Turning your employees into a team isn’t a quick and easy process, and you really have to put your mind to it if you want to form unity and coherence in your company. However, if you manage to do so, your business will bloom, your staff will be happier and the everyday atmosphere in your office will be much more enjoyable. Therefore, here’s why team-building is important and a couple of ideas you could start exploring right now.
The benefits of team-building
Understand why these activities are good for your company and why they’re so effective when it comes to turning a bunch of individuals into a close-knit community should be quite easy. Relying on your colleagues outside the office is one of the most special feelings in the world, and knowing they’re here for you is extremely important.
Team-building activities emphasize the importance of team work, improve your communication, encourage you to rely on each other and boost your confidence – not to mention how fun, adventurous and exciting they are! That’s why lots of modern companies just love them and invite their employees to some of the following activities every once in a while.
This may sound extreme and painful at first, but it’s actually one of the most enjoyable activities you could’ve picked. It’s also a chance for your staff to relieve some of the stress and negative energy that’s been building in them for quite some time now. All you need to do is find a paintball field in your area and invite all your employees to join in the game. You can even get inspired by some of the best fields in the world and invest some of your company’s money into building such a spot for all your hardworking employees who’ll enjoy paintballing during the weekend. Trust us, they’ll love you for that!
This is another activity that looks like a game, but is actually much more than that. Being trapped in a small space for a couple of hours is no fun, but if you’re surrounded by your working pals, there’s nothing that can go wrong. Escape rooms are a great way to simulate potentially dangerous real-life situations – not to scare people, of course, and force them to become more cautious, but to make them connect to each other, communicate, express opinions and learn how to depend on their coworkers. Finally, escape rooms present an ideal combination of something that can frighten and stimulate you at the same time, and are therefore an example of clean, innocent fun your employees could easily enjoy.
If your company hires a lot of people, chances are some of them are into sports, so why don’t you investigate this and offer all these sports fans something? You shouldn’t force them to spend time with each other this way unless they express a desire to do so, but if they do, here’s an idea: a corporate sports league. Becoming a part of such a league means your staff will be competing with employees from other companies on a regular basis, which is great both for their health and their sense of comradery. You only need to provide the logistics and some transport options – looking into reliable bus hire in Central Coast might make the most sense – and leave the rest to them.
Playing sports and engaging in all sorts of stimulating activities is great, but helping others is even better. Inspire your staff to start volunteer work and investigate a nonprofit you can all support together. This can easily become the best team-building activity out there and something that will definitely bring your staff together and in touch with the community.
Encouraging your employees to spend more time with each will ultimately have a positive effect on your company too, as they’ll be more dedicated and focused on their work, and, above all, help each other more, which is always good.
The Complete Guide to Designing a Secure Data Center
Designing a secure data center takes significant forethought, especially with physical and online-based risks becoming progressively more likely. Here are some actionable considerations that can reduce risks and make facilities safe and future-proof.
Designing a data center with security in mind begins with choosing the right location. The area’s crime rates could be a good starting point. How likely will vandals, burglars or other criminals target the newly built facility? Crime rate averages for a given region don’t tell the whole story, but they can highlight particular places to avoid or prioritize.
Once data center designers find a suitable location, they should strongly consider utilizing a concept called crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED).
It’s a well-known option for residential areas and schools but less common in the data center industry. CPTED centers on communicating that a facility is well-maintained, making it less appealing for criminals to target. Designers can get inspiration from CPTED concepts often deployed in communities.
Those could include:
- Installing fencing to designate clear boundaries
- Ensuring data center properties remain well lit
- Posting prominent signage to direct visitors to the main entrance
Many CPTED objectives also center on having a strong presence in the neighborhood. That way, community members feel compelled to voluntarily play a part in keeping the data center secure. That could involve having a local monitoring program where people use a dedicated phone number to report suspicious activity.
However, the emphasis on community involvement makes it necessary for designers and other involved professionals to engage with anyone feeling upset about a data center coming to a particular location. Ignoring strong resistance from residents, political officials and other community members could make the data center less secure because people are more willing to target it.
Hardening encompasses efforts to make data centers more resilient against physical attacks. That could mean working with engineers to ensure the facility remains intact after structural failures. That approach helps people inside stay safer from events like building collapses. Teams that need to design a secure data center must consider the most likely adverse outcomes and how to prevent them.
Some professionals recommend data centers have at least seven layers of physical security. They are surveillance cameras, intruder detection systems, vehicle traps, auditable access controls, full authentication measures, physical barriers and 24/7 security guards. A data center uses hardening principles well if it features multiple preventive measures to stop unauthorized access.
Risk assessments of planned data centers may also indicate the need to protect the facility from bombs or other terrorist acts. Such cases usually require reinforcing the data center with steel in concrete. Designers may even choose to put the data centers underground. Those facilities are generally more secure than above-ground ones, but they still require stringent precautions against intrusion.
One week in 2021 had more than a dozen bomb threats against data centers in the United States and Canada. None involved explosives, but those instances illustrate the need for preparedness. Criminals increasingly realize how important these facilities are to modern society, increasing the chances they’ll set their sights on them.
Anyone asked to design a secure data center should work closely with cybersecurity experts to understand how decisions may help or hurt cybersecurity. The things internet security teams do to keep data centers safe have evolved over the years, particularly as technological options improve. For example, it’s increasingly common to use artificial intelligence (AI) to thwart cyberattacks before they happen or make successful ones less damaging.
Some cyberattacks happen through physical means. As recently as 2022, attackers were mailing infected USB drives to targets. They hoped to entice people to use them on their computers and install malware. However, criminals could also try to launch a cyberattack through physical means, such as by posing as service providers or others typically given temporary access.
One best practice is using a five-layered approach to secure data center systems. It breaks measures down into categories and involves covering the following aspects of the facility:
- Physical: This layer intends to stop in-person intrusion attempts and uses means such as security cameras and multifactor authentication-based access controls.
- Logical: This layer represents everything to do with the operating system. It involves preventive measures such as patching or removing older networks and using good password management practices.
- Network: This layer represents the gateway attackers can use to launch their attacks if not properly secured. It includes elements such as firewalls, routers and switches. Options for preventing attacks include removing unused network interfaces and using microsegmentation to limit the spread of any successful attacks.
- Application: This layer is solely about securing applications and database-related systems. One best practice is to have separate environments for development, production and testing. Another is to use logs to capture changes made to applications and databases. It’s then easier to spot potential anomalies.
- Information security: This layer ensures people perform the correct checks on the previous four layers. That means reviewing internet security policies, verifying that appropriate defense mechanisms remain in place, and looking over strategies surrounding using and handling of sensitive data.
The all-encompassing nature of the layered approach typically makes it inappropriate and infeasible for the design team to solely oversee all these factors. However, they can provide ongoing input relevant to their expertise when engaging in collaborative discussions across groups or with those working on the data center project externally.
People must apply careful thought and best practices to design a secure data center. The individuals involved in such projects will undoubtedly learn many lessons along the way. However, the good news is that they can and should keep track of associated successes and failures. Such circumstances will contain valuable lessons that people can use to inform future data centers they design or ensure their current projects have the best possible outcomes.
Also, people new to this undertaking should strongly consider learning how to design a secure data center from experts who have done it many times before. That may mean working with consultants or people with specialized knowledge. They can help design team members avoid pitfalls and overcome obstacles in the most efficient and practical ways.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine celebrating innovations in the industrial sector. She has over 5 years of experience showing how technology is changing the construction and manufacturing industries.
7 Quick Ways to Take the Startup Hiring Process to the Next Level
Recruiting for a startup is one of the first and most rewarding hurdles to overcome in a new business, whether in tech or fabrication. To propel your dreams that may have been developing in your entrepreneurial mind for years, you need some help. But the job market is troubled and quality talent is hard to find.
Fortunately, there are tech tools and strategies to optimize your hiring process, no matter the size of your enterprise. Startups can enjoy time and money saved by researching – before hiring new talent – ways to make your startup hiring process streamlined, fair, and effective.
One of the most efficient ways to sift through copious amounts of candidate information is to create filters from a wishlist. Using technology can automatically eliminate any candidates who do not fit certain criteria.
Each person hired costs $4,700 on average, so being strict with your company’s values and desires will help mitigate those costs. These wishlists don’t have to be just hard skills, either, like having a certain academic degree. They could also represent company culture, such as individuals who have added specific skills to online applications, such as problem-solving and team-building.
Even if you do not yet have a graphic designer or creative team, there are free online tools to help build a brand identity. You can choose fonts, colors, and iconography that speak to your brand’s mission. You will also want to consider brand voice because social media can be a profitable and organic way to publicize your job openings. The style you post in could entice professionals to research further.
Free graphic design tools like Canva, GIMP, and Photopea – and countless free brand identity brainstorming templates – can jumpstart any branding campaign until you hire more qualified staff. Professionalism will go a long way in helping candidates be tempted to apply, especially if they know you’re investing time in creating a company that will thrive for the long term.
Vague requirements in job descriptions are attractive to employers since it requires less effort to be specific. To applicants, it could reveal the employer hasn’t given the position enough consideration. Therefore, the responsibilities of entrants could be muddled. Non-specific descriptions can lead to a surplus of applications that could become impossible to manage.
Job candidates want transparency in job descriptions, such as specific job titles, salaries, and explicitly mentioning company benefits. This means putting exact starting salary information instead of a range.
Especially with startups that don’t have household name recognition, it helps create credibility with employers to load descriptions with information. Startups have inconsistent reputations, and this provides applicants with the sense that they shouldn’t fear submitting because they know the company is stable.
The pandemic forced the adoption of higher-quality video conferencing tech for video interviews and allowed professionals to network digitally, unlike in previous years.
Startups can use platforms like Facebook and MeetUp to find local career events for meeting candidates in person without wasting time scheduling and sifting through applications. Embrace the value of going to in-person hiring events, as it helps employers get genuine first impressions that a written online interview may not reveal.
It also helps put text to faces. Most applications are screen-focused, and job-seekers have unique personalities and concerns that aren’t reflected in an automated application.
Automate processes that aren’t worth your time. You’ll save hours by leaving various responsibilities to different software. Many career platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn use applicant-tracking software (ATS) to expedite processes like:
- Creating a talent pipeline
- Optimizing application flow
- Gathering applicant intelligence
- Sending automated communications
- Advertising positions
- Requesting paperwork and tasks
AI is even helping refugees obtain jobs because it can analyze the gaps between languages. It allows everyone worldwide – especially as remote jobs become more commonplace – to communicate easily while providing equal opportunities worldwide.
Job seekers are looking for more than just salaries from workplaces nowadays. They look for flexible schedules, work-life balance, ongoing learning opportunities, and definite career advancement. The Great Resignation proves that new and seasoned professionals are realizing employers should have greater respect for their workers.
You can decrease turnover and simplify startup hiring by being as honest as possible so professionals with specific and high standards know what they’re signing up for when they apply. This involves creating an employee value proposition (EVP) or a portfolio of what comes along with their job offer.
Avoid candidate rejections after weeks of wasted time when they find the salary or remote work opportunities aren’t what they expected.
The hiring process isn’t just about the interviews – plenty of hiring aspects come after you send the offer letter and before your new hire takes on their first assignment. There’s tax information, procedures, and vacation protocols, among all the other rules about your startup, to brief new hires on. This part of the process is easily streamlined with the help of technological aids.
Ignore lengthy background checks and printing out paperwork for drug screenings. Create a robust learning management system (LMS) that houses videos, informational paperwork, processes, and first-day expectations without even setting up a formal meeting.
Startups lack the financial support to engage in lengthy hiring processes and excessive interviews that yield no entrants. Recruitment for startups is highly competitive, as young professionals see the potential in areas like Silicon Valley and sometimes put startups on a pedestal, believing they lead to quick career development.
Startup recruiters are responsible for creating enticing but also realistic expectations, and to provide young professionals with a seamless and transparent hiring process that briefs them on their responsibilities and benefits. Despite the financial and time investment needed to find the perfect candidates, the benefits will become apparent when profits soar in the coming years.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine showing how technology is disrupting many industries.
The rise of the teacherpreneur
Disruption in the education market
Over the past few decades, education has been radically transformed. Today, there are hundreds of millions of people learning things outside of the traditional classroom… things like yoga, fitness, dance… music, drama, art… languages, programming, business skills… we could call this the “alternative education” market.
But traditional academia, too, is experiencing massive disruption: enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs has been declining since roughly 2012. More and more people are realizing that to learn something useful or to build a solid foundation for a career, they don’t have to pay the massive tuition that traditional “gatekeeper” institutions charge. All they need are some good teachers.
Covid19 and the associated lockdowns have only served to dramatically accelerate this transformation. All around the world, remote learning and remote employment became completely normalized during the pandemic. Even those (few) people who previously hadn’t used the internet much for anything beyond shopping are now very familiar and comfortable with Zoom.
It turns out that in the post-covid world, students actually prefer taking classes remotely. Online classes and e-learning are not only here to stay, but things are increasingly moving in that direction.
In 2021, the e-learning market surpassed $320 billion, and it’s projected to reach an astounding $1 trillion in 2028. The global online fitness market alone is predicted to increase at an annual growth rate of nearly 50%, from $11.4 billion in 2021 to $80 billion by 2026.
Teachers and instructors of all sorts make up the “passion economy“, which in turn is a subset of the so-called “creator economy” that includes millions of independent content creators. Creator economy startups which enable these content producers pulled in US$1.3 billion in capital investment in 2021, roughly three times more than in 2020.
These major changes imply that the outlook for schools, studios and institutions is bleak. With more and more people learning online, it’s no longer clear what role, if any, these brick and mortar businesses still have to play.
On the flip-side, the shift is good news for teachers, bringing massive opportunities to independent teachers and instructors. Because fundamentally, nothing has changed in the market: there are still hundreds of millions of people who want to learn or practice something with a teacher.
Startups in the passion economy
There are a number of tech companies that are gaining traction in the passion economy. Some are helping teacherpreneurs with marketing and finding new clients, as marketplaces for classes and courses. Some are helping instructors to manage their business and logistics with payment and admin solutions. And there are numerous products that facilitate new ways of monetizing the content that teachers produce. Below are just a few examples:
Tutoring marketplace: thousands of teachers in the United States are earning thousands of dollars each month teaching live, virtual lessons on Outschool, an online marketplace for live video lessons for children. These classes are taught primarily by former school instructors and stay-at-home parents.
Course creation: for alternative education subjects, Podia, Teachable, and Thinkific are three major SaaS platforms that enable educators to create and sell video courses and digital subscriptions. The top educator on Podia earns more than $100,000 a month.
Teacher admin solutions: for managing live classes (both in-person or online), there are already numerous platforms that have been in existence for many years — but they largely cater to schools or gyms that have complex requirements. This makes them prohibitively expensive and much too complicated for indie instructors. For example, MindBody Online is the most well-known class management platform for yoga studios and gyms — but it costs $300/month and requires a person to take a course to learn how to use it.
But some newer startups are focusing on the teacherpreneur opportunity. For example, an emerging player that’s exclusively designed for individual teachers is Ubindi. Billed as “simple software for teachers”, Ubindi satisfies the needs of educators who are not very tech-savvy, who don’t need complicated rocket-ship dashboards and who don’t want to pay for expensive bulky class management systems.
Other tools for teacherpreneurs: an interesting example of a platform that helps educators monetize their craft is Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace where teachers buy and sell original educational materials that they create themselves.
The dawn of a new age
Professor Klotz at Texas A&M University coined the phrase “The Great Resignation,” forecasting a large number of people who will be abandoning their employment after the covid pandemic, simply because they are no longer happy doing things they don’t enjoy and not being very paid well for it.
The passion economy offers anyone with a skill or passion alternative ways of earning income, providing innovative paths towards both personal and financial freedom. People can pursue their interests and hobbies in ways that also allow them to earn a living.
And it’s not just about personal fulfillment: independent teachers are also finding that they can do very well financially. This is especially true when it comes to teaching online:
- When teaching from home, overhead and expenses are minimal.
- On the internet, the size of a potential client base is virtually unlimited.
- Independent teachers can keep virtually 100% of any revenue that students bring in — in stark contrast to how things used to be when teachers earned between 10 and 20% of the revenue collected by a gym or school.
In today’s world, it’s incredibly easy to set up and operate your own teaching business — one where you can teach exactly what you want and how you want. Teachers can pursue their passion on their own terms and enjoy the highest level of professional fulfillment as teacherpreneurs.
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