COVID-19 Resources & Response

If you read our About page, you’ll see our core values there. Integrity. Clarity. Empathy and respect. In times such as these, you get to see how much a company truly lives their core values, and who just has them written down.

We are reaching out to businesses in our community to offer our help and expertise in any way we can. We only get through this if we all help one another. Below are several resources for businesses and individuals to help navigate this territory. If there is any way we can help, please get in touch.

Be well.

Covid-19

Stay-At-Home Order Update: The governor has issued a stay at home order for all of Colorado with certain essential services exempted.  If you are one of those essential services, so are we.  Technology support is exempted from this order when helping support working from home as well as other essential industries.

In an effort to protect ourselves and loved ones from infection, and in keeping with out citizenly duties to help prevent further spread, our services will change in the following ways until the outbreak is contained:

  1. Remote IT support will continue as always and we will continue delivering world class support to you and your team.  We often switch who is in charge of incoming requests, so please use our toll free number 855-44-STRIVE (855-447-8748) when calling, as that will always get you to us most directly.
  2. Automatic PC cleanups, proactive maintenance, and 24x7 systems monitoring will continue as normal. (If you don’t know what this is, then you are probably not taking advantage of our managed IT services offering.  Now would be a good time to consider that.  Please call to discuss this.)
  3. We will be going to extra lengths to resolve as many issues as possible remotely.  This may mean we ask a bit extra of you during this time in helping avoid us having to go onsite.  Examples of this include unplugging or moving devices to better allow us to troubleshoot, sending pictures so we can see what you are seeing, and plugging in spare equipment if a replacement is needed.
  4. When onsite work is necessary, we will schedule those visits to occur outside of normal business hours when your office is empty.  We will wear face masks. We will wipe down any equipment we touch before we begin work and again before we leave.
  5. Technology Success (a.k.a. “Best Practices”) visits will be done remotely.  We will contact you if we need specific information about the physical condition of your environment.
  6. vCIO visits will continue, but will be conducted over video chat instead of in person.

Q: Is working from home safe?  Are there security risks involved that we need to worry about?
A: The whole world is working from home now. Cybercriminals know this and will be stepping up their efforts to hack your remote tools and trick you into giving up your password. The most effective tool we have to protect against this threat is multi-factor authentication (MFA). Please enable MFA on all of your email accounts and remote access tools. If you do not know how to do this, we can help.

Q: What type of IT support can and cannot be done remotely?
A: Nearly everything can be done remotely.  We have a number of tools that will allow us to remotely administer your computer with your permission.  If it can be done with a mouse and keyboard, it can be done remotely.  The only things that can't are physically setting up equipment and troubleshooting hardware.  But even in those cases, we can usually walk you through what needs to be done.

Q: What is the difference between Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Slack, and Zoom?
A: Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool.  It allows you to communicate with colleagues inside and outside of your organization using instant messaging, voice calls, video calls, team conference calls (voice and video), screen sharing, file sharing, calendar sharing, as well as integrate with many other applications and services.  Skype for Business is going away and will be replaced by Teams next year.  Slack is similar to Teams with less integration with other Office365 services.  Zoom is just for video conferencing.

Consider these suggestions for virtual team interactions for higher engagement and success.  As Seth Godin, says: "These are obvious. They are generous. They’re effective. And almost no one puts in the effort to consistently deliver on them. It’s worth it."

  • Use video whenever possible. Yes, even at home in your sweats. It re-personalizes the disembodied voices of an audio meeting.
  • Sit close to the camera so your face and shoulders fill most of the screen. Try to seem about 4 feet away from the people watching you.
  • Use an external microphone or headset; they always sound better.
  • When you’re not talking, mute yourself.
  • Watching yourself on video can be distracting. Choose to hide self-video if possible.
  • Don’t eat during the meeting.
  • When on video, show that you're truly engaged. Nod your head. Focus on the screen. Don’t get up and walk around.
  • Don't sit with a window behind you. A little effort on lighting goes a long way.
  • When you’re speaking, try to look at the camera instead of the screen.
  • Speak slowly. Don't worry, no one is going to steal your slot.
  • Don’t walk if you’re using a phone. And if you’re using a laptop, don’t put it on your lap.
  • Finally, give everyone more positive feedback. Non-verbal cues are less available online, even with video. Bank up extra atta-boys and atta-girls to help offset how often people will misunderstand ordinary feedback.

Here are several cloud services available for free or extended free trials.  We will keep this listed updated as we learn of new ones.  Please contact us if you know of something that should be here.

Business Tools

  • Employee Well-being Assessment Tool - Find out how your employees are doing during this with anonymous assessments and surveys.
  • Align Huddle Tool - Manage the chaos and lost information of daily huddles with this tool.
  • Cash Flow Story - Great tool to stress test your business' cash flow position and forecast future cash based on varying assumptions.

Online Meetings:

  • Webex - Free personal accounts, now with expanded capabilities
  • Google Hangouts Meet - Google Hangouts is already free.  Google is now offering its Enterprise feature Hangouts Meet to regular paying customers for free. This allows for larger streams and meetings.
  • Microsoft Teams - This is Microsoft's collaboration program.  Highly recommended for all businesses.  Now available for a 6-month trial.
  • Zoom - Zoom already has a free offering that has a 40-minute limit per session.  They are now waiving this limit on free accounts.
  • 3CX - 3CX offers softphone access to VoIP systems.  Now available for a 3-year free trial.
  • Trello - Cloud based project management for teams.  Free version available.

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) has made billions of dollars available to small businesses to help them through this period.  As expected, it can be difficult to make sense of it all.  Below are some resources to help you do exactly that

  • CO Work Share Program - Instead of laying off your employees and having them collect unemployment, move them to part time and have the state pay them unemployment for the remainder of their time.
  • Cash Flow Story - Free 3 month access to stress test your cash flow and make sure you have command over your important financial numbers.
  • Cares Guide [pdf] - One of the best guides around to help decipher the CARES act for business owners.  Courtesy of Greg Crabtree, author of Simple Numbers.
  • Multifunding Tribe - Forum to get professional opinions and advice related to how to get financial support for your business through this downturn.
  • CARES Act, PPP, and EIDL SBA Loans - the Multifunding Tribe link above and look for the most recent webinar recording.  They're doing them every day at noon because new information comes out every day.  This is the best source I've found for information on these programs.
  • Colorado SBDC - The best place to get local help for SBA loan process.
  • COVID-19 Expenses - Create an expense item in your accounting software called COVID-19.  Put everything related to managing this crisis in there.  It will help if you ever need to demonstrate losses for governmental assistance.
According to a recent survey, at least half of the us have a combination of symptoms indicative of generalized anxiety over, likely due to the Coronavirus.  Please take these suggestions to help take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Physical

  • Exercise.  This is even more important now than before, and outdoor exercise is still allowed (and encouraged) as an exemption to the stay-at-home orders.  Here are two  body-weight workouts that only take 7 minutes (1, 2).

Mental

  • Beware the infinite scroll.  If you're on a webpage that grows as you continue to scroll, stop yourself.
  • Try to limit your news intake to 15 minutes per day.  Get caught up in the morning or at lunch time on the important updates, but stay away from it at night to protect your sleep.  Here is the list I recommend:
    • City/County updates (Boulder)
    • State updates - CO DHPE (read the Press Releases and News sections)
    • Local News - Colorado Sun (Map and Latest News sections), 9News (skim the Latest News block)
    • National/International - Johns Hopkins (read the daily Situation Report)
  • Avoid social media as much as possible.  The majority of what's there these days is not a net benefit to your life.  Check Facebook occasionally for events, and get your news from journalists.

Emotional

  • HRV Biofeedback.  If you feel your pulse carefully, you may notice your heart rate speeds up when you breathe in and slows down when you breathe out.  This is called Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and it has a huge impact on stress and anxiety (which we're all feeling these days).  You can train yourself to increase your HRV with many devices, though the HeartMath Inner Balance or EmWave products are effective and easy to learn, and studies have shown it to significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. 5-15 minutes a day is all you need to make a big difference. Contact local practitioners Alpine Neurotherapy for more info.
  • Kind Connection - Free phone support available to help community members feel less isolated.
  • Isolation advice from an astronaut - Scott Kelly spent almost a year on the International Space Station.  He wrote a great article with advice on how to deal with the isolation.  His major points are below, but please take 5 minutes to read the article, it's well worth it.
    • Follow a schedule (but pace yourself)
    • Go outside
    • Have a hobby
    • Keep a journal
    • Take time to connect
    • Listen to experts
    • We are all connected
  • Isolation advice from a submarine captain - David Marquet spent months in a submarine with no idea if it was day or night, stormy or clear.  Here are his 6 R's of managing quarantine.
    • Routine - Having a sense of routine gives you a sense of control in a world out of control.  Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, and lay out a routine for how to manage your day.
    • Rituals - Have some spiritual ritual to help keep your perspective.
    • Red Work - "Blue work" is thinking about problems.  Red work is physically fixing problems.  In an emergency, people tend to retreat into blue work.  Do more red work.
    • Replenish - Eat well and exercise regularly.  Keep yourself healthy.
    • Retreat - Have a safe and private place you can retreat to where no one is allowed to bother you.  Make this agreement with everyone in the house.
    • Respect - Everyone is going through a hard time here.  Work extra hard to treat one another with respect.  And assume others are respecting you, it goes a long way.