How Kronos Benefitted from Launching an Unlimited Vacation Policy

via Harvard Business Review

At first I thought Millennials would be the most enthusiastic about an open vacation policy. But in fact employees in their thirties and forties with school-age children seem to be the biggest beneficiaries. In the past they struggled to figure out how to spread vacation time over various school holidays. Now they feel free to take more time, reducing this strain.

…our core business is providing workforce management software, and one of the things our product does is track and manage vacation accruals. If every company shifted to an open vacation policy, wouldn’t one of the benefits of our product disappear? Not if open vacation was deployed the right way. That we track our employees’ time off is a major reason our new policy works. If you don’t track it, how else will you know whether people are taking enough time to refresh and recharge, and whether managers are setting a poor example or unfairly managing time off? Tracking enables transparency and better communication, and if it’s done properly, it will build even more trust and loyalty among your employees.

Right now unlimited vacation for all employees is offered at fewer than one in 20 U.S. companies. There’s a reason for that. Not every organization has the combination of high-performing employees, passionate concern for work/life balance, and deep trust in its people necessary to make this kind of system work. I feel very fortunate to lead a company that does.

Care for and trust in your employees.

I used to not take holidays except when absolutely necessary, e.g. other half made his twice yearly trip back to Singapore and we spending time together meant taking leave as the job was so hectic we couldn’t spend time together otherwise. That being said, I did forgo all overtime leave when leaving the company as there was simply no time to use it up.

Tired was an understatement.

I think that employees simply want a company that care for them, and in turn, they will care for the company.

Hello and Goodbye Katie Lee

via Naseem Rakha

Katie Lee, the 98 year old Arizona activist whose favorite word was fuck, died in her sleep on Wednesday, November 1st. Katie had dedicated her life trying to take down the dam that had drowned the place she loved most — Glen Canyon — the contoured caverns and seductive streams that today lies beneath the 9 trillion gallon reservoir known as Lake Powell. Before the building of the dam, Glen Canyon was considered to be one of the most beautiful canyons in North American, if not the world. Then, from 1963 to 1980, it was submerged.

Pathological consumption

via George Monbiot

Pathological consumption has become so normalised that we scarcely notice it.

….

Bake them a cake, write them a poem, give them a kiss, tell them a joke, but for god’s sake stop trashing the planet to tell someone you care. All it shows is that you don’t.

Just.Read.It.

Why I decided not to try Thinx

via Put a Cup in It

I have been advocating for reusable menstrual products for years, and as exciting as it is to see safer, reusable menstruation products becoming more mainstream I can’t help but feel that we’ve all been betrayed… and I didn’t even use their program. I give props to THINX for their part in blowing the menstrual conversation up, but it’s disheartening to watch them build their company on the good faith of consumers and writers, and then turn them away because they were no longer needed. Commutations attempts have been ignored and trust has been broken.

Thanks to a Canadian friend, I was introduced to menstural cups in 2014. As they weren’t sold in Singapore at that time, the ever-supportive partner (who was based in Canada at that time) purchased them in Canada and brought them over to Singapore. He did get a weird look at the supermarket check-out. Haha.

I’m not very evangalistic about menstrual cups simply because just being open and casual about it has led to curious questions from other friends. We are all at different stages of comfort regarding resuable menstruable products!

Unfortunately, after about a year, the cup started leaking. Cups were changed, insertion positions were adjusted, but it didn’t go back to the perfect no-leak.

Occasionally using disposable pads made me uncomfortable contributing to landfill, which is why I switched to menstrual cups in the first place. So the research for other resuable menstrual products began.

Menstrual underwear seemed an easy introduction, so I purchased one Modibodi period panty from LiveLoveLuna, Singapore company (affiliate link). Coupled with the cup, it worked wonderfully. Even on days when the cup hath overflowed.

Eager to try other brands, I stumbled on the big cheese of period undies, Thinx, with a ton of gushing reviews and I nearly purchased them. However, after stumbling on the above article, the shopping cart was abandoned.

If you’re considering purchasing Thinx, please read the (really long) article and think twice!

What Mongolian Nomads Teach Us About the Digital Future

via Wired

People who pack up and transport their house twice a year become choosy about their possessions. I recently traveled among the nomads of Mongolia for two weeks and had a chance to inspect their belongings.

I think we’ll cruise through the future with empty pockets. I won’t need to carry my phone because I should be able to lift up any screen anywhere and have it immediately became my tool, my screen. It recognizes me from my face, voice, heartbeat, and transforms itself into my phone interface. When I am done, I leave that screen where it was…

The environment, if it is rich and well-cared for and understood, shall provide.

The takeaways of using less, making fewer things count more and trusting that the environment will amaze and care for us.

Hark the cries of “hipster!’

Ok, applying this in an urban setting, cloud services allow one’s entire computer to crash and then get back up and working within half a hour. How? Every software and file on that computer was downloaded from and backed up to a cloud. Staff can just request a new computer from IT department, download software and files, then get back up and working!

Look at what formal dress rentals and wardrobe rentals (e.g. StyleTheory) offer – an opportunity to reduce the sizes of wardrobes while refreshing what we wear. Unless you’re like me who always wears the same dress to weddings (surprisingly no one has noticed, or if they have, no one has commented), and still has a ton of clothes to get rid of!

We could all benefit from having fewer belongings (less cleaning, yay!), smaller homes (less mortgage, yay!) and reducing our carbon footprint.

Library Visits Have Gone Way Up Over the Last Two Decades. Here’s Why…

via Oleg Kagan on Medium

Librarians of the old-garde (old as in “in the past”, not as in age) viewed themselves as gate-keepers and protectors of The Collection. They were neutral and impersonal; mere representatives of a vaunted institution and its secret processes and bureaucracy. Their service was frequently equal but not equitable, and they were not known to be especially personable. The new-garde is different; we love people and books (in that order), we have unique and individual personalities which we use to serve our communities better, and we prefer to provide access rather than restrict it.

Library institutions, too, have become more personable and transparent. Many are reducing or removing fines and instituting amnesty months to decrease barriers to access. They are also encouraging librarians to step out from behind their desk and meet people where they are. To help with that are initiatives like mobile libraries, and specially-designed bikes to bring learning and smiles to residents who may not be aware of the breadth of library services.

I’ve loved libraries since young. Trotting to the nearby one yielded 8 books that was devoured in a week or less. Utilising the other family members’ library cards meant more books could be borrowed. JOY!

When studying overseas, one of the first places I would head to were the universities’ libraries. In a new country, it exuded familiarity.

As I do not regularly pass by a library, I try not to borrow physical books in case fines are incurred. Thankfully the library offers ebooks. Auto-returns when due dates arrive.

That all being said, the article has great links to other initiatives done by libraries in USA. Especially the one on removing overdue fines which potentially is a model other libraries can follow.

Long live libraries!

Ireland Wanted to Forget. But the Dead Don’t Always Stay Buried.

via NYTimes

The government repurposed the building to be among the institutions intended as ports of salvation where disgraced women might be redeemed. These state-financed homes were invariably managed by a Catholic order, in keeping with the hand-in-glove relationship between the dominant church and the fledgling state

The high infant mortality rate in some of these facilities was startling. In the Bessborough home in Cork, 478 children died from 1934 to 1953 — or about one death every two weeks.

The investigation’s broad mandate also includes scrutiny of the network’s links to the notorious Magdalen Laundries. The apparent coercion of unmarried mothers to surrender their children for adoption, often to Catholic Americans. The vaccine trials carried out on mother-and-baby-home children for pharmaceutical companies. The use of home-baby remains for anatomical study at medical colleges.

A long read, aptly peppered with black and white photographs, cinemagraphs and a drone video, poignantly written.

Don’t Panic even if you’re up against Apple

via Macintosh.fm (podcast)

Panic was a little pushcard going down the tracks and Apple was a freight train.

…they carved out a niche for themselves in the Mac community, building weird and wonderful nerdy software.

Enjoy the story-telling editing of the Macintosh podcasts.

I tested Coda and Transmit when the Macbook used to work. Clean and easy to use interfaces. Love. Switched to Windows and… groan.

This podcast cheered me up as I sat waiting for the train. It’s lovely that Cabel and Steven managed to survive even as others shuttered.

A Palestinian American running for office in one of the most divided, and most conservative neighborhoods in New York City

via Radio Lab, WNYC Studios (a podcast)

Today, while the divisions between different groups in this country [USA] feel more and more insurmountable, we zero in on a particular neighborhood to see if one man can draw people together in a potentially history-making election. Khader El-Yateem is a Palestinian American running for office in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, one of the most divided, and most conservative neighborhoods in New York City. To win, he’ll need to convince a wildly diverse population that he can speak for all of them, and he’ll need to pull one particular group of people, Arab American Muslims, out of the shadows and into the political process. And to make things just a bit more interesting, El-Yateem is a Lutheran minister.

Radio Lab has one of the best types of audio storytelling. One feels gripped and pulled throughout the story.

El-Yateem’s replies feel genuine and thoughtful. No canned replies. He even slowly says, “I’ll have to think about it”, when faced with a question that challenges him. No defensiveness.

Other articles on El-Yateem:

  1. Bay Ridge City Council Candidate Khader El-Yateem Thinks Southwest Brooklyn Is Ready For Socialism
  2. Khader El-Yateem, Man Vs. Machine

‘Death Cleaning’ Is the Newest Way to Declutter

via Time Health

… people should start thinking about death cleaning as soon as they’re old enough to start thinking about their own mortality. “Don’t collect things you don’t want,” she says. “One day when you’re not around anymore, your family would have to take care of all that stuff, and I don’t think that’s fair.”

Death cleaning may have benefits for the cleaners themselves, and not just for their loved ones, says Goldhaber. Some research suggests that clutter in the home can raise stress levels and reduce productivity. As adults get older, having a house full of stuff may also raise their risk for falls and create other health and safety hazards.

A different way of thinking about getting rid of clutter at home. Sure as heck don’t want to be a pain to whoever has to get rid of my belongings when I pass on!

Having lived in a house filled with things, I was adament that my house would not be the same.

Easier said than done.

The ever-supportive other half cheered with every item I removed as we moved from one country to another.

So glad when a friend visited and marvelled, “wow you all really have little stuff!”

Still making progress!