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Archive for category: Healthy Workplace

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Protecting Client Confidentiality in Public: Laptops and Phones

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

My recent blog Confidentiality in a Coffee Shop:  Conducting Business in Private Places” highlighted the things professionals need to keep in mind when having private conversations in public spaces.  But the issue of privacy does not just include conversations that can be overheard.  It also includes using our electronics to carry out business anywhere where our screen could be visible to others. 

I was at two conferences recently where I was able to clearly see the work of others who were multi-tasking.  At one, a psychologist was sitting beside me and was editing reports with his computer on his lap.  His screen was fully visible. I could see everything he was doing including client names, claim or personal identifiers, and the written account of each individuals’ psychological assessment.  Of course, I had no business reading the material so I glanced away, but had I been interested, I could have clearly obtained information that was not meant for me, and information that a client did not consent for me to have.  In another conference example, a professional was sitting in front of me at another table.  She too was working on her laptop and I was able to see, even one table over, what she was doing.  She was not writing reports, but I did see her managing some personal financial material which I am sure she didn’t realize was visible.  As a close colleague, I reminded her at the break to be careful with her computer and what she was working on.

I am also often on the GO train venturing in and out of Toronto.  That is a hotbed of people working while they commute – on both their phones and their computers.  In my interest about this topic of privacy, I have noticed that some people have found ways to protect the privacy of their devices.  With some help from a trusted techy-friend, I wanted to provide some of these strategies to you, in case you are using your computer or phone to manage confidential or private information in public places:

APPS

On Andriod devices (sorry iPhone users) there are applications (apps) you can download that will put a filter on your device that allows you to only see the screen head-on, leaving those at different angles unable to clearly see your information.  Some of these helpful apps are:

EXTERNAL PRODUCTS

Products exist to put over computer monitors, laptop screens and phones that will distort the view from different angles.  For example, take a look at the complete line of privacy screen protectors from 3M3M offers an entire line of screen protectors that work on multiple devices and offer varying levels of protection.

The big picture is that the protection of privacy is everyone’s business, but this is especially true in health care.  Taking steps to conceal devices and screens is just as important as storing other confidential information properly.  The more portable our work-life becomes the more we need to safeguard the information we possess.

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What’s Your Love Language… And Why Does it Matter?

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I have a few online Goddesses I follow.  Women entrepreneurs who have built an empire educating other women on how to be successful.  Much like my own blog, they are comfortable sharing their stories of success and failure and want others to benefit from the knowledge they have.

In watching my online videos I will occasionally stumble upon a gem.  A piece of knowledge, a book to read, a way of thinking, or an exercise that truly moves me forward.  I recently had one of those experiences.

The video, by my career-crush and woman with the best hair in the world Marie Forleo (www.marieforleo.com), was on ways to appreciate and be appreciated.  Be it your spouse, children, parents or colleagues at work, we all strive to be loved and appreciated by those that matter to us, and to demonstrate this in return.  Marie was suggesting that in work and life it is helpful to understand how people experience and interpret love and appreciation so the efforts you make towards them can truly have an impact.  While a bit unorthodox, her suggestion was to engage people in the test of their Love Language.  She mentioned that this really helped her and her team know how to work together and ultimately appreciate each other best.  So, I took the test.  And my husband took the test.  And my children.  And my team.  The results were fascinating and helpful.

In my own family, our languages are different.  Personally, I appreciate it most when people take things off my plate.  My mind is a web of things to do so one less thing to think about is hugely valuable and appreciated by me.  Be it “I grabbed the kitty litter, put that envelope in the mail, or will send that email” – it resonates and helps me feel loved.  And call me cold, but I don’t resonate with physical touch (recall MC Hammer “Can’t Touch This”).

My girls are all different.  While most of them ranked “quality time” as their # 1, some prefer “words of affirmation” and one “physical touch”.  Not surprising, my physical touch kid is the one that is always asking for hugs and snuggling up to me on the couch.  Of great interest to me was that the one whose highest score was “words of affirmation” is also the kid that has a really hard time with conversations about things she did wrong or ways she let us down.  That makes sense now as people with this love language “thrive on hearing kind and encouraging words” and can be “shattered by insults”.  While we would never intentionally insult her, indicating that her school work is sloppy will make her feel unloved.  Good to know.  After we took the test and talked about it as a family, I took all of our ratings and put these in a chart by the door where we come and go.  I wanted these to be in plain sight and a regular reminder that our Love Languages are different and this matters when we want or need to be loved and appreciated by one another.  In a chaotic family of 6, this understanding is essential.

So I then took this experience a step further.  I asked the very important women I work with to also take this test.  The results again were interesting.  While my business partner and I tend to use small gifts as a way to show them appreciation, none of them ranked this as important.  Most would rather have unsolicited compliments (“words of affirmation”) then a surprise Edible Arrangement.  Some also prefer “acts of service” or being given “quality time” to feel valued.  At work, we can easily implement appreciation actions by offering to help them complete a burdensome task, providing unsolicited compliments, or making sure they have our undivided attention when they need it.

I consider the masterpiece that is myself to be always “under construction” and as such, I am repeatedly interested in ways to be better, do better, and spread love.  Love does not need to be considered romantic and according to 5 Love Languages, can be cast over all we meet with through simple gestures, kind words, a pat on the back, a small token of appreciation, or by sparing some time from a packed schedule.  Take the test here and see how you interpret love and appreciation and share that knowledge with those around you.

 

Originally posted July 2015

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Is the Goal of Achieving Work-Life Balance Stressing You Out?

What is your impression of work-life balance? Is your goal to create this ‘balanced lifestyle’ actually increasing your stress level?  A lot of people find work-life balance a completely unrealistic goal that is impossible to achieve. Many find life demands are simply keeping them too busy to take time to relax.

As we have discussed before, stress can cause heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and immunity issues. Statistics Canada says that 1 in 4 adults reported high stress in 2013, and high stress means that your mental and physical health are declining.

The good news is that this is preventable. We simply need to change how we define “work-life balance” and create plans that will help reduce stress based on our individual situations.  The following video from our OT-V (Occupational Therapy Video) series will help shed light on how to create a healthy balance without increasing stress or guilt if this balance is not achieved every day. 


Remember Occupational therapists know the evidence behind de-stressing, and which activities give you the most bang for your buck when you’re low on time.  Contact an OT if you need help de-stressing and creating balance in your life. 

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Confidentiality in a Coffee Shop? Conducting Business in Non-Private Places

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

In many ways, the local coffee shop has become the new “mobile office”.  Grab a beverage and maybe food, the WiFi is free and available, and no one needs to pay rent or worry about booking a reservation.

I was grabbing a tea the other day and while in line there were two women at a table beside me having a meeting.  I got the sense that the one woman was providing a service to help the other woman find her birth parents.  Within minutes I knew where the one woman was born, her date of birth, birth name, the people that adopted her, date of her adoption, where she grew up, current address…probably enough information for identity theft (if I was into that), but definitely more than I needed or cared to know, and probably more than what this woman would want strangers to overhear.

I have a client that likes to meet in a coffee shop.  He prefers that to his house where he has family that can overhear our delicate conversations.  Before agreeing to meet him there I reminded him that confidentiality is difficult in a public place, and there is no guarantee that people won’t overhear or listen to our conversation.  We discussed alternatives, but in the end, he accepted the privacy risks and continues to request a public place as our meeting spot.

As health professionals we are, or should be, always cognizant of personal privacy and information protection.  We need to safeguard our clients from potential information breaches by keeping our paper and electronic records safe and secure, but by also being very aware of our surroundings and the likelihood of our services and conversations becoming public.  Even in hospitals where there are ward rooms and open treatment areas, busy hallways and nurses’ stations: privacy and confidentiality, while difficult to maintain at times in these public forums, must be maintained.

I recently had a medical appointment at a hospital.  I had forms that I needed to bring.  When I arrived, a volunteer took my forms and in the open waiting area began summarizing these with me.  I was quiet and asked her if our conversation needed to be public.  She was an older woman and seemed startled by my question.  But honestly, not only was I uncomfortable talking to a volunteer (who is not bound by the same privacy and confidentiality rules as health professionals) about my appointment, but my discomfort was heightened when she was reviewing my personal papers openly.

The risk of personal information and privacy breaches are significant.  The media is constantly sharing stories of our information being sold, hacked or otherwise being “gathered” for purposes we don’t often consent to.  I guess the most important thing to consider is that we are mindful and aware of the information we provide about ourselves, to whom we provide it, and the presence of others in these discussions.  A coffee shop might be a suitable place to conduct some business, but I would argue not all, and that anyone engaging in conversations in public places, health professionals or not, need to be mindful and aware of their surroundings.  Consent is key, and it is important to draw people’s awareness to the location and to ask them for their permission to have sensitive or otherwise private conversations in non-private locales.

 

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The Cognitive Job Demands Analysis: Your Brain at Work

Many employers know that a Physical Job Demands Analysis involves a health professional outlining the physical aspects of a specific job position.  These are common in manufacturing or production industries where jobs can be heavy, repetitive, or require high physical demands.  But these reports are seldom helpful if an employee suffers a brain injury, cognitive or emotional impairment and their return to work issues relate to cognitive or psychological changes and not necessarily physical impairment.

A Cognitive Job Demands Analysis is an objective evaluation of the specific cognitive, emotional and psychological skills required to perform the essential job duties of a given position. As mentioned, traditional Job Demands Analysis typically address only the physical components of the essential job duties.  Yet, jobs are multifaceted and performance at work depends on the interplay of human physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral and environmental factors.  As such, having a cognitive job demands analysis in conjunction with a physical job demands analysis is ideal, or these can be completed as a standalone assessment if required.

Cognitive job demands analyses can be helpful in providing a baseline measurement tool against which an individual’s cognitive and psychological capacities may be compared, such as when hiring new employees, developing and implementing training programs, or to assist in return to work post injury or illness. These comprehensive and detailed assessments can be utilized when any health condition (cognitive, physical, or emotional) impacts an employee’s thinking, cognition and/or their interpersonal processes and abilities.

Much like with a physical job demands analysis, a cognitive job demands analysis involves an on-site observation of a worker(s) completing the job in question and usually includes objective measurements, and sometimes interviews with employers and co-workers. Some of the more specific aspects examined include:

  • Hearing, vision and perception
  • Reading, writing and speech
  • Memory, attention, and higher level cognitive abilities, like problem solving, insight and judgement
  • Safety awareness
  • Work pace
  • Self-supervision
  • Deadlines and work pressure
  • Interpersonal skills required for the job
  • Self-regulation and the need to work independently, with supervision, or in a group

A comprehensive job demands analysis should include comparisons of the information obtained to standardized classification data related to occupations, such as those outlined by the National Occupational Classification 2011 proposed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. After a report is generated, recommendations and interventions for consideration can be developed.

Do you feel that your organization has positions that need to be outlined via a cognitive job demands analysis? Do you have more questions on how a cognitive job demands analysis can be used in the return to work process? If so, seek out the services of an Occupational Therapist, or contact us for a free consultation.

For additional informative posts on workplace health and wellness please refer to our Healthy Workplace page.

Resources

Haruko Ha, D., Page, J.J., Wietlisbach, C.M. (2013). Work evaluations and work programs. In H. McHugh Pendleton and W. Schultz-Krohn (Eds.) Pedretti’s Occupational Therapy Practice Skills for Physical Dysfunction (337-380), St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Mosby.

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The A to Z of OT: W is For… Workplace Wellbeing

There are many ways that Occupational Therapists promote wellness and wellbeing for those in the workplace.  From ergonomics to accessibility; injury prevention to return to work programs, OTs assist in the workplaces in many facets.  We are going to focus on an important way that Occupational Therapists can assist employees and employers at work – by improving mental health.  Learn more about how OT’s can provide essential information and assistance to enable the support of mental wellness at work in our OT-V video below, or in our post,  Promoting Mental Wellness at Work.

 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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The A to Z of OT: R is For… Return to Work

The process of returning an injured worker to their previous job or a modified position needs to be handled properly to reduce re-absenteeism and employer risk.  Getting the employee back to their previous job duties and regular hours is the goal, which is tackled carefully to reduce re-injury. Much like getting an injured athlete back in the game, return to work coordination involves an individual approach and is a thorough process to ensure the future success of the employee and company.

Learn how Occupational Therapists work with an injured worker and their place of employment in our post, Returning to Work After Illness or Injury:  OT Can Help!

 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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The A to Z of OT: J is For… Job Demands Analysis

A physical (and cognitive) demands analysis goes beyond the standard job description, as these typically only define the job to be performed in terms of duties and roles. In contrast, a physical and cognitive demands analysis digs deeper into the job and clearly outlines all the different demands that will be placed on that worker in that position.

Physical components such as lifting, carrying, walking, and fine motor skills, along with cognitive demands like visual and perceptual skills, attention, and memory are important to understand and document.  Then, when hiring workers, these reports serve as a reference point for ensuring the right hire, and are also essential in making solid decisions about someone’s ability to return to a job after injury or illness.

Learn more about Job Demands Analysis in our post, The Physical Demands Analysis – Risk Reduction for Employers, Employees and Physicians

 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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The A to Z of OT: E is For… Ergonomics

What is ergonomics?  Ergonomics is a catch-all phrase for the process of ensuring the body is in an appropriate position when completing daily tasks. Sitting, standing, bending, lifting – all these movements require the proper ergonomic position of the legs, spine, and arms to promote comfort and productivity, and to reduce the risk of physical injury.  Proper ergonomics is often most important at work, as this is where you spend the majority of your time.

Everyone deserves to be comfortable at work – from the front line staff to the CEO. When people are comfortable they are happier, more productive, feel valued and supported, and are less likely to leave work due to physical injury from poor office ergonomics.

Below is our informative video, Ergonomics at Work, showing how an Occupational Therapist can help in your office by keeping people at work, enhancing productivity, reducing costs, and promoting employee morale and satisfaction.

For more information check out our post, Workplace Ergonomics, Laws for Work.   You can also download our free e-book, Cost-Effective Ergonomic Solutions.

 

October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along with The A to Z of OT and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!

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Top Time Management Strategies to Increase Productivity

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Meat Loaf says it best: “if you are only killing time it will kill you right back.” How true.

As we all try to cram more into our days, weeks, and nights we are creating unsustainable expectations for ourselves and for those that rely on each of us to get stuff done. In a previous post, Time “Savers” that Could Kill You, I offered my opinion on what I would consider dangerous and potentially life-threatening “time savers” that seem to be becoming commonplace in our manically productive world. Sleep deprivation, texting or emailing when driving, fast food and avoiding exercise were all on my list.

With that aside, I would now like to share the seemingly effective strategies I personally try to utilize for managing and maximizing time. But to be clear, I don’t have a degree or certificate in time management from any reputable institution. I am just a busy working mom of four kids who has been able to stay fit, get a Master’s degree, and run a business all because I can get lots done in a day. I have also read numerous books on productivity, health, happiness and personal development and have been able to incorporate many of the strategies I have read and learned into my world. So, here are what I would call my “tricks of the trade”…

  1. I prioritize.  What are your time priorities? If you answer “clearing my inbox, answering and responding to calls, getting projects done” then you have not looked at your life from the proverbial 30,000 feet. You are missing the big picture. Personally, my priorities (in order) are my health, my family, my career, and my personal development (yes, health comes first – without this the others are jeopardized!). So, my time spent always aligns with those. My health time includes sleeping, preparing healthy meals and exercising. My family time includes all that is involved in being a mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, grandchild, etc. My career is all that I do to manage my clients and business. And my personal development includes many of my social relationships, reading books and attending school, conferences and workshops. I make sure that every day includes at least one activity under each domain and recognize that some weeks my time shifts between these unevenly, but that in the next week I will find a way to correct course. Nothing I ever do under any of these priorities can be considered a “waste of time” as that would put me in a negative mindset (i.e. having to take a day off to manage a sick kid is never met with angst – “sick kid” falls under the family priority). Having set and firm priorities allows me to dictate how to schedule my time ensuring the right balance over a day, week and month between the four pillars of my life.
  2. I live in the non-urgent but important quadrant.  I love Stephen Covey’s thoughts on time management from the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. Consider that if everything on your list is “urgent and important” you are doing something wrong and have not planned your time properly. While urgent things may creep into our day, ultimately being proactive and planning effectively means that you can focus on important things and manage these before URGENT happens. To balance my priorities I ensure that nothing “unimportant” lands on my desk or in my schedule. After all, I just don’t have time for “unimportant.”
  3. I am proactive.  Being reactive is a time waster. When we “react” we enter a different head-space, are required to shift our focus from the events of the day to something unplanned, and often spend more time picking up the pieces than we would if things didn’t crumble in the first place. Do you have a warning light on in your car? Get it into the shop before you are stranded at the side of the road spending hours dealing with roadside assistance and not having access to a vehicle. Or better yet, schedule your car for regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Feeling sluggish or unwell? Take a day off to recharge, make some changes to your routines, or get into your doctor before you enter full-blown illness. Taking one day off to feel better is more effective than the week you will need when the illness spreads.
  4. I use technology wisely.  Technology is a tool, but it is also a trap. My phone has a few productive apps but no games. Personally, “playing video games” does not align with my priorities as these have nothing to do with my health, family, career or personal development. I also don’t use my phone to conduct business – more to just be informed about it. Trying to conduct business on a smartphone often leads to errors in typing, autocorrect, and changes the response to something shorter, even curt. I would prefer to respond on my computer or make a phone call versus emailing on a device. I also don’t watch TV – unless it involves a family movie or show we can all enjoy together. Technology for me is an information tool for my business, and an “in the moment” way to communicate, but otherwise I think use of those gadgets are a waste of time, not the opposite.
  5. I plan ahead.  Proper planning is always an effective use of time. Leaving your home to realize your meeting is thirty minutes farther away than you expected, driving somewhere to realize you forgot something, going to the grocery store without a list, arriving to a meeting without reviewing the agenda beforehand, or cramming your Powerpoint the night before are all signs of poor planning. In our personal lives being unprepared wastes time and money, in our professional lives these jeopardize our professional reputation. Make time in your schedule to proactively manage your “to do’s.”
  6. I know myself.  Are you in tune with your capacity? Personally, I know my limits and recognize when I work best. For example, I am most effective at writing (reports, documents, blogs, etc) in the morning. From 8am to noon I can fly through written tasks quickly. After noon, my focus wanes and it is easier for me to work on emails and calls as these require more short-term attention. This is how I try to structure my workdays. I also know things that I am good at, struggle with, and those things that I have taken on before with poor outcomes. Knowing this helps me to stay in my strengths as this is where I am most effective.
  7. I use lists.  In “The Art of Stress Free Productivity” and even “The Four Hour Workweek” both authors suggested that each day should start with a list of the top 3-5 things that need to be done that day. No exceptions. I find this strategy exceptionally helpful and each morning, or even the night before, I write a short list of “to do’s” and enjoy crossing things off as I accomplish them. Sometimes the list is separated by “personal, kids, work” etc. to match my priorities. And if I find myself wandering from my list to other tasks (i.e. my email inbox), having this in front of me grounds me back to the tasks that need to come first.
  8. I take notes when reading.  When I read educational or development books I always have a notepad and pen with me. Why? Because to read a book about personal development and to not take away or implement any of the strategies after makes reading a waste of time. If there is information I can benefit from, I want to capture that in a place where I can incorporate it into my life and review it later. This optimizes my reading time and self-development priority.
  9. I manage my energy levels.  Maximizing my energy levels maximizes my productivity. I do this by eating well, sleeping well, managing stress, and exercising.
  10. I delegate.  To effectively delegate you need to look at the resources available to you and determine who might be able to take some of the responsibility and run with it. If you know you don’t have time to take on a new project, say no, or figure out who you can enlist to support you in getting the job done.
  11. I practice self-discipline.  It is easy to be distracted, coerced, or tempted by other, maybe more fun, but usually less productive, tasks. That phone conversation with a friend, google wandering, checking Facebook, that lengthy lunch. While these may ultimately align with your priorities, the things you are neglecting during your productive hiatus will only work to move things from “important” to “urgent” in no time. Self-discipline allows you to firmly focus on the tasks on your “to-do” list versus those other enjoyable activities that might sway you in a less productive direction. So, get the “to dos” done first before being pulled in other directions.

Do you have other time maximizing ideas? I would love to hear them.

Originally posted August 2014