January 28th, 2017


my sick leave policy

Oh my goodness it's cold/flu season again and every year around this time I have to have the same conversation with my team at work.

If you are sick, I don't want you to come to work. "Sick" means that your health is compromised in a way that will make you a less productive engineer. If you're a little sick, I'd rather you off for a day or two of rest and heal so we can have three good days this week with you, instead of five days dealing with you being sick with a lingering virus. If you have a contagious sickness that spreads to your coworkers, then you'll definitely hurt company productivity. Do a cost-benefit analysis.

Text or email are my preferred ways to learn that you are sick. A phone call or voicemail is okay too. Coming into my office and presenting your sick self to me in person is my least preferred method.

As a professional, I trust you when you say that you are sick. Just say "I'm not coming in today, I am sick." That's enough information.

I don't need to hear details about what's coming out of you, from where, for how long, anything about the consistency or chemical composition. I trust you. Also, that's disgusting. If you want to warn others you can offer up a simple "I believe this is a contagious respiratory virus" or "I am having digestive distress, possibly from the potato salad in the break room" - leave it at a high level summary.

Sympathy is not one of my strong points but let me assure you, we all hope you feel better soon. Lay on your couch, eat soup, watch the weird al "I'm calling in sick today" video that always cheers me up. Celebrate the fact that you work for a company that pays sick leave. This isn't elementary school, you don't get a certificate for perfect attendance. We'll see you in a couple days.

partner learning FTW!

Previously on spacefem's livejournal...

I talked about teaching laser cutter design classes and the struggles of getting a general slice of the public to do a series of tasks on their individual computers. I wrote that I "Encouraged people to spy on their neighbors to make sure we're all on the same step, since we've all got to get there together. This didn't work like I hoped. It basically didn't work at all."

Anyway I wanted to publicly thank randomdreams for this comment:

I suspect that unless you somehow enforce people checking on their neighbors, like only giving every other person a computer and having them share, you're not going to get that at all because it's inherently a space violation.

Giving every other person a computer would force them to work together as "partners"... hmmm. So it gave me an idea. At the next class, I still gave everyone a computer but told them they had to be arranged in pairs, two laptops together. No rows of three in the classroom... only rows of two or four. And now you have a partner. Meet your partner. Say hi to your partner.

Guess what? It worked out AWESOME!

For some reason, telling people to check on their left and right neighbor had no effect, but telling people they had a partner was radically different. They worked together through the steps. Some partner pairs took off on their own, but together they were less likely to miss stuff, which was happening a lot when people individually took off on their own. There was a significant reduction in me getting called over for individual help and an significant reduction in anyone falling 12 steps behind and not saying anything.

I'm not sure I totally understand the psychology of it but it was such a good class I'm now thinking I can increase the size and reduce our backlog of people wanting to take it and I'm really thrilled. YAY!