Tech Etiquette 101

Tech Etiquette 101

It may be nearly 60 years since the inimitable Emily Post passed away, but her affect is still keenly felt in all things ‘etiquette’. Born in 1872, she was very much ahead of her time as her etiquette instruction included not only the drawing room, but business and politics as well. Her legacy lives on through her great-grandchildren, who all contribute to The Emily Post Institution on a regular basis.

Her great-grandson, Peter Post, specifically covers all things work-etiquette related. While we all know what constitutes good manners and how to behave while standing around the office water cooler catching up on everyone’s news, we sometimes need a little reminder of what constitutes good tech etiquette considering how invasive technology has become in our lives.

  1. Keep your mobile phone on silent

While your company policy may allow for personal phone calls, no one wants to be subjected to your Game of Thrones ring tone when you’ve stepped away from your desk, sans mobile.

  1. Do not wear headphones away from your desk

Listening to music or blocking out the surrounding noise may help you to be more productive, but make sure you remove the headphones before you leave your desk. Leaving them on while wandering through the office is anti-social and not very polite.

  1. Do not use someone else’s computer

While all the computers in the office might belong to the company, don’t be tempted to sit down at someone else’s computer to quickly check a fact. Privacy is important to all of us, and this includes the computers we work on.

  1. Limit laptop activity during meetings

While laptops are often taken into meetings for note-taking, don’t be tempted to check mail or work on something else while the meeting is on-going – it becomes quite obvious to those around you when you’re no longer focusing on the speaker.

  1. Do not email or text what could be said in person

While certain messages require a paper trail, many others don’t. Don’t be tempted to fall into the constant email or text message trap – particularly when the recipient is only two desks away from you. Technology is great, but it can very easily make us anti-social and too insular.

And last, but not least, if on your way to delivering that message you decide to stop at the water cooler for a drink and you finish the water, please make a point of refilling it – nothing’s worse than wanting or needing something, and the last person to use it hasn’t replenished it.

Always remember, manners maketh man.

A Poem for Mornings

A Poem for Mornings

“Coffee, coffee, coffee,

Coffee.

Coffee, coffee.

Everyone shut up.

Coffee.”

Our office loves coffee, and I don’t mean your garden variety kind of love affair with coffee, I mean your ‘until death us do part’ kind of passion, so we’re constantly at our instant taps brewing up another cup. We realise not everyone might be as infatuated with our favourite drink as we are, but to show we’re not alone in our adoration, here are a few interesting facts from the British Coffee Association.

  • Coffee is the most popular drink worldwide with around two billion cups consumed every day.
  • In the UK, we now drink approximately 95 million cups of coffee per day
  • For an average cup of coffee consumed in the UK, up to 76% of its value is estimated to be produced in the UK
  • The coffee industry creates over 210,000 UK jobs
  • The Gross Value-Added contribution from the UK coffee industry to the economy is estimated to be £9.1 billion, whilst output contribution, including indirect and induced multiplier impacts, of £17.7 billion in 2017
  • 80% of UK households buy instant coffee for in-home consumption, particularly those aged 65 and older
  • Ground coffee and single-serve coffee pods are becoming increasingly popular, particularly amongst Millennials (aged 16 – 34) who account for 16% of all buyers.
  • On the high street, café culture has also continued to boom, 80% of people who visit coffee shops do so at least once a week, whilst 16% of us visit on a daily basis

If you like the world’s most popular drink as much as we do, then you need to ensure you have instant taps installed in your canteen or breakout area – having hot water instantly at the ready is essential for us coffee-holics. Besides which, studies show that taking regular breaks also boosts energy, concentration and motivation so if you combine that with a cup of coffee, your Afternoon Poem may very well read:

“Coffee, coffee, coffee,

Coffee.

Coffee, coffee.

We love you all.

Coffee.”

Eight a Day – Yay or Nay

Eight a Day – Yay or Nay

We all know how important it is to take a turn past the water cooler and fill our glasses or bottles before carrying on with our day, but is the ‘drink eight glasses of water a day’ advice we hear so often accurate or not? In truth there is no hard and fast evidence to suggest that this one-size-fits-all approach is correct. Irrefutable however, is that bodies need sufficient hydration, but how much and how often is a debatable topic.

An early WebMD article states that the formula should be to drink between 0.5 and 1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. According to the BBC a few years back, the average man weighs 83 kilograms and the average woman 70 kilograms – according to this formula then it means that Mr. Average should be drinking between 2.7 and 5.4 litres of water per day, while Ms. Average should be drinking between 2.3 and 4.6 litres per day. This is more than the one-size-fits-all 64 ounces (1.9 litres) per day suggested.

To illustrate another side of the argument, an article on Snopes goes a long way to refuting the standard 8×8 rule which, as an aside, no one seems to know the exact origin of, although researchers seem to think it probably came from a single paragraph in an obscure 1945 government report. Water Works also covers the misleading idea that one should not be drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea or soda, because of their diuretic effect on the body which could lead to dehydration. Researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition refuted this stating ‘one glass [of caffeinated beverage] provides about the same amount of hydrating fluid as a glass of water. The only common drinks that produce a net loss of fluids are those containing alcohol — and usually it takes more than one of those to cause noticeable dehydration, doctors say.’

In short, your body needs regular hydration to function properly and to be productive, but there is no magical quota or number of times you should be visiting the water cooler, so just use your common sense and do what works for you.

May is National Water Safety Month

May is National Water Safety Month

We’re slowing moving into summer (yay!) which means longer days, warmer weather, ice cream at the park and lolling about in the water. Even if the closest you come to water right now is the office water dispenser, there are summer weekends and holidays to look forward to, and if you have young children, it’s important to be extra vigilant when they’re in the water.

To help create better awareness, May is National Water Safety Month which is an annual campaign designed to bring safe and enjoyable water activities to everyone. If you do have small children, here are a few important Water Safety Tips to keep in mind this summer in and around pools, courtesy of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

  1. Teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible – it’s never too early to start.
  2. Always brief babysitters on water safety, emphasizing the need for constant supervision.
  3. Appoint a designated watcher to monitor children during social gatherings at or near pools – don’t assume ‘someone’ is watching.
  4. Equip doors and windows that exit to a pool area with alarms.
  5. Post CPR instructions and learn the procedures – make sure anyone supervising children is also familiar with the process.
  6. Keep rescue equipment and a first aid kit poolside – don’t wait for the paramedics to arrive because you will lose valuable lifesaving seconds.
  7. Install four-sided isolation fencing, at least five feet high, equipped with self-closing and self-latching gates that completely surrounds the pool and prevents direct access from the house and yard.
  8. Maintain constant visual contact with children in a pool or pool area. If a child is missing, check the pool first; seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  9. Don’t use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. Never allow a young child in a pool without an adult. And don’t rely on swimming lessons, life preservers or other equipment to make a child ‘water safe’.
  10. Don’t think you’ll hear a child who’s in trouble in the water; child drowning is a silent death, with no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble.
The Effects of ‘Voluntary Dehydration’

The Effects of ‘Voluntary Dehydration’

Most of us don’t visit the water cooler often enough and we’ve all read studies on how dehydration can impair performance, but the majority of those studies involve induced dehydration via exercise, heat stress or diuretics. Very little research has been done on ‘voluntary dehydration’ which is an easily achieved state where, all else being equal, we simply don’t drink enough.

But scientists from Massey University did run such a study – without forcibly inducing dehydration, and while controlling confounding factors such as sleep, diet and caffeine; the aim of the study was to measure the cognitive effects of simply ‘not drinking enough’ i.e. ‘voluntary dehydration’.

The test group consisted of 24 men with a mean age of 26 years ± 6 y. The laboratory environment was kept constant at 20°C and the test subjects were given at least three sessions in which to familiarise themselves with the environment before completing the two experimental sessions. In the 24 hours prior to the sessions, the men followed similar diet, sleep and caffeine intake with the only difference being how much fluids they consumed – usual ad libitum (euhydration – the absence of absolute or relative hydration or dehydration) versus restriction (hypohydration – dehydration). During the experimental sessions, their hydration levels, mood and aspects of cognition (logical reasoning, working memory, executive processing) were assessed.

The results were fascinating: in all cases of fluid restriction where mild dehydration (hypohydration) was achieved, mood states (which covered tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, fatigue-inertia, vigour-activity, and confusion-bewilderment) were detrimentally affected, along with performance of working memory and executive processing.

This just goes to show, that even mild dehydration adversely affects performance – we don’t have to be exercising in the tropics and taking diuretics for our bodies to show the negative effects of not drinking enough. So, if you want to ensure a positive frame of mind along with high levels of productivity walk over to your water cooler right now and have a drink of water!

Sources:

Extreme Physiology & Medicine (http://extremephysiolmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2046-7648-4-S1-A97)