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Noodle Spring Update

The latest spring “Release” update of Noodle (7.08.17) brings some fresh changes to our Database Forms. It is now easier than ever to edit and customize your Forms using the in-line Form Designer. Let’s take a quick look at the new options available.

As an Administrator of your Database Forms, you will now see an “Edit” pencil icon that will allow you to edit your form right on the same page.

Here you can add any fields or sections, as you would in the normal Form Designer.

You can also edit any of the individual fields, without having to click through multiple pages. Also, holding down your left-click on the “Move” icon to move around the fields in your selected Section.

These options will make it faster and easier to build, edit and customize your Forms within Noodle.

Before we wrap things up, we wanted to point out one more update to make you aware of.

The Instant Messenger now has an easier way to view past messages. Simply click on the User  of the history you want to view and click on the “History” icon.

This will provide you with a searchable history of your conversation with that user.

If you are hosting your own Noodle on your server, please perform a “Release” upgrade to get these new options.

If you haven’t started with Noodle yet, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial now or receive a live Custom Demonstration of the software.

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Is Your Company Ready for a Second COVID Lockdown?

As global leaders begin warning of a second wave of COVID-19, it’s prudent that businesses begin preparing for a second lockdown. If your organization finds itself navigating restrictions, you need to prepare accordingly. Although you now have experience on your side, we’re here to help you explore whether your company is ready for a second COVID lockdown.

Empty Office

Have you reflected on the first lockdown?

The first lockdown you went through forced you to hit the ground running. As a result, there’s a chance you made a lot of mistakes. Fortunately, reflecting on those mistakes gives you a chance to refine your approach to a second wave.

Take a look at what went wrong during your first lockdown. Were there mitigations you could have strengthened? How could you have preserved more cash? And, did you make it for your employees to communicate and collaborate? The sooner you ask such questions, the easier it is to prepare for a second COVID lockdown.

Have you modeled various lockdown scenarios?

Back in March, Canada’s strict lockdown measures threw businesses into turmoil. However, they were amongst the most effective in the world. It would, therefore, make sense if the government chooses to emulate its previous approach at some stage. 

The current approach appears to focus on local lockdowns. Although such lockdowns are tackling businesses like gyms and restaurants, the sharply rising curve in cases could result in other businesses facing restrictions too. As such, you need to consider how your organization will deal with complete work from home policies or social distancing requirements that force you to send some employees home. Additionally, consider how you will operate if you have branches in areas with varying restrictions.

How can you make sure everything keeps flowing?

Whether your local lockdown is extreme or mild, you need to make sure everything keeps flowing. The best way to achieve this is by assuming you’re heading for a completely remote working operation. By preparing for the most extreme scenario, you reduce your risk of financial losses.

Remote working will require you and your employees to use a collaboration platform such as Noodle. Noodle allows you to communicate using methods such as video and chat. There’s also an enterprise portal for sharing updates on projects. As a secure platform, Noodle allows you to continue with your usually seamless work processes without placing essential data at risk.

Have you prepared employees for further training?

If you’re going to introduce your employees to remote working software, you need to ensure they’re comfortable with using it. Not training them on the latest software could result in unnecessary delays in your projects.

Allocate an individual to oversee further training. Wherever necessary, seek expert advice to ensure the training is as effective as possible. Finally, make sure you review your employees’ progress and check their understanding of the software. By making sure they’re completely comfortable with it, you’ll avoid hiccups during a second lockdown.

When you learn from the first lockdown and introduce technologies that’ll make the second one easier, your business stands a stronger chance of surviving. If remote working is important to you, now’s the time to look into collaborative software such as Noodle.

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Intranet Obstacles and Opportunities during Covid-19

As many companies have seen over the past year, most were not prepared for a disruption of business as large as we have experienced. We are seeing a change in the workforce from the traditional office model, to a large portion working from home. With modern technology and software, this is more possible than ever before, but most were not ready for the switch. Even with 56% of jobs in the U.S. workforce being compatible with remote work, it has still been a slow process to implement, prior to the recent need to change.

A Paradigm Shift

“Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021” – Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics.

Although the global events have drastically raised the rate of employees working from home, it was a trend that was growing since 2013. Whenever “normal” returns, this trend is not expected to halt.  This requires Managers, IT Groups and other staff to re-think how they work. As the demand grows, so do the needs for more or new equipment, software and other supplies that one may have normal access to in their traditional office.

Disaster plans are either being executed or developed as companies face these challenges not just from an operational level, but also from a front-line worker point of view.  Their capabilities for working from home also need to be considered. Some may not have a high speed internet, a printer or scanner, or even a LAN telephone. So communicating with staff, sharing information and performing their daily tasks may be more challenging than before. 

Second Wave Problems

As we head into the final months of the year, the shift described above is far underway. While most have worked out the kinks from a technical and equipment level, some still struggle with other new issues such as:

  • How to distribute information while capturing acknowledgement 
  • Ability to have staff effectively communicate with each other
  • Self-Serve resources (HR, Benefits, Training etc.)
  • How to develop trust between Managers and Employees
  • How to maintain privacy and security with company information
  • Keeping employees engaged and motivated

These are just some of the issues decision makers are facing, during this time. While some may also be enduring budget issues, or just the lack of ability to communicate as a group to collaborate on these issues and potential resolutions. Searching and planning for an all-in-one solutions for all of these is exhausting and not practical.

Stop searching and use your Noodle

Fortunately, Noodle Intranet, has solutions for all the problems above. But this isn’t about “features”. Yes, it is fantastic to not need to have a dozen different apps for your business, when Noodle includes 14 applications built-into one platform. But the extra value is with our Noodle experts. 

We think beyond normal software implementation and general training and will help you develop a plan of action for your intranet and what job tasks can be completed through the Intranet. This not only takes stress off of the employee tasked with developing an intranet, but also makes a more effective platform for your employees and have a higher chance of adoption and engagement. 

Don’t waste any more time. We are giving you an outline to plan and deploy your Intranet site with your Intranet Planning and Deployment guide, for free. You can then click here to request a free live demonstration with one of our Noodle Experts, or contact us with any questions you may have or to obtain more information. 

Let us work together during this time, not separate.

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6 Suggestions for working remotely during the COVID-19 Pandemic

  1. Great Online meeting technology

You may already have online meetings in place, but it is important to make sure it works and that everyone knows how to use it. If you don’t, there are many options available—Noodle, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and GoToMeeting are just a few. Choose a tool and implement it across the organization. If you don’t, employees will begin selecting tools individually, and the situation will become difficult to manage in a hurry. Don’t assume that everyone is comfortable with the chosen tech either—a few minutes of training will save hours of frustration in the future.

  1. Face-to-face meetings will now be virtual ones

Identify the regular in-person meetings that take place in the office and transform those right away into virtual ones. Then, make it the new standard to schedule meetings using a virtual meeting system so people can join from any location.  Don’t assume everyone knows the rules of engagement around virtual meetings; for example, those working from home may not notice background noise in their environment. Team members who don’t tend to speak up may need a gentle nudge to add their voices to online discussions.

  1. Formalize collaboration practices 

When managing a remote workforce, it becomes even more critical to ensure that employees know how to navigate shared storage. They need to be shown where everything lives and how it is protected. Many organizations maintain both network storage and a collaboration suite simultaneously. This can lead to duplicate files in cases where remote employees are not logging in and saving files appropriately. This problem will be amplified as the number of remote employees increases. Keep in mind that remote employees tend to use their phones for business far more often than they do in the office.  This is a great time to get better at using cloud-based tools for project management and real-time collaboration. 

  1. Encourage online messaging 

Communication practices are critical for remote teams, so be clear on how that is going to work. If you aren’t already using Noodle or a similar real-time messaging app, set one up and take the lead on creating team channels and company-wide message threads. Use messaging tools strategically for cultural and social purposes to keep everyone connected and feeling like they are part of the team.

  1. Agree on common working hours 

Remote work often takes on a slightly different schedule than a typical office day. Morning people may start work earlier, as they don’t have a commute to contend with, while others may have interruptions at certain points in the day and need the flexibility to start and stop work. Agree on core hours as a team—or share individuals’ core hours—so everyone is in the loop on availability. Current closures mean your employees have increased responsibilities at home, so it’s important to be flexible.

  1. Stay connected 

Make sure that non-business-related conversations continue to take place, and have some fun with them. It’s all too easy for employees to feel isolated when working remotely, and that can be stressful for some. Think about everyone on your team and make sure they are actively included. Don’t be afraid to make a social call on your intranet messenger app — it will be appreciated.

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Noodle Improves Video Conferencing

As stay-at-home work orders look to become a long-term trend, Video Conferencing has become an essential function. Not just for business meetings, but for employee socialization & team collaboration, as well.

Noodle’s Instant Messenger was already one of the most utilized functions. Now, you can hold full video conferences with the improved Video calls. This now includes options for Audio and/or Video as well as simple Screen Sharing controls.

Having a Call with team members is easy. Find the person within the messages window and click the Start Call icon. 

Users can choose to enable AudioVideo or Screen Share during calls through the Options menu in the Instant Messenger.

To include additional people to the call, simply add them by clicking on the phone icon next to their name within the messages window.

The Video Conferencing function is easy to use, powerful and is included within Noodle’s suite of collaboration applications. No need to pay a separate web conferencing service provider.

If you would like to see a demo of the Video Conferencing in action, Please contact your solutions consultant or request your live demonstration of Noodle from https://vialect.com/.

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Working Remotely with Noodle

As people and businesses are dealing with the adjustments of school and office closings, many are finding working remotely as a solution for “social distancing”. Many businesses and institutions are asking their employees and students to stay home. This has left many workers without child care, or force them to miss work.

An Intranet is the perfect solution for times like this. It provides the ability to communicate office closures, health updates, work from home tips and much more. You will also have all your resources, at your fingertips, to continue to be able to perform your daily tasks. Add in Text/Audio/Video conferencing, and you have multiple ways to stay engaged and communicate with your team.

Your Intranet, and secure external access to it, will allow your employees to be productive, but stay safe at the same time. Here’s some ways your Intranet can be used to make working remotely from home easy.

Intranet Conference Room

Make Announcements and Set Expectations

Your Intranet will be valuable from the start with notifying your employees of any office closures, traffic warnings for commute and to know who is in or out of the office.

Notifications and Memos can be sent out through Noodle to send E-mails and/or Instant Messages to the users in the system for immediate attention.

An announcement can be added to the main page to provide news and updates as well as links for resources, such as your Adverse Weather Policy document. Or, if your site is locally hosted and requires a Remote/VPN connection to access, a Page with instructions on how to connect.

Calendars are also a good idea to display any notices ahead of time, or scheduled early leaves. Users that are publishing their Noodle calendar to their personal calendar, will also receive these updates.

Employees can also easily notify their Manager of their absence and communicate a plan using the Instant Messenger or Conference Rooms.

Use “My Profile” as your Digital Workspace

The My Profile application, allows you to not only share information about yourself, but also to use for your own tools and resources.

The Portlet tab allows you to add and lay out your own portlets, based on the content you want to follow.

If you follow people in your department, you can also see their Status updates and any new activity from them from your “Followers” tab. This helps you keep up to date with co-workers, regardless of where they are.

The “Apps” tab allows you to create and manage your own applications so you can digitally store documents you are working on, keep track of your online calendar, or to keep track of your task list.

Lastly, if you’re not ready to publish your post on the site, you can save your post under the “Drafs” tab so you can work and collaborate on a Page, Document or Post until you are ready to publish the content live.

It’s a great way to keep your important work all in one secure place that you can access through anywhere and on any type of device.

Don’t Miss a Meeting

We are obviously more digitally connected now, more than ever before. This makes things like live face to face meetings, much easier to organize and execute.

We already mentioned Conference Rooms and Instant Messaging, but did you know that (in Chrome and Firefox browsers) you can hold video conferences for up to 5 users at one time? On mobile, you also have the option to hold one on one video chats as well, with no extra software.

There are also the early stages implemented (Firefox only currently) for screen sharing inside of Noodle. Again, just another awesome tool to make it easier to stay connected.

There are many more ways Noodle can be used as your “Work from Home Office” during those nasty blizzards and other Inclement weather. If you are not using Noodle yet,  sign up for a free demonstration today and receive a fully featured 30-day trial.

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March Update: Improvements to Notifications and UI

For the March 2020 Noodle upgrade, we have some minor, but highly requested improvements to present to you. These changes are active on Cloud sites, and Self-Hosted clients can apply an upgrade to add these new features.

People Portlet and UI Improvements

  • The People Portlet has been cleaned up, improving the look of highlighting an employee, as well as options to show or hide the other members of the group. This makes it easier to use to focus on one employee, without showing every other member of the group.

  • You can now edit links in the Links application. Previously, you would need to delete the old link and add the edited one.
  • The Color Picker now has “recent colors” saved so you can use previously selected colors when highlighting events in a Calendar, setting your Theme, or anywhere else you can add colors to the site.
  • For Administrators, you will notice that the “System Tools” and “Deleted Items” text, have been replaced with icons. You can also now view Analytics to see how man Items are added, per application.

E-Mail Mentions and Notifications

  • Previously, tagging another user using the “@“ symbol, would only give you a link to that user’s profile. Now, along with E-mail on Comments, you can opt to get notified (by e-mail) whenever someone tags you in a Status or comment. This is a user setting that can be selected by going to “Edit Profile” in your Profile screen.
  • Users that are assigned tasks in the Task Manager, will now also receive an e-mail notification when they are first assigned the task.
  • Finally, On-Premise clients will now have a notice built-in, whenever there is a new upgrade available. Aside from just receiving an e-mail, this will make it more visible to admins to alert the IT Manager to apply an upgrade.
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Give Your Intranet 2020 Vision

The start of each new year is always a good opportunity to freshen up your Intranet site. Even more so this year, with Noodle, as there’s been so many new improvements made in 2019. Let’s look at a few new features you may not be using yet.

Portlet Styles

The final update of 2019 also brought one of the most heavily requested new features. The ability to customize your portlet boxes from within the Theme settings. Previously, this could only be done with custom CSS. Now, you have built-in options to be able to customize your experience even further. You can view more information on the new Portlet Style options, here. While you are in the Theme options, you can also view other new options available, as well.

 

Poster Images

Poster images were introduced, last year. This is a built-in gallery of high quality stock images to use in your Blogs, Announcements and more.

A poster image can be added as a portlet to have a banner for your pages. You may also add your own photo for this as well.

Poster images can also be selected in the Image properties of the Text Editor.

General Cleanup/Updates

Outside of the new features, it’s also a good opportunity to review your content for anything that might be out of date, or irrelevant now. Cleaning up old content while adding fresh new content for the new year, can help with overall engagement. It also ensures the users that the intranet site is active and the content found is the most relevant and up to date source.

One other thing that some administrators forget to maintain, is the “Deleted Items” folder. This should be cleared out every now and then to avoid issues with storage. If you haven’t cleared your Deleted Items in a while, this is a great time.

If you need any help styling your portlets, using the Poster images, setting your Blog Featured Image or anything else, please reach out to us and we would be happy to assist.

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Visual Update IV – New Blog Portlet Style

Make your Blog post stand out, by using the new Featured Thumbnail image for Noodle Blogs. Adding an image to your Blog portlets will help you get more views and interactions with your posts. These help give your intranet a more modern intranet look, while also allowing more options to preview your post in a portlet and to have more control on what you want users to see on these pages.

Blog Portlet Displaying List of Blogs with Exceprts

The same settings apply, as before, when creating a Blog Portlet. But you will have different styles now for when you are showing links to recent posts, or excerpts and links from recent posts.

Blog Portlet Displaying List of Most Recent Blogs

In order for the Feature image to display in your links:

  1. Upload an image, or choose from the existing “Poster” gallery, to add to your Blog post.
  2.  Click “More” in the Editor and there will be a Thumbnail icon to click.
  3. Select which image, from your post, that you would like to highlight as the “Feature” image.
  4. Click “Save and Close” to apply the change.

Note that if there is no image selected, there will be a thumbnail placeholder. You can check the “Display Excerpts” checkbox, if you would like the option to not have a Feature image in your portlet.

The minimum suggested size for these images is 640 x 360 pixels.

As this is a new feature, we appreciate any feedback or comments on the new options. Feel free to contact us with your feedback or questions you may have.

 

 

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Visual Update III – Style your Portlets

In the latest version of Noodle, you now have separate options to customize the look and style of your Porltet boxes. This gives you more flexibility with designing the overall look of your site.

Your default Portlet may change, once this update is pushed to your site. To customize your Portlets, go to System Tools – Settings – Theme – Portlets.

If you have custom CSS with your Portlet, please Contact Us and we can have a  developer help transfer your changes to the UI options, or to set new style rules for the CSS.

 

“Color Coding” can be turned off by going to System Tools – Settings – Theme – Colors.

If you need any help customizing your Portlets, please Contact Us for assistance.

*A more detailed guide of customizing Porltets will be coming soon with instructions and examples.