The Bullseye - February 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

In This Issue:
Stay Healthy at Work this Winter Season,
Alumni Update,
Open Office Floor Plans Might Not Be the Best Idea,
Congratulations to This Month's Winner,
Open Office Floor Plans Might Not Be the Best Idea,
Connect with Orion

Stay Healthy at Work this Winter Season

Right now, North America is in the midst of flu season, which according to the CDC, peaks in January and February.

Traditionally, young children and the elderly are at the highest risk. But this season has seen the majority of hospitalizations due to the flu being young and middle aged adults.  And while every state has been affected in at least some capacity, the hardest hit so far include AR, LA, NM, TX

What does this mean for your office? Nearly 70 percent of employees admit to coming to the office while sick, according to one study. What’s more, the office keyboard hosts bacteria levels up to five times higher than toilet seats.

These findings may seem that it is almost impossible to avoid getting sick this season, but there are some simple tips that you can follow to help combat illness in the workplace.

Protect yourself and your co-workers this flu season from getting sick with these six tips:

Use hand sanitizer and/or wash your hands often. According the CDC, hand sanitizing wipes are more effective than gels. Before your lunch break, give your hands a quick wipe with hand sanitizer to eliminate germs. If you sneeze, be sure to wash your hands before continuing on with your work.

Disinfect your workspace. Once a week, disinfect the things you touch regularly at your desk, including your keyboard, mouse, phone, pens, and desk area.

Wash your water bottle. While reusable water bottles are great for the environment, they can have a hazardous effect on your health. Just like you would with a plate or glass at home, clean your water bottle every day with hot, soapy water. Consider switching to a stainless steel or glass bottle, as they leech fewer chemicals and are less hospitable to bacteria.

Don’t touch your face. If you work at a computer, it is very easy to sit with your head resting on your palm or to rub your eyes, but this is a surefire way to become ill. Keep your hands away from your mouth and eyes.

Organize your snacks. Instead of reaching a hand into a bag, keep your snacks in smaller containers. Additionally, keep your papers and other items on your desk neat to reduce the risk of bacteria on things that you can’t necessarily sanitize.

Eat healthy. Your body will be able to fight off infection and viruses easier if you’re supplying it with the proper foods. Snack on fruits and vegetables at work and bring your lunch from home to keep your body strong and healthy.

While it seems almost inevitable that you will get sick in the winter months, following the tips below at the office could help you have less severe symptoms this winter, or could even help you stay clear of becoming sick altogether.


Alumni Update



Kelly King
U.S. Army, Adjutant General Captain
Assistant Vice President Advanced Systems, Kansas City Southern Railway Company

Orion helped me find a Director of International Rail Operations Support position with Kansas City Southern Railway Company with a start date of December 1, 2010.

As Director of International Rail Operations Support, I had many responsibilities, including ensuring optimal levels of productivity, providing timely information to ensure a quality transportation product is delivered, providing coaching and mentoring of both Collective Bargaining Agreement and professional workforce in a 24 / 7 / 365 operation, and pursuing best-in-class operational excellence. I discovered that there are a ton of opportunities for career advancement. And the benefits have been comparable, if not better, than in the Army. I have been extremely fortunate.

In November 2013, I received a promotion to Assistant Vice President Advanced Systems as part of a reorganization of several operations department functions at KCS. In my new position, I'm responsible for the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) and the integration of other various real-time technologies throughout the organization to help further and progress operations. I have been with the company for three years and am excited at the opportunity and challenge of new tasks. Supporting the company in meeting certain rules and safety regulations is very important, and being able to help with the implementation of new technologies is an awesome and interesting undertaking. I am honored to be a part of the team.

Open Office Floor Plans Might Not Be the Best Idea

With the rise of new start-ups and companies focused on being innovative, fun, and different, open office floor plans have become the trend in the workplace design. In fact, seventy percent of all offices are doing away with offices and cubicles and adopting open floor plans to conduct business.

Open offices have been praised as the next big thing in workplace design and productivity. In fact, some companies are doing away with brick and mortar buildings all together, citing that their employees can work virtually anywhere – which they mean quite literally.

Yet this concept may not the best idea, as The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova states in her article, “The Open-Office Trap.”

While the idea of an open office floor plan may seem relatively new, it was originally conceived by a team from Hamburg, Germany in the 1950s, who utilized this design to increase greater communication and “idea flow” within the workplace.

However, the very qualities that an open-air floor plan espouses – increased productivity, great communication, and idea flow – are the qualities that it directly hinders. An open-concept floor plan can have a negative effect on a worker in ways that they might even be aware of.

While an open office may make employees feel like they are part of a laid-back, innovative atmosphere and a part of the whole picture, it does the exact opposite for their productivity, creative thinking, attention span, and overall happiness at work, according to a study by organizational psychologist Matthew Davis in 2011 about office environments.

Closed offices or even a cubicle create a sense of privacy, which boosts job performance and help you feel in control of your work and surroundings. An open office takes away that sense of security, and a feeling of helplessness is more common.

Not only does an open office concept have psychological implications, it also affects workers physically. Not surprisingly, working in an open office environment leads to more sick days, as more people share a common space – and common germs. The amount of noise is also a big factor. Psychologist Nick Perham says the effect of sound hinders how we think, and the open office impairs workers to recall information as readily.

Additionally, in a study by Cornell University psychologists Gary Evans and Dana Johnson, workers who had been exposed to open-office noise for three hours had increased levels of epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenaline, which in turn increase their levels of stress.

Drake Bennett of Bloomberg Businessweek describes his open office – “There’s a Kurt Vonnegut short story set in a dystopian future in which everyone is supposed to be exactly equal, mentally and physically, so smart people have to wear little devices in their ears that blast horrible noises every 20 seconds to disrupt their thinking. That is how my office sometimes feels.”

While the idea of an open office may be appealing and trendy, it is not necessarily the best concept, and can leave workers both psychologically and physically affected. The best office plan is one that takes the employees’ work habits, the type of work being done, and the needs of the company to design a productive work environment for all.

Check out these top 10 cool office spaces to view some amazing offices (one company has designed a hallway to look like a New York subway!) that have thrown the conventional ideas of a workplace out the window.


Why We Can’t Get Anything Done in an Open-Plan Office

Congratulations to This Month's Winner

Steve Phillips won the Job Seeker Referral monthly drawing

 and is the winner of a $50 gift card.  

Ready for your chance to win a $50 gift card? You’ll receive an entry into our monthly drawings for Client and Job Seeker referrals for each referral that you submit – good luck and thank you for the referral!

Alumni in the News

Not only does Orion recognize the excellence that our alumni like you bring to the civilian workplace, but so does the press! Our alumni continually succeed in their civilian endeavors and serve as examples of how their leadership qualities, technical experience, and intangibles, such as loyalty, work ethic, and integrity, benefit their chosen field. Recent alumni to make the news include Ben Gardner, who was featured in G.I. Jobs for his career with ConocoPhillips, and Kelly King for her promotion with Kansas City Southern. Check out the list here to read about your  fellow alumni in action. Have you been featured in the news? Let us know!

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