Best Kept Secrets of Change Management: Investing in Training

Training, as you probably know already, is a big deal! So big, in fact, we’ve split it into two separate blog posts, catch our last post on “sticky” learning plans here.

Today we want to focus on why you should invest in training, while inspiring your team to actually take the training. Because as the old saying goes, before you can teach a person to fish, they need to know the importance of eating!

Even Olympians Have Coaches

We often find that users are enthusiastic and excited to sign up for training and attend, as long as they are given the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, if users aren’t given the opportunity to sign up for training, we often see less enthusiasm around training.

All joking aside, the resistance to training in many organizations is not due to the attitudes or behaviors of end users. The big hurdle to offering training is usually getting the right project leaders and convincing those with the keys to the budget that training is worth the up-front investment and ought to be offered in the first place.

Many decision-makers employ the logic that because you have hired a strong team, they should be able to figure it out on their own. Indeed, some users probably would be just fine with this unguided approach.

However, we’d like you to consider the fact that even Olympians have coaches. Similarly, even the best and brightest on your team can and will perform at a higher level if given the appropriate support and motivation to keep growing.

With tight budgets, it’s not uncommon for the decision makers in your organization to have to stretch your dollars – we get it. Since so many of the new tech tools are designed to be intuitive (it’s one of our favorite selling points of G Suite) it can be easy to think that a simple way to hit that budget is to skimp on training.

But by omitting training, many of the most efficient features of new technologies will go unnoticed and underutilized because users aren’t provided with early support.

Chances are that at least once in your professional life you have had to learn a new technology, only to find out weeks or months later about key features that would have been great to know about back at the start! It’s such a bummer to think about the minutes (or hours) you could have saved if only there would have been the right learning opportunities for you at the right time!

Getting Buy-in

So, how do you get training for the team to be seen as a necessary part of your tech launch? It all comes back to winning over your stakeholders.

If they are metrics-minded, consider sharing stats about the value of offering training as part of your change management approach, leveraging articles like this piece from Raconteur (page 6). If the decision maker is swayed more on emotion, try sharing one of your own stories of success relating to training that links closely to the technology you are intending to launch. You may need to go the distance and approach getting buy-in from a variety of angles; just keep reminding yourself that the energy you invest now to get training in place will pay huge dividends!

The other part of getting buy-in is making sure end users take advantage of the training that you have worked so hard to provide! We could write pages on this topic alone, but a couple of our favorite hints are:

  • Tell the team WHY the change is happening in a way that focuses on what’s in it for them
  • Don’t just say it once
  • Don’t just say it one way  

The more you can appeal to the various personalities on the team and focus on the value of leveraging the learning opportunities, the higher your attendance and adoption rates will be.

Will mastering this new technology help the team provide faster service to your clients? Tell them about it!

Will leveraging a certain feature set of the new tool save them headaches in their day-to-day work life? Don’t keep it a secret!

Speaking of secrets, we’d love to hear from you! Got a best practice or hint on how you’ve succeeded in getting your organization’s “Olympians” the right coaching? Comment below!

Debunking the 5 Most Common Chromebook Myths

Egan Company, a manufacturing, and construction company in Minnesota “couldn’t be happier” with their 140 Chromebook rollout. They needed a solution that was easy to roll out, durable, secure, and cost-effective. Chrome was the perfect fit.

We firmly believe that Chromebooks make a great use case for a wide range of our customers, just like Egan. But often when we talk about Chrome to the uninitiated, we spend a lot of time clearing up confusion before we even get to the use case. Are we just talking about a web browser? Would Chrome even work for my business with its lack of [security, management, fill in the blank]?

There’s a lot of misinformation swirling around what Chrome even is and what it’s capable of. We’re here to clear a few things up for you. Here are the five most common Chromebook myths we come across, debunked!

Myth #1 – “Chromebooks are only a fancy Chrome browser”

Raise your hand if you thought Chrome was synonymous with just a browser…

Although the Chrome browser is an awesome tool utilized on the Chromebooks, Chrome is so much more than that. Chrome OS is a lightweight Cloud-based operating system built around four pillars: speed, security, simplicity, and shareability.

So while Chromebooks use the Chrome browser to run your favorite webapps, they can still run applications locally on your device by using Chrome optimized Android applications for Office 365, Linux, Adobe, and more.

Myth #2 – “Chromebooks are not secure”

Widely considered to be the most secure operating system, Google Chrome has security built-in at every level to provide end-to-end protection. From automatic updates and sandboxing, to verified boot, data encryption, and recovery mode, Chrome OS can securely support employees across the enterprise.

In fact, Chrome users don’t need to maintain those costly virus protection and other endpoint security software subscriptions, because Chrome OS protects, contains, and repairs security threats all on its own.

Don’t want to take our word for it? Here’s what former FBI most wanted hacker, Kevin Mitnick had to say on the security of Chrome OS:

“I don’t know of any secure OS. In the past eight years, I’ve had 100% success at penetration testing on all of them. Wait, ChromeOS, ChromeOS is the most secure because of its very limited attack vector–there’s just nothing to exploit.”

Myth #3 – “Chromebooks only work when they’re online”

Like other laptops, you can use your Chromebooks to update certain applications without Internet access.

Chromebooks offer offline access to Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, and a number of offline enabled Chrome and Android applications.

Plus, because it’s a cloud-based OS, any changes you make in these applications will sync automatically the next time you connect to the internet, so you don’t have to worry about version control, ever.

Myth #4 – “Chromebooks cannot run legacy applications”

Have you started your journey to the cloud but are still running a few internal legacy applications? You don’t have to wait for these applications to be moved to the cloud to start utilizing the speed, simplicity, security, and shareability of Chrome OS.

Many organizations utilize virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions to give end users access to legacy applications. In fact, VDI solutions often run much quicker on a Chromebook due to the lightweight operating system and increased security.

Myth #5 – “Chromebooks cannot be managed”

So all this sounds great, but say you need to manage each device on an enterprise level to ensure all the proper software is installed and prevent users from installing harmful software or accessing things they shouldn’t have access to.

Enterprise customers can manage their entire fleet of Chromebooks from a single cloud management console can use Chrome Enterprise Management. The console includes 200+ management policies, including policies that follow specific users across devices and policies that are specific to a device(s).

Charles Schwab (a Chrome Enterprise customer) rolled out more than 1,000 Chromebooks in less than 2 months using Chrome Enterprise Management. Everything worked right out of the box without the need to bring in IT to install any software or manually customize settings on each device. Instead, Charles Schwab used Chrome device management to automatically push software to each device and lock it down with their specific set of policies.

Have another Chrome myth you want to throw at us? Interested in learning more? Give us a shout to learn more about how your company can take advantage of the speed, security, simplicity, and shareability of Chrome OS.

Best Kept Secrets of Change Management: Designing “Sticky” Learning Plans

You’ve got a new technology that you know will be fantastic for your organization. Now the hard work begins. You have to get your users to actually adopt the new tool(s) and integrate a new way of working into their current, comfortable day-to-day routine.

To get your users to take the leap, you’ll want to invest some time and energy into creating a thoughtful learning plan. Keep reading for a few of our hints on how to take the stress out of putting your learning plan into motion!

A Change Workout Plan – Beginning with the End

Our last post on change management focused on User Groups and the idea that a “one size fits all” approach can be risky. When it comes to deploying training, the message really is no different.

As you think of the user groups who will engage with the new technology, imagine what success with their new workflow should look like a few months post-deployment.  With the end goal in mind, take a moment now to rewind in your mind to how these users are working today.

Are we talking a subtle and easy-to-digest change or are we talking a mammoth marathon-type endeavor? Who are the users who will have the biggest disruption and what resistance might be in place? With answers to these questions, you will be better able to prescribe the right types of exercises to get your users fit for the task of changing!

Walk in the Park or Marathon Training?

Just like your fitness goals, when it comes to considering learning plans, you want to design a workout that will get you across the finish line as sensibly as possible. Generally, there isn’t just one type of exercise or learning event that will be the ticket; we usually need to offer a blend of possibilities for users to get in shape for the transition.

Consider your unique users as you determine the right mix of in-person versus virtual learning events. While many users prefer an in-person approach, a quality virtual learning session will generally give the learner the same core takeaways (while keeping your budget in check).

Another consideration is to look at the technology in terms of digestibility. Will bite-sized feature overviews be more palatable or would giving users a longer dose of holistic learning create a more pleasant experience?

Finally, do be sure to consider whether the users will be most motivated to “show up” for mandated training sessions or “choose their own adventure” with self-paced and/or self-selected options.

Ready, Set, Go

To get users ready for a change, be sure to provide them with the more in-depth and comprehensive learning events prior to the launch of the new technology. Change comes with a dose of anxiety for many, and one of the best ways to boost the confidence of the team is to equip them with tools to succeed up front!

Once users know the basics from your initial training, you can shift your approach a bit and get creative after the “go live” of the new tech. How about offering a “question and answer call line” or a peer panel to show off a department’s success with the change? Could you generate interest in some peer-to-peer shadowing and best practice idea swaps?

They key is to realize that while we often will continue to offer some traditional learning opportunities, there is some wiggle room for you to find other fun ways to get your users to dig a bit deeper!

You’ll really get the change to be “sticky” with your users when you continue to feed them with learning opportunities in the weeks and months that follow the change.  Not everyone may have been ready to really embrace the new tools during their first encounter with training, but in the weeks following a “go live” you’ll have some users who will finally realize that the new technology is here to stay. They’ll realize it’s time to get on board and will now be looking for learning opportunities to help them get started.

You’ll likely have another subset of users who have been sticking to the plan all along (ROCK STARS) who are now itching to take their learning to “pro” status. Let’s not miss the chance to feed into the appetite of those hungry learners. Rock stars deserve your attention too!

Celebrate Success

We’d love to hear about some of your successful learning plans! Let us know your winning moments in the comments section below.

Work Hard, Bike Harder

You know what they say: work hard, bike harder! At Skykit (and our parent company – Agosto) we wear our Minneapolis-pride on our sleeves (and our cycling kits) with our unabashed love of cycling.

Minneapolis, our founding headquarters, holds the place as one of the best biking cities in the United States. In fact, as of 2016, Minneapolis had more than 226 miles of bike lanes, leading the nation in density of bike lanes per square mile, not to brag or anything.

Many of our cycling employees take advantage of the Agosto and Skykit Bike to Work Program. Employees who ride their bikes to work for 40 days or 200 miles receive a free “Golden Wrench TuneUp” from the company. We also host yearly cycling outings, where we bike to and picnic together in a local park.

But why stop there? We have a history of pushing ourselves just a little bit further to see what’s possible. So last year, we started our own Skykit racing team, where a few coworkers started riding together in challenging races with technically demanding trails and lots and lots of climbing. Below are just a few of our favorites.

The Leadville 100 in Leadville, Colorado

A one hundred mile race across the high-altitude Colorado Rockies, starting at 10,152 feet and climbing to 12,424 feet.

The Lutsen 99er in Lutsen, Minnesota

A 99 mile race on both forest trails and pavement with 7,000 feet of climbing.

The Horrible Hilly Hundreds in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin

A 150K route through a lot of hills and more than 9,300 feet of elevation gain.

All told, the Skykit team rode more than 10,000 miles combined last year, and we plan to ramp up this year to add more members and even more miles. At least a dozen events are scheduled.

Are you interested in being a part of it? Contact us!

And let us know if you’re interested in cheering us on or even riding along with us, we’d love to see you rocking your Skykit gear at an upcoming race!

Best Kept Secrets of Change Management: Internal Project Marketing

What comes to mind when you think of internal marketing for a change project?

It may be a simple answer for you, or something that doesn’t change much from customer to customer or project to project. But should it? What is stopping you from adapting your marketing strategies to each individual project and different groups of users?

These aren’t the memes you’re looking for…

It can be easy to market to groups you know. Let’s say you work in IT. Working on creating a marketing plan for your colleagues seems easy: just hang a poster with a meme above the coffee maker referencing the upcoming change and you’re done!

While that might be effective for some projects, and it even might be enough to market a change to the IT team, we can all agree it probably will not be effective for all of your projects and definitely won’t work for all end users.

Oftentimes you’ll be in charge of marketing a change to your entire company. Your “customers” in this case are not just the IT team, and one-size won’t fit all when it comes to marketing.

You might be throwing your hands up in frustration at this point. Your day is already filled with creating communications and trainings. And now adding marketing to that is going to be difficult as well? Before you give up and hang that meme throughout your entire office, reach back into your memory and recall some of our previous blog topics. You probably have already identified User Groups. And you’ve spent time building your “Circle of Trust”. Let’s leverage both here to get a leg up on our marketing strategy.

User Groups

User groups might seem like an odd place to start your marketing strategy, but bear with me. Your user groups can often give you a lens on what might be the most effective marketing tool in your tool bag.

  • Do you have a large sales group who only access their email on their mobile devices? Make sure any posters you hang highlight mobile-friendly features!
  • Do you have a large subset of manufacturing users who rarely (if ever) check emails? Find a way to integrate marketing into digital displays in their break rooms (see more here).
  • What about hourly customer service workers who work irregular shifts? Make sure their desks have proper desk-drops that highlight when the change is happening and what they need to do to prepare.

All of this sounds much easier once you have those user groups identified, right?

Circles of Trust

If you haven’t read our post on Circles of Trust, start working now to cultivate those relationships. If you’ve already read it, now may be the time to engage their assistance!

Maybe you’ve spent the past 6 months attending Toastmasters with the marketing team, and you even brought donuts for the bi-weekly meetings. Now is the time to ask for their help to create posters!

You joined the sales bowling league even though you don’t think bowling shoes look good on you? Ask those sales reps for their help in talking about the change in their regional team meetings!

You’ve been eating lunch with the HR team even though none of them are interested in your Bitcoin portfolio? That’s okay, because they are going to help you make sure you are following the guidelines for hanging posters across the entire campus.

Without those relationships, you may not have known where to start.

Wrapping up

Every project will look different, and every company will have different marketing “toolkits” at the ready. Whether it’s instant message blasts to all employees, posters in the bathrooms, a CEO vlog series, or anything else, the key for you is to find the most effective way to reach the biggest audience before the change occurs.

Feel free to let us know in the comments below what has worked in the past, or even what you’ll try in the future!

Best Kept Secrets of Change Management: Define User Groups, AKA Seeing the Forest AND the Trees

By Nick Bathke

You’ve successfully created your Circle of Trust and you’ve navigated the dangerous waters of Executive Sponsorship, so what’s next? Let’s talk User Groups.

You can go into a project with the best communications plan, a great training series, and an effective marketing campaign and still find that some users are hesitant to embrace change or may be openly hostile about the change. What gives?

One thing you may not have considered is User Groups–including how to properly define them, and then tailor the communications, training, and marketing to them. Let’s walk through it together!

Forest, meet trees

Wise people will often say “don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees,” but in this case, we will encourage you to ignore that completely. Instead, we want you to lose sight of the forest and focus in on the trees. What does that mean?

Don’t assume you can lump all users into one group and communicate, train, and market to them as one. Each user group is a tree that we want to identify and define. If you’ve read this far, you’ve likely already started to think about user groups within your organization. If you haven’t, check out the list below to get you started:

  • Executives
  • Executive assistants/admins
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Marketing
  • Manufacturing
  • HR

Easy enough, right? At this point, you can layer on more variables to further narrow down user groups. Does your organization have multiple locations? Do those locations sit in separate time zones? Are there multiple languages within your locations? You can see that quickly these questions can add up, but their importance cannot be understated!

What did we miss?

Why does it matter if you’ve defined these groups? Let’s run through a simple example to illustrate the importance of user groups.

You are in charge of change management for a new email system at a company with 400 users. Your plan includes a robust communications plan for end users, such as emails and digital signage. You’ve scheduled enough trainings over a large period of time to cover all users, and you worked with marketing to blanket the campus with posters and desk-drops.

But, the Customer Service team uses a special plug-in for their email that no other users need, and it’s imperative to their day-to-day jobs. No communications mention if it will be available in the new email system, and your trainers aren’t aware of how to use or install it. And, even though there are posters throughout the Customer Service area, none of them mention this vital plug-in.

You can probably guess the ramifications of this, right? The Customer Service team is confused (at best) or hostile (at worst) in the lead up to the email change. Even if you react to this quickly, the Customer Service team will still be wary of the change because a core piece of their workflow was ignored.

What’s the lesson? Taking the time up front to identify the user groups will save you headaches and heartaches once the change is underway!

There are many pitfalls in a change project, and you’ve probably encountered a few in your past projects. But we often find that many pitfalls link back to not properly identifying a user group up front. Once you have defined your user groups you can figure out if they have unique needs and avoid the project-stopping plug-in situation from above.

Have you gone through this exercise before? Any big successes or pitfalls you learned from? Let us know in the comments below how you work to define your user groups, we’d love to hear from you!

Best Kept Secrets of Change Management: How to Avoid the Loch Ness Monster of Executive Sponsorship

By Sarah Gasparick

Chances are that you’ve heard it before: you need to get Executive Sponsorship secured with a project early on to help it succeed.

It’s good advice. In theory, it’s so simple. In practice, it is often an uphill battle. Getting the Executive Sponsor (or sponsors) to actually be active and visible can end up being more like sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. There may be rumors and a few witness sightings of the elusive sponsor, but the bulk of users are left alone in the foggy wilderness with no clear footsteps to follow.

It is not uncommon to launch a project and experience a “honeymoon” phase with Executive Sponsorship. You think you have the commitment and buy-in you need from leadership. Everyone shakes hands and smiles. Initial phases of the project get rolling and everything is just rosy.

Then the honeymoon is over and there’s a battle on the home front over who needs to do the dishes – er, I mean – there is a battle over who needs to deal with a difficult project decision. As you look over to the head of the table all you see is an empty chair. Your email requests go unanswered. Even your strongest supporters within the project team start to waver. The fog begins to set in…

Leaving footprints and maps

Where did things go wrong? While there may not be just one right answer here, we invite you to ponder the idea that if you didn’t take time to invest in “marriage counseling” before the wedding – that might be the issue.

In the pre-launch of a project, it is a smart idea to set clear expectations with the Executive Sponsor so that you can clarify that you’re not just looking for a figurehead to invest 15 minutes signing a letter or making quick remarks of support in one meeting. If you are looking for well-rounded sponsorship, you need to spell it out and gain agreement up front.

Not sure just what to ask for from your sponsor? Map it out!

Think about the activities that they could participate in that would yield the greatest exposure and inspiration to end users and compel them to adopt the new tools. Consider the timing and time investment required on their end, and do what you can to make your request easy for them to digest and achieve.

Depending on your organization footprint, you may need to get creative and have the sponsor create a short video to incorporate into marketing, versus asking them to attend 10 onsite manager meetings. Asking them to sign off on all of the communications for the project would be unreasonable, but perhaps they can send the company-wide announcement at the launch of the project.

The key is to make sure that there is ample presence from the sponsor so that end users will know with confidence that they are walking on the right path as they invest their time and energy in acclimating to their new resources.

Avoid a “Nessie” project! Get your Executive Sponsor the exposure that the team deserves and you’ll be one step closer to happily ever after.

Best Kept Secrets of Change Management: Build “Circles of Trust”

By Sarah Gasparick

It’s easy to explain the value of some of the classic aspects of change management – like providing timely learning opportunities for end users, or making sure to design a communications campaign. When we dig a bit deeper into change management best practices, pinpointing some of the magic behind the “secret sauce” becomes a bit harder to articulate – but we don’t like to shy away from a challenge so let’s give it a go!

Regardless of your job title, when it comes to assisting with change management efforts for a project one of the best things you can do is to leverage your “Circles of Trust.” What? Yeah, you read that right – “Circles of Trust.” We’re talking about the people in your sphere of influence who you’ve been developing strong relationships with long before this project was conceived.

People in your “Circle of Trust” will instinctively want you (and your initiatives) to succeed. Also, they should be honest with you about barriers they see to your path to success that may not be on your radar (i.e. they are willing to tell you if you have broccoli in your teeth).

Be a friend to make a friend

Ideally, every interaction you have with colleagues can be leveraged as an opportunity to build your “Circle of Trust.” Trust often takes time to grow, so we aim to nurture that trust every chance we get – whether that means holding the elevator, sharing a news article, or volunteering some of your talent to assist someone else with one of their initiatives.

Sounds lovely but maybe you’re frantically busy? Or maybe you’re really introverted and it sounds intimidating to dive deep into relationship-building? Hey, that’s okay! Realistically, we all have constraints on our time and energy for relationship and trust building, so we’ll let you in on our little secret: it is okay to be intentional about who to target for your “Circle of Trust.” Sketch out potential projects that are in the hopper for the next 6-12 months and ask yourself who you need to win over to “your side” for those projects to succeed.

Now that you have a few names (or departments) identified, dig into the real work of trust building by paying it forward. Ask yourself what you can do to help them win in their work in the next few months, then begin to engage them in conversations to see how you might be of assistance.

This doesn’t have to mean devoting hours of your week to your new buddy. Instead, consider some of the small ways you might be able to make a difference. Perhaps you can offer to give them feedback on a rough draft, test a workflow on a few members of your team, or offer to give them a warm introduction to a connection of yours who can help them reach their goal. Model for them what you hope they can do for you in the upcoming months, realizing that your seeds of friendship have just been planted, so we shouldn’t expect to see a favor in return right away.

Bringing your “Circle of Trust” full circle

One of our favorite examples of someone who had clearly made investments in building his “Circle of Trust” came from an IT Systems Analyst we partnered with a couple of years ago when his organization made the move to G Suite. As a member of the project team, this gentleman had been fairly quiet with us as a partner. However, when we met him onsite we were able to see him work his magic. When one particular VIP user was getting rather frustrated with learning the new tools, he quickly intervened to offer her 1:1 support time later on in the day after she had time to review some learning materials on her own.

In a flash, her mood turned around – his offer of support took her from frantic to feeling heard and supported. It was evident that he knew enough about her to know (and not guess) that this would be exactly what she needed, and she trusted his offer because she trusted him. She got to win, and he got to win in this scenario that could have been a real mess.

Whether it is spur-of-the-moment responsiveness, or strategic leveraging of your trusted relationships – the more you lean into your “Circle of Trust,” the more you’ll win when it comes to change management.

We’d love to hear your upcoming plans to build and maintain your sphere of influence. Share your favorite ideas in the comments section below!

Out with the old, in with the new: Upgrading from Google Drive Sync to Google File Stream

For those who haven’t heard, Google has rung the death bell for the Google Drive Desktop client. AKA Google Drive File Sync. Support for Drive Sync already ended back in December, but the APIs that allow the tool to continue to function will be shut down on May 12, 2018.

We don’t know exactly what the shutdown in May will look like functionality-wise, but we’d rather not wait and find out. We’re strongly encouraging all of our customers to start proactively switching users to the new Google Drive File Stream client now before Drive Sync disappears.

Drive File Stream and Drive Sync have two significantly different ways of going about the process of offering you files on your local machine from Google Drive.

Drive Sync copies files and keeps them synced to your computer constantly, taking up a potentially significant amount of space.

File Stream, on the other hand, creates a false drive and populates it with stub files to make the file system navigable, but takes up very little space until you actually try to use a file. Once you attempt to use a file, File Stream downloads it and makes it available to your application.

Keeping these different processes in mind, there are a few steps that you’ll want to do in order to successfully switch to using File Stream from Drive Sync.

1) Uninstall Drive Sync

Start by uninstalling the Drive Sync client from your computer. This will stop any syncing processes from Google Drive and should leave you with your old Drive folder full of files. Make absolutely sure that Drive Sync is completely uninstalled from your computer before moving forward, or you will be in for a world of hurt.

2) Verify your files in Google Drive web interface

WIth Drive Sync uninstalled, we want to make sure that you still have all your files before we move on to the next step. Open up your Google Drive in Chrome. Run a few checks to make sure that your most used files are present and current. Once everything appears valid, we can keep moving along the process.

3) Delete your Drive Sync folder

This part’s the real nail biter. You need to delete the files in your Drive Sync folder, where you were previously syncing from Google Drive to your computer. This will free up space on your computer and also make sure that you don’t run into any revisioning issues or conflicts after installing File Stream. Now would be a good time to double check that the sync client is uninstalled. If it’s not, you may lose all of your files in Google Drive, because your deletion of the files on your computer will be pushed back into Google Drive and deleted there too.

4) Install File Stream

With all those old files gone, you’re now ready to install File Stream. You can find the installers for both Mac and Windows computers available here. Simply run the application and follow the prompts to install.

5) Optional: Open your most used documents

As mentioned, File Stream works a little differently than Drive Sync. You should see icons for all of your documents again in your File Stream drive, but the files aren’t actually “there,” and won’t be until you try to access them. I’d suggest making sure you’re connected to a fast internet connection and opening your most used files to get them actively synced back to your system for faster access next time.

As you switch your teams over to the new Drive File Stream tool, now is a great time to refresh them on how to use and optimize Google Drive. As always, if you need any help training your teams on Drive, we can help with that too, just drop us a line.

The Key to Supporting Better Video Conferencing

As the workforce becomes more dispersed, with more employees working remotely or across different locations, video conferencing is becoming a standard practice for many businesses looking to improve productivity and engagement among their employees.

In fact today, two-thirds of business decision-makers use video conferencing at work.

Why video conferencing? In 2017, Forbes Insights surveyed over 300 executives globally and found that 62% of executives thought that video conferencing significantly improves the quality of communication among their employees compared to audio conferencing. Video conferences often make it easier to engage with participants because you can make (virtual) eye contact, rather than talking over the phone to disembodied voices. There’s also less likelihood of multitasking and distraction when you’re on camera. Plus, of course, there are the cost savings of not having to travel to a meeting.

But there’s one key challenge to successful video conferencing. Depending on your technology, joining video meetings can be a pretty frustrating process. Switching back and forth between screens to find your dial-ins, meeting passcodes, download software updates, not to mention the difficulty of joining a video conference from a meeting room that is set up primarily for audio conferences.

So what’s the key to simplifying this process to make sure your employees are taking full advantage of video conferencing for better meetings?

For the most part, it boils down to your conferencing technology and the in-office hardware you have to support it. As Google users, the conferencing technology is handled with Hangouts Meet – a simple tool to add and join video conference meetings fully integrated with G Suite.

When it comes to your video conferencing hardware, we’ve got some pretty exciting updates to share from Google’s Hangouts Meet Hardware packages.

Hangouts Meet Hardware are Google-built kits (a speakermic, camera, chromebox, and controller) that make joining video conferences easy and reliable. Simply invite a conference room to your meeting, and in the room you tap the controller to join the meeting. No dial-in codes, no switching inputs, just tap and join!

Depending on the size of your conference room there are three main packages most popular with our customers.

Hangouts Meet Hardware Kit

The gold standard for video conference meetings, the Hangouts Meet Hardware Kit includes a 4K sensor camera that automatically detects and zooms in on participants. A speakermic actively works to eliminate echoes and background noise. An ASUS Chromebox powers the kit for seamless, reliable access to Hangouts Meet and automatically updates firmware to the latest version (and can even self-diagnose any issues) so you’ve always got the most advanced technology.

Hangouts Meet Hardware Kit Large (new!) 

Google recently released a large version of the Hangouts Meet Hardware Kit for large conference rooms that adds a HD 1080p camera swivel camera built to capture even the largest meeting rooms and move with the current speaker, so virtual attendees can feel like they’re in the room.

Chromebox for Meetings 

For smaller conference rooms with less video and sound challenges, the Chromebox for Meetings package includes a full HD 1080p camera, a speakermic with a built-in DSP for speed clarity, a Chromebox and a remote control with a full QWERTY keypad.

Interested in learning more about how to get your conference rooms setup for simple, reliable video conferencing with Google? As a Tier 1 Premier Google Partner, we can help you get the best pricing and vet the right solution for your video conferencing needs, just contact sales@agosto.com to learn more.