All posts by Alisa Bartash

Alisa is the product marketing manager for unified communication and collaboration at ReadyTalk. She has a passion for solving customer pain points and identifying solutions no matter how complicated the problem. In her free time, Alisa loves to hike the mountains of Colorado, explore new restaurants around Denver and travel the world.

Why are communal office spaces great for collaboration?

Cubicles can be cages for creativity – and desks sans makeshift walls aren't always better. While there are times when we need to put our headphones in and hunker down without distractions to cross important items off of our checklists, other projects require collective efforts. That's where communal office spaces join the party, providing the interactive working environments that employees need to effectively collaborate with each other.

If you aren't already on board, we're here to open your mind to the benefits of communal office spaces. Here's why they're so valuable for collaboration:

Humans are social beings

We're all guilty of falling prey to some juicy office gossip, but communal office spaces are for more than catching up on the drama and making weekend plans. They create opportunities for employees to converse with peers, brainstorm ideas and bounce thoughts off one another. Instead of resorting straight to Google searches, employees can learn from each other and share perspectives that may enhance the final results of their work. Plus, brief social conversations can also give employees the break they need between tasks before returning to their to-do lists.

Everyone needs a pat on the back

Communal office spaces create a sense of community, which adds a valuable support network to everyone's individual experience. It's comforting to have others around for guidance or feedback, and sometimes sitting in a room surrounded by people being productive provides the boost of motivation we need. Researchers at Stanford University even found that participants in a collaborative, supportive working environment stayed on task 64 percent longer than those who worked alone. Thus, communal spaces that inspire collaboration can be linked to better performance and higher engagement levels.

The minds must meet

When calendars are filled with conference calls, sales demos, trainings and brainstorming sessions, open meeting spaces allow all important team members to be in one place together. Personal web conferencing technology takes it one step further, allowing all meeting attendees to be in the same room despite where they're actually sitting. With video and content sharing, employees can easily connect, even if some members work from home or in a different office. Plus, collaboration technologies make it easy to connect with external teams as well, including clients, consultants and contractors.

With all that in mind, consider breaking down the walls and opening your office spaces for a more collaborative, engaging and productive workplace.

5 things to know about GDPR

There are some big changes on the horizon for how companies handle users' personal information. The European Union General Data Protection Regulation will go into effect on May 25 and will impact not just European companies but those in the U.S. as well. The rules reign in the free-wheeling relationship some organizations have had with user data and instead create more accountability in terms of how that information is used. 

With just a few weeks to go before the GDPR is official, it's important that all companies get up to date on the upcoming changes in how they collect and use individuals' data. If companies fail to be compliant, they may face some hefty penalties – up to $25 million or 4 percent of global revenue, whichever is greater, according to IT Pro – we're not talking pocket change here. 

We break the changes down below with five things you have to know about the GDPR:

1. It affects U.S. companies, not just European ones 

If you're a U.S. company that markets its products or services to consumers in Europe, then you must comply with the GDPR. As Yaki Faitelson, CEO of Varonis, explained in an article for Forbes, the GDPR casts a wide net with its stipulation that if a U.S. company targets consumers in EU countries – through having marketing campaigns aimed at EU consumers and through translating web pages and marketing copy into EU languages – then they'll be subject to the regulations. 

It's not just corporate behemoths that need to take another look at their data processing practices. CSO noted that organizations with fewer than 250 employees are still subject to the GDPR if their data usage is not "occasional," collects personal information and "impacts the rights and freedoms of data subjects." This may sound highly specific, but it's not: As the site noted, this is nearly all U.S. companies. 

GDPRCompanies need to explain their data usage in clear terms.

"The GDPR gives consumers more of a right to their data."

2. The GDPR considers a wider range of information types to be 'sensitive'

There are certain classifications of user data that the general consensus says is sensitive – financial data and social security numbers, for example. However, the GDPR broadly expands the category of information that companies need to be more careful handling. 

Under the GDPR, "personal data" now includes IP addresses as well as cookie data, in addition to information related to mental and physical health, sexual orientation, race and religious and political beliefs. 

As the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law explained, this broadened category essentially means that the majority of companies' online activities will collect and review data that violates the GDPR. 

3. Companies now must receive active consent to collect users' personal information 

Another major change the GDPR will bring about is that companies must now actively acquire a user's consent to use his or her information. Gathering consent in vague, roundabout ways – like having a terms and conditions box pop up on a website with the "I accept" box already checked – will no longer be allowed. Instead, under the GDPR, companies must actively have users opt in to having their data be used, as IT Pro detailed. 

Under the GDPR, companies must also state exactly how they plan to use a person's data and in what specific ways, such as email marketing, for example, as Faitelson explained in his Forbes article. Furthermore, organizations must use clear, straightforward language to explain their terms and conditions, according to IT Pro. 

4. Consumers will have more of a right to their data 

The GDPR gives consumers more of a right to their data as well as a louder say in how their information is used. People can ask for their company to no longer use their data, and the organization must comply within a specified period of time or face consequences. Similarly, individuals will have the right to view the data that a company has collected on them at any time. 

In addition, the GDPR also strengthens "right to be forgotten" rules, which decrees that companies are obligated to promptly remove the data collected on an individual as well as notify third-party sites that may be using the information to clear it. 

5. Companies need to be more on top of their data protection activities 

The GDPR examines the ways a company collects and uses personal information by three main actors: the data collector, the data processor and the data protection officer. 

The data controller is the company using the data – an e-commerce site, for example. The data processor is the party actually evaluating and analyzing the data, typically a technology firm. And the data protection officer is a new position that all companies are mandated to oversee and manage compliance with the GDPR. If you're an e-commerce site and your data processor screws up, you'll be on the hook, according to CSO Online. This type of accountability will hopefully help avoid incidents such as the recent Cambridge Analytical and Facebook scandal. 

The GDPR significantly changes how companies use personal data – make sure your company is up to date on the specifics of the regulations to avoid hefty penalties. 

Ask the Expert – Cloud Solutions

Stay in the know by asking the expert.

To migrate to the cloud or not to migrate to the cloud – that is a very common question being asked these days! While the cloud isn’t new, many businesses have recently started thinking more and more about it as a means to decrease IT costs, and increase overall efficiency and productivity.

As Puneet Gangal, CEO & Founder of Aciron Consulting, recently said in 5 Ways the Cloud Cuts IT Costs, “The cloud is an essential component for companies aiming to adopt more efficient, agile business strategies.”

 

Join us on Thursday 4/17!

With so much information out there on the cloud and so many factors to consider when it comes to making the move, it can be hard to get the answers you need.

Join us on Thursday, April 17th at 11am MT/1pm ET for Ask the Expert: Cloud Solutions. We’ll be sitting down with Puneet, who has over 20 years of technology and management consulting experience, as he answers your top-of-mind cloud questions and provides valuable insights into cloud solutions.

Reserve your spot today – we hope to see you there!

 

Are you using these outdated sales tactics? Let’s hope not

Old habits die hard in sales. Sales tactics that were big in the '90s and even '80s are still being used today. Maybe it's because we have a sense of nostalgia, helped by Hollywood, for the "old-fashioned salesman" trope. Just think of the lovable shower curtain rings seller played by John Candy in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" or Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn trying to woo a client to buy watches over a swanky dinner in "The Internship," for example. 

While these techniques work in movies, they no longer work in real life. Modern consumers are hip to when and how they're being sold to, and salespersons of today have a wealth of digital tools at their fingertips to help them close the deal. 

You may think your company is on the vanguard of 21st-century sales tactics, but there's a chance your employees are still using some outdated moves. Here are three sales tactics you should drop:

1. Having unnecessary in-person meetings 

Elaborate in-person meetings – often with a fancy lunch included – used to be a hallmark of sales, but that's just not the case anymore, as HubSpot explained. Traveling by car or plane to see clients is necessary at times but not in every instance, as travel is costly and time-consuming. Meetings can be had just as effectively, if not more so, over video conference. Video calls also give you the advantage of being able to easily access and present any digital media you have that supports the conversation. 

2. Casting a wide net 

Old-fashioned sales tactics say to be persistent and pursue prospects no matter what. But modern sales philosophy is to be picky with your clients, Entrepreneur magazine guest writer and sales strategist Marc Wayshak advised. Instead of desperately trying to convince people they should work with you, consider whether you want to work for them. Reversing this type of thinking means you can be choosier with your clients and take on only those that closely align with your company's goals.

3. Spending too much time with problem customers 

Traditional sales thinking says that more is always better. That philosophy can lead companies to expend a disproportionate amount of time and energy on putting out fires with their problem customers. In today's business landscape, where you can be more selective about who you take on as clients, spend the bulk of your time growing relationships with your best customers. 

Ask the Expert – Unified Communications


Stay in the know by asking the expert.

Over the years we’ve heard so many new technology buzzwords – data science, cloud computing, internet of things, and the list goes on. Some have come and gone, while others become even more relevant as time goes on. The cloud and unified communications (UC) are two of them.  

Staying in the know, understanding these concepts, and knowing how they can positively impact your business are more important than ever. That’s why we’re excited to introduce our new webinar series, Ask the Expert. Each month we’ll sit down with an industry expert who can answer your top-of mind questions and provide valuable insights into the world of the cloud and UC.

 

Join us on Wednesday 3/14!

Because there’s so much to know when it comes to unified communications, and so many questions on the topic to be answered, we’ll be sitting down for a Q&A session with our very own UC expert, Kevin Bartnicki, this Wednesday, March 14th. Join us at 11am MT/1pm ET to learn about UC, find out how it can help your business, and get your questions answered.

Reserve your spot today – we hope to see you there!