Information Technology | Rent-A-Nerd, Inc.
Maintaining Secure Connections
In times of disaster, Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. stresses the importance of cyber security
Darrin Piotrowski founded Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. in 1997, hoping to provide New Orleans with access to a network of knowledgeable and honest computer technicians. The business was born out of his one-bedroom apartment, but within a few years had grown to include a physical storefront and several employees. Even after Hurricane Katrina, Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. quickly resumed operations and helped residents restore their technological needs as they returned to the city. Thrice named Top Information Technology Company by New Orleans CityBusiness, the Nerds are no strangers to enduring and overcoming periods of crisis, and Piotrowski has a few essential tips for business leaders shifting operations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In what ways are you thriving and pushing forward as a business during COVID-19?
Initially, we stayed busy helping our clients transition to working remotely. We are now back to providing local businesses with all their technology needs. We have also spent this time focusing on self-improvement, doing everything from attending virtual classes and webinars to studying and taking tests for new certifications. We are fully staffed and eager to help other local businesses return to their full capacity as well.
How have you maintained a sense of company culture?
We continued with our weekly staff meetings, though now they are held remotely via Microsoft Teams. We take this opportunity to share our “wins” for the week and then discuss any issues, make announcements and problem solve. I added a weekly catch up meeting on Friday afternoons, which are less focused on work. We talk about what we are cooking and any new (or resurrected) hobbies. In a way, sharing our personal lives has made us an even closer-knit group.
The home is now an extension of the office and will need to have the same protections in place.
– Darrin Piotrowski, President
What has been your experience with the change to remote working?
As a technology company, we had an advantage, as we simply brought our laptops, monitors and desk phones home with us, and not much has changed in terms of how we do our work. Yes, we literally took the phones off of our desks—we use a VoIP (voice over IP) system, which has many useful features, like allowing us to replicate our office configuration remotely.
Because technology is so important to all businesses, I want to stress the importance of protecting your data, both from disasters and cybercrime. Backup and recovery processes are vital, but business continuity — limiting downtime no matter the circumstances — can save businesses from expensive downtime in the event of a disaster.
Rather than recovering data, data and access thereto is retained in near real-time. As for cybersecurity, hackers are more active than ever before since they know that people are tied to their computers and smart devices. It’s crucial to have the tools in place to offer protection from attacks, but it’s equally important to train your staff so they don’t open the door to cyber criminals. Your system is only as secure as your least proficient employee.
Do you anticipate your business will change in any way when the community opens back up? If so, how?
With more people working from home, there will be an increased need for cybersecurity in the home. Many residences are using consumer-grade firewalls which are not effective versus cyber threats. Also in the home, there are many devices with low security measures in place connected to the same network as your office computer such as TVs, lightbulbs, cameras, etc. Prior to COVID-19, there was already an awareness for better cybersecurity in a business. The home is now an extension of the office and will need to have the same protections in place.
2200 Tulane Ave #302
New Orleans, LA 70119