Thank you, thank you!

firefighters
firefighters

Thank you firefighters.  California is burning and we couldn't be more thankful for their bravery.  Hit close to home this week, our managing partners were evacuated in the middle of the night, spent a night in an emergency shelter, and then other nights with family.  Thanks to the hundreds and hundreds of firefighters who are addressing the Bear Fire they can now return to their home.  Luckier than some throughout the state.  We all need to be careful, to be vigilant, and thankful to those willing to risk all for our safety. Again, thank you firefighters and all who assist and support them.

September: National Preparedness Month

During September, National Preparedness Month, we all need to take action to ready ourselves for whatever the future may bring.  Whether natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes or other situations, disaster can hit at any time.  This is a perfect month to  take proactive steps to prepare which could include signing up for local alerts, assembling supplies, checking insurance coverage, planning for emergency communications, reviewing the security of your data, or even conducting drills.  September 30 is America's PrepareAthon!, a day for action planning for emergencies.  If you have more to do to ensure a robust emergency plan take steps on the 30th.  www.ready.gov and https://community.fema.gov/about are just two of the many sites full of helpful resources and ideas. Earthquakes are the natural disaster we prepare for.  10:20 am on Oct 20 is the Great ShakeOut.  Visit shakeout.org if you are in an earthquake prone area to learn more about the event and related resources.

Who is eligible for overtime? It's complicated!

Under a new regulation from the Labor Department, beginning in December, most salaried workers earning up to $47,476 a year must receive time-and-a-half overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours during a week. This greatly increases the previous cutoff of $23,660, making far more workers eligible for overtime pay.

The complicated part of above is "most salaried workers". It's not so simple to know who fits in that category. First you need to know if you are covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or your state's wage and hour law.

The Federal law has two routes for overtime eligibility. The fist is based on duties. Those spending most of their time in a decision making capacity, using discretion, and independent judgment are not eligible for over time. The second is based on pay. Regardless of duties if your salary is below the cut off you are eligible for overtime.

Even with the above, certain categories of workers, like teachers, doctors and outside sales representatives continue to be exempt from the regulation.

So, those who do not make important decisions for their company, and don't work in a field that's ineligible for overtime, are probably entitled to overtime pay when working more than 40 hours in a week or, in some states, like California, when they work more than eight hours in a day. Surprisingly complicated!

Small Businesses Generate Big Numbers

Small business is actually big business in the US. We are a small business in California and according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, California is home to approximately 3.7 million small businesses that employ more than 6.7 million people! Across the US more than half of us are employed by small businesses, using the definition of a small business being a company with fewer than 499 employees. Not only are small businesses big in terms of current employment, they have generated over 65% of the net new jobs since 1995! During National Small Business Week let’s all appreciate small businesses for the large impact they have on our economy!

Have a Super weekend!

The Super Bowl is right in our back yard. Santa Clara, site of Levi’s Stadium, is very nearby.   While the game may be in Santa Clara, official events are from San Francisco to Gilroy. It seems absolutely everything can be football themed. A special art exhibit at the Triton Museum, STEM expos at local libraries, golf tournaments, charity events, bowling tournaments, new structures in local parks – you name it and there is a football themed version of it nearby. We have entire buildings wrapped, now essentially very large billboards (thank you Oracle) and the logo for Super Bowl 50 is everywhere, on everything. The area is ready. Security is in place, transportation routes planned, certain streets already closed. The Bay Bridge lights are back, the potholes on 101 (at least between San Francisco and Santa Clara) are gone. Celebrities are here or will be shortly, logoed merchandise is everywhere.   Even El Nino is cooperating. There’s a break in the rain and the weekend should be sunny and 70s. Enjoy a super weekend. Let's all join with half time headliner Coldplay, in cheering for their favorite team, the Denver Panthers!

Holiday Volunteering - Health Priority

Next week we will be celebrating the holidays as a team. As we did last year we will spend the afternoon volunteering. This year we’ll be sorting food with the FOODBasket Food Sorting team of The Health Trust. We will be sorting and then helping with storage and display of fresh produce which will be offered to their AIDS Services and Family Resource Center clients. We are in the heart of Silicon Valley, a place of great wealth, but also of great need, as this paragraph from The Health Trust website makes crystal clear: Silicon Valley is a place of innovation, opportunity and affluence. On average, it is one of the healthiest, wealthiest places in the world. But not all residents of Silicon Valley share in that wealth – or that health. More than 13 percent of children in Santa Clara County are living in poverty. More than half of the adults are overweight or obese. Nearly half of the county’s older adults are considered impoverished. More than 19,000 adults and youth are homeless.

Our time as a team is one way we can help contribute to their vision of a healthier Silicon Valley for everyone.  It's also aligned with our priority on health and wellness - from Fitbits for everyone to regular discussions about nutrition.  This volunteer opportunity is a good match for our company.

New Sick Leave Law in California

Effective July 1, 2015, nearly all California employers will have to provide at least 24 hours of paid sick leave to their employees. Employers can choose to accrue these hours over a period of time, or grant them all at once. The law is known as the Health Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, and the majority of CA employers are covered -- companies small and large, public and private, for profit and not-for-profit. The paid sick time has to be offered to all employees. All part-time, full-time, exempt, non-exempt, temporary, and seasonal; all employees who work in California 30 days or more a year. Also, sick time may be used not only for the employee's own health condition, but also for their child, spouse, parent, plus sibling, grandchild and grandparent.

Workplace posters have been required since the beginning of the year, ours is in the break room. Notification via pay stub or other written document is also required. There is talk about eventually seeing federal requirements for sick leave. It will be interesting to see how this evolves.

Location Helps

Several of our clients have either their headquarters or major offices here in the Bay Area.   We’re also a popular location for user conferences. That gives us a chance for frequent face to face meetings. The RSA Conference, “where the world talks security”, was last week at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Many of our clients were there, participating and/or exhibiting. It was a great opportunity to get out of the office for a day and meet people we hadn’t seen in awhile, as well as make some new contacts.   While we may frequently talk, Skype, email and communicate in other ways, It’s good to see each other in person now and again!   Luckily our location makes that possible.

Come visit our new offices!

This is our first full week in the new offices.   Everything is new, the space is so functional, and we all have figured out our new commutes.  One of us has a whopping 4 minute commute now! We have two large spaces.  One side has our cubicles, several pods of 4 cubicles each.  There is also a smaller conference area with workspace for 2-3 plus a treadmill desk.  We’re still walking, still checking each other’s steps via our Fitbits!

On the other side, which we refer to as the Board Room side, we have a large conference table, lots of seating, another small conference area that also has a treadmill desk, office space for 2 of the executive staff, and our kitchen.

The extra space is wonderful, and being put to good use!  Today we’re hosting one of our clients.  We have the perfect space in the Board Room for this half day meeting.  We skyped with our team member in London, called in to a training session on new software – projected on the wall for easy viewing, had space for breakout groups, and all had room to sit around the table for group discussion.

Stop by and visit:  1150 Hillsdale Ave, Suite 100 in San Jose, CA.   There will be new photos posted shortly.  Stop by, we hope to see you soon!

Finally it's wet!

Amazing quantities of snow in the east, frigid temperatures in much of the country, and finally, some rain here in California.  Seems as though winter is in full swing. A few days of rain here is very welcome.  The drought here is so impactful the local water district offers signs you can put in your yard which say “Brown is the new green!”.  Useful for all of us doing minimal watering of yards, if watering them at all.  We’re suffering through the third driest year in nearly 120 years and 58 percent of California is in “exceptional” drought, the worst category, with more than 80 percent of the state in "extreme" drought.

While we need and really want to see rain, we must confess to not being quite as hardy as those suffering through snow.  The first big rain always means more traffic accidents, curtails most outdoor activities, and leads off the evening news!  Hopefully rain will become less newsworthy and we’ll see much more if it, plus get our own amazing quantity of snow in the mountains as the season progresses.

First Fall Holiday

It’s quite a day for celebrations here. Of course it’s Halloween.  For those of us in Northern California we are still celebrating the World Series win of the San Francisco Giants as the team returned to the Bay Area and a huge parade.  Plus we have rain, and we haven’t seen rain like this in far too long.  So on all counts it’s quite a day! We did have a client visit our offices today.   The vast majority of our clients are located far away.  It was quite a treat to discover one was local and rather than speak on the phone, would come in for our meeting.  We did warn him, we dress for Halloween!  He was able to meet with a cavewoman, the 49ers Super Fan, and one of the minions from Despicable Me.  More fun than the average meeting!

We were able to kick off the fall season with a holiday, a client meeting, and a bit of fun. Hopefully your company enjoys the holidays too and has much to celebrate in the coming months.

Earthquake Drill!

We participated in the Great American Shakeout again this year. Our drill wasn’t quite at 10:16, as it was a drill we decided to wait until everyone was off the phone  Of course we know an earthquake wouldn’t be as considerate! “Pretend it’s an earthquake, now!” was shouted and everyone stopped, dropped, and took cover under their desks. Only a few of us knew the drill was coming so it was good to see everyone knew immediately what to do.  This is critical as our location in California is crossed by major earthquake faults.

We also had a general safety discussion. In a major quake we know our exterior stairway is more at risk than the interior one.  The back end of our office is also more at risk.  We’re on the second floor and the back end has parking spaces, rather than building, beneath.

We are prepared. Multiple fire extinguishers, a portable emergency ladder, first aid kit, and several team members have CPR certifications.  Let’s hope we don’t have to put all our safety precautions into use!

Join the ShakeOut 10:16 on October 16, Be Prepared

The Great ShakeOut is a day of special events featuring the largest earthquake drill ever, organized to inspire everyone to get ready for big earthquakes, and to prevent disasters from becoming catastrophes. What we do now, before a big earthquake, will determine what our lives will be like afterwards. The ShakeOut drill will occur in houses, businesses, and public spaces alike throughout the country at 10:16 a.m. on October 16, 2014

  • If you are inside a building, move no more than a few steps, then Drop, Cover and Hold On:
    • DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
    • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
    • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops. Stay indoors till the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit.
  • If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, you should find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover and Hold On. Stay there until the shaking stops.
  • If you are driving, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.

Free registration at www.ShakeOut.org/california/register will pledge an individual’s or group’s participation in this important preparedness event. We’ve registered, have you?

Roll out the welcome mat!

It’s a wonderful time to visit sunny California, though actually it would be hard to find a time when it’s not great to visit here!  Remote team members and some of our key contacts from out of state have all chosen August for a visit.  Last week we saw our HR specialist, out from Atlanta.  It was a great chance for her to meet the newest hires face to face and gave us a chance to talk about some strategy issues as a team.  We are lucky to have our London based team member arrive shortly for a 2 week stay and plenty of client visits are scheduled over the next two weeks.   We are putting our conference room and visitor spaces to good use!  At Referential, Inc we have found remote work to be very efficient and effective, but it’s nice to have some extra time with people and to establish more personal connections.

Heavy machinery now, cool temps later

crane  

Spring has just begun and our temps are high here in the Bay Area.  Seems like we had one week of winter way back in November and it’s been warm and dry ever since.  I suspect we’ll have a warm summer and we were happy to see a new air conditioning unit go up on our roof today.  We are sweltering a bit as the installation completes, it’s nearly 80 degrees in the office right now!  You can see the crane they needed to use.  We watched as they backed into the lot, which wasn’t easy.  And we weren’t the only ones watching.  Heavy machinery brought out an audience.  We expected more noise from the roof but ripping out the carpet on the stairs and laying new flooring has been surprisingly noisier!  We think these are the last major projects our new landlord has planned.  The upgrades are certainly nice!  Bring on summer, we’ll be cool and comfortable.

Beat the Quake!

We're part of the great ShakeOut coming on October 17.  Leading up to the event all sorts of info about being well prepared is coming our way.  Today's email from the Earthquake Country Alliance focused on securing the environment.  Have you been in a quake?  If so you know how things can move around, tip over, break...   A fun way to practice is to play the Beat the Quake game.  I was able to 'secure' 11 of the 14 items before the quake hit, how will you do?   Maybe living in California made me a bit jaded, I admit I'm unlikely to secure my TV remote, though if it ends up banging someone on the head, even my dog, I'll be sorry!   Try the Beat the Quake game here: http://dropcoverholdon.org/beatthequake/game/

Campbell California bound

Found it! Great office space in Campbell CA, right across the street from eBay. We’ll have plenty of space for offices and meeting rooms plus a kitchenette. It's just a short walk to the Los Gatos Creek Trail, restaurants, and necessities like the bank and post office. Target start date is March 1 so we’ll have lots to do between now and then.