4 Tips for Managing Your Digital Business Records.

What’s the difference between a record and a document?

All business records are documents, but not all business documents are records. 

Think of business records as historical documents. Their purpose is to keep an account of important details about your business, employees, and finances. 

Some records have specific retention periods, either determined by law or based on best practices. For example, the federal government requires companies to keep payroll records for at least three years. 

In contrast, a business document is often a “living” file that is regularly updated or changed. These are the types of files most of your staff will create and work on daily. 

While documents can contain sensitive information, they aren’t subject to legal retention periods or other restrictions. These types of files can include details such as a client’s project preferences, instructions for creating a report, or who’s in charge of bringing dessert to the company potluck.

Why do you need a document management plan for your business records?

Business records could be requested by a governing body in your industry, during a legal trial, or for an IRS audit. If asked to produce these records, it’s in your company’s best interest for you to know exactly how to find them. You never want to be in a situation where you have to tell the IRS or a lawyer that your business records are a mess, and you can’t give them what they need. There are serious fines and other penalties for not properly maintaining records.

Keeping business records organized and in legal compliance isn’t something that happens intuitively. Your company must create a document management plan that covers types of records, how they’re stored, how long they must be kept, and how to properly archive or dispose of them. 

4 tips for managing your digital business records

1. Identify retention periods and disposition methods.

For each type of record your business has, document how long it must be kept and where it should be stored. Consider the legal, administrative, and historical value of the records. The types of records and the legal retention periods associated with them will vary depending on your industry. 

A good rule of thumb is to keep original records such as profit-loss statements, tax returns, property records, and invoices for seven years. However, you’ll want to consult with your accounting, HR, or legal department to find out specific requirements for your business. 

In your document management plan, identify how to handle records once they reach the end of their usefulness or mandated retention. For digital records that aren’t highly confidential, you can simply hit the trash can icon to remove the file from your online storage. If you need to ensure a file is not easily recoverable, you can use software to overwrite the data. 

When disposing of records, be sure to keep a log that names the record and the date it was destroyed. This step is often overlooked, but these details can be vital if a legal issue pops up after the record has been destroyed.  

2. Establish access levels and permissions. 

Most companies these days keep digital copies of their records. This saves physical storage space and makes the files easy to search for. Records that are stored in the cloud have the added benefit of customizable security options. 

Determine a system for identifying the security level required for each type of record. Should only the business owner have access? Does the entire HR department need to access the records? As a general rule, you want to keep access to records as limited as possible to reduce the chances of someone mishandling the file in some way.

Once you’ve established who should have access to which records, determine what type of access they should have. For example, Onehub provides administrators granular control over users’ roles and permissions. You can decide who can view, edit, share, or download documents, and you can revoke this access at any time. To ensure you’ve granted the correct permission levels, you can “view as” each role to see what type of access that role actually has.

Creating distinct access levels for your files is much more difficult if you’re using a physical server. You may be able to password protect folders or a specific record, but you won’t be able to specify how each individual with access can interact with the file. There may be several employees who need to view the file but should not have permission to alter or delete it. That type of nuanced security isn’t available with a file that only has password protection. 

3. Ensure business records are stored and shared securely.

Business records almost always contain information that’s best kept confidential, so it’s vital to ensure your employees understand secure file sharing methods. If you’re using a cloud storage system such as Onehub, employees who have access to records will be able to share them safely without leaving the platform. Your records will be protected by bank-level encryption, and you can add additional security layers such as password protection and document watermarks.

For other file storage systems such as physical servers, carefully consider the security of the file-sharing option you choose. Email is often people’s go-to method, but it’s inherently insecure. FTP is another common option. This method can be more secure than email, though you’ll need to thoroughly vet the security protocols of the FTP vendor you choose.

It’s also important to have a plan for disaster recovery of your records. Whether you store your them in the cloud or an on-premise server, regular backups are a must. Backups ensure that you can retrieve your business records even if disaster strikes.

4. Conduct regular records maintenance.

Once you’ve created your records management plan, establish a schedule for maintaining it. This will keep you aware of any issues before they become serious problems. 

Despite everyone’s best efforts, it’s easy for this type of work to fall by the wayside once employees get busy with customers. A good maintenance plan will check that files are being stored in the proper place (e.g., in the cloud and not on someone’s desktop) and that employees are following secure file-sharing practices. Ensure that old files are being disposed of or archived to keep the storage space uncluttered.

With a solid document management system in place and regular maintenance, your company’s records will stay secure and compliant with legal obligations and best practices. 

Creating, maintaining, and disposing of records is a core part of successful business operations. Sign up for Onehub’s free 14-day trial to see how easy proper records management can be.

What Is Design Thinking and How Can it Help Your Business?

Design thinking is a methodology for creative problem solving. It’s popular among prominent businesses such as Nike and Starbucks because the process fosters a sense of teamwork, empathy for the end-user, and outside-the-box thinking. 

It began at Stanford Design School in the 1960s and was popularized by IDEO, a global design company, in the 90s. Though its roots are in design, Design thinking can be used to solve any type of complex problem, from changing a company’s toxic work culture to designing a new social media app.

The process has 5 stages

1. Empathize — Understand your user’s needs.

Gather as much information as possible to get a full picture of the end-user’s needs and what problems may arise as the idea development moves forward.

2. Define — Spell out your user’s needs and problems.

Traditional problem-solving methods often lead to thinking about the problem too much from the perspective of the company. Using the data gathered in step one, define your issue in a human-centric way.

For example, if your company’s problem is a high turnover rate that increases recruiting and onboarding costs, you want to flip it to your employees’ point of view. “We need to improve our company culture so employees feel valued and can see a future with us” would be a good problem statement for that issue.

3. Ideate — Challenge assumptions and encourage lateral thinking.

This step embodies the philosophy that there are no bad ideas in brainstorming. Think big. Get as much of your team involved as possible to collect a broader range of perspectives. You want to generate a large pool of innovative ideas.

4. Prototype — Turn your ideas into real-life solutions.

Depending on the problem you’re trying to solve, you may not need to create an actual prototype. The essence of this step is to prevent your team from getting stuck in the ideation phase. Take the most viable ideas generated in step 3, and create a plan to get them in front of users.

5. Test — Put your prototype into action and collect feedback from users. 

Once the initial plan or prototype is in place, it’s tested with audiences and tweaked based on their feedback. Don’t be afraid of multiple iterations. When you make these changes to align your solution with your end-user’s needs, you’re creating a more successful product or service.

Why your company needs it

Innovative problem solving leads to innovative solutions. Design thinking leaves behind accepted wisdom and prepackaged ideas in favor of collecting research directly from the intended audience. 

Analyzing this information provides valuable data to base your solution around. By the time you reach the prototype step, you’ll already have a solution that closely relates to your end user’s pain point. From there, it’s just a matter of making a few tweaks until you’ve perfected your final service or product. 

Design thinking can also help your business because it emphasizes moving quickly from ideation to prototypes. This prevents companies from getting stuck in a loop of constant brainstorming without action. 

With this methodology, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of your clients, customers, or employees, and that information will prove valuable long after your initial issue has been solved. 

How Onehub supports the design thinking process

A Onehub Workspace is where your design thinking project will live. It’s a digital HQ. All the market research you’ve collected will be stored there. It’s also where your team will collaborate on files as they work to define the end-user’s needs, brainstorm creative solutions, and develop prototype plans.

Your team has easy access to a variety of tools to help keep the design thinking process moving forward smoothly. 

Secure file sharing

Design thinking can lead to radically innovative ideas, and you don’t want your competitors to get their hands on them! Onehub secure file sharing keeps your data safe in the cloud with bank-level encryption and extensive control over the roles and permissions of invited users. You can also add automatic watermarks to your files to protect your intellectual property.

Task management

Design thinking is meant for complex, unruly problems with a lot of moving parts. Onehub can help you keep the process organized with task management. You can easily assign tasks to any invited user, and you’ll be notified when it’s completed. From the tasks tab, you can view all tasks that you’ve assigned or that have been assigned to you. It’s a simple way to track progress and make sure everyone knows what their role is.

Collaboration tools

The design thinking method of problem solving is heavily dependent on a team’s communication. Our Workspaces provide messaging, comments, and notifications that make it simple for colleagues to reach out for clarification or contribute new, ingenious ideas. Collaborating remotely with teammates without leaving the platform keeps everyone focused on the task at hand.  

Approval workflows

Once you get to the ideation and prototype stages, you’ll likely be involved in reviewing changes to the project as they’re added. With Onehub, you’re able to preview a file and quickly approve or deny the updates. Timely approval workflows keep the design thinking process from stagnating.

File syncing

Automatic file syncing is essential for collaborative teams tackling a problem with design thinking. Updates need to be available for all team members in real-time. Without this, employees will waste valuable time working with outdated information. This can bring the project’s progress to a halt and cause a lot of confusion. 

With automatic file syncing, everyone is on the same page no matter what device they’re using or where they’re located.

Pairing Onehub with your design thinking process creates a secure, effective system that can help move your business forward with new, inspired ideas. Sign up today for a 14-day free trial.

Increase Your Team’s Effectiveness With File Organization and Proven Productivity Methods

Encouraging employees to boost their productivity is a huge point of focus for most companies, and it’s not just about the bottom line anymore. When your employees can optimize their work processes, projects get done faster and with much less stress. Employee burnout is real, and focusing on organization and productivity can offset burnout and lead to happier employees.

Optimizing work productivity is a very personal process, but you can help your team find what works best for them. There will be diverse opinions about the productivity methods below. The system that makes one employee light up with ideas might make another shudder. That said, everyone needs one thing before trying to overhaul their productivity — organization. 

Build your productivity method on a foundation of organization

All the tried-and-true productivity systems below will work better if everything you need to do your work is organized and easily accessible. 

Businesses run on data. For most employees, that means their work heavily involves reviewing, editing, or sharing files among colleagues or clients.

If your company has its file storage and sharing needs in tip-top shape, your employees are already primed for success. Share the popular methods below with your team to inspire them to take their productivity to the next level. 

If your company’s files are difficult to find or share, your team wastes time every day (while becoming increasingly stressed out) trying to navigate these unnecessary obstacles. No productivity method can overcome disorganized information, so it’s important to address this before trying different productivity methods with your team.

Onehub’s robust business software can take the headache out of file organization and sharing. Our virtual Workspaces are intuitive to use and protect your data with secure file sharing. Addressing organization, the first building block of productivity, will pay huge dividends as your team steadily improves their performance. Try Onehub for free for 14 days!

Four effective productivity methods

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique has been around since the 1990s. It’s a widely used productivity method that focuses on short bursts of work followed by brief breaks. 

The traditional breakdown is 25 minutes of work followed by a five-minute break. This is considered one “Pomodoro.” You rinse and repeat until you’ve done four Pomodoros, and then you take a longer break, typically about 30 minutes.

The keys to making this technique successful are to actually set a timer, and during those 25, minutes only work on one task. Timing yourself creates a sense of urgency that keeps you focused and allows you to get more done in less time. 

This method helps you maintain focus while keeping you feeling fresh and recharged with the frequent breaks. It’s also a great reminder to get up and move around, so it encourages healthier work practices.

Onehub’s Google Drive and Microsoft 365 integrations work perfectly with this technique. If you alternate tasks with each Pomodoro, you can keep your work within the platform and know that your files will be saved and ready to go when it’s time to switch back.

Best for: Repetitive work.

This method is excellent for people whose work can be easily adapted to short bursts of activity. Updating spreadsheets, making sales calls, and processing customer orders are all examples of the sort of work that could benefit from the Pomodoro Technique.

Not for: Creative professionals.

People with creative jobs such as graphic designers or copywriters might find this technique too disruptive. When you’re in the zone, you want to keep that inspiration going, and frequent breaks can derail creative efforts.   

Biological Prime Time

The Biological Prime Time method is all about catering to your natural rhythms to increase your productivity.

The original system involves a dedicated three-week period in which you track your energy level every hour. During this testing phase, you cut out all coffee, soda, and alcohol. These affect your performance, and the goal is to find your natural highs and lows throughout the day. Once you’ve collected your data, you create a chart to identify your peak times for productivity and focus. 

There’s also a less scientific way to do this — go with what you know. Most people already know if they’re morning people or if they feel more energized in the afternoon. They just aren’t taking advantage of that knowledge yet. 

Whether you do the full three-week tracking period or you go with what you know, the goal is to schedule tasks in a way that aligns with your natural peak performance times. 

For example, if you feel more energized and focused in the morning, prioritize your to-do list in a way that lets you get the most difficult tasks done early. You want to schedule simple tasks such as filing paperwork or checking emails during your off-peak hours. You can also use your periods of low energy to take a break from your work. 

Cloud technology makes it easier than ever to work according to your biological schedule. The cloud allows you to work from anywhere at any time, giving you the flexibility to work when you’re at your best. 

Best for: Adaptable to everyone.

The original method for identifying your Biological Prime Time may be daunting for many people, but everyone can benefit from customizing their schedule to their natural energy highs and lows. If cutting out caffeine and spending three weeks tracking your energy every hour is out of the question, you can still benefit from this system. Just use the “go with what you know” method.

Eat the Frog

Eat the Frog is a popular productivity method that focuses on doing the most daunting task on your list first. 

It doesn’t necessarily have to be the most challenging or time-intensive task. The “frog” is whatever task you’re dreading the most — the one you see on your to-do list and can’t help but groan. It could be something as simple as replying to an email or as complicated as planning a website redesign. 

We often put off tasks we’re dreading, but this just gives us time to stress out and kvetch about them. When you eat the frog, you save yourself time and stress. Once you’ve checked off the annoying to-do item, the rest of your list will seem easy breezy.  

Start your day by creating your to-do list in Onehub using the tasks feature. Start with your frog, and then check your tasks tab to review the rest of your to-do items. Onehub will keep your tasks organized and easy to review throughout the day.

Best for: People who get derailed by stressful tasks.

This method is best for people who tend to let the stress of one task build up too much and affect their whole day. Once you eat the frog, you can face the rest of your schedule with a clear head.  

Not for: Employees on deadlines.

If you’re often working on tight deadlines, your first task should be to complete that work even if it isn’t the froggiest item on your to-do list. 

Active Procrastination

Yes, there is a productivity method based on procrastination. 

Procrastination has always had a bad reputation, but some psychology researchers have found a new way to look at it. They argue that there are two forms of procrastination, active and passive. 

Passive procrastination is when someone puts off a task because they find it too overwhelming or are frozen with indecision. This passive form of procrastination is what leads to negative effects such as anxiety and missed deadlines. 

Active procrastination is a conscious decision to put off doing a task to create a higher level of pressure around it. For people who are wired to respond well to pressure, this method can improve their creativity and focus. 

When it’s finally time to get down to business, you need to be able to take off at a sprint. Make sure the files and tools you need are easy to access. Onehub keeps all your relevant files, tasks, and messages handy in your Workspace, and the Google Drive and Microsoft 365 integrations mean you can preview, edit, share, and save documents without leaving the platform. Every minute counts when you actively procrastinate!

Best for: People who do their best work under pressure.

People who have a history of working well under pressure might find this method ingenious. If a looming deadline is what gets your gears turning, you can use that to your advantage by strategically delaying certain tasks.

Not for: People who get stressed under pressure.

Active Procrastination has a narrower target audience than any other methods on this list. It only works for people who thrive under pressure. If your mind goes blank when faced with a high-pressure deadline, this isn’t the system for you.

Sign up for our 14-day free trial to see how much more efficient your team can be with proper organization, securing file sharing, and collaborative tools.

Improve User Experience With Custom-Branded Client Portals

Customers have more choices than ever before, and competition among brands is fierce. To stand out, companies need to provide an excellent customer experience in addition to a great product or service. 

A Client Portal is an effective way to create this experience. It’s essentially a login area on your company’s site that leads to a secure digital storage and file-sharing Workspace. Within this Workspace, you upload the information you want your clients to be able to access.

There are many ways Client Portals can benefit your customers and your team. The more comfortable you make it for clients to self-service, the happier they’ll be, and the less time your employees will spend on tasks such as looking up invoices or explaining FAQs. It also ensures any files shared between your company and your clients are secure.

A few commons ways companies use Client Portals:

  1. Allowing customers to track orders and invoices
  2. Providing a secure area for clients to upload or download files
  3. Enabling easier client collaboration through tasks, messaging, and document sharing
  4. Allowing customers to submit help tickets for technical assistance
  5. Creating a knowledge base of company policies, frequently asked questions, and support articles

No matter how your business uses the Client Portal, it’s important to customize its design to reflect your company’s branding.

Why you need a custom-branded Client Portal

Humans are often irrational when it comes to consumer behavior. Luckily for businesses, we’re also easily influenced by branding and design strategies. With a little marketing psychology and easy-to-use customization tools, you can create a Client Portal that’s inviting, fosters trust, and meets your customers’ needs.

Software for Client Portals is often provided through a third-party service such as Onehub. By default, Portals usually reflect the branding of the third-party provider. This means that when your customer logs into the Portal, they’ll see the logo and colors of the provider rather than those of your business. While the Portal will still function exactly as you want it to, branding plays a huge role in creating a quality user experience for your clients.

Customers want to expend as little time and energy on a problem as possible. If they log in and see the branding of the Portal doesn’t match your company’s website, their first thought could be, “This is confusing. I quit.” 

This is an easy fix now that most providers offer customization for their Portals. Your company can use these features to create a website-to-portal experience that’s seamlessly branded and promotes your company’s professionalism and trustworthiness.

Customization Options for Your Onehub Client Portal 

Onehub provides flexible customization options so you can create the perfect Client Portal for your business. 

Logo and brand colors

The fastest and most effective change you can make to your Client Portal is to upload your company’s logo and brand colors. This customization will show on sign-in pages and your email communications to create a familiar and cohesive brand experience for your users.

Custom domain

To take the seamless branding to the next level, you can customize the domain for your Portal. Your client will log in from the customer or client login button on your website. After entering their credentials on the Portal login page, they’ll have access to the Workspace. In the address bar, they’ll see your company’s custom domain. As with branding, having a custom domain provides clients with a level of familiarity and promotes trust in the professionalism of your company. 

Custom email

You can also set up an email relay to create a custom email alias that aligns with your business. All messages and notifications from the Portal to the client will show your chosen email alias. 

For example, your client will receive an email notification when a task is assigned to them. With a custom-branded email, the from address will be “hello@examplebusiness.com” rather than “workspace-123@reply.onehub.com.” 

It’s an easy feature to add and provides a more personalized experience from your company rather than a third party. 

White label

The white label option removes all Onehub branding, so the Portal will appear to come directly from your company. This is a great customization feature that centers your business as the star of the show with no third-party branding to distract or confuse users.

Workspace themes and personalization

Just as you can customize your Client Portal, you can also add your logo and brand colors to Workspaces. Your client will log in through the brand Portal, and then have access to the branded Workspace. You can choose to create a Workspace theme that reflects your company’s branding, or you can brand it with your client’s logo and colors.

If your business works with multiple clients, you can create a Workspace for each client. You’ll be able to see all Workspaces from your dashboard, but your client will only have access to their designated Workspace. You can personalize your dashboard by favoriting the Workspaces you use most so they appear at the top of the page for easy access. 

You have complete control over each Workspace’s theme and can make them identical or customize them individually. You can also add or remove the pages that are visible to your clients within each Workspace. 

Additional resources for Onehub’s custom Client Portal features

By taking advantage of the personalized features Onehub offers, you can create Client Portals and Workspaces that present your company in a professional light while ensuring your clients have a pleasant user experience. 

For step-by-step details and a visual walkthrough of all the Client Portal and Workspace customization features Onehub offers, check out our Client Portal demo video and helpful support article.

If you’re not yet a Onehub customer, you can test-drive our user-friendly Client Portals for free

Improve Your Company’s Data Security With Two-Factor Authentication

We’ve all been using digital platforms long enough for logging in via a password to become second nature. As we’ve become more and more accustomed to this authentication method, two things have happened. We’ve become lazy with our passwords, either making them too simple or reusing them, and hackers have invented dozens of ways to steal our credentials. 

Passwords are by far the dominant method of user authentication, and they are also the top cause of data breaches. This single-factor authentication method is notoriously insecure due to various issues, including poor password hygiene, phishing attacks, credential dumping, and employees sharing passwords with unauthorized users.

Here are just a few nerve-wracking password statistics assembled by DataPro:

  1. 51% of people use the same passwords for both work and personal accounts.
  1. 57% of people who have already been scammed in phishing attacks still haven’t changed their passwords. 
  1. 33% of account-compromise victims have stopped doing business with companies and websites that leaked their credentials.

When the only thing standing between your confidential business files and a hacker is a password, you’re not facing great odds. 

Too often, employees choose weak passwords or use the same one for multiple accounts. (The most common password in 2020 was, unbelievably, “123456.”) This makes it simple for an unauthorized person to access all of your accounts if they’ve got a list of emails and passwords from an insecure site’s data breach. They just type in the details like a regular user and immediately have access to everything the account offers.

Luckily, all hope isn’t lost.

What is two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication is a much more secure way to protect your business data. According to MobileIron’s chief marketing officer Rhonda White, “The key to reducing this risk is to ensure that the stolen credentials are worthless against your infrastructure by implementing multifactor authentication methods.” 

Two-factor authentication requires the user’s password and a separate method of confirmation. 

The second authentication factor can come from one of these groups:

  1. Knowledge factors — passwords, PINs, answers to security questions, or any other information that (theoretically) only the user knows.
  1. Physical factors — ID cards, security tokens, cell phones, or another type of physical item the user must have with them to access the account.
  1. Biometric factors — fingerprints, voice recognition, facial recognition, or other personally identifying biological metrics. 

For an unauthorized user to get into your account, they’d need your username, password, and one of these second designated confirmation methods. Of the three groups, the knowledge factors are the least secure. As with a password, this type of information can be leaked in a data breach or easily figured out with some low-effort sleuthing. It’s much more difficult for hackers to gain access to physical or biometric authentication factors. 

Is two-factor authentication foolproof?

There are few, if any, security measures that can be considered entirely foolproof. As long as there are criminals devoting time and energy to stealing something, security methods will have to be continually improved. 

Though two-factor authentication doesn’t guarantee your data’s safety, it is much more secure than using a simple password to access an account. If we think of it in terms of physical security measures, a password would be like the lock on a child’s diary, and multifactor authentication would be like a vault door. 

One vulnerability of 2FA is a platform’s account recovery process. Some platforms have account recovery protocols that bypass the two-factor authentication if a user claims to have lost their login information. 

Most companies intentionally make account recovery a time-consuming procedure. While very frustrating to authentic account users, it does help discourage hackers from exploiting this angle. Even though account recovery is a potential vulnerability, most unauthorized users aren’t going to want to invest the time when there are much easier targets available. 

So, why isn’t everyone using 2FA on every account?

As you’ve seen, two-factor authentication is much more secure than password protection alone, so why wouldn’t everyone use it?

Like most things in business, it comes down to time and money. 

Depending on the authentication method a company chooses, it can also be expensive to implement 2FA. Authentication factors such as facial recognition or security tokens require a significant investment, and companies that go this route have extremely high-value data they need to protect. 

Smaller businesses will be relieved to hear that they can still beef up their data security with 2FA without a hefty price tag. Companies can choose to have the second factor be a code delivered to the user’s cell phone or email, so they don’t have to provide any hardware to users.

As for the time issue, there’s no getting around the fact that 2FA adds another step to an employee’s login time. It’s a matter of mere seconds, but in today’s fast-moving world, a few seconds’ wait seems interminable to some. Employees also have to adapt to a new routine, which can take some time.

Because of the time and perceived hassle, and the potential investment required, two-factor authentication tends only to be used on accounts that contain valuable or sensitive information. 

What does two-factor authentication mean for your business?

Implementing 2FA for business files means:

  1. The sensitive information in your business files won’t be easily accessed by unauthorized users or stolen by hackers. You can confidently store and share your documents within your secure platform.
  1. Users will have to adjust to completing one quick extra step to access their accounts. 
  1. Depending on your choice for the second authentication factor, your company might need to invest in new software or hardware. 

Does Onehub offer two-factor authentication?

So glad you asked! Yes, we do. 

Two-factor authentication is available for our Advanced, Data Room, and Unlimited plans. These plans also offer many other powerful security features, including password standards, so users can’t get away with stunningly bad passwords such as “password” or “123456.” 

If you’re a Onehub user, you can follow this video to learn how to enable 2FA on your account. 

If you’re curious about how Onehub’s cloud storage and file-sharing service can protect your business data and improve your team’s collaboration, sign up for our no-strings-attached 14-day free trial

The 5 Cloud Storage Features Remote Teams Need

Cloud storage services have evolved to become more than simple depositories for digital files. They now offer a variety of features that make communication and collaboration simpler for workers. This is especially true for remote teams.

Remote workers face unique challenges that can hinder productivity. Cloud storage allows distributed teams to share data securely, easily access files from anywhere, and seamlessly collaborate with colleagues no matter the physical distance between them. 

Below are the five cloud storage features that are most beneficial for your remote workforce.

Easy and secure file sharing

A recent article from The Harvard Business Review noted that “remote workers are often surprised by the added time and effort needed to locate information from coworkers. Even getting answers to what seem like simple questions can feel like a large obstacle to a worker based at home.” 

When an employee can’t just pop into their coworker’s office with a quick question, fast, effortless file sharing becomes essential. 

Relying on email to share files means dealing with inconvenient file size limits, and using FTP can take a very long time. Having a quick and easy file sharing solution helps alleviate this headache for you and your employees. With the right cloud storage provider, your team can share files almost instantly, whether they’re small or large. 

Hilco Industrial, a Onehub client, uses our easy and secure file sharing for their widespread mobile workforce. “I just drag and drop to upload documents, and then set permissions. Whether our people work from an office or with mobile devices, they can get the documents they need more easily than through email,” says Valery Moody, Hilco’s Director of Operations.

Security is another primary concern for file sharing across remote teams. Cloud service providers take data security seriously and invest in protocols that will keep your company’s sensitive data safe. 

The details of security protocols will vary by provider. To ensure you’re choosing the safest option, look for cloud storage providers that offer bank-level encryption, two-factor authentication, customizable roles and permissions, data room options, and encrypted automatic backups across multiple facilities. 

With these types of security measures in place, remote teams can confidently share sensitive data amongst their colleagues.

Communication tools

Good communication is at the heart of every successful team, but it can be a serious challenge for remote workers. In addition to making collaboration difficult, unclear communication is one of the top contributors to employee burnout

To overcome this, remote workers need to have easy access to communication tools to help them gain clarity about a project or quickly relay important information to the rest of the group. A great cloud storage solution will offer a variety of ways for users to communicate with each other. 

Onehub offers robust communication tools that allow users to send messages, leave comments at the file or folder level, assign tasks, approve or reject document changes, and receive notifications. Cindy Hearn, Sales & Marketing Specialist at RPG, says, “It’s been great for everyone to have the real-time collaboration, notifications, and efficiencies that come with using Onehub.”

When remote employees can easily connect with their team members, they can better manage their workloads and feel less overwhelmed or isolated. 

Real-time file syncing

Automatic file syncing is a must for efficient remote collaboration. Most of us are familiar with the frustration of making edits or additions to a document only to find out it’s an outdated version. It slows down the overall workflow of a project and can cause a lot of confusion. 

Using a cloud storage provider that offers automatic file syncing means everyone can access the most up-to-date documents in real-time, no matter where they’re working from or what device they’re using. 

Hilco relies on real-time file syncing for its frequent group-based document editing. Its distributed workforce can work confidently, knowing that the project spreadsheets are continuously updated. Everyone sees the same information, which saves time and prevents confusion.

Automatic file versioning

Many business files are living documents that are regularly updated, and project files often go through half a dozen revisions before being finalized. This can create problems when you’re trying to determine which version of a file is the latest iteration or when you need to retrieve past information that’s since been updated. 

Automatic file versioning solves all those issues. All changes made to a document are recorded and saved within that file. Employees don’t have to worry about naming and keeping track of different versions of files or losing information. If they need to roll back changes to a document, it’s quick and easy to restore a previous version from the file’s edit history.

This simple but powerful feature is a must-have for remote teams and a game-changer for collaborative projects. Without it, tracking down previous versions of a file is a nightmare, especially if employees save files locally instead of in the cloud

View and edit files without downloading

Shaving a few seconds off the traditional process of locating a file, downloading it, and opening it in another application may not seem like a substantial benefit at first, but think about how many times each day you interact with digital files. Everyone on your remote team handles a similar amount of files daily, and all those seconds add up quickly across multiple employees. It’s time wasted, and it’s also an unnecessary frustration that can disrupt an employee’s focus. 

It’s also a huge convenience to be able to create and edit files directly within a browser. Integrations with software such as Office 365 or Google Drive allows employees to speed up the time it takes to do these small but frequent tasks. With in-browser viewing and editing, you can finish updating a document in the time it would usually take just to download and open the file. 

Having the right tools for the job is essential. Give your remote team everything they need to do their best work. With a free, 14-day Onehub trial, you can see what a difference having the right tools can make.

Best Practices for Organizing Business Files

Tired of digging through an endless sea of folders and files to find that one document you need? You’re not alone. Your employees are right there with you. 

Employees spend about 19% of their workweek searching for information. That’s a big chunk of time, and as we all know, time is money. In addition to costing your company money and stressing out your employees, a poor file structure can jeopardize the security of your files and make onboarding new hires a messy process.

The best practices covered below can be applied to any type of data storage method, whether it’s cloud-based or a local server. However, specialty platforms such as Onehub make the transition simple and intuitive. 

Remember to plan your folder structure around your long-term business goals. If your company is a startup or a steadily growing small business, you’ll want a file structure that you can grow into. It’s much easier to maintain organized files when you don’t have to rethink the structure in a couple of years. Restructuring means you’ll have to move files into new folders, which can break hyperlinks that direct to those files.

Pick a top-level folder structure that works for your business.

Your top-level folders’ structure will depend on the type of business you have and how your employees tend to work. That said, there are common structures that accommodate a range of company types and working styles.

Onehub users can use Workspaces as a top-level folder and house all relevant files within that Workspace. From there, users can easily and securely share files with others, assign tasks, approve file changes, and leave comments on a file or folder.

Departments

This structure works well for companies that have departments that function as microcosms. If your company has a marketing department, an HR department, an IT department, etc., it’s best to create a top-level folder for each of them. This will allow workers in those departments to access files relevant to their work quickly. 

Clients

Client-based companies such as property management agencies may find it useful to structure their files around clients. An easy way to do this is to create a top-level Clients folder and then add a subfolder for each client. If you have (or plan to have) hundreds of clients, a list of client subfolders may become overwhelmingly long and difficult to scroll through quickly. To solve this, 

create subfolders for each letter of the alphabet or a range of letters. You’ll then add a folder for each client under the appropriate letter or range. 

Products or Services 

If your company focuses on specific products or services, creating top-level folders for each product/service is a good way to go. A marketing agency could have top-level folders named after its services such as Web Design, Branding, and Advertising. The exact folder names will depend on your business offerings, but the general principle applies to all product or service-based companies. 

Create subfolders based on feedback from your team.

Your team handles the details of day-to-day operations, so they know what subfolder organization would work best for them. Allow them to brainstorm the subfolder topics to meet their needs. Have the managers over each department, product, or service review the list of subfolder suggestions and decide which ones to implement. 

To make your digital files easy to find, keep in mind the number of clicks it will take to get to a file. If you’ve nested files within 8 levels of subfolders, it will take a lot of clicking to get to the files you want. Burying files too deep in subfolders makes it frustrating to get to them and also makes it less likely you or your team will take the time to file new documents correctly. 

Another common pitfall to watch out for is storing too many files within one folder. If your employees have to scroll through 50 files to get to the one they need, they could benefit from a subfolder to add another layer of organization.

Tips for subfolders

  1. For folders that include dates, put dates in a format that will keep them in chronological order, such as YYMMDD. 
  2. Include Draft and Final subfolders for documents that go through multiple updates. As an example, a marketing department may have a folder string that looks like this: Client Name > Proposals > Draft > Filename.
  3. Many top-level folders can benefit from an Archive subfolder. Archive folders make it easy to store outdated business files that may be needed in the future. 

Establish file-naming conventions.

Descriptive, standardized file-naming conventions are an essential part of a well-functioning folder hierarchy. Being able to quickly find information saves employees time and frustration and helps your organization run more smoothly.  

Tips for file names

  1. Don’t use special characters.
  2. Be descriptive. You should know at a glance exactly what information a file contains. Never use a generic file name such as Invoice.doc. Even though the folder name provides context (e.g., ClientA > Invoices > 2020 > May > Invoice.doc), it makes it difficult to find the file using the search function. A better name for this file would be ClientA-Invoice-202005.
  3. Create a naming system for documents that go through multiple iterations. A simple method for this is to include a version number at the end of the file name for a document that’s still being shuffled through the revision process. Use FINAL for the final approved version. (Examples: ClientName-Proposal-v.1 and ClientName-Proposal-FINAL)

Document the process.

Even the most thought-out, practical folder structure won’t work if people aren’t following it. You have to get everyone on the same page and provide documentation that employees can review if they forget a naming convention. You should also make this document part of your onboarding guide. It can be challenging to break employees of old habits, but if you train new hires on the proper folder and file procedures, they’re much more likely to stick to them. 

Keep business files secure by assigning roles and permissions. 

Whether you’re using a local server or a cloud storage provider, you should have settings that allow you to protect sensitive files. The process and terminology for setting up user roles and sharing permissions will vary greatly depending on your file storage method, so we’ll cover Onehub’s options for roles and permissions. 

Onehub uses a role-based permission system with 7 access levels to give you granular control over your business files and folders. It’s simple to add or remove permissions at any time. To ensure you’re assigning the right level of access, you can preview what the folder or file will look like to someone in that role. This means you can confidently and securely share your files.

Already have a great business file structure?

If you have a great file structure but need a new storage and file-sharing solution, Onehub makes it easy to transfer your file storage hierarchy with a simple drag and drop. Your structure will be maintained, and you won’t have to move files over individually. 

You can test-drive Onehub’s file storage and sharing capabilities with a free trial — no credit card required. 

Keep Your Business Data Safe and Secure With Onehub

Data security is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing how to store and share your business files. Some company decision-makers are hesitant to upgrade to cloud storage and file sharing due to concerns about protecting sensitive information. While no file storage solution is foolproof, cloud storage offers advanced protections that local servers can’t provide.

In a 2020 report, IBM revealed that the average cost of a data breach is $3.84 million. That’s a devastating price tag for many companies. In addition to the monetary losses, compromised data can also erase valuable information or damage your company’s reputation with customers. 

Onehub understands that if your data isn’t safe, nothing else matters. We dedicate significant time to developing and implementing the most secure safety protocols to protect your intellectual property and other sensitive files. 

Onehub security features

Bank-level protection means your data is as secure as your money. 

Cloud storage operates almost like a bank. In both cases, customers store something valuable with a third party and rely on the more expansive security options a third party can provide. 

Onehub continues the similarities by using the same 256-bit encryption and physical security policies as banks for the most secure cloud storage experience. We also use Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) to establish encrypted links between networked computers. Every communication is sent over this secure connection. Our service has 24/7 monitoring, and our practices are verified by VeriSign, a trusted resource for identifying safe, legitimate websites and security practices.

Encrypted backups across multiple facilities keep your information secure no matter what challenges arise.

Backing up your files is a fundamental tenet of data security. Many business owners feel more confident in the safety of their information when files are on an in-house server. This does make data somewhat more secure from hackers, but it doesn’t protect your valuable documents from a server crash, damaged hardware, or human error. It’s also much more expensive than the cloud, with hefty up-front investments in hardware and ongoing costs for critical maintenance.

Even if you want to stick with a local server for your primary file sharing and storage needs, there are significant benefits to using the cloud for your backups. 

With Onehub, your backups are encrypted using 256-bit encryption and stored across multiple devices and multiple facilities. This protects your data from online threats as well as any hardware failures or natural disasters. 

We regularly assess the integrity of your data using checksums, an alphanumeric value that represents the data on a file. If we find any flaws, we automatically repair them using redundant data, so your business never misses a beat. 

Two-factor authentication keeps your files secure even if your passwords are compromised.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a quick additional login step that ups the security of your accounts. Using an authorized device such as your cell phone, you’ll receive a randomly generated login code after entering your username and password. This code can be obtained either by an authenticator app or via text message. Without the code, your login can’t be completed. This means that even if a hacker steals your username and password, they can’t access your account. 

According to Google’s research, two-factor authentication helps “block 100% of automated bots, 96% of bulk phishing attacks, and 76% of targeted attacks.” Essentially, 2FA adds another layer of protection to your account, meaning you don’t have to stress about the safety of your sensitive company information.

Onehub clients with Advanced, Unlimited, and Data Room plans can require users to enable 2FA to ensure documents are protected across every user. You can follow these steps to enable two-factor authentication in your Onehub account. 

Data rooms provide the highest level of security for your most confidential files.

The first step to secure cloud storage and file sharing is understanding what level of security you need. If your company needs to share files that contain highly confidential information (e.g., company acquisitions, due diligence process, IPOs, funding rounds), you need a storage solution with the highest protection level.

You might ask, “Why not choose the most secure option every time?” Well, you definitely can do that, but it’s the difference between storing your data in a bank vault and storing it in Fort Knox. Both are very secure, but one offers top-level security that comes with a higher price tag. To keep costs low, you want to align your security level with the level of confidentiality your documents require.

When you do need Fort Knox, we’ve got you covered with virtual data rooms, our most secure cloud storage option. You can turn any traditional Workspace into a data room, ratcheting up file sharing security with distinct features such as the ability to partition file access or to keep users and their activities anonymous from other parties.

Roles and permissions let you customize the way each person can interact with your files.

Securely sending your files to another user is just the first step. Once they receive the data, you need to decide what they’re allowed to do with them from there. 

Our roles and permissions features allow you to confidently share documents with customers or employees by controlling what level of access each person is allowed to have. We provide seven levels of roles, from viewer to administrator, that enable you to customize access on a granular level. 

Meetup, a Onehub client, regularly uses customizable roles to share corporate documents with shareholders and potential investors securely. Meetup Attorney David Pashman says, “The consumer-based file sharing services we were already using didn’t have the level of granularity we needed for controlling access and privileges…Onehub lets us control whether someone has the right to print or share our files, which is important to our business.” 

Audit trails and document watermarks allow you to trace the usage history back to the source to maintain user compliance.

Our audit trails give you all the information you need to protect your data. You can track and audit anything a user does in a Workspace. Enable notifications to be alerted when someone accesses a Workspace, views a preview, downloads a file, or prints a document. This helps you maintain user compliance, so you know your data is being used correctly.

Document watermarks enable you to safely share confidential information by customizing each watermark to the individual user. When watermarking is activated, “CONFIDENTIAL” appears across the document along with the viewer’s email address or an IP address for guest users. If the user leaks your confidential files, either intentionally or by mistake, you can trace the information back to the source quickly. Once a watermark is added to a file, it can’t be edited or removed by the recipient. 

Don’t take risks with your company’s valuable data. 

We do everything in our power to keep our customers safe from the latest threats. Use Onehub for your secure cloud storage and file sharing needs. Try Onehub for free to see our security features in action.