4 Virtual Office Christmas Party Ideas
Regardless of whether this would have been your company’s first Christmas party or the twentieth, you were probably putting plans in motion for a while now and hoping that COVID-19 would have been handled by the time the holidays arrived. However, seeing as how we are still in this situation where social distancing is recommended and many of us still work from home, your plans for the office party have probably changed. If you’ve decided not to cancel the cheer this year and opted for organizing a virtual party instead, you might be looking for some ideas and tips on how to make it a success even if you can’t all be in the same place. Keep on reading for some suggestions.
Socialize over cocktails
Even though you’re not all in the office or a place you’ve rented for the party, it doesn’t mean that you can’t set a time and date for the party and get fancy. Provide everyone with the platform you plan on using, whether it’s Zoom, Skype, or something else, and give them instructions on how to dress. You can either simply dress for a cocktail party or give the party a theme, such as wear your worst Christmas sweater. Seeing as how you’d be paying for drinks anyway, you should consider food and drink delivery to everyone’s home so that you can all have the same experience. When it comes to décor, allow the participants to do as they please, as it’s possible that some don’t celebrate Christmas or just don’t want to put up decorations. If you work in different time zones, it might not be time for cocktails everywhere so you can opt for coffee and snacks instead of drinks.
Play party games
Video calls also make it easy to play various party games. When planning the event, make sure to come up with these games in advance so that you know if there is anything that needs preparing beforehand. Luckily, there are many games that don’t require any preparation. For example, charades don’t require anything but a willingness to have fun. With a simple notepad and pen, you can also play Pictionary. Then, if your employees are a creative and talented bunch, you can organize a company talent show. Keep in mind that some workers are more introverted and might not want to take part in showing off their skills, so consider appointing them to be judges. Something else to take into consideration is giving out silly prizes to your team members – just make sure no one is overlooked.
Organize a Secret Santa exchange
If you were planning to do a Secret Santa gift exchange, you can still do that. You can find an organizer and generator online to help you get everything ready. When it comes to gifts, you should probably set a budget and rules as you don’t want some people to be disappointed by only getting a Christmas card and someone else getting a new laptop. Remember that you are also taking part in this and that you have to get a gift for one of your colleagues. If you get a female coworker you respect a lot, you should browse the internet for some Christmas gift ideas for her before you make a purchase. However, if you don’t know her all that well, a hamper full of sweet and savoury delights as well as a drink or two might be the solution you are looking for. Remind everyone to send their gifts on time so that you can all open them during your video call.
Make cookies together
Sometimes, a Christmas office party doesn’t have to be a party at all. If there are only a few of you in the company, you might be only looking for a way to spend some quality time together. One way to do that is by setting a time when you can all make cookies together. Maybe one of you is an expert at baking and is going to teach the rest how to make tasty treats for their families. Make sure you tell everyone which ingredients are necessary and what other equipment they might need. If you all agree on this, it’s essential that you are all relaxed as tension has no place at a Christmas party. In case someone can’t follow along, be patient and help them keep up. If baking is not your company’s forte, you can opt for other types of crafting projects, such as making your own decorations or gifts for other people.
While you can stick to the regular party setting and have everyone sip on cocktails from the comfort of their own home, you can also make the most of this new reality and come up with something new for your office holiday party. Who knows, maybe this new approach of baking together or playing games online turns into an annual thing.
Navigating International Newsroom: How To Set Up And Coordinate A Remote Media Team
Countries from around the globe are connected by a network of journalists and media outlets that share developing news stories throughout the land. The public thrives on political, educational, environmental, and inspirational news that can help them in their daily lives. It’s a complicated business to run a publishing company that spans the globe; it takes patience and planning.
I am Tetyana Fomina, Editorial Operations Manager at AmoMama. I have been working with AmoMama since its inception in January 2017. Since 2017, I have developed skills and experience in building processes within vast projects run by people in multiple time zones thousands of kilometers from one another. If you’re trying to start your own publishing company from the ground up, I have some important tips to share with you.
AmoMama is an entertainment media publishing company working under the international IT company AMO. The AmoMama cooperates with over 120 people who write and develop stories for an audience around 40 million people per month in the US and Western Europe. Content is distributed in four languages; French, German, English, and Spanish.
Cooperating Conservatively For A New Business Venture
While your business idea is still formulating, consider it to be in “test mode.” At this point, you don’t yet want to hire a large team. First, you should concentrate on hiring journalists to investigate and write new content.
As your media outlet idea becomes viable, meaning that your content is starting to drive traffic, you can expand your team of journalists and add editors and proofreaders. As your company grows, you can continue investing in your written content’s quality.
How To Properly Scale Your Team
Pay attention to the workload of everyone. When the staff is overloaded with work, it can create bottlenecks in your publishing process that could be costly and create terrible working conditions for the team.
For each new job vacancy, you open up for hire, think of the entire team as a whole. Hiring a new journalist will mean that more stories are being written that need to be edited, designed, and so on. If you focus too narrowly on one portion of the team, you run the risk of creating an unbalanced workload throughout the entire team.
How To Set Up Processes When Your Remote Newsroom Is In 11 Time Zones
If you’re going to dabble in international publishing, then you’re going to have to learn to navigate all the time zones that you cover. This is both a blessing and a curse because although it can be a difficult and delicate juggling act, you can end up with a workforce that literally works around the clock for your business.
At AmoMama, we will cooperate with people from different time zones and schedule them so that they only slightly overlap during the working day, typically by 1 or 2 hours. The rest of the time, they work autonomously, taking turns replacing each other.
Make sure that the entire functional unit is working in the same time zone or at least on the same schedule. For example, if we start working with a new journalist who has a night schedule in a specific time zone, we have to find a content analyst, editor, moderator, and designer to work with that person simultaneously. Otherwise, you create a broken system where hours are spent wasted while someone waits for approvals or tasks to be done before they can move on with their own work. Ideally, you will have one of these functional units working in each time zone that you need to cover.
You may end up with more people working day shifts in your most popular time zones. If that is the case, you can create smaller evening shift teams and distribute training documents and skill builders to teams with lower workloads.
Streamlining Operations In An International Editorial Office
We work for the audience in the United States and Europe. Different countries have different standards for what constitutes fair use, protection of personal data, and other issues that could have legal complications. You have to keep track of all the laws that regulate your business in the areas you work and the areas you publish content.
In order to have better control over an international office, we have moderators and editors roles that are responsible for content approvals. They are also responsible for doing a detailed review of all content for compliance with the laws for each area.
As little as three years ago, we had journalists approving and publishing their own content, but that model was not sustainable in the long run. Having these checks and balances in place reduces the risk to the business and makes things flow more smoothly.
If your content doesn’t comply with rules and laws, then you can be removed or banned from social media platforms or be subject to fines and other penalties. This is precisely why we implemented a multi-step verification process at AmoMama.
Managing Expectations With Remote And International Teams
As you can imagine, we don’t have team members working around the clock in different time zones within a single office building. We cooperate with people that work remotely, and there are some interesting challenges in running a remote publishing team.
Many of the people we cooperate with are used to having a flexible schedule with minimal controls. Some can adjust to a more structured work environment, while others cannot. Make sure to set the expectation from the very first interview that your publishing company is fast-paced and has strict deadlines.
Make sure new people know that professionalism is a must, and they should be able to complete agreed tasks, participate in conditioning interviews and meetings if needed.
Finally, you must be able to find a way for people from very different backgrounds to come together, by collaborating on the same project. Things like manners, and communication can vary by culture. In some cultures, people are very organized in their work process, while in others there is a more relaxed system. Usually, you can overcome these differences by setting plans from the start with agreed rules and collaboration expectations for things like project timing and task completion. It can also help to collaborate with people with great multicultural communication skills to help coordinate the process.
Why your business needs mental health first aiders
Mental health has been a topic of increasing concern in recent years. More and more people are suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. It’s not just individuals who are affected, however. Mental health problems can also impact businesses, causing absenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased healthcare costs. That’s why it’s essential for companies to take mental health seriously and provide resources for employees who are struggling. One of the most effective resources is having mental health first aiders in the workplace.
Mental health first aiders are employees who are trained to recognise the signs of mental health problems and provide initial support and guidance to those who are struggling. They can act as a bridge between the employee and mental health professionals, helping to ensure that those who need help are able to get it quickly and easily. Here are just a few reasons why your business needs mental health first aiders:
- Reduce Stigma and Increase Awareness
Mental health problems are still stigmatised in many workplaces, which can make it difficult for employees to seek help. Having mental health first aiders in the workplace can help to reduce this stigma by showing that mental health problems are taken seriously and that there is support available. It can also help to increase awareness of mental health issues and encourage employees to take care of their own mental health.
- Improve Employee Well-being
When employees are struggling with mental health problems, it can impact their overall well-being and their ability to do their job effectively. Having mental health first aiders in the workplace can help to improve employee well-being by providing support and resources to those who need it. This can help to reduce absenteeism, improve productivity, and increase employee satisfaction.
- Enhance the Company’s Reputation
Companies that prioritise mental health are often viewed more positively by both employees and customers. By having mental health first aiders in the workplace, companies can demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of their employees and their willingness to address important social issues. This can enhance the company’s reputation and make it a more attractive place to work.
- Reduce Healthcare Costs
Mental health problems can be expensive to treat, both for the individual and for the company. By providing early intervention and support through mental health first aiders, companies can help to reduce the overall healthcare costs associated with mental health issues. This can include reducing the need for more costly interventions such as hospitalisation or long-term therapy.
- Comply with Legal Obligations
Companies have a legal obligation to protect the health and safety of their employees. This includes protecting their mental health. By providing mental health first aiders in the workplace, companies can demonstrate that they are taking this obligation seriously and are willing to take steps to ensure the well-being of their employees.
In conclusion, mental health first aiders are an essential resource for any business that wants to prioritise the well-being of their employees and reduce the impact of mental health problems on the workplace. By reducing stigma, increasing awareness, improving employee well-being, enhancing the company’s reputation, reducing healthcare costs, and complying with legal obligations, mental health first aiders can make a significant difference in the workplace. Investing in mental health first aid training for employees is an investment in the future of the company, its employees, and the wider community.
The Complete Guide to Designing a Secure Data Center
Designing a secure data center takes significant forethought, especially with physical and online-based risks becoming progressively more likely. Here are some actionable considerations that can reduce risks and make facilities safe and future-proof.
Select an Appropriate Location
Designing a data center with security in mind begins with choosing the right location. The area’s crime rates could be a good starting point. How likely will vandals, burglars or other criminals target the newly built facility? Crime rate averages for a given region don’t tell the whole story, but they can highlight particular places to avoid or prioritize.
Once data center designers find a suitable location, they should strongly consider utilizing a concept called crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED).
It’s a well-known option for residential areas and schools but less common in the data center industry. CPTED centers on communicating that a facility is well-maintained, making it less appealing for criminals to target. Designers can get inspiration from CPTED concepts often deployed in communities.
Those could include:
- Installing fencing to designate clear boundaries
- Ensuring data center properties remain well lit
- Posting prominent signage to direct visitors to the main entrance
Many CPTED objectives also center on having a strong presence in the neighborhood. That way, community members feel compelled to voluntarily play a part in keeping the data center secure. That could involve having a local monitoring program where people use a dedicated phone number to report suspicious activity.
However, the emphasis on community involvement makes it necessary for designers and other involved professionals to engage with anyone feeling upset about a data center coming to a particular location. Ignoring strong resistance from residents, political officials and other community members could make the data center less secure because people are more willing to target it.
Use Hardening Principles to Design a Secure Data Center
Hardening encompasses efforts to make data centers more resilient against physical attacks. That could mean working with engineers to ensure the facility remains intact after structural failures. That approach helps people inside stay safer from events like building collapses. Teams that need to design a secure data center must consider the most likely adverse outcomes and how to prevent them.
Some professionals recommend data centers have at least seven layers of physical security. They are surveillance cameras, intruder detection systems, vehicle traps, auditable access controls, full authentication measures, physical barriers and 24/7 security guards. A data center uses hardening principles well if it features multiple preventive measures to stop unauthorized access.
Risk assessments of planned data centers may also indicate the need to protect the facility from bombs or other terrorist acts. Such cases usually require reinforcing the data center with steel in concrete. Designers may even choose to put the data centers underground. Those facilities are generally more secure than above-ground ones, but they still require stringent precautions against intrusion.
One week in 2021 had more than a dozen bomb threats against data centers in the United States and Canada. None involved explosives, but those instances illustrate the need for preparedness. Criminals increasingly realize how important these facilities are to modern society, increasing the chances they’ll set their sights on them.
Collaborate With Cybersecurity Teams
Anyone asked to design a secure data center should work closely with cybersecurity experts to understand how decisions may help or hurt cybersecurity. The things internet security teams do to keep data centers safe have evolved over the years, particularly as technological options improve. For example, it’s increasingly common to use artificial intelligence (AI) to thwart cyberattacks before they happen or make successful ones less damaging.
Some cyberattacks happen through physical means. As recently as 2022, attackers were mailing infected USB drives to targets. They hoped to entice people to use them on their computers and install malware. However, criminals could also try to launch a cyberattack through physical means, such as by posing as service providers or others typically given temporary access.
Consider the Layered Method to Design a Secure Data Center
One best practice is using a five-layered approach to secure data center systems. It breaks measures down into categories and involves covering the following aspects of the facility:
- Physical: This layer intends to stop in-person intrusion attempts and uses means such as security cameras and multifactor authentication-based access controls.
- Logical: This layer represents everything to do with the operating system. It involves preventive measures such as patching or removing older networks and using good password management practices.
- Network: This layer represents the gateway attackers can use to launch their attacks if not properly secured. It includes elements such as firewalls, routers and switches. Options for preventing attacks include removing unused network interfaces and using microsegmentation to limit the spread of any successful attacks.
- Application: This layer is solely about securing applications and database-related systems. One best practice is to have separate environments for development, production and testing. Another is to use logs to capture changes made to applications and databases. It’s then easier to spot potential anomalies.
- Information security: This layer ensures people perform the correct checks on the previous four layers. That means reviewing internet security policies, verifying that appropriate defense mechanisms remain in place, and looking over strategies surrounding using and handling of sensitive data.
The all-encompassing nature of the layered approach typically makes it inappropriate and infeasible for the design team to solely oversee all these factors. However, they can provide ongoing input relevant to their expertise when engaging in collaborative discussions across groups or with those working on the data center project externally.
Be Prepared to Learn and Apply Lessons
People must apply careful thought and best practices to design a secure data center. The individuals involved in such projects will undoubtedly learn many lessons along the way. However, the good news is that they can and should keep track of associated successes and failures. Such circumstances will contain valuable lessons that people can use to inform future data centers they design or ensure their current projects have the best possible outcomes.
Also, people new to this undertaking should strongly consider learning how to design a secure data center from experts who have done it many times before. That may mean working with consultants or people with specialized knowledge. They can help design team members avoid pitfalls and overcome obstacles in the most efficient and practical ways.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine celebrating innovations in the industrial sector. She has over 5 years of experience showing how technology is changing the construction and manufacturing industries.
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