Growing Pains

Zarca Interactive is growing! But, while new people and rapid growth are great for our company, the process also makes demands on current employees. A growing company challenges you to adopt new roles, test your flexibility and push professional limits. But — as with any new opportunity — there’s the potential for great reward.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re experiencing structural changes in your office:

Be flexible.
While your work environment may undergo a great deal of change in a short amount of time, flexibility allows you to accommodate newcomers and make them feel welcome.

Be accessible.
Your experience is a valuable asset. Allowing team members to shadow you permits the smooth transfer of knowledge, while giving you the ability to fine-tune your work and revisit skills learned in your earlier stages of training.

Meet your new neighbors!
Like most Americans who probably spend more time in their office spaces than in their homes, your workspace environment can become extremely important to you. As a result, forging strong working relationships with your office neighbors can add a positive element to each work day.

As an added perk of my recent office reconfiguration, I’ve had the opportunity to interact daily with a new set of co-workers. The proximity to colleagues outside of my immediate team provides me with a greater latitudinal understanding of company roles. I’m able to participate in a wider range of conversations, hear problems that arise and solutions that are offered, and increase collaborative efficiency.

Expand your network.
In addition to solidifying relationships within your current office network, bringing others onboard extends that network and gives you the ability to make connections and gain experience from new acquaintances. Our office is located in Herndon, Va. — a long way from where I grew up in Michigan. Imagine my delight when a new employee from my same neighborhood joined the Research Team! Being open to new people can have a positive impact on your daily interactions.

Because many of us have a tendency to become comfortable with the status quo, adapting to rapid change can be hard. Just remember, in the midst of those growing pains, “The best is ready to begin.”

I Got Your Back (Up)

After my last blog post, many people asked me to go into more depth about the best ways to back up their data. While we all know the importance of backing up our files, it’s often one of the most neglected acts of basic computer maintenance. But as anyone who’s experienced a computer crash can tell you, losing your most important data — personal and professional — is an unmitigated disaster that can end in tears. Don’t let this happen to you.

So, here are a few more useful tips that will help you keep your data safe and secure:

First, keep track of where you store your information. While keeping your files organized is good for workflow, consolidating your data also makes it easier for data specialists to recover those files if your hard drive crashes.

Second, schedule a regular backup. It’s a simple process that requires simply an external hard drive and approximately 30 minutes. Plug the external drive into your computer’s USB and follow the prompts that guide you through making it your default backup drive. Once the process is complete, your operating system will regularly and automatically back up your computer.

Third, sign up for a cloud storage service. Dropbox, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon offer cloud services with differing amounts of free and paid storage space. While the one you choose is mostly a matter of preference, these services ensure that your most important files are backed up and available no matter where you are.

Finally, keep physical copies of your most valuable documents. While digital storage has many advantages, there’s nothing like having a hard copy of a file that was lost or accidently deleted.

But no matter what solution you choose, you must always be proactive. Because although I got your back (up), you have to always watch your front.

Keep on Pushing Through

While March was the busiest and most stressful month I’ve had in my limited time here, I learned some very important lessons. Most importantly, I discovered there’s probably nothing my team won’t do to keep our clients happy.

Let me explain.

In December 2012, we signed a lot of new clients. In January and February of this year, all of our managed clients were developing and preparing to launch their surveys. In March, many of these big projects went live. And, in the midst of all this, one of our major clients implemented a technical restriction that rendered the system nearly inoperable for all of their users.

During this period, I was replying to twice the normal amount of email support requests, while spending the rest of my days on the phone with clients or working with the engineering team to resolve multiple serious problems.

There were a few days when the stress of keeping up left me emotionally and physically exhausted. Even then, knowing the next day would only bring more of everything would constantly weigh on my mind. Support took up 100% of my time; there was no room for any other projects. And I was far from the only one feeling the pressure.

But we had to get it done.

Everyone on my team pushed themselves to ensure that each client received the outstanding support we’ve become known for. We eventually found a solution to the technical restriction plaguing that one client and the rest of our big projects were successfully launched.

My point is, we feel your pain. As our client, your work is our work and, when things are broken and your back is against the wall, ours is too. So when it comes to providing you with the solutions you need, we don’t give up and make excuses. We just keep on pushing through.

Protecting Your Data: Basic Steps

As computer and internet usage rises, your data and technology profile continues to grow and define you, while privacy vulnerabilities continue to increase. From the information you share on the web to the data collected by all the companies with which you interact, there’s plenty of information available about you on the internet.

Since you’re leading more of your life on computers, smartphones and tablets, it’s critical to ensure that you’re taking the most basic steps to protect sensitive data.

First, take your data seriously by having multiple backup locations. In the unfortunate event that your computer crashes and you didn’t back up your files, that data is lost forever. As a safeguard, use an external hard-drive or cloud storage service to back up your most important information.

Second, just because you delete something doesn’t mean that it can’t be recovered. But there are file scrubbing applications that will permanently delete your recycled files. This is especially important if you’re removing sensitive personal information such as financial records that you may have accessed on a shared computer.

Third, be wary of the sites you visit, especially if you’re downloading third-party software. Some sites host legitimate third-party applications that they bundle with Trojans and other types of malware. Many anti-virus programs provide browser extensions which inform you about unsecure and dangerous websites. Use these tools as an internet roadmap so you’ll know which places to avoid.

This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means. But following at least a few of these steps is a good way to start protecting your data and regaining some control over your technology profile.