Sunday, March 29, 2020

Same World - Same Suffering

“There are decades where nothing happens;and there are weeks where decades happen.”

This is a few weeks where much has happened.

I see from the Johns Hopkins site that the US has a solid lead on the rest of the world on covid cases.  China seems to be quite level and under control.  I am wondering if that might be the compliance of people.  In North America, people tend to ignore government authority more.

I am in business so I am closely attuned to the economy.  This is hurting trade.  There are some winners (like Iotum Callbridge, grocery stores (people are eating at home more), Danby freezers, vitamins and supplements, masks etc.).  But overall, the economy has dropped.  The real question is where this comes out and how fast do we recover.

As a business person, I always try to predict the future.  For ShipperBee, the future is bright.  I see nothing but more ecommerce and delivery. 

For Danby, I see less wine coolers and bar fridges short term (people feel poor and have less $).  Less compact fridges in hotels (although now is a good time to renovate so it may hold up).  Work at home though will drive people to buy second fridges.  Less Caribbean vacations and more entertaining at home might cause people to buy more wine coolers.  Freezer sales have increased permanently - people will think more "be prepared".  Danby is also well suited for small space living so with less money, people are more likely to live in smaller places.

What is good about this pandemic:

1 - It is all of humankind against a common foe.  This feels better than people killing people.

2 - This may be just the kick the environment needs to right itself. 

3 - I think this period of social distancing is helping people clarify who they are.  My hope is it will make it s kinder, gentler world.

4 - There will be some infrastructure savings.  Less new roads will be needed as more people work from home.  (unfortunately, those savings will not offset the massive government costs to fight covid)

Danby is hard at work designing ventilators with the hope of producing them soon.  As we started the project, we found we lacked the full capability to make them so we have formed a very strong consortium.  Lots of time.  Lots of challenge.  More on this later.

And some wisdom from 1848:

“What has so often excited wonder, is the great rapidity with which countries recover from a state of devastation, the disappearance in a short time, of all traces of mischief done by earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and the ravages of war. An enemy lays waste a country by fire and sword, and destroys or carries away nearly all the moveable wealth existing in it: all the inhabitants are ruined, and yet in a few years after, everything is much as it was before.”

John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy, 1848

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Tips for Working Well at Home

I am old school.  I prefer in person.  I like to see people in the office.  I often learn things just from casual interactions in the office.  When someone is not there, I find I often end up speaking with someone else about what is on my mind so the person is also excluded.

Some tricks:

1 - Have a dedicated space.  There is nothing like a space that says "now I am going to work" to prompt action.

2 - Avoid distraction.  For me, that would be news sites or stock markets.  For some people, it might be TV or FaceBook or other things.  You know what your weaknesses are - avoid them.

3 - I know your manager will be stressed.  Worried the work is not getting done.  Put him or her at ease with a couple of video calls (works way better than just a phone call) and a daily report.  The format I like for a daily report "my goals today were...I accomplished...things you should goals tomorrow are....and things I need from you".

4 - Avoid temptation.  If you have unhealthy food in stock, you will likely eat it.  Only stock the healthy stuff.

5 - Plan.  I know I work better in the office OR at home if I have a plan.  One trick I do is say "what are the top 3 things I will have done today".  Invariably I get them done - just because of this planning.

6 - Much of my success can be attributed to habits.  Good work at home is about having good habits.

7 - One of the first things I would do is study it.  Google.  Search Youtube.  There is a ton written on this.

A PC Magazine article on it here.

And more (not in my words)

How make the most of working from home:

1.    Your office is your state of mind
One of the best ways to stay productive when working from home is to pretend you are going into the office.  The mental association you make between work and an office can make you more productive, and there is no reason that feeling should be lost when at home.
When working from home, do all the things you do to prepare for your office role: Set your alarm, make (or go get) coffee, and get dressed.
2.    Choose a dedicated workspace
Rather than relaxing in your bedroom or on the couch -- spaces that are associated with leisure time -- dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work. Once you select your space treat it like your office during your work hours…if you a chose the kitchen table, make sure you have cleared off all the dishes, or other distractions that might normally be on your table, before you sit down to work.
3.    Set work hours
Now that you have your office or work area set up, it is time to get down to business.  Establish set work hours to follow each day. Be sure to communicate your work schedule to colleagues, staff, and your boss. Will you have family members at home with you? Let your family know what your work hours are and how you plan to respect each other’s schedules & needs for the day. 
4.    Have a work plan
Identify what needs to get done every day and make sure to do it. Think about how you intend to complete your list of daily tasks, and what techniques work best for you to see them through.
5.    Take short breaks
To stay productive you will need breaks. Work short, five-minute breaks into your daily schedule. Although taking breaks might seem counterproductive, research has shown that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and creativity levels.
6.    Use a rewards system
This is an easy way to help you get things done — even tasks you have been procrastinating around.  For example, take a five-minute break to stretch, grab a healthy snack, make yourself a coffee, or chat with family at home, once you  complete a difficult task or deadline. Using a basic rewards system will help you get things done and feel fulfilled.
7.    Use Video Conferencing or phone calls
Interact with others! Even if we are socially distancing, that does not mean we are not communicating.
Make it a point to chat with colleagues, team members, or clients each day.  Video conferencing is a great way to stay connected with colleagues. 
Make use of:
·       Skype
·       Callbridge (this is the only thing I edited into this article)
·       WhatsApp
·       Facetime
·       Google Hangouts
·       Zoom meetings

Schedule your typical meetings each day as calls or video conferencing and check in with co-workers and the boss several times a day. This will keep you feeling connected with your team.
8.     Family, Friends, and Pets
Working from home can be difficult, if you have young children at home, or have multiple pets, all of whom want your attention. If you are home all day, others might forget your work needs
Welcome and enjoy their company, and make it part of your daily plan, by being specific about your work hours, break times and clearly communicate those hours with your family and friends.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Coronavirus might help the environment

I am a very big proponent on reducing greenhouse gas and doing less bad things to the environment.

According to Dr Google:

EPA reports that aircraft contribute 12 percent of U.S. transportation emissions, and account for three percent of the nation's total greenhouse gas production. Globally, aviation produced 2.4 percent of total CO2 emissions in 2018

One side effect of coronavirus I see is people are traveling less.  I have had conferences cancelled.  And I have made decisions to travel less myself.  My air travel is my personal largest greenhouse gas contribution.  

So the net of it - less greenhouse gas from travel.  

One way people will do meetings instead is using video conferencing.  I have an investment in a video conference company - Iotum that has a solution CallBridge.  They may benefit.

2 great links to coronavirus information here and here.  

When you look at the demographics of who dies from it - health is an obvious link.   EG 15% of over 80 people who get coronavirus die, for those 40-49 it drops to 0.4%.  And if someone has no pre-existing health issue, their chance is only 0.9%.

Of course statistics do not take away from the sadness for those who died and lost loved ones.  It does speak to being healthy though. 

I notice that smoking is one thing that contributes to death.  Interestingly, less GHG and less particulate in the air will help people's health.  So less travel could be a double benefit (although small).

I have often noticed "unintended consequences".  I wonder if one unintended consequence might be lower immune systems in people because they use too much hand sanitizer.  Our bodies need a few germs to get good at fending them off.  This said - I am likely one of those who is washing and sanitizing too much.

This could also contribute to super bugs that need to morph to get around sanitizer.

I am big on habits.  Thought this article might inspire.