Category Archives: Technology

Problems associated with increased cell phone usage

 

Thanks to modern technology and advances with cell phone capabilities, you no longer need a camera, an alarm clock, a Rolodex (remember those!?), a journal, a notebook, a diary, a shopping list, a watch, or a music player! These are all great woman on phonetechnology improvements and benefits that have occurred over the past decade. While the emergence of the smartphone has had tremendously positive impacts in so many areas, and has helped make the world more connected than ever before, there are unfortunately many negative consequences that have accompanied the evolution of the modern day mobile telephone.

  1. Addiction – dopamine and serotonin is released when we hear a ping, receive a message, or have a post liked by one of our peers.  Do you think you may be addicted to your phone?  Check out these signs and symptoms.
  2. Reduced productivity in the workplace – due to problems associated with number woman holding phone at computerone, addiction, it is very possible that you could spend more time on your phone than you do in face to face interactions.  And I’m not just talking about work-related items; answering texts, personal calls, checking Facebook and other social media, as well as news updates coming through almost by the hour can eat up a huge chunk of time each day.
  3. Dangerous driving and an increased number of accidents – this is something that constantly amazes me.  There have been so many senseless deaths and injuries due to cell phone use while driving – so why do people still do it?  NOTHING is that important, but if you feel like it is, PULL OVER!
  4. Poorer social skills – it is so aggravating and rude when you are speaking to someone and their phone rings and all of a sudden it’s like you are no longer there!  Why do phones get priority over people?
  5. Cyberbullying – this is obviously a huge problem, with adults and children alike.  cyberbullying-victimization-20152Having all social media and communication available to us 24/7 makes this so much easier.  If people took the time to think about what they were going to say before they started typing, perhaps the problem wouldn’t be so big, but cell phones do not require that we take that time allowing for immediate, and often rash, responses.
  6. Increased crime – people always know where you are because you constantly check in or post a picture of your dinner.  And how often do you see your friends posting pictures of their children in front of their school?  Anyone who wants to find you can do so, at any time.
  7. Health issues – from minor issues such as back and neck pain due to being hunched over a phone all day to major issues such as cancer, there are a number of health issues associated with cell phone usage that should not be ignored.
  8. Disruption of sleep – exposure to blue light can cause us to not sleep as well as possible, while constant updates coming through buzzing at us through the night will disrupt our sleep patterns.
  9. We are always connected – this leads to increased stress as it is nearly impossible to disconnect from work, and the world in general.
  10. More distracted and less interactive with those around us – it’s amazing to me the family-on-phonesnumber of parents glued to their phones while their kids are playing at the park.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the urge.  Your kids are occupied, you have a second to breathe, what a perfect time to check your email!  But as we know, it only takes one second for a child to be hurt, or even worse, taken by a stranger!  Not to mention, they know when you are focused on your phone instead of them, and we certainly don’t want to give them the impression that a phone is more important than they are.

This is a great video that takes a look at millenials and cell phone usage.  I recommend the whole thing, but the cell phone segment begins at 3:20 – take a look!

What problems have you encountered due to increased cell phone usage?  Put your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

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Conference calls: Are they worth it?

If you ever find yourself on conference calls, I am sure you will be able to totally relate to the video below. This is a classic example of something that is seen as being important and necessary for a company to function, but something that has the chance to negatively impact all parties involved. When I watch this video I immediately get flashbacks to previous companies where conference calls were a frequent occurrence.

Anyone who has taken part in a conference call knows that this video is not just trying to be funny.  These things do actually occur, and at the end of the meeting you end up feeling like you have just wasted an hour of your work day that could have been spent in a much more useful manner.  Instead of spending your valuable time on conference calls such as this, here are some alternative ideas that could be very beneficial to your company!

  1. Video conferencing – Skype or other teleconferencing tools are a great solution as everyone can see each other, which will remove some of the difficulties shown in the video.
  2. In person meetings – when possible, meet in person.  If you have an hour or so drive, having one in-person meeting a month will accomplish much more than meeting four times a month over the phone in many situations.
  3. Smaller, more personalized calls – try having fewer people on the call.  Make sure you only have absolutely essential people involved, and avoid bringing those on the line that don’t have much to contribute.  If you only include two or three people, those people can in turn send out a summary of the meeting to those who weren’t involved.
  4. Collaborative work documents – Google Docs, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, etc. are all great options for collaborating through online documents rather than over the phone or even in person.  They give people a chance to really think about their responses as opposed to shouting out the first thing that comes in their mind.

The main thing that I would suggest is to be as efficient as possible and don’t just have meetings for the sake of having meetings. Have an agenda and objectives, and stick to the tasks at hand.  Also, stress to the members of the group the importance of timeliness.  Start the meeting on time, and if people are late do not go back and recap what you have already discussed.  This is especially frustrating for those of us who show up on time and have to listen to something two, or even three times!

Do you have any suggestions for alternatives to conference calls, or tips for making conference calls more effective?  If so, put them in the comments below!  And as always, Expect the Exceptional every day!

Neon vs. LED: The Fight of the Century

This is an argument which is becoming increasingly popular in all industries. The main reason for signage in the first place is to draw someone’s attention to your store and to get your brand out there to increase sales. The issue with neon lights is the high failure rate (approximately every 12-18 months), the expensive cost of repair, and the damage to your brand when your customers are greeted by these signs:

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Whereas neon once had an almost complete monopoly on illuminating channel letters, LED’s are now dominating the lighting source market. Their overall features of higher brightness, lower electrical costs, increased energy efficiency, and a longer operation life, typically at least 100,000 hours per unit, make them very attractive as lighting fixtures.

In one recent study to demonstrate the benefits of LED over neon lights, the scope of work covered the cost and installation of 10 character 24 inch channel letters. The total savings was approximately $1,000 for the completed job in favor LED over Neon. These savings are the true beauty and profit of an LED system for channel letters.

The image below showcase further benefits of LED over Neon and this is expected to increase as LED technologies become even more sophisticated and more economical over time.

LED JT02 spec

A great scientific article that looks into the Neon vs. LED argument in great detail is Is Your Neon Lit Sign as Inexpensive as an LED Lit Sign? by Greg Honegger. In this research paper, Mr. Honegger does a complete breakdown of the two systems to get the overall value of each. He looks at production costs (labor and materials), energy savings (financial and environmental benefits), failure rates, reliability, frequency and cost of repair and appearance. The data is extremely interesting and clearly points in the favor of LED lighting, and this trend is expected to continue. The cost of raw materials is dropping, people are becoming more environmentally aware, businesses are having to tighten their purse strings even further, and businesses are able to take advantage of the associated rebates, tax credits, and reduced utility bills. Expect to see Neon signs slowly disappear, to be replaced by their LED rivals.

LED vs. Neon Price Comparison

A huge piece of the decision making process for sign selection is obviously the cost. The following chart shows the energy and financial savings associated with LED lighting over neon. Energy savings of 80.3% (per 100 feet of lighting being run for an average of 12 hours per day), a significant reduction in your firm’s Carbon Footprint, better looking stores, as well as adding $240.46 to your bottom line to keep the CFO happy, are all great reasons that support the switch to LED systems.

Energy Comparison Neon typical to LED-VLPlusWhite 150feet (2)

How much would you save by converting from neon to LED signage? Complete your own price comparison here: Power Savings Estimator. Start multiplying this through your network and the savings will be astronomical. For example, a company with 1000 locations, at this rate will save $240,460 per year, that’s almost $1,000,000 every 4 years! This is also a savings of 2,0004,000 kWh, which is a carbon emissions reduction of 1,382 Metric Tons, the equivalent of 3,290,143 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle!

carbon footprint

Perform your very own carbon footprint calculator right here: Emissions calculator

Chris Salva, Director of Networking and Government Services at Royal Services, recently completed a neon to LED sign retrofit project for a national telecommunications company. Here are some photos showing the before and after images of these recent retrofits in a target test market, where a variety of climatic conditions will be experienced to truly compare the reliability of these technologies. I will let you guess which photo was taken after the retrofit!

sprint aftersprint after retrofit

To find out about how your company could benefit from this technology, please reach out to Jamie Leeper at jleeper@royalsvcs.com or 913-717-3188.

Royal Services – Service That Solves – Expect The Exceptional

royal logo

Pros and Cons of heightened technology

As technology has evolved over time, many businesses have sought to increase their profitability by automating many of their processes. In some areas, this has been hugely successful, leading to a greater experience for all involved. However, in others, the shift has not been well received and has caused businesses to shrink. The loss of a personal touch, the inability to speak to someone who can empathize with you, and the time spent crawling through a call tree can all be extremely frustrating.

A phone call earlier today prompted me to write this as my blood pressure was at an all time high after spending what seemed like 3 hours being passed around a directory and the magic pushing of 0 did nothing 😦

Today I am going to look at areas that have improved due to increased technology, and others that have gone in the opposite direction.

Improvements

Cashiers – automation has made lines move much more quickly, and the self-checkout self checkout.jpghas made purchasing items so much more convenient!

Retail – A blend of online shopping and the in-store experience seems to be the best way to go. This is exactly what we are looking for with our approach at Royal Services.

ATM – tellers can now focus on bigger items such as loans, home equity lines etc.

Surgery – robotics has made things happen that we never thought possible in the medical world.

Manufacturing and machinery 

Telephone book and yellow pages – I can’t even remember the last time I looked through a phone book, and am so thankful for the simplicity of looking up phone numbers online.

Maps and Google Maps – remember when you would print out directions?  Unfortunately, the printouts cannot take into consideration traffic issues and give you alternate routes!

Skype/ communication with loved ones – without Skype, my children may not know their grandparents in England at all.  Phone calls are great, but the face-to-face capabilities have made such a difference.

Financial tracking – budgeting tools are imperative for those who need help tracking their finances.

Steps back

Service providers – the frustration is endless when you are attempting to get a hold of a service provider and only get recordings.  It would be much more useful for the consumer to be able to speak to a real person.
Insurance providers – I’m sure many people have had fine experiences with insurance that they purchase online without contact with a person.  However, there is a reason Progressive set up brick and mortar stores – people need that human contact!  Especially with purchases as big and important as insurance.

WebMD and other online medical sites – while these do come in handy some of the time, I am the worst at hopping online when I see a little bump or bruise that looks funny and ending up with my head between my legs, hyperventilating and convinced I’m going to die within the next 30 minutes.  I cannot imagine the frustration doctors experience when people enter their offices acting as if they know more than the person who attended 12 years of schooling, just because they read something online.  Unfortunately these sites that are meant to help ease worries often tend to exacerbate them!

Social media – such a great way to keep in touch with friends and loved ones, but facebook-gymunfortunately they have their drawbacks as well.  As a mother, I try to stay off of facebook as much as possible to prevent feelings of inadequacy and failure.  While I am fully aware that the humble bragging I see on a daily basis is not painting the true picture of motherhood, I can’t help but feel I’m doing something wrong when I look at these seemingly perfect families!  There are also major problems with bullying and harassment, leading to horrible consequences.  PSA to please monitor your child’s Facebook page!!!

Online loan applications – again, this is a big deal and one that some people will feel more comfortable completing with a real person.  Not to mention, once you fill one out you are inundated with sales calls and emails for months!

Time wasted – you might just need to hop on real quick to check the weather, but you notice a new email which includes a link to a video with a cat on a skateboard, which in turn leads to many more hours of wasted time watching silly YouTube videos.

Driving dangers – some people are so addicted to technology that they are willing to put their lives and the lives of others in danger just to send a quick text or check email.

Scary stats about texting and driving

In most situations the best outcomes are experienced when there is a combination of technology and human to human interaction.  Some people see technology as a complete solution, whereas I see it as a tool that gives people the ability to spend more time on what really matters and where they can have more of an impact. What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of technology and look for the minimal human interaction or are you more traditional and appreciate the connection that you can have with a real person? I am interested to hear your thoughts so please share them in the comment box below.

 

Living in the present

Have you ever been at a family function and looked around and noticed every single person was on their phone?  How did that make you feel?  Did you laugh it off, or was it frustrating that your family is no longer conversing with one another outside texting and Facebook?family-on-phones  Or maybe you’ve been in a work meeting and it’s your turn to present, but when you look up from your notes you realize no one is even listening to you, as they are all glued to their tablets.  My husband used to be a bartender at a pub in England and he has fond memories of the camaraderie and community that was developed over conversations had at the bar, even among strangers.  Now when you see people at the bar, they aren’t even watching the plethora of games available, they are simply watching their phones.   It’s not realistic to hope for things to go back to how they used to be; as more technology is developed, the more people will use it in their everyday lives.  However, while you can’t demand that bar patrons put their phone away (although that is a good concept if you are looking to start a business!), there are things you can do in your own home and with family to ensure that the time you spend together is about quality and not just quantity.  Because after all, you are not interested in the time you get with people, but the energy you receive from them when you’re together.  Here are some tips to separate yourself and loved ones from common distractions:

1 – leave your phone at the door.  Whether you take this literally or figuratively, it’s a good idea to detach yourself from your phone at the end of the day.  You may choose to actually leave your phone in your car, or maybe simply put it away in a desk drawer for the evening.  You don’t have to turn it off, but if you do choose to leave it on, think about changing your ringtones.  I like to have a separate ringtone for family, so if I hear that I know that I should probably pick up.

2- set some ground rules.  If you have kids, I’m sure you have screen time and phone guidelines set.  However, are you following some rules yourself?  Sometimes, it’s nice to unwind by playing mindless games on the phone.  But that can eat up time very quickly, time that could be spent with family.   So you could try to limit your screen time to when the kids are sleeping.  Or maybe, delete the games from your phone to avoid the distraction.  Whatever works for you, as long as you are aware of the amount of time being spent in this direction.

3- phone basket.  If you are having family over for dinner, it’s a nice idea to ask everyone to put cell phonestheir phones in a basket upon arrival.  People will probably complain initially, but eventually everyone will be having such a great time actually speaking to one another, they will forget all about it!  This could also work for some office meetings, depending on the content.

4- no charging.  On the weekends, choose not to charge your phone.  This will force you to think about what you are using your phone for, and will probably start to curb the habit of randomly picking up your phone and checking the screen for no reason at all.

5- keep it in the backseat.  Obviously, in most places it is ILLEGAL to drive with your phone, not to mention how incredibly dangerous it is.  However, some people still do not get it.  If you are someone who finds yourself picking up your phone at every stoplight, and then continuing to use it when the light turns green, you may want to think about keeping the phone in the back seat.  Turn on your bluetooth if you have it so you can answer important calls, but everything else really can wait until you get there.  I’m begging you, for the sake of my children and yours, PLEASE stay off your phone when you’re driving.  Nothing is that important.  Check out this website for some scary stats if I haven’t convinced you.

At the end of the day, your family, friends and coworkers want your focus and energy far more than your presence alone.  If you can learn to separate yourself from distractions, you can give them what they need.  Take some time to look around and enjoy life and the people in it!

 

Everyone’s a winner

Triple bottom line (or otherwise noted as TBL or 3BL) is an accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental (or ecological) and financial. Many organizations have adopted the TBL framework to evaluate their performance in a broader perspective to create greater business value. This concept is playing an ever increasing role in the business world as more and more companies strive to become #LEED Certified.

triple_bottom_line-royal-services

The #SPRINT signs below were installed using neon tubing technology for their light source. Neon’s have been around for seventy years and are stable for their artistic value but my opinion is that using a Neon just to fill light inside an opaque sign is a waste and creates a lot of issues especially for the northern states and their temperature fluctuations throughout the year.

Take a look at one of our previous blogs, which pits neon against LED lighting systems. 

1. Neon generates a lot of heat which causes them to have a need to be refilled or recharged with neon gas at least every couple of years.
2. Neon glass signs use 15,000 volts of electricity
3. Neon gas, though an inert gas, operates well within the normal tolerances of temperature but with extreme cold or heat it breaks down the gas presence quicker (thus we are back to issue in #1)
4. Neon generates a “warm” light most used for art deco, small signage applications, etc.,.

+Royal Services, Inc. believes LED will be a better choice for you and your stores:
1. LED lights are sealed and have ZERO hotspots
2. LED lights generate far more light than conventional neon glass tubing so would be a better source for designer signage like SPRINT.
3. LED lights are shockproof and generate very little heat so are best suited for encased light sources for hot (summertime) conditions as well as cold (like now) conditions.
4. LED lights use only 24 volts whereas Neon glass signs uses 15,000 volts which will provide substantial electrical bill savings in the long term.
5. LED lights are generally 10% less expensive than Neon tube signage.

Above are sample before and after photos from a test market. The visual difference is quite remarkable. Contact us today to see how we can help your store to draw in more customers. #projectmanagement #LEDretrofit #royalservices #facilitysolutions #servicethatsolves #royalfamily

Unwritten Rules

In business dealings, there are often unwritten rules that legally do not have to be followed, but ethically absolutely should be followed.  Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company, a small retail location or even are just selling items online, following a code of conduct helps to build a loyal client base and ensure your customers are satisfied.

unwritten_rules1.jpg

Recently, I was shopping for a train table for my son’s second birthday.  I did months of research and now know far more about toy trains than I care to admit.  I decided that rather than pay full price for a new table, I would prefer to find one on Craigslist in like-new condition.  Every day, I diligently got online and checked new listings, until I was sure I would have to bite the bullet and purchase new.  Just before I did this, I checked one last time and lo and behold!  A brand new, in the box table and train set for a low price and it was even the exact brand I was looking for!  I immediately sent a text to the seller and lucky me, it was still available!  I made plans for my husband to pick the table up the next day on his way home from his first job, before leaving for his second job.  Obviously, he had to make special arrangements, but it was worth it – he will do anything to put a smile on that little guy’s face!  I was feeling so accomplished and thrifty that evening when I received a text from the seller: “Someone just came by and got the table-sorry.”  Pure devastation.  And immediately after, pure anger.  Usually, I would have just wallowed in sorrow without saying a word, but this time I felt the need to speak up.  I responded that I thought it was horrible she would do that after promising it to me.  She responded with, “Those are the rules, first come first served.”  I don’t make many purchases on Craigslist, but I was fairly certain that by responding to the ad first, I was in fact first.  But I did not respond and ended up finding a much better deal, much to my delight.

This whole situation made me think about unwritten rules.  Could I sue that lady for selling my table to someone else?  Absolutely not.  It’s her table, and she can do with it what she wants.  But I left that situation feeling cheated and sad, and I don’t think any business would want their customers to leave feeling that way.  Therefore, following unwritten rules like keeping promises, honoring coupons and sale prices, sticking to the original quoted price, and finishing jobs in the time frame that was initially given are so important in business today.  At Royal Services, the unwritten rules are followed.  Businesses need not worry about a job taking twice as long as planned or paying twice as much as they were quoted.  Companies get away with this every day, and technically, they have the right to do this.  But good companies, like Royal, would never dream of it. We believe in the importance of following unwritten rules in order to create long-lasting relationships with our valued partners.