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Academic Showcase and GPSA Research Exposition abstracts now available online – WSU News

Although no one was able to browse academic posters in person this year at Academic Showcase and the Graduate and Professional Students Association (GPSA) Research Exposition, now everyone can see summaries of them online.

Abstracts of research and creative work submitted for the poster sessions have been made available in a searchable format on the Showcase website. They were written by faculty, staff, and graduate and professional students who had planned to participate in the March events on the Pullman campus. In-person events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The online resource recognizes the discoveries and creative work of hundreds of WSU scholars across the full range of disciplines.

“Thanks to all of the faculty members, students, and staff who prepared to share their work at Academic Showcase,” said Vice Provost Laura Griner Hill, who co-chairs the Showcase Steering Committee. “We were disappointed to have to cancel events because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Posting your abstracts online is a way for us to honor you and your achievements under these extraordinary circumstances.”

The new web pages, one for Academic Showcase and another for GPSA Research Exposition, give would-be attendees the chance to browse poster titles. Academic Showcase abstracts are listed by the academic or administrative unit with which the authors are affiliated. Since GPSA Research Exposition is both a poster session and scholarship competition, its abstracts are grouped by competition category. A search bar lets visitors easily locate abstracts in their field of interest.

Abstracts summarize original work recently completed at WSU. They are written in easy-to-understand language to be accessible to an educated lay audience.

Academic Showcase and the GPSA Research Exposition are part of a weeklong program known simply as Showcase, which honors scholarly achievements of the university community.

For more information, see the Showcase website or contact event organizers at showcase@wsu.edu, 509‑335‑6674.

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Bosses consider host of safety measures to kelp employees return to work after lockdown – Wales Online

Employers are expected to be more flexible about home working in the future – with almost half of bosses believing it will save cash.

A poll of 1,000 companies in the UK found just 45 per cent were happy to let staff work from home prior to lockdown.

But seven in 10 are now considering rule changes to allow workers to continue operating remotely, while a further 57 per cent of business owners are already looking at adapting many of their usual practices moving forward.

The study was commissioned by Vision Direct in response to a surge in online customers during April, reports MirrorOnline.

Ashley Mealor, of Vision Direct, said: “Within a few weeks of lockdown we experienced a surge in new customers – the figure was 69 per cent up on the same time the previous year.

“We quickly identified a change in our customer’s behaviour, as they react to events around them. All businesses have had to adapt and respond quickly to the constant changing situation, and most are having to identify safer, quicker, more streamlined ways of trading for the future.

“We’re anticipating an even greater move towards online shopping, and we are exploring options for online eye tests, to cater for customers who either can’t get to the high street, or don’t want to.”

The research also found one third of businesses are planning to offer more online services, while a fifth will be reducing current office space.

Some For 13 per cent of business owners plan to reduce team sizes in certain areas, while 14 per cent favour downsizing.

Many office workers are now working from home (Image: SHARED CONTENT UNIT)

Eight in 10 employers claim more video conferencing will take place rather than face-to-face meetings, and staff who do have to meet others will do so in smaller numbers.

Staggered start times, professional cleaning services and the introduction of PPE are also being considered by many bosses – and some intend to give their staff the freedom more flexibility over location and times of work.

This could also lead to a rise in job opportunities for those not living in cities, if employers allow more remote working.

A further study of 1,000 workers currently at home, conducted via OnePoll, found many feel it is safer and more sensible to continue working from home, with as few people in the office as possible.

In addition to the safety factor, 35 per cent feel they are more productive working from home, while 37 per cent say their attitude to work remains unaffected.

Take part in our Great Big Business Survey

Calling all business owners and business leaders – we want to hear from you.

The coronavirus crisis has changed the way we do business virtually every night and we want to know exactly what it has meant for you and your business.

The Government has been forced to launch an unprecedented programme of support for businesses, worth hundreds of billions of pounds.

But other businesses have found new opportunities, from supporting the NHS with equipment supplies to switching to home delivery services.

Our survey, created by our sister site BusinessLive, will only take a few minutes to fill in and we’re running this survey on dozens of different news sites across our parent company, Reach PLC.

You can help us get a true national picture of what’s happening to businesses, to entrepreneurs, to managers and to workers across the country.

Please take part in the Great Big Business Survey by clicking here.

More than half of those polled have maintained good business practice throughout lockdown, with 22 per cent continuing to dress in work attire and 51 per cent creating an efficient home office set up.

A ban on travel to bigger cities is preferable for 16 per cent of employees, while 35 per cent want to see shorter working weeks, with four days on and three days off.

Ashley Mealor, from Vision Direct, added: “We’re bracing ourselves for tough times ahead, as while we’ve managed to maintain an impressive level of service throughout lockdown, we did see a 19 per cent drop of contact lens usage.

“However, this is already returning to normal as lockdown eases and more social interaction and activities such as tennis increase.

“Like many other businesses, we have adapted to working from home successfully, although still see a need for the office environment.

“With Zoom fatigue and lack of social interaction, we are conscious of the impact on staff productivity and overall well-being.”

Top safety measures considered by UK employers

1. The option to work from home – 43%

2. Desks set 2 meters apart – 32%

3. The ability to conduct all meetings via video conferencing – 30%

4. PPE – including face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer on decks – 30%

5. Reduced number of people in meetings – 25%

6. Professional cleaning daily – 24%

7. Staggered start times – 22%

8. Ban of external guests to offices -19%

9. Shorter working weeks – 4 days on 3 days off – 14%

10. Shift patterns – 14 %

11. A ban on travel to cities such as London, Birmingham etc – 11%

12. Perspex partitions on desks – 11%

13. Desks set out so everyone faces the same way – 10%

14. Wider entrances – 4%

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Online Work

The Red Carpet Online – News Center – Montclaire News

June 1, 2020

12th Annual Theatre Night Awards bring University alumni together, shape theater programs across New Jersey

Posted in: Arts, University

Jordan Muhammad (left) of Columbia High School won the 2020 Foxy for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama.

Since 2009, Montclair State’s Department of Theatre and Dance has hosted the Annual Theatre Night Awards – also known as the Foxys – bringing together University alumni and high school theater students and teachers from across New Jersey.

The awards program, which was started by a University professor and her students, has had an impact on theater programs statewide by giving drama students and teachers a chance to learn from each other’s best work, as well as a competition that inspires them to raise their game.

“The whole program came out of a graduate directing class I was teaching,” says organizer and Montclair State Professor of Theatre Susan Kerner. “My students were talking about the fact that there was no network for high school drama teachers throughout the state. We decided that year to start the network.”

This year, as with so many other events, the Foxys pivoted in the face of COVID-19 and were presented in virtual fashion.

As host Peter Filichia said in introducing the 12th Annual Foxys ceremony on YouTube, “The show must go on!”

“This year was a really special year,” says Kerner, who reported that videographer Steven Flores and producer Christina Cruz (both of whom are University alumni) painstakingly created montages from video footage of theater productions for each nominating category.

“It was really exciting. If we hadn’t been completely restricted to being at home we wouldn’t have had time to do this,” says Kerner noting that teachers and students usually don’t get to see each other’s work, “but, this year with the clips, they can see it!”

The established network that began with these awards has helped high school students find a college home at Montclair State, as well.This year, several Foxy award-winners and nominees have committed to Montclair State for the fall, including Lixangelys Ruiz of Passaic Preparatory Academy, Christine Tanko of Watchung Regional High School, Yazmery Milian of Memorial High School in West New York, and Cooper Mendonssa of Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

“Next year, I will be attending Montclair State as a Music Education major and am absolutely thrilled to work with the incredible staff at the John J. Cali School of Music,” says Tanko, who was awarded Best Lead Actress in a Drama for her portrayal of Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible in 2019. “I am ecstatic for the opportunities the University will grant me and for what my future holds!”

For Cooper Mendonssa, who won the 2020 Foxy for Best Lead Actor in a Classical Play (Tartuffe), the award represents the process of discovering himself through the development of a character, something he’s looking forward to doing more of in college.  “I’m also excited and frankly a little scared to start a new chapter in college life at Montclair State, however, I’m well aware of what I am capable of, so I know I’ll be just fine!”

2020 Theatre Night Awards — Part 1:

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The 2020 Foxy nominees represent 75 New Jersey middle and high schools that submitted their fall plays for consideration.

The awards were presented by prominent theater professionals working in New York, Los Angeles, London, Singapore and New Jersey – including University alumni such as Rob McClure, Mia Pinero and Ari Frenkel. A team of Montclair State alumni from the Normal Ave theater company – as well as faculty members Peter Flynn, Rick Sordelet and Jordan Baker Kilner – helped Kerner reach out to presenters.

“It’s so much Montclair State presence!” says Kerner. “And a huge Montclair State community effort.”

Of those 75 schools, Kerner reports that many of the teachers obtained their graduate degrees at Montclair State.

One of those teachers, Jo Anne Fox, who taught theater at Mahwah High School, “came up with the idea of building our network further and starting this award ceremony,” says Kerner. “Musicals were getting so much attention with the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards. The straight plays weren’t getting enough attention.”

2020 Theatre Night Awards — Part 2:

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Fox died suddenly and unexpectedly soon after the first awards ceremony, and the awards were renamed “Foxys” in her honor.

In addition, the Jo Anne Fox Award is given each year to two teachers – one veteran, one newcomer – “who create a community in their school around theater.” Ashley Raven ’15 MA,  Theatre Studies, won the newcomer award this year.

Kerner also credited Linda Davidson, assistant dean of the College of the Arts (CART); Sarah Assalone, Student Services and Recruitment Coordinator; Marie Sparks, CART director of Academic Services and Community Outreach; and Kathleen Reddington, CART Administrative Services program assistant, for helping to get the awards off the ground in the formative years.

This year, Kerner dedicated the Education Impact and Community Outreach Award to her mother who died of COVID-19 on April 27, in the midst of work to produce the show. “My mother was very much a community organizer,” says Kerner. “It was good for me to do something that she would be proud of.”

The Foxys work to reach and reward schools from all areas and with a wide range of resources. The program also seeks to help schools diversify the material they present – rewarding original and innovative work with awards like the “The Peter Filichia Award for Pushing the Envelope in Academic Theatre” and acting categories for works of “Innovation & Invention.”

This impact can be seen in nominations for Memorial High School in West New York, which produced the original work disCONNECT this year. “They always write their own shows,” says Kerner. Or for Burlington County Institute of Technology Medford School of Performing Arts which reimagined Macbeth as “The Scottish Play in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.”

For their part, teachers and students were appreciative of the University’s work putting the 2020 Foxys together.

Said Beth Baur of Memorial High School in West New York, “My kids are suffering from food insecurity and housing insecurity, and this was a great moment of celebration and community for a hot minute. So, so grateful.”

“Thank you for being a constant and one of the things that all the students can still depend upon,” wrote Jeff Hogan of West Morris Central High School in an email to Kerner. “You guys truly did an excellent job still bringing it all to life. We all needed it.”

By Staff Writer Mary Barr Mann

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Online Work

Tips on Preparing For and Taking Online Finals This Unprecedented Term – DrexelNow – Drexel Now

Lindsay Matias, assistant director of the Center for Learning and Academic Success Services (CLASS), shares her views on the strategies, pitfalls and benefits of online final exam taking for Dragons this term.

Please visit the ‘Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus’ website for the latest public health advisories.

In an unprecedented exam week next week, Drexel Dragons will not be picking up their pens and pencils, sitting down in a classroom desk or auditorium seat, and fanning out all across campus to take the tests that culminate 10 weeks of learning. Instead, they will be picking up their laptop and computer mouse, closing their bedroom doors and taking those exams online from all across the country and the world.

So, with all of the changes to the way Drexel students must approach this coming exam week, what should also change about the way they prepare? What should stay the same? DrexelNow spoke with Lindsay Matias, assistant director of the Center for Learning and Academic Success Services (CLASS), about her online test taking preparation tips and strategies, as well as how taking time for reflection and to consider the variables can help ensure exam-week success.

Q: How might students be feeling going into this term’s exam week as opposed to the chaos of last term?

A: I think the end of last term was a real challenge for obviously everyone at the University and the world at large. But it was so fast and students were taking exams in a format different than what they had prepared for. … I think that meant that tensions were really high. There were a lot of external stressors. There were a lot of stressors around potentially students taking finals as their very first online test in some cases. Some of our students hadn’t had any online classes to that point or had maybe hybrid classes that didn’t involve online test taking.

It also feels really important for me to acknowledge that there are some students who are taking their first online finals this term, including students who were on fall/winter co-ops, along with transfer students, and other scenarios wherein students maybe didn’t have finals last term and do have finals this term.

So, I think there’s still a lot of tension around sort of the online test taking format. It’s decreased as students have become increasingly familiar. But I think ultimately, because it is still so much less familiar than the in-person, face-to-face test taking experience, tensions and stresses are still running high for a lot of students.

Q: How might the spring term of fully online classes have prepared them for virtual exam taking?

A: I think some of the things that the current online classes have provided that have helped students prepare for this round of online finals are just clarity around expectations.

For undergraduates, when they started spring term, they knew classes will be online throughout. And so, they knew that they would be preparing for ultimately an online final in courses where there were finals. And that means that they’ve had the opportunity to get clarity from their instructors, in most cases, where there is an online final, because there have also been online exams throughout the term or at least an online midterm. And so that means students are probably a lot more familiar with the online test-taking format or software or methodology that their instructors are using.

Q: What are the biggest differences between in-person and online test taking? What are the biggest concerns you’ve heard from students about these differences?

A: I think obviously there are a lot of similarities between online and in-person exams in that they are both exams and both are the sorts of tasks that require a lot of preparation, a lot of organization and a lot of information-gathering beforehand.

Ultimately, we’ve seen a lot of students come to us who do feel stressed or even anxious about taking tests online because, again, it’s something they have less experience with. And one of the things that certainly I’ve been encouraging students that I work with to do is gather information about their exams, about their finals as they can, and use that to plan. The idea of having a concrete strategy, knowing not only what information is going to be on the final, but how are you going to access the final? What is the format of the final? Can you annotate in that setting? Can you highlight, when you are reading, all the various things that might help them know how to study?

And again, that isn’t different than taking an exam in person. You always want to know what the format is because that’s always going to help you decide how best to prepare. But I think with online testing, sometimes the format is different, the expectations are different, and the actual way of working through an exam might be different.

Q: How can students prepare for the different variables that can arise while test-taking in an online format that aren’t really a consideration in person?

A: One of the things we see a lot with online exams is often students have a block of time where they are able to access that test. That might be over a single day. It might be within a few-hour period. In some cases, it’s potentially a whole week where the exam is available and they can access it and their time begins when they access that exam.

So, what I always encourage students to do is not wait until the last minute. And it’s a real temptation to say, “Well, I have until Friday of finals week to take this on my final. I want to wait until Friday because that will give me the most time to prepare.” But if on Friday your Internet goes out or something like that, that becomes a real challenge. Giving yourself adequate time to prepare, and also not waiting until the last minute so that if there is a problem, it can be resolved, you can work with tech support, you can work with your instructor — I think that’s really important.

And, that organization factor is important. Knowing, “When are my tests? When can I access them? How long will they take? Who do I need to talk to in my household to say, ‘Hey, if you could not schedule an online video conference during this time, because I really need good bandwidth to get through my exam.’” Or, “I’m going to need a pretty quiet environment. What is my household like? When is the right time to schedule that exam based on the ebb and flow of the people around me?”

So, though you definitely can’t be prepared for all contingencies, there are ways to plan ahead for foreseeable challenges and hopefully eliminate, or at least decrease, those.

Q: Are there any specific test-taking strategies you would recommend? Do they change based on the format of the test, so say an open note exam vs. an essay exam vs. multiple choice?

A: Some classes are giving open book, open note exams, but in some cases those are so long that if a student did indeed need to look up every answer, they’d definitely run out of time. Open book, open note doesn’t mean easy. So certainly, there is always a concern around making sure students know, “Even if I do have access to all of my tools and information from this course, I still need to prepare well. I still need to be very organized. I still need to have studied because I want those open notes to be something that helps me when I get stuck as opposed to the thing I’m looking to constantly.”

You have to know what information you’re looking for and where to find facts. So preparation and studying is still incredibly important, and those exams still deserve the same amount of time and preparation and are designed to require and reward the same amount of time and preparation and studying as a face-to-face, closed book exam would.

Q: Would you say there are any benefits to doing online testing, even for certain students?

A: I’ve obviously talked to a lot of students about this and some of the things that students have reported that they appreciate about online test taking is being able to control their own environments. So, some students can get really distracted or concerned if other people say finish an exam before them and are getting up and leaving the classroom. So, this allows them to be really focused just on their own progress, which is great for limiting of distraction and anxiety.

Also, when we’re teaching classes in-person on campus, some classes have sort of block scheduled exams and those tend to be very early in the morning. That’s not a preferred schedule for a lot of our students, and so being able to self-schedule some of their tests lets students be really strategic and really thoughtful about what their ideal schedule is — when they are most focused, when their environment allows them the best focus and Internet access — but also just when they feel like their mind is most sharp. For some folks, that’s early in the morning. For others, that’s afternoon or later at night. When students have the flexibility, they can really find a way to, you know, work to their strengths and also balance different exams. If they can self-schedule, they might choose to space their exams in different classes over the course of a week rather than having, say, two exams on the same day.

Of course, not all online exams are self-scheduled. Sometimes they happen at a decided-upon time during the course block. And then again, you simply have to have to adjust to those course requirements.

Q: How can students best simulate in-person preparatory steps that they’ve taken in the past, like study groups or coming to one of the CLASS workshops?

A: I think one of the things the Drexel worked really hard to do as the University was transitioning online was make as many resources as possible available online. And that meant that many of the tutoring centers, even those that didn’t do online work before, now do offer online appointments.

I think one of the other things that’s really important is trying to connect with faculty one-on-one, whether that’s by e-mail or during office hours, because so often students really do benefit from the time to freely ask questions and reflect and build their knowledge. And that sometimes happens really organically during in-person classes, either before class, if they arrive a little early and their faculty member is there, or after class, if the faculty member is kind of picking up their materials at the front of the classroom, a student might swing by and ask a question. Online courses don’t always offer that sort of natural interaction, but the faculty are still available.

So, I really have been encouraging students to connect with faculty that way and to connect with each other, to not be afraid to reach out to classmates and peers, and to be really upfront about what they’re hoping for. You know, a lot of students really do miss working in groups, because that’s a good, engaging, social way of learning. But not all groups work for all people. … So be specific about your time and how you’d like to communicate and what you’re looking for from that group, whether it’s collective reviewing or running through some practice problems together, so that you can connect with people who learn in a way that complements how you like to learn rather than just kind of randomly grouping people in a class that you know from other classes. That’s not always the best way to put together a functional study group, whether that group is in person or electronic.

Q: What is your biggest piece of advice for all students going into this exam week?

A: I think this is a really important part in the term to be reflective and to look back on what this term has been like to date.

If your midterms, say, didn’t go the way you wanted them to, that means that you probably need to change your strategy. But to change your strategy effectively, that means kind of delving into what worked, what didn’t. Why didn’t my grades look the way I wanted them to? Did I not study enough? Was I surprised by the format? Did I have trouble interpreting my instructor’s questions? Which can be another challenge in an online environment where you can’t simply raise your hand and hope that the faculty member can provide some clarification.

So knowing those things hopefully lets you know how to best move forward. … I think reflection is really important and not just reflecting on what didn’t go well, reflecting on what went well and carrying those things forward. Sometimes reflection isn’t about, “Oh, here’s the things I need to change.” Sometimes reflection is about realizing, “Wow, that technique worked incredibly well for me.” OK, there is your strategy for future test taking. So be reflective and make adjustments.

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How to seek and provide mental health support in a remote work context – Medical News Today

As many people worldwide have started working remotely due to the pandemic, face-to-face communication has become more sparse. How can we tell if a teammate may be experiencing mental health struggles when all our interactions are from behind a screen or computer keyboard?

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In this Special Feature, we look at how to identify tell-tell signs of mental distress in a remote work setting.

Around the world, physical distancing measures and worries about the continued spread of the new coronavirus have forced many companies to ask all or most of their employees to work from home.

But even as officials in different countries are now beginning to ease physical distancing and lockdown measures, it looks like more widespread remote work arrangements may be here to stay.

Some of the largest, most influential companies have already committed to much more flexible work from home policies going forward.

While working from home can have benefits for employees and companies alike, it can also have some pitfalls, such as blurred boundaries between “work time” and “private time,” which can harm employees’ mental health.

So how can employers support their employees in maintaining their mental well-being while working remotely?

Many people find it tricky to spot signs of mental distress in another person at the best of times, and the fact that many employers and employees now only communicate with each other from behind a screen can make this even more challenging.

To find out how employers and colleagues can spot mental health struggles in a teammate in a remote work context, and to learn more about how to support them, Medical News Today spoke with two experts: Tania Diggory and Kat Hounsell.

Tania Diggory is a business neurolinguistic programming practitioner and mental health trainer and founder and director of Calmer, and Kat Hounsell is a leadership coach and mental health first aid instructor and founder of everyday people.

Specialists have pointed out that people who experience symptoms of mental health issues, such as depression, may exhibit changes in body language and their day-to-day behavior.

Yet how these changes appear in different people depends on their personality and individuality.

“[I]t’s important to recognize that we all have our own sense of ‘norm,’ and identifying that someone’s behavior seems out of the norm (for them) will usually come down to how well you know them,” Tania Diggory pointed out in speaking to MNT.

“That being said, no matter how well you know someone, body language and tone of voice are powerful forms of non-verbal communication. [T]hese are important signals to pay attention to if you sense a teammate is struggling with their mental health,” she added.

But when we no longer share a physical space with a person, how can we pick up on tell-tale signs?

“Firstly, let’s remember that many of the observation skills we have in person can translate online — if we’re speaking by video call, we still have the ability to notice [a person’s] body language, [their] appearance, and even without video, we can hear the tone of their voice and listen to the words they use,” Kat Hounsell told us.

Outside of calls, Hounsell suggested looking out for any odd changes in a person’s messaging style and email communication and noticing if a person has suddenly become less communicative online.

“On email, we may notice a change in someone’s writing manner or emails being sent outside of work hours. Also, the same way that a sign [of mental distress] in the workplace may be [that] a person […] is regularly absent; the same applies to the virtual world… are they engaging as much as usual?”

— Kat Hounsell

But the most crucial step in making sure that a colleague who works remotely is doing well is, simply, to try and fit in regular video or voice calls.

Both Diggory and Hounsell stressed the importance of making eye contact — albeit via a computer screen — and really listening to a person as they speak.

“Have regular check-ins with each other, whether through one-to-one catch-up calls or team meetings — via video conference whenever possible,” Diggory said.

She also emphasized the importance of conversations that probe a little deeper than the usual small talk.

“If they look or sound vulnerable, they may not speak up about it so you can choose to ask how they are truly feeling and remind them that if they are struggling, they don’t have to do it alone,” Diggory told MNT.

Hounsell issued a similar piece of advice, saying that:

“To really find out what’s going on, we’ll need to engage in a conversation with our teammate, ask them how they are, truly listen to the answer, and encourage them to open up if they feel comfortable.”

In speaking to managers and team leaders, Diggory also suggested that allocating dedicated time at the start of team meetings to check in with all the colleagues could go some way towards ensuring that they feel heard and supported.

“For example,” she suggested, “you could ask your teammates to express how they feel in a few words, without judgment, or share how they’re choosing to make time for their well-being that week.”

“Voicing how we feel in a safe, supportive space and bringing awareness to how we can nurture our well-being are important steps for building our sense of self-awareness, as well as connecting with those around us,” she went on to explain.

Hounsell also urged managers not to forget about employees currently on furlough or those who have taken sick leave.

“Regular check-ins are important to help monitor the well-being of team members, and this includes those currently on furlough or sickness absence,” she told MNT.

Hounsell also added that when thinking about safeguarding their employees’ mental well-being, employers must bear in mind three steps. According to her, these are:

  • prevention, which means applying actions and strategies that help the team stay well
  • intervention, which means “having the confidence to open up a conversation if they feel a team member is struggling”
  • protection, which means “following policies and procedures to keep people safe who have become unwell”

When asked what they would say to someone currently experiencing mental health issues related to, or exacerbated by remote work as a result of the pandemic, both Hounsell and Diggory emphasized the importance of seeking help and of practicing self-compassion.

“I would encourage [anyone experiencing distress at this time] to be compassionate and kind towards themselves, recognizing that each of us is navigating the sea in different ships and learning how to become captain in stormy waters,” said Hounsell.

“There are supports out there, and you are not on your own,” Hounsell reminds our readers, noting that “many professional support services continue via phone or online. Booking a phone consultation with your [doctor] may be a helpful first step.”

Diggory also advised anyone experiencing mental health issues at this time to speak to friends or family members whom they trust, to reach out to the relevant figures at their place of work, and to make use of mental health resources available to the public at large.

First, “[l]ook to your current support network,” Diggory said. “Who do you trust in your family, friends, and professional networks who you can turn to for a chat about how you’re feeling?”

“Talking is one of the most powerful steps you can take to managing your mental health, and exploring how you feel with someone you trust can reveal solutions you may not have considered on your own,” she explained.

In a work context, she suggested speaking to a manager, the human resources team, or a trusted colleague so that they can negotiate any necessary adjustments to their work.

“Every company has a legal duty of care to support their employees, and if you are concerned that your mental health is inhibiting you from carrying out your work, then it’s important for your employer to know.”

– Tania Diggory

Finally, she urged our readers to remember that mental health helplines are always available to anyone who may need support at a difficult time.

“We’re living in the best possible time to receive mental health support,” she pointed out, “and there is an abundance of charity and healthcare organizations you can choose to contact, depending on your specific needs.”

“This will allow you to speak to someone objectively about how you feel, and they can help you to identify your next steps and receive appropriate support that’s most relevant for you,” Diggory added.

Hounsell added that those who are experiencing added stress and mental health issues while working remotely might benefit from renewing their focus on physical health and well-being.

“Looking after the foundations of our physical well-being can have wonderful benefits for our mental health,” she said, mentioning “sleep, diet, water, moving, and getting fresh air each day if possible.”

Ultimately, Diggory said, everyone should strive to “[r]emember that struggling with […] mental health is a human experience.”

“Everyone that lives on Earth experiences feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety from time to time, and these experiences do not define you as a human being,” she went on to add.

“You have masses of potential within you, and while your state of mental well-being can fluctuate, these are important signals in your mind and body for you to pay attention to. [A]cknowledging and recognizing when you may need help shows strength so that you can seek the support you need.”

– Tania Diggory

For live updates on the latest developments regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, click here.

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Online Work

How To Best Adapt Your Business When The World Is Moving Online – Forbes

Getty

With the world on its way to moving online, social and work habits have seen a significant shift, forcing businesses in different industries to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Companies of all sizes need to adjust in order to remain relevant. But how?

Moving Online

If your company is mainly operating offline, you’ll need to find ways to move into the digital world. For that, you need a server. If you have no experience, it will be challenging to decide between a virtualized server and a physical one. You will need to spend some time researching which type best suits your workload and business needs. But merely moving online will not be enough. You’ll need to make sure that your infrastructure is reliable, scalable and cost-effective.

Upgrading Your Infrastructure

Regardless of whether you already have an online presence or not, you should be aware that high availability is critical: Your website always needs to be up and running. Increased downtime can result in broken infrastructure and error pages, and even short periods of downtime can damage your revenue streams. Having a scalable infrastructure allows you to adjust resources as necessary with minimal downtime — for example, to dynamically increase CPU, RAM or storage size, according to your business needs.

Optimizing Your Website

Businesses used to optimize their websites to handle Black Friday traffic surges. Given the new shift to remote work, they are faced with a permanent Black Friday-like situation: increased orders, high traffic and other challenges. There are many ways to optimize your website and increase its resilience:

  • Increase the resources that you have devoted to the website’s uptime.
  • Optimize databases and ordering processes so that the server can handle larger or more orders.
  • Cache some areas of the site to reduce loading times by serving some files directly.
  • Expand your cluster with copies of your website, using load balancers as needed.
  • Dynamic pages (such as dynamic pricing pages, recommendations, social media or content) use more CPU resources than static ones, so try to avoid dynamic content unless necessary.

Bare Metal Versus Public Cloud

Public cloud servers use a resource pool from numerous dedicated servers; this allows resources to be allocated to virtual machines tailored for the needs of every client. The main reason many opt for cloud servers is that one can rapidly provision resources on demand, which makes them highly flexible, scalable and easy to use.

By contrast, on a dedicated server, also known as bare metal, you do not share resources with anyone. This type of server is a single-tenant machine, private to you, without any interference from other users. Superior performance, no resource restrictions and greater security are some of its benefits. Bare metal servers will not only offer better performance, but will also allow you to customize your settings to improve load times and facilitate optimal handling of traffic. Security is enhanced from the start since because metal servers isolate your data.

Cost-Effectiveness

Aside from trying to increase revenue during this period, most businesses will also try to lower their costs backstage. Although the public cloud seems like a cost-effective option for your small company, it’s not as cheap as it appears. Most cloud providers charge customers for each gigabyte of data sent between the domains currently in use, which adds up fast. Moreover, the more cloud environments a company operates, the more it ends up costing per month.

To avoid the extra public cloud costs, you could turn to dedicated servers, which offer customization capabilities for hardware and apps. The monthly fee is predictable because there are no additional charges, which helps a lot with budget planning. Compared to cloud environments, dedicated servers offer better performance, enhanced security and customizable settings that can meet your unique business needs. But are they as scalable and flexible as public clouds? Some bare metal providers have moved to a hybrid model that allows almost the same flexibility as a cloud.

The Future Is Online

During these uncertain and turbulent times, moving online is almost a must. However, you should do it right, or you might end up investing more than you gain from it. Choosing the right server type and optimizing it for your needs will be an excellent start for your digital journey.

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Online Work

Injured Workers Rally Online June 1st – GlobeNewswire

TORONTO, June 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — June 1st marks the 37th Annual Injured Workers Day. Because of Covid-19, for the first time since 1983, our rally will not be held at Queen’s Park, but will instead take place online. Organized by the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG), the rally will be live-streamed on YouTube and Crowdcast.
While many in the province are asking when things will return to normal, injured workers are reminding the public that when it comes to health and safety at work and workers’ compensation, “normal” is not adequate. “Ontario’s Health and Safety and Workers Compensation systems are broken,” says Janet Paterson, president of ONIWG, “but we know what is needed to fix the system. It is time for those in power to learn and to listen.”ONIWG is holding the online rally with the theme of #ProtectUs. Workers must be protected from danger on the job, and those who do get sick or injured must have their incomes protected without hassle or delay.“We have workers in this province putting themselves at risk of illness or even death in order to provide essential goods and services and keep this province running,” said Paterson, “and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is refusing to promise that workers who get sick will be covered.”Unfortunately, the WSIB has opted to adjudicate every instance of Coronavirus in the workplace on a case-by-case basis, leading to massive backlogs. At the moment, literally thousands of sick essential workers are waiting just to be told whether or not they have adequately proven that they caught the deadly virus at work.  Even claims from workers in hospitals and care homes have been rejected. “We call these workers heroes, while the WSIB is ignoring or rejecting their claims. Wouldn’t it make common sense to presume that an extremely infectious disease was contracted in their frontline workplace?” asked Willy Noiles, ONIWG’s Executive Vice President.“Coronavirus has not created these problems, but it has brought them clearly into focus,” concludes Paterson. “We can’t go back to normal. Injured workers know that ‘normal’ was not good enough to keep us safe, and it has not provided us with adequate benefits.”This Injured Workers Day, it is time to create meaningful change, and to show once and for all that WORKERS COMP IS A RIGHT.Stream information can be located at www.injuredworkersonline.org.       For more information contact:
Janet Paterson, President, ONIWG
807-472-6910
jlrwpat@tbaytel.net
Willy Noiles, Executive Vice president
289-219-4473
noiles.will29@gmail.com 

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Online Work

‘I’m worried I’m not going to get a job’: meet the corona class of 2020 – The Guardian

M

aisie Marston, 20, will graduate this year into the worst recession in centuries. “I’ve been job hunting and it’s difficult to find things,” she says. “There’s a lot of uncertainty.” As a result of the pandemic, Marston has decided to delay the journalism master’s she had planned, so she can save money first. “It would also be good to get work experience, as I’ll miss out on doing it this summer.”

The “corona class of 2020” will be the most exposed age group to the likely unemployment surge caused by the Covid-19 crisis, leading to fears of a “dole queue future” for young people, the Resolution Foundation thinktank warned this month. 

More than a quarter of employers have cut their graduate recruitment this year, according to a recent survey by the Institute of Student Employers. However Stephen Isherwood, its chief executive, says the picture is “mixed”, with other employers still recruiting online. 

It’s difficult to predict how this will play out over the next five years, Isherwood says. Transport, travel and leisure industries could be heavily hit. Professional services such as law and accountancy could sit somewhere in the middle of the scale, while public sector graduate employers like Teach First or the police are likely to be resilient. The tech sector could continue to see growth.

In this changing job market, students say they are anxious about the future: 81% are concerned about job prospects and 71% about their employability, according to the National Union of Students (NUS).

Phoebe Davis, 23, who is studying a journalism master’s at the University of Sheffield, fears she won’t be financially independent for a long time. “It’s scary more than anything. I’m worried I’m not going to get a job,” she says. “There’s a huge chunk of students coming out of university with no idea what’s going to happen.”

Polly Hatcher, 23, studied history at the University of Leeds and is now considering a master’s due to limited job opportunities. “I feel a bit lost,” she says. “I had a plan and this has thrown a spanner in the works.” Hatcher hopes further study will allow her to bide time, give her a niche, and make her a stronger candidate.

Those who graduate into a decimated job market are often advised to go abroad or to continue education. With options for the former limited by the pandemic, experts are predicting an uptake in postgraduate courses over the next few years.

A master’s can give students more skills in a competitive job market. However, Isherwood warns not to look at further study as “the easy safe option”, since not all postgraduate degrees improve employment prospects.

Not everyone can afford this option, either. “The recession will compound disadvantages,” Josh Hillman, director of education at the Nuffield Foundation, says. One way it could do this is through greater take up of postgraduate courses among wealthier students, he adds.

Hillman believes universities now have a “significant responsibility” to consider the employability of their graduates. In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the need to future-proof students’ skills for a changing world of work, as automation was already expected to alter jobs over the coming decades. The pandemic may have made the focus on transferable skills even more necessary. 

“We often say our students are going into jobs that don’t exist yet and in a way that’s what employers will look for,” says Natalie Brett, head of London College of Communication and pro vice-chancellor of the University of the Arts, London.

Soft skills such as flexibility, resilience, communication, problem solving, and creativity were already becoming increasingly important and will likely become even more desirable, Brett says, while digital skills could be more in demand as organisations move services online.

Rachel Hewitt, director of policy and advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute, says universities have faced growing demand from students to help them to develop such skills. “That’s only going to build as we move forward in this difficult time,” she says.

Many careers services are currently providing services online. “We’re busier than ever,” says Claire Guy, a careers advisor at a Russell Group university and a member of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services. “We’ve always run workshops on developing a positive mindset, but there’s a new flavour to that now. There’s not just a need [for students] to be resilient about job rejections, but about the fact they might have to change their whole career plan.”

Hillman says he fears universities – which face a “financial black hole” estimated at over £2.5bn – don’t have the ability or expertise to give students the increased support they will need. “[Universities] might have to do some rapid rethinking and partner with national organisations in the employment sector,” he says. “But that might not be their top priority.” 

Universities UK is currently working with universities, careers services and employers on ways to provide additional support for recent graduates and current students, such as through enhanced careers services.

Meanwhile, the NUS is urging the government to offer financial support for students graduating this year. “Graduates and education leavers need a safety net: government intervention to support them by introducing a grant to be used towards further education, training, and other activity that will improve their job prospects,” Claire Sosienski Smith, NUS vice-president for higher education, says. 

Support given now could help limit “long-term scarring” caused by graduating into a recession. “[Students graduating now] face a cliff edge,” Hillman says. “Evidence from previous recessions shows the effects of this can last at least up to a decade and possibly beyond that, with regards to earnings and job satisfaction.”

Becci Newton, deputy director of public policy research at the Institute of Employment Studies, says new graduates will need to keep moving in the early stage of their career and stay focused on their goals to avoid stagnating. “The ability to continuously learn and develop becomes the crucial key skill,” she says. 

All of this may sound daunting to the class of 2020. For Marston, the pandemic has already made her reflect upon work. “It’s put into perspective what jobs really matter,” she says. “I like the fact that with journalism you can contribute something and it’s also a job you can do from home if you need to.” However, despite her renewed sense of purpose, she still feels held back by the pandemic. “The uncertainty of not knowing what will happen next year is hard,” she says. “I’m not sure what to expect – but I’m hoping for the best.”

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Online Work

Safe from harm: online security when working remotely – INTHEBLACK

The global and seemingly overnight mass exodus of workers into their homes has raised serious security issues. Experts reveal the best way of keeping your organisation and your workers safe from harm.

At a glance

  • The world’s almost-overnight move to remote working has brought about several threats to cybersecurity.
  • The current breaches are a variation on known forms of cyberattack, but with COVID-19 as a general theme.
  • There are tools and options to make devices more secure, and it is vital to guard against distraction when performing routine tasks.

Prefer to listen to this story? Here it is in audio format.

When Australian comedian and radio host Hamish Blake put out a social media call for Zoom logins and passwords so he could engage in some housebound hijinks during the COVID-19 lockdown, the results were swift. Blake got more than a 1000 responses within a few days, and then set about “Zoom-bombing” in on the videoconferencing service – randomly dropping in on people’s work meetings, with predictably amusing results.

While most saw the funny side of him pretending to be everything from a CFO to a primary school teacher, it did bring into focus a rather more serious issue: just how secure is the technology we’re using to work from home?

With a once-in-a-century pandemic sweeping the world, Australians were understandably given very little time to adapt to the new way of working. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison brought in a range of social distancing measures on 23 March to help stop the spread of COVID-19, tightened them further two days later and, by the 29th of the month, determined that aside from shopping, exercise and compassionate reasons, people should only leave the house “if you cannot work or learn remotely”.

For millions of people, the occasional work-from- home option suddenly became the five-days-a-week reality. While companies had increasingly adapted to remote and home working for white collar industries, it’s fair to say most weren’t prepared for it on this scale.

The new world order

An empty train pulls into Melbourne’’s Southern Cross Station in April 2020.

“It used to be a case of getting up in the morning, driving to work, parking and walking inside – and until that point you’d have no access to corporate data,” says Dr Micheal Axelsen FCPA, senior lecturer, business information systems at the University of Queensland Business School.

“In the last 12 years or so, it has effectively gone from having one workplace where you have most of your people and you’ve got a few people wandering around, to hundreds of workplaces all at home and data flying back and forth with potentially unsecured wi-fi. The current situation has intensified that risk dramatically.”

As the impacts of COVID-19 started to ramp up in Australia, with it came the cyberattacks related to the pandemic. In a six-week period starting a fortnight before lockdown, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (an arm of the Federal Government’s Australian Signals Directorate) received more than 95 cybercrime reports about people losing money or personal information to COVID-19-themed scams and online frauds, responded to 20 cybersecurity incidents affecting COVID-19 response services/major national suppliers, and disrupted over 150 malicious-themed websites pertaining to COVID-19.

Tricks of the trade

In many ways, there’s nothing particularly new about the current breaches and scams; they’re more or less variations of a theme done in a home environment, where there’s usually less impediment to success. In other words, fewer Nigerian princes and more COVID-19 coercion.

A phishing email from someone posing as the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), and asking recipients to donate money to a COVID-19 fund.The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch website has noted that recent “phishing” (fraudulent digital correspondence sent to extract personal or financial information) hooks have been centred on texts and emails with fake COVID-19 testing links and information. Scammers are also pretending to be government agencies helping out with applications for financial assistance or payments for staying home, or posting fake job ads and bogus JobSeeker payment links.

Corporates don’t miss out either, with COVID-19- themed phishing for banks, supermarkets and insurers. The information extracted is later used in some type of scam.
Potentially far more dangerous is “spear phishing” – where the perpetrator already has some information about you, your company or clients. Specifically targeted to a company or individual, spear phishing can also be more convincing, asking for confidential account details or having a link that downloads malware to copy keystrokes from your computer.

Home is where the hack is

“Working from home presents new opportunities for the bad guys, as the network security/endpoint security at home is not as robust as back in the office or within companies,” says Jarret Le Roux, director at Australian Forensics and Investigations. “We’re seeing home routers and internet modems being targeted. This isn’t new, but we’re seeing an increase in the amount of traffic targeting these devices.”

There is a range of options to make the devices more secure, from using a complex password and changing it regularly, to hiding the network and limiting its range so outsiders can’t access it.

A relative lack of security can dovetail into what may be a looser home environment, too. Le Roux says distracted or bored employees are more inclined to click on dubious links, while devices could be shared with children who can download screensavers or games with hidden nasties.

Sometimes, it can simply be a case of a lack of knowledge but too much access; an employee without an IT professional near them but with an administration password can be a dangerous thing. The broad solution involves setting limitations as to who can use a computer and what type of work it can be used for, and only using administrator privileges when directed.

“I think particularly for accounting and finance people, we’ve always had to keep our eye on the ball, and it’s really easy to be distracted right now,” Axelsen says.

“Keep an eye on the basics; it’s always the little things that seem so mundane that end up causing us major grief. I’m thinking particularly of phishing exercises or not complying with the JobKeeper [requirements], or getting sucked into a scam.”

CPA Library resource: The cybersecurity risk handbook: creating and measuring effective cybersecurity capabilities. Read now.

Zoom goes boom

With so many workers operating from home, the demand for videoconferencing services has skyrocketed: Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and Zoom are among the popular options. The latter’s growth has exploded, going from an estimated 10 million users at the end of 2019 to 300 million by late April. With it have come some growing pains.

Hamish Blake may have got some laughs with his Zoom-bombing, but most Germans were left horrified when Neo-Nazis hijacked a Holocaust memorial event streamed by the Embassy of Israel in Berlin. There’s also been a range of phishing scams, where fake Zoom emails direct users to external links where login details can be stolen.

While Zoom has been getting a number of security boosts, Axelsen says like most cyber products, it will still have weaknesses. Ensuring good password protection, having a savvy host who is cognisant of who is being let into the meeting, judiciously using things like the mute feature, and preventing screen sharing/ saving to the cloud are measures users can take to limit the chances of getting bombed.

“The defaults as always with Zoom are set up more for convenience than for security, so bear that in mind,” he says.

“However, in most instances, you don’t need to panic unless you’re protecting the president or have a major secret that you are sharing.”

Problems in your own backyard

While a large number of scams and cybersecurity breaches have origins overseas, Dan Weis, senior cybersecurity specialist at Kiandra IT, says there’s good reason to believe there could be an upswing in domestic-related incidents. The downturn in economic conditions and related spike in unemployment are expected to give people extra motive, time and a reason to justify their behaviour.

“Disgruntled employees are always an issue. Many incident responses in the past have involved former employees connecting back into company networks, stealing intellectual property and that sort of stuff,” he says. Often this can be done indirectly, with a former employee passing that information on to someone else or even paying someone on the dark web to instigate the security breach.

Axelsen says much of the mitigation in the first instance can be managed by the employer, starting with terminations that are handled appropriately, and from there having systems in place where access to information and passwords is quickly shut down.

As he puts it: “If you’re burning a bridge, don’t give ex-employees a bridge back into the organisation.”

CPA Australia podcast: Data security in the age of working from home. Listen now.

The dos and don’ts of remote working

For employees:

  • Don’t reuse passwords across accounts
  • Don’t click on links in emails
  • Protect your home wi-fi and router
  • Know who to report scams to in the company
  • If you are handling or processing payments, consider yourself a target for cyber criminals and act accordingly
  • Turn on monitoring within your email platform (Office 365, Gmail, etc.)
  • Install an Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) platform

For companies:

  • Talk to employees regularly about security. This includes physical and IT security
  • Implement two-factor authentication on all accounts
  • Ensure all systems are patched/have the latest updates
  • Have a proper back-up strategy
  • Assume there’ll be IT breaches and have contingency plans for things such as ransomware attacks, network compromises and rogue employee actions
  • Segregate your computer network and secure your most important data
  • Segregate computers for work and personal use where possible for employees; if a personal device has to be used, set up a new user account on the operating system where possible
  • Have sufficient virtual private networks (VPNs) available
  • Even in a downturn, avoid deep cuts to IT staff – it may come back to bite you longer term
Categories
Online Work

Online lifeline: Pushed to adapt in a hurry, some business owners find unexpected benefits in life on the internet – Chattanooga Times Free Press

Their business brought people together to celebrate the art and pleasure of cooking in a shared space where they prepared meals with the help of a professional chef.

What could go wrong?

“We went to a hard stop in the blink of an eye,” says Jeff Pennypacker, who owns the Sweet and Savory Classroom on Chattanooga’s Southside with his wife and fellow chef, Heather. “In one week, every single private event canceled.”

Across industries and communities, businesses built on individual interaction and shared experiences have been forced to close down the in-person element of their operations. For some, that has meant exploring ways to deliver those experiences online — ready or not.

Laurie Stevens, the owner of the Chattanooga School of Language, had been thinking about expanding her entirely in-person classes to add an online element.

“I had wanted to do online classes earlier this year to try and expand our market, but I didn’t feel like I had it all together,” Stevens says. “We had explored it. Now we’re there.”

At the Sweet and Savory Kitchen, the shift away from in-person, hands-on cooking came as the business was delivering promising growth. Sweet and Savory had expanded steadily since the Pennypackers opened it in January 2016, and March 2020 was shaping up to deliver 30% more business than the year before.

“We had lots of private events, and we were hitting new record numbers,” Pennypacker says.

Once the coronavirus pandemic took hold, the business briefly went to reduced class sizes and expanded space between clients, limiting classes to 10 rather than the usual 28. But they quickly realized even that wasn’t going to work in the new world, Pennypacker says.

“The wise thing to do was to go ahead and close the doors,” he says.

The Pennypackers started offering carryout meals to try to maintain a thin stream of revenue, but they also wondered if online cooking classes through the Zoom platform might be a way to preserve the experience and the community they had worked so hard to build.

“I realized we could do it with cell phones and laptops, and we were Zooming the next weekend,” Pennypacker says. “I was a little hesitant putting a lot of energy into it because I didn’t know if anything would come of it, but it worked.”

Classes that used to cap at 28 can now accommodate far more students, and Pennypacker has had as many as 121 logged in to cook along with him from all over — and even outside of — the country. Folks gather around the computer, crack a bottle of wine and turn the class into a family event, he says.

The per-person, in-person price point of $70 is cut to anywhere from $14 to $50, based on whether customers shop for ingredients or pick them up ready to cook. Once the world returns to something like normal, Pennypacker anticipates he’ll continue the virtual aspect of the business, doubling up by offering online what he’s also doing in person.

“I’ve been looking at doing the virtual classes from a live class,” he says. “People have been telling me they’d love to keep doing this once we get back to whatever normal is.”

For Stevens, the move to online classes came in the middle of a term when she had about 10 classes in half a dozen languages in progress, as well as private lessons and school programming — all happening in person.

“It didn’t even really cross my mind to stop classes,” she says. “We could continue teaching, so that’s what we did. We wanted to continue to provide a service we had promised people.”

A few people opted to call it quits and wait for the in-person classes to resume, but most were game to take their lessons online, Stevens says. Classes transitioned using Zoom, and Stevens quickly realized one of the biggest upsides of online learning.

“There are no geographical barriers,” she says. “It’s reaching new markets.”

It’s also easy, she added.

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Business owners find unexpected benefits online

“There’s a lot of convenience,” Stevens says. “Grab a glass of wine or coffee or tea, grab your pet, wear your pajamas. Come as you are.”

There are, however, some downsides to life online, Stevens added. Enrollment is down significantly since last year as some large, in-person programs have canceled, and it can be hard to read the room and react to student needs when the venue is virtual, she says.

“You do lose things — it’s harder to have that personal interaction,” she says.

But she’s optimistic about the potential of blending the online and the in-person once people venture back out, Stevens says.

“You have to be ready for the increase in demand when the curve goes back up,” she says.

For real estate agent Austin Sizemore, the advent of online work has changed his team’s routines as well as the services they offer their customers.

“We moved our internal meetings to Zoom, and we’re not meeting as often but we’re getting more accomplished,” he says.

Being able to record team meetings, one-on-ones and training sessions will make their onboarding of new employees more efficient, says Sizemore, who has four agents and two support staff members on his team.

Outside the office, some clients have been hesitant to tour homes or allow people into their homes to have a look, he says, so virtual tours have become an essential element that make up about half of his business these days.

His team has added a link on their website where clients can choose the virtual tour, and that’s another case where the ability to record the walk-through is beneficial, he says.

“We can send them all the videos to look back through as they’re making decisions,” Sizemore says. “I do think moving forward we will continue to have that as a resource.”

Clients are using the virtual option to shop, but they still want to see their top two or three choices in person, he says.

The owner of MurMaid Mattress is also leaning on online ordering to make up for some of the business he’s lost as he has closed some showrooms and people have been less eager to shop in person.

“What this new world we’re in has allowed us to take the next step and we are getting many more online orders,” Roger Pickett says. “In the last two weeks, we’ve done more of that than we’ve done in two years. We hope to grow it and this is going to help catapult that for us.”

As the community tries to recover from the economic hit delivered by the coronavirus crisis, Pickett says he hopes people will be inclined to support local businesses, and that online options will encourage that.

“I just want our local people to know that if they choose to buy online, they can still shop local.”