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Entries in Workplace (10)

Friday
Jul062012

Five Ways to Stay Warm in a Cold Office

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's hot out. It's one of the hottest summers in quite a while. But while it's melting outside, you may be freezing inside. Of course, getting the office and your co-workers to agree on the ideal inside temperature is unlikely, and getting the building to make a thermometer change is even more unlikely. But you can take matters into your own hands.

Here are some of the best ways to stay warm in those blistering cold offices this summer:

Sweaters, Snuggies, Shawls
We're going to start with the most obvious solution: bring an extra sweater or jacket with you to the office. If that doesn't seem warm enough (which is the case for many!) you can also invest in a wonderfully comfortable Snuggie and keep it at your desk. Snuggies can be found at Target, CVS, and other retailers for $20. You also might want to order the brown version from MySnuggieStore.com, rather than pick up a bright pink or blue one, which is what you'll usually find on store shelves. If you want a more stylish option, a woolen shawl is always a good route and you can use a nice pin to keep it in place. Scarves are also a stylish way to go.

Space Heater
The next option is a bit more aggressive. Yes, many people actually buy space heaters and keep them under their desks for warmth. Hey, what better way to fight blowing cold air than by blowing warm air? You can pick up a space heater for as little as $25. Just make sure to turn it off at night and not to position it near any paper or anything flammable. Also, you might want to check with your office manager to see if they are permitted on premises.

Stairs
Sometimes the only option is to get up and move around. You can go outside, but sometimes the shock of going from cold to hot or vice versa isn't great on the immune system. Instead, get up and walk around the office or up and down the stairs in your office building. Not only will it warm you up, it will give you some time away from the computer screen and your office chair!

Fingerless Gloves, Socks
Of course, you'll have to return to that keyboard soon, and your fingers, as you might know, can suffer the most from the cold air. If you're working on a laptop that gets warm that might help some, but you might actually want to invest in a pair of fingerless gloves. There are plenty of pairs for under $5 on Amazon.com. Also, since you are already at a desk and near a computer, you could also go with a pair of USB heated gloves, which actually heat up your hands. And while you are shopping you might want to pick up a pair of warm socks if you happen to wear sandals or open shoes to the office. Slip on the socks under the desk and no one will ever know!

Hot Coffee
One of the best parts of summer is iced coffee or iced tea, but if you're stuck in a cold office you might be better off getting a mug and filling it up with a hot drink and holding it in your hands.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May302012

Men’s Offices Germier Than Women’s, Says Study

Ciaran Griffin/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Men’s offices harbor significantly more bacteria than women’s, according to a new study published in the online journal PLoS ONE.

The types of bacteria are the same, and come mostly from the skin, nose, mouth and digestive tract.  Several types are also commonly found in feces.

Researchers from the San Diego State University and the University of Arizona took 450 samples from different office surfaces in New York City, San Francisco and Tucson, Ariz.

Chairs and phones had the highest amount of bacteria, while desktops, keyboards and computer mice had fewer bacteria.

One of the main reasons the researchers did the study was to learn more about what microorganisms inhabit workplaces.

“Westerners spend about 90 percent of time indoors in artificial environments that we build, and workplaces are where we spend a lot of our time,” said co-author Scott Kelley, a professor of biology at San Diego State.

Kelly said he believes men’s work spaces have more bacteria simply because men are generally bigger than women, though there could also be other reasons.

For example, he said, “Skin is a major source of the bacteria, and if men’s hands are physically bigger, there’s more surface area to colonize bacteria.  Men’s mouths are also bigger.”

Philip Tierno, a clinical professor microbiology and pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center, said another reason is that men just aren’t as clean as women.

“Men tend to be less tidy.  They wash their hands less than women and tend to be a little more cavalier about eating from the floor or from other surfaces,” he said.  Tierno was not involved in the study.  “Also, numerous people touch chairs and phones, but not as many people touch keyboards.”

Previous research found that the opposite is true -- women’s offices are more contaminated than men’s, perhaps in part because women use cosmetics and are more likely to store food in their desks.

One reason for the discrepancy between the studies, Tierno said, is the method used to identify the bacteria.  Kelley’s study uses molecular methods, which are more sensitive and specific than the culture-based identification used in other research.

In addition to differences between men and women, Kelley said the study also found that there was no significant difference between the types of bacteria found in offices in San Francisco and New York. In Tucson, though, there were different types of bacteria associated with drier, desert-like climates.

Though there may be a lot of bacteria in office spaces, Kelley said, most of it doesn’t do much harm.

“Most of what’s brought in is harmless, but it’s very easy to spread.  If someone gets sick, they should stay home because they are bringing bacteria in with them and making others sick.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar282012

You Called Out of Work... But Are You Really Sick?

Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- People really aren't feeling well when they call in sick to work -- or at least, most of them, according to research by the career website theFIT.

In a survey of 5,000 people who recently used a sick day, 84 percent said they were actually under the weather or at least taking care of a child who wasn't feeling well.

The actual rate of liars was much less than one might expect: one in five men admitted they weren't sick when they called in to work while one in seven women confessed that weren't telling the truth either.

Reasons for misrepresenting their actual health varied from playing hooky or using a mental health day to nursing a hangover or going on a job interview.

TheFIT is owned by the recruiting technology company Bulldog.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb072012

Poll: 31% of Workers with Office Romances Married Their Co-Worker

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Love is in the office air. A new Valentine’s Day survey commissioned by CareerBuilder.com finds 31 percent of employees say their office romance led to marriage.  The survey also found 38 percent of workers admitting they have dated a co-worker at least once over the course of their career.  Seventeen percent of those polled admitted dating co-workers at least twice.

Additional findings from the annual CareerBuilder Valentine’s Day survey:

  • 28 percent of workers who dated a co-worker said they have dated someone above them in the company hierarchy, and 18 percent admitted to dating their boss.  Women were more likely than men to date someone above their pay grade, 35 percent to 23 percent.
  • Hospitality is the leading industry when it comes to office romances, with 47 percent of employees admitting they dated a co-worker. The financial services sector was next at 45 percent, followed by Transportation & Utilities, Information Technology and the healthcare industry.
  • 26 percent reported that what someone does for a living influences whether they would date that person.  Five percent of workers revealed someone ended a relationship with them because either their job required too many hours at the office, they didn’t make enough money or the person didn’t like their line of work.
  • 19 percent of respondents reported that they are more attracted to people who have a similar job.
  • Social settings outside of work were cited most often when it came to workers making a love connection.

The survey of 7,780 U.S. workers was conducted by Harris Interactive.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan122012

Boredom, Constant Cheer, Cynicism and Other Job Hazards

Christopher Robbins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Paul Spector was never as bored as the summer he spent after high school working in a contact lens factory. His job was cutting each contact lens out of a sheet of plastic.

Now a professor studying industrial and occupational psychology at the University of South Florida, Spector said boredom is underappreciated as a workplace stressor, along with a host of other on-the-job strains that can drive people crazy. Often these stressors can be just as consuming as being overworked and overwhelmed.

“Being chronically bored means being unhappy and stressed,” said Spector. “If you don’t have enough to do or what you do is monotonous, that can make you miserable, which can be very stressful.”

Being required to slap on a happy face, too, can be a strain for workers, such as those in the customer service industry. Researchers call this work emotional labor, and say that it frequently leads to burnout.

“Not only do you have the pressure of doing your job, but there’s pressure to make every customer feel valued and happy, which can be hard and really draining,” said Ben Dattner, an organizational psychologist and author of the book The Blame Game.

A survey of 200 British customer service employees found that the effort of being constantly cheerful left these workers feeling emotionally exhausted and cynical.

The poor economy may compound workplace stress, as the prospect of a steady paycheck keeps people in jobs that don’t match their skills or interests.

“You have people with fairly high-level skills who can’t find jobs in their profession, so they wind up underemployed and bored,” Spector said.

Occasional boredom is unavoidable, of course, but the danger of chronic boredom lies in the unhealthy habits that workers tend to pick up to keep themselves entertained. Scientists at the University of Central Lancashire in Britain surveyed 100 British office workers and found that a quarter of them suffer from chronic boredom. How did they deal with the stress of monotony? Many reported turning to extra coffee breaks, chocolate binges or regular post-work alcohol to take the edge off.

That doesn’t surprise Martin Binks, chief executive officer of Binks Behavioral Health in Durham, N.C., who said people find all kinds of unhealthy ways to alleviate their boredom at work, like repeatedly hitting the snack and soda machines or taking frequent cigarette breaks.

Rather than downing a 400-calorie latte at the coffee shop, Binks suggests that when boredom strikes, workers can try switching to a different task, taking a quick walk or even making trips to the bathroom to wash your hands or face.

“Repeated bathroom visits are better than repeated snack machine visits,” he said.

Employees who find themselves busy and bored all at once may need a more long-term solution. Dattner said people who are bored with their work should consider talking with their employer about expanding or changing their role on the job or asking for more training.

“It may help to think about a more effective or efficient way to do what you’re doing,” Dattner said. “To some extent, making yourself obsolete by coming up with a process improvement could be risky but, on the other hand, might earn you the gratitude of the organization or superiors.”

Experts say certain methods of stress relief should be avoided at all costs: creating drama with coworkers, taking long lunches or spending too much time on Facebook or YouTube are usually not good ideas.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec122011

Part-Time Work for Moms Could Provide Best Work-Life Balance

Siri Stafford/Thinkstock(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- Can part-time work increase the chances of full-time happiness for modern moms?  So suggests a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

“In all cases with significant differences in maternal well-being, such as conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favored part-time work over full-time or not working,” the study’s lead author, Cheryl Buehler, a professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said in a statement released by the APA.

Buehler and co-author Marion O’Brien, a colleague at UNC-Greensboro, analyzed interviews conducted with more than 1,300 moms. Among their findings:

* Part-time working moms and full-time working moms reported better health and fewer symptoms of depression than stay-at-home moms.

* Part-time working moms were as involved in their child’s school as stay-at-home moms, and more involved than full-time working moms.

* Part-time working moms provided their toddlers with more learning opportunities than both stay-at-home moms and full-time working moms.

In their report on the study, UNC’s Buehler and O’Brien said employers could help more people — mothers and fathers alike -- take advantage of the health and family benefits of part-time work by making part-time jobs more attractive.

“Since part-time work seems to contribute to the strength and well-being of families, it would be beneficial to employers if they provide fringe benefits, at least proportionally, to part-time employees as well as offer them career ladders through training and promotion,” O’Brien said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug292011

Technology Making Your Nine-to-Five Work Schedule Obsolete?

Steve Mason/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- You may love your computer and smartphone but they might be making you work harder.

Government statistics show worker productivity has increased 400 percent since 1950, possibly because technology makes you available ‘round-the-clock, and the boss is taking advantage of that.

A new survey by Wright Management finds two-thirds of employees have gotten emails from their bosses over the weekend. One-third say the boss expects a reply.

Experts say if you need to set limits, do it in a face-to-face meeting, not a text or email.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug232011

Stress of Rude Co-Worker Can Affect Home Life

BananaStock/Thinkstock(WACO, Texas) -- When it comes to dealing with a rude co-worker, recent research suggests the stress can be so intense that it can affect relationships outside of work and even lead a person's partner to take those same feelings into his or her workplace.

"The stress impacts the marital satisfaction of both partners," said Merideth Ferguson, the study's author and an assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Baylor University Hankamer School of Business in Waco, Texas. "The rudeness jumps over to affect their partner's workplace and creates distraction and distress there."

Ferguson said she is unsure exactly how it happens, but theorizes that at least one reason is that the stress affects a person's ability to handle household responsibilities and in turn, that person's partner must take on more of the demands, which could spill over into the partner's work life.

"It's often a combination of problems at work that spill over to the home and problems at home that spill over to work," said Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. "It can be hard to tease them out."

Klapow was not involved in the research.

Other psychologists not involved with the study say dealing with an ill-mannered co-worker is very difficult, but also very necessary to avoid detrimental effects on physical and emotional well-being.

"It can lead to anxiety, depression and other problems," said Nadine Kaslow, professor and vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta. "Chronic work stress is not good for one's mental or physical health. It can lead to headaches and stomach aches and other physical ailments."

Being constantly disrespected can also lead to a temporary loss of self-esteem, which can also affect a person's mood, she said.

Ferguson said research looking into the effect of rude co-workers on the family is just beginning. This study only involved 190 subjects and didn't control for certain factors, such as the ones that may affect how stress crosses over from work to family.

"However, these findings emphasize the notion that organizations must realize the far-reaching effects of co-worker incivility and its impact on employees and their families," she said.

The research was published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

Long Commutes Can Drive Up Divorce Risk

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Compared to their locally employed counterparts, commuting couples face a rocky marital road, Swedish researchers report. According to a study of 2 million Swedes, couples in which one person commutes 45 minutes or longer are 40 percent more likely to divorce.

"To be able to commute to work can be a positive thing because it means you don't have to uproot your family with every career move, but it can also be a strain on your relationship," Erika Sandow, a social geographer at Umea University and lead author of the study, told the Swedish publication The Local.

The decision to commute can stem from career aspirations, economic woes, and ties to social support in a particular place, according to Susan Heitler, a Denver psychologist and marriage counselor. And on top of life's other pressures, it can leave both partners feeling overworked and underappreciated.

"It's like a perfect storm. The couple can't realize that the problem is the commute, not the other person," Heitler said, explaining the tendency to personalize problems and get defensive. "Once you get angry, upset and frustrated, it's easy to start pointing fingers."

At a time when relocation or landing a new job are unrealistic options for many Americans, less dramatic, more nuanced solutions can make it easier to find middle ground, Heitler said.

"You need to drop down to explore the underlying concerns on both sides," she said.

Dedicating one night of the week to the commuter, or spending a little cash on help around the house can relieve some of the stress for both partners, Heitler said. And having an open, honest conversation about the pros and cons of the commute is key.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb282011

Sexy Stares Linked to Co-eds' Poor Test Scores

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LINCOLN, Neb.) -- When a guy "harmlessly" checks out a woman, it may not be so harmless after all, according to a first-of-its kind study done by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Penn State University.

"There's a lot of anecdotal evidence that checking women out has adverse effects," said Sarah Gervais, an assistant professor of psychology at UNL and the study's lead author, "but there haven't really been any empirical studies to prove that."

In Gervais' study, published in the March issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly, a group of Penn State undergraduates -- 67 women and 83 men -- got together for what they thought was research about teamwork. As it turned out, they were part of the first study to look at how the "objectifying gaze" (flowery language for "getting checked out") affected men's and women's cognition.

It was set up like an interview. A research assistant interviewed an undergraduate of the opposite sex. If the interviewee was a member of the control group, the research assistant maintained normal eye contact throughout the conversation.

For the test group, however, the interviewer "checked out" the interviewee several times (with a full "once over" and then several glances at his or her chest). To do this scientifically and not downright perversely, the oglers underwent about 30 hours of training to the get the look and timing just right. After the interview participants were given 10 minutes to complete a set of math problems.

The results? On average, the women who weren't ogled got six out of 12 questions correct, while those who were checked out averaged just under five. The one-question difference is statistically significant, which led researchers to conclude that being objectified hindered the ogled women's concentration. Although past studies have shown that men are increasingly self-conscious about their chests, getting checked out apparently had no effect on men because results from the control and test groups were more or less the same.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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