Turning Point: Home-Office Journey becomes part of Working Hours!

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If you are in the car, on the bus, or on the train, and you answer to colleagues’ phone calls, or to e-mails on your laptop, then you are working. In Switzerland, federal civil workers, who find themselves in this position, request this work to be included in the calculation of their working day!

by Bianca Cataldo

Jan. 24, 2020

On average, it seems that Swiss workers spend at least one hour on the home-office journey, so the idea would be to occupy workers during these hours of travel to reduce time spent behind the desk. After all, “Nowadays, flexible work forms have become a necessity” recognizes Anand Jagtap, head of human resources for Swiss public offices. This is an idea that most Swiss commuters would not mind.

The majority of commuters reveal that for them, the home-office journey is an office or a “consuming life” experience: people explain that they spend eight hours working, plus one, two, three or more hours on their home-office journey, as a consequence, they don’t have a lot of free time left. Therefore, there is a widespread civil unrest.

After the battle fought by four unions, Bern (capital of the Swiss Confederation) approved this change. However, the authorization of superiors is necessary, and each case is going to be examined based on its peculiar characteristics.

This idea could sign a turning point for the life of these Swiss workers, and why not, a turning point for the life of workers all over the world. It is a new point of view that could potentially improve people lives.

If people could make up the time they lose on their home-work journey, and as a consequence, work less hours in office, they could have more free time to spend for themselves, their families or to do what they need to.

There are limits and cons to take into consideration, but it can become something that, if done in the right way, improves the quality of our lives and also our working experiences. It can really be a turning point for this new generation.

Protections for American Workers are Minimal

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Among the leading economies of the world, the United States is one of the most reticent Countries to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions. In detail, it is the only Country, among the highly developed Countries, without the duty for employers to grant paid vacation days, or a federal paid maternal leave, and the list goes on...

by Bianca Cataldo

Jan. 20, 2020

International Labour Organization

The International Labour Organization is a United Nations service that promotes social justice and productive work in conditions of equity, freedom, and security.

The U.S. is a party to only 14 of the 189 labor conventions. Most important, it has only ratified two of the eight core ILO conventions (abolition of forced labor and abolition of the worst forms of child labor). However, the majority of ILO member states and all the European nations have ratified at least four core conventions. Lastly, 138 ILO members have ratified all eight core conventions.

Federal Law for Employers and Employees

Federal law does not provide for vacation pay. In fact, employees are not legally entitled to paid vacation time or paid holidays, but it is based upon an agreement between the employer and the employee. Although some work positions have paid vacations, sick days, etc. others do not offer these privileges.

Research found that out of the 21 most developed Countries in the World, the U.S. is the only economy that does not have a federal paid vacation policy. The disparity between the U.S. and the rest of these Countries is significant. In fact, while European Countries have at the very least four weeks or twenty days of paid vacation, and other Countries have at least six paid holidays a year, the U.S. has none.

Moreover, in the U.S. there is no National requirement for paid sick days either. Some employers allow workers unpaid time off for medical leave. Comparing this reality to the reality of other developed Countries, we observe how in these Countries the right to health is recognized as a fundamental right by law. Therefore, to safeguard it, the employee receives a paid sick leave on days when working capacity is reduced due to illness or injury.

Lastly, many Countries all over the world adopted maternity and/or parental leave programs, usually parents receive days of paid parental leave (it can be at 100% of their pay, 80%, etc.). However, in the U.S. even though women can receive up to 12 weeks of parental leave (under the Family and Medical Leave Act) they do not have the right to be paid during this period.

In the U.S. there are no National requirements that protect workers. This is just a part of the issues that afflict American workers. Considering that the U.S. is a developed Country, this reality is mind-blowing, and it has to change.

2020 Authentic Resolutions

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“For a new year to bring you something new, make a move, like a butterfly tearing its cocoon! Make a move!” the Turkish writer Mehmet Murat Ildan said that and it means so much. Thanks to the holiday period, the beginning of the new year usually makes us feel energetic and ready to change. Then, let’s make this move!

by Bianca Cataldo

Jan. 8, 2020

It will not be a new year, if nothing new happens in our lives, right? New Year’s resolutions are a tradition where people set goals trying to improve their lives. Everyone has new goals, but in the end, few are the people that reach them!

Along the way, it seems that the target is moving away, rather than getting closer. Our actions seem unnecessary, and even counterproductive. This is the point where we just let go. We give up and fall into our routines. But why? Probably because the goal that we set for ourselves, wasn’t really ours.

In fact, when we think about New Year’s resolutions, almost everyone wants to “go to the gym”, “get fit”, “go on a diet”, “be rich”…”boost motivation”, and so on.

How is it possible that everyone has the same exact goals to achieve? Maybe because these targets are not personal. They are not something that we want to achieve, rather something that society wants us to achieve.

Well, no one is going to fight for something they don’t truly want. That’s why people let go. So, make sure that your 2020 resolutions are authentic.

When you set yourself a goal, consider if the needs you want to satisfy and the motivations behind your actions are really yours. Ask yourself if you are moving to achieve something that you really want. If so, you will not fail, you will not give up because that crave and motivation will come from within.

Think about a passion that you have, or something that is missing in your life, think about your feelings, your sensations, your life, you balance,listen to yourself.

What do you want to improve, what do you really want to change, or add to your life? Does it have a value for you? Do you need this in your life, would it make you feel satisfied? If so, make your move to reach it!

Good luck!

Celebrate the New Decade in Chicago!

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New Year’s Eve is an exciting time, and in the United States, Chicago is one of the best places to celebrate it!

by Bianca Cataldo

Dec. 30, 2019

There are many memorable ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Chicago: with parties, cruises, fireworks, concerts, and live music, this city is one of the top ten destinations to celebrate the beginning of the year.

If you are celebrating the new decade in Chicago, one of the best places to go to is Navy Pier. When the clock strikes midnight, Chicago will enter 2020 with an amazing fireworks display on Lake Michigan.

Dinner cruises give an unforgettable view of the fireworks: Odyssey Lake Michigan, Spirit of Chicago and Mystic Blue, host cruises from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. In any case, everyone can enjoy the free fireworks show from the shore accompanied with music.

Another fireworks show lights up the Chicago River. A mile long fireworks show launches from the bridges and a luminous waterfall drops in the River. The Odyssey Chicago River hosts cruises, a midnight champagne and a night of dancing.

In addition to the midnight fireworks, there are many other ways to celebrate 2020 in Chicago. Many Hotels in Chicago host New Year’s Eve Parties. For example, Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel hosts a party with live DJ, champagne at midnight and balloon drop, Hilton offers multiple entertainments like champagne and confetti storm at midnight, balloon drop, live DJs and unlimited cocktails, etc.

There are also events hosted in restaurants, theaters,etc. even Lincoln Park Zoo offers free carousel rides, games, giveaways, and a live DJ as well. You cannot get bored!

Happy New Year!

Embrace the Unexpected! What are you Afraid of?

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Beyond the “work, earn, spend” scheme, there is a lot more, there is your freedom, your time, a life to enjoy. Overcome your insecurities, and do what you want.

by Bianca Cataldo

Dec. 16, 2019

All I see is people pervaded by the terror of breaking their temporary balance. I see people filling their time instead of using it. Going outside the comfort range in scaring. Not having a schedule to follow is terrifying.

I listen to them. They believe that having a schedule makes them feel prepared and productive. They think that nothing can go wrong if they do what they are supposed to. They follow this strict auto-imposed schedule to feel safe and maintain their temporary balance.

Whoever escapes will lose his advantage and will drift.

But how can Someone Live a Life without Time?

There are many common fears, and these are all understandable feelings. In short, people are afraid of the unexpected because as static creatures, they don’t like to change.

This applies to every aspect of their personal life, and work. Some people avoid conversations because they are scared to be uninteresting, dull, or even wrong, and it also happens that they do not give themselves any chance to experience something new just because they think everything will go wrong. These are all psychological obstacles, dictated by insecurity.

These fears have the power to petrify, so that people always do the same things, so that there is never a change. Now, it’s time to do something completely revolutionary because no one can live a life without time.

I see people filling their time with things that they do not enjoy doing, but then they do not use their time to cultivate other aspects of their lives. They do not have time to spend with their family, no time to spend with friends, no time to cultivate their passions.

They follow their strict schedule avoiding every opportunity to grow and change. They are not flexible because they are afraid of escaping, but who says that escaping leads to failure? Sometimes unexpected things make the biggest difference, and escaping leads to success.

When you decide to enjoy your time, you become flexible and open minded, and so you give yourself the chance to live enriching experiences, unforgettable moments and even the chance to discover your passions, and build a satisfying and successful career. Embrace the unexpected! You won’t regret it.

Everyone is Perfect

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There is a controversy about the idea of perfection. Many people feel discouraged by it, and others see it as the right push to challenge their limits.

by Bianca Cataldo

Dec. 12, 2019

That “canon” of perfection is merely a caricature. It is just an idea, an utopia, an image. We define it as the absence of flaws, so that it becomes an enemy, unreachable, and unreal.

Leonard Cohen, a singer, poet, and novelist, once said that “there is a crack in everything. It is from there that light enters.”

The mistake, the imperfection are the elements that make the distinction and allow us to become unique and different from everyone else. It means that it is from our flaws and mistakes that light enters because every single imperfection makes us who we are.

The idea of perfection, based on the connotation we give to it, cannot be reached. However, we can see it from another perspective.

The idea of perfection can become the engine that pushes us to improve day after day. In fact, we can always excel, and reach our maximum potential, and therefore reach our own personal perfection.

It is indeed from our mistakes and flaws that we learn, and we become a better version of ourselves. Throughout our lives, little by little, we approach that ideal that everyone seeks.

No one should ever feel limited or discouraged by seeking perfection. We should rather redefine this idea by not seeing it as the absence of mistakes, but perceiving it as a challenge and a future personal growth. In the end, we are all perfect if we are the best version of ourselves.

The Generative Design Revolution

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Photo Credits: Mai Abdallah

Engineers, architects and designers met in Las Vegas at the Autodesk conference to take stock of the future of design.

by Bianca Cataldo

Dec. 2, 2019

Generative Design is a major progress of AI (Artificial Intelligence) since it is changing the way we design and produce. This design allows people to create products that guarantee functionality due to their geometric  properties and spatial resolutions. Moreover, it is used to create exclusive and current forms of style.

Francesco Iorio, Director of Computational Science Research at the Autodesk University, explains that Generative Design is “a method in which one or more criteria are defined as objectives and limitations, and a variety of designs are synthesized to satisfy the required characteristics “

It means that thanks to these software, designers are able to experiment with thousands of different architectures simply by pushing a button! Through the results of these simulations, the designer decides which, with less waste of time, materials and money, is the best possible configuration.

Generative Design promises to become the revolutionary technology of the future. You have now the freedom to put any material you want, anywhere you want. The designer needs to express the problem by defining the desired constraints, loads, material and weight and the software will generate multiple solutions.

This technology is very versatile since its products can be used in many fields: Architecture, Design, Medicine, Automotive, Aerospace, etc.
The key to Generative Design is to remove material from a product, by making it cheaper, lighter, and better working. It is a field to take into consideration.