Archive for December, 2015

New Year’s Eve is Approaching

Thursday, December 31st, 2015
NYC Times Square During the Day

NYC Times Square During the Day

When I lived in Manhattan, December 31 was a day that required advance planning. The police and security teams begin very early in the day to put up barriers for crowd control and, particularly since 9-11, checkpoints to examine bags and people entering the area to verify that they are coming to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a peaceful way. I always made it a point to be out of mid-town Manhattan no later than noon. Even during the daylight hours, pedestrian traffic in the Times Square area moves very slowly.  Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square is an activity perhaps best left for tourists.

But I also made it a point while living in Manhattan to explore a new neighborhood or cultural attraction each weekend. Too often, people spend years in New York and never have the fun of visiting, for example, the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or exploring the extraordinary ethnic and cultural diversity of communities throughout Brooklyn or Queens. So this year, I am going to do something different. I wish a peaceful New Year’s Eve celebration for everyone and of course, with festivities planned it is always best to send employees home early, if possible, to ensure their safety.

Protect Your Eye-Q

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015
Protecting an Important Asset

Protecting an Important Asset

Changing work patterns demands extra care to protect the health of our eyes. More than 90 per cent of adults spend a minimum of two hours a day using a digital device. That figure is even higher for younger workers; 37 per cent of Millennials spend at least nine hours a day looking at screens of their smart phones and tablets. The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests certain measures to protect the health of your eyes from the risks of increased use of digital screens:

  • Working in front of a digital screen tends to reduce by one-half the frequency of eye blinking, which can result in dry and even burning eyes. To keep your eyes blinking at a normal rate, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes focus your gaze on an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
  • Place your computer monitor at least an arm’s length away from your eyes and place an anti-glare film over the screen.
  • Enlarge the font size of the text you read on your tablet and smart phone  to minimize eye strain.
  • Schedule your annual eye exam to check the health of your eyes and detect any problems in a timely manner for proactive diagnosis and treatment.

Be sure to share this information with your employees who work in front of a computer or with smart phones or tablets. It is easy to lose track of the time in front of the computer monitor. Fortunately, it is also easy to take basic measures to protect our vision and the health of our eyes.

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Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

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Monday, December 28th, 2015

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Sunday, December 27th, 2015

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Best Wishes for a Peaceful Holiday Season

Friday, December 25th, 2015
Best Wishes for a Joyous Holiday Season

Best Wishes for the Holidays

World Tsunami Awareness Day

Thursday, December 24th, 2015
Tsunami Awareness Day

Tsunami Awareness Day

Yesterday, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) welcomed the resolution adopted by the General Assembly recognizing November 5 as World Tsunami Day. “Many disasters would not happen and many lives and livelihoods would be saved if there was greater public awareness of the threats posed by natural hazards such as tsunamis,” Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, said in a statement, welcoming the designation of the day as a “welcome step.”

“It will help to focus attention on measures which can be taken to reduce risks from both man-made and natural hazards and to ensure that more people live and work in places which are free from the threat not just of tsunamis but other sudden onset hazards such as earthquakes, floods and storms.”

The proposal was first suggested by the Japanese Government after the Third UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai in March this year.

Japan has suffered heavy losses as a result of tsunamis, most recently the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011, which claimed over 15,000 lives, disrupted the nuclear power industry and left many thousands homeless.

“It should be remembered that the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which claimed some 230,000 lives from countries across the world galvanized political commitment to reducing disaster risk and disaster losses,” Ms. Wahlström added.

“The memory of that event helped to ensure the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction this year which sets targets for the first time on reducing mortality, the numbers of people affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure from disasters.”

Owing to Japan’s experience with tsunamis, the country is better prepared than most to reduce the risks, operate early warning systems and educate the public about safety measures when a tsunami alert is called. Countries lacking recent experience with tsunamis, such as our own, are likely not as well prepared and owe a debt to Japan for raising global awareness of this serious hazard.

Communicating Status Updates

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015
Good Communications Practice

Good Communications Practice

One of the most challenging aspects of managing your operations through a service disruption is communicating status updates to all of your stakeholders. You need to first identify the key stakeholders who will require timely updates from you. These may include employees, the families of employees, customers, service providers, suppliers, board members and other advisers. Then you need to have a plan in place ready to execute with little or no warning when something unexpected interferes with your normal operations.

I came across a great example of this when I went to the online database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). I wanted to check the status of a trademark application my company had filed (three trademarks have already been registered to Prisere LLC!) but was unable to do as the USPTO computer systems were down. The website of the USPTO had a message announcing that a major power outage at its headquarters had occurred the day before, resulting in damaged equipment that required the subsequent shutdown of many of USPTO’s online and IT systems. These systems included the filing, searching and payment systems, as well as systems the patent and trademark examiners use across the country. At the same time, the USPTO was unable to receive documents by fax.

The website announcement was regularly updated to advise site visitors as to the status of the work underway to restore systems availability. It also advised of the measures the USPTO had implemented to ensure that all applicants were treated fairly and not disadvantaged for the fact that the systems were down. Specifically, the USPTO would consider every day that the system was down as a “federal holiday within the District of Columbia” such that these days would not count as business days towards which applicants had to meet deadlines.

I expect that within a few days of publishing this blog, normal operations will be restored, such that a link to the announcement will no longer be available, so I captured it as a screen shot to accompany this post. This is a great example of good communications practice. Service disruptions are aggravating for everyone: undoubtedly for the IT department of the USPTO that was working around the clock to resume regular operations and for the patent and trademark examiners who could not perform their jobs until IT access was restored. In addition, the individuals and businesses checking on the status of their filings would likely be concerned that their applications were at a disadvantage for the days that the system was not operational. I was particularly impressed by the creative way that they treated the days of service interruption as federal holidays. It is a much better approach than to waste time and effort trying to address each individual applicant whose filing deadlines occur within the time that the IT systems were down. And every applicant received the same treatment, ensuring transparency and fairness.

The USPTO proactively anticipated these issues and addressed them, minimizing stress for all concerned (although it was surely very stressful for the IT department!). They managed expectations by being clear and straightforward about what had happened and why and what was being done to correct the problem. I wanted to share this as I find it to be a great example of good communications practice during a disaster – in this case, a power outage causing an interruption of normal operations. Kudos to the USPTO for their skilled management of a difficult situation!

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Monday, December 21st, 2015

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Holiday Safety for Pets in the Office

Sunday, December 20th, 2015
Safely Waiting for Santa

Safely Waiting for Santa

Most workplaces are decorated for the holiday season, which means that if your workplace is a pet-friendly one, you need to take extra care:

  • Be careful with holiday candles; pets can accidentally knock them over. If candles are part of your holiday decorations, place them out of reach or, better yet, use electric candles instead.
  • Watch your pet’s diet. Many holiday foods that humans enjoy can be toxic to pets. Limit their consumption to safe pet food.
  • Keep hazards out of their reach, such as gift wrapping paper, tree ornaments, holiday plants (such as poinsettas and mistletoe), tinsel and the electrical cords used to power holiday lights. Be extra careful with decorations such as snow globes. They can fall, break and spill out their contents which are harmful to pets.
  • Exercise extra care with the Christmas tree. Pets can tip over trees, chew on fallen pine needles or drink from the water used to keep the tree fresh (which may have chemicals in it to prolong the trees life – they are not safe for pets to ingest).
  • Have a plan to deal with holiday noise made by visiting guests or loud music, which may cause stress to your dogs and cats.
  • Share these tips with your employees who have pets, to ensure that pets are safe during the holidays, both at the office and at home.

My good friend, Sharon, who operates a local small business, Pet Taxi, gave me these Christmas stockings, hand-made by another local women-owned business, and embroidered with the names of my cocker spaniels. Each is filled with safe doggy treats and chews. So Coco and Henry are included in the holiday festivities, including an office party, but in a way that ensures they remain safe.