Monthly Archives: April 2012

Untraditional solutions to unemployment

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A radical solution – hour control
In America, there is a 40 hour work week.  It is ironic, that those who are not paid by the hour are forced to work over 50 hours a week in many professions.  The 40 hour work week was created to protect workers from the oppression of having to overwork. But, since only some industries follow the time parameters, it only protects hourly wage slaves some of the time.  Here is a radical idea.  What if certain industries have fewer jobs, and many are out of work.  Rather than let some of the people be unemployed and have nothing, crippling their family’s finances, and depressing them emotionally, here is another better solution.
Let’s say that there are 1000 jobs making widgets.  Let’s say that suddenly, 10% of those jobs disappeared.  If the government took the liberty to have different work week standards for different industries and job-types, they could reduce the work week for widget makers to 36 hours which is a decrease of 10%.  That way everyone would have a job.  Another solution would be to have a government agency ask which workers would be interested in being retrained, since the widget industry was drying up. That way people could voluntarily change industries instead of ending up on the sidewalk on their rear end!
There are many different industries, and creating different length work weeks, and adjusting the length of the work week every quarter would be a cumbersome task.  But, would it be worth it?  
Hour reduction?
When workers make too many mistakes, they might lose their bonus, or even get fired.  But, this creates a sociological problem of unemployment.  Why not just reduce their hours for six months instead of firing them. In a flexible system of hour control, that would be a viable option.  The worker would still be able to pay their rent and basic expenses.  The worker would be in financial stress, but would not suffer the disaster of unemployment.
Government work programs
During the American Depression, the government created jobs for people to build trails in the mountains, build bridges, and do many other types of work.  I say that governments worldwide should create jobs for unemployed people.  Maybe these jobs might not be glamorous, but we always need more jobs done in society. Cleaning up the streets, fixing up older homes, building solar power infrastructure, and the list goes on. These jobs always need to be done. It doesn’t make sense for someone to be at home twiddling their thumbs when there are jobs that desperately need to be done.
There are many ways to reduce unemployment, but maybe it’s time to investigate some innovative plans.

Particular offices and how they effect your work

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Offices and how they effect your work
I am unusual in that I work from home.  Of course, in today’s virtual world, more and more people are working from home as employees and freelancers. I own my own company and hire others who work from their home as well which is also unusual. Unfortunately, there is no way to keep an eye on employees working remotely, so you have to pay them by the job as sub-contractors which works well… generally…
But, I am thinking that at one point, I will need to get an office in able to be able to grow my company to the next level. I run several bustling online directories, and there is a lot of work involved. Having a few people in an office to do phone calls, emails, and database management would really help in the future.  Some people think that people work much better in an office environment. The focus is purely on work, and there are fewer distractions than being at home.  I think this is generally true, but we need to look at each environment one by one.
My visits to local Los Angeles office buildings – Downtown
I visited office buildings in many parts of Los Angeles, and the types of buildings were all very unique.  I started in downtown in a high-rise. They had special deals on office spaces as they had many empty units. They were in prime, A rated office space.  We were up on the 36th floor in a very professionally managed building with high security.  The small rooms with no windows on the inner side of the building were relatively cheap for the area starting around $600 per month.  But the nicer rooms with windows were much more expensive.  My main issue was air.  The air was recycled, and not fresh — with a low percentage of oxygen which is not tolerable if you have a heart condition.  I would suffocate if I worked there more than two hours.  I thought of bringing in many plants which would convert CO2 into Oxygen… I wonder if that would work.
Midtown –  a dream shared office
The next building was a shared office loft.  There were several companies with mini-suites there (no walls), and a whole bunch of entrepreneurs. The atmosphere was vibrant with creative energy and hard work.  I liked the manager very much, and the air was freshly pumped in from the room (the manager was the architect who designed the place).  Wow!  So, I went back and tried working there.  You can rent by the afternoon, day, week, or month at reasonable rates considering how attractive this place was.  I did 76 phone calls in two hours and five minutes. I’m not sure if that is a record, but my concentration was very good there, and lots of work got done!
Beverly Hills – a nightmare office
I saw a realtor near the border of Beverly Hills.  He was very nice and arrived early, and so did I.  However, the square footage of the office was not what the specifications said.  I learned that they include hall space in the specifications.  The building was really old and very unattractive.  But, at least the windows opened, so I could breath.  
Midtown again…
I saw a nice office with two rooms separated by a wall with a huge window.  I found that the size of the rooms wouldn’t meet my future needs. I needed the back room to be smaller since it would be for me personally, and the other room to be bigger as it would need to accomdate three people during peak usage…  
The 1920’s building.
This was a real cultural experience.  The landlord was really nice and showed me around. The entrance had a wonderful classic Spanish architecture and a domed arch near the entry.  The tenants were an ecclectic mix of creative people including a singing teacher, an acupuncturist, and many varieties of small business owners.  I thought it was a really interesting place. 
It is hard to determine where would be the best work environment and why.  But, the work environments were so diverse, that it was an interesting tour of my own city, that lead to my eyes being opened in new ways.  My favorite was the shared office.  But, in the long run, I’ll need to find that perfect office that is the perfect size and configuration.

Programmers and their speed of work

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Programmers and their speed of work
I lacked perspective because I used the same people for years
I have had the pleasure or displeasure of needing the services of many programmers in my lifetime.  They are all different in so many ways.  Some get back to you when they are supposed to while others leave you always wondering what their progress is, has been, or will be — if any.  In any case, I had spent too many years with the same programmers and noticed that one of them was pretty fast while the other was sometimes reasonably paced, and sometimes a little slow. I didn’t realize that the speed of a programmer can vary much more than these two.
Programmers quitting & getting fired by the boatload
After this, one of the programmers got fired, and the other quit.  I was left high and dry. So, I tried some other programmers out, foolishly thinking that they would churn out work at a similar speed to the previous programmers.  The first one I hired took three times as long to do similar tasks as my previous programmer.  He used the excuse that he was not familiar with the coding of the site.  I tried another who took four times as long.  Familiar or not, I feel that maybe taking 50% longer makes sense but three or four times is ridiculous.  I don’t know who is right or wrong because I am not a programmer.  All I can say is that I would really like to have my old programmer back.
Don’t pay by the hour as a general rule
The moral of the story from a business standpoint is that you can NOT assign programming jobs to be billed by the hour, unless you are very familiar with the individual doing the work.  Otherwise, you can easily get crazy bills that are high because the programmer is slow, or perhaps they are padding their hours, or who knows what? It is not easy to say unless you know a person’s character or behavior. I only know the bottom line which is that I am being billed for far more hours than I feel is reasonable.
Quality & speed can really vary
Additionally prices for programmers can range from $10-30 per hour in India and from $45-$180 in the United States.  The quality and speed of their work can really vary, and it is not easy to know how skilled an individual programmer is unless you really know them well and have worked with them extensively.  The best way to assess a programmer is to engage them in conversation, see how responsive they are about their work, and use your senses.  If you start having problems with their work, that might not show up for months, so in the beginnning — use your senses.