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May, 2020
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May, 2020 | President Message

President Message

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Millar, Dawn
Author Dawn Millar

Where do I begin? A lot has changed since my last message. A global pandemic, COVID-19, has been declared and it has altered all our lives. Our normal way of life has changed, literally, overnight. Everything is done from home now:  working, socializing, schooling, shopping – even doctor’s appointments are being done either by telephone or virtually. The entire world has been shut down. If you do venture out for essentials, the outside world is now met with fear. Masks and gloves are worn by all, distancing measures have been put in place at retailers, lines that stretch entire parking lots and down side streets, just to get into a store for some groceries, are now the norm.  All news channels and social media are consumed with COVID-19 updates and information. You simply cannot turn it off and the facts are sobering.

The first few weeks of this “new normal”, I must admit, I thought I was managing okay. I was dealing with things as needed, trying to not stress or worry. However, each night I was waking at 3 or 4 am, with a heavy feeling of dread and worry. It would take a couple of hours to calm myself down and try to get back to sleep, only to have to wake up and start the day again. I couldn’t figure out why this kept happening – anxiety attacks in the middle of the night.  And then one night I said to my husband “I never get a break from COVID and I think it’s stressing me out”. Once I heard myself say that out loud, it dawned on me. I had been spending most of my days, from the moment I opened my eyes to the minute my head hit the pillow, consuming all things COVID. It wasn’t that I was just watching the news updates and discussing facts here and there with friends or colleagues, it was consuming – and changing - my entire work world as well (as I’m sure many of you can appreciate and attest). The gravity of what COVID-19 was doing to the world was weighing heavily on me. I needed to find a way to acknowledge the behind the scenes anxiety that was building and still carry on day-to-day. I now try to tweak my days to include things like taking a bubble bath, playing a silly app on my phone or escape the house for a walk and listen to a podcast (on anything NOT COVID-19 related!).    

I’m sure many of you have also been keeping up-to-date on the various webinars and resources that are being offered by so many different companies, and perhaps some of you have come across some great exercises/apps/resources to help you and your employees through these times.  TLOMA has introduced a new Discussion Forum solely for COVID-19 related discussions and resources. It is a great place to share as well as find valuable information during this time. We have also been able to post some webinars from law firms as well as from some of our Business Partners who have graciously allowed us to share with our members. I encourage you all to take a look at the Forum and if you have anything that you have found to be useful and valuable during this time, please take a minute to share it.

TLOMA continues to have everyone’s safety at the forefront of all upcoming decisions that need to be made. Until further notice, all events are being held via Webinar. TLOMA is offering a discount for all non-members who work in a law firm environment to attend a webinar at a reduced fee of $38.50 + HST.  

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the cancellation of the TLOMA 2020 Annual Conference, which was to take place in Toronto at the Metropolitan Convention Centre. The Conference Committee and Board of Directors have spent many hours over the last few weeks exploring our options and ultimately decided that it was in everyone’s best interest to cancel this year’s conference. We will hold our next Annual Conference on September 28 and 29, 2021, in Toronto at MTCC on September 28 and 29, 2021. Further details will follow to our members and Business Partners in a separate communication.

A few weeks ago, TLOMA launched its Compensation Survey. I would encourage you to participate in this year’s survey, even if your firm is not purchasing, as the consistency of data is very helpful year after year.

We also sent a Call to Members to volunteer to sit on the Nominating Committee. We are extending the deadline to submit your application to May 8, 2020. By sitting on the Nominating Committee, you gain a better understanding of the roles of the Board of Directors as well as insight into the operation of a not-for-profit organization. If you are interested in volunteering, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for more information.

One final reminder: Dean Hannon, DRIVE Engagement Coaching and Training, has graciously offered TLOMA members a FREE no obligation 60 minute one-on-one online/telephone coaching session.  Dean presented a very informative and engaging TLOMA HR SIG Webinar last month.  In this unprecedented and uncertain time, many are feeling overwhelmed. This one-on-one discussion focuses on effectively addressing the issue(s) moving forward using proven actions and strategies. Each call ends with a short action plan and a complimentary follow up, if required. Please click on the customized link to book your one hour session with DRIVE Engagement Coaching and Training.   Note:  Space is limited.

As I sign off, please keep in mind, there is nothing normal about what we are all going through right now. We are not “working from home” rather we are “at home working”. Some of us have children at home that we are trying to also navigate through online learning at the same time. You can find online workout videos, beauty blogs, baking shows, literally online “everything” classes everywhere you turn these days. I see posts about how we now have all this “time” to take up new hobbies, learn new skills, organize those closets you can never get to…the list goes on. My personal thoughts during this time: YOU DO YOU. Do not feel you need to cave to the constant pressures to join an online workout or test new recipes or even clean your house from top to bottom. Do not feel you need a rigid schedule for your kids’ homeschooling, or a need to sit down and teach them their online lesson, or you need to come up with creative crafts and activities to keep them stimulated and learn everyday.  Our main priority is to remain healthy and safe, both physically and mentally. Your “normal” may look completely different than mine, and that is ok.

“I’ve got nothing to do today but smile” – Paul Simon.

Remember to visit the Events page on the TLOMA website to register for upcoming SIG Webinars!

Dawn Millar is the Chief Operating Officer at Pape Salter Teillet LLP.  She is responsible for overseeing the firm’s day-to-day operations including managing a team of legal staff and creating, facilitating, and implementing office initiatives to optimize performance.

Dawn has over 20 years experience in the legal industry and strives to provide integrated, strategic approaches to legal office management.  She is always eager to gain new knowledge and implement ideas that find efficiencies and embrace emerging technologies.

In her spare time, Dawn likes to keep busy – volunteering as well as learning new skills.  She sits as President on the Board of Directors of a not-for-profit childcare organization and is fluent in American Sign Language, often attending her daughter’s school to teach ASL to children.

Dawn also enjoys keeping active, and practices self-defense and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  In 2017, she began training as an amateur boxer and in June 2018, she stepped into the ring to compete in a charity match in support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

May, 2020 | Article

4 Tips For Managing Your Team Remotely

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O'Grady, Rowan 21feb20
Author Rowan O'Grady

Managing teams across different offices can be a learning curve, and it can take time to refine and perfect a way of doing things. Giving teams a sense of independence, but also being involved enough to make sure they’re happy and productive, is a balance that can be achieved. Here is some advice that will act as a springboard for team leaders to establish what works best for them and their teams.

1. Leverage Technology For Better Communication

Communication is paramount and having the right tools is important to ensure that everyone can stay in touch easily, as well as get the information they need quickly when they need it. This means using tools such as Skype, Yammer, Sqwiggle, and Google Hangouts to help with online meetings and video chats. These are free or inexpensive solutions that help to keep the lines of communication open and flowing. Just remember to make sure everyone has access and knows how to use the tools – which can be ensured through proper on-boarding and training when an employee first joins the business. Also encourage remote staff to communicate with each other so they can exchange ideas, share experiences, and feel as though they’re part of a greater whole.

2. Establish A Shared Vision

It’s important that a team fully understands what the business goals are – this is a crucial responsibility for a team leader. If the vision is coherent and consistent, this will help with the alignment of goals across teams. Also, encourage communication as much as possible. Whether it be between teams or other departments within the business, make sure the team understands the vision and goals.  

3. Build A Stronger Team Rapport

When communicating with remote employees, it can be easy to only talk about work but also try to chat about local events such as sports, activities or other interests. Establishing robust relationships can be challenging with individuals, however getting to know the team on a personal level is important to developing a rapport. This can also contribute towards higher job satisfaction and productivity levels. Building a strong rapport with remote staff is great for morale, encourages a more collaborative approach and can help them open up about any problems they may have.

4. Embrace Video Calling

Make sure to utilize face-to-face conversations using video calling applications. Consider using applications such as (WhatsApp video, Facetime, Skype). Incorporating the visual aspect continues to provide a human element that can also increase productivity among team members.

Rowan O’Grady has over 25 years of experience in the recruitment industry in Canada, the UK and Ireland. His in-depth and personal experience of permanent recruitment, contract staffing, MSP and RPO has been gained across industries including financial services, technology, engineering and construction. Rowan is a leading voice in the areas of recruitment, careers and the job market in Canada, regularly publishing market reports, whitepapers and thought leading insights. He comments regularly in the media on how to compete for and retain talent in today’s competitive marketplace.

Email: rowan@hays.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rowan-o-grady-3185218/

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May, 2020 | Article

10 Wise Steps To Take To Keep Healthy, Productive And Sane In Your Home Office: Covid-19 The New Normal

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J. Sleeth1
Author Jane Sleeth, Hon. B.P. & H.E.(Ergonomics), B. Sc.PT, C.P.T.

Now that you are using your home office, it will help you to be aware that you may experience different aches and pains than what you experience in your more ergonomically designed offices in your law firms. This is normal and to be expected as your bodies are now in different postures which may include; using your laptop whilst sitting on the couch:

 

Lying in bed with soft pillows behind your back and laptop on your lap; sitting at a dining room chair with the laptop on the dining room table; reading papers and files in areas where light levels are not appropriate for your task; not exercising enough as your gym or yoga studio is now closed…..

The national team of ergonomic and human factors experts at Optimal Performance has been guiding law firms across Canada about ergonomics and healthy working habits for 30 years. A good deal of our work has included people’s home based offices; so we are here to help with low cost, easy to implement tips. This will make sure that you or the employees who you are in charge of at your firm remain fit, healthy and productive. Here are our top 10 Tips for keeping healthy in the Home office:

1. Find the most supportive chair in your home or condo and use this for sitting upright to work. Sit at a table that is stable, vs your lap.

2. If you think now is the time to purchase your own Task Chair, you will truly get what you pay for.  There are hundreds of refurbished task chairs that you can order on line rather than buying a poorly designed, cheap chair. Look for the Steelcase LEAP or Amia chairs that are refurbished; the Knoll Remix with hi performance armrests: or a used and refurbished Haworth Fern with lumbar support. Ask the resellers if the armrests have hi performance capability as this is a really important part of your chair support. See if they will agree to free shipping especially during these challenging economic times.

3. Do not work from your couch or your bed. As you can see from the photo above, sitting in this way increases the angle of your neck & also rounds your lower back.  Sit at a surface that you can find that is no higher than 29” ideally.

4. It is recommended you use or purchase an external monitor so that you plug your laptop into the monitor. This will allow you to use the proper size external keyboard and mouse, a better fit for your hands. Monitors you may have noticed are inexpensive, so this is a good time to make this purchase.

5. Set your monitor to the correct height – eyes equal with where you gaze the most on your screen; and set it to the correct distance, which depends on your age (health of the eyes) and if you wear corrective eyewear.

6. If there is a lot of natural light in your home office, make sure the screen is at a 90 degree angle to this light to limit reflectance and glare or lower your blinds when the sun is at its strongest.

7. If your feet are not touching the floor when seated, stack some paper or books under your feet for support of the backs of your legs.

8. Stand up and stretch at a minimum of 45 minutes; look out of the window to stretch your eyes, breath slowly and let your mind wander.

9. Move your laptop to your kitchen counter for periods of time to allow standing to occur. Prop your foot up onto a box or nearby chair.

10. Get out for a walk (or run). You may feel lethargic or uninspired during this time in our lives, however, now more than ever you need to exercise. Aim to walk for at least 20 minutes and try your best to do this every day. Start to compete with your co-workers on the # of steps you take each day.


From Travellers Insurance Co

One more tip: Keep in contact with your social network so you do not feel isolated during what is currently a very unclear time in our lives and in our country.  We will get through this.

If you feel you need an ergonomic assessment by phone or video please speak with your Facility Manager in your law office. 

Jane Sleeth is Founder and Senior Consultant at Optimal Performance Consultants Inc.  Since 1991, Jane has applied her unique background as both a Physiotherapist & Human Factors Design specialist to enhance human performance in the workplace. Outcomes from her & her firm’s 29 years partnering with Fortune 500 companies have included: cost savings for Chrysler Canada of over $1.75 million dollars in the prevention of work refusals & litigation in the US and Canada: operating cost savings for RBC in follow up ergonomic mitigation work of over $375,000.00 over a 2 year time period associated with the application of ergonomic/human factors design in one downtown major property; prevention of AODA penalties and Human Rights litigation associated with the correct design and implementation of universal washrooms for a Crown Property Management; an ROI of 7 dollars for every $1.00 spent in consulting costs for Bank of Nova Scotia based on capital cost savings for retrofits, rework & accommodations that did not have to be put into place etc.

Jane is author of the Canadian best-selling book Return to Work Compliance Toolkit published by Thompson Carswell. She is the author of Psychological Illness, Mental Health and the Workplace; Canadian Trends and Return to Work Challenges published by Thompson Carswell in 2011 and Understanding, Preventing and Controlling Back and Neck Pain; A CLV Special Report, published by Thompson Carswell in 2012. She is also the author of Developing an Internal Ergonomic Program published by OPC in 2017.

Jane holds an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology and Physiology from the University of Toronto, an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Physiotherapy from the University of Toronto and is completing postgraduate work in the area strategic human factors design.

Jane is a regular and sought-after speaker at North American conferences on the topical areas of ergonomics as a productivity tool; ergonomic/human factors design in the built environment; the business case for ergonomic/human factors design.

May, 2020 | Article

Emergency Preparedness: A Reminder From COVID-19

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Michael Sugrue - April 2020 - Working from Home
Author Michael Sugrue

There have been a handful of events in the GTA over the last 20 years that have made us all stop and say “wow, didn’t see that coming”.  Recent ice storms, SARS and the big blackout of 2003 come to mind.  Now this most recent event of Novel Coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19 and now declared as a global pandemic, has us yet again stopped in our tracks with a panic of what could happen and what the impact could be to our lives and businesses.  While these events can catch us off guard, they are also opportunities to check our gauges for emergency preparedness.

COVID-19 is a serious threat to our lives and businesses, and this is an opportunity to look at our businesses and our extent of emergency preparedness to weather any type of disaster or major potential disruption to day-to-day operations. 

Here are some of the top considerations to help your business mitigate against any disaster scenario:

Disaster/Business Continuity Plan – Everything starts with planning!  Every business should have a written disaster/business continuity plan which will address both the business and technical aspects of recovering from and continuing business after an event.  You have the option to hire a consultant/business that specializes in creating disaster plans or create one yourself using a template/guide.  In either case, if you have the right consultant or guide, they will take you through the process of identifying

a) Your emergency team who will be responsible for actions and communications in the event of a disaster or emergency;

b) the critical functions of your business and the effect on your business if impacted;

c) a list of issues/events that could happen and a plan for business continuity (if possible) in each scenario;

d) a list of key personnel, clients and vendors and how to communicate with each in the event of a disaster; and lastly

e) a process to review and test the plan that you’ve written.

Having a written plan doesn’t guarantee that you will have prepared for every possible scenario, but you will have a much better chance of surviving a disaster scenario if you do have a plan and you know how to use it.  

If you don’t have a plan, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has a great how-to article as well as free templates to create your own Emergency/Disaster Plan (see https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/business-strategy-planning/manage-business/pages/business-continuity-8-steps-building-plan.aspx)

Remote Access – One big eye-opener COVID-19 has presented is the possibility of ordered and/or self-quarantine for individuals who have been exposed or may have been potentially exposed to others who have the virus.  In this scenario or other similar scenarios where individuals cannot come into the workplace, businesses should review their existing remote access capabilities.  Some businesses already have full-functioning remote access for a portion or all their employees.  A note of caution, if you have remote access enabled for some of your employees it’s not a given that you can easily just get the rest of the staff up and running easily.  You will need to look at several things including Internet bandwidth, existing computing capacity/resources, security, licensing, the availability of all software and systems in a remote environment and training for your staff in the event they need to use it.  For those who don’t currently have remote access capabilities, there are several considerations including an inhouse solution built on a VPN or remote access protocol (Citrix, Remote Desktop) or potentially moving your systems to cloud hosting.  Each scenario has its advantages and disadvantages and it’s best to review it with your IT department or provider to assist with the best solution for your business.

Cloud Services – If your business is already 100% on the cloud, then you should have most of the technical aspects of business continuity in the event of a disaster, however, don’t take this for granted.  It’s still important to ask questions regarding disaster scenarios.  Is your cloud solution resilient against a local or regional event?  If your people had to work from home, do they have the proper machine, Internet connection, security, etc. to access systems remotely?  Have you tested this with all employees or at minimum key personnel?

If you are not on the cloud or only partially on the cloud, it would be a good exercise to see what cloud solutions are available at minimum for critical applications (email, financial systems, ERP systems, line of business applications, etc.) or potentially all of your systems.  Speak with your IT staff or provider to assist with the best cloud strategy for your business.

Remote Communications – Good backups and remote access are critical pieces to a disaster scenario plan, but many businesses miss a critical piece that’s necessary to keep productivity levels up – communication.  How will your people, teams and departments, who may be more used to face to face interaction, communicate in a disruptive scenario?  Let’s start with a basic one – the telephone.  Telephone communication has certainly become more accessible with the adoption of VoIP telephony and mobile phones.  VoIP telephony allows for the mobility to make and receive calls anywhere with an Internet connection as well as the flexibility to forward calls to a cell phone, use your pc or laptop as a “soft phone”, etc.  Be cautioned that this functionality is not necessarily setup and ready to go at any time with all systems.  Your systems may need additional configuration and/or licensing to provide this functionality.  That said, it is a good idea to review and test your systems for these scenarios.  If you’re not using VoIP technology for your phone system, it should at minimum be a consideration for your business.

Email is the next obvious one.  If your email is hosted externally, you’re probably OK if you’re hosted with a larger provider (I.e. Microsoft Office365, Google, etc.).  However, if you are with a more local provider or if your email is hosted on an inhouse server, you may want to do some due diligence to ensure you have failover systems in place to cover against internal, local or regional events that may disrupt your service.

Communication doesn’t end with phones and email and relying on just these two modes may be a clunky way of communicating.  There have been great innovations with messaging and team-based communication apps that help to keep Teams functioning and collaborating efficiently whether in or out of the office and you don’t need a disaster scenario to benefit from using them.  One notable app is Microsoft Teams which has basically taken the business world by storm with massive adoption of the app by businesses everywhere.  In fact, I’m using Teams right now to collaborate with a coworker in writing this article.  Teams is a communication and collaboration application that has many features: File sharing and collaboration on files with an individual or group, instant messaging to individuals and groups, audio and video calls with an individual or group, screen sharing and more.  If you’re using Office365 you most likely already have Microsoft Teams available to you as it’s included in most O365 subscriptions.  A great feature of Teams is that all the information can be backed up.  If you are not familiar with Teams, here is a brief video overview from Microsoft- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jugBQqE_2sM.  There are certainly other applications for collaboration that can accomplish similar features to Teams.  In any case, I would highly recommend implementing a remote collaboration solution in your firm to increase productivity every day and prepare you for disruptive scenarios.

Other considerations:

Backups/Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Systems – see this article on Backup vs Business Continuity (https://www.pacetechnical.com/backup-disaster-recovery/)

IT Security –see this article on The Cybersecurity Essentials for your business.

Individual Preparedness – see the Canadian Government’s GetPrepared website (https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/plns/index-en.aspx

As of the writing of this article, we’ve seen major events and conferences cancelled, the NBA season put on hold, an entire country on lockdown, disruption to families travel plans and a major celebrity (Tom Hanks) identified as having COVID-19.  We’re not sure exactly where this is going, but best to take whatever measures we can now to prepare for this and/or any other disaster scenario that presents a threat to businesses.  Hopefully this article has given you some ideas to help your business weather any type of storm.  Please stay safe!

Michael Sugrue is the President of PACE Technical.  PACE Technical is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company providing proactive Managed IT, Cloud Services & IT Security to small and mid-sized technology driven businesses with a focus on the legal industry. PACE’s unique proactive process provides significantly better business and IT results over more traditional IT support models.  We have the people, innovation and infrastructure to help businesses get the most out of their IT investment and keep up with the pace of technology to ensure that your business is more secure, productive and profitable.  For more information see www.pacetechnical.com.
May, 2020 | Article

3 Ways Health And Wellness Programs Boost Your Workplace Experience … And Your Bottom Line

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Author Mr. Mike Gaspar

Whether you’re a small firm just starting out or one that’s well established with hundreds of employees … it would be remiss of you to not constantly be looking for any advantage available to you.  Your first priority is running your business, and making the most out of all your resources is paramount to the success of your business.  Whether you’ve read the articles or seen some stats, the facts are clear … workplace health and wellness programs boost productivity and have a great ROI. 

Here are three ways that workplace health and wellness programs can create a better company culture and boost your bottom line:

1. Health and wellness-related seminars and workshops: 

Seminars and workshops provide your employees with valuable information, on a variety of topics, that they can use to make better decisions and improve their overall health and well-being.  Multiply this effect by the number of employees in your organization and you’re looking at a healthier, happier & more energetic group of people.  Let’s also take a moment to recognize that these events can also pull double duty as a smaller-scale internal networking or team-building event … and they can be a lot of fun too.

Granted that facilitating these events DOES require some work and there are some costs associated with finding and bringing in the right experts to lead these sessions.  You can certainly choose to take on the added responsibility of finding the best talent out there, coordinating schedules, price negotiation, and facilitation of the sessions … but how much spare time do you really have to do that?  Don’t fret … there are companies out there that can do all this for you, and some of them will do the work for you for little to no added cost … seems like a no-brainer. 

Find a company that can facilitate these seminars and workshops and that can help with your overall health and wellness plan and watch your company’s culture flourish and your productivity soar.

2. Providing your employees the tools and resources to create a plan of action based on their newly acquired health and wellness knowledge:

You’ve had the seminar, your office is abuzz with positive energy and everyone wants to start getting healthier … now what; where do they start?  As with any project, a plan of action will keep you on track and help you achieve your goals quicker, and enlisting the help of an expert will help you along that journey.  Let’s say, for example, you’ve just hosted a healthy eating seminar, led by a Registered Dietitian.  Employees are ready to make the change but figuring out the next steps can be a challenge.  Everyone has different responsibilities, priorities, dietary restrictions, etc and thus require an individual plan.  Bringing that Dietitian into your office to have individual appointments with employees bridges that gap between intent and action.  The Dietitian can discuss the employee’s specific situation and then work with them to create a plan. 

That sounds like a lot of work.  The right wellness partner understands that you’re busy and will do the work for you to facilitate those healthcare appointments at your office.  They’ll work with someone at your company, to schedule a day that works for your organization and your employees.

Providing your employees with the knowledge AND the resources to take action is a win-win situation for everyone involved.  Healthier employees are happier, more productive employees, PLUS your employees feel like their employer values them and cares about their well-being.

3. Ergonomics: It’s no surprise that spending endless hours sitting hunched over our laptops puts undue strain on our bodies. 

Sometimes the most effective solutions can be the easiest ones available.  Laptop stands, standing desks, adjusting your chair or monitor to an optimal position are all ways to reduce or relieve the stress on our bodies caused by sitting at a desk, working on our computers on a daily basis.  Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment, and just like anything else, there are experts that can ensure that your employees’ workstations are set up to reduce physical strain.  Making sure that your employees’ workstations are set up in an ergonomically efficient manner creates a more comfortable, relaxed and thus productive physical work environment. 

Do some research, hire an ergonomics expert and get your employees comfortably set up for success. 

Choosing the right wellness partner can allow you to easily offer all of these things in a very cost-effective AND time-efficient manner.  Some of these suggestions are practically free, while some have some associated costs, but none of them need to be expensive. 

Health and wellness initiatives in the workplace are an investment in your organization’s future growth and success, and should be viewed that way.  It’s easier than you think.

1. Decide to invest in your organization’s health and wellness
2. Make a plan, or find a partner to help you make one
3. Sit back and watch your company’s culture and productivity grow.

Mike Gaspar is the Co-Founder and COO of HealthCasa and has 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Mike, and his partner Karen, started HealthCasa in 2017.

After starting a small chain of Chiropody/Podiatry clinics and selling a few years later, Mike set out to solve the inefficiencies plaguing the traditional brick-and-mortar healthcare clinic model.  HealthCasa solves this problem by offering convenient access to Chiropody/Podiatry and orthotics appointments at people's homes, which evolved into offering full-service workplace wellness solutions at corporate offices.  Specializing in providing group wellness seminars AND individual healthcare appointments at your office, HealthCasa is your partner for workplace health and wellness.

May, 2020 | Article

Post COVID 19 – What A Facility Manager Should Know

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Linton, Randall
Author Randall Linton

In this unprecedented time of physical distancing and virtual socializing, facilities teams and workplace health committees have questions about how to prepare their offices for post COVID 19. They have questions about what products and equipment to use, proper protocols and SOW, about PPE’s, and perhaps most of all, who to hire to clean and/or disinfect their facility so it is safe for business as usual. Neither our governments nor health authorities have provided much guidance for making responsible and informed decisions for post COVID 19 activation.

To be clear, I am not a health care professional nor a medical scientist. However, there has been considerable information available to the maintenance industry on how to respond to the above questions. For example, last week, CIRI, (Cleaning Industry Research Institute) held a one-day virtual seminar on the COVID 19 virus. It included everything from what the virus is and how it spreads, to how best to contain it. One key piece of information scientists have revealed is that the COVID 19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) does not survive for more than four days on “fomite” surfaces. Fomite surfaces are inanimate objects that can transmit infectious diseases when contaminated. If an office has been vacant, with no known activity for an entire workweek, then it is very unlikely anyone will be infected.  

The challenge becomes managing the perceptions of staff, who want piece of mind knowing their workplace has been “decontaminated”. Although offices have been “vacant” for weeks, what assurance is there some human activity hasn’t occurred during the day, evenings or weekends? A deep clean of the entire office using industry approved environmentally safe cleaning solutions is prudent. This would include high-touch points, such as light switches, kitchen appliances, door handles, as well as desks, tables, fabric seating and carpet. Many companies already include these in their annual spring-cleaning budget.

For workplaces that have been occupied by a few staff during the time of physical distancing, it is important to have all high-touch points cleaned first and then disinfected using an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved disinfectant. The CDC also links to the EPA product list.  Areas that have been occupied in less than 4 days, a wet “fogging” with an approved disinfectant performed by a trained technician, will provide a safe decontamination of the area. This method disinfects both air and surface contaminates. Technicians performing this work must wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and follow proper decontamination protocols.

The final consideration is who to use to do a deep clean. There have been reports of new inexperienced vendors popping up, some with unethical pricing. Ask your maintenance provider if they understand and practice proper processes and protocols for safely deep cleaning an indoor facility.

With knowledge comes a better understanding of what is right for your situation. Rest assured, your colleagues and staff will want assurance of one thing: that upon their return, they will walk into an office that is both safe and healthy, for them and their families.  

Randall Linton is co-owner of Interior Care Ltd and ServiceNational Canada Inc. He has been in the corporate office and retail store maintenance business, for over 35 years.

He is a community leader through Rotary International and co-founder of his family charitable Foundation. If you would like to reach Randall or comment on his article, please e-mail him at randall@interiorcare.com.

May, 2020 | Article

Microsoft Teams To Empower Your Remote Workforce

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Sanders, Tyler 23apr18
Author Tyler Sanders

Every day, a law firm bustles with tons of critical tasks. There are clients to meet, mountains of information to file and analyze, cases to update, and billings to issue and collect. Even if you have the sharpest concentration, it’s still easy to get distracted by the noise. To make all of this even more challenging, your team is now forced to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic!

Don’t you wish you could instantaneously reach specific people for urgent matters? Or to have information at the tip of your fingers, instead of scouring from app to app? Don’t you just want to simplify things?

Microsoft Teams is here to streamline communication within your organization. Developed by one of the most trusted innovators in technology, Teams is a business communication platform that will revolutionize how you do business.

Gather People In One Place

With Teams, you can simplify channels of communication by creating groups called “teams.” To each team, you can add specific people related to a workflow or functions, like Billing or Case Laws. You can also create teams based on clients or any system that works best for you.

What’s more, under each team, you can create different sections called channels, which are collaboration groups for different issues or deadlines. For example, a team dedicated to Client A can have one channel called “Case Updates,” one called “Upcoming Events,” one called “Billing,” etc. You can add people exclusively to a channel, so you can talk only to the people who need to be there, cutting to the chase and upping your productivity.

Consolidate Your Most-Used Apps

While talking to your colleagues, you might need to consult your notes or a spreadsheet to verify information. Switching from one app to another can get confusing and can delay the relay of data. Thankfully, Teams takes care of those issues by allowing Microsoft and third-party application integration.

Teams consolidates all your apps so you can easily use what you need with just a few clicks. Need to work on a document? Microsoft Word is available within Teams where you can store documents. The notes during your last client meeting? Check the OneNote tab on Teams. Upcoming deadlines? Your Outlook calendar is available with Teams. Need to have documents signed? Click on SignEasy. Apart from apps, you can also add bots, tabs, or messaging extensions to Teams. Simply click Store in the bottom-left of the app, and select the extensions you want to add.

Collaborate In A Secure Environment

With people and technology coming together in one app, working together becomes more efficient. Teams also supports chatting, audio and video calling, and web conferencing with people inside or outside of your law firm, so you can reach out to key persons faster.

Collaborate your heart out in Teams, as all lines of communication can be protected with end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication. Teams can also be placed on Legal Hold, which preserves and backs up all internal and external correspondences made on the app. Should an instance arise that necessitates you to review previous messages, Legal Hold makes sure that you have a copy of all relevant information that pertains to the investigation. In other words, not only do you not have to worry about prying eyes, but you also never have to worry about losing information.

Microsoft Teams is your ideal virtual hub that can help your law firm achieve its maximum productivity, especially during this difficult work-from-home structure.

Tyler Sanders is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Vertex Solutions Corporation, an IT Managed Services and Cloud provider that specialize in IT Solutions for Law Firms. Vertex’s focus is to work closely with their clients to understand and leverage technology to overcome business challenges and provide them a competitive advantage.  

Security is a core component to the services Vertex provides and they have a comprehensive library of interactive online security training videos along with a process to simulate cyber-attacks to uncover deficiencies in end-user awareness and training.    

Tyler has over 25-years’ experience as an IT Professional an can be reached at tsanders@vertexcorp.ca or 416-628-3721 x 222 and more information can be found at https://www.vertexcorp.ca.

May, 2020 | Article

Member Spotlight

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Author Louise McNeely

At TLOMA, we provide education, professional development, mentorship, and support to our Membership. Through these initiatives, TLOMA members are offered both a professional and social network of professionals working in law firms of all sizes. To encourage members to grow their network at TLOMA, we would like to profile TLOMA members in each issue of TLOMA Today to give readers a snapshot of who we are within the legal industry.

Name: Louise McNeely

How long have you been a member of TLOMA? At least 35 years, but who’s counting?

Where do you work? I am the Office Manager of Laxton Glass LLP

What do you enjoy most about working in the legal industry? I’ve met many wonderful people working in legal while forming lasting friendships.  TLOMA really makes a difference in making my work enjoyable.

Describe a career accomplishment that you are particularly proud of: I would have to say that completing the CGA (Certified General Accountants) program many years ago really sticks in my mind as something that I am very proud of.

Where was the last place you vacationed? I don’t really take vacations the same way other people do. Most of my vacation time is used for Rotary volunteer work. I travelled to Nogales, Mexico, 3 years in a row in January to volunteer in an international (Mexico, Canada, U.S.) humanitarian project. I have also been on the organizing committee for the Mississauga Rotary Camp Enterprise which is a 4 day business camp for students from grades 11 and 12 who are taught entrepreneurial principles. At Christmastime, I go to Ottawa (my hometown) to be with my sisters and their families.

What is your favorite lunch spot during the workweek? If going out for lunch during the week you might find me at the Duke of Westminster at First Canadian Place or at The Keg on York Street.

What is the name of your favorite restaurant? This is probably the easiest question to answer – Le Papillon on Front Street in Toronto or Thyme in Mississauga.

What is your favorite movie? One of my favourite movies is “Dead Again” with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thomson.

What is your favorite book? Any books by Jeffrey Archer or Louise Penny.

What is your favorite artist/band you got to see live in concert? I have attended many concerts. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but at the top of the list would be Chicago, Earth, Wind and Fire and Rod Stewart.

What is your favorite sports team? Anyone who has seen me at the TLOMA conferences over the years knows that I am a huge Toronto Blue Jays fan.

What are your favorite hobbies? I am an avid bridge player. I am a member of the ACBL (American Contract Bridge League). I love to knit and of course Mickey Mouse collectibles.

Name one thing you can't live without? I would hate to live without my car. I love to drive and it is nothing for me to visit friends 2 hours away to meet for lunch. My car represents freedom for me, it allows me to come and go as I please.

If you could have a 60-minute conversation with anyone (fictional, famous, not famous, etc.) – who would you choose? It’s a tough choice, but I would choose Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, or Ellen Degeneres. I admire them for the contributions that they make for the good of the world.

What are some of your pet peeves? I have a few: Pedestrians who walk while reading or typing on their smartphones and do not pay attention to the traffic lights or the traffic around them; people who leave their pets in the car while they run into the store; Uber/Lyft drivers who do not follow the rules of the road; and misbehaved children in restaurants.

If you are interested in participating in the Member Spotlight feature of TLOMA Today to share some of your experiences at TLOMA, please email editor@tloma.com for more information.

May, 2020 | Movers and Shakers
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Movers and Shakers

New Members

Mary Giovinazzo

Manager, Human Resources

Law Society of Ontario

Mia Hempey

CEO

Nelligan Law

Salem Mehari

Practice Manager

Battista Smith Migration Law Group

Christina Porretta

General Counsel

BDO Canada LLP

Aida Tabesh

Financial Controller

Fox Vanounou Porcelli LLP

Elinor Taroy

Office Manager

Method Law Professional Corporation

Moved

Derek McDonald

Office Manager/Bookkeeper

Falconeri Rumble Harrison LLP

Retired

Caroline Burns

Human Resources Manager, Legal Assistants

Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP

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