Our New Reality, Week 3—and the Kindness of Strangers

Our New Reality, Week 3—and the Kindness of Strangers

We’re into our third week of what’s become our new reality: work in the time of coronavirus. Those of you with school-age children are figuring out how to navigate having their school and your work taking place in the same space. My husband is on a rotating schedule of working from home, so he and I have worked together here at home a few days. My cat has decided she’s my officemate.

It feels like things are changing daily but also like time has slowed down so much that last week seems like it was a year ago. Phrases like “flatten the curve” and “social distancing” didn’t mean much to us a month or two ago, but they’ve slipped into our vocabulary almost unnoticed.

My husband and I walked around the disc golf course on the now-empty USC-Upstate campus yesterday evening, and when we got there, we were greeted by a sobering sight: Spartanburg Regional’s drive-through COVID-19 testing set-up, which made everything feel very real and close to home. We had just learned before we left the house of Governor McMaster’s order closing all non-essential businesses.

I try to imagine how we would have managed all of this in the days before the internet, when colleges and libraries and museums couldn’t pivot to offering services online, when social media didn’t allow us to stay connected to each other and quickly share information, when large numbers of workers shifting to working at home simply would not have been an option.

My book club still met last week, but instead of eating out together while we discuss our book, we used Zoom. Churches are streaming sermons. Children’s book authors are reading books aloud online for kids who are now home all day.

One of the best uses of the internet, and social media in particular, is when people use it to mobilize helpers in times of crisis. Facebook groups have sprung up, like #7Help, created by WSPA’s Amy Wood, for people to get and share information, and the COVID-19 Upstate SC Help Group. People share stories of neighbors, or even complete strangers, helping each other.

People are converting little free libraries into little free food pantries. They are pulling out their sewing machines and making masks for beleaguered hospitals that are running short on protective gear for medical workers.

In Greenwood, sales of t-shirts emblazoned with “Team Greenwood” are supporting laid-off service workers, and a screen printer in Anderson has started a similar effort. Laurens County has a Think Local Facebook page to promote their local businesses. Fountain Inn has created a page for people to find and give help.

On our COVID-19 resource page, you’ll see three links at the top of the page: one for the latest updates on the crisis, one with links for how you can help or get help, and one with good news stories. We want you to stay informed and get the help you need—but there IS good news out there! I’ll be adding to those pages all the time, so email me if you run across a good news story or a link about getting or giving help.

by Sharon Purvis, Director of Outreach and Special Projects, Ten at the Top

It’s Not All Bad News—Here’s Some Good News!

It’s Not All Bad News—Here’s Some Good News!

Friends surprise 11 year old girl on birthday with a parade of honking cars

A parade of honking cars drive by the home of Carson Griffin, on her 11th birthday in Anderson Friday. Classmates originally were going to have a party, but with the closure of Skateland and threat of the coronavirus, they decided to surprise her with the parade.

Two Greenville Makers Create Protective Shields

Jamarcus Winston talks to two Upstate makers who are 3-D printing PPEs (personal protective equipment) to ship to hospitals that need them, in collaboration with the group 3DforCOVID.com.

Meals on Wheels of Greenville Combats Senior Loneliness During COVID-19

Meals on Wheels of Greenville is committed to supporting Greenville County seniors and homebound neighbors as social distancing and additional restrictions increase in efforts to suppress COVID-19. Despite the uncertain times, the Meals on Wheels priority remains to deliver a hot, nutritious meal and personal interaction to the homebound throughout Greenville County while also ensuring the health and safety of all parties involved.

Yousef’s Kitchen in Westminster sets up “Blessing Box”

A blessing box has been placed outside of Yousef’s Kitchen containing a variety of donated dry goods for those in need to take.

Greenville medical student launches shopping service for vulnerable neighbors

“Since she just started the shopping service last weekend, she’s only gotten a few families signed up. But she’s enlisted 10 of her fellow medical students to do the same in their neighborhoods as well.”

Here’s how the Upstate is helping those in need during coronavirus outbreak

For many in the Upstate, life has changed as the coronavirus’ impact expands, and some residents have taken action to help.

Lions Club cancels tournament but raises money anyway

The Greer Centennial Lions Club found a way to raise money after canceling a fund-raising bass tournament planned for this weekend. The Lions asked sponsors to contribute and the club donated $3,000 each to three organizations, including Greer Relief (pictured), Greer Community Ministries and the Greer Soup Kitchen.

 

Teachers at Boiling Springs Elementary School participate in a parade through neighborhoods to show support for their students at home

Over 40 teachers and staff at Boiling Springs Elementary School participated in a teacher’s caravan parade through four of the school’s neighborhoods in Boiling Springs, Wednesday, March 25, 2020. The teachers held signs and told their students they were thinking of them while the school is closed down. Katie Sanders, a third grader at BSES, holds a sign from her car as she waves to the passing caravan in her neighborhood.

 

Free Internet Resources for Social Distancing

Free Internet Resources for Social Distancing

Thanks to Keisha Long from DHEC for this information:

In this age of social distancing, working from home, schools switching to online classes, and visiting loved ones by electronic devices, virtual tools and the internet are more important than ever.  Below are some options:

AT&T – https://www.att.com/shop/internet/access/#!/

photo by Jacqueline Kelly

 

In response to the public health crisis, Access from AT&T is temporarily offering two months of free service to new Access customers who order by April 30, 2020 with $5/mo or $10/mo thereafter, depending on your speed; Expanding eligibility based on income and to households participating in National School Lunch Program/Head Start; and Waiving all home internet data overage fees

Comcast – https://corporate.comcast.com/covid-19

Comcast has opened its Xfinity WiFi Network Nationally for Free, is offering Unlimited Data for Free, more

NetZero – https://www.netzero.net/start/landing.do?page=/fd/landing/landing-new&refcd=FDFEB2018

NetZero’s free package provides 10 hours of internet access with no cost and the broadband plan provides 200 MB monthly data for free

FreedomPop – https://www.freedompop.com/

FreedomPop offers free internet access with their plans. After the free data is used up, you can opt for their paid plans to get further internet access.

Spectrum – https://www.spectrum.net/support/internet/coronavirus-internet-offer-students/

Beginning Monday, March 16, Spectrum is offering free access to internet and WiFi for 60-days for new Pre-K to 12, college student and teacher households who don’t currently have internet or WiFi service. This discount will be applied as a credit for your first two months of internet services. They’ll waive any installation or pre-payment fees to help get you started.

Strategy for a Remote Workforce

Strategy for a Remote Workforce

by Derek Davis, President & CEO, Intelli-Net of SC

Prior to this year, IT service providers have worked with businesses to develop robust “disaster recovery” plans… meaning how will a company react and survive during an extended outage or security event at the corporate office. The paradigm of “disaster recovery” has been flipped on its head since February 2020. We are no longer just talking about what happens when there is an outage at the office. Now, we are talking about the need for converting your office to a remote workforce.

What should businesses do now? And, what should businesses consider going forward?

The ability to communicate effectively is of utmost importance. Phones, email, collaboration, and chat across secure channels allow people to work remotely while still keeping touch with their co-workers and management.

Modern VOIP phone systems should have the ability to employ “soft phones” running on iOS, Android, or on a laptop; call forwarding to mobile phones; voicemail-to-email, etc.—so employees are always available to each other and customers and suppliers.

Collaboration tools like Microsoft TEAMS, Google Hangouts, SLACK, and others allow employees to remain in close contact with each other, enabling document collaboration, white boards, video and voice calling. Tools like these are excellent whether workers are all in the same building together—or working remotely.

If you are a Microsoft customer, TEAMS is likely included in your Office365 subscription. Likewise, Hangouts may be included with your Google G-Suite account. We steer people away from public chat applications like Facebook Messenger because they don’t offer the same security protocols as enterprise applications.

Email has been a highly critical business communication tool for many years—however, as the email systems companies use are becoming more cloud-based, the need for backups of these systems has become more critical. Companies that still use in-house email servers certainly back those up regularly… but those companies that have moved to cloud-hosted email systems should consider a third-party backup of those systems.

Can’t we just use a VPN? What about Quickbooks?

IT service providers can provide access to the company’s computer network through traditional methods like a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The pitfall of this strategy is that an employee’s “home computer” may not have the necessary security posture to allow access to the corporate network. With a VPN, if an employee’s home computer has a virus or malware, that could easily jump to the corporate network. In cases where an employee is using their personal home computer to attach to the company’s network, we often use a portal that allows remote access without letting the home computer attach to the network.

Once a user’s VPN or remote portal is activated, they can log onto company resources and largely work with full capability as though they are in the office.

One pitfall of using a VPN is that some applications just don’t work well across a VPN. Quickbooks is one of those applications. We require that folks running Quickbooks remotely have a VPN or portal connection to the network, but also that they “remote” into a computer that is still on premises so that Quickbooks’ company file isn’t corrupted.

Isn’t “The Cloud” supposed to allow us to all work from anywhere?

The Cloud … for all its promises, many companies still cannot function without on-premise servers, databases, and applications running. Some of the capabilities of applications running on Cloud-based systems are amazing… but many line-of-business applications don’t port over to Cloud-based systems easily… and many companies are reluctant to spend money on a monthly bill for these services. So we still have a long way to go.

What about security?

Regardless of whether or not your computers are managed by an centralized IT service—or if they have a managed antivirus system and other protections—CyberSecurity issues are still a huge issue, and we can spend many hours talking about the pitfalls of employees unknowingly causing security breaches by clicking on the wrong place.… Suffice it to say—when working from home, your security awareness needs to be highly sensitive. If something doesn’t seem right, it is always best to err on the side of caution.

From a corporate perspective, security also involves protecting corporate assets. This may sound trivial, but things like customer lists, contacts, and sensitive documents belonging to the company can suffer a loss of security with workers accessing that data from remote locations. Not only can accidents occur, but disgruntled employees have much more time to siphon off company information when they are not inside the four walls of the company’s offices. For that reason, many companies impose much stricter security requirements on employees as they work remotely. You should expect that anything the company provides to you is owned, monitored, and maintained by the company … and that would include tracking documents that are moved to personal storage devices, emailed off the company email systems, phone conversations, etc. Most companies have a detailed policy in place that explains that the assets that are provided by the company belong to the company and shall not be abused.

If your company needs help during these troubled times—please contact us. We are happy to go over some of these recommendations and strategies with you.

Pique, Ten at the Top’s Signature Young Professionals Event, Postponed until June 15th

Pique, Ten at the Top’s Signature Young Professionals Event, Postponed until June 15th

Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, Ten at the Top (TATT) has made the decision to postpone their signature young professional event, Pique, until June 15th. It was originally scheduled for March 23rd. The event will still be held at the Huguenot Mill and Loft in downtown Greenville, with ScanSource as the presenting sponsor, and local author Sallie Holder as the keynote speaker.

Ticket sales were suspended late Monday afternoon after the decision was made to postpone, but now that a new date has been confirmed, tickets are once again available for sale. Attendees who have already purchased tickets will be issued a refund if they are unable to attend at the later date; those who have tickets and do still wish to attend do not need to take any further action.

 The event focuses on connecting young professionals across the Upstate, giving them opportunities to network as well as to hear from experts on topics that are relevant to their working lives.

In this 5th year of Pique, the program will feature 3 breakout panel sessions along with executive roundtables, a LinkedIn Lounge, and keynote speaker Sallie Holder. Additionally, there will be plenty of opportunity for networking, sharing ideas, and discussion of future collaboration.

 During each of three breakout sessions, attendees will have four choices: one of two panel sessions, the executive roundtables, or the LinkedIn Lounge, sponsored by AFL, where they will have an opportunity to have a professional headshot done.

There will be three panels, each running twice to give attendees the option of hearing them all if they choose. The first, “Negotiating Your Best Career,” will focus on knowing what to ask for in order to achieve professional goals; in the second, “Community Engagement: Building Your Career Outside of Your Office,” panelists will talk about how community engagement can help you become a well-rounded and outward-thinking individual; and the third, “Conflict Management: Effective Communication for a Peaceful Workplace” touches on a topic that can be challenging at any age.

For many young leaders who want to make an impact on their local community, one major barrier is having access to current decision makers who are helping shape the region. Pique hopes to foster collaboration and bridge the gaps between young professionals and the Upstate’s top executives through the executive roundtables that have been a very popular feature of past Pique events.

Local author Sallie Holder will be the keynote speaker. Her book, Rock Middle: The Roadmap from Empty Success to True Fulfillment, was released in January, and copies will be available for sale at the event.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of South Carolina Law School, Holder previously served as an attorney at Ogletree Deakins Law Firm and lives in Greenville. She coined the phrase “Hitting Rock Middle™” and the revolutionary BE BOLDER strategy to help people create their biggest, boldest, most successful careers. In addition to her recently released book, Sallie is a dynamic speaker who leaves audiences with the tools they need to make the changes they desire. She’s an expert on leadership, teams, change management, mindset, and motivation.

Following her talk, attendees will head to the reception, which will once again be catered by Cribbs Catering.

Registration and networking begin at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, June 15th, at Huguenot Mill and Loft (101 West Broad Street, Greenville, SC 29601), with the event beginning at 2:00 p.m. The reception will begin at approximately 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here. For more information, visit the website or contact Sharon Purvis at spurvis@tenatthetop.org.