Effectively Managing Remote Teams

The pandemic has normalised working from home, changing the way businesses operate and potentially revolutionising the way we work forever. With many businesses now adopting a remote working culture, managing remote teams has never been so important. Working from home provides many benefits, offering flexibility, cheaper operational costs, and giving employees a better home life balance. Remote working also comes with new challenges and limitations, such as lack of supervision, distractions, and possible security threats. Employee monitoring software is designed to increase productivity, improve IT security, and identify potential issues early.

Benefits of Monitoring Remote Employees

Employee monitoring software is an effective way to manage your workforce, boosting workflow and keeping your employees on track. Using employee surveillance systems allows managers to track and supervise their team’s IT usage live, or from the past. It’s a reliable way to monitor employees work computers, including search history, attendance, activities, emails, application usage and productivity levels. This information lets managers to identify which employees are performing to a high standard, and which employees are not meeting expectations, allowing them to offer support, feedback, and additional training.

Surveillance systems also increases the company’s IT security, offering both legal and employee security. Accessing employees work devices can protect your business from potential security breaches, suspicious behaviour, and insider threats, whether they are done maliciously or accidently. Employee monitoring offers employees safer working conditions, protecting them from cyber harassment, bullying and sexual harassment, and protects the business from legal issues from people accessing illegal content or conducting illicit behaviour on company property. 

Implementing Employee Monitoring Software

Our team can quickly and remotely implement reliable solutions to help you effectively manage your workforce.  Our experts will also demonstrate how to use and understand the new software remotely using Microsoft Teams, providing you with the relevant information needed to successfully monitor your team. Andromeda Solutions will be on hand to provide you with IT support and assist you with any issues or queries you have.

Contact Andromeda Solutions today on 01642 903810 to see how we can help your business effectively manage your remote employees.

The best IT services provider in Middlesbrough

Andromeda Solutions is honoured to be awarded the best IT services provider in Middlesbrough 2020 – what an amazing way to end the year!

We have been awarded this incredible title by the experts at Three Best Rated. Three Best Rated complete a comprehensive 50-point inspection, ensuring they recommend trusted, reliable and professional businesses to their customers. Three Best Rated found Andromeda Solutions to be the best local IT company in our area in their inspection report, receiving top scores in areas such as responsiveness, accuracy, and standards. We are extremely thankful for the recognition and privileged to be presented with the title of best IT services provider in Middlesbrough.   

We could not have received this award without the support and loyalty from our incredible customers. Providing outstanding customer service and exceeding customer expectations is very important to us. We are humbled by the kind words left on our social media pages and very grateful for your recommendations. Thank you for taking the time to review and rate our business, we are appreciative of your honest feedback.

 What is Three Best Rated?

Three Best Rated was created in 2014 with the primary goal of identifying the top 3 local businesses in each specific field, helping their 4 million customers per month find the best organisations near them. They use a vigorous 50-point inspection to score each business, checking everything from the company’s history and ownership, to legitimate reviews and responsiveness. They check the businesses reputation, complaints, ratings, customer satisfaction, proximity, trust, cost, and overall general excellence. Three Best Rated believe that local businesses provide better services than big corporations as they know the local area and understand the needs, wants and expectations of local customers.

Here is what they have to say about Andromeda Solutions:

“Their team specialises in secure, reliable, server technology, offering comprehensive solutions to all your business needs. If there’s a business-critical problem – such as the company server going down – they’ll respond within an hour. You can track their progress online. Their well-designed networks are fast and reliable, with maximum uptime. Andromeda Solutions creates everything from a primary network using a single internet link to a complex network with 100% uptime and seamless failure. They can run checks to find out how your PC is running and diagnose any problems. At Andromeda Solutions, they offer PC health checkup for free.”

-Three Best Rated, 2020

Thank you again to all our customers, and our amazing team for continuously providing exceptional IT services in the North East.

What are the Benefits of Outsourcing IT Services?

These days it’s hard to imagine running a business without relying on IT. Many of the key processes that are in place every day are based upon IT. And then there are the tools to consider: everything from desktops to laptops and mobile devices used by your team. Clearly, it is essential to make sure that all of this is managed smoothly and this is where outsourcing IT can help.

What is Outsourced IT?

So, what are Outsourced IT Services? It’s as simple as it sounds. Rather than having to maintain your IT infrastructure yourself, your business can engage a third party IT specialist to oversee any or all of your requirements. These services can include security management, network maintenance, and cloud migration, as well as the option to carry out specific projects as needed.

Outsourced IT support makes recovering from any technical issues as quick and painless as possible. IT outsourcing can be extremely affordable, too, with a wide range of packages and pay as you go options available. There is no barrier to location either, with IT providers able to help wherever your business is based, with firms such as Andromeda Solutions offering IT support North East of the UK.

What are the Benefits of Outsourcing Your IT Solutions?

It may come as a surprise, but you will actually save a considerable amount of money.

Rather than having to maintain an in-house IT department, you can outsource and save on salaries. If you decide to keep IT professionals on staff, outsourcing can help you at busy times, or for particular projects needing specialist expertise. This assistance can free your existing staff to pursue other tasks, boosting efficiency and productivity rates.

When you choose to outsource your IT, you benefit from a service which keeps you right up to date with the latest technological developments. You will be advised of any new software or devices that could help improve your processes or otherwise streamline your business.

Furthermore, by choosing to outsource your IT, you will enjoy access to IT support services around the clock, seven days a week. With many options available for getting in touch with your IT service provider, including telephone, live chat and email, you can be assured that expert help is never far away.

It’s clear, then, that choosing to outsource your IT is a compelling option for many businesses. It offers so many advantages, including reduced IT running costs, staying up to date with the latest technology, as well as access to the best support when needed.

How to avoid falling victim to online scams this Christmas

This year is likely to see more people than ever turn to the internet for their Christmas shopping. With lockdown restrictions affecting access to many high streets, it’s an ideal solution for gift buyers, but, unfortunately, it is also a major draw for cyber criminals.

Most Common types of online scams

The goal of the scammer is to steal from you: money, personal details, or even your identity. Scams today are incredibly sophisticated and can come in many forms. The most common of these is known as phishing, and involves sending out emails with the aim of tricking the victim by asking them to send money for a seemingly good cause, or to log into faked versions of bank, retail or social media websites.

Another common scam involves the use of dangerous software, referred to as “scareware”, that appears as a virus warning pop-up on the victim’s screen. Often luring victims with the promise of free anti-virus protection, clicking on these pop-ups instead releases dangerous malware onto the computer.

Similar tricks are found on social media sites, where clicking on a bad link can infect your PC with a virus. Telephone scammers pretending to be from a trusted service provider may also attempt to gain trust, in order to access victims’ computers and steal valuable information.

What can we do to avoid being scammed?

So, how to avoid falling victim to online scams this Christmas?

First of all, it’s vital to have the right cyber security measures in place. Check any links carefully for any spelling errors and be mindful of any website that appears to be poor quality – it may be a fake. IT support experts recommend that you avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots for Christmas shopping and use your more secure mobile data if you need to access the internet whilst you’re out and about.

Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and install any updates when needed. Creating strong passwords and changing them frequently is also an excellent defence against hackers. If you receive a telephone call from a business asking for your card details, never give your PIN or any passwords, even if you are sure that they really are calling from a trusted organisation.

Avoid the common types of online scams by staying on your guard and following these tips. Prioritise your IT security and make sure YOU have a happy Christmas, rather than giving a cyber criminal a good time.

For help with IT Security Threats, contact Andromeda Solutions today.

We are now Cyber Essentials Certified!

As part of our ongoing commitment to cyber security, we are very pleased to announce that Andromeda Solutions are now Cyber Essentials certified. We have put the appropriate measures in place to not just protect our own organisation, but to also protect that of our valued clients and customers to a Government-endorsed standard. We are very proud of our team for continuously working to improve the security of our IT infrastructure.

What is Cyber Essentials?

Cyber Essentials is Government-backed, fully supported by the IT industry, and run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSE). The Cyber Essentials Scheme is part of the Government’s National Security Strategy, aiming to reduce to amount of cyber attacks on organisations in the UK by over 80%. The scheme helps businesses put security controls in place to help protect them from the most common cyber-attacks. A cyber security breach can be truly devastating on both a personal and professional level, emphasising the importance of protecting IT systems and services from cyber criminals.

In order to pass the Government-led initiative, Andromeda Solutions were required to complete a Cyber Essentials questionnaire, meeting the technical control requirements for the following 5 areas:

  • Boundary Firewalls and Internet Gateways
  • Secure Configuration
  • User Access Control
  • Malware Protection
  • Patch Management

The Cyber Essentials certification provides Andromeda Solutions with external, independent assurance that we have the correct and necessary measures in place to help protect us against cyber threats.

For more information on how we can help improve your cyber security, please visit our Cyber Security page, or get in touch with us today.

How remote working in Covid times can be transformed with Office 365 and cloud computing.

Whilst remote working has long been touted as a means for revolutionising the work-life balance, it was never expected to have become the default working environment for so many, so soon. The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has seen an almost overnight switch in our working patterns and as a result, many organisations have been left struggling to catch up to the new challenges brought by remote teams.

Outside of the office, many employees are now left to work without access to their usual networks, reducing productivity and bringing security risks to businesses, particularly where data handling is concerned. Fortunately, developments in cloud-based technologies mean that there are now robust solutions available.

One such solution, Office 365, is an excellent tool for navigating this new working landscape. Offering impressive security, as a cloud-based suite it can be accessed from wherever your teams need to be, whether that’s in the office or at home. As a cloud-based service, all you need to access it is an internet connection. By opting for a cloud-based infrastructure, you can sidestep the expense of maintaining your own data centre and feel assured that security is taken care of, with full data recovery available if the worst should happen. You will also benefit from advanced threat analytics, email encryption, multi factor authentication and mobile device management, alongside many other security measures.

It’s not just in security that the benefits of Office 365 can be seen. Collaborative work can continue seamlessly, with features which allow for real-time co-authoring of documents and presentations. With direct access to files enabled, productivity can focus on the task at hand, rather than attaching files to emails.

Office 365 gives your business scalability, and as a subscriber you will automatically receive the latest programs available. Furthermore, the widespread familiarity with the Office suite means that staff can quickly get to work without requiring retraining on new formats. The mix and match subscription format means that your package can be tailored to your organisation’s unique needs, from the smallest enterprises through to major businesses.

Here at Andromeda Solutions, we can help you explore all the possibilities and smooth your migration with dedicated ongoing management.

What you need to know about Spam Email, Phishing, and Other Threats to your Inbox.

These days we are all reliant on email as a fast and easy way to communicate, with everyone from family and friends, through to work colleagues and businesses that we deal with. With around 50% of the world’s email traffic consisting of spam, it’s never been more important to secure your inbox.

There are several different types of threats that are targeted via email and it’s important to be aware of them, in order to be on your guard.

Spam is a familiar foe: most of us will have received unsolicited advertising or hoax charity appeals. Spam often contains viruses or spyware which can threaten your computer. They are blanket attacks, often using software that generates thousands of potential email addresses or sent to email address lists bought from other spammers. Be sure to never respond to a spam message, as it will confirm to the criminals that they have hit upon a real email address.

Phishing emails are sent out in their thousands by criminals hoping to trick people into disclosing valuable personal information. Often phishing emails may resemble those sent by legitimate banks and other organisations and contain links that, once clicked, take you to a counterfeit webpage. Using a technique known as Spoofing, these fakes can be very sophisticated dupes, so be mindful of any emails that come from an email address at odds with the supposed organisation’s name. Similarly, be cautious of emails with a link, or any attempts to solicit your password or other personal details.

Spear Phishing is a targeted attack of a similar nature, directed at an individual or organisation with the goal of stealing data or implanting malware. Criminals research their targets to make their attacks appear credible, so be mindful of how much you share about yourself on social networking sites.

Fortunately, help is at hand. We can help to maintain the security of your inbox, with services such as Hornet Security’s Spam Filter and Malware Protection. With dynamic virus filtering for incoming and outgoing email, and link tracking to prevent the risk of clicking on a dangerous URL, you can rest assured that your emails are safe and your computers and networks are protected.

For help with IT Security Threats, contact Andromeda Solutions Today.

The Benefits of Microsoft Remote Desktop Services

Following the outbreak of Covid-19 and the national lockdown, many people had to change their working habits and begin working from home. For business owners, this involved solving a range of problems to keep their companies going and to support their employees – from finding them suitable equipment to investing in IT solutions to provide a productive working environment.

A survey by PwC found that CEOs believe working from home will continue into the future. Therefore, it is not hard to conclude that the companies who invested in a good work-from-home set up during Covid-19 the pandemic have invested wisely.

A Remote Desktop Service is a key IT function for businesses who need their
employees to work from home, or from other remote locations. Remote Desktop functions have often been considered “clunky” to use or tricky to configure for different devices, however this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Desktop Service can be accessed and managed from almost any location on the planet, and from almost any device – including mobile phones and personal laptops. The log-in process is typically the same, and quickly becomes as easy as using a standard desktop computer.
Configuration is also easy. You don’t need to worry about the compatibility of the operating system on the remote device, it is just a case of logging in. If you want to switch devices, simply disconnect the old one and reconnect using the new one.

IT Security is another key feature. You can assign permissions to particular data files in the normal way, but your data is also less vulnerable to breaches, hacking or technological and device failures due to it being a Cloud-based system. Most systems come with built-in encryption.

Investing in the Microsoft Remote Desktop can save your business money. It is a reliable storage system at a fraction of the cost of a standard IT service, and IT support is included. Money saved can be invested back into the growth of your business.

Lastly, the benefits of an engaged and connected workforce cannot be overlooked. Most employees who can complete their tasks remotely rather than being confined in one location prove to be more trustworthy and motivated, and in turn more productive for your business.

Working from Home: The Benefits of the 3CX Phone System

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic it was predicted that 40% of the workforce would soon be working from home. Following the pandemic, the percentage of the population remote working has risen sharply. For businesses and employees new to working from home there was a sharp period of adjustment.

Working from home comes with some challenges – some employees are distracted by the domestic chores around their home while others find it hard to know when to log off or take a break. The technological difficulties, such as inadequate bandwidth and security concerns, are perhaps easier to tackle.

3CX is a communications solution that can cut costs while giving a boost to
employee productivity and flexibility. It combines WebRTC web conferencing, soft phones for Mac and Windows computers, and smartphone clients for iOS, Android and Windows phones. 
This software allows businesses that use a variety of telephone systems across different locations to use their existing systems under 3CX within a single unifying solution. Employees on the move can also use the system to make free telephone calls using 3CX soft phones or mobile applications.

When a face to face meeting is needed 3CX has an integrated video conferencing application which enables users to participate from home. The integrated WebRTC technology is simple to use and does not require downloads or plugins. A key feature is the ‘Video Adaptivity’ setting which allows users with lower bandwidth connections to compensate by downgrading the transmitted video quality. 

Collaborative working is also supported by whiteboard, PDF sharing and poll functions. Being able to share a PDF without everyone having to refer separately to an email maintains the flow of a meeting, while the whiteboard function allows brainstorming and a more visual presentation. The poll application is a great tool for creating engagement audience engagement and enabling feedback from those attending, which is ideal for a webinar or a sales pitch. Once the poll is closed, the organiser can immediately share the results with participants or incorporate them
into a shared document. These functions are also perfect for home learning in a university or school setting.

Pandemic or no pandemic, remote working provides companies with greater flexibility and a variety of valuable benefits.

Phone Systems

The End of ISDN – The Future is VOIP

BT recently announced a reprieve for our old-fashioned telephone lines, but not for long. Businesses can continue to buy ISDN lines until 2023, but they will still be obliged to migrate to VoIP in 2025. Up to a million households still have a landline but no internet or mobile but they too will be moved onto some form of VoIP router by 2025.

The end is definitely nigh for a telephone system that has been in use since 1876. VoIP is simply better and cheaper to operate.

How are they different?

The original Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) established a call by devoting a succession of circuits to the current that carried your voice from phone to phone. The ISDN services (Integrated Services Digital Networks) provided to many businesses are still dependent on the same wired telephone circuits. In contrast, VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) digitises communications and routes them across the internet through an SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunk provider.

Why is VoIP a more cost effective solution?

A major overhead of ISDN (and singe line PSTN) is its dependence on that old wired network. Longer distance calls mean more circuits have to be devoted to the call, making them expensive. More phones need more lines that still cost money when they aren’t in use. That makes growing your operations wasteful and costly. ISDN equipment is also expensive, whereas VoIP handsets are a minor outlay.

In contrast, the internet is available (almost) everywhere, and has more than enough capacity to carry voice calls. Using the internet, the physical distance between connected parties becomes irrelevant. In fact, neither requires a fixed location – both can be roving. Additional numbers don’t need additional hardware.

Does ISDN have any advantages?

Conventional landlines carry a current independent of the electricity grid so even in a power cut you could still make a call. These days you would probably fall-back onto your mobile phone, but ISDN and landlines are also independent of the internet, so a problem with your broadband won’t cut off your phones. Despite the availability of mobiles, some businesses are reluctant to put all their eggs in one basket.

On the other hand, you can make VoIP calls using a mobile phone or laptop microphone if you need to, and you can maintain a backup broadband connection or a wifi hotspot.

The irresistible benefits of VoIP

Extending and contracting your telephone capacity is easy when you use VoIP. You can easily relocate to new premises, connect new sites and provide access to out-of-office employees. You can provide customers with cheap local calls no matter where they live. You can record and archive important calls, re-route them to other desks and merge your telephony into a unified communications system. Digital communications make it far easier to provide video-conferencing and other collaboration tools to your in-house and home-working staff.

VoIP will also make it much easier for local firms to go national – because both incoming and outgoing calls can be charged at cheap local rates.

Change is now inevitable, so if you haven’t yet made the switch you should consider it today with Andromeda Solutions.

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