Your Webcam Could Be Spying On You

In the midst of a global lockdown, many of us have been relying on webcams to stay connected. These cameras let us join virtual meetings for work and online hangouts with friends. But bad actors can also use a webcam to spy.

Someone watching through a small laptop or personal computer camera may sound farfetched. And if you don’t make a hat out of tinfoil, aliens will take over your brain, right?

Except, it is true that webcams can be used for spying.

Seeing someone with a piece of tape over their webcam isn’t that unusual. Even Facebook’s founder does it. At conferences now, you might even receive a branded sliding webcam cover as swag.

How Webcam Spying Works

How can someone access your webcam in the first place? Typically, they’ve installed malware. The malicious software allows them to remotely control your computer and view its webcam.

A cybercriminal might access your webcam using spy software, a remote access trojan (RAT). The software spreads through freeware, spam emails, infected attachments, or fake website links.

The software allows the remote user to take control of your computer. They could view your online activity, read messages, or capture screens and keystrokes, and they’ll be able to turn your webcam on to spy on you – without you knowing it.

The webcam light located near the lens will indicate whether camera is currently recording. However, it’s easy to miss and many people don’t understand what the light means.

What to Do About Webcam Spying

Well, there’s that piece of tape, or you might use a Post-It note to cover the camera, but that doesn’t address the bigger issue. Since we’re talking about malware here, the usual rules apply.

Don’t trust attachments, even from people you know.

Hover over external links to see where they will take you before clicking.

Question the credibility of any freeware you might download onto your computer.

Install a good antivirus system, especially one that checks emails.

Put a good firewall in place to prevent attackers from accessing your computer.

Install patches for your operating system, browser, and software to keep security current.

While we’re talking about webcams, keep in mind your smartphone camera and any surveillance cameras need protection too. On your phone, keep your passcode private and make sure antivirus and security patching is up to date. With a surveillance system, always change the default password – you’d be amazed how many people don’t bother to do so – as that’s just making the hackers job easy for them!

Want to be sure you’re not being spied on? Our IT experts can make sure you have a strong firewall in place to monitor network traffic and block suspicious activity. We can also ensure your antivirus and malware security is top notch.

Don’t find yourself on camera when you’re not ready for your closeup! Give us a call at 416-628-0253.

Adding Accountability to Remote Work

Today, businesses are embracing digital technology to enable productivity anywhere, any time. Yet ensuring accountability is a stumbling block to widespread acceptance of remote work.

Recently, COVID-19 has forced many businesses to transition quickly to working from home. Even bosses concerned about lack of control over absent employees had to make the change. Former opponents to remote work may have discovered the benefits of this approach. Employees certainly may have enjoyed the opportunity and want to keep doing it.

The good news is that technology and products are even better today for managing remote teams.

Top Tools for Remote Work Accountability

Overall, employers need to trust their people. This is true whether they’re working on-site or from home. Still, for some supervisors, trust is easier with remote monitoring abilities.

Joint calendars are a common starting point. Microsoft 365, Google’s G Suite, and other tools allow staff to share calendars. People can still schedule personal appointments and keep those private, but the joint professional calendar lets everyone on a team stay in the know. Managers can go online to track sales meetings, client presentations, or team sessions.

Project management software is another way to see what co-workers are doing. Teamwork, Basecamp, and Trello offer a central location to see a project come together. Employees can access secure software from any location to share files and interact. Individuals can set deadlines and create tasks to improve accountability and responsibility sharing.

Business-based internal messaging software also keeps everyone on the same page. These communication tools typically provide one-on-one messaging and group chat. It’s easy to send a quick note asking someone for a status update, or just check in. Some tools also allow individual and team audio calls as well as video conferencing. Top contenders are Slack, WhatsApp, Skype for Business, or the Facebook and Google Hangout work chat apps.

Go big enabling collaboration among employees with cloud-based office software. Microsoft 365 and G Suite enable many users to go online and work on the same things at the same time. This solution also lets managers easily view shared documents and verify progress. It’s even possible to invite clients or other external partners in to view folders. For security reasons, you may want to limit their access to “view only.”

Securing Remote Work

Security is another point of friction for businesses allowing remote work, but the technology is keeping pace there also. Even so, you’ll want to educate employees about cybersecurity best practices. Requiring antivirus and malware upgrades, limiting external sharing and enabling multifactor access will help make remote work viable, reliable, safe, and secure.

Need help installing or implementing remote work tools? A managed service provider can help. Or, our IT experts can put in place the administrative controls you need to help secure work from home. Let us provide the IT help you need. Contact us today at 416-628-0253!

Returning to Work: Prioritizing Safety with IT Too

Your business has the OK to go ahead and get back to work on-site. You want to return to your office, but you don’t want to risk people’s health by doing so. After all, some say it’s too soon to go back. Plus, others predict a second wave of COVID-19 is likely. These suggestions can help you return to work while prioritizing safety.

Not everyone will welcome the call back to the corporate environment. Some employees may still be in a population vulnerable to the virus. They may want to take leave instead of returning to the work environment. Others may simply not show up.

Have your HR team send out a written notice informing employees of the timeline for returning to the office. Educate them about precautions you’re taking to provide a safe work environment. Ask for a written response of people’s intentions. Then, IT can start establishing procedures for getting everyone back to work.

You may have had great success with remote working during the quarantine. This could position you to allow workers to stay home if they are at risk or oppose the idea of returning “too soon.”

For those coming back, support social distancing by phasing in people’s return. Your business could also use a hybrid IT solution to allow people to come in just three days a week, and they could continue to work two days at home. This allows staggered re-entry and reduces the numbers of people on-site at the same time.

Back-to-Work Technology

You may be thinking you already have all the tech you need to go back to the office. C’mon, you were already working from there before this whole thing started. Plus, now you have all the new tools you added to support remote-employee productivity.

Still, you may not have invested in a long-term remote-work solution that will now support a hybrid model. Or perhaps the on-site tech you’ve long relied on isn’t meant to handle remote working for the long haul.

To achieve a flexible hybrid model, go with cloud solutions or expand on-site IT. Do you need to add infrastructure to handle remote employees using virtual private networks (VPNs)? Both on-site staff and off-site workers might need to securely access systems at the same time.

Adopting cloud collaboration software allows co-workers to access network resources simultaneously, regardless of location. Or with virtual desktops, employees can access the same files and business applications on their work machine or on a personal device.

Bringing people back to the office, you’ll want to rethink the physical setup. Support social distancing by spreading employees’ seating arrangements out more. This will require moving around computer hardware, too.

If you were previously sharing technology, you’ll also need to add more desktops. Or you might invest instead in more laptops or portable devices. This could mean securing more software, too.

Added IT Precautions

Finally, cybercriminals are opportunistic. They’re already exploiting people with malware promising vaccines or cheap masks. These bad actors are also looking to exploit the tech demands on businesses. Many businesses adapted to a new way of doing things: they moved files to the cloud, and they allowed employee access from personal devices, but they did so quickly.

Explore any new vulnerabilities from your transitions. This is a good time to double-check permissions. Ensure that accountant Jane can access staff wage data but that receptionist Jenny can’t. Also, confirm that all virus protection and security patches are current.

Active planning is the answer to a smooth return to work. While offering protective coverings and ramping up cleaning in the office is important, make sure that you don’t overlook your technology needs.

Our IT experts can help you adapt nimbly. Contact us today at 416-628-0253!

Tips for Trouble-Free Online Meetings

Online meetings are the new norm for many, but that doesn’t mean people magically know how to enjoy a trouble-free online conference experience. These tips can power more successful meetings.

Many businesses today are working from home with a reliance on Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or GoToMeeting. But even with these platforms offering voice or video capabilities, there can be tech problems. These tips can minimize the trouble and enhance business collaboration.

1. Go Wired

Connecting to Wi-Fi offers flexibility and mobility. Yet when it comes to an online meeting, prefer a wired connection. Enjoy a more reliable meeting connection by plugging your laptop or desktop into the internet router using a network cable.

If you need to use a mobile device and can’t connect via cable, reduce Wi-Fi obstacles. Call in from as a close to the wireless access point as you can. Wi-Fi signals are a form of radio wave, which means they can be hindered by:

  • large metal objects near the router;
  • thick walls;
  • other electronics;
  • Wi-Fi congestion from your neighbors’ access points.

So, that important meeting is not the one you join from a cement-bricked basement, not when your Wi-Fi router is in an upstairs bedroom and your neighbors are all relying on Wi-Fi signals, too.

2. Prioritize Your Meeting

When you have a scheduled meeting, announce it to the rest of the household. Ask kids not to get on Xbox or stream movies at the same time as you connect to your meeting. See if you can’t persuade your partner, who is also working from home, not to download large files or new software at the same time as your meeting.

Program your devices to back up at times that won’t compete with your work hours. In the office, your IT team scheduled updates or security patches outside of business hours. Now that you’re doing it all at home, be smart about when you do upgrades. Depending on your home internet speed, trying to do too many things at once can cause trouble for everyone.

3. Test Connections Before the Meeting

You may feel that all you’re doing is meeting online right now. Why would you need to test audio and video each time? Well, every time you unplug a device such as a microphone or headset the settings will return to the default. That means the next time you connect you aren’t set up the way you want to be. You were expecting to listen in using your USB headphones, but the last time you unplugged them your computer switched back to the next available audio input (e.g. your monitor or built-in laptop speakers). 

By checking the connection first, you also make sure you have the most up-to-date platform software. You don’t want to be late to a call because your device has decided it needs to re-install Skype right at that moment.

4. Use the Right Equipment

Headsets and external microphones limit the ambient noise. You’ll hear better. Plus, it will make your contributions easier to hear, too.

Muting your microphone when you’re not talking also helps – it reduces the noise pollution. Problems can arise when your mic picks up other people talking through your speakers. This precaution also saves you from apologizing when your dog barks ferociously at the FedEx delivery person.

5. Pick the Best Setting

Plan the best place to take that online meeting. The closer you are to your wireless access point, the better your connection.

Plus, you want to avoid high-traffic areas, as you’re more likely to be distracted. A child or furry colleague could make an unplanned appearance.

Select an area with a simple background, too. Sitting in front of a window may seem like a good idea, but it makes your face darker and more difficult to see on video. Ideally, you want to be in a well-lit room with a plain wall as your background.

6. Take Full Advantage of Online Meeting Features

You may have done conference calls in the past. Everyone called in, spoke when necessary, and that was that. But much of the top business collaboration software offers added features:

  • Call recording provides a record that can be checked later.
  • Call transcripts give you an efficient way to capture all that happened in a meeting.
  • Some platforms let you add virtual backgrounds to video calls.
  • You might also enable an interactive shared whiteboard, presentation slides, or co-browsing.

Online meetings are efficient and cost-effective. With the current health crisis forcing many of us to adapt to connecting virtually, implementing these ideas can help.

Need help setting up your online meeting platform or deciding on the solution that’s right for you? We can help. Contact us today at 416-628-0253!

Keep in Touch While Social Distancing

Quarantine doesn’t have to mean you’re on your own all the time. Sure, back in the days of the plague or pox, people were stuck. But now, we have technology to let us remain connected even while social distancing. Here’s a roundup of top options for fun with family and friends.

You can’t have an actual party at your home right now, but a virtual house party could be fun.

The Houseparty app (houseparty.com) allows up to eight people to connect online in a video chat “room.” There’s no need to call people (like on FaceTime) – you get a notification when friends are online. Plus, you can switch between rooms easily. It’s like wandering from the kitchen into the backyard.

Zoom (zoom.us) is another app that lets you have a virtual get-together. Only the host needs to have a Zoom account, and the other participants follow the link to the video conference. Free meetings are capped at 40 minutes, though, for groups of three or more.

If your friends and family are on Google, you can bring up to 150 of them together in a Google Hangout (hangout.google.com). Long a go-to for international calling, Skype is another video chat option.

Social Distancing Chat

Maybe you want to catch up but really don’t need to see each other’s faces. Perhaps you don’t want to have to get dressed!

Take texting up a notch with Slack (slack.com), which can keep clubs and teams together during quarantine. You can easily share files, instant message, share gifs, and also jump on a video call.

Discord (discordapp.com) is another app that combines text chat, voice chat, video chat, and more. A favorite already with gamers, Discord offers helpful templates to get started. People also use this app to live-stream art creation, read stories, play music together, and even host digital conventions.

Nextdoor (nextdoor.com) helps you connect with your neighbors. Did you see a coyote? Want to know when garbage pickup is coming this week? Hosting a virtual garage sale? This is social media specific to your ’hood – and you don’t have to go out of doors to get caught up.

Movies with Friends

Another way to chill together online is by enjoying a movie or binge watching a TV series.

With Watch2Gether (watch2gether.com) you can create a room and invite friends and family to watch YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, and SoundCloud. You could even use this app to replicate the group gym class experience. PopSugar, for instance, offers a wide range of free videos available on YouTube.

If you have a Netflix account and a Google Chrome browser, you can tune in together with Netflix Party (netflixparty.com). The app lets you chat back and forth while viewing. The best thing is that all party members are watching the video in sync. No one ruins that big moment by texting a response a few seconds early!

Other Great Options

Looking for more active virtual fun? With Rave (rave.io) you can host a virtual dance party. You can sync music videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Reddit, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Viki with friends in real-time, or create a playlist of songs, then text and video chat simultaneously.

If you’re wishing you could meet someone new, try Quarantine Together (quarantinetogether.com). This dating app starts out by asking you if you’ve washed your hands today. Then, it will match you with someone else for a text chat. After 20 minutes of texting, you’ll be sent a video chat URL.

Really, there’s no excuse for being a hermit during quarantine – unless you want to be, of course!

If you need help setting your devices up with any of these apps or the video or voice technology, our experts can help – remotely. Contact us today at 416-628-0253!

Setting Your Scholar Up for Online Learning

Schools around the world have closed their doors during the COVID-19 crisis, students from kindergarten through graduate school are being asked to learn online. It’s a change for everyone, but having the right technology in place can help with the transition.

Your student may have been using the Microsoft Office suite of software at school. If you don’t have Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint at home, check if your school is providing licenses or free software.

If not, buying a subscription to the online Microsoft 365 package allows you to pay monthly or yearly, and it’s much more affordable than in the past. One month is about the cost of two café coffees.

Otherwise, your student may be able to get work done using Google’s suite of tools. Teachers may accept links to Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. These free options are also useful when your student needs to work on a group project. People can collaborate online in real-time using the G-Suite software.

Teleconferencing with Teachers and Peers

Your student is likely to need to download teleconferencing software such as Zoom or Skype. Beware! Cybercriminals take advantage of every opportunity. Noticing the increased demand for these services, they’ve set up bogus sites. Make sure that you are downloading from the legitimate sources: www.skype.com or www.zoom.us.

While we’re talking about teleconferencing, you might pass on these best practices:

  • Use headphones to limit audio distractions.
  • Join calls from a low-traffic setting with simple backgrounds.
  • Ask others at home to avoid downloading, streaming, or backing up while the student is live online.
  • Connect to the router with a network cable, or at least be as close to the wireless router as possible during the call.

Considering Cybersecurity

In addition to setting up fake teleconferencing sites, cybercriminals have other ways to exploit the situation.

Remind any students learning from home that they need to keep their username and password private. This is a lesson that never gets old.

Are you still using Windows 7 on a home computer? This popular operating system (OS) reached the end of its life in January 2020. Yes, it may still work, but it is no longer receiving security updates from Microsoft, and the bad guys know Windows 7 is vulnerable. Continuing to use this OS puts you at risk. Without new upgrades, you’re no longer protected from vulnerabilities or exploits.

You probably already know to avoid using public wireless networks. Although your students can’t go to a coffee shop or public library right now to get online, reminding students to secure their online activity is critical.

This is a good time to review your Wi-Fi setup. Too many homeowners don’t change the default username and password on their routers. Big mistake. You should also:

  • hide your Wi-Fi network from public view;
  • set your network up to encrypt transmissions;
  • update router software regularly.

A Focus on Learning

There’s one more thing parents and guardians might consider. At school, the computers prevent students from going to certain sites or downloading files, but you may not have the same blocking and filtering set up on your home devices. This can be addressed in settings.

If you have to share a computer, set up a student-specific user profile to:

  • prevent your student from getting distracted during learning;
  • limit exposure to malware and cyberthreats;
  • avoid them accessing any of your work files.

You may feel isolated during the coronavirus quarantine, but you’re not alone. Our tech experts can help you set up and secure your technology for work or school from home. Give us a call today at 416-628-0253.

Solving Your Work-from-Home Internet Woes

Your internet used to meet your needs. You could check social media and stream a TV show whenever you wanted without trouble. Now, since working from home, you’re finding your internet service more frustrating: it’s too slow when you want to send and receive large work files, or erratic when you take part in video meetings. Here’s help.

Blame your service provider

Ah, the familiar pastime – blaming someone else. The problem could be with your provider.

Yes, it’s a good idea to keep your expenses low, and that budget internet provider may not have been a problem in the past. But internet service providers (ISPs) may save money by buying less bandwidth. Bandwidth impacts the data transfer rate, which makes a difference to downloads and connectivity. ISPs might also oversell their capabilities, betting that everyone won’t be online at the same time. Yet, now, everyone is!

Switching to a higher-quality ISP can help address your connectivity concerns. It’s a good idea to find out what kind of connectivity they’re offering, too.

Some people are fortunate to live in places with full-fiber connections. This new technology uses fiberoptic cable to send more data, more quickly. Other people have to rely on providers using copper cables. Copper cables are old school and designed to carry call data as electrical pulses. The further your internet signals travel, the more your signal strength falters.

If poor wired infrastructure to your home is the issue, swap instead to point-to-point Wi-fi, 4G, or 5G. For instance, for Wi-fi, you’d install a Wi-fi dish on your roof pointing to a nearby wireless provider. With a 4G connection, you’d be using cell phone towers. 5G is the same, but you’ll find it faster if its available.

Redundancy is another way to go. Your existing wired connection may be fine most of the time, but you’ll have a backup in place. You can roll over to the 4G option if the wired internet goes down.

Sorry, the problem’s at your end

It’s possible the root of your internet problems is right there in your home or neighborhood. You are no longer the only person using your internet connection. You could be trying to download something on one computer while your partner is taking a video call. Maybe you also have kids online in an online classroom or looking for a supply llama in Fortnite.

Even if you’re only trying to watch Netflix, just as you used to, you might notice you’re lagging more than before. There are probably more neighbors on their Wi-Fi, too, which can result in congestion in your area.

If you can switch to a 5 GHz connection, do so. The speed will improve. Plus, you’ll find you’re not in competition with as many others, as many home Wi-Fi setups are on the 2.4 GHz frequency.

There’s a solution out there

The solution to your work-from-home internet woes will vary. It depends on your location, what’s around, and the internet service options available.

You don’t have to troubleshoot your internet on your own. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but our tech experts can help find the right fit for your needs. Contact us today 416-628-0253.

Make an MSP Your Technology Sherpa

They don’t always get credit, but climbers reaching the summit of Mount Everest rely on a Sherpa to guide them. Making information technology decisions can feel like climbing a mountain, but there’s help for that, too. A managed services provider (MSP) can be your technology Sherpa.

With so many of us working off-site right now, digital transformation has moved from “wouldn’t it be nice?” to “we need to be there now.” Technology is as essential to business success as oxygen is to those scaling Everest. Going digital can be daunting, especially when under pressure to get your business back on track. Where does one even begin?

Working with an MSP, you partner with consultants to navigate the technology mountain. Even before COVID-19 sent so many people home to work, MSPs provided IT help:

  • researching new technologies to help customers collaborate better and work more efficiently;
  • finding cost savings and ways to streamline business processes;
  • offering cybersecurity and data backup strategies to suit business needs;
  • monitoring and maintaining IT networks, systems, software, and applications;
  • keeping systems up to date and secure;
  • migrating business applications to the cloud.

The current environment is challenging businesses to pivot quickly, yet it’s business as usual for the MSP. Our experts have prepared for decades to help business enable work from home and save money.

Taking the MSP Route

Working with an MSP, you gain the assistance of IT consultants to make the right tech decisions. This isn’t just deciding what online meeting platform works best for your needs (although an MSP can do that, too). A great MSP partner will take the time to learn:

  • how you do business now;
  • what technology is available;
  • how users engage with the technology (on-site, mobile, a hybrid?);
  • what your end users are looking for;
  • short- and long-term business goals.

With this information, they can provide IT help at the business-strategy level. The MSP will see what works and what doesn’t. Drawing on a depth of experience with other customers, an MSP can avoid expensive mistakes. With a wealth of contacts with technology vendors, the MSP can often find you better deals.

The MSP partner makes IT its sole focus. You can spend your time on other important areas of your business. For a consistent subscription fee that shows great ROI, the MPS will work to:

  • improve efficiency and flexibility;
  • enhance security and compliance;
  • monitor and maintain your business systems;
  • reduce costs and streamline processes;
  • identify new technologies that can boost your users’ productivity.

Technology Tailored to Your Needs

Up until now, you may have been taking the guided bus tour approach to technology. You pay for an IT service and expect it to take you from point A to point B without a hitch. Working with an MSP, you’ll get a tailored IT solution. After getting to know your technology, user practices, and strategy, the MSP develops a customized journey. Your digital transformation will follow a step-by-step approach that considers your particular characteristics.

Work with an MSP as your technology guide. Our experts can help you pivot if you need to. We can help you allow staff to work at home, securely and efficiently. We can help you save money. We can help downsize technology if that’s what the current situation requires and make smarter decisions as you scale Mount Technology with the help of our experts.

An MSP can even work virtually to provide the strategic support you need. Contact us today at 416-628-0253!

Improve Your IT Cashflow

The economy is one more victim of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The global lockdown has many businesses feeling the pain. As finances grow tighter, business leaders are looking to improve cashflow. These key areas can help IT curtail spending.

First, take a look at the way you’re working now. Chances are it’s changed. If users are working from home, you may have migrated business applications to the cloud. This offers opportunities to reduce costs:

  • You may no longer need licenses that your on-site server isn’t using.
  • There may be overlap now with the new cloud-based solutions and your old software.

By auditing your software usage and revisiting your license fees, you can identify savings. You may also have had to let people go. That means the computer systems they used no longer need active software licenses.

Cloud-based Savings

If you haven’t already done so, moving business applications online offers benefits. You can offer users access to a Microsoft Office package in Microsoft 365, or a similar setup in Google’s G-Suite, all for a small monthly fee. Your employees get to use the most up-to-date software, wherever they are, and you save money.

You might also take voice calling online. With Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications, you add features and greater mobility. VoIP can offer call recording, voicemail to email transcription, and more. Plus, packaging communications and cloud collaboration tools can lead to big savings, quickly.

Additionally, cloud-based voice, storage, and software solutions eliminate infrastructure maintenance and monitoring costs, and you pay only for the capacity you need. It helps that it’s easy to scale up or down to keep control of costs while business continues uninterrupted.

Rethink Your Partnerships

A vendor audit can help you identify where you are overspending. You may have contracts for phone, internet, software, storage and backup, and IT Help. Reviewing these arrangements, you may be able to find a new deal.

Better yet, work with a managed service provider (MSP). An MSP will review existing relationships to determine where solutions could be streamlined. Or the MSP may be able to get you a deal due to pre-existing relationships with vendors.

A great MSP will help identify the best IT strategies for your business – it’s an investment that pays off. Technology failures are costly, and having managed services experts monitoring your business IT works to prevent problems. The MSP’s security and disaster recovery methods can protect your business from a devastating breach.

It sounds counter-intuitive to add another expense, but a small amount monthly can prevent expensive blowouts that you may not recover from. The MSP fee means ongoing access to IT experts recommending technologies to meet specific business needs.

Keeping cash flow under control requires smart spending. You’re also looking for return on your investment in technology maintenance and upkeep. Hiring an MSP can make a big difference. The MSP prompts IT modernizations based on your objectives to enhance work processes and improve productivity.

Do more than survive the current downturn. With an MSP in your corner, you can cut costs and emerge from the “Great Lockdown” a leaner, more agile business. Contact our experts to upgrade your technology and corral costs today! Call us at 416-628-0253

Tips for Trouble-Free Online Meetings

Online meetings are the new norm for many, but that doesn’t mean people magically know how to enjoy a trouble-free online conference experience. These tips can power more successful meetings.

Many businesses today are working from home with a reliance on Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or GoToMeeting. But even with these platforms offering voice or video capabilities, there can be tech problems. These tips can minimize the trouble and enhance business collaboration.

1. Go Wired

Connecting to Wi-Fi offers flexibility and mobility. Yet when it comes to an online meeting, prefer a wired connection. Enjoy a more reliable meeting connection by plugging your laptop or desktop into the internet router using a network cable.

If you need to use a mobile device and can’t connect via cable, reduce Wi-Fi obstacles. Call in from as a close to the wireless access point as you can. Wi-Fi signals are a form of radio wave, which means they can be hindered by:

  • large metal objects near the router;
  • thick walls;
  • other electronics;
  • Wi-Fi congestion from your neighbors’ access points.

So, that important meeting is not the one you join from a cement-bricked basement, not when your Wi-Fi router is in an upstairs bedroom and your neighbors are all relying on Wi-Fi signals, too.

2. Prioritize Your Meeting

When you have a scheduled meeting, announce it to the rest of the household. Ask kids not to get on Xbox or stream movies at the same time as you connect to your meeting. See if you can’t persuade your partner, who is also working from home, not to download large files or new software at the same time as your meeting.

Program your devices to back up at times that won’t compete with your work hours. In the office, your IT team scheduled updates or security patches outside of business hours. Now that you’re doing it all at home, be smart about when you do upgrades. Depending on your home internet speed, trying to do too many things at once can cause trouble for everyone.

3. Test Connections Before the Meeting

You may feel that all you’re doing is meeting online right now. Why would you need to test audio and video each time? Well, every time you unplug a device such as a microphone or headset the settings will return to the default. That means the next time you connect you aren’t set up the way you want to be. You were expecting to listen in using your USB headphones, but the last time you unplugged them your computer switched back to the next available audio input (e.g. your monitor or built-in laptop speakers). 

By checking the connection first, you also make sure you have the most up-to-date platform software. You don’t want to be late to a call because your device has decided it needs to re-install Skype right at that moment.

4. Use the Right Equipment

Headsets and external microphones limit the ambient noise. You’ll hear better. Plus, it will make your contributions easier to hear, too.

Muting your microphone when you’re not talking also helps – it reduces the noise pollution. Problems can arise when your mic picks up other people talking through your speakers. This precaution also saves you from apologizing when your dog barks ferociously at the FedEx delivery person.

5. Pick the Best Setting

Plan the best place to take that online meeting. The closer you are to your wireless access point, the better your connection.

Plus, you want to avoid high-traffic areas, as you’re more likely to be distracted. A child or furry colleague could make an unplanned appearance.

Select an area with a simple background, too. Sitting in front of a window may seem like a good idea, but it makes your face darker and more difficult to see on video. Ideally, you want to be in a well-lit room with a plain wall as your background.

6. Take Full Advantage of Online Meeting Features

You may have done conference calls in the past. Everyone called in, spoke when necessary, and that was that. But much of the top business collaboration software offers added features:

  • Call recording provides a record that can be checked later.
  • Call transcripts give you an efficient way to capture all that happened in a meeting.
  • Some platforms let you add virtual backgrounds to video calls.
  • You might also enable an interactive shared whiteboard, presentation slides, or co-browsing.

Online meetings are efficient and cost-effective. With the current health crisis forcing many of us to adapt to connecting virtually, implementing these ideas can help.

Need help setting up your online meeting platform or deciding on the solution that’s right for you? We can help.