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3 Collaboration strategies to strengthen teamwork in a hybrid workplace

In finding the right way forward, leaders in various industries carefully consider remote and onsite work to weigh their pros and cons, and ensure that they are able to feed the right energy, inspiration, and coordination needed for their teams to remain engaged and productive.

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The changes brought about by the pandemic have resulted in companies designing and implementing hybrid ways of working within various teams. At TELUS International Philippines (TIP), collaboration and spirited teamwork are essential in providing a caring, inclusive, and engaging work environment where ideas and innovations can flourish. 

In finding the right way forward, leaders in various industries carefully consider remote and onsite work to weigh their pros and cons, and ensure that they are able to feed the right energy, inspiration, and coordination needed for their teams to remain engaged and productive. As a leading provider of digital solutions and customer experience, TELUS International Philippines Senior Operations Director and Site Lead for TELUS House Araneta, Discovery and McKinley Exchange, Anne Muñoz, outlines different strategies the company employs to engage their team members and reinforce the value of teamwork.

1. Utilizing innovation to support your collaborative company culture

Although they have been around for years, online communication and collaboration tools have also gained further traction over the past year, and have enabled the workforce to conveniently work together regardless if they are working from home, onsite, in different time zones, and from anywhere in the world. 

“As companies’ digital transformation journeys evolve, they’ll find that having the best collaboration tools is not enough if you didn’t pave the way by educating your team members on how to effectively utilize them. More importantly, they need to surround them with a company culture that promotes open communication and collaboration.

As a company, we must provide the means to be able to communicate with our team members in channels that are best suited to our team dynamics. Our recent #StrongerTogether employee engagement campaign has helped add perspective on how we’ve evolved as a team that collaborates together, and how we can make sure our caring culture is felt by every team member as we continue to serve our clients,” said Muñoz. 

2. Clarity in expectations and recalibrating ways of working

Achieving spirited teamwork is not an easy feat. Having team members working in different locations with varied capacities can lead to uncertainty about what’s expected of them, resulting in individuals working disjointedly from the rest, tasks not being completed at an ideal pace, or team members being left unsure of next steps. It is important for leaders to clearly recalibrate ideal ways of working and collaborating with each other, and be able to set expectations to empower team members to better manage their time and workload. 

Regular coaching also makes a huge difference because it help     s everyone feel that support is readily available, and they have the right tools, guidance and leadership support to maintain their performance. At a time when team members aren’t able to feed off each other’s energies or presence, this conveys that they still have a team they can rely on and learn from.

3. Team up virtually 

Doing things together as a team outside of work has the advantage of not only improving the morale and spirits of the team members but also helps boost the team’s health. Find activities that benefit the team or are aligned with the team’s interests. 

TELUS International Philippines continues to focus on diversity, inclusiveness and belonging, and these have been ingrained in the DNA of the company culture. Spectrum Philippines and Connections Women’s Network, the company’s employee resource groups for their LGBTQIA+ and female team members respectively, actively organize year-round activities, virtual events and learning sessions for the team members. The company also has a number of special interest groups that promote inclusivity, camaraderie and individual empowerment by hosting fun events and employee engagement programs set to keep everyone inspired, supported, and recognized for the part they play. 

For instance, the photography club at TELUS International Philippines called Lente organized several well-attended virtual workshops and contests during the pandemic, including a toy photography virtual contest and a food photography webinar. Their Warriors of Wealth special interest group hosted several webinars on financial education and smart wealth-building management, including educational sessions on cryptocurrency and the basics of technical analysis in trading. While the TIP biking club conducted several timely webinars on defensive cycling, road sharing, and basics of bike commuting. These activities brought team members with shared interests together and created a sense of community despite the distance.

In addition, sometimes, people need the reassurance that they are doing their jobs well. Rewarding successful collaboration further encourages team members to find creative ways of working together towards shared goals. Collaboration is vital for those who work onsite and those reporting from home who might feel the void and distance because of the pandemic. 

At TELUS International Philippines, team members are recognized for the hard work they put in month after      month. They have an expansive array of recognition programs that celebrate top performers and outstanding collaborations within individual teams, accounts, departments, sites and across the entire global organization.

Alice Montejo, Operations Manager at TELUS Market! Market!, was one of the awardees for #HappyHere engagement prime of the year in 2020. “Being an engagement prime and collaborating with my peers across the organization is very rewarding in itself. We get to organize activities and events that give our team members, wherever they are, a sense of belonging and fun. And, being recognized for the collaborative work that I do also inspires me to give my best every day,” said Montejo. 

“Our team members are the backbone of our company, and great teamwork starts with all of us doing the best we can to ensure a safe, inclusive, and inspiring work environment to keep productivity high. We will continue to create programs that champion their interests and needs, as well as make it as conducive and fun for all despite our hybrid workplace setup,” shared Muñoz. 

Strategies

10 Security misperceptions that need to be addressed immediately

The list is based on the experience of Sophos Rapid Response, a team of expert incident responders who deliver fast assistance in identifying and neutralizing active threats such as malware infections, compromised data, or unauthorized access, among others.

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Photo by Mimi Thian from Unsplash.com

With June marking National ICT Month in the Philippines and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) adopting the CHIP (Connect, Harness, Innovate, and Protect) framework for digital transformation and underscoring the value of protection,  Sophos compiled   a guide for Filipino businesses so they can avoid  today’s most commonly held security misperceptions.

The list is based on the experience of Sophos Rapid Response, a team of expert incident responders who deliver fast assistance in identifying and neutralizing active threats such as malware infections, compromised data, or unauthorized access, among others.

Misperception 1: We are not a target. We are too small or have no assets of value to an adversary 

Sophos Advice: Many cyberattack victims assume they are too small, in a sector of no interest, or lacking the kind of lucrative assets that would attract an adversary. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. If you have the processing power and a digital presence, you are a target. Despite the media headlines, most attacks are not perpetrated by advanced nation-state attackers. They are launched by opportunists looking for easy prey and low-hanging fruit, such as organizations with security gaps, errors, or misconfigurations that cybercriminals can easily exploit. 

Misperception 2: We don’t need advanced security technologies installed everywhere 

Sophos Advice: Some IT teams still believe that endpoint security software is enough to stop all threats or don’t need security for their servers. Attackers take full advantage of such assumptions. Any mistakes in configuration, patching, or protection make servers a primary target, not a secondary one, as might have been the case in the past.

Based on the incidents that Sophos Rapid Response has investigated, servers are now the number one target for attacks. Attackers can easily find a direct route using stolen access credentials.  Suppose your organization relies only on basic security without more advanced and integrated tools such as behavioral and AI-based detection and a 24/7 human-led security operations center. In that case, intruders will likely find their way past your defenses.

Misperception 3: We have robust security policies in place 

Sophos Advice:  Having security policies for applications and users is critical. However, they need  to be checked and updated constantly as new features and functionality are added to devices connected to the network. Verify and test policies using techniques such as penetration testing, tabletop exercises, and trial runs of disaster recovery plans. 

Misperception 4: Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) servers can be protected from attackers by changing the ports they are on and introducing multi-factor authentication (MFA) 

Sophos Advice: The standard port used for RDP services is 3389, so most attackers will scan this port to find open remote access servers. However, the scanning will identify any available services, so changing ports offers little or no protection on its own. 

Further, while introducing multi-factor authentication is essential, it won’t enhance security unless all employees and devices enforce it. RDP activity should occur within the protective boundary of a virtual private network (VPN). Still, even that cannot fully protect an organization if the attackers already have a foothold in a network. Ideally, unless its use is essential, IT security should limit or disable RDP internally and externally.

Misperception 5: Blocking IP addresses from high-risk regions such as Russia, China, and North Korea protects us against attacks from those geographies 

Sophos Advice:  Blocking IPs from specific regions is unlikely to do any harm, but it could give a false sense of security if it’s the sole means of protection. Adversaries host their malicious infrastructure in many countries, with hotspots in the US, the Netherlands, and the rest of Europe. 

Misperception 6: Our backups provide immunity from the impact of ransomware 

Sophos Advice: Keeping up-to-date backups of documents is business-critical. However, if your backups are connected to the network, then they are within reach of attackers and vulnerable to being encrypted, deleted, or disabled in a ransomware attack. 

Storing backups in the cloud also needs to be done with care. The standard formula for secure backups to restore data and systems after a ransomware attack is 3:2:1. Three copies of everything, using two different systems, one of which is offline. 

Having offline backups in place won’t protect your information from extortion-based ransomware attacks, where the criminals steal and threaten to publish your data instead of or as well as encrypting it. 

Misperception 7: Our employees understand security 

Sophos Advice: According to the State of Ransomware 2021, 22% of organizations believe they’ll be hit by ransomware in the next 12 months because it’s hard to stop end users from compromising security. 

Social engineering tactics like phishing emails are becoming harder to spot. Messages are often hand-crafted, accurately written, persuasive, and carefully targeted. Your employees need to know how to spot suspicious messages and what to do when they receive one. Who do they notify so that other employees can be alerted? 

Misperception 8: Incident response teams can recover my data after a ransomware attack

Sophos Advice: This is very unlikely. Attackers today make far fewer mistakes, and the encryption process has improved, so relying on responders to find a loophole that can undo the damage is extremely rare. Automatic backups like Windows Volume Shadow Copies are also deleted by most modern ransomware and overwriting the original data stored on disk, making recovery impossible other than paying the ransom. 

Misperception 9: Paying the ransom will get our data back after a ransomware attack 

Sophos Advice: According to the State of Ransomware survey 2021, an organization that pays the ransom recovers on average around two-thirds (65%) of its data.  A mere 8% got back all of their data, and 29% recovered less than half. Paying the ransom even when it seems easier and covered by your cyber-insurance policy is therefore not a straightforward solution to getting your data back. 

Misperception 10: The release of ransomware is the whole attack – if we survive that we’re OK 

Sophos Advice: Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Ransomware is just the point where the attackers want you to realize they are there and what they have done. 

The adversaries are likely to have been in your network for days if not weeks before releasing the ransomware, exploring, disabling, or deleting backups, finding the machines with high-value information or applications to target for encryption, removing information, and installing additional payloads such as backdoors. Maintaining a presence in the victim’s networks allows attackers to launch a second attack if they want to. 

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Strategies

Use rewards effectively to boost employee creativity

The choice of rewards fostered creativity by raising the employees’ belief in their ability to be creative. Alternative rewards also had a powerful impact on boosting the creativity of employees who earlier had scored high on an assessment of creative personality characteristics.

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Photo by Roberto Nickson from Pexels.com

To boost employees’ creativity, managers should consider offering a set of rewards for them to choose from, according to a new study by management experts at Rice University, Tulane University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and National Taiwan Normal University.

The study, co-authored by Jing Zhou, the Mary Gibbs Jones Professor of Management and Psychology at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, is the first to systematically examine the effects of reward choice in a field experiment, which was conducted in the context of an organizationwide suggestion program. An advance copy of the paper is published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

“Organizations spend a lot of resources and exert a great deal of effort in designing incentive schemes that reward the employees who exhibit creativity at work,” Zhou said. “Our results showed that the effort may be a bit misplaced. Instead of discovering one reward type that is particularly effective at promoting creativity, what is more effective is to provide the employees with the opportunity to choose from several reward types, if they submit one or more ideas that are among the top 20% most creative ones.”

Workers in the study were given a range of options: a financial reward for the individual employee or their team, a self-discretionary reward such as getting priority to select days off, or a donation the company made to a charity selected by the employee. Those choices had positive, significant effects on the number of creative ideas employees generated and the creativity level of those ideas, Zhou and her co-authors found.

The researchers arrived at their findings by conducting a quasi-experiment at a company in Taiwan over the course of several months. Then they conducted a second experimental study that included employees from 12 organizations in Taiwan to replicate the first study’s results and compared the results with a control group.

The studies also found that rewards aimed at helping others, such as making a donation to a charity, might be especially powerful. But for less-creative employees, alternative rewards that benefit those in need might actually lower creativity and should be avoided, the authors said.

The researchers also found that the choice of rewards fostered creativity by raising the employees’ belief in their ability to be creative. Alternative rewards also had a powerful impact on boosting the creativity of employees who earlier had scored high on an assessment of creative personality characteristics.

Zhou co-authored the paper with Greg Oldham of Tulane, Aichia Chuang of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Ryan Shuwei Hsu of National Taiwan Normal University.

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Strategies

5 Things an online store needs to keep customers coming back

Looking to create more suki for your business? As part of its commitment to empower everyday entrepreneurs, GoDaddy shares five things you need to help keep your customers coming back.

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More people have come to rely on online stores for their needs—from food and essentials to home improvement. While the shift of customers to online has made starting up a business more appealing to entrepreneurial Filipinos, ensuring sustainability and growth is another matter to consider.

“Entrepreneurs acknowledge their need to quickly learn to navigate the digital space to ensure their business can survive and thrive. With more businesses going online, having a strong online presence, and building relationships with customers are critical for gaining support. Having your suki doesn’t only mean repeat business, but also people who vouch for your products and services with their friends and family,” said Norman Barrientos, GoDaddy Director of Marketing for Southeast Asia.

Looking to create more suki for your business? As part of its commitment to empower everyday entrepreneurs, GoDaddy shares five things you need to help keep your customers coming back.

Strong Brand Aesthetic

“Entrepreneurs tend to think brand design and aesthetic are only for big businesses, but in today’s online market space, it’s important to create a lasting impact on your customers from the first time they click on your business website,” said Barrientos.

Having your own e-commerce website easily showcases your products and services and enables customers to place their orders from one place. Thinking about designing this well may be a bit intimidating at first, but it need not be.

Regular Relevant Content

As businesses shift to selling online, the digital market space can be quite crowded. You need to make your business stay on your customers’ top of mind as they browse through the internet, with many brands working to get the attention of potential buyers.

You can do that by continuously creating content that is considered as novel, useful and engaging. Having novel or new content on your website and social media channels can help to maintain brand recall. While useful content that educates and informs people shows your brand’s relevance; and engaging content helps cultivate a strong relationship with your customers.

Fast and Easy Transaction Process

Convenience and ease are keys for a positive shopping online experience. If your online store is able to provide a convenient and hassle-free purchasing journey, you’re likely to get more repeat customers. This requires a website that makes it easy for customers to view all their product options, immediately choose and add all they need to their cart, and then check out with their preferred shipping method and mode of payment within minutes. 

Great Customer Service

Customers’ patience for getting a response to their request for say, a product replacement or feedback on their queries about package customization has its limits. Showing that you care about their questions and concerns and providing quick, reliable customer assistance can build trust and relationships with customers. This can further lead to business patronage and recommendations.

Website Security Protection

When making online transactions, customers want to know that the business is concerned around the safety of their personal information. GoDaddy E-Store plans include a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate which ensures that personal information like passwords and credit card details, are protected as the information passing to and from your website is now encrypted. This way, your data is further safeguarded while being transmitted. Having this layer of protection helps to give customers increased confidence to continue doing business with you.

All of these elements contribute to providing your suki with a pleasant online shopping experience that can help customers keep coming back to your business. With GoDaddy, your one-stop shop for online business solutions, you can build a strong online presence while nurturing customer relationships.

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