FRESNO, Calif. (GV Wire) – Liz Juarez – Digital News Producer
In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, offices around the country quickly shut down, ushering in a work-from-home revolution.
“If you’re going to bring employees back, you need to be able to do it in a way that benefits them. Otherwise, what you’re going to find and what we’re starting to see already is employees are quitting … .” — Eric Rawn, owner, Xobee Networks
But now that more than half of the U.S. population is vaccinated, Fresno-based companies are contemplating whether to bring employees back to the office, let them continue working remotely, or implement hybrid schedules.
Their decisions are complicated by the new rise in COVID cases.
Who Benefited from a Work from Home Order?
Xobee Networks, a technology-based company in Fresno, quickly transitioned to remote work at the outset of the pandemic. Eric Rawn, owner of Xobee said that nearly 100% of his employees worked from home in 2020. In addition, the company helped other organizations and businesses across Fresno move to remote work.
“We didn’t have to scramble to set up remote access and everything else that other organizations did,” said Rawn. “However, we’ve got thousands of clients throughout the area that rely on us for their technology support and so we got very busy in 2020 basically setting up our clients to work remotely.”
Among those Xobee helped: the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, People’s Church, Fresno Rescue Mission, and De Young Properties.
How Many Employees Still Work from Home?
A survey from the Pew Research Center shows that nearing the end of 2020, only one-in-five employees said they worked from home all or most of the time. But, 71% of those working from home said that if they had the choice, they would keep working from home after the pandemic.
Xobee employees started easing back into the office last summer after they were given the option to work from home or come into the office. Rawn foresees a downfall for companies that order employees back to the office right away in light of the societal shift the pandemic has brought to the workforce.
“If you’re going to bring employees back, you need to be able to do it in a way that benefits them,” said Rawn. “Otherwise, what you’re going to find and what we’re starting to see already is employees are quitting and they’re either not working or they’re finding jobs that do allow them to be flexible and work remotely.”
Fresno Companies Adopt Hybrid Schedules
Alex Looper of Loops Marketing in Clovis says his firm went to a hybrid schedule after discussing the options with employees.
“For the most part, it seems like our employees are more productive when they have more freedom and a little bit more of like a work-life balance,” said Looper.
“So, a lot of them just love the fact that they come into the office a few days a week and then have the flexibility to work from home.”
So, What’s Makes Employers Hesitant to Keep Employees Home?
Many companies that Xobee works with are bringing employees back because they think efficiency has dropped. However, Rawn says companies have the ability to learn if production goes up or down when employees work from home.
“We’ve been deploying software to specific companies that request it that allow those companies to monitor the efficiency of the employees,” said Rawn. “That helps to show, you know, how long the employees are taking breaks for, how long they’re away from their desk, how long they’re on the phone, and we’re able to help companies make better decisions about what’s best for their companies.”
COVID-19 Shifts Small Businesses to Digital Presence
This cultural and digital transformation is not only being adopted by companies that can work from home, it’s also affecting small businesses. Employees working remotely during the pandemic often buy online instead of hitting the stores.
With less foot traffic, small mom and pop shops have struggled to stay open during the pandemic. They have had to think of creative ways to stay afloat and are turning to companies like Loops Marketing. The goal: help influence online sales whether it’s through a new website, social media, online advertising, or Google Ads.
Google Ad revenue increased markedly after the pandemic hit and continues to rise. According to Statista, in the first quarter of 2021, Google’s revenue reached 55.3 billion U.S. dollars. For 2020, the company generated $147 billion in ad revenue.
Google’s record-breaking sales don’t surprise Looper, who says more people are looking to do things online after being pushed there by the pandemic.
“We’ve seen an influx of businesses that want help with their online presence and I think moving into the future, we’re going to see a shift in the way business is done because we’ve already seen that with our company,” he said.
“People are always online and if you’re not on social media with your business, you’re losing out on so many people knowing about what you do, what you offer. … (Without) a digital presence, you have to basically rely on referrals and people coming into your business and with COVID that isn’t happening as much.”
Read the full article here: https://gvwire.com/2021/08/27/home-office-or-hybrid-fresno-companies-wrestle-with-decision
Liz Juarez | Contact Author
FRESNO, Calif. (The Business Journal ) – Frank Lopez – Staff Writer
Never before has there been such urgency from businesses to figure out how to allow their employees to work from home.
According to the 2018 American Community Survey from the US Census Bureau, 5 million employees worked at home half-time or more.
Though no figures are yet available on how many US workers are work-ing from home during the COVID-19 crisis, nearly 100 million Americans are living under shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders this week.
Local business owners are seeking services to set up remote working systems.
Eric Rawn, owner of Xobee Networks, a computer support and technology solutions firm in Fresno, said he saw the writing on the wall early and started planning with his management team on how to work remotely while China was in the ravages of the outbreak in January and February.
“We were lucky that we were able to plan ahead,” Rawn said. “We’ve been putting in place shelter in-place working remotely for our company for nearly two months now.”
Their plan was executed two weeks ago. Around the same time, clients began calling in droves seeking re-mote-work solutions.
The solution seeing the most interest almost to the point of not being able to keep them in stock are VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones. Employees are able to take them home and continue to work off of the employer’s network as if they were in the office. Hundreds have been deployed, Rawn said.
Clients are also asking for virtual private network (VPN) connections, allowing companies to create secure, remote network connections over the Internet. This allows workers at home to connect to network servers so they can access corporate files, data and email.
Rawn said Xobee is setting up its clients to be able to work remotely indefinitely potentially an entire year.
As more businesses transition to remote work, the risk of cyber security threats increase. Online hackers, scammers and spammers are already preying on people’s fear and Internet vulnerabilities.
Early this March, the Secret Service issued a COVID-19 alert regarding phishing the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to entice individuals to reveal personal information including pass-words and credit card numbers.
Brian Horton, CEO of Breadcrumb Cybersecurity in Fresno, said he saw early on in March just how much of an effect the COVID-19 pandemic would have on a global scale, especially online where “threat groups” are eager to take advantage of global news headlines by propagating malware and sending out fraudulent email campaigns.
Breadcrumb offers its clients net-work evaluations and analytics to gauge their risk of a breach. If a security breach should occur, the company will inform the client what exactly happened, how it happened and if any information was stolen.
Horton said he had an influx of clients seeking more cyber security services about two weeks ago.
“A lot of our clients are starting to take a hit with these fraudulent email campaigns that were tied to some aspects of the Coronavirus,” Horton said, “leveraging people’s anxieties and fear and hoping that they will open up the email.”
With more companies requiring their work staff to work remotely within a distributed network, the risk of fraud increases significantly, Horton said.
Recently, during the pandemic scare, Horton said a client had a case where someone was impersonating a staff member working from home that called the company’s help-desk requesting login information.
With so many staff members working from home, it is difficult to al-ways verify who is an employee or a scammer, and it could be difficult for a company that has never had any protocols in place.
“Our advice to organizations is to really make sure that when you are implanting these remote, work-from-home solutions, to really make sure that they’re locked down, that multi-factor login requirements are turned on and that there is a really strict help desk protocol in place to validate the identity of employees,” Horton said.
Fresno’s MCubed Technologies offers IT support, cyber security and backup and disaster recovery. They have been gearing their clients to-wards cloud-based networks to allow staff to work from anywhere for the last five years. This has softened the blow for many of the company’s clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jesse Gibson, vice president of M Cubed, said he saw an influx of clients in the Fresno area start requesting the company’s services immediately before and after the governor released guidelines on which businesses could stay open or not.
The entire staff at M Cubed has been working from home since last week.
Though M Cubed hasn’t seen an influx of new clients during the cur-rent health crisis, Gibson says cur-rent clients are looking to improve their cyber security and to easily transition the workload to online.
“The ability for people to work from home will become a standard,” Gibson said. “That capability allows businesses to be more dynamic. In cases like this, when there are a lot of unknowns floating around, it doesn’t really affect their bottom line or their business. They can continue to operate as normally.
Frank Lopez | Writer can be reached at: (559) 490-3465 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Business Journal hosts their second annual headliner event “60 Ideas in 60 Minutes”, which will be held on Wednesday, September 11th at 7am. During the Power Breakfast, six local CEO’s and Community Leaders will each share their 10 best ideas that can be utilized to improve your business immediately. Some of the guest speakers include Fresno Police Chief, Jerry Dyer and the Owner of Xobee Networks, Eric Rawn.
The outstanding speakers will be sharing their best business advice at Pardini’s Catering & Banquets. You’ll be able to sit back and relax while each speaker takes on the stage for 10 minutes because there will be a summarized insert inside The Business Journal available September 13, 2019. Each speaker’s segment will also be captured on video and later distributed.
Tickets go on sale to The Business Journal subscribers, July 12th, at 8am and to the public Friday, July 19th.
The Christmas spirit is alive and well at a Fresno technology company that is showing its employees an extra-special holiday.
Xobee Networks is giving all of their nearly 80 employees a $1,000 Christmas bonus this year, as well as giving each of their employees the opportunity to pick out a Christmas tree at a local tree farm with their family.
“I want to recognize all of your hard work, loyalty, and dedication that has helped make us the number one technology company in the Central Valley!” Owner Eric Rawn said to his employees earlier this week. “We deeply care about our clients and employees just like family, and making sure they are taken care of is our highest priority”.
Rawn, a Fresno State graduate, started Xobee as a one-man, part-time technology support business in 1996. The company specializes in offering technology solutions to many different local businesses, including tech support services, website development and online marketing.
He said that 2018 has been one of Xobee’s most successful years in a number of different areas, exceeding goals having to do with customer service levels.
Xobee was also recently voted the top Technology Company as part of the Best of Central Valley Business Awards.
FRESNO, Calif. —
Xobee Networksis a managed service provider of innovative and cost-effective technology solutions for businesses, non-profits, education, government entities, and other organizations throughout California. Since 1996 Xobee has provided their clients with tech support, website design, search engine optimization, data forensics and cabling, Internet-based phone service, web-based application, and mobile application development.
Xobee Networks Inc. has received numerous awards throughout the years but is recently celebrating their number one in “Best Technology Company” awarded by The Business Journal’s “2018 Best of Central Valley Business”. For the past five years The Business Journal has allowed readers to vote in 35 categories for their favorite businesses in the Central Valley. Within six weeks 150,000 votes were cast and the winners were announced Monday night at Ruth’s Chris Steak House where more than 120 representatives gathered anxiously awaiting the results.
Xobee Networks Inc. is also celebrating their Inc. 5000 Honor for nine years in a row. Inc. 5000 annually ranks the fastest-growing private companies in America. The recent honors for Xobee Networks Inc. show how the once single person technology consulting firm has grown to over 50 employees and has successfully served the Central Valley’s technology needs.
See all of the winners at The Business Journal
FRESNO, Calif. (The Business Journal)
Inc. magazine released its annual list of the 5000 fastest growing private companies across the nation, and once again, businesses around the Valley made the cut.
For the second year in a row, Visalia-based solar company, CalCom Solar made the list, ranking No. 23 for 2017. The company also made top three in the energy sector list.
“We take a very strategic approach to developing some of the largest solar farms in the agricultural and water management industries,” said Dylan Dupre, CEO of CalCom Solar, in a statement. “Achieving this honor for the second year running demonstrates that sustainability and business can go hand-in-hand in a progressively brighter future.”
CalCom helps design and build solar energy projects for farms, dairies, and water districts, and has maintained consistent growth since its founding in 2012. It is enjoying a three-year growth rate of nearly 9,700 percent and reported $59.3 million in revenue in 2016.
Construction company Pacific Gold Marketing in Fresno ranked in the top half of the list for the second year in a row, marking a 3-year growth rate of 805 percent. Revenue for the company was $9.4 million in 2016. It ranked at No. 560.
Visalia’s Pro-PT, a physical therapy business operating since 2001, now has four consecutive years of making the list, with a rank of No. 3,015 in 2017. Last year’s revenue was $8 million, and the current growth rate is 110 percent.
Scoring an honor roll tag for making the list eight times now, Fresno IT company Xobee Networks returned to the list with 135 percent growth and $10 million in revenue, with a ranking of 2,602.
HVAC installation and repair company Comfort Now in Visalia also made the top half of the list with 161 percent growth and $2.8 million in revenue. It ranked No. 2,264.
Fresno food importer/exporter OAG Global made the list at No. 1,397 due to its 292 percent growth and $18.9 million in revenue.
Lee’s AC Heating and Building Performance in Fresno had a 228 percent three-year growth rate and revenue of $9.6 million for a No. 1,713 ranking.
At 206 percent growth, Body Del Sol Medical Spa in Fresno ranked in the top half of the list with 2016 revenue of $2.4 million, ranking at No. 1,866
Fresno First Bank reported $14.2 million in revenue and 55 percent growth, ranking at No. 4,502.
Even the small town of Kingsburg had a company on the list with Payality, a human resources company with three-year growth at 46 percent and $2.1 million in revenue, ranking at No. 4,816.