home office

The recent wave of pulling telecommuters back into an office to help save struggling companies has made me question – Is the location of a company’s employees a key component of success? As the HR manager of Research Integrations–a small business that began allowing employees to work from home offices  in order to provide flexibility and retain key employees and then eventually moved all employees to home offices–this seems like an important question to answer. At first the answer to this question seems complicated, but in the end, it may be simple. While the modalities of communication have changed with technology and telecommuting, the core messages and objectives of effective communication have not changed. Successful companies use communication effectively to accomplish these key objectives: Provide a shared vision Establish accountability Establish and maintain working relationships Maintain awareness of current challenges and successes Evaluate employee engagement Reward accomplishments For telecommuting these … Continue reading

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Pilot manually flying aircraft.

Recently we have been involved in providing evaluations and coaching addressing the safety impact of policies and procedures related to pilot use of automated systems in a large international airline.  One of the first questions typically raised in this type of project is: How can we reduce the possibility of pilots losing their manual flying skills when they routinely use automated systems to fly the airplane? In other words, we are often asked for strategies an airline can use to address the complex web of trade-offs associated with the consistent, economical, and safe routine operation of transporting passengers and the potential for unexpected situations in which pilot expertise, judgment, and skills are necessary for a safe outcome. This is a balancing act that must be performed by each airline within their own unique blend of national, corporate, and safety cultures.  Unfortunately, one solution does not work for all companies. But, … Continue reading

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

We are very excited to share that we have added a report to our website that summarizes our first year efforts on tasks related to developing human factors guidelines for Ground Control Station (GCS) design and operations. This work is being performed as part of the Human Systems Integration (HSI) component of the NASA Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) integration in the National Airspace System (NAS). In 2012, we focused our efforts on gathering and describing information to be used as a foundation for developing the human factors guidelines and for future tasks in support of the NASA UAS Integration in the NAS project. Year 1 Tasks and Objectives In Year 1 of this project we completed a review of the 14 CFR Part 23 and Part 25 FAA regulations, analyzed the results and determined requirements for ground control stations that may not be adequately covered by the regulations. In addition, … Continue reading

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approved-stamp (3)

Can you look at your company’s costs and tell which costs are direct or indirect? If you can’t, understanding the difference between direct and indirect costs is a critical first step in your plan to get a compliant and approved cost accounting system for Government Contracting. As I mentioned in my previous blog post “What you should know about having an ‘approved’ accounting system for government contracting”,  a compliant government cost accounting system must: Track all costs for any individual government contract Accumulate actual direct costs by labor category and job/task Accumulate actual indirect costs and … We need to track all the costs for each individual government contract. To do this, I use a General Ledger and a Subsidiary Job Cost Ledger that I manually link to the General Ledger. I record all our company’s costs in the General Ledger and track all the costs for each individual contract … Continue reading

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Regulation_14CFR25.1302

2nd post in the series As you may have read in the first post of this series, a new FAA regulation is tentatively slated to hit the streets in early 2013.  It is the proposed FAA 14 CFR 25.1302 Installed systems and equipment for use by the flightcrew and is the first general applicability FAA regulation to include explicit requirements for design attributes related to avoiding and managing flight crew error. You may be asking: Why has this regulation been created?  Haven’t we already covered everything important in the regulations of 14 CFR Part 25? Well, let me give you my answer (which obviously is not an official FAA response … cue announcers voice: “the views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the FAA, its employees, or the Screen Actors Guild. No animals were harmed during the writing of this … Continue reading

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organizing_information (1)

For many of our project tasks at RII, we oftentimes find ourselves organizing and summarizing what can seem like an overwhelming amount of information at first glance. However, experience has taught me that just a few simple steps to these types of tasks turns the seemingly insurmountable into something that is much more manageable and easy to accomplish. Some organizational writing tasks will easily lend themselves to an obvious form of organizing or the overall structure and discussion areas may be predetermined or required by your customer. However, for those tasks where you are determining the ideal organization based on the information and findings in the material itself, I find the following approach to be helpful: Know the purpose of the task Before diving in, be sure to understand the unique purpose and goal of your task. This includes an understanding of the research objective and especially the specific needs … Continue reading

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Car_warning_lights

Back in the 90s when I was a free-healed, adventurous young man, many a rock climbing outing was set to the sound track of the Irish rock band U2. Eventually, the title of one of their popular albums became the sounding alert of any hazard my companions and I faced. Whether a rattlesnake on the trail, a long unprotected stretch of vertical rock, or a loose boulder on the descent, “Achtung baby!” was shouted out in warning. This playful call to attention was usually sufficient for a couple of guys in the wilderness, but in the often high stakes environment of today’s technological (and often highly automated) world, the design of alerts and warnings requires some thoughtful consideration. Although the terms alert, warning, and alarm are often used interchangeably, they can be differentiated by the level of urgency required in response. Alerts are generally described as an information display generated … Continue reading

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E-learning_mouse-connected-to-books

Every day we are inundated with information: emails, text messages, voice mails, meetings, etc. Adding training to that content mix, regardless of how necessary or relevant, can be overwhelming. While some people may be information junkies, many prefer to get to the point—they want the “need-to-know” pieces of training information. When designing an e-learning training program, determine the key points, and make sure these key ideas are highlighted for the learner. By making your main ideas clear, you are reducing the load on the learner’s working memory, freeing it up to focus on and make sense of the “need-to-know” information. Here are 6 things you can do to help learners focus on the most important information in your e-learning training programs:   1. Break it up and Keep it Scannable: Use Headings When presented with information, we look for cues about what to pay attention to. For instance, in this … Continue reading

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Regulation_14CFR25.1302_small

1st post in the series A new FAA regulation is tentatively slated to hit the streets in early 2013.  It is the proposed FAA 14 CFR 25.1302 Installed systems and equipment for use by the flightcrew and is the first general applicability FAA regulation to include explicit requirements for design attributes related to avoiding and managing flight crew error. While FAA 14 CFR 25.1523 and corresponding Appendix D have addressed some related design attributes, this proposed FAA regulation represents a much more global approach to human factors on the flight deck and will require system and equipment designers to consider human error and feedback in their design and testing of flight deck interfaces. The FAA 14 CFR 25.1302 was initially developed as a harmonized regulation with the EASA CS 25.1302 regulation.  Since the release of the EASA regulation in 2006, several manufacturers have had projects that required demonstrating compliance with … Continue reading

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approved-stamp (3)

Do you wonder about what is necessary for a small business to have an accounting system suitable for government work? We were faced with that question when we needed to set up our accounting system to allow us to work on government contracts. I had a head start because I had been a Government auditor for 10 years, but I faced new challenges when I had to set up my own accounting system versus working with accounting systems that were already in place. I want to share what I have learned and give you some resources for learning more about accounting for government contracts. First of all, the basics…a compliant government cost accounting system must: • Track all costs for any individual government contract • Accumulate actual direct costs by labor category and job/task • Accumulate actual indirect costs and allocate these costs using provisional, budgeted, or actual burden rates • … Continue reading

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