Wasting time

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. It’sa well known fact that UK employees work the longest hours in the EU and the Governmentis keen to redress the issue. Research confirms flexible hours lead to a moreproductive workforce yet HR finds itself culpable in setting a bad example byworking ever longer hours. Phil Boucher reportsPicture the scene. You have been working all day, your in-box has beendefeated and in theory you’re free to go home any time you wish. Only, nobodyelse is leaving – they’re all waiting for the HR director to walk out beforethey make a move. Does this sound horribly familiar? Unfortunately, it will to many. Accordingto the CIPD, the TUC and the Department of Trade and Industry, the UK has alonger working week than anywhere else in Europe. The most recent survey offull-time employees by the European Commission’s Statistical Office, Eurostat,shows staff in the UK clocked up an average of 43.6 hours compared to their EUcounterparts of 40.3 overall. The TUC’s About Time report also claims that 2.5m managerial or professionalemployees currently work more than 48 hours a week – a figure that unavoidablyincludes members of the HR profession. In a recent speech at the TUC’sconference of the same name, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry PatriciaHewitt outlined the Government’s determination to tackle this issue by settingemployers a five-year deadline to correct the situation (see box overleaf). It is also a matter of concern to the CIPD whether the benefits of workinglong hours are commensurate with the cost to people’s health, performance and output.While it places HR in the vanguard of tackling the issue, the institute alsobelieves the profession has its own long-hours problems to address. MikeEmmott, CIPD adviser on employee relations, says: “HR is part of themanagement and therefore if there is a culture of long hours HR is likely to bea part of that.” Inevitably HR is implicated in its failure to drive the debate on flexibleworking. Unless it leads by example HR will fail for the simple reason thatpeople ask: “If HR isn’t doing it, then how can we?” As Cary Cooper, Bupa professor of organisational psychology and health atthe University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, (UMIST)points out: “HR is a fundamental function in the organisation. And at themoment it sends out the wrong signals. How can you on the one hand say ‘reducehours, introduce flexible working, aim for a better work-life balance, manageyour human resources properly and minimise stress’, when by your behaviour youare conveying the absolute opposite? It undermines everything you are trying toachieve.” But before HR is able to tackle its own long-hours problem it has toidentify the reasons for them. Research by Roffey Park Institute suggests thatpresenteeism plays a part in 60 per cent of all cases nationally. However, HRis also likely to suffer from the excessive workloads that the About Time studysays accounts for half the long hours worked by professionals. A glance through Personnel Today’s Head to Head section which quizzes HRdirectors about their roles reveals, without exception, that HR directorstypically work 50-60 hour weeks. And of all the reasons given it is theworkload that’s most commonly cited. John Marsh, head of personnel at the Prison Service is a typical example ofthis. He admits to working a 55-hour week, but explains: “The reality isthat I am a senior manager and the hours I undertake are a combination ofworkload, the fact that I am new to the area and am on a learning curve, andmost of all that I enjoy it – I would never do them otherwise.” There are other reasons. Linda Holbeche, director of research at RoffeyPark, believes HR suffers from a cultural desire to reward those who work longhours. Many of the areas HR is involved in such as industrial relations andcultural change programmes also lend themselves to long meetings and endlessreams of time-consuming paperwork. As a result many HR professionals see long hours as part and parcel of theirjob when in fact they are symptoms of bad practice. “It’s important that HRfocuses on ensuring it understands the reality of peer pressure within its owndepartments, where people feel they will miss out career- wise if they do notstay late,” Holbeche says. “It’s a case of looking at the policiesand working more subtly to challenge the main practices that support longhours.” But along with examining the long-hours culture within its ranks, HRprofessionals have to consider the impression they make. As it has set itselfup as a champion of flexible working arguably it has a duty to achieve bestpractice on long hours. The difficulty is deciding how to achieve it. Theo Blackwell, policy specialist at the Industrial Society, believes HR hasto lead by example and demonstrate that flexible working is the key to solvingthe long-hours problem. “If HR departments see the need for flexibleworking but cannot get this message across, then they can hardly expect otherdepartments to take the lead,” he says. “HR has to drive the debateby pursuing the idea of flexible working and showing the business benefitsthrough its own example.” The good news for HR is that there are plenty of examples from which to takea lead. Microsoft has designated a number of ‘HR role models’ within its HRteam, for instance, who make sure the rest of the function do not work too manyhours. Their job is to lead by example and demonstrate the benefits of flexibleworking to the rest of the company. Jill Crowther, HR manager for Microsoft, says: “Our HR role modelsensure the rest of HR team members make time to pursue their outside interests.We follow the example of the head of HR, Steve Harvey who is a real believer inthe business benefits of a rounded lifestyle.” Microsoft’s company policy helps enforce this as it is designed to create anenvironment where people have freedom over their day. Much of this hinges on anannual employee survey which notes both the hours people are working and howsatisfied they are with undertaking them. The result is an enlightened working environment that tries to match individualand corporate needs. In the US, Microsoft even encourages its programmers towork shorter hours by pledging money to charity for every day they leave workon time. Whether or not this would work in every company is contestable but theprinciples of leading by example and considering the benefits of shorter hoursare universal. As Bupa’s Professor Cooper, of UMIST, says: “It is about setting anexample and then communicating this to the rest of the organisation.” A flexible working programme run by British Telecom’s HR team has enabled5,000 employees to work from home and shaved £220m off real estate costs. Andthe starting point for BT was an HR department which realised the long-hoursculture could only be challenged by taking the wider view. Since then BT’s HR department has worked closely with line managers andfuturologists to focus on other areas of the business that can be shifted fromthe current obsession with long hours. HR takes a lead role in the developmentof flexible working practices as well as in the way BT conducts its business.Caroline Waters, director of employment policy at BT, says: “We shouldn’tjust be tackling the long-hours culture. We should be changing the wholeemployment environment.” Toy manufacturer Mattel has also enjoyed a dramatic improvement in staffmotivation and morale since it introduced a ‘summer hours’ package more than ayear ago. This enables staff to leave work at midday on Fridays and encouragesthem to take time off to explore outside interests. The idea is to focus on how individual happiness relates to the bottom line.Dr Aysen Broadfield, European HR director of Mattel, says: “HR’s role isto identify issues relating to motivation, productive or unproductive stressand the productivity of individuals. Since the summer hours were introduced wehave noticed people react more constructively to work demands, workloads andlong hours.” By taking steps like these HR can drive the debate on flexible working.Unless it leads by example, how can HR credibly enforce the message? Steps to achieve a work-life balance  The Government has announced a raft of legislation aimed atcurbing the long-hours culture. This includes– The Working Time Directive is to beextended in the next 18 months, to include the transport sector, offshoreworkers and junior doctors. Legislation on 16 and 17-year-olds will betightened. Employees will also get four weeks paid holiday a year.– Statutory maternity pay willincrease by up to £100 a week from April. Maternity leave will also beavailable for up to a year and fathers will be entitled to two weeks paidpaternity leave for the first time.– Employers will also have toconsider a parental request for flexible working from next year and eitheragree new arrangements, or provide hard business reasons for why they cannot beput in place.– Elsewhere, the Government isplanning to reform working time in the public sector by developing codes ofbest practice across departments. A working party has already been set up in theDTI and the Cabinet Office is engaged in sharing these ideas around Whitehall.– Private-sector employers are beingencouraged to draft similar programmes in co-operation with unionrepresentatives, who themselves are being pushed to negotiate individualworkplace agreements on working time.– To help business come to terms withthese changes and advise them on the whole issue of challenging the long-hoursculture, the DTI has introduced two guides from the DTI’s Work-life BalanceCampaign: ‘Work-Life Balance: The Business Case’; and ‘Work-Life Balance: TheEssentials Guide’.– These provide case studies of employers which havesuccessfully managed to curb their workers’ hours along with advice on how tochallenge the situation.– A study programme has been set upto investigate the impact of shorter hours on productivity and the success ofthe Working Time Directive. This will investigate best practice and successfulinnovation in the Netherlands, France and the US to see which practices can betransferred to the UK.For information call the work-lifebalance campaign on 0870 1502 500, or contact the DTI on 020 7215 5000 (www.dti.gov.uk) Previous Article Next Article Wasting timeOn 26 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

Trust me, I’m an implied term

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article The rising star of the employment contract is undoubtedly the implied termof mutual trust and confidence. Karen Seward and Sheila Fahy chart its meteoricrise to fameIt is a product of our time. Just like the internet and DVDs, the impliedterm of mutual trust and confidence was once a far-fetched concept. Now it isseemingly used by everyone, everywhere, for everything. The key to its ‘success’ is that it is framed in general terms, so it can beapplied to almost any situation. It has strengthened the position of employeesby filling gaps in the law not covered by legislation. Employers can no longerrely on the absence of legal rules in any area to protect them if their conductis so bad it undermines the employment relationship. Inappropriate comments One of the early appearances of the implied term of mutual trust andconfidence was in the late 1970s in the case of Courtaulds Northern TextilesLtd v Andrew [1979] IRLR 84. During the course of a heated argument, a manager told an employee:”You can’t do the bloody job anyway.” He responded by resigning andclaiming constructive dismissal. Accepting that there was no truth in the manager’s comment, the EAT held theemployee was justified in claiming constructive dismissal. It said there was animplied term in employment contracts that employers would not, withoutreasonable and proper cause, conduct themselves in a manner calculated orlikely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of confidence and trustbetween the parties. Mobility clauses In United Bank v Akhtar [1989] IRLR 507, the implied term of mutualtrust and confidence was used by the employee to override the express terms ofthe employment contract. A mobility clause in Akhtar’s employment contractpermitted the bank to require him to transfer to anywhere in the UK where thebank had a presence. The bank had discretion to pay relocation and other allowances.Akhtar was asked to move from Leeds to Birmingham with less than one week’snotice. When he asked for more notice to sell his house and so forth, the bankrefused. To make matters worse, it offered no financial assistance. The difficulty for the tribunal was that, under normal principles ofcontract law, an implied term cannot override the express terms of theemployment contract. Nevertheless, it manoeuvred its way around this problem tofind in the employee’s favour. It held that while the implied term of mutual trust and confidence could notoverride the express mobility provision, the latter had to be interpreted insuch a way that it included an implied requirement that reasonable notice wouldbe given, and that discretion concerning financial assistance be exercised in away that allowed the employee to comply with his contractual obligations. Thebank appealed – but to no avail. Permanent health insurance The same principles have been applied in the context of permanent healthinsurance. The High Court held that – except where summary dismissal isjustified – the employer could not terminate the contract while the employeewas incapacitated for work if this would remove their entitlement to benefitunder the PHI scheme (Aspden v Webbs Poultry and Meat Group Holdings[1996] IRLR 521). References In TSB Bank v Harris [2000] IRLR 157, the bank breached the impliedterm of mutual trust and confidence by giving a reference to a prospectiveemployer which mentioned complaints against Harris of which she was unaware,and which she had been given no opportunity to answer. This was despite thefact the bank was required to make such disclosures under the rules governingthe regulation of the financial services industry. The EAT pointed out the bank could have discussed the complaints withHarris, giving her a chance to put her case, before making the disclosures. Bonuses Bonuses have also been touched by this troublesome term. In the case of Clarkv Nomura International plc [2000] IRLR 766, the High Court held thatemployers must not operate discretionary bonus schemes in an irrational orperverse manner. Enhanced benefits The application of the term in Transco plc v O’Brien [2002] ICR 721was particularly tough on the employer. O’Brien was denied the opportunity toenter into a revised contract of employment with enhanced redundancy terms,which were offered to 75 other permanent workers. Transco did not offer the terms to O’Brien because at the time, he was notconsidered a permanent employee. But the Court of Appeal ruled that this was abreach of the term of mutual trust and confidence. To deprive one member of alarge workforce of the same benefits as their colleagues is likely to seriouslydamage the relationship of trust and confidence between employee and employer. Stigma damage The widely publicised case of Malik v Bank of Credit and CommerceInternational SA (in compulsory liquidation) [1997] ICR 606 was also acontractual claim for breach of the term of mutual trust and confidence. The House of Lords held that the bank breached the term when it carried outfraudulent business practices – the stigma of which prevented former employeesfrom obtaining work afterwards. The court’s groundbreaking decision ruled thatfor the first time, it was possible for employees to recover damages forongoing financial loss. Damages had previously been limited to the noticeperiod. Damages for the manner of the dismissal As the law stands, damages for the manner of a dismissal can be awarded incases brought under the statutory unfair dismissal scheme, but not incontractual claims related to the term of mutual trust and confidence. What ismore, case law has thrown up a confusing distinction between cases where theemployee is dismissed, and those where they are suspended. In a recent trust and confidence case Johnson v Unisys [2001] IRLR279, the House of Lords confirmed the rule that those bringing a contractualclaim for wrongful dismissal cannot claim damages for the manner of thatdismissal. It pointed out that as the statutory unfair dismissal scheme payscompensation for the manner of the dismissal, it was not necessary for thecourts to develop a common law remedy as well. The implied term of mutual trustand confidence was concerned with the preservation of the employmentrelationship, and therefore had no place in dismissal claims. Then Gogay v Hertfordshire County Council [2000] IRLR 703 muddied thewaters. This was a contractual claim for damages for clinical depression,caused by the employee’s suspension and the employer’s failure to properlyinvestigate the allegations that led to it. The court found in the employee’sfavour and said the strict rules in the Johnson case did not apply as the Gogaycase related to a suspension, not a dismissal. The upshot of these and other recent cases is that where the employer’sbreach of the term of mutual trust and confidence leads to the employee beingsuspended, the employee can recover damages, but where it results in dismissal,he cannot. Employers could be forgiven for thinking they would be better offdismissing an employee at an early stage, rather than suspending the matter tocomplete an investigation. Clearly, this cannot be right. Hot off the press, meanwhile, is the latest Court of Appeal decision ontrust and confidence in McCabe v Cornwall County Council [2002] EWCA Civ1887. A number of schoolgirls complained of inappropriate sexual conduct bytheir teacher, Mr McCabe. Five days after the complaints were received, McCabewas suspended, without being given details of the allegations made against him.It was not until four months later, while still under suspension, that McCabewas finally made aware of the allegations. From then on, he suffered from psychiatric illness. During the course of thenext three years there were three disciplinary hearings, each unfavourable toMcCabe. In the end he was dismissed, even though it was found that his originalconduct could have been described as relatively trivial. The High Court dismissed the case – the Johnson principle barred the claimbecause it related to the manner of the dismissal and Gogay only applied insuspension cases falling short of dismissal. But the Court of Appeal took adifferent view. It said that dismissal is not an automatic bar to a claim ofbreach of the term of mutual trust and confidence; if an employer’s conductwould have entitled the claimant to bring a claim had it not been for thedismissal then there may be a case to answer. However, in some cases, theconduct that the employee claims has breached the term, will be so closelylinked to the dismissal that the Johnson bar will still apply. The difficulty is knowing where a distinction can be drawn. The Court ofAppeal indicated factors that may be relevant: – Whether the employer has embarked on disciplinary proceedings withdismissal already in mind – Whether warnings have been issued and under what circumstances – Whether there is a natural break in the disciplinary process before the dismissalbecomes a practical proposition – Whether the injury complained of is attributable to the employer’s conductImplications for employers Because trust and confidence claims can be brought in almost any area ofemployment, it can be hard to see them coming. What do they look like? Afterall, the cases described above appear to have little in common. There is some comfort in the fact that what they do share are examples offairly extreme treatment of one form or another – treatment that is irrationalor perverse, wilfully high-handed, or seeks to gain advantage from theemployer’s position of power over the employee. The abuse of managerial discretion is another possible target for this sortof claim. Beware, for instance, of operating bonus and other incentive schemesand appraisal processes in secrecy. Transparency in how bonuses are awarded andthe process underpinning the appraisal system will be key to avoiding claims. In short, it seems there is potentially a risk attached to any decision thatputs the employee in a difficult or impossible position without giving them thechance to put his case. On the disciplinary and grievance side, there are things employers can do tominimise exposure to potential claims. Ensure comprehensive disciplinary andgrievance procedures are in place, and that those responsible for operatingthose procedures are adequately trained. Delay in managing a problem will be a crucial element in mutual trust andconfidence claims, especially where it has an adverse effect on the employee.There are likely to be more stress and psychological injury claims arising fromsituations where the employer has dithered over a grievance, disciplinaryhearing or investigation. Employers must make sure they manage decisively. Partner Karen Seward and professional support lawyer Sheila Fahy are membersof Allen & Overy’s employment, pensions and incentives department t Trust me, I’m an implied termOn 1 Mar 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

ROBLE, DIANE

first_img69, departed from us on November 13, 2017 to meet up with her brother Anthony Roble and her parents. Diane was born and raised in Jersey City, later moving to Bayonne where she had a very happy life. Diane is survived by her daughter, Antoinette Fischer and her husband John; her son, Anthony Rodrigues and her grandson John Fischer and her heart Brooke Fischer (BOSHKA); her niece Monica Curran & her children D.J. Hay-lee & Jayden her nephew Jason Roble & his wife Jennifer & their children Brianna & Little Jason; her nephew Eric Roble & his wife Milagros & their children Anthony, Eric & Boo; her sister-in-law Robin Roble; her sister Ronnie Roble; her ex-husband Tony Rodrigues: her cousins Barbara Gleason; Linda Turner & her children Jacqueline & Catherine & Cherylee Holder: her many special friends Mary Ann Clark, Jacqueline McDuffie, Laura Ricciardi, Phil Clark, & Christi Bunting. The family wants to thank Rona Silverman for all her help; her god daughter Diane, who was named after her. She retired from Meadowview Hospital, Secaucus. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to a Cancer organization of your choice. Funeral arrangements by GREENVILLE MEMORIAL HOME, 374 Danforth Ave., Jersey City.last_img read more

Greggs trial expansion in c-store sector

first_imgGreggs has teamed up with owners of Spar, Blakemore Retail to trial franchise offerings in c-stores. The Greggs range is currently being trialled in a Scunthorpe Spar site, with plans to open in Leegomery and Louth later this year. The Scunthorpe site features a smaller range than what is offered in high street chains, and is focused on Gregg’s top selling products. It has also seen the introduction of a breakfast bar seating offering, to appeal to nearby student customers.Greggs franchise team ran a four-week training programme for store staff to enable them to manage the offering.Martin Kibler, Greggs’ business development and property director said: “We are delighted to team up with Blakemore Retail for this trial, which is in keeping with our strategic plan focusing on growth in the food-on the go market, where convenience for customers is key to success.“Blakemore Retail is an excellent operator in the convenience sector and I hope this will be the beginning of a long and successful relationship.”Matt Teague, Blakemore fresh food development manager told British Baker’s sister publication Convenience Store: “The company’s franchise partnership with Subway has shown us that the Spar brand can benefit from trading with other strong brands. It is hoped that the well-recognised Greggs brand will add value to the Spar brand, giving existing and new customers a further reason to shop in Spar stores.”last_img read more

Watch J.J. Grey & Luther Dickinson Team Up For Hurricane Matthew Tribute & More

first_imgWith The Wood Brothers forced to cancel their much anticipated set at the inaugural Suwannee Roots Revival festival due to a small health issue, the call went out for someone to save the day. That call was answered by none other than J.J. Grey and Luther Dickinson, available due to the unfortunate cancellation of Magnolia Festival, which was forced to close down in the after-effects of Hurricane Matthew. The Southern guitar heroes and songwriting brothers-in-arms from Mofro and the North Mississippi All-Stars fortunately were able to save the day. Reminiscent of Southern Soul Assembly, their occasional collaboration with Anders Osborne and Marc Broussard, the pair traded songs and stories with each other and the crowd, and joined together for a few choice moments.Our own Rex Thomson is on the scene all weekend, and captured a pair of videos showcasing the back and forth between the dynamic duo. Luther Dickinson got things going strong, pouring his heart and talents into a rousing rendition of “The Meeting,” which you can watch below:After that rabble rousing call to arms, J.J. brought tears to already misty eyes talking about his experiences during the recent storms and the wonder of being reminded at our insignificance in the fave of Mother Nature’s awe inspiring might. Give a listen to the moving speech by Grey and the song that followe,  below:Look for lots more photos and videos to come next week in our jam packed round up of all the fun at the first annual Suwannee Roots Revival!last_img read more

Sasquatch’s 2018 Lineup Is What Indie Rock Dreams Are Made Of

first_img[Photo: SASQUATCH! Music Festival Facebook page] SASQUATCH! Music Festival will showcase one of the most impressive indie rock festival lineups in ages when it returns to The Gorge in George, WA over Memorial Day Weekend (May 25th to 27th). This year’s edition of SASQUATCH! will feature headlining sets from Bon Iver, The National, Modest Mouse and David Byrne as well as performances by Tyler, The Creator, Ray LaMontagne, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, Spoon, Grizzly Bear, Explosions in the Sky, Neko Case, Vince Staples, TV On The Radio, and many more.Additional acts slated to appear at the 17th annual SASQUATCH! Music Festival include Slowdive, Tash Sultana, Thundercat, Shakey Graves, Tune-Yards, Wolf Parade, Japandroids, What So Not, Jai Wolf, Perfume Genius, Noname, Margo Price, Tank & The Bangas, Lizzo, TOKiMONSTA, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Too Many Zooz, and The Suffers, among others.Tickets for SASQUATCH! will go on sale at 10 a.m. PST on Saturday, February 10th. Head over to the festival’s website for more details.last_img read more

Mungion Shares Pro-Shot Live Video Of Led Zeppelin, Primus Cover Combo [Watch]

first_imgMungion has shared a new pro-shot video captured during their recent run of winter/spring performances. While the emerging jam band has two studio albums full of their own material, they’re still capable of throwing some notable rock covers into their setlists from time to time. Such was the case during one of their recent performances when they delivered a cover combo of Led Zeppelin‘s “Immigrant Song” and Primus‘ “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”.Related: Mungion Shares Pro-Shot Video Of “Windows” From Fish Haus SessionThe new live video shared on Wednesday opens up with an abundance of energy as the rock quartet starts the two-song segue with the thunderous anthem from Zeppelin’s 1970 album. Pianist Joe Re handles singing duties as the band tears through the popular rock song for the first portion of the video before diving right into “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” at the video’s 2:10-minute mark. From there, Mungion channels their inner prog-rock animal as they keep the momentum going furiously strong into the 1995 Primus track with bassist Sean Carolan doing his best Les Claypool impression. The Primus cover continues on at peak energy levels before the band eventually jams their way back to “Immigrant Song” to close things out.Watch the entire video of the rock mashup below.Mungion – “Immigrant Song” > “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”[Video: Mungion Band]The band’s next scheduled performance takes place this weekend with their appearance at Pigeons Playing Ping Pong‘s annual DomeFest event on Friday. For ticketing information and a full list of the band’s upcoming tour dates, head to Mungion’s website.last_img read more

There’s only one Harvard

first_imgYou can feel it. This time of year breathes a sense of the new and the familiar, mixed with a touch of uncertainty. The long-lasting traditions that welcome Harvard students have become new again. Resource fairs, orientations, panels, lofty speeches, dinners, tours, and service days have greeted incoming students all across the University. At these events, I have had a chance to reflect on my own experience as new students have asked for my biggest advice on being a graduate student at Harvard.I’d like to share with you a way of thinking about your experience here as a student that will stay with you and can change your life forever. You might think I’m being a little dramatic, but I’m speaking from experience.Don’t plan to leave Harvard with just a degree in a specific discipline. Plan to leave with your whole Harvard experience.While we have 12 graduate Schools here, we only have one Harvard. Harvard means more than just a collection of books donated by a man whose face is inaccurately portrayed on a statue in the Yard. Harvard is what binds us together as a student community and what will keep us together as alumni for life. Although your academic experiences might differ across disciplines, you are first a Harvard student. Then, you are a government, law, design, theology, public health, education, medical, dental, engineering, or doctoral student. Take a look at your “home” School name and see what comes first.This way of thinking about your experience is the key to unlocking the most out of your time at Harvard. This year, get out of your “home” grad school bubble and make connections across the University. Nurture your sense of intellectual curiosity and passion for making a difference in the world. You will not only open your mind to new possibilities, but you might meet that new business partner to launch your startup or make that one introduction, combined with your crazy idea, that could save many lives. And along the way, you might just make some lifelong friends.Harvard has introduced me to friends who are blasting particles through tubes in laboratories that have emergency chemical showers in the hallway, friends who are working with mice to extend human life spans and cure cancer, friends who are legal experts on mergers and acquisitions, friends who are making investment decisions worth billions of dollars, friends who wrote speeches for POTUS, friends who are Black Hawk helicopter pilots, friends who can help me sequence my DNA on campus, and the list goes on.There is no single School at Harvard where you can build these kinds of diverse social and academic relationships. You need to realize you are part of something even bigger than you imagined when you applied. Now that you are here, make the most of it.New and returning students, welcome to Harvard.Philip Harding is an M.P.P. student at Harvard Kennedy School and president of the Harvard Graduate Council, the student government for the 12 graduate and professional Schools.last_img read more

New library website provides digital front door to Harvard resources

first_imgThe new site is built on an open-source platform, Drupal, under a Creative Commons copyright license. The code will be available in a public Github for other libraries to use.The library also upgraded its catalog, HOLLIS, to a cloud-based system called Alma, which lets users customize and share their search results. Better behind-the-scenes functionality speeds up the process of requesting materials. The cloud system will also search the collections more effectively by bringing articles, dissertations, and e-books not currently visible in HOLLIS Classic to the surface.The redesign was begun last summer by a team assembled from across the Harvard Library community. Suzanne Wones, associate University librarian for digital strategies and innovation, Claire DeMarco, assistant director of digital strategies, and Kerry Conley, director of communications at Harvard Library, led a team that included writer and digital content producer Abby Elizabeth Conway, senior user experience consultant Amy Deschenes, designer and multimedia specialist Enrique Diaz, and production systems librarian Lindsay Whitacre. The group partnered with Velir, a digital marketing agency based in nearby Somerville.“The website is a critical element of our digital infrastructure,” said Wones. “Most of the people accessing the library’s materials and services do so online. The new site leverages modern web technologies to make library materials and services easy to find and incredibly useful.”The site is designed as a permanent work in progress. The web team encourages visitors to provide feedback and continually makes enhancements based on user responses.“The library has so much to offer students and faculty,” said Conley. “Our goal was to create a website that was creatively designed, intuitive to use, and endlessly helpful. We wanted to build a go-to place online where faculty and students can discover library resources easily and access them simply to enrich their time at Harvard.” The Harvard Library on Wednesday launches its new website, combining the Harvard Library and Harvard College Library sites into one platform with users at its heart.Redesigned after extensive testing and feedback from more than 250 students, researchers, and faculty, the new site is intended to be intuitive, accessible, and simple to navigate — a single place where users can easily find and use library resources.“People increasingly start their search for information online,” said Sarah E. Thomas, vice president of the Harvard Library, University Librarian, and Roy E. Larsen Librarian of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “[The] updated and streamlined website puts the user at the center, presents a unified view of library resources, and allows our diverse community to find information specific to their interests.”New features include brief “how-to” guides on topics such as using Harvard’s special collections and archives; borrowing, renewing, and returning library materials; and getting research help. A services and tools directory lists all of the libraries’ resources, including:The Lean Library browser extension, which gives seamless access to Harvard Library subscriptions from anywhere on the web;Ask a Librarian live chat;The Find a Space application, which makes library study spaces searchable for the first time.,“Our goal was to create a website that was creatively designed, intuitive to use, and endlessly helpful.” — Kerry Conley, director of communications at Harvard Librarylast_img read more

On-again, off-again looks to be best social-distancing option

first_img Related Jha said it seems clear the epicenter of the pandemic is shifting from Europe to the U.S. Current case numbers here are approaching those of Italy and will likely soon thereafter surpass China’s. U.S. deaths have topped 1,000, while the pandemic’s economic toll was reflected in a record number of Americans — more than 3 million — filing for unemployment benefits last week.As cases in New York continued to soar, Jha said he was also “deeply concerned” about the rapid growth of the epidemic in New Orleans. Federal leadership, he said, could encourage social distancing nationwide that will dampen the epidemic in places where it’s not yet severe. It could also, together with epidemic modeling, direct scarce resources like ventilators to locations seeing a surge in cases, moving the supply from hotspot to hotspot. He also called for a standard policy concerning what to do when faced with life-saving equipment shortages. Such guidelines would help clinicians faced with the “awful choice” of who should get access to the equipment and who should not.“This is how we get through this — together. If every state and every community fights to maximize its own ventilators, we’re all going to be in trouble. But if we can work in a coordinated way, we can get through it much easier,” said Jha, speaking during a webcast event sponsored by The Forum at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and PRI’s “The World.” “It has to ultimately be done by the federal government. … This is why we have a federal government.”Once the peak passes here, Fortune said, nations with weak health-care infrastructure will still be in the crosshairs, and she’s concerned that an uncontrolled epidemic in these countries will be catastrophic. India, for example, has reported just 700 cases but has done very little testing, she said.“I do fear, where the health-care system is very fragile, what comes next is the pandemic playing out in a really catastrophic way,” Fortune said. Economists cheered by relief package but see long, tough slog ahead Harvard Law School faculty Charles Fried and Nancy Gertner discuss new restrictions on individual freedoms Online forum aims to teach how to deal with pandemic stress This is part of our Coronavirus Update series in which Harvard specialists in epidemiology, infectious disease, economics, politics, and other disciplines offer insights into what the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak may bring.With global coronavirus cases heading toward half a million, Harvard infectious disease experts said recent modeling shows that — absent the development of a vaccine or other intervention — a staggered pattern of social distancing would save more lives than a one-and-done strategy and avoid overwhelming hospitals while allowing immunity to build in the population.The work, conducted by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and led by Yonatan Grad, the Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, and Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology, also shows that if strict social distancing such as that imposed in China — which cuts transmission by 60 percent — is relaxed, it results in epidemic peaks in the fall and winter similar in size and with similar impacts on the health care system as those in an uncontrolled epidemic.“We looked at how it would affect the thing that matters most — overwhelming the critical-care unit,” Grad said.The problem, the researchers said, is that while strict social distancing may appear to be the most effective strategy, little population-level immunity is developed to a virus that is very likely to come around again.,The research indicates that one possible method for dealing with the epidemic amid a lack of other effective interventions may be multiple “intermittent” social-distancing periods that ease up when cases fall to a certain level and then are reimposed when they rise past a key threshold. The exact numbers, the work showed, depend on whether COVID-19 is a seasonal ailment like the flu and common cold — also caused by a coronavirus — or whether it is equally transmissible year-round. Depending on seasonality, the models show that social distancing occurring between 25 percent and 75 percent of the time would both build immunity and keep the health care system from overloading. As time passes and more of the population gains immunity, they said, the restrictive episodes could be shorter, with longer intervals between them.Interventions such as development of a vaccine (12 to 18 months away at best), discovery of a treatment that lessens illness severity, or effective case identification and contact tracing would change the situation. They also modeled what would happen if the U.S. doubled the number of critical-care beds in the hospital system. That increase in capacity to handle the sickest patients would allow social distancing to end in early to mid-2021, with the epidemic here over in 2022. Absent any social distancing, the model predicts the epidemic would be over sometime this fall, but at the cost of an overwhelmed health care system and, presumably, many more deaths. After that, the virus would circulate periodically, similar to cold, flu and other regular contagions.Grad acknowledged that he didn’t know whether the political will existed for such an on-again, off-again treatment, but Sarah Fortune, chair of the Harvard Chan School’s Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said the research presents what she thinks is the most realistic available strategy. It’s unlikely, she said, that the U.S. will be able to “drive the genie back into the bottle,” as China seems to have, and, since fragile health-care systems cover large parts of the world, the virus will almost certainly have reservoirs from which to reinfect countries.“The limits of what we can achieve — even locally, in terms of COVID control — is set by the weakest health care systems globally,” said Fortune, speaking on a media conference call Thursday morning.The research, released this week as an academic preprint and awaiting peer review, came amid warnings that the U.S. health care system may not be robust enough to begin either once-and-for-all easing of social distancing or to start an on-again, off-again regimen. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said the U.S. health care system has a “steeper hill to climb” than it otherwise would after wasting two months of vital preparation time. He said very aggressive social distancing is needed now to give the system time to catch up to the virus’ current spread. He called for tripling testing, increasing production of protective equipment, and coordinating response nationally. “The limits of what we can achieve — even locally, in terms of COVID control — is set by the weakest health care systems globally.” — Sarah Fortune Form COVID-19 rapid response teams to provide support, information Harvard Medical School students mobilize Chan School session breaks down what it is, what it looks like, and ways to ease it Restricting civil liberties amid COVID-19 pandemic Karen Dynan and Kenneth Rogoff say Fed and Congress are moving in the right directionlast_img read more