SLK Blog

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Adapting to the “New Normal”: Going Back to Work With COVID-19 Measures

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Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash

 

The Coronavirus crisis is far from over, yet many businesses are opening their doors again, after receiving appropriate directives from the government. There are pros and cons on either side of the opening/remaining closed argument. The pros of keeping businesses shut down are minimizing the risk of exposure and minimizing company liability. The major con is that staying closed hurts the business’ financial health and stability as well as the overall economy, as people need to be able to work to maintain their livelihood. Opening too soon and without the right measures in place could be catastrophic as there is still a lot to learn about this epidemic.

There is no right or wrong answer here, for employers and employees alike. If you fear the “new normal”, you are not alone. Read on, and inform yourself about your rights, and ways in which you can protect yourself both legally and health-wise. 

 

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Employees 

Circumstances vary so much from employer to employer and employee to employee. Many employees cite that they are fearful of going back to work for several reasons including, exposing themselves and others, problems with finding childcare, fear of contracting coronavirus etc. Meanwhile, other employees welcome the routine after months of being closed at home, even though the current environment is not ideal.

Fear is “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” (Dictionary.com). Fear is intangible, it is an emotion, therefore, unless concrete evidence exists to explain and justify that fear, legally, it is not applicable as a reason to refuse to go back into work. A person’s fear has to be founded for them to refuse to go to work if not, they risk losing their jobs. An employee has to go back to work to discuss their preoccupations with their employers and only when an employer refuses to make amends to unsafe work scenarios will a third party be called in to investigate. 

All of this does not mean that you should just give in and go in without hesitation or questions. As an employee you are expected to be protected, which is why informing yourself and having an open line of communication with your employer is so critical.

 

Below are a few things to take into consideration when returning to physical employment:

  • Remote Work: Is remote work a possibility? If it remains a possibility, then you can try speaking with your employer and discussing a solution that works for both of you. Maybe remote work may be possible in an alternating manner (working remotely a certain percentage of hours and being at the office for a small percentage of hours), that could still be better than going to work full time.
    • If you commute by using public transportation or have problems with finding adequate childcare, bring those issues up with your employer so you can come up with a suitable solution that works for all. 
  • Protection: You have a right to be protected. Ask your employer what protections are in place. If your workplace does not supply something you find essential (i.e. hand sanitizer for every desk) you can i) ask them if they would be willing to provide the item or ii) bring your own to keep yourself safe. If you go back to work and you see that your workplace is mishandling the health security measures you have a right to complain and to start an investigation.
    • Investigations can be started only once you start going to work, they cannot be started before examining the health and safety measures in place). Once an investigation is started you are not obliged to go back to work until the investigation is completed. Inform yourself of your rights before you start working that way you can measure your expectations.
  • Ask Questions, Make Suggestions: If something is bothering you, speak to your employer. This is an unprecedented scenario for all of us, and we are all operating with very new guidelines. If you see room for improvement in terms of protections for staff and customers/clients, those improvements can only benefit your workplace if you voice them.
    • Questions to consider:
      • Will surfaces be sanitized more often? 
      • How will airflow be controlled?
      • Will physical plastic barriers be provided?
      • Will PPE be provided? Will sanitizer be provided?
      • What is the procedure for someone who refuses to wear a mask?
      • What happens if someone shows COVID symptoms? 
      • Will there be daily screening questions?
    • Social Distancing: A big question to ask your employer if you work close to others is how social distancing will be handled. Will the furniture be moved? Will meetings be in larger meeting areas where social distancing can be practiced? Will you be working in a kitchen alone? Will you be sharing tools with others? These questions will largely depend on your type of workplace.

All in all, it important to go back to work confident that all precautions are being taken, by yourself and your employer. Safety should be the number one priority for all.

 

 

brooke lark nMffL1zjbw4 unsplash Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash 

 

For Employers

Employers have had a difficult couple of months, from closing down to restricting and sometimes diverting their business, and now opening with severe limitations. The majority of employers will have to implement rules to follow to protect their employees, as well as others that come into contact with their business. It isn’t an easy task given that there is a significant lack of information and guidance, as a society, our knowledge about COVID-19 remains sparse. Nonetheless, it is your job to implement the safety guidelines to ensure the safety of all.

 

Here are some suggestions: 

  • Write and implement new Health and Safety Policies: Health and Safety policies are currently the centres of all businesses, and employers need to review them and rewrite them to take into account recent developments.

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Photo by United Nations COVID 19 Response on Unsplash 

 

  • Consider whether your workspace can be operated safely: Even though the government has allowed your business to open, it doesn’t always mean you should open. If you do open, what measures should you take? What considerations should you think about?
  • Identify hazards and mitigate risk: You know your business better than anyone, which is why the bulk of the burden will fall on your shoulders to identify areas and procedures that could be problematic and changing them to conduct your business most safely.
  • Create a COVID guide for employees to read and follow: Include all necessary information on how your company will handle COVID regulations and the steps taken to protect everyone.
    • Make sure to inform employees of the safety measures you are implementing and how their work-life will change so that they can adapt.
    • Explain what you can provide, and what you are not able to provide as well. It allows employers to take measures they see fit to protect themselves. For example, not all businesses may have the economic capacity to buy antibacterial dispensers for everyone and may only be able to have them for the common areas. Letting employees know allows them to come prepared for that, and if they wish to bring some for themselves, they can.
  • Consider Work From Home (WFH) arrangements with employees that can WFH: Not all departments may be able to WFH, but some may. Instead of bringing everyone back in, consider having departments working from home to decrease the risk of infection and also decrease the number of employees that are coming in, allowing you to mitigate risk.
  • Develop policies for high-risk employees: Employees that have weak immune systems or employees that have immediate family who are immunocompromised need to be acknowledged in your plans so that you put together a wholesome response and are not left with surprises when an employee refuses to go back to work and you are left short-staffed.
  • Develop a plan for employees with childcare issues: With schools closed and childcare options severely limited, finding a solution for your employees can become essential. Do not let your business suffer because you did not make contingencies.
  • Keep the information Flowing: As the employer, employees look to you for guidance. Make sure you are transparent in information-sharing and inform them of any plans in development in regards to the current situation.
    • Ask for Feedback: Your employees may be able to help you in crafting your response. Make sure they feel encouraged to share their thoughts with you.

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Photo by United Nations COVID 19 Response on Unsplash

 

  • Create a COVID infection plan: You need to plan for the worst. Make sure you put together a crisis plan in case an employee contracts the virus. Follow all the steps in crisis planning, that way you don’t leave anything unanswered.
  • Be flexible: Everyone is dealing with COVID changes, nobody is immune. Use your empathy to craft a plan with a human focus for your employees. Everyone has different circumstances make sure you consider that when making decisions.
  • Further research: Here are some useful resources to help you in this new stage of your business: 

 

This information and resources should give you a head start in asking the right questions before going back to work, and asking employees to return to work. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. As a small business, we are navigating many of the same hurdles you are. We are here for you.

 

 

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Un-Spam Your Life: Tips & Tools For a Healthy Digital Life

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Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

 

In recent weeks Google has seen more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19. 

 

Spam is annoying and dangerous. It’s also everywhere. With the current coronavirus crisis, cybercriminals are hard at work with securing domains and emails to take advantage of people’s fear and need for information. There has been a significant increase in both potentially malicious websites and scam emails being sent through the web. Emails like CDC-Covid19@cdc[.]gov. look like highly credible sources, but only lead to hackers taking advantage of your lack of knowledge. Hackers may even create content that you think is real, and while you are visiting their site, they have full access to your information. You may have seen the Coronavirus map below and might have thought of it as credible. Beware, because while you are viewing the map hackers are downloading malware onto your computer. 

 

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Reason Labs 

 

It is important for you to know how to navigate safely online, and most importantly how to recognize spam emails being sent to you so you can be protected from potentially damaging situations. When navigating the web make sure you access only websites from credible and reputable sources. When in doubt, let your cautious judgment take over. If you are looking for information, there are always credible sources. When you receive an email, always verify the information. If a quick search comes out empty, chances are, the topic and email sent to you are fake. 

 

While you cannot get rid of scam emails and spam completely, there are tricks and tools you can use to make your mailbox more efficient:

 

1. Train your mailbox 

The easy mindless thing to do when you see spam in your mailbox is to delete it. Resist the urge. DO NOT DELETE IT. Report the email as spam and have your mailbox learn from this action so that in the future it can learn to detect spam more effectively.


Go a step further and also teach your mailbox what ISN’T spam. Go through your spam folder to make sure everything is filtered correctly both ways. This helps your mailbox learn, and also assures you don’t miss any important emails. Even with most email providers now dividing messages into various folders, they still need human help to learn and adapt so that they can do their job more efficiently and keep you working optimally. 

 

2. Do not respond to spam 

If you believe that an email is spam DO NOT open it. Place it directly in the spam or junk folder. If you are in doubt, you can open the email and read through it. If it is spam close it again WITHOUT CLICKING ON ANY LINKS, and mark it as spam. It is important not to interact with spam as you never know what the spam sender has put in the email (virus, malware, etc.). 

 

If you have clicked on a link and later realized that the sender is spam, email your contact list and make them aware that the specific sender is sending spam messages, and you have inadvertently opened one of their spam emails. It’s important to warn your contacts because the spam sender may have accessed your contact list information when you clicked on links they put in the email they sent you. This puts your contacts at risk of becoming spamming victims themselves. 

 

Here is a little anecdote to keep your mind sharp concerning spam: 

An acquaintance once opened a spam email by accident and deleted it after they realized it was spam. They didn’t warn their contacts, whom all received an email “from them” which was in reality from the spammer, asking for a sum of money for investment. The person’s father received the email, and as a business person used to diversified investments, he started to get a wire transfer ready. Because of doubt with the sum, the person’s father called them to ask a question about the investment, which is where they realized the email was sent by a spammer and were saved from losing money. Had the person’s father not called them, a very real possibility, the spammer would have gotten away with it. Do not risk a loss of any kind, if you think the email you opened is spam, warn your contacts. The last thing you want is to harm them in any way. 

 

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Photo by Mathilde LMD on Unsplash

3. Keep an eye out for spoofs

Recently the World Health Organisation (WHO) sent out an email from “This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.” asking for donations to help with the coronavirus crisis, only the email was not sent out by WHO but by a scammer. Spoof emails can be harder to detect because they use real domain names (who.int is WHO’s domain) in order to convince users of their legitimacy. If you do receive a spoof email make sure you read it attentively. In the case of the WHO spoof email, the email guided individuals to send money via Bitcoin, something a reputable international organisation would never do. There are always hints of falsification, make sure you keep your eyes open before taking any action from an unfamiliar source. If you have any doubts, use search engines to confirm information, or call the company or organisation directly to inquire about the email you received. Better safe than sorry! 

 

4. Keep your email address as private as you can 

In today’s digital world where businesses and websites ask for your email address to sign up to newsletters, receive discounts etc. it has become increasingly hard to keep emails private. What many users do is keep a separate email for sharing online and another email that is used for more sensitive information. 

 

5. Change your email 

If you are receiving too many spam emails, there probably isn’t a good solution for you at this point. You can start using the old email as the email to sign up for different things online, especially for websites with low-security settings. Make sure to migrate all the accounts that have sensitive information to your new email that way your old email contains no risk of a spammer or hacker getting their hands on your private information. 

 

6. Make sure your anti-virus is running 

Protect your online space and your computer data by using strong anti-virus protection when browsing online and opening email attachments.

 

Here are the anti-virus programs we suggest: Bitdefender, TrendMicro, Kaspersky, AVG, Norton and McAfee

 

Remaining vigilant and thoughtful about online navigation and emails is a must in today’s tech-savvy world. Going the extra mile with your security can save you significantly in both money and headaches. So be smart. If you need any advice/help, you know who to call.

 

 

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How to deal with COVID-19 and Working from home

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken the world by storm. Many of us are worried about the current climate and how to proceed in these uncertain times. Globally, businesses and individuals are doing their best to adapt to the changing situations, with many staying indoors for health and safety reasons. As many businesses shift from offices to remote work, employees at all levels attempt to adapt to the new reality.

For those that are able to work from home, it can sometimes be daunting changing a routine. Being used to commuting, changing space and environment, breathing different air, staying home can feel daunting. Moreover, office communication and transparency, agenda setting and collaboration are all key in bringing a company forward. As we all attempt to move forward together, Here are some tips and free tools for your business to use to make remote work and working from home a little easier.

Most of these tools are free to use, they may have different pricing packages and trials available, so as you get into a new routine, find what works best for you and your employees.

 

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New Website Launched for Tacey Atkinson

Tacey Atkinson, like many other independent entrepreneurs, was at a loss. She had spent months working with unreliable website builders only to be left with a product that still did not meet her standards. She had a clear vision, a modern site that kept her “customers first” mission at the focus. Frustrated she turned to her peers hoping for some advice, luckily she was able to get a referral to SLK by a previous client. SLK was quick to act. Click the link to find out how we helped Tacey show her passion in an elegant way.


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New Logo and Website Launched for Hodur Construction Inc

John wanted a new elegant website with the ability to manage his content and projects in house. With a fresh modern logo and website John is now able to keep his content fresh and updated as projects are completed. Having multiple galleries based on each project allows his visitors to see all stages of a project and to see the potential of their own next project. John's visitors now have a direct avenue to contact him and to start the process for their next big project. Click the link to find out how we helped John show his passion in an elegant way.


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How to Setup and Use System Restore on Windows 10

We have all had that time when your Windows computer just had a hiccup or has shown an error screen. Luckily there is a System restore option that can sometimes come to the rescue. The only down fall to this is it must be setup before it can be used. Continue reading to see how you can setup System Restore to recover from some catastrophic errors.

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New Website Launched for European Monuments

European Monuments needed the ability to showcase the amazing hard work and dedication that goes into creating each one of a kind piece at their Oakville location. Using high resolution images and beautiful galleries partnered with a clean and modern website has given them the ability to reach a boarder audience. Having an open line of communication and the ability to keep the content fresh and up to date was just one way we helped bring their outdated website into this responsive world. Click the link to find out how else we helped this estabilished business stand out in the heart of Oakville.


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New Website Launched for First Choice Office Moving

First Choice Office Moving needed a website that would set them apart and showcase why they are the only place in GTA for your office moving and office furniture needs. First Choice's dedication to providing the best experience when moving your office or when fully furnishing your new or old office was the foundation to creating a simple and modern website. Providing all the informaiton in an easy to read platform that was responsive on any device allowed them to manage the site on the go. Click to find out how else we helped First Choice bring their idenity to a broader audience.


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New Logo and Website Launched for Embrace Health Services

Arlene needed the ability to spread her message to a greater audience. With a fresh new modern logo and easy to manage website, Arlene is able to show her passion for all things health and to build discussions around important topics that affect everyone. Having a blog allows her to raise awareness for issues that are affecting society in this modern age. Click the link to find out how else we helped Arlene bring her message to life.


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New Website Launched for Edges Skate Sharpening

Kyle needed a website that would set him apart and showcase why he is the best place in Milton to get your skates sharpened. Kyle's passion and dedication was the foundation to creating a modern and clean website that was fully responsive plus easy for him to manage. Big and bright images make Edges website a pleasure to view. Click the link below to find out how else we helped Kyle bring the right edge to Milton's skating scene.


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New Website Launched for Danmare Group Inc

Easy to manage, clean, responsive and professional, plus the ability to have a direct line with clients on any device is what set Danmare's website apart from everyone else. Danmare needed the ability to change their content to reflect all projects as they are completed. We choose the bright blue and grey from their logo to bring life to their outdated site.


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New Website and logo for First Class Fleet Services / First Class Spring & Suspension

 

Letting your customers know what you’re really about can go a long way. When First Class approached SLK to revamp their logo and create a custom website, we knew people had to get a glimpse of the hard work and professionalism that goes on behind the scenes. We were able to do this by incorporating high quality photography into the website and letting the pictures speak for themselves. Visit our portfolio to read more on how SLK helped First Class Fleet Services / First Class Spring and Suspension stand apart.

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Tips to Strengthen Your Passwords

 

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Whether it’s for social media, work, shopping, or your own business, you have a password. Hopefully, more than one. But are those passwords really as secure as you think they are? Recently even Bill Burr, regarded as the father of the modern password, has said even he has regrets on the advice he gave on password strength.

So how do you improve your passwords to make sure they are as secure as they can be? Here are some simple tips:

1. Use multiple passwords

You’ve probably heard this before but are you actually putting it into practice? Creating a new password for every account you have may seem tedious at first but there is nothing worse than a hacker getting a hold of one of your accounts and now having access to all of them. A good tip for creating multiple passwords is to stick to a central theme to create passwords for certain sites. For example, all of your social media passwords may start with the letter “H”, or maybe all your work accounts have a fruit related word in them.

 

2. Keep it simple… sort of

When we say keep it simple we don’t mean name your passwords “Password!1”. Use difficult to guess yet easy to remember words or phrases rather than a short, complicated string of numbers, letters, and symbols. Speaking with CBS news, Burr said “It's probably better to do fairly long passwords that are phrases or something like that that you can remember than to try to get people to do lots of funny characters,".

The trick here is the length rather than the complexity. The longer the password the harder it is for a hacker to brute force their way into. That said, it doesn’t hurt to add a few numbers and symbols into your passwords, just try to put them in less predictable places.

 

3. Do not share your passwords!

Again, if this one seems obvious to you, that’s a good thing. You should never share your passwords with anyone, not even close friends. Sharing your passwords either online or in public increases the potential of someone learning your password that you didn’t intend.

If using a group or company account where there is no individual access password, be sure everyone in the group is aware that this information is confidential. Furthermore, be careful of where you log in with your passwords. If you are on a public computer or using public Wi-Fi, you may not be as secure as you think. Think twice before signing in with your precious information.

 

4. Consider a password manager

There are a variety of free programs and web services out there that allow you to generate powerful passwords for every site you go to but only require you to remember one master password.

These managers are great for work or home computers where you may be frequenting several sites on a regular basis and don’t want to constantly try to remember everyone of your passwords.

 

So, the next time you're asked to create a password, keep these tips in mind and remember a strong password is hard to guess but easy to remember.

 

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Social media: Identifying the platform that works best for you

Social-Media

For every busy social media marketer, there is an allure to scheduling the exact same social media messages across multiple platforms. It's easy and saves you a lot of time. But is it really the best way to reach your audience and increase your engagement?

Making slight changes/tweaks to your messages for each social network can help you engage your audience, and increase your reach and your engagement.

So how do you write social media content across multiple platforms? Here are tips to help:

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New Webiste and Logo Adjustments for Chasing Happiness

Word travel and life happiness is what made this website stand out. Redesigned logo and custom mockup let SLK transform this outdated website into an easy to manage outlet for Crystal to stay in contact with all her readers and followers. Visit our portfolio to read more of how SLK helped Chasing Happiness reach her audience easier.


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New Website for Hitherfield School

Elegance and a touch of nature is what made Hitherfield School’s website come to life. Freshened up the logo and a full mock-up allowed SLK the ability to transform their outdated site to a newly modernized and easy to use website that will stand apart from other private schools. Visit our portfolio to read more of how SLK helped Hitherfield School with the transition.


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New Logo and New Website for TWT Productions

SLK is happy to add to our ever growing family. We are proud to launch a new logo and website for TWT Productions. We were able to capture Tony's love for all things multimedia in the website and logo. Visit our portfolio to read more of how SLK helped TWT stand apart.


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Watch Out for Domain Phishing and Scams

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Whenever you receive an email or letter parcel asking for information regarding your domain and you are unsure about it, don’t hesitate to contact us for clarification. These emails are created to scare you into providing personal information without investigating. They use words and phrases like ‘final’, ‘failure to pay’, ‘failure to reply’, ‘and immediate attention required’. These are all used to trigger the fear of the unknown. Always remember to take some extra steps to verify when your personal information is requested.

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New Revive Skin Clinic & Boutique Website

Every time we launch a new website it’s always a momentous occasion for us. Our clients at Revive Skin Clinic & Boutique put their faith in us to create a website that showed the elegance and exclusivity of their business, and the treatments they offer. It was a great experience for all of us, and we look forward to continuing to help their business grow. Visit our portfolio to take a look at their serene and beautiful website.


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Typography and your website

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Now that we’ve gone over colour, let's look at another seemingly small element that can make a huge difference in the look of your website. And you’re looking at it right now, your website’s typeface and font.

Before we go any further, let’s clear up what we mean by those terms. Contrary to popular belief, font does not refer to the different names of different texts, i.e. Times New Roman, Helvetica, Cambria etc. Those are typefaces. Font refers to the different forms within a typeface, i.e. bold, italics, size of the letters etc.

It’s important to use a typeface to its full potential. A website can be completely transformed just by a simple typeface switch.

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