The TRUTH About Remote Work (from a Programmer)

In an age where everything can be delivered to your doorstep or done at more, more and more companies are allowing workers to work remotely. The dream, right? Maybe not.

In this video by programmer Andy Sterkowitz, which he recorded while working remotely in Playa Del Carmen, he explains the obvious benefits but as well the challenges that come from working remotely.

Swearing at Work? What’s the Big @#$%* Deal?

Swearing at Work? What's the Big @#$%* Deal?

Do you curse? Do you swear when you’re mad, use profanity when chatting with friends or drop the odd f-bomb just because? Most people blurt out some sort of foul language occasionally and that’s ok… most of the time. There’s nothing wrong with swearing in a private setting or in a social atmosphere with the right friends, but where do you draw the line?

There are often questions about whether or not profanity is appropriate in professional settings, specifically the workplace. Given those questions, it’s no surprise that there have been a number of studies researching the effects of cursing, and the results differ:

  • A 2012 CareerBuilder study found that 64% of employers think less of an employee who regularly uses curse words and 57% would be less likely to promote that person. On the other side of the coin, 51% of employees said they swear in the office and half of them do so in front of their boss.
  • Another study by researchers at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain revealed that swearing at work can be beneficial because it enables the development of personal relationships within a team. It also acts as a stress relief which has direct effects on health.
  • Wrike also took a look at the perceptions of swearing at work. In 2016, their research discovered that while more than half of respondents swear, 41% found it was too casual and unprofessional, yet 33% would not consider working in an organization where swearing is strictly banned.

It’s clear that there are risks to spicing up your vocabulary in a professional setting but the choice is ultimately yours. Before you get too wild, though, there are some considerations if you want to land an IT contract and keep it:

  • The organization’s culture. As an independent contractor you are your own boss, but it is still mandatory to respect the policies and culture of your clients while on site and interacting with their employees. If the environment is not one that accepts swearing, then you should also choose to set it aside.
  • The context. Swearing can be linked to insults and bullying which must be eliminated from the behaviour of any ethical IT consultant. However, depending on the context of how words are used, it can enhance a message, be encouraging, or lighten the mood. Your job is to consider the context before opening your mouth.
  • The situation. Swearing should be reserved for casual settings around people with whom you have a good relationship. A job interview with a recruiter you just met or a serious client meeting with senior executives you don’t know are not the place to throw in your fancy adjectives.
  • The audience. As noted in the previous point, it’s important to get to know the people around you before becoming too liberal with your potty mouth. But just because you know them does not give you carte blanche. Respect those who prefer a clean conversation. If you’re uncertain of their style, err on the side of caution.
  • The medium. A good rule of thumb is to never write anything that can be taken out of context and used against you. Inappropriate language tops that list. Social media, email and even instant messaging can all come back to bite you in the… , so it’s encouraged not to type any curse words at all.

While we don’t need to provide examples, there is a scale where some words are more accepted than others, while other words should never be muttered. Similarly, because everybody has different cultures, backgrounds and experiences, some words are perceived to be worse by some than they are to others. It is up to you to distinguish and judge what you can say. If you are ever unsure, then its best you find other ways to spice up that conversation and leave the swearing for when you get home.

Project Calendars and Gantt Charts: What’s the difference and when to use them?

Project Calendars and Gantt Charts: What's the difference and when to use them?Project Managers use a number of tools to keep projects moving and deliver a solution to the client on time and on budget, with scheduling tools being one of the most important. While there are a variety of options, Wrike states that the two most common are traditional project calendars and Gantt charts. An article by Kat Boogaard says that the tools are similar and neither is necessarily better than the other; however, there are three distinct differences: appearance, usability, and function.

The difference in appearance is obvious — a project calendar looks like a traditional calendar where Gantt charts provide a visual representation of the project timeline. Naturally, then, usability follows as the next distinction since Gantt charts are less intuitive. Using a Gantt chart can create extra work in getting a team up-to-speed, especially when some are unfamiliar with the format. Function is the more complex difference, as Boogaard explains that each can have its own purpose. Here is what she recommends:

Use a Project Calendar When:

  • You only need an overview of key ideas: It’s easy to clearly notate things like go-live dates, meeting dates and crucial milestones.
  • You want something simple to share with other stakeholders: For example, the board of directors may just need to know a few select dates or the client might only have time to a quick glance for the crucial facts.
  • You need to schedule a meeting: Meetings are a necessary evil in projects but rarely displayed easily on a Gantt chart.

Use a Gantt Chart When:

  • You need to understand dependencies between tasks: It’s important to know what tasks will impact others for you to plan a realistic schedule.
  • You need to identify your project’s Critical Path: A traditional calendar simply can’t trace the longest line of dependent tasks. Gantt charts make it easier to know where you have wiggle room.
  • You need to manage multiple projects at once: Say good by to multiple calendars and layer different projects to get an understanding of how they overlap.

Again, the author highlights that neither of these tools are superior than the other, they just need to be used at the appropriate times. In fact, Boogaard suggests that they often complement one another and recommends using both. If you’re a Project Manager, which do you prefer to use? Or, when you’re working on any project, which do you prefer your PM shows to you?

It’s 2019. Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

There’s little such thing as privacy in this world. If you use the Internet and access any major technology platform, your data is almost definitely being captured in some form or another. How often do you think about what kind of information is out there and who has access to it?

Unless you’re extremely diligent, you can guarantee that at least one of the major players — Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Amazon or Microsoft — has some data on you. And this infographic from Security Baron tells you what they might have.

Even though the infographic isn’t even a year old yet, it already contains some outdated information (Google+ doesn’t exist anymore). Still, it remains an eye-opener and accurate on most fronts.

The Data Big Tech Companies Have On You - SecurityBaron.com - Infographic
By SecurityBaron.com

“Having a Great Week Does Not Start on Monday… It Starts Sunday Night!”

Sunday night. A night full of great weekend memories (or regret) and next week blues. Everyone’s heart drops at the reminder that in 12 hours they will be in their car, on the bus or on the train commuting to their office. Even if you are going to your dream job, it’s human nature to feel a bit reluctant to be a slave to the office hours.

Things might be stacked against you but if you are able to channel your productivity, there are 5 simple things you can — and should do — every Sunday night to make sure that you start your week on the right foot. Just watch this video from The Art of Improvement.

Quick Poll Results: What Soft Skills Will IT Contractors Improve?

Personal and professional development should be on everybody’s mind. Self-improvement is the best way to fast-track your career, gain fantastic references, and start applying to high-paying contracts without having to build as many years of experience. According to an article published by LinkedIn earlier this year, listing the most in-demand skills, there are over 50,000 professional skills in the world. It’s impossible to know where to start!

That same article summarized the top 5 soft skills that companies look for. In last month’s contractor quick poll, we asked our readers, of those top skills, which ones do they plan to improve over the course of the next year. It’s promising to see that 80% plan to work on some sort of skill and, given the tech world’s fast-pace environment, no surprise that adapability is the top goal.

Quick Poll Results: Which of the following in-demand soft skills do you plan on improving in the next year?

Hiring Trend Stats… What the “Other Side” is Thinking

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

Eagle collects, compiles and analyzes labour market statistics on an ongoing basis. Keeping our finger on the pulse of market movements and trends is a full-time job. In these Talent Development Centre posts, we often share general data points on market demand and indicators that we feel would be directly pertinent to our contractor partners… after all, building value through education is the driving purpose of this blog site! I thought I’d take a bit of a detour on this post, sharing some ideas/statistics that we’ve collected that would typically be of value to the companies that hire contractors for their operations and projects. Sometimes there’s value to be found in reviewing what your customers are thinking about or are concerned with.

With that said, here are 5 research findings that reflect your customers’ intentions/beliefs/experiences:

1. The Challenges in Finding Tech Talent

The CompTIA IT Industry Outlook for 2019 showed that 50% of Canadian companies (and 53% of US companies) are finding it either more difficult or significantly more difficult to hire the Tech- People they need.

  • They are hiring to support company expansion (58%), for new skills (52%), and as replacements for departures (43%)
  • Top hiring challenges include: Finding workers with the skill/experience in emerging areas, Finding workers with the needed soft-skills, intense competition for tech talent, rising salary/rate expectations, and having a limited pool of available workers in their “local” region.

2. Discouraged from Using More Contract Workers

Per an Okta Digital Enterprise Report, the Top 5 reasons that discourage a company from using more contract workers include:

  • Security Concerns — over 40% of companies report having significant concerns that contractors increase the threat profile for their companies.
  • Efficiency Concerns — they are not set up to manage contractors effectively and doubt whether they can make proper use of contingent labour
  • Regulatory Concerns — both south of the border and here, in Canada, increasing government legislation/involvement are raising risk factors for businesses. It is increasingly challenging to stay on top of legal requirements and stay on-side of CRA expectations
  • Collaboration Concerns — related to efficiency concerns, about a third of companies surveyed aren’t convinced that they know how to manage contingent workers to the degree needed to ensure a successful engagement
  • Budget Concerns — IT departments are continually under pressure to “do more with less”. Over 30% sited this constraint as a limitation to using more contract workers despite having a robust project list

3. Sought-After Soft Skills

A survey completed by CareerBuilder in March of this year identifies the 3 most sought-after soft skills that they look for when completing their hiring – Team-Oriented Mindset, Attention to Detail, and Customer Service Orientation. Companies are taking on highly-complex undertakings such as “Digital Transformation”, Cloud, and ERP projects and these impact entire organizations, crossing boundaries between IT and other business units. As hard skills in brand-new areas are still relatively thin, soft skills have never been more important. In a LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report companies claim that, when looking at bad hires, they are 4X more likely to be a result of people lacking soft skills vs hard skills.

4. Remote Work Allowed by Industry

LinkedIn’s recent survey shows that Software and IT, Finance, and Corporate Services are most likely to allow/encourage remote working environments. Healthcare and Manufacturing were least likely. The companies surveyed believe that work flexibility (remote work) provide the following benefits (top 5):

  • Improves work-life balance
  • Encourages retention
  • Attracts candidates
  • Increases productivity
  • Expands the available talent pool.

5. Digital Transformation Projects Abound

Constellation Research completed a survey late last year to gauge companies’ readiness to implement their digital transformation plans. They found that an astounding 94% of respondents need to hire additional human capital to implement Digital Transformation solutions.

Chart by Constellation Research: Does your organizationhave the workforce talent it needs to implement successful digital transformation solutions

Themes in these 5 questions include such things as companies’ sensitivity to security/risk, applicants’ needs to demonstrate strong soft skills when applying, companies’ various internal and external challenges finding (and landing) the talent that they need, and the pervasiveness of digital transformation (however DT might be defined by companies surveyed). Perhaps these data points will provide you with some insights as to other non-skills-related experience that you may want to include in your discussions during interviews. The data points shared were common for the vast number of respondents and they are likely to be on the minds of your next interviewer as well!

Regional Job Market Update for Ottawa, Ontario (August 2019)

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

Ottawa Job MarketWhile the Canadian economy shed over 24,000 jobs in July and the national unemployment rate edged up to 5.7% from 5.5%, the disappointment was not reflected in the Ottawa market (and let’s be sure to add context — these are still historically low rates of unemployment.)

The employment story in Ottawa for the same month was one of continued robustness, with the region adding 12,300 jobs in July, dropping the unemployment rate sharply from 5.6% in July to 4.8%. The local tech market along with the Federal Government continue to drive the market as both seek to fill positions in what is rapidly becoming one of the tightest technology talent markets in Canada. In fact, Shopify recently introduced an innovative program to attract “lapsed” developers, former developers who have taken more than two years off and are out of the market. The program will train them back up on the job — surely a sign of the times in an effort to attract talent.

With a pending Fall election, there is no doubt an expected slowdown in hiring, specifically net new IT projects with the Feds. That said, however, this summer has been one of the busiest experienced with numerous large RFP’s on the street and the Feds still forecasting to create 10,000 new jobs over the next 5 years.

TD Bank recently released a study that looks at the evolving inequality in the labour market as it relates specifically to technology and cities in Canada. We have asserted for some time that while the national unemployment rate is a healthy 5.2% to 5.9 % range, the “technology” unemployment rate is likely less than half that national rate at around 2.0% to 2.5%. The reality on the ground, however, is in major cities it is in fact closer to 0 per cent! The study shows that the 5 major centres in Canada of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa make up over 70% of the entire digital services employment in Canada, backing up the near 0% technology unemployment rate. With these kind of market forces in play, in cities like Ottawa, we can verify undoubtedly the scarcity of resources. It’s no surprise that Canada experienced the fastest clip in wage growth in a decade of 4.5%, up sharply again from 3.8% in June.

Recent global economic indicators have brought talk of a possible recession in the months and years ahead, as the long recovery cycle comes to an inevitable cooling off; however, it’s tough to fathom given the local technology market we see in Ottawa today.

In demand roles around the Ottawa tech job market this summer include Architects, IT Business Analysts, System Analysts, Programmers and Project Managers.

How Can Technology Help Us Sleep Better

It’s 2 AM and you’re awake although it’s way past your planned bedtime and you need to be up for work in less than six hours. So, why aren’t you sleeping? The reason is probably that you’re on your smartphone or laptop scrolling down on your social media pages or binge-watching a TV show and you can’t stop. If that, in fact, is the case, you shouldn’t worry. It’s happening to a lot of us really. Just in the last several years, around 60% of young people have admitted to having inadequate sleep.

The first notion that you can get from this is that technology is bad for your sleep, but this is not entirely true. Not all technology affects our sleeping patterns in a negative way. Some studies have actually shown that you can use technology to your own advantage, and that tech can be effectively used to help you sleep better. Here’s how.

Snoring

Around 30% of people in the world frequently experience snoring. While this doesn’t affect them much, it does affect other folks in the household, especially spouses whom they are sharing the bed with.

Since snoring usually occurs when we sleep on our backs, gadgets like Philips SmartSleep Snoring device detect this and encourage the user to change position. Other devices of this kind include the Hüpnos Snoring Mask and the Urgonight EEG Headband.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is also quite common and can be caused by weight, enlarged tonsils, smoking, drinking, and some other factors. Around 20% of people worldwide suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

Programs like SlumberBUMP try to accustom people to sleep on their sides, which solves this problem to a degree. BiPAP machine is very effective at treating patients with sleep apnea, and you also might want to try Theravent EPAP technology.

Insomnia

Insomnia, which is a medical term for having trouble falling asleep, can have many causes, the most common being physical or emotional discomfort, stress, extreme temperatures, light, and depression. Almost every third person complains about having insomnia.

Some medication can help you fall asleep faster, but there is also all kinds of technology that can work to your advantage. Sleepio is a system that detects your sleeping issues and optimizes your sleep routines. If the source of your insomnia is light, try the biological Good Night LED Bulbs that were originally developed for NASA astronauts.

Narcolepsy

While some people can’t get enough sleep, others get too much of it. Narcolepsy is a disorder of excessive sleep, and while it’s not common, it still affects one in every 2,000 Americans. There are different light gadgets that you can use to alleviate the symptoms of narcolepsy, like LED Skylights, Verilux HappyLight Deluxe, and Day-Light Sky.

Nightmares

We all have bad dreams from time to time, and occasionally we get those awful nightmares that scare us so much that we are afraid to fall back to sleep again. Nightmares can be caused by stress, anxiety, trauma, or other factors. While we cannot really control what we dream about, we can still use tech to avoid nightmares from happening.

One thing called the ReScript Treatment seems to be the most effective. It helps patients have greater control over their visual imagery by implementing the creative use of virtual reality. It’s sort of a training program that teaches you how to change what you see in your sleep to a more pleasing image.

Check out a visual of some solutions below and visit the original page for the complete infographic.

Solve Your Sleep Problems with Technology

Make Your Resume Pass a Recruiter’s 5-Second Scan

As though you are someone just passing them on the street, recruiters give you the quick up-and-down or pass by you all together. Like a bright shirt, there are tips and tricks to prompt recruiters to stop and give your resume a sufficient review.

Check out this video and make sure that your resume is wearing that bright shirt so it stands out from the crowd and demands to be noticed.