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Malatest Times Blog

January – July 2020 Edition

Contents:

SH Ops: Transitioning from Office to Remote Work

The COVID-19 pandemic affected thousands of businesses across Canada. Many experienced mass layoffs and others had to shut down operations altogether. As a business whose revenues are primarily RFP-driven, Malatest has experienced a significant reduction in the number of contracts won and the amount of work available.

That being said, Malatest was also uniquely suited to transition into a work-from-home system. Though the transition for research staff might have been straight forward, it certainly wasn’t the case for our survey house staff.

Immediately once our survey houses closed, SH Ops and Tech began to work on a remote solution. 30 laptops were purchased and 10 were sent to each survey house. SH Management then went into their respective offices to remove their PC’s from the domain system so they could function outside of the office. The necessary software was installed and supervisory staff then began delivering these stations to our more senior and experienced surveyors. Within five days our systems were fully functional, and dialling resumed on a number of large scale projects (BCPCM, BCSO, and HSSON).  With the new laptops included, we now operate at the same capacity level as we did when all three survey houses were open.

With an optimistic mindset, the pandemic gave us the opportunity to implement a system that we’ve been contemplating for years. Having the flexibility to operate our survey houses remotely offers several benefits. Not only is it a huge perk for our current staff that will ultimately result in less turnover, it will also result in more applications and higher-skilled applicants. The remote system also significantly increases our capacity to collect data. Rather than being limited to 100 physical stations to dial from, we can now have additional staff dialling from home using our new laptops. This will be particularly helpful when a significant number of completes need to be obtained in a very short window, or when multiple large-scale projects are running simultaneously.

Finally, we’re experiencing an increase in productivity from those working remotely right now. Survey staff in Edmonton, Ottawa, and Victoria are, on average, performing better than they had previously performed while working in our offices. We’ve seen an increase in productivity on BCPCM and completed several smaller projects (i.e. TC Mobility, Elder Abuse, Living Hope, etc) more efficiently with this system.

All this to say, SH Ops and Tech worked tirelessly to get us operational in a matter of days (a very impressive feat). As we plan to slowly re-open our survey houses in the coming weeks, we look forward to working more flexibly with both systems in place (in office and remote).

Nick

 

  • Project: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Skilled Trades
  • Client: Canadian Apprenticeship Forum
  • Office: Ottawa
  • Sample size: 681
  • Full Report Link: CAF – Impacts of COVID 19

 

Key findings:

 

1. COVID-19 has negatively impacted the health and wellbeing of tradespeople

2. COVID-19 has reduced employment in the trades
  • The unemployment rate across all tradespeople that were surveyed has significantly increased.
  • Though impacted, Ontario appears to be slightly more resilient relative to other provinces and territories, particularly Alberta.
  • Almost all tradespeople indicated that it is not at all possible to work from home.

What have the staff been up to?

As usual it wouldn’t be an edition of the Malatest Times without a few pet photos to share.

Jim,Stephanie Lefebvre’s Grey Hound at his latest photo shoot.  This one is captioned “Sun’s out, tongue’s out!”

Here are a couple of pictures from the birthday celebration we had for our cat- Patrick and I share a birthday (Aug. 19th) so this was a joint celebration, though most of the attention seems to have been on Patrick haha J It was a pretty exciting birthday because he’s 5 and we didn’t expect him to live past 3 (he has some pretty serious health issues). – Chelsea McLellan.

Here is Twitch, Amelia Watt’s dog, hard at work or is she day dreaming of running in a field….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and here is Lemongrab (character from Adventure Time) sunning at Banff – he’s my son’s favourite that goes everywhere with him (we even have few spares in case he lose them – he lost one in Seattle before). – Josephine Villeneuve

When I was asked to write about what it’s like to work in the office during the pandemic, my first thought was its pretty normal. I mean, there’s a few different things… So I kept track of things that were different for two shifts. I was surprised at the results.

Phone Conversations: I’m always suspicious the surveyor or Researcher I’m speaking to on the phone is in various states of dress. During the conversation I find myself wondering if they’re in PJs. Why can’t I be in PJs? Are they on a couch? I want a couch! Are they working on a balcony? I want to be outside! Wait. Pandora Street. I’m glad I’m inside. Crap, what were they saying? Tell them that sounds fine, but to please send me an email with the workload so I can track my time. Swish.  Bullet dodged! I wonder if Jeremy will let me have a pillow fort.

In Person: I’m in the front reception where any employee could feasibly come through. Though they don’t; there’s not many of us office ghosts right now. I’m socially distanced as everyone involved has taken every reasonable step to keep me safe. When that’s not possible or an interaction will be more than a minute I’ve taken to masking up. On top of being socially responsible, I’ve discovered I love them! #FIERCE

I’ll just leave you with a few weird things I’ve discovered in the last few months:

  1. I used to wear headphones while coding because survey houses are noisy places. Now I wear em’ cause it’s way too quiet.
  2. Telling remote people to go home at the end of the day is only funny to me, but I’m not going to stop.
  3. I’m washing my hands so often that I started singing while I do it to see what songs are twenty seconds. So far my favorite is the chorus to Scrubs by TLC.
  4. I actually live less than 100m from the back door of Malatest. I used to be the person who lived the closest to work; now I’m the furthest.
  5. I really miss my colleague’s pets. Though in their absence I’ve started naming and talking to their plants as I water them. There might be custody issues when people return.

 

The three key barriers to remote working (and how to overcome them)

Following the real-world experiment with remote working, it’s time for business leaders to re-examine their previous misgivings, and explore how to adopt flexible working in the long term

“Remote working isn’t right for our business.”

“We don’t have the technology to support people working elsewhere.”

“Our employees will take advantage if they’re not in the office.”

Pre-pandemic, the above were just some of the reasons business leaders gave for not adopting remote work. Following the pandemic, those reasons don’t carry quite so much weight. COVID-19 created the world’s largest homeworking experiment and, for many, showed just how possible it was for employees to do their jobs without being at the office. 

However, if you’re still not convinced, perhaps it’s time to re-examine the barriers and look at how they could be overcome within your organisation.

1. The barrier: Technology

The pre-pandemic problem: A survey by The UK Work Foundation asked remote employees about their organisation’s provision and culture for them to work outside of the office. More than half (56%) indicated difficulties with technology available to them. 

The post-pandemic solution: The rapid adoption of new technologies during the crisis means that businesses should now have a better understanding of what is required in terms of tech. Leaders should be focusing on updating your computer systems, equipping staff and ensuring adequate levels of technical support.

What the experts say: “As a manager, your job is to keep your team connected,” says Jason Aten in Inc. Make sure your team has the technology it needs to get the work done. If you suddenly have a team of remote workers, that means there’s a good chance they need tools like video conferencing, web cams, file sharing, collaboration tools, and chat applications. 

“It’s important for you to ‘walk the walk’ and take time to use new technology like telepresence robots, chat apps, video conference, and other unified communication channels to get your team on board with communicating this way in their daily lives,” adds Daniel Newman in Forbes.

2. The barrier: Company culture

The pre-pandemic problem: A study published in Harvard Business Review shows that a quarter (24 percent) of employees say all work in their organisation is currently carried out in the company premises – suggesting a cultural barrier blocking remote working.

The post-pandemic solution: Don’t assume company culture will develop naturally when employees work remotely. It requires energy and effort to cultivate and grow it.

What the experts say: “Since [remote workers] rarely meet with their teammates face-to-face, they tend to focus on tasks and ignore the team. This may work for a while, but you must develop a culture in order to foster engagement and sustain their performance over the long term,” says Sean Graber in Harvard Business Review. “If in-person meetings aren’t possible… schedule regular informal calls – either one-on-one or as a group. It may feel awkward at first, but building a shared identity and personal connections will lead to greater engagement and better performance.”

3. The barrier: Employees

The pre-pandemic problem: Your employees don’t have the skills they need to work remotely, don’t feel empowered to do their jobs in the way they’d prefer, or feel distant from the company as a whole. Research by ACAS shows that remote workers experience barriers to productivity, including problems with communications and team coordination.

The post-pandemic solution: Ensure clear communication with employees, including setting boundaries and managing expectations. Remember that your employees are people – recognize their concerns and create ways to make them feel like valued members of the organisation. 

What the experts say: “It can be easy to forget to involve your remote employees in impromptu onsite conversations, or to forget that they also have lives, interests, and strengths outside of their initial job functions,” says Daniel Newman. “Take time to get to know your remote employees as people, rather than just task managers. No one wants to be a cog in the wheel of an organisation – no matter how much flexibility they have. They want to be recognized for their skills and what they bring to the team.”

“Recognize employees’ fear of being replaced [by technology],” says Benham Tabrizi in Harvard Business Review. “When employees perceive that digital transformation could threaten their jobs, they may consciously or unconsciously resist the changes. If the digital transformation then turns out to be ineffective, management will eventually abandon the effort and their jobs will be saved (or so the thinking goes). It is critical for leaders to recognize those fears and to emphasize that the digital transformation process is an opportunity for employees to upgrade their expertise to suit the marketplace of the future.”

https://www.regus.co.uk/work-uk/the-three-key-barriers-to-remote-working-and-how-to-overcome-them/

 

More and more professionals are transitioning to working remotely and the trend does not seem to be slowing down. As professionals transition from working in the office to working at home its important that they are just as secure at home as they were in the office. This security awareness video will show you 3 ways to become a cyber secure mobile worker.

In Edmonton, Eleanor has hosted another BBQ at her backyard for our summer activity. The weather was perfect (not too hot or cold), the food was great and the company was absolutely best! Since this crazy pandemic started, most of us has been working from home and dealing with covid anxiety, fatigue and isolation – this was very much needed. This is not an easy time for everyone but we’re doing our best to still enjoy what we can and do our best to keep our hopes up and stay happy. Accepting this new reality and staying committed to good habits can prevent “covid-fatigue” and burn-out.

How to Conduct In-Person Surveys… On a Ferry… During a Pandemic

BC Ferries on-board surveying looked a bit different this round. Our team of 16 surveyors were provided PPE (Gloves, Masks and Face Shields) and armed with a sanitation kit for every shift on-board. They completed COVID-19 screening questions at the start of every day and had to survey passengers while remaining 6 feet away! Surveyors also had postcards with survey details that could be handed out quickly to limit face time with passengers.

Despite some of the new challenges this year, everyone did an amazing job and we received over 1,900 survey completions from on-board surveying efforts alone!

Photos courtesy of Claire C.

Christina K., Lara B. and Hasan S. are decked out in PPE and ready to survey passengers on-board!

Claire C. is masked-up and packed up to travel to Gambier Island where she stays while she sails out of Gibsons to survey on Route 3.

Claire C. even made her own custom red mask to match the red Malatest safety vests our surveyors wear while on-board.

One of the best parts of BC Ferries on-board surveying is the beautiful scenery and the whale watching!

Introduction to Chrome DEVTools

Developer tools are an indispensible tool for developing, supporting and troubleshooting callweb projects, landing pages, web applications, or any web product or service we work with on a daily basis. This is a brief introduction that highlights some practical uses. Do you work with callweb every day? Well, read on!

At one point or another while browsing the web with Chrome or Firefox you may have accidentally opened a series of panels displaying code and messages. What is this stuff? Maybe you thought you might have broken something or messed something up. You’re not looking into the “Matrix”; rather, these are the Developer tools (or ‘DevTools’)  for prototyping, developing, analyzing  and debugging web pages.

Using Chrome, open DevTools by: (1) right-clicking and selecting “Inspect ” (2) selecting the “customize and control” menu and opening “Developer Tools” or (3) by clicking: “ctrl-Shift-I”.

When you open this for the first time you will see this:

The Elements Panel

The Elements Panel displays when DevTools is opened. This panel (centre) displays the HTML code markup of the web page that is displayed on the left-most panel.

 Maybe you need to know what project, telkey, variable, etc. the page is displaying.  For one reason or another, the page name not totally obvious, or maybe you want to verify that the correct form is linked to the landing page.  

We can search for this kind of information very easily. To search for a page name in a callweb survey, select the centre panel and click “ctrl F” and search for the callweb system variable “cetecran”. You will see that there is an element that has that name and is assigned a value. the value of “_cetecran” is the name of the page!

Try looking for other familiar callweb system variables like “_proj” or “_telkey”

Selecting and Viewing Elements with the Inspector Tool

OK — this is a little more interesting. Click the little icon that looks like this (the Inspector tool):

When you start moving the cursor in the browser you’ll see a contextual window on the screen with information about the element you’re hovering over.


In this screenshot above, the “Back Button” is selected, and as you can see, it’s displaying (1) an element name, (2) its size in pixels, and (3) the background colour and any relevant styles. The second bottom portion displays the name, role and whether the button is “Keyboard-focusable”.

DevTools also has a feature that measures the accessibility of elements on your site. This can help you make decisions to improve the product for a wider range of users with different levels of visual perception or physical abilities.  When a button is ‘keyboard-focusable’, this means a respondent can navigate to the element with the TAB button. As some users may not be able to use a mouse or trackpad, keyboard navigation helps us deliver an accessible user experience.

This is a useful tool for identifying exactly what category number is assigned to a radio button or checkbox in a survey. In the image above, I have moused over to a radio button input called “QA1:3” this tells me that the value for this option on question “QA1”  is “3”.

Changing Elements

At this point, I’m going to hover over the “Continue” button in the survey on the left and right-click > Inspect. On the far right you will see the “Styles” panel. This contains a series of declarations that control the style of the selected element. Within the brackets under “.BUTTON” you’ll see a bunch of parameters including “background-color”. I’m going to change the color by clicking the little blue box and changing it to purple with a built-in color picker.

Now, I haven’t changed the survey so that EVERYONE who sees it will have purple buttons (if only I had such magical powers!). This action modifies the web document that has been downloaded from a server to my local machine.

This makes DevTools an excellent way to prototype visual aspects of  your project, without mucking about in the source code. If you want to modify the colors, fonts, formatting, etc., of the web page, you can safely experiment here. To revert your changes to the page, refresh Chrome or click F5.

Device Mode

Maybe you want to quickly see what the survey might look like on a Samsung device or an iPhone with a specific screen size. Well, you can do that with DevTools too, by clicking this: icon to activate Device Mode.

At the top bar you’ll see a dropdown with different common device sizes. While this doesn’t simulate a full mobile experience of a callweb survey, it gives you a fairly good idea of what the site without having to switch to a different device or track down someone with an iPhone.  Other options include horizontal screen rotation and signal throttling.

Dev Tools = Awesome.

This is just a tiny set of uses available in the whole set of Developer Tools features. Modern browsers include a runtime environment, console and debugging tools for JavaScript development. There are also features that can help you analyze the performance and speed of applications and sites. If you’re curious about other features and customizing Dev Tools ( maybe you want a “dark” theme! ), check out the DevTools documentation online for your favourite browser.

Chrome’s DevTools documentation:  https://developers.google.com/web/tools/chrome-devtools

 

More to come submit your articles to editor@malatest.com

10 Ideas for Physical Distancing through Nature

03/17/2020

Everyone in the world is being affected by  COVID-19. Here in Canada and abroad, the World Health Organization recommends taking a precautionary measure called “physical distancing.” This means remaining at least two metres (six feet) from others. Public health officials have also suggested that people stay at home and limit all non-essential trips.

Nature Canada takes this public health advice seriously—our team in Ottawa started working from home on Monday, March 16. With physical distancing and self-isolation becoming a part of our lives, we’ve compiled a list of suggestions for how you can follow the guidance of health experts, while also keeping yourself and your loved ones busy and “out” in nature.

GO BIRDING

Not all physical distancing activities need to happen indoors. Spring is just about here and many birds are getting ready for their northern migration. Birding by yourself or with a friend  presents a perfect opportunity to not only distance yourself from others but to also gain a greater appreciation of the nature you have in your own backyard and relieve stress. 

While public health officials suggest staying away from public transit right now, there are migratory bird sanctuaries across Canada that can be visited by car. If that’s not an option, there are plenty of feathered friends and other urban wildlife that can be spotted from your window.

CONTRIBUTE TO SOME CITIZEN SCIENCE

Canada is home to 450 species of birds—though many populations are facing significant declines. eBird is an online tool that lets you explore the bird species in your area and learn what types of birds you can expect to see on your physical distancing birding walkabout. Now is an especially exciting time to use this tool as birds have started their migration north. 

eBird is also a collaborative tool where users can contribute local bird sightings. This data helps provide conservation agencies and scientists with up-to-date information on local biodiversity.

TAKE A VIRTUAL “WALK” THROUGH A PARKS CANADA LOCATION

Physical distancing offers the time to travel to new places from the comfort of your home and that includes a visit to one of Canada’s 48 national parks. Parks Canada has put a number of its locations on Google Street View, including parts of Banff National Park and Nááts’įhch’oh National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories. A number of historic sites are also available for a virtual tour. 

HEAD OUT ON AN EXPLORATORY NEIGHBOURHOOD WALK

While public health officials are advising against having kids touch the much-used surfaces of playground equipment, it’s still possible to go for an outdoor family walk. Fortunately there are all sorts of other things to discover outside, even on streets you’ve walked a thousand times.

Whether it’s looking for lichens or spotting shapes in the clouds, Environment Canada has created an “Urban Biokit” that includes an illustrated checklist of what to look for as you stroll. 

TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURE

The Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C. is one of the best in the world, and is a pleasure to visit in person. But did you know you can also take a virtual tour of their exhibits? This includes their Butterfly Pavilion, the Hall of Fossils, and the Insect Zoo. There’s even a virtual tour of an exhibit called “Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World” in case you’d like to learn more about the driving factors behind this current pandemic.

BUILD A TERRARIUM

While many schools and March Break camps are cancelled, there are ways to bring nature-oriented arts and crafts to your kitchen table.

Terrariums, for example, are a way to connect with a tiny piece of indoor nature. Terrariums are typically small glass containers where various plants can grow. While you may not want to be leaving the house to shop for supplies, you can construct a basic terrarium with what you have in your home—like a washed glass tomato sauce jar or an old glass bowl. Here’s a tutorial from CBC Kids to get you started.  

GET CAUGHT UP ON CBC’S THE NATURE OF THINGS

Some are taking advantage of physical distancing as a way to binge watch their favourite television shows, so why not add The Nature of Things to that list? Full episodes of these nature documentaries are available on the CBC website, and cover a variety of interesting topics from Canada’s grasslands to Arctic ice to to stay-at-home animal dads.

HOST YOUR OWN OUTDOOR ADVENTURE FILM FESTIVAL (AT HOME)

The internet is home to a stunning array of nature films. Below are some of Nature Canada’s favourites from this year’s Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival. These are all short films and available to watch for free—perfect in case you need a quick hit of escapism.

  • Electric Greg: Greg Hill is a British Columbia-based ski mountaineer who became famous in the outdoor community for climbing peaks around the world. Electric Greg is his latest film, and talks about Hill’s shift to a more environmentally-conscious way of adventuring—climbing 100 peaks without burning any fossil fuel. 
  • Good Morning: Hang on to winter for just a bit longer. This short film features some impressive skiing—on the rooftops of a French resort!
  • The Running Pastor: A sheep herder jogs across the precarious, jagged peaks of the Faroe Islands. This is the perfect film for anyone feeling a sense of wanderlust and the need to armchair travel.

If you’re looking for feature-length films, ultramarathoner and trail runner Kilian Jornet has made his three mountain documentaries available for free. You can watch these via his website.

MASTER THE ART OF INDOOR SCIENCE EXPERIENCES

BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing) offers dozens of online resources to help you bring classroom learning home. Developed by science and environmental educators, there is a section specifically dedicated to help folks lead indoor science experiences. 

DISCOVER THE DEEP SEA

Curious about the wonders that lie beneath the surface of the ocean? Wonder no more as this website lets you scroll to different sea level depths and explore the species (and shipwrecks) of the deep sea. You can reach depths of more than 10,000 metres! 

Finally—and we’re a bit biased—but the Nature Canada blog also has some great reading materials! You can read months worth of content by following this link

We’re planning to post plenty of new content in the coming weeks to help you and your family navigate this challenging period ahead. Subscribe to the Nature Canada newsletter to keep up-to-date on all these stories.

Editor’s note: This blog post was updated on Monday, March 30 to reflect the shift in language from “social distancing” to “physical distancing.”

Nature Canada thanks the frontline medical workers for their efforts during this time. We follow the advice of the World Health Organization and Health Canada. Please visit these two websites for the latest information on how to protect you and your family from COVID-19.

Yours in nature, the Nature Canada team. 

 

Staying Healthy and Connected During COVID-19

With everything going in in the world right now between the COVID-19 Pandemic and the recent human rights protests it is important that we all take time to check in with ourselves and make sure that we are doing alright.  The good news is there are a lot of resources out there if you are looking for some help and advice. 

If you are part of our benefits program then you can access a wealth of resources through our EAP program Homewood Health. Check out our page on the wiki for more about the EAP program and how to access it.  Once in, they have specific resources geared to COVID-19 or you can check out their e-courses in the tools section. Courses cover a range of topics including Embracing Workplace Change and Taking Control of Stress.

 

The Canadian Mental Health Association has also created a page and resources geared towards the COVID-19 Pandemic. You can take their Mental Health Check-in to see what resources they recommend you review.

Anxiety Canada is another great resource and has also put out some resources directed specifically to COVID-19.

Anxiety Canada is hosting a COVID-19 Online Town Hall Series and they have posted a series of articles about coping with COVID -19 stress and anxiety. You can also access the MindShift app from their page.

Ways to Connect:

Many of us are probably feeling isolated and cut off from our family and friends so I also wanted to share some ways of staying connected whether that be with our family, friends, or co-workers. There are so many options for connecting virtually so here are just a few you may want to try. 

  1.  Netflix Party – This Google Chrome extension allows you to watch a show of movie on Netflix with your friends and takes care of the screen syncing for you. It even offers a chat feature.
  2. Google Hangouts/Zoom – Video conferencing apps usually offer a free account option and are a great way to have a face to face (although virtually) conversation with your friends or family.
  3. Houseparty – This is another video conferencing app but also comes with some built in games that you can play while chatting with your friends.
  4. Facebook Messenger – Setting up a group chat can be a great way to send friends and family quick messages to let them know you are thinking about them, or this is a great way to coordinate schedules to plan your next Houseparty session.
If you have tried one of these or have some others we should try let us know at editor@malatest.com.

Welcome back to the Main Page! Check back here often for updates and Malatest Times Blog posts.  The COVID-19 Resource page and the Remote Work Resource page links will remain at the top of this page for easy access. 

If you have any content ideas for the Malatest Times Blog then please send them to editor@malatest.com.  Details to come on our first photo contest!

Work from Home Office Set Up

Over the last couple of months many of us have had to set up a work from home space so that we can continue to work remotely. For many of us this may have been a bit of a scramble to get organized and find a space that would work.  We may have new co-workers in the form of partners, spouses, children, and pets that we are learning to work with.  Malatest would like to celebrate everyone’s efforts to make this work with a photo contest and offer a few pointers from a news outlet based in Australia.

The video below offers some great pointers for your at home set up, the resources at the end our Australian based but the video is still valid.

Submissions

Spring Equinox and Time Change

Don’t forget to turn your clocks 1 hour ahead on Sunday March 8th, 2020

Spring Equinox 2020: The Earliest First Day of Spring in 124 Years

When Is The First Day of Spring in 2020?

On Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 11:50 p.m. EDT, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will welcome spring with the arrival of the vernal  equinox. If this seems early to you, you’re right! In fact, this is the earliest the vernal equinox has occurred in 124 years.

Traditionally, we celebrate the first day of spring on March 21, but astronomers and calendar manufacturers alike now say that the spring season starts on March 20th, in all time zones in North America. And in 2020, it’s even a day earlier than that—something that hasn’t happened since 1896.

Regardless of what the weather is doing outside, the equinox marks the official start of the spring season.

How could the first day of spring change from year to year?

There are a few reasons why seasonal dates can vary from year to year. The first is that a year is not an even number of days and neither are the seasons.

Another reason is that the earth’s elliptical orbit is changing its orientation (skew), which causes the earth’s axis to constantly point in a different direction, called precession.

Since the seasons are defined as beginning at strict 90-degree intervals, these positional changes affect the time the earth reaches each 90-degree location in its orbit around the sun.

The pull of gravity from the other planets also affects the location of the earth in its orbit. The current seasonal lengths for the Northern Hemisphere are:

Summer — 93.641 days
Autumn — 89.834 days
Winter — 88.994 days
Spring — 92.771 days

As you can see, the warm seasons, spring and summer, combined are 7.584 days longer than the colder seasons, fall and winter (good news for warm weather admirers).

However, spring is currently being reduced by approximately one minute per year and winter by about one-half a minute per year. Summer is gaining the minute lost from spring, and autumn is gaining the half a minute lost from winter.

Winter is the shortest astronomical season, and with its seasonal duration continuing to decrease, it is expected to attain its minimum value — 88.71 days — by about the year 3500.

Length of Day Vs. Night

Another complication revolving around the vernal equinox concerns the length of day versus night. We have been taught that on the first days of spring and autumn, the day and night are equal to exactly 12 hours all over the world.

Yet, if you check the calendar pages in our Almanac, you will find that this is not so. In fact, our tables tell you that on the days of the spring and fall equinox, the length of daylight is actually longer than darkness by several minutes.

The reason this happens can be attributed to our atmosphere. If the earth was a planet that did not have an atmosphere, then yes, on the equinox days the length of the day and night would be exactly even.

However, our atmosphere acts like a lens and refracts (bends) its light above the edge of the horizon. Put in another way, when you watch the Sun either coming up above the horizon at sunrise, or going down below the horizon at sunset, you are looking at an illusion — the Sun is not really there, but already below the horizon.

As a result, we actually end up seeing the Sun for a few minutes before its disc actually rises and for a few minutes after it has actually set. Thus, thanks to atmospheric refraction, the length of daylight on any given day is increased by approximately six or seven minutes.

PINK SHIRT DAY 2020

Did you know that over 75% of people say they’ve been bullied? Over 90% of bullying incidents have witnesses, and most incidents are over within 10 to 30 seconds.

Bullying could be happening to someone you know and care about – join us in taking a stand against bullying behaviour, and help us raise awareness so everyone knows that bullying is not okay.

Malatest encourages you to participate by wearing pink and demonstrating your kindness on Wednesday, February 26, 2020!  

Respect, dignity and kindness are values that send a long lasting and positive message. Set the example, and be kind to one another always.

Spread awareness about Pink Shirt Day, wear something pink, and encourage others to join you in creating a sea of pink, on this Pink Shirt Day.

Thanks!

Pamela Toovey, CPHR

Human Resources

Malatest offices will be closed on Monday for Family Day

Hello Everyone,

As the employer, Malatest is obligated to provide a healthy and safe work environment. Malatest policy is intended to encourage and support everyone to seek and secure their health and safety.  For those employees who are faced with health concerns, Malatest would encourage employees to follow the advice of a health care provider. Malatest will support our employees with reasonable accommodations so that employees can follow the advice and recommendations of their health care provider, without negative consequences.

Employees do have a right to personal privacy. An employee may choose to share their personal health issues or diagnosis, but are under no obligation to do so. Any health related concerns or recommendations for the purpose of pursuing a resolution or workplace accommodation must be reported to Human Resources. HR will respect the right to privacy and will provide guidance and consultation wherever possible (for all parties involved) to secure a healthy and safe work environment for everyone.

All employees working for Malatest must comply with occupational health and safety regulations which require every employee to:

  1. Take reasonable care to protect their individual health and safety and the health and safety of others;
  2. Comply with the Act of legislation (Worker’s compensation Act), Occupational Health and Safety regulations, and any applicable orders from the provincial jurisdiction, OH&S committee and employer’s representative (HR);
  3. Carry out work in accordance with established safe work procedures;
  4. Use or wear protective equipment, devices and clothing required;
  5. Not engage in horseplay, inappropriate conduct, or behaviour that may endanger themselves or others;
  6. Report any issue or concern (identified hazards such as absent or defective equipment) that contravenes health and safety in the workplace. These issues and concerns should be reported to the direct report manager, supervisor, and/or HR;
  7. Report any accident or incident to Human Resources and the local occupational health and safety committee of representatives.

Employees have the right to:

  1. Know about any health and safety concerns or hazards in the workplace;
  2. Participate in the occupational health and safety committee; and
  3. Refuse to work in unsafe work conditions.

What everyone can do to protect yourself and others:

If you have cold or flu-like symptoms, you can help protect yourself and others by doing the following:

  • Stay home while you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Cover your mouth and nose with an arm or tissue when you cough or sneeze (throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands)
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
  • Wash your hands with soap and water (you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol)

For those that travel:

Healthcare providers should obtain a detailed travel history for patients with fever or acute respiratory symptoms

  • Seek out medical advice before and after travel – Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travels and any symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others until you have received medical advice/attention for symptoms. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask, tissue, or your sleeve/arm (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For international travellers with symptoms who were in China on or after December 1, 2019, and had onset of illness within 2 weeks of leaving, consider the novel coronavirus and notify the center for infectious disease control personnel and your local health care provider immediately.

Coronaviruses are a large family of respiratory viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In case of symptoms suggestive of acute respiratory illness before, during or after travel, the travellers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share travel history with their health care provider.

In response to this outbreak, Chinese officials are screening travelers leaving some cities in China. Several countries and territories throughout the world have implemented health screening of travelers arriving from China. On arrival to the airport, travelers at 3 airports in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver will identify travellers coming to Canada who may have been travelling from China and who will undergo health screening. Travelers with signs and symptoms of illness (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) will have an additional health assessment. Travelers who have been in China during the past 14 days, including US citizens or residents and others who are allowed to enter the US, will be required to enter through specific airports and participate in monitoring by health officials until 14 days after they left China. Some people may have their movement restricted or be asked to limit their contact with others until the 14-day period has ended.

It is important to note that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) report that there are only four confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in Canada as of February 2 and PHAC has assessed the public health risk to Canadians and Canadian travelers to countries other than China as low.

Additional Resources:

The WHO has also observed that the coronavirus outbreak has been accompanied by an “infodemic” – an over-abundance of both accurate and inaccurate information.  With that in mind, we recommend staying abreast of new developments in the 2019-nCoV outbreak through trusted online resources including the World Health Organization (www.who.int) and Health Canada (www.canada.ca/en/public-health.html) websites. 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/prevention.html

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus-occupational-health-safety.html

Attached to this email, you will find information sheets that aggregate many of the key facts related to the coronavirus outbreak and provide details and insights related to potential psychological and emotional responses to the situation. Sorry for the length of this e-mail, but this topic touches on so many related points that it was worthy of a deeper dive.  For more information about occupational health and safety (OH&S) in your local office, please visit our internal wiki and click on the Human Resources tab for the latest and greatest news and updates.

Thanks!

Pamela Toovey, CPHR

Human Resources

 

 

Additional Resources

What is Bell Let’s Talk?

Bell Let’s Talk is a multi-year charitable program dedicated to the promotion and support of mental health across Canada. Since 2010, Bell has committed over $100 million to support a wide range of mental health organizations, large and small, from coast to coast focusing on anti-stigma, care and access workplace mental health and research.

Don’t forget to fall back an hour this Sunday

Annually in October, Malatest raises awareness about emergency preparedness and practices what we would need to do in the event of an emergency.  There are many different kinds of possible emergency situations that we should all be prepared for, but the idea is that in October, all Malatest office locations may plan a fun event, related to emergency preparedness, and run a quick evacuation drill to ensure everyone knows what to do in the event of a real emergency. 

Be prepared when disaster strikes. Download the FREE Be Ready Red Cross app, in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Alert Ready is Canada’s emergency alerting system. Alert Ready delivers critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television, radio and LTE-connected and compatible wireless devices. The Alert Ready system was developed with many partners, including federal, provincial and territorial emergency management officials, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Pelmorex, the broadcasting industry and wireless service providers. Together, these partners work to ensure Canadians receive alerts immediately and know when to take action to stay safe.

Malatest offices will be closed on Monday October 14th, 2019 for Thanksgiving

On October 1, 2019 our (Employee Assistance Program) EAP provider is switching to Homewood Health

Our group benefits plan provides access to an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) and online mental health and wellness resources. These are designed to help you and your family cope with everyday issues such as relationship challenges, managing stress, parenting and work problems.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2019, Homewood Health will be the new provider of both our EFAP and our online health and wellness services.

Malatest offices will be closed on Monday September 2nd for the Labour Day long weekend.

Malatest Offices will be closed on Monday August 5th, 2019 to observe the long weekend.

Malatest Offices will be Closed on Monday July 1st for Canada Day.

Malatest will be closed for the May long weekend on Monday May 20th.

How to Spring Clean Your Office or Cubicle

With all the spring cleaning that awaits you at home (the moldy depths of your refrigerator and the miles of dusty baseboards), I’m sure you’re not jumping at the chance to clean your cubicle.

But since everything else in your life is getting a refresher for the new season, why should your work life miss out? Tidying up your workspace can help you focus better, work more efficiently, and bring a ray of new life to your daily routine. Or, at least make it smell nicer.

Don’t worry—you won’t have to get on your hands and knees with a scrub brush. But with these few simple steps, you can revitalize your cube in no time.

1. Get Rid of the Junk

Over the year, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of things in and around your cubicle that you don’t actually need. Prime example: I currently have five (yes, five!) coffee cups in the corner of my desk. Do I ever drink five cups of coffee at the same time? Tempting, but no. I really only need one—so four of those mugs are coming home with me.

And that’s only the beginning. Sort through your overflowing cup of pens and pencils, and throw out the writing utensils that are out of ink, out of lead, or too ridden with bite marks to use in public. The snacks you have stashed in your bottom drawer? Get rid of anything questionable (like those stale crackers and the tea bags that are way past their expiration dates)—and transfer everything else into an airtight plastic container.

2. Organize Your Drawers

When I was young, my least favorite chore was cleaning out my desk drawers. It probably didn’t help that I was a bit of a hoarder, so the task meant sorting through an overflowing compartment of papers, photos, trash, candy wrappers, toys, trinkets—things I (mistakenly) thought I’d use again one day. And if you’re anything like me, you’re probably familiar with the grown-up version of hoarder syndrome: a tendency to hang onto every paper and file that crosses your desk, under the guise that you’ll eventually need to reference it again.

If so, it’s time get organized. Start by throwing out or shredding anything that is clearly outdated or unnecessary—like the draft versions of the quarterly report from six quarters ago—or, if you can’t bear to part with certain old files, box them up and ask your boss if there’s a nearby storage area. With everything else, invest half an hour into devising a filing system: Clearly label file folders, hang them alphabetically in a drawer, and sort away.

3. Clear Your Workspace

A cluttered desktop isn’t only inefficient—it also serves as a constant, in-your-face to-do list. And when you’re trying to focus on the task at hand, the last thing you want to be thinking about is the next five items on your list.

So, clear away all your desktop clutter. Now that your drawers are prepped and organized, file away papers and tuck loose items into drawer organizers (the ones with lots of small compartments can help keep even the tiniest objects separated).

It’s helpful to leave the things you use most—like your laptop, stash of pens, and Post-it notes—out in the open, while the less-utilized items (your three-hole punch, tape, and pushpins) can stay neatly put away in a drawer until they’re needed.

4. Actually Clean

Sure, the floor underneath your desk may get vacuumed every night by the janitorial staff, but with an entire building to clean, they probably don’t dust the ins and outs of every workspace.

I know—doing the actual cleaning is what you’re dreading most, but once all your stuff is cleared away, it’ll be a breeze. You don’t need to scrub every nook and cranny with a toothbrush, of course—but the job won’t feel 100% complete unless you actually get rid of the dust.

So, shake out the cracker crumbs from your keyboard (or use a bottle of compressed air), dust your computer screen, and wipe down the surface of your desk. You don’t even need to worry about spray bottles and rags—just bring a dry Swiffer cloth from home, and give your workspace a quick once-over.

5. Spruce it Up

Spring cleaning isn’t only about clearing out the clutter. Sure, it’s great to have a tidy desk—but it’s also important to have a workspace that inspires you. So, add a few motivating posters to your cubicle wall, pick out some colorful new desk accessories, or adopt a desktop fern—whatever it takes to bring the springtime into your windowless cube.

When the clutter is cleared away, breathe in that fresh springtime air, and kick back and relax—er, get back to work.

March Madness 2019

Spring is here and so is March Madness! Here are some tricks and tips to get you through the month.

How did you celebrate Pink Shirt Day?

Pink Shirt Day

Are you participating in a Pink Shirt Day event at work?

Did you know that over 75% of people say they’ve been bullied? Over 90% of bullying incidents have witnesses, and most incidents are over within 10 to 30 seconds.

Bullying could be happening to someone you know and care about – join us in taking a stand against bullying behaviour, and help us raise awareness so everyone knows that bullying is not okay.

Malatest encourages you to participate by wearing pink and demonstrating your kindness on Wednesday, February 27, 2019!  

Respect, dignity and kindness are values that send a long lasting and positive message. Set the example, and be kind to one another always.

Spread awareness about Pink Shirt Day, wear something pink, and encourage others to join you in creating a sea of pink, on this Pink Shirt Day.

Thanks!

Pamela Toovey, CPHR

Human Resources

Holiday Planning

Please find the below Calendar indicating availability for programming, proposals, Corporate Admin, and the Survey Houses over the Holidays.

We also wanted you to be aware of the following important dates:

  • All invoicing requests and expense claims for 2018 must be to Karen at invoicing@malatest.com by Friday December 14th
  • The All Staff Meeting is on Friday December 14th at 10:00 am PST
  • Time cards must be submitted by 10:00 am PST on Monday December 17th.  This is the final pay for 2018 so payroll will be calculating your final reconciliations.
  • Anyone who will be off from the 24th to the 28th must commit their Final time card of 2018 before they leave on the 21st of December.

If you have any questions or concerns about the below schedule please email admin@malatest.com.

With the Holiday Season approaching the OHS Committee wanted to remind everyone to please celebrate responsibly:

Impaired Driving Laws

Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. In 2016, there were more than 70,000 impaired driving incidents reported by the police, including almost 3,000 drug-impaired driving incidents. The Criminal Code prohibits driving while impaired to any degree by drugs and alcohol.

On April 13, 2017, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-46, the most comprehensive reform to the Criminal Code transportation regime in more than 40 years. The Bill passed Parliament on June 20, 2018 and received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018. The new law is a modern, simplified, and more coherent system of reforms to better deter and detect drug and alcohol-impaired driving.

It is important to note that provinces and territories have additional laws or regulations that may apply. Make sure to check the laws in your area.

Please visit Canada’s impaired driving webpage for statistics, research, and more information on the dangers of driving while impaired.

Related Documents
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Malatest Policy Update - Cannabis

While at work, everyone has an obligation and responsibility to comply with Malatest policies, work safely, and report, any unsafe working conditions to a manager, supervisor, or HR. Human Resources is accessible for guidance and questions.

Employees should know:

  • If an employee is unfit or unable to perform the duties of their job, the manager should discuss this directly with the employee and decide if further action is required.
  • If an employee’s health or safety requires urgent attention, or if they pose a serious risk to the safety of themselves or others, this should be dealt with immediately.
  • If an employee is not working safely, or is unfit for work, the employee may be sent home to attend to their health and safety concern or situation.
  • It is important for employees and managers to understand that the legalization of cannabis does NOT give employees the right to work while impaired, or to be impaired at work.

Malatest policies include substance use and impairment during work hours.  Malatest policies and processes are already in place for all offices, departments and Survey House locations. As alcohol and other legalized substances are prohibited from the workplace, our policies are currently being refreshed to include cannabis as it is not permitted in the workplace.

Further updates will follow as regulatory compliance requires. This topic will be added to the occupational health and safety initiative (in every office), training materials currently under development, and accessible on the wiki http://10.0.2.82/

Legalization of Cannabis and the Workplace

On October 17, 2018, Canada became the second country to legalize cannabis. The terms and regulations are still rolling out across the country to organize and make sense of what this means for everyone in and out of the workplace. 

What does this mean for us at Malatest?

  1. Malatest is updating our workplace policies and processes to include recently legalized substances.
  2. We are creating appropriate training module(s) for occupational health and safety issues and awareness in the workplace.
  3. Everyone working with Malatest has a responsibility to comply with Malatest policy, work safely, travel to and from work safely, and be fit and productive at work.
  4. Malatest is not a high risk work environment. We don’t operate heavy machinery therefore drug testing will not be required. The legalization of cannabis does NOT give employees the right to work while impaired, or to be impaired at work.
  5. Substance use – consuming, smoking, or ingesting substances such as drugs or alcohol on-site (on any Malatest work-site, or in any office location) is expressly prohibited.
  6. All staff will be asked to comply with local bylaws and provincial or federal regulations for the possession and/or use of any legalized substance.

For further guidance and any questions, please contact or report your manager, supervisor and/or Human Resources

Thanks Sincerely, Pam

Pamela Toovey, CPHR

R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd.
858 Pandora Avenue
Victoria BC  V8W 1P4

p.toovey@malatest.com
Ph. 250.384.2770 x 423|Fax: 250.384.2774
Victoria  Edmonton  Ottawa  Toronto

Rethink Stress:

It seems that many of us are facing a busy October, the below video offers a unique perspective on rethinking stress. It you have a few minutes I suggest giving it a watch



Hello Everyone,

As we are approaching the completion of one year with Equitable Life Canada as our benefits provider, we wanted to take the opportunity to gather your feedback. We would welcome the opportunity to learn from your experience, using our benefits plan over the past year. As one of Canada’s largest mutual life insurance companies, Equitable Life Canada is essentially owned by our participating Malatest employees. We would like to ensure that our benefits continue to focus on our staff’s best interest and offers the overall coverage and service that secures our well being. We would like to invite everyone who currently participates in the benefits plan, to answer the questions provided below. Those who don’t currently participate in the benefits plan, or didn’t participate in the plan when BBD was our previous benefits provider (can skip question one). All ideas, suggestions or feedback regarding the benefits plan and/or provider are Welcome!  Please send responses to Human Resources (confidential) via email to p.toovey@malatest.com We would like to encourage you to submit your feedback by Monday, June 18, 2018. Please note: We have attached a Word version that can be easily printed and delivered with some anonymity to admin in each office for secured delivery to Human Resources. Satisfaction Feedback Form Complete Equitable Life Presentation Deck

All Staff Meeting

Thank you to everyone that attended the all staff meeting on May 16th, 2018.  Below please find the PowerPoint and the Survey Process Manual discussed in the meeting.  Keep an eye out for a new page that will be added to the wiki with instructions and a link to the new PIF along with a page containing the Survey Process Manual and the resources outlined within the Manual. Survey Process Manual – Getting a survey into field PIF Presentation

R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. is committed to providing a work environment where all persons working with the company will be treated with respect and dignity. Our policy aims to prevent harassment by promoting awareness, early detection, and resolution with appropriate steps to follow in the event you, or someone you know, find that they are dealing with harassment in the workplace. Policy Statement R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. promotes a work environment that is inherently professional, collegial, and collaborative.  This policy prohibits conduct or comments defined as either discriminatory harassment or personal harassment.  Malatest will not tolerate or accept discriminatory harassment or personal harassment in any interactions connected to work with Malatest, and where such harassment is found to have occurred, it may take remedial action. Employees have the right and obligation to:
  • Know about potential work hazards and adhere to applicable Malatest policies;
  • Participate in and cooperate with the process required to resolve any issue or complaint;
  • Refuse to work in a situation that could be potentially hazardous to your safety;
Our policy will support a work environment where all Malatest employees are treated equally with respect and dignity.  Our policy will promote the safety and well-being of the workplace while reinforcing our values of integrity and trust within our organization. Here are some additional resources in preparation for pink shirt day: www.bill14.ca, www.bullyfreealberta.ca, www.antibullying.novascotia.ca, https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/wpvh/index.php

Malatest Harassment Policy


Cold and Flu season has arrived.  Remember to wash and sanitize your hands and see the below stats on hot spots for germs in the office


Welcome to a New Year! I have posted the presentation deck and the recording from Rob’s address to the staff below if you were not able to attend in person on December 20th, 2017. Rob’s address Dec 20 2017 – Power Point

How to Participate in Computer Security Day

Computer Security Day is held yearly on November 30th as a way of reminding all computer users that computer security and safety is an important personal and workplace responsibility. This is a good day to do some basic security checks and to follow up anything you’ve been meaning to do for a while. This article presents some of the things that you might like to consider doing on Computer Security Day or any day when you’re concerned about your computer’s security.  

Image titled Participate in Computer Security Day Step 1

1. Read your workplace’s computer security policy again. If your workplace has a policy, read it. Even if you’ve already read it before, it may have been updated, or you may have forgotten important parts of it. Read it for a refresher. Image titled Participate in Computer Security Day Step 2 2. Check your computer station and office for security and safety issues. Looking around the area you work in can reveal a number of hazards that can be dealt with, easily provided you follow through checking them methodically. Here are some suggested activities:
  • Have you got power surge protectors in place for all computers and related equipment? If not, contact IT at tech@malatest.com
  • Is your monitor directed away from inquiring eyes?
  • Do you have any unauthorized devices connected to your computer?
Image titled Participate in Computer Security Day Step 3
3. Check the security and safety of your computer hardware. Whenever you leave your room or office, can other people access or remove your computing equipment? If so, consider instituting practices that will prevent them from doing anything with your computer:
  • Put computer security posters in the office or room to remind everyone of their security responsibilities.
  • Use passwords to prevent unwanted access to computers.
  • Attach computers to the wall or heavy equipment by means of locks in order to prevent them from being removed. This is especially important for laptops and notebooks.
Image titled Participate in Computer Security Day Step 4
4. Clean the hardware and your desk zone. A cluttered workspace and messy office can be the cause of sloppy work practices in relation to confidential information and the more at ease everyone has become with leaving confidential information lying about, the harder it becomes to break the slack cycle. Jump on it now!
  • Vacuum the computer keyboard and computer area to remove dust build-up. Wipe down the screens with anti-static wipes.
  • Ensure that all dust, including chalk dust, is not covering or inside computers and related equipment.
  • Clean the area around your computer to remove clutter and to ensure that you know where all confidential files, discs, memory sticks, and other related confidential information actually is. Store everything securely.
Image titled Participate in Computer Security Day Step 5
5. Check for software and program vulnerabilities. Use the tools at hand to keep your computer software, applications, and programs in top shape.
  • When did you last change your password? Do it today if you can’t remember. Read How to choose a computer password that is hard to guess for more help.
  • Do a virus sweep. Read How to remove a virus if you find one.
  • Delete unneeded files. They use memory but also create clutter, making it both harder to find or spot problems, and providing more potential “gateways” for viruses to enter through. A regular clean up is cathartic.
  • Get rid of your Adobe Flash cookies. Read How to delete Flash cookies for the instructions.
  • Examine the audit files on your computers.
Image titled Participate in Computer Security Day Step 9
6. Think security and safety when you’re out and about. Carrying laptops, notebooks, and electronic data gadgets can lead you into trouble if you don’t pay adequate attention. Things to do include:
  • Never leave a laptop or other electronic gadget in open sight in a car. Always store out of sight, or preferably, take it with you. And lock your car, even if all you’re doing is paying for gas.
  • Remember to pick up your laptop, USB stick, or other electronic gadget after using it. Leaving it behind on a bar, in a cafe, or at someone else’s house allows anyone access to the information on the item.
  • Avoid carrying laptops and notebooks openly in places where mugging and pickpocketing is known. While this is mainly of concern when traveling, always keep your wits about you.
  • Avoid placing open liquids such as soda or coffee near your computer. Spills can be very costly, not to mention dangerous to your data!
 

Please vote for your favorite entries by sending your picks to admin@malatest.com

Winners will be announced on November 14th!

    Time is flying by and it is time to plan for some fun Halloween spirit for those that want to participate and enjoy this time of year in the office. Please find attached the photo contest details.  We initiated this event a few years ago and it was met with some great fun and enjoyment for all! We are looking for winners in four categories:
  • Best costume (individual)
  • Best costume/Halloween spirit (team)
  • Best pet and/or children’s costume
  • Best office decorations
Prize: At the end of the contest period, R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. in its sole discretion, will select one (1) winner from all of the eligible entries in each of the four contest categories.  Pictures can be sent in to admin@malatest.com  Contest entrants must understand and agree to be in the picture(s) and that the sole prize awarded will include the publication of the winning photos in the next edition of the Malatest Times. Deadline for entries to send in pictures is November 6th, 2017.  Prizes will be sent to the respective office locations for distribution and the winning photos will be featured in the next edition of the Malatest Times.  

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October 19th is Shake Out!

Shake Out! is an annual emergency preparedness drill that is practiced across all offices at Malatest.  The reason you might need to evacuate the building may vary in every province however Malatest offices across the country come together on this one day to practice an evacuation drill. This is the time of year that we dust off our Shake out Plan. This includes making sure Malatest has your most up to date Emergency Contact Form, practicing an evacuation of the office (and ending a call if you are a surveyor), as well as thinking about your plan for after an emergency.  Do you have a plan to contact loved ones? Do you have an emergency kit at home?  How would you get home safely in an emergency? The OHS committee has created the following page with links and resources to help your create your Shake Out! Plan.  Please take a moment to explore these resources at your leisure. Image result for shake out  

http://10.0.2.82/?page_id=2274


Thank you to Everyone that attended the All Staff Meeting and a big thank you to the Presenters!

(Please click on the image above for the full slide deck)

 

Documents and Pages reference in the meeting

The Report proofing check list – Report Proofing Checklist A complete list of software and resources available to staff – http://10.0.2.82/?page_id=496 More training resources – http://10.0.2.82/?page_id=494

With the recent HEAT Waves Spreading throughout the Country the Victoria OHS Committee wanted to share some tips to beat the heat.

           Click image to open                             Click image to open

Malatest will be attending the 2017 CES Conference in Vancouver

From April 30 – May 2, 2017

We are proud to once again be a sponsor of this years event!

 
March 22 2017

Phishing Awareness and Email Safety

Email is an essential part or our everyday communications. It is also one of the most common methods that hackers use to attempt to gain access to sensitive information. More than 90% of data breaches start with a phishing attack. “Phishing” uses fraudulent email messages designed to impersonate a legitimate person or organization and trick the recipient into downloading harmful attachments or divulging sensitive information, such as passwords, bank account numbers, and Social Security numbers.

Methods

Phishing: Typically, you receive an email that appears to come from a reputable organization such as a bank, vendor or client.  The email includes what appears to be a link to the organization’s website.  However, if you follow the link, you are connected to a replica of the website. Any details you enter, such as account numbers, PINs or passwords can be stolen and used by the hackers. Spear phishing:  Unlike phishing which involves mass-emailing, spear phishing is small-scale and well-targeted. The hacker targets specific users in a single business, usually someone in a higher role with the goal of obtaining access to the company networks or to some internal private information.   A common tactic is to pretend to be from a trusted department that might plausibly need such details, such as IT or Human Resources.  In some cases you are redirected to a bogus version of the company website. Spam & Phishing on Social Networks:  Spam, phishing and other scams aren’t limited to just email. They’re also prevalent on social networking sites. The same rules apply on social networks if on doubt, throw it out.

Prevention

  • Don’t reveal personal or financial information in an email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent in email.
  • If you have any doubts regarding an email request for information, contact tech@malatest.com for assistance.
  • Never provide passwords or sensitive information via e-mail.
  • Any notification regarding new login processes for any Malatest services such as time machine, or webmail will ALWAYS be communicated far in advance.  These communications will also come from a specific user and not from accounts such as support@malatest.com or human_resources@malatest.com.
  • For suspicious emails look at the Sender name and subject compared to the actual sender email address.  In many phishing scams the sender URL will not match with who the sender is pretending to be.
  • Before clicking on a suspect link, or entering info in a suspicious website take a look at the URL. The vast majority of URLs follow the same format in the simplest terms of:
        something .website.com or www.website.ca
  • Make sure that anything Malatest related is always something.malatest.com before trying to log in with your Malatest username and password.
Example of a valid domain: mail.malatest.com Example of a phishing domain: mail-malatest.com Although the mail-malatest.com looks like a Malatest website it is actually a different website not owned or operated by Malatest.

Reporting

In the event you think you have received a phishing email or an email you feel is suspicious contact tech@malatest.com for assistance.  Someone form the IT team will be able to assist you as well as evaluate the threat of the phishing attempt to the company as a whole. Should you feel that you may have been the victim of a phishing attack, send an email to tech@malatest.com and directly contact a member of the IT team immediately.  This will enable the IT team to appropriately respond and contain any potential compromise of information or accounts. In the unfortunate event that you do become the victim of a phishing attack the best case scenario is that you have to deal with new passwords anywhere you used the compromised password.   In the Malatest environment the worst case scenario would be all your emails have been downloaded and you now potentially need to contact clients and respondents to advise them their information has been compromised.

Summary

  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to compromise your information. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or, if appropriate, mark it as junk.
  • Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true or asks for personal information.
  • Unique account, unique password:  Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.

When it comes to Phishing an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

 

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Please remember to set your clocks ahead on Saturday March 11, 2017


R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. is committed to providing a work environment where all persons working with the company will be treated with respect and dignity. Our policy aims to prevent harassment by promoting awareness, early detection, and resolution with appropriate steps to follow in the event you, or someone you know, find that they are dealing with harassment in the workplace. Policy Statement R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. promotes a work environment that is inherently professional, collegial, and collaborative.  This policy prohibits conduct or comments defined as either discriminatory harassment or personal harassment.  Malatest will not tolerate or accept discriminatory harassment or personal harassment in any interactions connected to work with Malatest, and where such harassment is found to have occurred, it may take remedial action. Employees have the right and obligation to:
  • Know about potential work hazards and adhere to applicable Malatest policies;
  • Participate in and cooperate with the process required to resolve any issue or complaint;
  • Refuse to work in a situation that could be potentially hazardous to your safety;
Our policy will support a work environment where all Malatest employees are treated equally with respect and dignity.  Our policy will promote the safety and well-being of the workplace while reinforcing our values of integrity and trust within our organization. Here are some additional resources in preparation for pink shirt day: www.bill14.ca, www.bullyfreealberta.ca, www.antibullying.novascotia.ca, https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/wpvh/index.php
Malatest Harassment Policy Pink Shirt Day 2017 – The Cost of Uncivil Behaviour – HR

New Year, New Start, Welcome to the Wiki



Happy Halloween and Congratulations to the Contest Winners

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  Welcome back to the restored Malawiki, Malatest & Associates’ internal communication hub.