0

mtosuabThey always promise you that you can set up a blog site for free with their help. There are actually a lot of catches in setting up a blog for free. Two of the mentioned are adding the website’s name as a sub-domain and not being able to control your own website. There are actually more reasons why getting a self-hosted blog site is much better. This article will be about the other tricks that free hosts do after they tell you about how their services are free.

Aside from not being able to have your own domain, you can’t also decorate your website with different themes (not the ones with HTML codes, but the templates of layouts you want your website to look like). Since you will be able to choose from a few templates of layouts, your website’s look is most probably not original looking since you are not the only one setting up a blog from that free site. Also, you can’t invest in earning from a free website. Of course, if you want to earn by using the free hosted site then the main site would want their share, which is 50%-60%. There is no way you can earn with that kind of share!

How Do You Start A Blog For The Next Topic?

There are many ways how you can start the next blog but how do you start a blog for your second week or second month? If you write movie reviews then you should write blogs according to the releases of the movies. Also if you write articles about movies, you are most likely to get traffic for your site since a lot of people await trailers of a lot of movies for the year.

A way to get a lot of audiences is by getting an SEO expert. SEO means search engine optimizer or people who help you get your website be in the top search results. When you get on the top detach results, you are most likely to get noticed by the people who always utilize search engines like Google, WebCrawler, Bing, and other search engines. How do you start a blog with the help of search engine optimize experts? A way for asking help is by paying search engine optimize experts to edit your blog sites and they can make your website be in the top results. There are several search engine optimize experts in the internet that can help you boost the fame of your blog site.

0

confused-timesIn a competitive market like that for data recovery services, it is definitely hard to figure out exactly where to get affordable data recovery. However, if you are keen and meticulous in your research, you will definitely find the company with the best, most affordable price. Hit the web and you’re bound to find a lot of good players in the market. With just a few clicks and researching skills, you can identify the best among them. But you have to avoid scams and other fraudulent activities that are there in order to secure your money. Keep in mind that the internet market can be convenient and less costly but it is often a venue for fake sellers.

As much as possible, you have to know the credibility of the company selling its services. It should provide a money back guarantee or other terms that can ensure a return on your investment. Do not be lured in by affordable offers right away. Sometimes you get what you pay for so it is advised to shop around.

Data Recovery Costs Differ By Company, Device

Data recovery service costs are not the same at all companies. Different companies have different offers and pricing. In fact, some of them add features that other companies cannot provide. Because of this, some data recovery companies have costs that are higher among others. It is rarely an apples-to-apples comparison. Also, remember that pricing for recovering a simple hard drive will be different than that of a RAID server (as noted here). Always remember that you do not always get what you want when it comes to prices. If you are paying an extremely low price, there is always a possibility that the benefits you get are also minimal. This is why it is important that you consider several factors first before you choose a vendor.

If you have to go the data recovery software route for your recovery (as in situations like this), buy good and high quality software from a reliable company. Do not be fooled by positive claims posted on the website of an online retailer. Read a lot of unbiased reviews and weigh the pros and cons of buying the product from the different providers. There are always positive and negative benefits of data recovery software. You must make a knowledgeable choice, for sure, and also make sure that you are actually dealing with a drive problem that can actually be fixed by software. Not every problem can be!

0

Reducing time to a matter of numbers or a tangible commodity is neither productive nor sustainable. While most time management resources have presented good introductory steps to a more constructive allocation of time, such as avoiding interruptions and creating “to do” lists, they have only done so in the context of short-term, work-oriented solutions to the challenges of time use. The person who focuses his attention on “time saving” strategies is still ultimately dissatisfied when he discovers, in spite of his most well-informed efforts, time has still elapsed.

Time management cannot live up to its promise. According to the theory, if we become more efficient in doing the tasks we do not like, then we will have more time in which to do the things we do like. However, the emphasis on efficiency creates an imbalance that often leads to burn-out. Like a crash-dieter, the employee who focuses exclusively on being productive, at the cost of relationships, health and personal development, will not be an effective performer for very long.

tdmThis is especially true in today’s market, in which people are challenged to work longer hours, and in which the spatial and temporal boundaries of work have been blurred by changes in business roles and technology. During the early 1990’s, businesses streamlined their operations and focused on providing convenience for the maximum volume of customers. “One-stop shopping” and computerized phone “menus” became the norm. These innovations were designed to reduce the amount of time used for transacting business. Now the backlash of this trend is becoming evident. Many customers have become tired of being treated like numbers, and are now seeking better relationships with service providers, even if it means investing more time. Several current advertising campaigns in the financial services, retail and health care industries are emphasizing a renewed commitment to building relationships with customers; this reflects an understanding customer loyalty is worth the time investment.

Another effect of streamlining business is, due to the pressure caused by downsizing and consolidation, many employees feel forced to work 10 percent to 20 percent more just to keep their jobs. In addition, the great majority of the workforce does not expect to work for the same company – or even in the same career – for very long. Recent surveys indicate the average tenure of top executives is only 2 to 3 years. This lack of organizational stability and individual loyalty, combined with the trend of “outsourcing,” has led to an exponential increase in the ranks of independent contractors and entrepreneurs.

Further complicating our time challenge is the fact technological innovations are erasing the boundaries between work and personal life. Many employees are now telecommuting or running home-based businesses. Even for employees in traditional office settings, the use of personal computers, cellular phones, pagers, faxes and other innovations makes it increasingly difficult to tell where work ends and the rest of life begins. Television commercials create the impression it is possible to conduct a business meeting while playing with our children at the beach. In fact, it is nearly impossible to create a perfect balance between these demanding activities, and our performance (in this case, as parents and professionals) inevitably suffers.

Once upon a time, work ended when we turned off the light and left the office; now, we use the cell phone on the way home, and the PC uplink at night.

In this context, given the pressure to be efficient and the means to do it 24 hours per day, the time challenge has changed. It is now more important than ever, in the absence of structured schedules, for you to identify your goals and choose activities supporting those goals.

Solving the Problem

Forget about “managing” time, and focus on investing it in the activities that yield specific rewards meeting your professional and personal needs. Since you have no choice but to use your time, make sure you get what you want in exchange.

There are only four types of activities in which we invest our time, and the categories are defined by the rewards they yield. We can SELL time for activities that yield the rewards of material compensation, status or professional development. We can GIVE time to activities yielding the rewards of relationships with friends, family and loved ones. We can SPEND time on activities yielding the rewards of personal development and growth. Or, we can PASS time on activities allowing us to recharge our batteries, through rest or entertainment.

This model of time use is flexible, and can be interpreted to fit the life of the person – or the culture of the organization – using it. Each category of time use is subjective; activities such as reading may provide a personal development benefit (spending time) to one person, and a professional development benefit (selling time) benefit to another. The first step to improving our use of time is understanding the sources of our motivation: Why are you reading this article right now?

Once you identify the activities in your life that reflect the four categories, construct your “Time Investment Portfolio (TIP)[C].” Evaluate how many hours per week you are devoting to activities in each of the four areas – is your portfolio profile consistent with your goals? One additional way to make this clear is to do one worksheet for your current TIP, and a separate worksheet for your ideal TIP.

Organizational leaders, generally speaking, do not know the most important thing about their employees. How do your colleagues and employees perceive time in their lives, and how does this impact their performance on the job? In a recent study I conducted for several southern California school districts, administrators were shocked to learn that teachers, on average, wanted to sell six hours less per week to their jobs, even if their pay was increased. Imagine the implications for performance and morale.

Matching the dominant time allocation of an individual with the key responsibilities of his/her position is extremely important. Picture a lawyer doing the job of a counselor or a teacher. The two positions require different orientations to time; a seller of time does not perform well in a job that requires a giving time orientation. Similarly, a mathematician (spending time) who pores over a problem for hours without noticing will sink the law firm (selling time) that depends on his billable hours. The TIP model may be used to assess both an individual’s time investment, and the time investment requirements of the position and organization, to further determine the potential for a successful match.

In this era of innovation and change, an organization’s chief resource is people. The most valuable asset to those people is their time, and how they use it to get what they want. Both you and your company can benefit from optimizing your use of time in order to heighten your satisfaction and morale, to improve your performance and to increase your profitability.

0

The moment has come to adjust the old workplace to the new work force. As history has shown us’ the only effective way to bring about basic change is through collective action. Such a movement would have to face certain fundamental issues. As a start, since the corporation absorbs increasing amounts of family time, it is the corporation that we most need to change. Research on large companies indicates that it is hardly prudent to rely on company executives as our architects of time. Whatever their stated goals, whatever they believe they are doing, they are likely to exacerbate, not relieve, the time bind of their workers.

Therefore, a time movement would need to find its center outside the corporation, however important it may be to cooperate with advocates of family-friendly policies inside the company. The struggle for the eight-hour day that began in the nineteenth century and triumphed in the thirties was spearheaded mainly by unionized male workers. A new time movement would have to be made up of a wider range of stakeholders and the organizations that represent them. Male and female workers, labor unions, child advocates and feminists, as well as work-family balance advocates and even the leaders of some progressive companies, would act as the vanguard of such a campaign.

whcSupporters of the eight-hour day strove to expand the leisure time of workers but said little about families per se. Perhaps this was because most unionized workers at that time were men not responsible for the direct care of children. But now that most mothers are on the job, work time is inextricably linked to family life. A new time movement would need to focus far more on the nature of this linkage. On the other hand, corporations that do provide family-friendly programs tend to associate these programs only with middle-class women, leaving out middle-class men as well as the working class and poor of both genders. Clearly, although women would be a significant constituency of a time movement, men have just as much to gain. Male workers, who often average longer hours than women and whose presence is often sorely missed at home, need a time movement at least as much as women do.

As my study of Amerco (a pseudonym for a Fortune 500 company that offers options for shorter hours that few workers take advantage of) has shown, however, even when the jobs of working parents are secure, pay a sufficient wage and provide family-friendly programs, many working parents are still reluctant to spend more time at home. American fathers spend less time at home than mothers do, expand their work hours when children are small and, if Amerco is any indication, are reluctant to take paternity leaves. We know from previous research that many men have found a haven at work. This isn’t news. The news is that growing numbers of working women are leery of spending more time at home as well. They feel guilty and stressed out by long hours at work, but they feel ambivalent about cutting back on those hours.

Women fear losing their place at work; having such a place has become a source of security, pride and a powerful sense of being valued. As a survey conducted by Bright Horizons (a Boston-based company that runs on-site daycare centers in twenty-three states) indicates, women are just as likely to feel appreciated as men at the workplace; as likely as men to feel underappreciated at home; and even more likely than men to have friends at work. To cut back on work hours means risking loosening ties to a world that, tension-filled as it is, offers insurance against even greater tension and uncertainty at home. For a substantial number of time-bound working parents, the stripped-down home and the community-denuded neighborhood are simply losing out to the pull of the workplace.

Many women are thus joining men in a flight from the “inner city” of home to the “suburbs” of the workplace. In doing so, they have absorbed the views of an older, male-oriented work world about what a “real career” and “full commitment to the job” really mean. Women now make up nearly half the labor force. The vast majority of them need and want to be there. There is definitely no going back. But women have entered the workplace on “male” terms. It would be less problematic for women to adopt a male model of work–to finally enjoy privileges formerly reserved for men–if the male model of work were one of balance. But it is not.

All this is unsettling news, in part because the children of working parents are being left to adjust to or resist the time bind–and all of its attendant consequences–more or less on their own. It is unsettling because while children remain precious to their parents, the “market value” of the world in which they are growing up has declined drastically. One need not compare their childhoods with a perfect childhood in a mythical past to conclude that our society needs to face up to a serious problem.

But the role of a movement for the reform of work time should not be limited to encouraging companies to offer policies allowing shorter or more flexible hours. As my research has shown, such policies may serve as little more than fig leaves concealing a long-hour work culture. A time movement would also need to challenge the premises of that work culture. It would ask: Are workers judged mainly on the excellence of their performance, or mainly on the amount of time they are present at the workplace? Is there a culture of trust that allows workers to pinch-hit for one another as needs arise? Is there job security? The answers to these questions are crucial, for shorter hours can have little appeal as long as employees fear that the long hours they now work may disappear entirely.

To start with, a time movement should press to restructure corporate incentives. For example, the Commerce Department could be pressured to broaden the criteria for receipt of its coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (annually given to companies for outstanding achievement in meeting the standards of “performance excellence”) to include the successful implementation of family-friendly programs as measured by the number of employees who actually use them. How many working parents at a given company report that they have enough time for their families? How many go to P.T.A. meetings? How many volunteer in the schools? These could be signs of a company’s success in establishing a work-family balance.

Then, too, a time movement must not shy away from opening a national dialogue on the most difficult and frightening aspect of our time bind: the need for emotional investment in family life in an era of familial divestiture and deregulation. It would have to force a public reckoning with private ways out of the time bind–emotional asceticism, the love affair with capitalism, the repeatedly postponed plans of the potential self–that seem only to worsen the situation.

Finally, a time movement would need to compel us to face the issue of gender. In the early stages of the women’s movement many feminists, myself included, pushed for restructuring work life to allow for shorter hours, more flexible jobs and restructuring of home life so that men could get in on the action. But over the years, this part of the women’s movement seems to have surrendered the initiative to feminists more concerned with helping women break through the corporate glass ceiling into long-hour careers. A time movement would have to bring us all back to the question of how women can truly become men’s equals in a more child-oriented and civic-minded society.

A time movement would need to tackle a number of other tough questions as well. How many hours a day, a week, a year, should people work? How can we press for better work environments without inadvertently making them havens from life at home? How can both partners in a relationship achieve a stable and compatible understanding of work-family balance? In an era of growing income inequality, how can more time be made available to the working poor as well as to the better off?

Sweden, a global competitor long held up as a model of work-family balance, allows 360 days of parental leave, thirty at 85 percent pay and 210 at 75 percent–and 78 percent of fathers take part of it. In addition, Sweden offers up to 120 days of leave a year at 75 percent of income for the care of sick children.

Travelers in Sweden quickly sense that they are in a child-friendly environment. (Even trains have children’s play areas with little slides, crawl spaces and tables.) Swedish family policy specifies that children have the right to be looked after properly while their parents work. The government subsidizes childcare, maintaining high standards for secure and stimulating environments at childcare centers nationwide.

In the nineties, Sweden has become a model in a more unexpected way as well. Pressured by more conservative members of the European Union, Sweden has taken tentative steps to cut back on family benefits for working parents. In response, grassroots protest groups have sprung up across the country. The Children’s Lobby, established in 1991, is fighting cuts in children’s benefits, as is Support Stockings, a group formed by women from all the main political parties. It has even threatened to create a separate party if politicians don’t work harder to support family-friendly issues. In opinion polls, a third of Swedish women indicated that they might vote for such a party.

Any successful movement for social change begins with a vision of life as it could be, with the notion that something potential could become real. So let’s imagine a mother picking up her daughter at childcare twice a week at 3 RM. instead of 6 RM. Picture a father working half-day Fridays and volunteering at his child’s center. Let’s imagine P.T.A. meetings to which a large majority of the parents come, and libraries where working parents can afford to devote their spare time to reading or literacy programs, or community gardens in which they and their children have the leisure to grow vegetables. Picture too the voting booths in which parents choose candidates who make flexible worktime possible.

But vision alone will not be enough. A time movement will not succeed without changes in many of the underlying social conditions that make it necessary. The rising power of global capitalism, the relative decline of labor unions and the erosion of civil society will all test the resolve of such a movement. Yet it should not be forgotten that such trends not only tighten the time bind we live with but highlight the urgent need for a way to gain release from it. Job scarcity can make people “work scared” (and thus work longer hours), but it could also allow corporations and unions to look at ways to share more lower-hour jobs. Under the right political and social conditions, the growth of technology, which is extending the “anywhere, anytime” workplace into the home, might help people balance work and family, even as it squeezes non-worktime even more.

Finally, I believe that the rising number of women in the labor force–and their partners–are a growing constituency for a time movement. This is especially true for those in the middle ranks of the corporate world. It is these workers whose potential selves–if not yet their real ones–are clamoring for more time at home. At a hypothetical meeting of time activists, a unionized auto worker who wants to cut down on overtime in order to give hours back to laid-off comrades may yet join together with an upper-middle-class, nonunion working mom who wants to job-share. Both could find common cause in their children. The most ardent constituency for a solution to the time bind are those too young as yet to speak up.

0

Employment law specialists feel companies should not expect the current relaxed climate to continue. At some point, they say, the Health and Safety Executive in likely to choose to make an example of at least one company in a high-profile case. Companies should therefore make sure that, at the very least, they introduce basic monitoring of staff hours so that they will have some data to back up their case.

The problems of timekeeping solutions

wtsBut finding ways to track employees’ working hours effectively can be difficult. First, the regulations don’t make it clear whether activities such as travelling to meetings or holding informal discussions with colleagues over lunch count as working time. Second, many timekeeping solutions are problematical when it comes to IT staff because they don’t always work from a single location or keep regular hours.

Helen Jerry, a solicitor with Magrath & Co who specialises in employment law, points out that the headache of monitoring hours is compounded in the IT sector by the fact that many staff resent the imposition of patriarchal systems and what they see as unnecessary paperwork Dr Robina Chatham, a lecturer in information systems at Cranfield School of Management, agrees: “When timesheets are introduced, productivity can go down because people start clock-watching,” she says. “It creates a culture in which people feel there’s no give-and-take in their direction, so they don’t offer any back”

One solution suggested by Jerry in for employers to include terms in contracts which oblige staff to keep their own records of their working hours and to supply them to their employer on request. Keith Statham, general manager of time and attendance systems supplier Kronos, offers the view that where IT teams have not recorded their hours in the past, time and attendance software could be presented as a way to track activities, not just hours, in order to help managers understand how resources are being applied. Monitoring of hours worked to comply with the regulations can then be undertaken as a byproduct of collecting this activity data.

Contract employees’ rights

You also need to look at how the regulations will affect contract staff as well as permanent employees. Short-term contractors can acquire rights under the regulations, such as the right to paid holidays, because the regulations have been drafted to apply to “workers” rather than simply “employees”. Only genuinely self-employed contractors in business on their own account will automatically be exempt. David Coward, a legal consultant to human resources consultancy Hemmingway, advises IT managers who use contractors to make sure either that they are genuinely self-employed or that their contracts are carefully worded to ensure they are excluded from the regulations. To avoid the annual leave entitlement, he suggests contracts should be for a limited period, ideally less than 13 weeks.

The main concern among IT employers who are taking the regulations seriously, according to Jerry has been to draft contract clauses for permanent staff agreeing to opt out of the 48hour limit. A major risk here, she warns, is that incentives offered to stuff to sign these opt-out clauses must not disadvantage those who choose not to opt out. “For example, you can’t offer a straight bonus for contracting out,” she says. “Any bonuses would have to relate to output, not hours worked, and should be concerned with issues like quality as well as quantity, in order to give people who haven’t opted out a chance to make up ground on those that have.”

However, Chatham feels IT department should not be looking to get around the regulations but instead should be using them as a way to challenge the current long-hours culture which, she claims, is actually counter-productive. “These days, people often feel it’s important to be seen to be there, even if there’s no real work to do,” she says. “I’ve even see people create ‘work’ to allow them to stay late.”

She believes that encouraging your staff to work shorter hours may actually increase their output — and she has practical experience to prove her point. In a previous job, she worked for a boss who had been a workaholic putting in long hours and expecting his staff to do the same — until his wife became seriously ill and his perspective on family life changed. After that, she says, he sent everyone home at 5.30pm but found that the productivity of the department soared because staff were no longer so tired or stressed.

While some of this increased productivity will come from staff working more intensively during these shorter hours, Chatham says better management techniques can also help. For example, is work being allocated or delegated properly? Chatham knows of occasions when some staff have been overworked while colleagues have been underemployed. Better project management will also minimise time wasted on fire-fighting and rework “People often leap into coding and don’t spend enough time on analysis up front, so that work is wasted,” she says.

Workers’ rights

Employers cannot expect workers to complete more than 48 hours a week averaged over a reference period of up to 17 weeks. Night workers should not work for more than an average of eight hours in any 24-hour period Workers are entitled to an uninterrupted rest period of at least 24 hours in each seven-day period (or 48 hours in a 14-day period) and an uninterrupted daily rest period of at least 11 hours

Since 23 November 1999 workers have entitled to at least four weeks annual leave Workers may waive some of these rights by signing a written agreement with their employer. This agreement may be terminated by either side giving between seven days’ and three months’ notice Any pressure placed on workers to opt out of the regulations may be unlawful. Workers choosing not to opt out should not be placed at a disadvantage compared to those choosing to do so

Employers must keep sufficient records to allow them to demonstrate they are complying with the regulations

0

A major new marketing battle is taking shape in the telecommunications world, as two once-separate areas – voice and data – converge, putting traditional voice network vendors face-to-face with the relatively new data players.

While the eventual winner in the converging datacom marketplace may be decided on the basis of product, players are putting their bets on branding and customer focus in what represents a significant cultural shift for companies once focused solely on product specs.

On the data side, the Big Three players – Cisco Systems, San Jose, Calif.; Bay Networks, Toronto; and 3Com Corp., Santa Clara, Calif. – are striving to position themselves as innovative data pioneers that also happen to be unfailingly dependable. This is a critical point in the highly sensitive telecom area, which prides itself on its 24×7 – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – dependability.

On the traditional voice network equipment side, vendors such as Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent Technologies and Toronto-based Northern Telecom are fighting for a piece of the wildly growing data action by pushing their established track records.

Between the data and voice worlds, the product that may determine who will win this battle is the router switch, or the switched router. It’s a piece of equipment that has the intelligence of a data router and the speed of a voice switch, and the ability to put voice, video and data traffic on one network.

Marketing differs greatly

So far, however, the players have been focusing their resources on the marketing front, taking markedly different approaches. Some are pouring money into advertising where they’re again divided between trying a more consumer-oriented focus and sticking with traditional business-to-business outlets. Still other competitors are focusing on one-to-one marketing and the Internet as a sales channel.

csCisco is the leader in Internet data network equipment, with an estimated 70% to 90% of Internet traffic running on Cisco routers.

However, the company spends little money on advertising and instead pours its marketing dollars into customer education programs, face-to-face marketing and its Web site (http://www.cisco.com), where it sold more than 52% of its products last year.

In that one-to-one marketing environment, Cisco executives say, they can control their message and positioning, and keep customer relations personalized.

“We don’t do a lot of advertising and haven’t to date. Our go-to-market [strategy] has been focused on facts and education,” said Keith Fox, Cisco’s VP-worldwide corporate marketing. “Most of our marketing communication is centered around our Web site.

“It’s a new-age model of communications. I would say we work hard to let people get access to information that we know.”

Basic Cisco plan remains

The one area where Cisco does some print advertising is in support of its partners in the Cisco Powered Networks program. More than 70 service providers use mostly Cisco equipment and in return can use the Cisco brand as a stamp of quality.

Launched last year, the Cisco Powered Networks program is classic ingredient branding, similar to “Intel Inside” or Nutrasweet campaigns.

While Cisco may begin to advertise more, Mr. Fox said, the basic Cisco plan will remain.

“Are we going to get into an advertising war with anyone? No. We’ll continue to keep our current marketing plan about the customer experience,” he said.

On the other end of the spectrum is Bay Networks, which early this year launched an aggressive advertising campaign that includes network TV.

Jeffrey Brooks, Bay’s VP-brand management, comes from brand management in the consumer marketing division of Sony Corp. and wants to push this market where it hasn’t gone before.

“New demands are being placed on this business,” Mr. Brooks said. “I felt there was little definition being made by computer and networking industry to establish their role.”

In search of value

Bay’s strategy is to target what it calls CXOs or C-level executives – CEOs, chief financial officers, chief operating officers and chief information officers – along with the traditional data networking targets, the technology community and business partners.

“As the convergence transpires, a few things will happen,” Mr. Brooks said. “No. 1 is people will migrate to brands they are familiar with, and No. 2, they’ll move to the brand with the highest value proposition. Our strategy is to get there and have the value.”

3Com is also beginning to move down the consumer path with an estimated $20 million brand effort that’s part of a $100 million worldwide campaign. Its first corporate brand advertising on television is set for this fall.

“Most high-tech firms historically and by definition are very technology and product focused,” said Jerry Johnston, 3Com’s VP-corporate marketing. “And a product organization is very sales driven, much different than a customer-centric organization. 3Com is becoming more customer focused and promoting ourselves in terms of solutions and applications, rather than products and technology.

“It’s a pretty big shift and a huge cultural change in this industry,” Mr. Johnston said.

Meanwhile, voice players are also lining up new marketing efforts.

Lucent, the former AT&T network equipment unit, is a traditional voice powerhouse and wants to lead the way once again with converged equipment.

“As voice and data converge, this is actually our turf and someplace where we feel very comfortable,” said Kathy Fitzgerald, Lucent’s senior VP-public relations and advertising. “We position ourselves as the best, especially to understand that companies need data networks to be as reliable as voice networks.”

This month, Lucent breaks a new campaign, including a Business Week supplement and network TV spots during “60 Minutes” and “Meet the Press.”

Battle lines drawn

Still, while Lucent may be a software giant, it has a lot of old-world voice equipment going out the door. Smaller data companies will be using brand building and marketing to gain their own share of the new market.

“The battle lines are drawn,” 3Com’s Mr. Johnston said. “Who’s going to win? Is it datacom companies that know the intricacies of the data world? Or is it the voice guys who have good reliability but higher-cost models? It’ll come down to who do service providers go to, Lucent or 3Com? It’s one thing to talk about it, but in the end, you’re only as good as the network you build.”

1

The following companies offer exceptional flextime benefits (companies are from Fortune magazine’s annual list of the Top 100 Companies to Work For):

* At Great Plains, a business software company in Fargo, N.D., where women compose half of the workforce, employees are offered laptops so they can telecommute and keys to company buildings so they can set their own hours.

At WRQ, a software maker in Seattle, 95 percent of employees take advantage of flextime hours.

fth

* AFLAC, an insurer based in Georgia, opened an on-site childcare center that houses 280 children and grandchildren of employees. That’s not all. AFLAC’s employees can take up to 12 weeks at full pay to care for an ill spouse, child, or parent. Not surprisingly, women make up 70 percent of the workforce there. Johnson & Johnson and MBNA both offer six on-site day care centers for working mothers.

Other perks created to ease the employees’ burden: Hewitt reports that 42 percent of employers offer some type of on-site personal service, for example, ATMs (62 percent), banking (39 percent), travel services (36 percent), and dry cleaning (29 percent). With the lowest unemployment rate in decades, companies are realizing they must take these extra measures to attract the best employees.

Why this need for more time off? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of the workforce made up by females will increase from 46 percent in 1998 to 48 percent in 2008; 21 million women are expected to enter the labor force by 2008. All age groups of women are expected to increase. By 2008, however, 27 percent of women in the workforce will be ages 25 to 54–prime years for childbearing and childrearing. Employers who want to attract top talent in both sexes will have to take a look at family-friendly policies.

Other factors influencing the number of women in the workplace include state and federal welfare reform initiatives that emphasize moving women from welfare to work; these reforms will increasingly affect women with young children.

The increase in the number of companies offering flexible scheduling may be due in part to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (see sidebar). The percentage of full-time employees in midsize to large companies who received leave (paid or unpaid) rose from 39 percent in 1991 to 63 percent in 1993, to 86 percent in 1995, to 95 percent in 1997. Paternity leave coverage jumped from 27 percent in 1991 to 95 percent in 1997. The timing of coverage changes indicates that at least some of the shift may be due to FMLA, which was enacted in 1993.

As more women enter the labor force and the demand for childcare increases, employer-assisted care may become an increasingly powerful incentive for job seekers.

Potential employees will also demand eldercare–using paid or unpaid time off to care for elderly dependents such as parents, grandparents, or an elderly spouse. An article in Visions, an online publication of the Society for Human Resource Management, reports that in 1994, 25 percent of the elderly required assistance with daily living activities; that translates into 5.7 million who rely on family caregivers. And yes, almost two-thirds of the caregivers also hold full-time jobs. According to a U. S. Labor Department Women’s Bureau fact sheet, 50 percent of workers with eldercare responsibilities reported taking time off, going to work late, or working fewer hours. As the population ages and employees are required to care for aging relatives, more and more will require flexible work schedules and eldercare programs. The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that flextime, telecommuting, and job sharing were three policies caregivers said would best ease their burden.

Companies should be aware of cultural issues when it comes to the future of eldercare: in Asian and Hispanic cultures, tradition dictates that elders be cared for in the home. The Labor Department estimates that the Hispanic labor force will grow four times faster than the rest of the labor pool, eventually accounting for 13 percent of the total in 2008.

How will we keep track of it all? Enough of the fact that we need more time; the question is how will employers keep track of employees’ time? And how will they do it without sacrificing their own time?

Gone are the days of the 9-to-5, 40-hour workweek. Companies are finding out if they want to record employees’ time accurately, they need to explore a range of time-keeping devices. Methods other than the traditional time clock are used; advances in software have lead to the creation of time and attendance systems.

Think the old time recorders of yesteryear are passe? At Acroprint Time Recorder Inc., a manufacturer in Raleigh, N.C., these manual recorders still constitute 45 percent of the company’s business. Why? The main reason is money. A bottom-of-the-line time recorder is listed at $395 (MSRP), whereas a sophisticated time and attendance system can run upwards of $4,000.

Another reason is simply the need. Says Glenn Robbins, president of Acroprint, “People need to keep accurate records of their employees; they’ll always need that. The way you do it is changing. As long as there are small businesses that are pinching their pennies, there will always be a market for these less expensive, manual machines.”

Acroprint machines usually sell to companies with fewer than 100 employees, to “just about everybody in the service industry and places that use a lot of temps,” Robbins explains.

Acroprint also sells more elaborate time and attendance systems involving badge swiping, bar-code reading, and fingerprint identification–these are known as input devices. Acroprint’s configurable data collection terminals are the most versatile and can be configured to accept one or more of these devices. These types of systems are mostly used in companies such as “jewelry stores; places that keep a fairly expensive inventory or documents,” says Robbins.

Small businesses without these needs are better suited for a basic model. They’re more durable than the new terminals. “These things will last 25 years, whereas the electronic and computerized ones are going to wear out much faster–in five or six years,” says Robbins.

Other companies offering both hardware and software for time and attendance are Latham Time Corp. based in Atlanta, and Amano Cincinnati Inc. (ACI).

These are all well and good for temps or hourly workers, but what about salaried employees who don’t ordinarily punch a time clock? Robbins believes these types of workers may be asked to keep track of their attendance one day; employers will always need to track employee attendance. “There have been a number of lawsuits out there. [One] is a case in which some tellers sued their bank for working more than 40 hours a week and won. The employer said, ‘You’re salaried.’ So the tellers received just salary. But the tellers were made to work two or three extra hours a week, and they would have their pay docked by the hour. The issue of whether you’re entitled to overtime is a real fuzzy picture.”

In the future, time recorders will be more elaborate, using voice recognition, retinal scans, and proximity readers, which use radio frequencies. Acroprint can create these customized systems today, but they’re expensive.

“People still need to keep accurate records of their employees–they’ll always need that. The way you do it is changing. It’s going from the least accurate way to do it–you have a human totaling hours on the cards–to the age of personal computers. With computers, payroll preparation was cut in half. They totaled hours automatically, saved time and money, and were more accurate,” Robbins says.

“Anybody with a payroll would be prudent to have a time and attendance system,” he adds

This ensures that time is on the side of employers. Yes, it is.

Stats

The percentage of full-time employees in midsize to large companies who received leave (paid or unpaid) rose from 39 percent in 1991 to 63 percent in 1993, to 86 percent in 1995, to 95 percent in 1997. Paternity leave coverage jumped from 27 percent in 1991 to 95 percent in 1997.

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), enacted in 1993, is a federal law that entitles employees up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12 months. Such leave may be for the birth and care of the employee’s child or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee, for care of an immediate family member, or for the employee’s own serious health condition.

The FMLA applies to private-sector employers engaged in commerce who have 50 or more employees each working at least 20 calendar weeks or more in the current or proceeding calendar year. Employees of state and local governments, including schools, and most federal government employees, are also covered.