Office First Aid

August 30, 2012

Last week, our office was visited by a bunch of bees that somehow managed to gain entrance to the building. No one had an up close or otherwise painful encounter with them prior to their being escorted (well, something like that) from the premises, but we were prepared in the event that someone might have. We have a first aid kit on board, something that should be an integral part of the supplies in any office setting.

Of course, for any true medical emergency, a team member should immediately call 911 but more garden variety complaints and injuries can readily be treated by having the following items on hand.

Bandages – A variety of shapes and sizes can come in handy. It’s also advisable to stock brands that are latex-free for those who have sensitivity issues. Gauze pads can also be useful as bandages or to stanch bleeding.

Cleansing Agents – Most minor cuts and scrapes can be readily treated without medical intervention. Run clear water over the area to flush out any germs or residual material that can invade the opening. Use mild soap to clean the area or, alternatively, wipe gently with an alcohol pad, being careful not to cause irritation. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to clean a wound.

Ointments – Antibiotic ointments can be applied to an injury that causes a skin opening. Include medicated creams e.g. Benadryl that can be used to treat insect bites or stings as well as a cream or ointment that’s formulated to treat burns, especially if your office has a kitchen where team members can prepare food.

Cotton Balls – Use cotton balls to apply ointments and creams or moisten with clear water to clean an affected area.

Medications and Analgesics – Stock over the counter medications and painkillers to treat headaches, muscles aches, common stomach complaints, and other mild annoyances.

Cold and Heat Packs – Both are commercially available and can be used to relieve discomfort. Alternatively, stock basic long-cooking white rice and a pack of new white cotton socks. Fill the sock with rice, microwave for a few seconds, then use as a heat pack.

Miscellaneous Implements – Other items that might prove useful are medical scissors and tweezers. An eyeglass repair kit  and scaled-down sewing kit can come in handy, too, as can safety pins, disposable nail files, and protective gloves.

Assign someone to periodically check expiration dates and to replenish supplies when necessary.

Ideal Office Temperature

June 21, 2012

Walk into most any office and you’ll likely see evidence that at least some of the people who work there aren’t pleased with the ambient temperature in the building. On a scorching hot summer day, you might find workers indoors who are wearing sweaters or even multiple layers.  Others may appear to be perfectly comfortable in only shirtsleeves.

There’s a science attached to  the human body’s ability to regulate temperature but essentially it points to the fact  that it differs for most people. Variables such as weight, fitness, and gender can have an effect.  So can age and diet.  Carrying extra weight provides a level of insulation as does dense muscle tissue that forms when exercising. Muscle density is typically less for women, accounting for part of the difference for men and women. Additionally, hormones and thyroid activity also play a part.

People who are malnourished tend to be colder, primarily because their bodies lack the nutrients needed to effectively manage metabolism. And, as in most things, stress can have an impact, too. It can cause blood vessels to constrict, resulting in an overall sense of being cold.

Numerous studies have been done to determine the temperature that optimizes work performance and, as you might suspect, the results vary, too. One study concluded it was 72 degrees Fahrenheit, while another landed at 77 degrees.

All of that can result in temperature wars at the office, some of which can become contentious. Experts suggest that management remind employees that the typical person’s body will adapt to temperature differences over time. In addition, technology is evolving, allowing for the possibility of regulating the temperature in different zones. Until then, sweater up (or not) and make yourself comfortable!

Storm Safety Tips for the Office

April 19, 2012

Ever look out your office window and see something like this?

We all know that it’s recommended that one retreat to a basement or take shelter in a bathtub during an outbreak of severe storms, but that’s not always possible in the work place.  Here are a few things that you can do instead.

First and foremost, stay alert. Severe storms happen most often in the spring and summer so make a point of checking the weather each day to learn if the potential for damaging weather exists.  Because storms often form rather quickly, it’s helpful to know what to look for when you suspect that a tornado might be forming.  People typically describe a period of quiet that occurs in the midst of or just after a thunderstorm. In addition, the color of the sky might shift to yellow, green, or an unpleasant combination of both. Another potential warning sign is the appearance of clouds moving at an accelerated pace or in a pattern that appears unusual.

If a tornado has been sighted or a warning exists, move to the lowest level of the building. If that’s not possible, take shelter in a small interior room such as  closet or bathroom. Avoid standing near windows or doors.  If your office is located in a multi-story building or high-rise, interior stairwells offer some protection. Of course, you should always avoid elevators during any emergency.

Resist the urge to leave the building and try to make your way home. Most tornado deaths occur in cars and mobile homes so, statistically, you are much safer staying put in your office until the storm subsides.

Five Ways to Make Your Commute Productive

March 29, 2012

The threat of continued hikes in gasoline prices is prompting more commuters to opt for a form of public transportation or carpooling to ease the strain on their budget. If you’re one of them, note that in addition to saving money — and reducing your carbon footprint — you’re also potentially gaining time to chisel away at tasks or spend time in other pursuits that can enhance your day.

1. Get a head start on work.  Use your cell phone or tablet to coordinate your calendar, do on-line research, or review forms and documents. It will make the day less stressful overall, potentially allowing you to build some down time into the midst of it.

2.  Read or listen to audio books. Choose topics that can advance your career or, alternatively, simply listen to books that inspire and entertain you. It’s no secret that readers are usually better writers so indulge in the pastime with assurances that the presentations and papers you create with be better for having done it.

3.  Learn a different language.  Planning a trip to Europe, Asia, or South America?  Even if you’re not, learning a foreign language can be a satisfying and career building experience, especially in today’s increasingly global economy.

4,  Write!  Use the time to catch up on e-mail, draft a proposal or presentation, or edit one that you’ve already written. Alternatively, begin or continue a personal journal. Keeping a journal can have many positive benefits, including clarification of goals, insights into personal and professional relationships, and reduction of stress levels that can accompany indecision or confusion.

5.  Take a class. There are countless distance learning opportunities that can broaden your horizons both professionally and personally. Sign up and use your commute time to accomplish what’s required.

Office Partiers Beware

December 8, 2011

Tis the season for holiday office parties and the opportunity to potentially advance your career.  The occasion affords the chance to mingle with management, express gratitude to colleagues who have contributed to your successes, and to introduce yourself to executives you’ve not previously met. But there are possible pitfalls that can not only negate the positive aspects but derail what might have been a promising career. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to avoid them.

First, and perhaps foremost, don’t forget that in spite of the festive environment, you are essentially at work.  While it’s okay to relax and step down from a purely professional demeanor, don’t allow yourself to say or do things that might raise an eyebrow, or two, or three.

Don’t dress as you would for a night out at the club and remember to limit the number of alcoholic drinks you consume. You’re not apt to positively impress anyone once you’ve had a few too many and you risk damaging relationships that you’ve already established. Similarly, if you’ve been invited to bring a guest, choose that person carefully, eliminating the possibility that negative or inappropriate behavior might reflect back on you.

Instead, show up prepared to make the event work in your direction. Prepare a list of conversation topics that are relevant and that people might find interesting.  Similarly, ask questions that signal that you’re invested in your colleagues and work environment. Listen. You’re just as apt to make a favorable impression by being the audience as you are the entertainment.

As in any social situation that includes attendees that are not close friends or relatives, avoid topics of conversation that are potentially inflammatory. And, finally, don’t forget to express gratitude to your hosts. Someone spent money to stage the event and you owe them the courtesy of a personally extended thank you.

Happy holiday party-goers!  Make the experience a good one!

Staying Safe at Work

June 9, 2011

In spite of extraordinary events that occasionally dominate the news, the American workplace is by and large a safe place to be. Most of us take for granted that the incidence of  negative events is low and don’t give a thought to preparedness or prevention. However, that might not be the wisest course of action.

Regardless of where your office is located, you might consider assembling an emergency kit if your work place doesn’t already have one. Weather contingencies, chemical spills and other unforeseen events can happen virtually anywhere and it’s possible that a few basic emergency supplies such as a flashlight and walking shoes could come in handy.  Store them in a desk drawer or cabinet along with a spare water bottle and perhaps some non-perishable food.

In addition to disaster preparedness, pay attention to your environment. Report areas of the building that are not well-lit and note any differences in windows or doors that might indicate attempts at intrusion.  If you find it necessary to stay late at the office, consider establishing a buddy system and walk with a colleague to your car. If that’s not possible, be sure to phone a friend or family member when you leave the building.

You should also familiarize yourself with your company’s emergency plan. If one doesn’t exist,  volunteer to help create one.  Ideally, co-workers from all levels of the organization should be involved.  Set up a procedure to warn employees about an event and designate an away from the workplace telephone number that employees can phone to indicate they are okay. Alternatively, consider setting up a password protected page on your website for that purpose.

Also, plan and practice what you would do in an emergency.  Designate an evacuation route and design a shelter-in-place contingency in the event that leaving the building becomes impossible.