Solutions for Business Summer 2023

SUMMER 2023 3 SOLUTIONS For many businesses, the answer is outsourcing In-House IT Employees or Outsourced IT Services? Outsourcing all or part of your IT functions can be more efficient and cost effective than having an in-house employee, as many small to medium-size businesses are discovering. Here are key advantages of outsourced IT: You’ll likely pay less for the same job. This is the benefit that business owners love most. Working with an outsourced technology vendor will probably cost less than hiring an in-house employee for the same coverage. You don’t have to worry about “soft costs.” There are many expenses beyond salary for an in-house IT employee — items such as vacation pay, benefits, and the sometimes considerable cost of ongoing IT training. With an outsourced IT partner, you let another company focus on what they do best and let them carry the associated personnel expenses. You’ll get more expertise for your money. No matter how good an IT employee might be, they’ll always be limited to their own skills, experience, and areas of expertise. With an outsourced IT team, however, you get access to more people with varying backgrounds and specialties. In addition, since IT service providers work with a variety of businesses, few problems are new for them. Whatever IT challenge your business may be facing, they’ve probably seen it before. An outsourced IT agreement is scalable. Making employee changes, especially letting employees go, can be a painful process. With an outsourced IT team, you can increase or decrease the size of your service contract at any time, enabling your business to stay flexible and adapt to market conditions. It’s easier to quickly implement new technology. A quality outsourced IT service organization will have the resources to start new projects right away. Handling the same project in-house might involve weeks or months to hire the right people, train them, and provide the support they need. For most implementations, quality IT companies will bring years of experience in the beginning, saving time and money. When you outsource IT, you can stay focused on your core business. You and your staff can spend more time serving your customers and less time getting distracted by complex IT troubleshooting and decisions. To learn about the IT solutions offered by Panora Fiber and request a f ree tech assessment, call us at 641.755.2424 in Panora or 641.332.2000 in Guthrie Center.

4 SUMMER 2023 BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT Power of Cooperatives in Rural Iowa For more than 75 years, Guthrie County REC has been bringing electricity to rural Iowa’s farms, homes, schools, churches, businesses, and industries. In addition, it now offers a variety of energy efficiency programs and products. Guthrie County REC receives power from Central Iowa Power Cooperative, and it’s part of a national network of electric cooperatives called Touchstone Energy, which supplies research, communications resources, and employee training programs. Guthrie County REC shares much in common with its longtime communications provider, Panora Fiber, since both are cooperatives. Cozy Nelsen, CEO of Guthrie County REC, said, “As cooperatives, there’s an understanding that the members come first. We’re a member of Panora Fiber, and they do a great job serving us, which in turn, helps us better serve our members.” Nelsen added, “Both businesses understand the cooperative difference. We work for the sustainable development of our communities through programs that support economic development and scholarships for local students. Panora Fiber and Guthrie County REC have also worked together to help local businesses through our revolving loan fund programs. It helps our communities understand the value of cooperative membership as there are two local cooperatives.” Strong Connections with Panora Fiber Panora Fiber provides Guthrie County REC with Voice, Video, and Internet services. Nelsen said, “Our Panora Fiber phone service connects us with our members every day. They know they can call and speak with a co-op staff member within the first few rings, and that prompt customer service is appreciated by our members, especially during outages. As for Panora Fiber Internet, it’s fast, reliable, and makes everyone’s job In the 1930s, nearly 90 percent of the U.S. urban population had electricity, compared to only 10 percent of the rural population. Private utility companies said it was too expensive to string electric lines to isolated rural farmers. The Rural Electric Administration was created in 1935 to bring electricity to rural areas, and in 1938, nine Iowa farmers formed the first board of directors of the Guthrie County REC (Rural Electric Cooperative). This cooperative maintains connections by bringing electricity to rural Iowa Guthrie County REC

SUMMER 2023 5 SOLUTIONS With Cooperatives, Customers are Member-Owners A cooperative is a not-for-profit organization owned by its members, and they can be found in many industries. Both Panora Fiber and Guthrie County REC are cooperatives, designed to serve their members in the best way possible, by following the Seven Cooperative Principles: • Voluntary and Open Membership • Democratic Member Control • Members’ Economic Participation • Autonomy and Independence • Education, Training, and Information • Cooperation Among Cooperatives • Concern for Community There are more than 800 electric cooperatives in addition to Guthrie County REC in the U.S., located in 47 states. While rural electric cooperatives serve the smallest number of consumers, about 12 percent of the market, their electric lines cover more than 75 percent of the U.S. landmass. This is because rural electric cooperatives provide power where others once refused to go, due to the low population density and fewer potential customers fromwhom to recoup the costs. easier. We wouldn’t be able to operate without it. Looking up customer accounts, taking payments, monitoring our mapping system, and reading meters are all vital components of our everyday operation, and they all require a robust connection.” Communications services aren’t the only business solutions Guthrie County REC gets from Panora Fiber. Guthrie County REC also chooses Panora Fiber for IT equipment and services including these: • Purchase of PCs, laptops, and servers • AV/EDR Solution (cyber security) • Server work/maintenance • Network work/maintenance • Workstation work/maintenance • Email Migration to Microsoft 365 Exchange “We purchase PCs, laptops, and servers from Panora Fiber because we want to support local businesses, and we get great customer service. Panora Fiber makes sure we have the devices we need to operate efficiently and helps us keep software updated. When we upgrade our PCs, they get everything set up and running smoothly for us,” Nelsen said. A Valued Business Partner Should issues come up, Nelsen is impressed by the knowledge, friendliness, and responsiveness of the Panora Fiber team. She noted, “From time to time, we’ve had server issues with a lost connection. We’ll call Panora Fiber, and they’re usually here within 10 minutes to get us back up and running. Guthrie County REC has a battery backup, and it went out a few years ago. Panora Fiber was at our office right away and spent all morning figuring out how to make it work and get us operating until we could get a new one. Whenever we have questions or need support, we don’t hesitate to contact Panora Fiber, because we know their staff and technicians are there to help.” How would Nelsen sum up Guthrie County REC’s relationship with Panora Fiber? She replied, “Guthrie County REC looks at Panora Fiber as a valued business partner that provides us with timely, affordable, and irreplaceable communications solutions.” We purchase PCs, laptops, and servers from Panora Fiber because we want to support local businesses, and we get great customer service. Panora Fiber makes sure we have the devices we need to operate efficiently and helps us keep software updated.” —  COZY NELSEN, CEO, GUTHRIE COUNTY REC CEO Cozy Nelsen (center of bottom row) with members of the Guthrie County REC Board of Directors

6 SUMMER 2023 1. Specifically designed for a business environment. Panora Fiber uses carrier-grade access points, which provide improved network resilience and greater coverage when compared to consumer-grade Wi-Fi hardware. In addition, the access points in a managed system are linked to single controller, ensuring that you always have the best possible connection. 2. Offers low, predictable costs. We maintain and enhance the Wi-Fi service for you, so there are no surprise maintenance, upgrade, or replacement fees. Plus, you have the option to lease or buy the Wi-Fi equipment. 3. Eliminates the hassles of trying to do your own installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting. As a business owner or manager, your time is much better spent focusing on your core business activities rather than trying to be your own “tech support” whenever someone has a Wi-Fi issue. When you choose a managed Wi-Fi service from Panora Fiber, you get reliability and support from a local company you know and trust. 4. Easily accommodates your growing needs. The flexible infrastructure can grow as your business grows. Need additional coverage? No problem! We can easily add additional access points to meet your business needs. We can also add a guest network to keep your business and customer traffic separate and more secure. 5. Features cloud-based management. We manage everything via a cloud-based dashboard, which provides simplified configuration, ongoing management, and automatic coordination of network equipment. The system combines the best of a centralized controller with state-of-the-art advances in radio frequency (RF) engineering, such as beamforming, RF management, and interference avoidance combining best-inclass hardware and software technologies. 6. Gives you peace of mind. You won’t have to worry about security, since you’ll know your wireless connection is professionally installed with all appropriate security measures in place. To learn more about Panora Fiber and how we can manage your Wi-Fi, call us at 641.755.2424 in Panora or 641.332.2000 in Guthrie Center. It’s a given that your business needs a fast, secure, and reliable Wi-Fi network for your employees and visitors. So, the real question becomes this: Should you handle Wi-Fi as a do-it-yourself project, or should you have Panora Fiber manage your Wi-Fi for you? Here are strong reasons to choose Panora Fiber to handle your Wi-Fi service: 6 Reasons to Have Us Manage Your Wi-Fi You have enough on your plate already

SUMMER 2023 7 SOLUTIONS WHO’S MINDING YOUR BUSINESS? Shane Murphy Customer Service Specialist Shane Murphy joined Panora Fiber in December 2022 after serving as a loan officer at First State Bank. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance and banking fromBuena Vista University. What are his main responsibilities as Customer Service Specialist? Murphy replied, “I primarily work with customers to set up new accounts and schedule appointments. I also answer questions from customers, whether they call or stop in. Each day is different, and I’m constantly learning new things.” Murphy continued, “I could talk all day about the teamhere at Panora Fiber. Everyone has been so helpful tome as the new employee, taking time to thoroughly explain all our services and programs so I can better serve our customers.” Outside of work, Murphy keeps busy. “Before I started at Panora Fiber, we welcomed a little boy into our family, so that has been another learning and growing experience. When I have some free time, I enjoy getting outside to play a round of golf or do some fishing,” he said. You Have Options in Hybrid Work Models According to a 2023 report by the job search platform Zippia, 74% of U.S. companies are using or plan to implement a permanent hybrid work model. Is yours one of them? There are five main types of hybrid work models—each with their own advantages and disadvantages—and what works for one company may not work for others. If you’re considering adopting a hybrid work model or adjusting your current policies, familiarize yourself with these options: Flexible Flexible hybrid work models allow employees to choose locations and working hours based on priorities. For example, one teammember may need solitude to focus on a project, so working from home makes sense. Other teammembers may need to attend meetings or training sessions, requiring in-office days. Employees who work in a flexible environment can choose what benefits them most on a daily or weekly basis. Fixed In fixed hybrid work models, the company establishes when employees can work remotely or in-office. They often dictate that certain teams must be in the office on specific days, whereas other employees come in on different days. This model may also include companies that allow everyone to work from home on predetermined days each week. Office-First An office-first approach to hybrid work expects employees to be on-site most of the time but offers flexibility to choose a few days for remote work. Remote-First The remote-first hybrid model allows employees to work outside of the office virtually all the time. Employees may occasionally travel to coworking spaces or other locations for team-building efforts, and the company may not even have dedicated office space. Designated Teams Organizations can also designate which teams work in the office and at home. Some work- places, like power plants or factories, require on-site workers. But administrative staff or sales teams may be able to easily work remotely.

SCHEDULE A FREE TECH ASSESSMENT to identify your network needs and capabilities. Call 641.755.2424 in Panora or 641.332.2000 in Guthrie Center. Panora Fiber has more than 100 years of communications experience in the local area, and our highly trained technicians at our Technology Center can offer responsive IT support to businesses of any size. Whether you need only occasional help or are looking for more comprehensive IT solutions, you can rely on Panora Fiber. We offer: • Hardware • Software • Cloud (Office 365) Cornerstone Group © 2023 WE CAN FUNCTION AS YOUR IT TEAM • VoIP (Microsoft Teams) • Cyber Security