Much of the last two years has revolved around businesses and their employees finding new ways to adapt to remote work. Organizations that have made this transition successfully often attribute their ease of adaptation to the flexibility gained through the adoption of cloud technology. It didn’t just fill the physical distance between employees and employers but also plugged loopholes that weren’t visible to them just then.
Cloud technology enables your remote employees to quickly adapt to any number of upcoming “new normals” they’d have to face. This has made it a basic necessity for businesses looking to scale despite uncertain economic conditions.
But where do businesses start? We’ve crafted this quick guide to help you get started while answering all your questions about cloud tech and your business. So let’s get to it!
What are the main challenges of remote work?
Being in the office gave employees the ease of accessibility and communication with other employees, their mentors, and managers. Remote work, though, severed the bond by adding in a massive amount of physical distance. As a result, traditional methods no longer work with remote teams, leading to a massive dip in productivity and efficiency.
The Finance department was the most affected by the onset of remote work as their work (verifications, approvals, and documentation) has always been one-on-one. While such meetings were possible in an office environment, the situation has changed dramatically with distributed teams. This has resulted in broken records, inaccurate documents, delayed reimbursements, and overworked Finance employees.
Unmotivated employees and broken processes could significantly affect the health and sustenance of a business. Leaders need to understand that the time for change is now and that leveraging cloud technology is the only way companies can scale while running efficient teams to bring forth profit.
Why should businesses shift to cloud technology?
The increased physical distance between employees has pushed businesses to adopt collaboration tools that improve communication and collaboration across departments to improve productivity.
Studies report that there has been an 80% increase in the adoption of cloud techs like expense management software, time-tracking software, and communication tools since the onset of the pandemic. Thus it’s safe to conclude that businesses can use these techs to bridge the physical gap between employees.
Keep in mind that your best way to start as a business owner is to ensure teams can maintain the same levels of collaboration as they did while in office.
How does cloud adoption enable a successful remote work model?
1. Enables real-time collaborations for distributed employees
Cloud technology is built to enable remote teams. Most cloud tools let employees work on a single project from multiple locations (while simultaneously editing.) Other tools focus on streamlining communication, reporting, documentation, and more.
By enabling employees to tackle all the potential challenges of remote work, cloud technology lets businesses continue operations as they did while in office. Additionally, it provides business leaders with complete control over all functions through a joint dashboard. This adds a layer of accountability to all areas of business operations.
2. Enables executives to make better business decisions
Almost every cloud tool comes with advanced data-analytics capabilities that analyze all available data to help executives make business decisions backed by data. This ensures the right decisions are made with little to no added effort.
For instance, if your Finance team uses an expense report software, they can gain insight into all the essential aspects of expense data across the company like top-spending departments, policy violations, and more.
Having access to such information enables teams to make better decisions around business expenses.
In similar ways, other cloud tools are also designed to address every little problem in their ecosystem.
3. Enables Finance teams to have more control over business spends
Traditional expense management is redundant when it comes to remote work. Any business that still uses manual means to process expenses is now increasingly prone to fraud, a complete loss of control over business expenditure, and no visibility into costs. This, if left unchecked over time, can quickly shut the doors of your business.
Automation tools make tracking and reporting of expenses more accessible by taking away the hardship of Finance teams having to verify every expense report for company policy manually.
Additionally, keep in mind that inaccurate/non-compliant reports can lead to severe problems with the IRS if discovered during the audit process. Therefore, if you feel like your business is prone to such issues, know that it’s the perfect time to switch to an expense software to improve employee productivity by reducing the number of erroneous or fraudulent reports.
4. Provides teams a better work experience
Cloud technology, like webinar software or project management software, enables employees to have much more flexibility in their work routines. They can work from anywhere, using any device with just a stable WiFi connection. This, in the long run, can significantly improve the employee working experience.
Around the world, 50% of the workforce have requested to go utterly remote by 2025.
Why? Simply because remote work is giving employees the option to maintain a healthy work-life balance by becoming self-managed, all of which wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for cloud computing.
Remote work will be around for a long time, and developing a sustainable remote work model is directly tied to the adoption of cloud technology.
Having access to a shared digital workspace where your entire organization can access the information they’d need makes remote work efficient and scalable. In addition, cloud adoption lets businesses transition easily to remote work and stay remote while improving productivity.
What is a dedicated IP address and why do you need one?
Whether you’re new to remote work or a seasoned pro looking to up your game, you might be wondering, “What is a dedicated IP address?” or “Do I really need a dedicated IP for remote work?” Both are valid questions — especially now.
Since the shift to remote work, businesses and employees have dealt with increasing security risks and threats. Many telecommuters use VPNs or SSL certificates for a secure remote work experience, but it’s often not enough. Business owners and organizations are also advised to get a dedicated IP address for an added layer of protection.
The question is – is a dedicated IP worth it if you’re working outside of a traditional office space?
Before you decide whether to get a dedicated IP address or not, read on to learn to basics and benefits, including:
What is an IP address?
An internet protocol (IP) address is a unique address assigned to individual computers, servers, domains, or devices over the internet or a local network. Whenever you access a website, your computer communicates to the webserver through the IP address.
IP addresses consist of four sets of numbers, each separated by periods (x.x.x.x), ranging from 0 to 255, which comes out to around 4.2 billion combinations.
The conventional IP address we’re used to is the IPv4 (IP version 4). It was created in the 1980s and used a 32-bit system that didn’t account for how fast the internet would grow. We have long since exhausted those 4.2 billion combinations. Thus, a new internet addressing system called IPv6 was deployed in 1999.
IP addresses and the Domain Name System (DNS)
IP addresses aren’t random. They are produced and assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), part of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The ICANN is a non-profit organization that maintains internet security. One of its functions is to maintain the domain name system (DNS). You can think of the DNS as a phonebook that matches domain names to IP addresses.
The DNS was born because IP addresses are composed of a string of numbers – making it difficult for users to remember which numbers belonged to which website. Without the DNS, you would have to type in “188.8.131.52” to get to Google and other IP addresses to get to other websites.
How IP addresses work
Your network, devices and the internet use IP addresses to communicate with each other. Let’s look at how IP addresses work when connecting your device to the internet.
Before your device can access the internet, it must connect to a network. That network would likely be your Internet Service Provider (ISP) if you’re at home, while it would be public Wi-Fi if you’re outside your home network.
Internet activity goes through the ISP, which is shared with your device using an IP address. In this case, the ISP assigns an IP address to your device. That assigned IP address, however, is temporary. When you turn your modem or router off, your device gets disconnected from the network. Or, when you travel, your device uses another network to connect to the internet.
That new network you connect to (hotel, coffee shop, or airport Wi-Fi) shares a different IP address. This is but one of many examples of how devices use IP addresses to communicate with each other.
There are several types of IP addresses, which we’ll explore in the next section.
Different types of IP addresses
There are different types of IP addresses, which are further subdivided into different categories.
Consumer IP addresses and website IP addresses are the main types of IP addresses.
Consumer IP address
Consumer IP addresses are assigned to devices connected to the internet. There are two kinds of consumer IP addresses: private and public IP addresses.
These types describe a network’s location: private IP addresses are used inside a network, while public IP addresses are used outside.
Private IP vs. Public IP
Your network router assigns private IP addresses to your devices to communicate with it internally. In contrast, your ISP assigns public IP addresses. The public IP is the primary address associated with your internet network.
Private IP addresses exist because multiple devices connect to a household’s network. Modern homes have computers, smartphones, tablets and even Bluetooth-enabled devices such as speakers, printers or smart TVs connecting to a router at any given time.
Because your router connects to so many devices, it needs a way to identify each item. Thus, it generates private IP addresses that differentiate each device on the internal network.
While each device connected to the network has its own private IP address to communicate with the router, remember that all devices simultaneously access the internet through the router as well. Thus, they all have the same public IP address.
Public IP addresses are further classified into two kinds – static and dynamic. These types describe a network’s permanency.
Dynamic IP vs. Static IP
A dynamic IP address is an IP address that often changes, while a static IP address does not change. ISPs and web hosting companies automatically assign dynamic IP addresses while they manually create static IP addresses.
Dynamic IP addresses are the most common type of IP address. They are only active for a certain amount of time, after which they expire. Once the computer disconnects from the network, it receives a new IP address or requests a new one.
Advantages of dynamic IP addresses include cost savings and security. ISPs buy multiple IP addresses and assign them to users. Automating the movement of IP addresses means there’s no need to get users their original IP addresses. Once a user is disconnected, ISPs can reassign a new IP address and give new users the old one to use.
Additionally, a changing IP makes it harder for criminals to hack into your network.
Individuals and businesses seldom use static IP addresses. Servers hosting large websites or providing email and FTP services use static IP addresses so other devices can easily find them on the web.
Website IP address
The website IP address is the other type of IP address besides the consumer IP.
If consumer IPs are assigned to devices connected to the internet, website IPs are used for web hosting packages. There are two types of website IPs: shared and dedicated.
We’ll be focusing on these two types, specifically dedicated IP addresses.
Dedicated IP address vs. Shared IP address
You can get a dedicated IP address and shared IP address from hosting providers, but the main difference is the number of users assigned to it.
Dedicated IPs are exclusive to a single account, while a shared IP is assigned to multiple users.
Shared IP addresses are often common to shared hosting accounts. This type of web hosting plan hosts multiple websites on the same server, making it possible for these domains to share an IP address.
But, while shared IP addresses are common in shared hosting plans, it is also possible to have a shared IP address without a shared server. For instance, some Managed WordPress hosting plans share IP addresses but not server resources.
Shared IP addresses are often dynamic IPs, while dedicated IP addresses are static. You have sole use over them once they’re assigned to you.
Important: Don’t confuse a dedicated IP address with a dedicated server; you can get a dedicated IP address without signing up for a dedicated hosting plan.
Benefits of a dedicated IP address
There are several benefits to having a single IP address dedicated to your use. It’s fast and secure, and there’s a smaller chance of your IP getting blacklisted.
Let’s explore each benefit in detail:
1. Secure remote access
A dedicated IP address allows employees to connect to company resources securely. It enables you to control access to specific resources and sensitive company assets. You can do this by allowing specific IP addresses and restricting access to servers and gateways you choose.
2. Reduced risk of IP blacklisting
Another benefit of a dedicated IP address is safety and location privacy. Some people prefer it when they can’t be traced.
While sharing an IP address is generally safe, it risks country-specific blocking of your website. Other websites on your server might perform illegal activities such as sending out spam emails, viruses, or malware that could get your websites blocked by search engines.
When you use a dedicated IP address for remote work or otherwise, there is zero chance of your IP getting blocked — unless you do something malicious intentionally.
3. Faster and safer file transfer
A dedicated IP ensures faster site speeds. You don’t have to contend with web traffic because you’re the only one using the IP address.
A dedicated IP also allows you to build a file transfer protocol (FTP) server to share files within an organization. A private FTP server offers better protection and a faster file transfer rate.
4. Improved email deliverability
You will benefit from a dedicated IP address if you send large volumes of emails; anything above 100,000+ per year is considered a large volume.
The main reason?
An IP’s reputation can impact your email delivery rate.
Email services such as Gmail and Yahoo trust emails from dedicated IPs more than those from shared IP addresses. They often double-check emails from shared IP addresses because spam emails are more likely to come from accounts hosted on those IPs.
5. Direct access to your website
Dedicated IP addresses allow you to access your website directly using the IP address since it’s the only domain mapped to that IP. For example, typing in “184.108.40.206” would lead you directly to Google because that is its dedicated IP address.
While it’s not the main advantage of having a dedicated IP, it is a handy perk when domain servers are down.
Dedicated IP address: A must-have for remote workers
Bottom line: Beef up your cybersecurity efforts with a dedicated IP address. It securely connects you to your remote server and improves site speed. That’s a win-win for remote workers and their employees and clients.
Strengthen Your Customer Call Experience
It takes effort, hard work, and dedication to establish a business, but this is something that should go without saying. The issue is that many new companies are under the impression that they must accomplish everything on their own. Let’s use an example to make things clearer:
A new firm with no workers to ensure that product is handled, marketing is taken care of, inventory is maintained, and goals are established and achieved, all while handling continuous phone calls. It’s a lot of work, to say the least, but it’s also not essential.
Constant calls are distracting, and between robocalls and genuine leads, it’s difficult to sort through them while staying on track for your company. Responsive enterprises, on the other hand, create more powerful impressions, resulting in successful business interactions and loyal customers.
You can have the best product or service in the world, but if no one knows about it or can’t get in touch with you, your company won’t succeed.
How do you maintain a balance between your company and your consumers or clients? With a live receptionist service.
The goal should be to find a balance between your business and attending to customers or clients. The sweet spot is where you are free to focus on what you’re good at while not having to worry about the small stuff. This is where a live receptionist service comes in.
Companies like Alliance Virtual Offices understand what it takes to build a business in this day and age. Many companies are looking to cut back on staff and costs by working remotely and finding proper technology to handle many of the administrative tasks needed to run a successful business.
With Alliance Virtual Offices, you can pick between 3 Live Receptionist plans that won’t break the bank and will ensure that your customers or clients are always greeted by a friendly, professional voice. Plus, there is no setup fee and every plan includes a dedicated business number and a market-leading Virtual Phone system.
At a fraction of the cost of a permanent employee, our professional live receptionist service strengthens your customer call experience while also reducing distractions, giving you valuable time back to focus. For up to six days a week, your live receptionist will screen and filter calls, take messages, and schedule appointments on your behalf — all according to your requirements and real-time calendar.
If you’re looking for a reliable and stable business solution, then Alliance Virtual Offices is the perfect choice for you. With their commercially recognized address and business number, you can easily list your business on the 411 national directory. This way, potential lenders will know that you’re a credible and established company. So don’t wait any longer, head to Alliance Virtual Offices today and see what they can do for you!
Best Barcode Label Printers for Small Business
The best barcode label printers make it easy to create and print codes that help you track your inventory. Thermal printers, which use heat to print, eliminate the need for ink and can print hundreds of labels per minute.
Some barcode printers are also compatible with point-of-sale systems, so keep an eye out for your preferred software. However, just because your POS system isn’t listed doesn’t mean you can’t use the associated printer; it may just require exporting and reformatting your labels to print from a computer.
Rollo Label Printer: Best overall
Phone, chat and email support.
Integrated shipping platform.
Option to print for a wide size range, from barcodes to shipping labels.
Not wireless; connects through USB.
Why we like it: The Rollo is the industry standard for shipping label printers, and it works for barcode labels and a variety of other uses, too. You can print on any direct thermal label, including free UPS labels, unlike other brands which are only compatible with their own branded label paper. The device is compatible with Windows, Mac, and all major shipping platforms and marketplaces including Shopify and Etsy. The wireless version is available for about $280.
Brother QL-810W: Best for portability
Cost: $180 and up.
Lightweight and compact.
Compatible with Mac, Windows, and mobile apps AirPrint and Brother iPrint&Label.
Prints in black and red. (Most label printers only print in black.)
Software can be complicated to set up.
Why we like it: Brother’s QL line of label printers are lightweight and durable. Reviews note some difficulties with setup, but once online these devices are among the best for wireless, high-speed and portable label printing. You can access and customize label templates with the Brother iPrint&Label mobile app. This model is our top pick, but the QL-800 and QL-1100 are similar in function and price.
Zebra ZD421: Best for durability
Cost: $440 and up.
Compatible with Android and iOS.
Can be used for shipping labels.
Pricier than other options.
Why we like it: Zebra makes reliable, industrial-quality printers that can withstand long-term use. Reviewers say the ZD421 is a consistent, speedy model. Like other Zebra printers, it’s ideal for high-volume retail businesses and warehouses. Zebra printers are an investment, but they’re known to be high-performing and long-lasting.
Phomemo-M110: Best low-cost option
Cost: $66 and up.
Compatible business software not available.
Lightweight and portable.
- Android and iOS app includes label templates and editing feature
Less powerful than higher-priced options.
Only for barcode and product labels; can’t create shipping labels.
Only compatible with Phomemo app.
Why we like it: The Phomemo-M110 is small, but fully capable. It’s a great option for businesses making sales on-the-go, like at farmers markets and festivals. The rechargeable device is unlikely to last as long as most of the other options listed here, but it works well for businesses on a budget. For a slight upgrade, the Phomemo-M220 for $91.99 can connect with USB and has more label size options.
Dymo LabelWriter 550: Best high-speed option
Cost: $150 and up.
Compatible business software includes: Shopify, Lightspeed, Square.
Compatible with Mac and Windows.
Can print directly from e-commerce websites, including Shopify and Etsy.
Can only be used with authentic Dymo brand label paper.
Not wireless; connects through USB.
Why we like it: The LabelWriter is a high-speed device, printing up to 90 labels per minute. You can access and customize templates with the company’s free software, and print in high resolution. However, newer Dymo models, including this one, are only compatible with Dymo-brand paper, so materials can get costly. For a larger option that can print shipping labels as well as barcode labels, try the similar LabelWriter 4XL.
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