Canadian Language Barriers have Nothing to do with Immigration by Rechell McDonald

For a country that has English as a first language, Canada experiences a whole host of communication barriers, province-to-province. Whether it is the difficult nature of certain dialects, such as those found in the Maritimes, or the strong francophone populations in Quebec and Northern Ontario. There are inherent problems for Canadians as they travel the country, which says nothing of the difficulties faced by immigrants and growing immigrant communities who are experiencing language barriers of their own.

In the Maritime provinces, specifically Newfoundland, English is spoken in a much more rapid format. The dialect is a result of the area being a primary landing place for early immigrants coming from England, Ireland and Scotland. A little bit of each accent has been adopted and converted into a new definition of English – what many Canadians affectionately refer to as ‘Newfie.’ Although it is English, most people from the rest of the country have a difficult time understanding this rapid-form of English.

Quebec is a predominantly French speaking province, with the majority of the population, particularly those in major metropolitan areas such as Montreal, being bilingual. In Quebec however, there is a strong resistance to the English culture of the rest of the country. Their language is a point of pride, the thing that sets them apart, and in more rural areas of the province residents often refuse to converse in English. The separatist mentality held by a significant amount of the Quebec population can make it exceedingly difficult for English Canadians to traverse the province and communicate, even for the most basic needs.

There is, however, a valid argument on both sides of this language barrier. There are many Anglophones in Quebec, that is, those who speak English first and French second, but are bilingual. The point is, there is an extreme lack of Francophones and Anglophones in the rest of the country. Not enough people are bilingual.

In the prairie and western provinces the language is a little more laid back, and in many cases, less formal. It is easy to understand but it is common to come across noticeable differences in speech patterns. An example of this would be a familiar greeting. Where the rest of the country may say “Hey, how are you? It’s a beautiful day!” An Albertan would say “How are you? It’s a beautiful day, hey?”

The stereotypical Canadian accent that you often see on American television is derived from the rural Prairie Provinces, although the stereotype is still quite exaggerated. The prairies and western provinces consist of only a couple major cities a piece, and countless smaller villages, towns and hamlets. Large parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia do not contain nearly the populations that they could.

Canada is a huge mass of culture. Not only is there a tremendous amount of immigration diversifying the verbal landscape, but the country consists naturally of a variety of dialects and aboriginal languages. Keep in mind we haven’t even scraped the surface of the native languages spread across the country: Ojibwa, Blackfoot, Cree, Algonquin and Mohawk (there are dozens more). There are also the Inuit and the Metis to consider and the native populations comprise about 700 000 people predominantly located in Northern Ontario and British Columbia.

Canada has countless naturally occurring language barriers that have absolutely nothing to do with the country’s immigration policies. It is up to each individual to minimize these barriers through the development of their own linguistic skills.

Office Space by Shelley Williamson

Sometimes boosting your bottom line comes down to the way you organize your office space, ensuring your employees are productive, and that they have all the tools they need so they don’t end up feeling like a number stuck in a windowless cubicle. Commerce News caught up with Leah Vocey, architectural and design liaison at Edmonton’s RGO Office Products, Edmonton Chamber members since 1998. She advises businesses about the latest in office trends that can help them make the most of their interiors, making for better workflow and happier staff. After all, who doesn’t want to hang onto their investment in human capital?

Trend 1: Multi-person spaces. “Enhancing collaboration, that’s the big tend we’ve seen int he last 10 year. Most people don’t work by th3emselves; they don’t work in a silo. It’s what we call dyadic work – most people work with at least one other person, so you have to look at how you accommodate that at a work station, comfortably. Whether that’s a monitor arm that you put on the desk that articulates so you can show somebody else your work, or whether that’s the tools that we have at our own showroom here where we create ideas.”

Trend 2: Multiple monitors. “We have something called ‘media;scape,’ which allows you to have a couple of monitors on. If you, for example, were doing research and you had a colleague that was putting together whatever article you were working on, on one side; you could both bring your laptop to that room and quickly connect, and up it goes on the screen. You have a laptop and they have a laptop and you’re not sitting trying to see over your laptops what the other has done. It’s very interactive and it’s quick.”

Trend 3: Multi-purpose Spaces. “Bistros and things like that are now becoming areas where you can meet with vendors or you can meet with clients, rather than in a meeting room. It also serves the purpose of a place to have lunch, for example.”

Trend 4: Get smart. Gen X and Gen Y are very technical; they’ve been [using technology] since they were two or three years old. You have to make sure in your workplace you are giving them the tools that they’re used to. Some of the universities and certainly the schools have Smart Boards and all sorts of other tech tools. If they are learning about the workplace, they should probably have the same tools. Or at least the tools that will attract and retain them. That’s one of the biggest issues i think a lot of companies have – how do you get the small pool of really good workers?”

Trend 5: Bring down the walls. “It’s not necessarily a private office; maybe it’s an open area. That’s part of the trend – the walls are coming down. You want to give people real options when they go and work. It doesn’t have to be a desk. It can be a lounge piece; it can be a cool bistro space.”

Trend 6: think outside the box. “Don’t box people in. I think that’s one of the biggest things that we are trying to encourage people to look at. It’s not for everybody; certainly there are people who do require privacy. But be careful when you take something away. For example, when you give people a smaller workstation, they might think you’re taking something away from them. You need to turn around an give them other spaces they can go to. Give them a room that’s nearby, for example, where they can go to make a private phone call or have a private conversation when they need to.”

The Theatre of Protests by Parker Grant

If there was an industrial version of Jeopardy, Oil & Gas for $200 would be: “Oil sands oil will be produced and find its way to refiners by rail, by barge, by truck, or by pipe.” The answer (always in the form of a questions) would be: “What’s the point of the protest, Alex?”

Whether it’s well co-ordinated large groups or bussed-in or random clusters of well-intentioned and concerned protesters with banners and placards outside the Legislature Buildings, at Fort McMurray job sites or across the street from the new EPCOR Tower on 101 st Street, or in front of The White House in Washington, the leaks and rumors about Barrack Obama’s imminent signature on the Keystone Pipeline “permit” approval is triggering more bouts of carefully planned and impromptu protests.

To varying degrees, most openly biased industry insiders, balanced and slanted media and provoked protest opponents respect the right and opportunity for people to protest but, either realistically or begrudgingly acknowledge that a basic aspect of protest is theatre, for effect.

The basic strategy and tools of protests are also a given: cheering and jeering, catch-phrases (“raping and pillaging the lands”), provocative words (dirty oil), out-of-context facts, details and numbers, hyperbole, animated and excitable spokespeople, noise and the fact of media-coverage life that the responses rarely get as much attention as the protest.

It happens about abortion, immigrants, mad cows, taxes, sugary pop, racism, baby seals, whales and polar bears, climate change and generally savaging the planet.

Unfortunately, while most protests are unconditionally well-intentioned, the passion and the emotion of the protestors often misses the legitimate points, confuses the actual situation and must settle for cheap-attention and fickle gut-reactions for a small segment of the public they had hoped to sway or incite.

“Negativity always gets more attention than positivity,”shrugs Alex Poubaix, TransCanada Corporation’s admittedly biased president of energy and oil pipelines. “But whether it is supposedly about the pipeline or any other hot issues, people ultimately know when they are being manipulated, and when it comes tot he frequent oil sand and Keystone protests, the average Albertan definitely sees through it.”

According to Philip Cross, a former Statistics Canada official and now research coordinator with Ottawa’s respected Macdonald-Laurier Institute think-tank, “Protestors on the contentious social issues tend to be very simplistic and short-sighted. Although the average person may politely respect the opinions, they invariably do see through the shrill claims.”

While the recent and ongoing protests on both sides of the longest, unguarded and friendly border in the world chant concerns and outrage about oil polluting the environment and the mammoth pipeline which would be the allegedly hazardous transportation to move the culprit oil to its refining destinations, the industry’s self-confessed, biased insiders and objective experts seem to agree that most of the rallying-cry protest issues are unrealistic, faulty, inaccurate, misleading and sometimes naive, intended to excite more than convince.

“The facts undisputedly show that Albertan disposable incomes are way ahead of the rest of the country,” Cross points out, “and it’s overwhelmingly due to the energy sector.”

According to the gung-ho and outspoken Dr. Michal Moore, professor at the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISEEE) and a visiting professor at the iconic Cornell University in New York, most protests are a distortion of the truth. “They are usually silly and nonsensical and don’t recognize the realities of life. Protest rhetoric usually substitutes shorthand for the real issues. The battle cry is ‘I’m against taxes’ not against all the things that taxes provide for me.

“The recent pipeline protests are prime examples. Much of what we have, see and enjoy in Alberta is due, in one form or another, to the chemical industry,” he snaps. “Look, let’s face it, the industry supports us all.

“There are environmental and economic risks to the extracting of any natural resources. Risks of getting it out, transporting it and processing it. the undisputable bottom line is that pipelines are tested, documented and provenly the safest way to move product. Of course the y must be (and are)very strictly regulated, regularly inspected and must comply with compromised safety and  regulatory standards, but pipelines are definitely a minimized risk. They are routinely used, without incident, to move water, waste, natural gas, other chemicals and , ye, oil!” Dr Moore says as an adamant analogy.

The facts, figures and documented industry research and opinions make an un-protestable case for reality when it comes to North America’s insatiable oil habit.

By all calculations, stats and projections about even well-intentioned and noble wishes and goals – like Barrack Obama’s urge “to transition toward more sustainable sources of energy and greater energy independence” – most industry experts (and even some rational protestors) acknowledge that a true transition to renewable energy will take, at the very least, three or four decades.

“Electric cars, for example, need batteries and they don’t go nearly far enough for the average North American consumer and they require conveniently accessible re-charging stations,” Dr. Moore itemizes. “And now we know that electric cars are quite a bit more expensive and the consumer will likely not pay for the premium. If electric cars catch-on at all, it will be a  very gradual penetration over a long period of time. We simply haven’t invented very many good substitutes for the way we prefer and are used to living. We need and must have a car!”

Pourbaix uses basic facts and statistics to make his point about a somewhat simple answer to the familiar and contentious arguments of protestors. “Every morning in North America, we turn the ignition key in 300 million vehicles. One day that may change, but for now and for the foreseeable future, that’s the way it is. the marketplace has resounding said it needs oil.

“In Alberta we have over one million barrels-a-day of contract for an average term of 17 years,” he explain. “It may be frustrating for some protestors to deal with, but the oil sands are definitely going to get developed irrespective of Keystone being built or not, and that oil will find its way to market. The question is which market? Because the marketplace dictates what is produced and what is refined. The pipeline just transports it.”

Pourbaix chooses not to get baited into protest rebuttals but continues to plead his rational case where it counts: in Ottawa and Washington, as he did this April when he addressed the U.S Congress, making the point that despite protests for alternate energies and accusations about oil destroying the planet, “the U.S. consumes 15 million barrels of oil each day and imports eight to nine million barrels. Fort he foreseeable future, oil is a necessity.

“The vital question is: does the U.S. want its oil from a friendly neighbor like Canada and domestic sources like the Bakken play or does it want to continue importing higher-priced foreign oil from nations that do not support U.S. values. It’s that simple,”

While some protestors were getting some curiosity for their cause, Pourbaix and his diverse delegation were underscoring their Washington pitch with a potent American closer.

Besides supporting long-term U.S. energy security, TransCanada’s multi-billion dollar oil pipeline system (just waiting for the American President’s signature) is a much-needed and major positive for the U.S economy because it means jobs. He is quick and passionate about explaining that TransCanada currently employs more than 4,000 American workers building the Gulf Coast project in Texas and Oklahoma and that translates into thousands welders, mechanics, electricians, laborers, safety coordinators, heavy equipment operators and others.

“Most people aren’t so gullible that they buy into the rhetoric of protests, but you can never be sure what some people are thinking,” grins Cross. “Remember: 20-25 percent of Americans don’t believe man actually landed on the moon.”

Desormeau Industries


Steel Plus Network is proud to welcome one of its preferred suppliers as of June 1, 2013: Desormeau.
In business for over 40 years, Desormeau Industries puts all their knowledge and expertise to meet your expectations.

We invite you to read the attached document and contact them for all your needs nuts and bolts needs.


Desormeau Industries is a manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor of bolts, screws, nuts and washers of standard and custom sizes, ranging up to 6 inches in diameter.


The success of their customers’ projects is a key concern Desormeau Industries. With 44 years of activity and knowledge of the industry’s needs, the company offers its expertise and personalized service characterized by friendliness, professionalism, support and reliability to deliver the correct bold at the right place, and at the right time.


Certified ISO 9001-2008, Desormeau Industries has developed a quality management system that is maintained and constantly improved through continuing education and by making the appropriate resources available to all employees. Our partners and suppliers are chosen for the quality of their contributions in meeting the specific demands of our clients.

To ensure the quality of our products, our full traceability system allows us to issue certificates of compliance and mill tests upon requests.


Our wide range of imperial and metric products, materials, veneers, essays, tests and our guaranteed traceability meet the needs of various industries such as:

  • megastructures

  • mechanical assembly

  • building

  • agribusiness

  • food industries

  • heavy Industries

  • petrochemical industries

  • pharmaceutical industries

  • electrical equipment

  • transport

  • processing ores

  • Pulp & Paper

  • communication

  • energy

  • rail industry



8195 Pascal Gagnon,

St-Leonard Mtl Qc

H1P 1Y5


The Steel Plus Network Team

SDS/2 – Boston Seminar – June 17, 2013

Learn How SDS/2 Integrates with Revit Structure!

The SDS/2 Connect add-in for Autodesk® Revit® Structure allows Revit users to design and apply steel connections in the native Revit environment. But it also allows steel detailers using SDS/2 Detailing to get a better model from Revit Structure. This seminar will focus on various workflows from round-tripping a Revit model with an SDS/2 Detailing model for approval and fabrication purposes, to getting general contractors a head start on site planning by transferring a Revit model to SDS/2 Erector Plus.

Learn More and Earn More
Design Data will also be awarding current customers $250 in Steelbucks for each engineering company or general contractor they bring along with them to attend the seminar. To earn your Steelbucks, we’ll need a card from the engineer or GC — we’ll write your company name on the back and you’ll receive notification of the Steelbucks you’ve earned within a week of the seminar.

In addition, all attendees will earn a free PDH that will be mailed out after attending the seminar. SDS/2 Connnect is an additional tool that detailers have to improve their deliverable as well as the experience that engineers have working with SDS/2 detailers. Current SDS/2 users will benefit by becoming educated on what can be accomplished between Revit Structure and SDS/2 Detailing when engineers use the SDS/2 Connect add-in.

You can learn more about the detailer’s role when it comes to working with information coming from SDS/2 Connect for Revit Structure by attending one of these FREE seminars.


  • All attendees are eligible for 1 PDH
  • Meet engineers, detailers and general contractors interested in utilizing Revit model data for fabrication
  • Gain an understanding of connection design in Revit Structure
  • Learn how to build higher LOD models in Revit Structure
  • Understand how Revit Structure models can be transferred downstream for fabrication.

Seminar Dates and Locations
Boston, Massachusetts – June 17, 2013
1560 Trapelo Road
Waltham, MA 02451

If you have any questions about these seminars, please contact Michelle McCarthy.

Modern Risk: What You Should Plan for Now

Consider cyber liability and climate change when you evaluate your insurance needs.

As the world of business changes so does the insurance required to protect your business. Generally, a renewal meeting with your broker will cover time-honoured topics such as property values and business interruption coverage. However, the conversation with your broker should now include discussion on increasingly hot issues such as cyber-attacks and climate change.

Cyber Liability

Alberta is presently the only province that requires mandatory breach notification for private sector companies (federal legislation and provincial regulations require public sector organizations and health care institutions to automatically report loss of confidential data). Cyber liability policies are gaining more attention and importance as prominent corporations and even government agencies have faced newsworthy data breaches. Local businesses are starting to realize their exposure after seeing public breaches at banks, tech titans, government departments and other major organizations.

No matter how good your IT department is your business is susceptible to a breach if you electronically store any customer data. In the event of a “cyber-attack”, businesses need to de4termine whether personally identifiable information was actually lost or compromised, ensure that you adhere to all laws and regulations governing the handling of the breach, notify affected customers and protect them against fraud or other misuse of their personal data. Privacy aside, cyber insurance also may impact your intellectual property, social media liability and business interruption.

Typically the coverage protects against:

  • Civil liability resulting from data breaches and misuse of social media.
  • System repair and restoration
  • Contractual fines, including credit card company fines, arising from privacy breaches.
  • The cost to notify individuals and the cost of steps taken to mitigate larger liability claims.
  • Lost revenue arising from system downtime after a computer virus or cyber-attack.

Climate change

In Edmonton we have all experienced first-hand the vast increases in water, hail and wind damage claims across the province. But extreme weather incidents such as flooding, droughts, hurricanes and typhoons in the far reaches of the globe can have a direct impact on the insurance needs of your business here in Edmonton.

For business interruption insurance, your current limits and periods of indemnity may not take into account supply chain interruptions that may trigger a business interruption claim. The interruptions could take the form of raw materials shortages or prolonged delays int eh manufacturing of products and equipment. Overnight, a four-month turnaround could be closer to 12 months. the same is true for production equipment. If your local business has a breakdown of production equipment, it is important to understand how long it would take to reorder the equipment and have your production line back up and running. Your standard policy limits are likely too low and may not accurately reflect the true period of time.

It is evident that , in the next few years, extreme weather will cause property rates to rise and in some situations it will be harder to find willing insurers. The re-insurance market will become more expensive and many insurers will look to “subscription policies” to share the risk with other insurers. It will be necessary to have a strong relationship with an independent broker who has access to multiple markets and options tailored to your business.

By Daniel Robinson. From Commerce News: The Voice of Business in Edmonton, Tuesday April 2, 2013, vol. 35 no 4

Vital Information: Safeguard your records to keep your business operating in an emergency

As a small business owner, you’ve invested a lot of time and money into making your business a success. Now imagine a disaster wiping out all of your hard work in an instant. It seems unthinkable, yet 30 per cent of small businesses in the U.S. have closed due to a natural disaster, and one in four of them don’t re-open. Disasters such as fire, winter storms, flooding or even power outages can leave your small business facing damages to property and assets or lost revenues because of business interruption. To make sure you’re able to get back on your feet after disaster strikes, prepare yourself using these tips.

Know your insurance

To protect your small business from physical damage, insure the contents of your office space, from computer equipment to inventory, as well as the property itself if you own your building. Business interruption insurance is also a useful tool for small businesses, as it will cover lost revenues in the case that you need to temporarily stop doing business due to a disaster.

Protecting against data loss

The best way to make sure that your business can be up and running quickly after a disaster is to protect your vital records. You should keep copies of any records that will be needed for insurance, legal or tax purposes, or are key to continued business success. These could include customer lists, payroll information and photographs of office equipment for insurance purposes. Keep a hard copy of your vital records in a place other than your office, as well as an electronic copy, either on a USB stick or hosted securely online.

A contingency plan for continuing business

It’s smart to develop a business continuity plan that identifies your most important business functions and how you would continue them if a disaster were to strike. If your business is directly affected by a disaster, but your customers aren’t, it’s important to continue to serve them, or else they could get frustrated and look elsewhere. A list of key customers and their contact information should be included in your vital records. it’s also a good idea to form an agreement with a similar business that can temporarily take over your customers, in case you’re completely unable to supply products or services temporarily

If your small business experiences property damage, the quickest way to get things back up and running may be to relocate. Know where you would move in the case of disaster and how you would get the necessary equipment needed to continue operations from that new site.

If a s disaster occurs in your community, even if your business escapes unscathed, it can affect your suppliers, so it’s good to keep supplier contact information as well as information for alternate suppliers as part of your vital records. A disaster could also leave your employees unable to come to work. Your vital records should include contact information for every staff member and you should also be prepared to maintain payroll continuity and provide additional financial aid to employees should they need it. .

Preparing yourself and your employees

Above all, it’s important to prepare yourself and your staff. At least once a year, update vital records, hold evacuation drills and discuss the disaster plan with staff.

There are some useful resources that can help with planning. The Government of Canada provides a guide with the information needed to create a business continuity plan (find itat You can also download the Your Plan app for your iPhone, developed by the Insurance Information Institute, and have all disaster plans, forms and checklists right at your fingertips.

by Alexandria Eldridge, From Commerce News: The Voice of Business in Edmonton Tuesday April 2, 2013 Vol 35 No4

Websites that click: designing for emotion

There are many exciting trends in web design today, but perhaps none more so than designing for emotion. Using psychology, personality and fun to design a website makes designing for emotion a power strategy.

In Designing for Emotion, a book by user experience designer Aarron Walter, he explains that it’s about developing sites based on human connections and creating a good user experience that elicits positive emotions.

For the group benefits industry, the positive emotion users to the site should feel is trust. as companies want to establish themselves as reliable and secure. Users should be made to feel that their personal information will be protected and feel comfortable to submit transactions. So how do web designs inspire emotions in their users.


Using principles of psychology, web designers can understand their audiences and design accordingly. Walter explains that we are hard wired to make emotional connections to others and to seek emotion in human faces. That is why we enjoy seeing photos of humans and many websites use photos of smiling people to establish that emotional connection.

In her article, Not Just Pretty: Building Emotion Into Your Websites for Smashing Magazine, Sabina Idler explains this [psychological principal further: “By recognizing ourselves in a design, we sense that there is more than just a screen with a bunch of code and images. We perceive human presence, which makes us feel comfortable and connected.”

If audiences can respond so powerfully to the need to feel emotionally connected, web designs that mimic human tendencies can have great success.


Humans all have unique personalities and it’s a key ingredient in building emotional connections to others. Walter further explains that the goal is to facilitate human to human connection, where the personality rises to the surface and the computer recedes into the background.

According to Designing for Emotion personality has the power to attract and is a powerful tool in web design if the right personality for the site is created. The key is to create a web personality that is authentic and will be the type of person the target audience wants to interact with.

Creating a personality that people can trust is especially important for group benefits websites as the subject matter on the site is very personal. You need to present a very human, caring company with its customers’ best interests at heart to make the personality appealing to this particular audience.

A large part of someone’s personality is a sense of humour.  Idler writes that humour is an effective way to make a human connection as a laugh or a smile will make people feel comfortable. Humour will tell a lot about a site’s personality and inject some fun into the user’s day.


Adding a layer of fun to a website allows the user to appreciate the site, have a pleasurable experience and keeps them going back for more.

Walters illustrates how a dose of fund can increase your audience’s positive emotions and even help workflow. He uses the example of MailChimp (, which has a chimp on the screen that delivers witty greetings and random jokes. The chimp was added as an element of fun to delight and surprise the user. The unexpected results were that the random jokes actually helped users complete complicated tasks, as the chimp was tempting the user forward with a new joke on the next page.

A sense of fun also builds up goodwill in your audience. this comes in handy if something goes wrong. Walter explains that your audience will be more willing to forgive, overlook temporary shortcomings and maintain trust in your brand. He mentions the example of Flickr, ( a site that people love for its fun emotional design. when it had a storage failure that brought down the site, it ran a colouring contest. By presenting users with something fun, the negative emotions were tamed and were shifted to positive demonstrating that emotional design is like an insurance policy in maintaining audience trust.

Taken from Manulife Financial – Employee Benefit news – Spring 2013 page 10.

SDS/2 Connect Seminar Coming to Texas! – For US Members

Learn How SDS/2 Integrates with Revit Structure!

The SDS/2 Connect add-in for Autodesk® Revit® Structure allows Revit users to design and apply steel connections in the native Revit environment. But it also allows steel detailers using SDS/2 Detailing to get a better model from Revit Structure. This seminar will focus on various workflows from round-tripping a Revit model with an SDS/2 Detailing model for approval and fabrication purposes, to getting general contractors a head start on site planning by transferring a Revit model to SDS/2 Erector Plus.

Learn More and Earn More
Design Data will also be awarding current customers $250 in Steelbucks for each engineering company or general contractor they bring along with them to attend the seminar. To earn your Steelbucks, we’ll need a card from the engineer or GC — we’ll write your company name on the back and you’ll receive notification of the Steelbucks you’ve earned within a week of the seminar.

In addition, all attendees will earn a free PDH that will be mailed out after attending the seminar. SDS/2 Connnect is an additional tool that detailers have to improve their deliverable as well as the experience that engineers have working with SDS/2 detailers. Current SDS/2 users will benefit by becoming educated on what can be accomplished between Revit Structure and SDS/2 Detailing when engineers use the SDS/2 Connect add-in.

You can learn more about the detailer’s role when it comes to working with information coming from SDS/2 Connect for Revit Structure by attending one of these FREE seminars.


  • All attendees are eligible for 1 PDH
  • Meet engineers, detailers and general contractors interested in utilizing Revit model data for fabrication
  • Gain an understanding of connection design in Revit Structure
  • Learn how to build higher LOD models in Revit Structure
  • Understand how Revit Structure models can be transferred downstream for fabrication.

Seminar Dates and Locations
Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas – May 6, 2013
Hilton Ft. Worth
815 Main Street
Ft. Worth, TX 76102

Austin/San Antonio, Texas – May 7, 2013
Hilton Austin
500 E 4th St.
Austin, TX 78701

If you have any questions about these seminars, please contact Michelle McCarthy.














Telecommuting: A BalancingAct

Telecommuting is the latest buzzword for working from home. Two employees and an employer discuss the pros and cons.

Chaymie Hintz is an environmental project manager at Stantec in Edmonton. She coordinates the cleanup of oilfield spills, makes sure people have the tools and equipment necessary to do their jobs and has travelled extensively around Alberta to visit project sites and ensure proper procedures are being followed. Hintz creates reports, leasdds teams, liases with other Stantec employees across Canada nad works from home.

Say what?

When we hear of work-from-home jobs, transcription, medical billing, Tupperware or Avon are what sping to mind; but more and more corporations are embracing flexible work weeks, reduced summer hours, and the coveted telecommute for their employees.

On the surface, it looks like a good deal. Working from home affords you the chance to stay in your pajamas, skip the commute, spend more time with your family, and choose your own hours… right? As Hintz points out, telecommuting is far more involved than sipping a latte at Starbucks while you casually peck out reports on a sunny patio.

“The only way telecommuting works is if the people in the office know how to deal with the telecommuter,” Hintz pointed out as she multitasked her way through the interview. Despite it being 3 p.m on a Sunday afternoon, her Blackberry – the precious link to the office – was on the counter as she prepped dinner for her family and answered questions. “When I started [telecommuting], it was not a widely accepted practice in the company. Some people thought we [telecommuters] were just goofing off at home.” But as Hintz points out between expertly cutting up an asparagus and dismissing several emails on her phone, “there is no way to hid if you are not doing work. It requires a level of trust amount the team.”

As for those comfy pajamas, Hintz freely admits they make up a good part of her at-home wardrobe. However, elastic waistbands and flannel do not detract from her productivity or professionalism. “It’s actually easier to maintain professionalism and workflow,” she states after pausing to answer a call from Stantec regarding an 8 p.m. conference call schedule for later in the evening. “There is far less water cooler talk when you’re at home. I’ve seen my productivity increase by 20 per cent.” But there is a downside. “It’s not easy to maintain the personal relationships you develop at the office,” she cautions. “It’s harder to get to know your co=workers You can get isolated very quickly. Telecommuting is not something you want to do unless you already have a good support network of coworkers, friends and family.”

For Hintz, the importance of the work/life balance that telecommuting affords cannot be understated. “The kids like it and my husband likes it,” she confirms. “The kids  are much more active and they see me more during the day. After school we go swimming and to the playground. The kids are definitely healtierh and happier.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, ” her husband Chris agrees. “It’s nice to know if something happened with the kids, at least one of us is close to the school. Before, life just wasn’t working. She was doing 7.5 hours at work, plus two hours a day commuting. The time you spend in commuting can be spent with friends, family or doing something more productive. Besides, her lifespan as an office worker was over. This way has more flexibility for personal and medical reasons.”

Medical reasons: another reason why telecommuting  works so well for Hintz. Hintz suffers from torticollis, a muscle condition that causes pain similar to arthritis. After years of trying various treatments, she finds relief in several hours of yoga – daily. Skipping yoga sessions results in unbearable stiffness where even turning her head results in agony. Her telecommuting schedule allows her to engage in yoga while still meeting Statntec’s productivity expectations. If time off during the day to do yoga sounds unproductive, contrast that with time off during the day spent unable to work or at endless doctor appointments. Besides, “you;d look pretty funny doing you yoga at your desk, so chances are you won’t do it,” Chris points out. Being able to slip off tot he yoga studio down the street or even go from her desk chair to a yoga mat in home office has made a world of difference for Hintsz’s career.

The Blackberry goes off again and Hintz smiles when she learns her 8 p.m. conference call has been cancelled. “Technology has made it easier to telecommute but harder to achieve work/life balance,” she admits as she puts down the phone. “If you don’t set up boundaries, you will wind up working every hour of the day. It’s hard to make the distinction, especially if you have a Blackberry! Without boundaries, you don’t have a work and life separation.” She freely admits, “The work is part of your home life.”

Regardless, telecommuting works for Hintz, her medical condition, her family and Stantec. “If I wasn’t telecommuting, I’d be unemployed by now. I wouldn’t be able to manage work and my health issues.

Hint’s children, Nadia (8) and Liam (6) were happy to weigh in on the subject of their mom working from home. “I don’t like it when I don’t have stuff to do, but I like it when she gets a break and she plays with me,” said Nadia.

Liam firmly stated, “Things I don’t like is she has to work a lot. The thing I don like is when she works from home, she gets paid lots of money. That’s awesome!”

“We get food for the money and charity for the people,” Nadia solemnly agreed.

There is another aspect to telecommuting that nets “food for the money.” Our neighbors to the south, America, are struggling through a recession. Some have chosen to immigrate or change careers. Others, like Amandalyn Vanover, have chosen to stay put and telecommute across the border. Vanover is a freelance writer whose contracts include writing for a company in Edmonton. “Buying and selling American is encouraged day in and day out, but the choices are not always available,” says Vanover. “I believe more Americans are looking to telecommute because of the wide array of benefits. Many American companies are not flexible enough to offer this yet.”

Canadian companies engaged in cross-border telecommuting must follow mandates put forth by Human Resources Development Canada and other government agencies to ensure compliance with foreign worker regulations. Regardless of the paperwork, Vanover feels telecommuting is mostly a positive experience. “I think that telecommuting is the only way I can work effectively and efficiently for both my family and my business. Before telecommuting became my only way of working, I was always being pulled here and there, and falling up short in many areas. Now that I’m not wasting time and money in traffic, I am definitely more productive in life. The pros are unlimited for me personally, plus the foundation of telecommuting makes location a moot point. The cons are that I cannot jump in the car and go see the people that I work with and for. While telecommuting is awesome, a face to face visit would be a plus from time to time. ”

It is not just employees that support telecommuting. Many employers support it as well. One such company is Avalon Global. Avalon is located in Spruce Grove (Alberta) and provides creative IT solutions and social network marketing strategies for companies of all sizes. “Avalon actively promotes working remotely when it makes sense. There are times when it is far more efficient for both our company and the individual to work form home, but it depends on the person’s role in the company and their individual situation. The other side of this is that depending on their role in the company, there are times when physical proximity and face-to-face contact is important. This applies to staff and contractors,” says Jodie Stafford of the innovative company.

There is however, a downside. “In our company, we employe people that we need to have in-house and that need to be here for internal staff and client meetings, and we contract people that can effectively work remotely,” she continues. “One thing I know for sure is that it is much more difficult to build a cohesive team of people when they aren’t in physical proximity on a regular basis. In our business, our core team is in the office on a regular basis, and there is always a slight disconnect with the people who work remotely. Video conferencing is great, but there’s no replacing the need for human contact and relationships. I would say that one negative effect on the workforce will be that their advancement (within the company they work for) will be much more difficult without the availability for face-to-face contact with owners and upper management.”

Working from home is evolving form something parents do to earn extra money to something anyone can expect progressive employers in Canada to offer. While there are clear benefits to telecommuting, there are also pitfalls to avoid. In the end it comes down to the one thing we all strive to achieve: balance. thanks to advances in technology and forward thinking attitudes in the workforce, telecommuting is making that balance easier to maintain.

Article by Nerissa McNaughton. Published in Business Edmonton, April 2013 edition

Posts by Category
QR Code Business Card

Switch to our mobile site