reliance on good plugins, you can get well on your way.
You don’t need to accomplish all of the tips provided here in one sitting. Take your time to make sure everything is done properly and is accessible to your liking. Try a few similar plugins; research a handful of HTTPS certificate providers; initiate a workflow for user management that fits your business practices. We hope you will stay safe and can continue maintaining a polished website for years to come.
Posted on June 9, 2021 by Casey Houser
Today’s guest post was provided by Lucas Campbell, a digital marketing manager with experience in that position from traditional and remote office locations.
The world has witnessed a historic shift in the past year because of the nature and scope of the job market thanks to the COVID 19 pandemic. The future of remote work has revealed itself in a short span of time, in a difficult situation for many.
Before the novel coronavirus took center stage many companies used to offer work from home (WFH) as a sort of perk for their employees. However, what was considered a fringe benefit is now the norm for many, if not most business organizations. It is widely considered that within the next few years almost 70 percent of the global workforce will end up working from home or other remote locations.
Many people consider 2020 as a tipping point for remote work where it has become seen as a normal and expected part of the workforce. That year was most certainly not the last we’ve seen of remote work, as the trend has picked up the pace.
Remote Work is Rapidly Becoming Permanent
The percentage of employees working from home has leveled off at about 33% from a high near 70% during the Coronavirus pandemic. Many industry pundits believed that once the pandemic recedes into memory, people will go back to work in their respective offices. However, if current trends are anything to go by, that opinion may not turn out to be true; reality may even prove the opposite, with some predicting continued increases in remote work due to its assocation with increased productivity.
While a few people have gone back to their onsite jobs, either due to necessity or preference, many people are working from home because they enjoy that style of work. It has proven effective for both management and employees across industries.
Productivity levels have not decreased as many analysts had predicted. On the contrary, there is no need to rent out office space, nor is there any need to commute to and from work. As a matter of fact, as per a Gartner CFO survey, almost 75 percent of companies plan on working with the remote work model, even if the pandemic eases anytime in the foreseeable future. Many big companies are leading this change. Both Twitter and Facebook have allowed their staff to continue to work from home indefinitely.
No Need for Extra Office Space
As we see the future of remote work come into focus, the need for massive office complexes may become a thing of the past. One by one, large and small companies will go fully remote, so office space will shift from centralized complexes to many smaller offices in homes or in temporary spaces such as coffee shops and co-working spaces. This decreased demand for office space may allow businesses to cut back on material costs — such as renting floor space and supplying computers and office supplies for workers — which could increase their revenue. We may see that revenue then be used for marketing, industry research, and product development.
This type of priority shift is already happening as, one after another, businesses have started selling their massive office blocks. Companies are also concentrating on the hybrid model where some staff members will report for duty, while others will continue to work from home. Vital machinery will remain operational while retail work will be conducted from remote locations via Zoom meetings, Google Docs, and other work-sharing applications.
It is likely that most in-person meetings will end up being reserved for brainstorming sessions and other work. These might include team-building exercises or even the introduction of new projects. In the long run, the whole of the office might be redesigned to create a more inclusive work atmosphere that would be ideal for collaborative work. It will mean an end to stuffy cubicles, tiny workstations, and the like.
Digital Tools for Remote Working
From Trello to Google Teams, more and more tools have been developed for remote working applications. In fact, the wired internet generation and the arrival of very fast online connectivity have meant that just about anyone equipped with the relevant device can get the job done, easily enough.
These tools make it easy to work from anywhere. Without them, it is likely that the Coronavirus pandemic would have played out much differently with respect to its effect on the global workforce. Working remotely 10 to 15 years ago would have been more difficult for many workers, so we may have seen a more sudden shift from lockdown procedures into a more “normal” state of work where everyone had to return to their offices.
High-speed internet and the availability of collaboration tools lets employees connect with one another through voice calls, video chat, and texting while expecting that they can send large files quickly and edit collaborative documents which are saved on redundant servers, so no information is ever lost. These modern miracles were considered the stuff of science fiction barely a few decades back. Now they all contribute to a remote working experience.
The Future of Remote Work
Remote working is not a one-off experience due to the pandemic. The future of remote work is a reflection of the present. It is here to stay and will continue to persist through the coming years.
If we are lucky, remote work tools will also continue to grow to offer management and employees more freedoms in their jobs. What we have seen during the Coronavirus pandemic is a merging of demand for remote work and the tools that make it possible. Hopefully the future will hold more methods of collaboration so workplace can remain efficient and enjoyable even during the most difficult of challenges.
Posted on April 28, 2021 by Casey Houser
Today’s guest post was written by TechWarn, a digital safety advocate and news site.
COVID-19 may be slowing down, but there are still plenty of people working from home. If you’re new to remote working or if you’ve been struggling with working from home, here are a few tips to make the experience easier.
1. Use a VPN for Public Networks
Working remotely doesn’t mean being stuck at home.
Sometimes, you want to go out and experience a change of scenery while typing up your latest article. However, doing so may include using a public network. The problem with this is that public networks are infamous for their lack of security.
If you end up using a public network, think about using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Downloading a VPN on your device will keep your device encrypted, meaning cybercriminals will have a rough time stealing your data.
2. Keep a To-Do List
It’s easy to get lost in your work when working from home. After all, it’s a massive change. If you need help staying organized, it’s recommended you keep a to-do list with you.
A to-do list gives you a clear overview of your day, preventing you from getting lost or overwhelmed.
Online tools like Airtable can be great for entire departments to organize their tasks as individuals and join group assignments with due dates, descriptions, and file attachments.
3. Clear Out Your Own Personal Space
To keep a clear mind, you must have a clear space. Many businesses are moving to a remote working basis, and if you expect to be working from home for a while (more than a day), you’ll want to clear out space in your home dedicated only to work.
Keeping a clean, work-dedicated space helps prevent you from being distracted and keeps your mind clear after the workday is over.
4. Organize Workload With Slack and Trello
Tools like VirtualPBX Video Conferencing help teams maintain communication during periods of separation, but what about managing workloads? Managing projects and assignments? For that, teams can use Slack or Trello, or even both!
Slack acts as a messaging board for teams, while Trello helps assign projects and apply deadlines. These two tools are key to teams who want to be efficient as possible.
Automation services like Zapier can also bring web platforms like Slack to life. They can listen for information relevant to your company, such as an inbound SMS message, and relay those events to individual and group channels to keep workers updated.
5. Stay Focused Using Forest
An issue many remote workers face is distractions. It’s easier to get distracted at home versus the office since many more distractions exist: your pets, your children, your loud neighbors, etc.
Fortunately, there are apps designed to keep you focused — Forest being a favorite of many remote workers. Forest tracks the time you spend focused on your work. The longer you’re focused, the more trees grow in the app.
It sounds childish, but it does work, as it acts as a reward system. Plus, each tree you grow grants you virtual coins. Spend those, and the company behind Forest grows a tree in your name! Not only do you get to focus, but you also get to help the environment.
Remote Workers Don’t Have to Stress
Working from home can be a stressful experience without the proper use of workplace tools. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to making it a productive experience.
Take a look today at VirtualPBX Business Phone Plans that have a number of options for remote workers, including call routing through an Auto Attendant, Business SMS for text messaging co-workers and clients, and Video Conferencing that supports hundreds of callers in a single meeting.