Monday, July 27, 2009

Could Your Business Handle 40% Absentee Rates?

What's that you say? Having nearly half your people out sick at any one time would cripple your business? I thought that's what you said. It's time to get really serious about those business continuity plans, and figure out how you could handle a bunch of your employees being sick, but not so sick that they can't be a little bit useful from home.


Seriously, kids, a pandemic of some kind is coming your way at some point. Maybe it's H1N1. Maybe it's something else. Maybe a bridge will fall down, or something else terrible will happen. Whatever it is that is going to keep mass quantities of your workers from showing up, it really shouldn't be a surprise to you, and you really should be prepared.

Like the state of Florida is. Although I would hope that a hurricane-prone state like Florida would have lots and lots of business continuity plans.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Headphone Fatigue

If you're like Stella, you spend a lot of time with headphones on your head. I use my Logitech wireless headset for phone and video conferencing on Skype, listening to music on Pandora, checking out webcasts, and a host of other things all day long. And then I fold up shop and go to the gym where I jam earbuds in my ears and listen to music whilst working hard to be able to continue to wear my work costumes when I go into the real office.

Frankly, my ears get a little tired.

I'm trying now to be a little more disciplined about not just sitting there with my headset on all the time. On the one hand, it's a great way to stay isolated and focused, especially during the summer when the eldest Commute daughter is home from school and prone to practicing violin in the middle of the day. But ending the day with a splitting headache because your pinnia have been pinned to the sides of your head all day isn't good. So my good headset ergonomic checklist includes:

1. Only use your headset when you need to. Can you listen to Pandora on the speakers? Do so.

2. Make sure you have breaks throughout the day. If you get up to go to the bathroom or make a snack, don't keep the cans on -- take every opportunity to give your head rest.

3. Vary your headsets. Sure you could use the same bluetooth stereo headset for everything, but in the same vein as giving yourself a break, going from a pair of cans to buds and back again can help change things up.

4. Of course, listen at the lowest possible volume. Preserve your hearing!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Just When You Think Your Dedication to Outmoded Technology Is Out of Control

You see someone who has it much much worse. Now, don't get me wrong, I like new stuff as much as the next American who does his or her best to prop up the economy through shopping. But Stella Commute does much of her non-tech shopping at thrift stores, and Mr. Commute buys the technology as old as he can. Witness our hi-fi stereo rig, pictured here. Yes, that's an LP record, kids, Steely Dan "Can't Buy a Thrill" on vinyl. And an 8-track tape recorder. So we can burn our vinyl to 8-track.

We're dorks. Yes. But we're not this bad.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

People Are Still Getting Flu

Now that the CNN-fueled panic has settled down about the H1N1 flu (no more Sanjay Gupta in a mask in Mexico City) you should know: people are getting the H1N1 flu all the time. They're being forced to stay home for seven to ten days, and unless you have some way for them to continue working through what is, for most, a mild disease, you're losing out.

What? You still don't have a business continuity plan for pandemic flu?

You're joking, right? No?

Good lord, get a VPN right now! Stop reading this and go, set it up and get it ready. Fall is coming, and this thing might could get worse when we get into real flu season. Come on people, don't make Sanjay Gupta come to your office with his little mask on.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Creating Connections to Physical Places from Afar

I have been a terrible poster* lately. Stella is not unaware of how she is neglecting her duties, and she apologizes, but every living brain cell has been going toward work work lately. That said, I've soldiered through a number of all-consuming projects (all of which came due at roughly the same moment) and now I'm trying to cast my brain on figuring out how to use the web to produce meaningful connections to a location without having people physically be there. And it seems I have some insight into this because of my own (remote) location.

I work in the fund raising and alumni relations arm of an eastern university. Not east coast. Eastern. In fact, it's in a place with a reputation as a snowy wonderland that is nearly impossible to get to by plane without making at least one connection, a reputation which is not entirely undeserved, honestly. But that said, it's also a wonderful place where people make lifelong connections and where really cutting edge research in a number of important areas is happening. A gem. We're gearing up to get a lot more people engaged and involved in the institution, and we're working to use the web to make it easier for people to be a part of the fun, without losing their luggage.

I'm thinking web video stuff. But what, and how, and what kind of production values do we want? The best, I'm thinking. I've seen the Parkinson's Foundation's use of the webinar, and I think this is a great thing -- a meld of important content, unique expertise, and a clear focus on the audience. But what other great uses are out there? Any ideas?