Does Your Staff Suffer From Internet Addiction?

We’ve all wasted time surfing the Internet, but as we know, there are unfortunately extremes to every action. Wasting time by mindlessly browsing Internet pages can certainly become a problem when it claims huge portions of your time at work, killing your productivity. Can you not seem to get away from surfing the Internet?

“Just one more website” seems to be the mantra among people who suffer from Internet Addiction Disorder; a disorder that has developed among people in recent years who claim that their dependency on the Internet interferes with their daily life. Such a disorder could really put a damper on productivity at work, especially if you are an Internet-addicted business owner who can’t seem to lay off of Twitter for more than 15 minutes.

Interestingly enough, the root of Internet addiction disorder can be found in studying human biology. Compared to the timeline of human existence, the Internet is still a brand new tool. In fact, our brains are still adjusting to the brand new caliber of information overload presented by the Internet. With each new social media notification, email, chat request, and other piece of information comes a release of an addictive “feel-good” chemical in our brains called dopamine; the same stuff that gets people hooked on drugs. Who would’ve ever thought that we would one day compare hard addictive drugs to funny cat memes?

A great example of Internet real estate that will keep you longer than you would like to stay is a site called The Art of Manliness. The writers recently explored the issue of Internet addiction, comparing it to the way our brains reward us when we discover new information about our physical surroundings:

And what is the Internet besides a collection of millions of bits of information–hit after dopamine-releasing hit. The Internet is really like a giant information slot machine. Every time you surf to a new page, you pull that lever, and wait to see what pops up. Pull the lever. Pull the lever. Pull the lever. Ding-ding-ding-ding. It’s easy to get entranced and lose track of time.

Pulling yourself out of Internet addiction in hopes of being more productive at work can be an extremely difficult task. You could go cold turkey and not use the Internet any longer (at least for a designated period of time). However, this would be close to impossible, seeing as how you use the Internet at work for research, team collaboration, communication, organization, and virtually every day-to-day task. Instead of severing your ties to the Internet completely, you should identify which websites are the worst distractions for you personally, and set up guidelines for yourself for when you can use them, like when you’re not on company time.

If you are a business owner and find it difficult to keep your irrelevant-site-addicted staff in check, you could implement an Internet usage policy for your company, or give them the ol’ stink eye in sheer hopes that your punishment will inspire change. But this is probably not likely.

There is, however, a powerful alternative. Why not let technology itself control abusive use of technology? With a Unified Threat Management (UTM) networking solution from Michell Consulting Group, you can manage your employees’ use of distracting websites like Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest by simply entering them into the UTM content filter. This way, those sites can be blocked, eliminating employees from accessing them and wasting company time.

With the UTM filter, you can even adjust the limitations for each user, so only those who waste hours of time on Tumblr each day are restricted access. Or you could limit everybody from all social media and blogs except your social media director. However you choose to use it, the UTM filter is totally customizable, and can potentially save your business from less-productive employees.

Businesses that employ content filtering with UTM have seen their productivity levels increase by as much as 25%! Take a stand against Internet Addiction Disorder by giving Michell Consulting Group a call at 305-592-5433 to learn more about integrating UTM with your business!

How to Make Sure That Your IT Company Isn’t Ripping You Off

For a modern business that depends on its technology, few things are worse than when a server crashes, causing an entire organization to experience downtime. The only thing worse than downtime is the repair bill that accompanies it. In desperate times like this, is your IT company taking advantage of your misfortune?

Big Repair Bills Add Insult to Injury
Doing IT the old fashioned break-fix way is the model of computer service that takes advantage of a company’s technology troubles by dishing out big repair bills. It’s a painful way to do business because the break-fix repair company essentially profits from your technological misery. Because the break-fix model depends on technology breaking down in order to make money, there’s little motivation with traditional IT companies to go the extra mile to prevent equipment failure. It’s almost as if a break-fix IT company hopes that your workstations get hit with a virus or that your company experiences a server crash.

This model of business makes it difficult to discern if a break-fix computer repair company is ripping you off or not. It would be very easy for them to do a shoddy repair job on your computer with the intention of it breaking down again. This way, you will have to call them up again and face yet another large repair bill. At the end of the day, a computer break-fix company needs to pay their bills too, and you are a means to that end.

One of the problems with the break-fix business model is that there’s no relationship involved. If the only time you talk with your break-fix company is when something goes wrong, and you dread interacting with them because you know that it always leads to a big repair bill, then it’s likely that you’re being ripped off. If this describes how your relationship (or lack thereof) with your IT service provider is, then it’s time that you update your IT service to a new model that you can feel confident about.

Managed IT Service from Michell Consulting Group: A Better Model for You!
You can feel confident about outsourcing your IT service with Michell Consulting Group because we have your best interest in mind. Instead of charging you for every repair job, our business model revolves around your technology functioning properly. This is at the heart of managed IT service. With managed IT, you get charged a regular flat rate for us to manage your technology.

Managed IT is a consistent, all-you-can-eat approach to technology that you can budget around. By taking big and sporadic IT repair bills out of the equation, your company will now have the resources freed up to invest in growth, and when your business grows, then you will need to cover your new workstations and servers. Therefore, when you grow, we grow. This naturally translates to us having your best interest in mind. This is experienced firsthand through a relationship where we routinely evaluate your company’s IT needs and work closely with you. This technology consulting aspect to our managed service hooks you up with the solutions you need to come out on top.

We are rooting for your success and we will go the extra mile in maintaining your equipment in order to prevent it from breaking down and causing your business expensive downtime. Managed IT service allows us to handle your IT problems remotely, including maintaining your system so that it functions properly. For many IT problems, we’re able to catch and fix them remotely while they’re small issues. This will free up your time from having to arrange computer fixes, which will give you more time to grow your business; a goal that both of us want to see happen!

Our approach to managed IT functions more like a partnership, and partners are people that can be trusted. This is how you can know that Michell Consulting Group is not ripping you off, which is more than we can say for the typical break-fix computer repair company. To outsource your IT with Michell Consulting Group and gain a trusted partner that wants to see your business grow, then give us a call at 305-592-5433.

Making a Graph in Microsoft Excel is as Easy as Pie

When you need to make your point in a big way, you can make a sharp looking graph. You may think that graph making is difficult, but thanks to tools like Microsoft Excel, creating a convincing chart is as easy as pie! To help you out, we’ll walk you through how to make a graph in Microsoft Excel.

To start, we’ll need to populate data fields in Microsoft Excel with figures that will make up our graph. Let’s pick a topic that every computer user will find interesting, like the worldwide breakdown of desktop operating systems accessing the Internet. We can find this information from a January report on Netmarketshare.com. We’ll take their data and insert each figure into its own cell.

Now we will go to the Insert tab and turn these figures into a graph by selecting the desired graph listed under Charts. Since we’re breaking down these figures from 100%, going with a pie chart is appropriate. Also, pie is delicious, so let’s choose a pie chart.

Like a dessert buffet, clicking on the Pie icon will give us a variety of pies to choose from. For the sake of getting a chart made so that we can check to make sure our data is accurate, we’ll go ahead and select 2-D Pie. At the end of this tutorial, you can go back to the Insert tab and select all the different styles of charts in order to find the perfect look for your graph, but we’ll hold off on that step for now.

Because we had a filled out data field selected before we clicked on 2-D Pie, we will see a pie chart appear in our Excel spreadsheet that automatically took our rows of information and turned them into a pie chart. If you see a blank space instead of a graph, then hit Undo, select a cell that contains your information (like D11 in our example), and then go back and select 2-D Pie.

Our new graph is starting to take shape, but it’s missing something, the percentages. To add these figures to our chart, we’ll right click on the graph and then go to Add Data Labels.

Our pie chart will now have the percentages on display, but it’s still missing a crucial component, the title. To add a title, we will right click the graph and go to Select Data. This will bring us to the Select Data Source menu.

 

In the Select Data Source menu, we’ll click on the Edit button. This will bring up the Edit Series menu; from here we can enter the name of our title in the Series name form. A fitting name that we’ll give to this pie chart is “Desktop OS Breakdown.” After we’ve entered our title in the form we will click OK.

Check out our completed graph! We’ve just made an easy-to-read pie chart with a title and colors that coordinate to the appropriate operating systems. This is one good-looking graph that you can print off, save as an image to share it online, or you can easily insert it into a slideshow. In fact, this same graph-making procedure also applies to other Microsoft Office applications like PowerPoint, Word, and more.

If you want to spice up your graph, you can click around and change the colors, font, chart style, and much more. This is your chance to make your graph stand out, just remember to not go overboard and have the cosmetic edits distract from the information that you want to present.

Now that you’ve made a great looking pie chart, you should celebrate with a slice of pie. What’s your favorite pie? Let us know in the comments!

Microsoft Upgrades SkyDrive to OneDrive

Microsoft has made significant upgrades to SkyDrive. In fact, the upgrades are such a big deal that Microsoft is rebranding their data hosting service as OneDrive. Microsoft is calling it OneDrive because it’s the “one place for your photos, videos, documents, and files across all your devices.”

Microsoft is making a big to-do with their launch of OneDrive, which includes a slick new video meant to inspire you to use the product.

With OneDrive, there’s no need to uninstall SkyDrive or install OneDrive. Microsoft customers that have an active account with SkyDrive will be able to seamlessly transition to OneDrive with an automatic update.

A SkyDrive user logging onto their new OneDrive account will notice three significant upgrades:

  1. A user can view and share videos in the same way as photos.
  2. Camera roll backup for Android is now automatic.
  3. The ability to co-author Office documents in real time with Office Web apps.

OneDrive also gives users more chances to earn free storage space. Signing up for OneDrive comes with 7GB of space for free, and 500MB is given for every friend that’s invited to OneDrive and accepts the invitation (up to 10 friends). Additionally, 3GB is given if a camera’s backup feature is synced with OneDrive. When all of these bonuses are added up, you’re looking at 15GB of free storage space on OneDrive. Not too shabby.

Another advantage of OneDrive is that it’s available across every major platform and it comes installed on the latest versions of Windows, Windows Phone, Office, and Xbox. Also, instead of having to manually upload your content, OneDrive gives you the option to have your files automatically load so that they can be easily shared across all of your different devices.

With OneDrive on Xbox, you can easily share your gameplay footage or post it online. Better yet, OneDrive for Office can increase the productivity of your business, allowing employees to simultaneously view and edit an Office document with any device connected to the Internet. OneDrive is also a great solution for file sharing, giving your organization an easy way to go mobile!

If you want to know more about Microsoft OneDrive, like if it’s right for your business and what it will take to equip your company with it, then call MIchell Consuting Group at 305-592-5433.

Winning from Home Part 2: Employers Benefit

When it comes to working from home, everybody wins! In our last article, we looked at how employees win because working from home saves them time and money from commuting. Employers are another group that benefits because working from home makes doing business more productive and more efficient.

Winning with Office Space
Renting or owning office space is one of the biggest expenses of operating a business, and as your business grows, so does the need for more floor space. Attempting to onboard additional staff when you don’t have the physical room to do it can make the work environment interesting, to say the least. It can mean fitting desks inside of broom closets, long lines to the bathroom, and a crowded break room that can’t accommodate everyone taking their lunch at the same time. One of the easiest ways to save money from having to upgrade to a bigger facility is to have your employees work remotely. It’s much easier and less expense to implement remote technology for your business than it is to find a bigger facility.

Winning with Operating Expenses
Running an office can also eat up a lot of your company’s budget. The more people coming to work will translate to higher operating costs like larger utility bills and more resources being consumed like coffee, toilet paper, birthday cake, reams of paper, and much more. All of these office items seem like small potatoes, but they can really add up when you’re dealing with a growing workforce.

Winning with Improving Morale
In our last article, we looked at how 25% of office workers interviewed admitted that they would take a reduction in salary if it meant that they could work from home. The same survey also revealed that 78% of employees would forgo a free meal for the opportunity to work from home. This means that your attempts to improve office morale by providing employees with perks like food, may be better spent by just giving them the option to work from home.

Winning with Technology Expenses
By allowing your staff to work from home your business will also save on technology expenses. The traditional arrangement for employees that come to the office is that you provide them with a workstation, and as you know, purchasing and operating computers is a major business expense. In many work-from-home scenarios, you can require employees to use their personal computers. In most cases, the employee will be happy to use their personal equipment if it means doing work from their couch. Michell Consulting Group can even help provide your at-home workers with remote IT support to keep their computers running smoothly so that your company’s operations won’t be hindered by downtime.

Winning with Productivity
The biggest way that employers benefit by having their team work from home is that they’re more productive. In a study by CompTIA Research, it was discovered that 67% of businesses that implemented a work from home policy saw an increase in productivity. This increase in productivity can be attributed to many things. The biggest factor may be that your office is full of distracting people. Working from home means not dealing with people’s distracting drama and useless chit chat, which allows an employee to focus more on their task and put out a better quality product.

As you can see, working from home doesn’t just benefit employees; employers come out on top too! Implementing a work-from-home policy may require adding remote networking tools so that employees can connect to your company’s network from anywhere. You will also want to implement a strong network security solution because working remotely means there will be more network access points to cover. There are a host of solutions that will allow you to stay connected and monitor your home-based workers so that you can feel confident about their performance. To learn more about what it takes for your business to implement remote technology, give Michell Consutling Group a call at 305-592-5433.