Whether you are bootstrapped, just getting started, or established, the decision to decide whether to try to build a feature/function yourself, or integrating something existing can be quite difficult. There are opportunity costs for either direction you take. It’s good to grow your product quickly, but you’re still limited by the resources provided to you. No doubt, there are great tools out there you can use to quickly enhance your product. But are they good enough for what you want to accomplish, and will it fit in with exactly what you need? Here are a few pros and cons I suggest to consider:
Slow to deploy
Quick to deploy
Flexibility of features
Limitations of features
More developer hours
Less developer hours
Flexibility of design
Possible high dollar cost
Ability to iterate
Limited ability to iterate
Ease of a MVP
Challenging MVP. Sometimes all or nothing
Downtime at helm of developers
Downtime at helm of vendor
Ability to enhance features easily
Feature enhancements limited by vendor’s development pace
It should come as no surprise that we are becoming more and more green in the home. Recycle. Turn off the lights. Unplug unused appliances. Keep the thermostat off. There shouldn’t be a reason why this doesn’t apply to an office. Not everyone is as green as they are in the office than if they are at home. I do catch myself being ‘un-green’ at times both in and out of the office. We try our best, right? A few things to consider to try to be more green in the office: (oh no, not another list….)
Bring your own cup. Can’t be that hard right? Need coffee? Bring your own cup. I’ve always made sure to bring my own personal cup/mug to the office, especially when I start a new job. I’m not sure what excuses could come out of those who don’t. If you need separate ones for coffee and one for water, bring 2! Not only does it create excess waste, it can get pretty expensive. The Office Depot brand disposable coffee cups are $6.29 for 50. That’s $0.125 per cup used. Figure some use 2 a day, that’s a quarter a day for cups. At 260 work days a year, you’re looking at $65 per employee savings if it was eliminated. Now I’m not saying that you are completely banned of using disposable coffee cups, but limiting your use could help your company out. Besides, you don’t use disposable cups at home, do you?
Recycle. This is an easy one. But split up the bins so people know where to put items. If you have a compost pick up at your office, have a bin designated for biodegradable items such as food scraps.
Turn the lights off. Also an easy one. Conference rooms not in use, bathrooms unoccupied, lots of natural lighting… These are all reasons why you don’t need the lights on. If you have an office that has lots of natural lighting, use it! It’s probably more pleasant to the eyes than the artificial lights from above. Overhead fluorescent lamps are efficient, but why use energy when you don’t need to?
Unplug when not in use. From what I hear, even if an appliance is not ‘on’, it’s still using some kW when it’s still plugged in. This applies to your phone chargers too. If you’re not charging anything, they are pretty pointless to have plugged in. Now, I do know that it can be quite the hassle and unrealistic to unplug everything including monitors, printers, and desk lamps. I wouldn’t expect people to do this.
Sleep your computer. Lunch time is sleepy time for your computer. Stepping out for lunch? Going to a meeting that doesn’t require your laptop to be present? Put it to sleep. It will save some energy when it’s idling and not sitting there trying to process information. Not being an expert on this, but I would assume a computer that’s sitting there processing information such as when emails are coming in, and Facebook updating on you browser, is using a bit more energy than if it were to be put to sleep.
Climate control —> Off. This one doesn’t apply to every office. If your office has the luxury of windows that actually open, open them. Too cold? Close them. This one is a compromise. Two real life cases come to mind that may affect the decision for this. 1. I worked on the 4th floor of an office building that had their climate control break in the middle of winter (Bay Area winter). Outside temp: 50’s. Inside temp: 85. It was not pleasant. 2. Another company I was at had a climate controlled warehouse. I was told by finance during a random conversation that we would save $10,000/mo by turning off the climate control just in the warehouse. zOMG! Apparently, it runs 24/7. So yes, this doesn’t apply to all offices. Another money saver.
Stop Printing! There are reasons whey we need to print, and in those cases it’s ok. I have seen people print emails. I just don’t get this. the ‘e’ in email means ‘electronic’. It should stay that way. Email already saves paper by design, so why counter that by printing it? This leads to a product idea: Printing credits. Each employee should have printing credits that is allotted to them each month with no roll over. Every time you print, you use X number of credits. Use them up for the month? Sorry, you need to wait until next month. Yet another money saver.
There are many other things you can do to be more green. These were just a few. Just don’t mix it up with being this kind of green. Although, sometimes you may feel that way at times.
According to Wikipedia, the population of Tokyo is over 13 million people. 13 million! One of these most densely populated cities in the world. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Japan, specifically Tokyo most of the time. On the long 10.5 hour plane ride there, I knew what I was going to get myself into. Trains, trains and more trains. I couldn’t help but wonder what it took to move that many people in and out of the city with minimal use of automobiles. Fast forward to recently spending a few days in Tokyo, there really wasn’t that many vehicles on the road other than buses and taxis. It wasn’t Manhattan gridlock, or the 1 hour commute to go 8 miles on 101N through Mountain View and Palo Alto, Ca., but it was hectic.
I took it upon myself to remember to make some observations of how people got around Tokyo on a daily basis. Given that I was there during the weekends and weekdays, traveled around in or around rush hour, I got a pretty good sense of what the Japanese did to ensure that everyone was orderly, and tried my best to document everything with various cameras (Nikon D7000, old Canon SD1000, iPhone 4S).
Starting from when you enter the station, you will need to figure out where to go and which platform to take the train from. There will be several signs, but they are generally easy to read. Just follow the arrows towards the correct platform for your train. To minimize pedestrians from crashing into each other, Japan’s railway system lays down arrows to keep everyone flowing in the right direction on specified sides of the walkways and hallways. This really helped the confusion of which side you should stand on, especially during rush hour where there could be 500 people ascending a staircase, while you and 5 other are trying to go down it. Again, follow the arrows!
Eventually, you’ll need to pass through the ticket gates. The ticket gates are as simple as they appear. Enter your ticket, or slip in your PASMO then walk through. However, during my frequent observation when we had to pass through the same station several times during our stay, I noticed that the reversible ticket gates switch directions for which way you may pass depending on the flow of the commuters. That is, if it’s rush hour, it may go in one direction and flip to the other direction during the other part of rush hour.
An interesting observation I did make is how flexible this system is. Notice the arrows in this photo noting that the gate is open, and the (-) ones noting that it is close for that direction. I noticed that *sometimes* the (-) sign could just be a suggestion. During times of sudden heavy pedestrian traffic in one direction, commuters can just use their passes to pass through these ticket gates. This temporarily switches the direction of the gate to help the flow of pedestrian. So basically they let the crowds decide which way it should go!
Once through the ticket gates, you’re met with more arrows directing traffic. Eventually, you’ll make it to the platform where you should await your train’s arrival. But where to stand? Never fear!
Although this photo does not show it, passengers should be standing and lining up where the yellow and white shoes are. Some stations use this method, some use dotted lines. Nonetheless, you should stand in these locations to ‘line up’. 90% of the time, the subway car stops at the perfect spot denoted by the grey area in the photo above. Some stations have a yellow landing area. The reason for this is to open up space for passengers to disembark the subway car, keeping the boarding passengers to the side. An observation was that there is a lot of courtesy the locals give to others by leaving this space. No one gets on until passengers leave the train first.
But wait, there’s more to this madness. At the Shinagawa Station, there is a train that uses the same track and platform, and heads towards different final stops. The overhead screens provide the clear data of when and which subway goes to which station. Since this is a very busy station, they put landing areas for boarding passengers to wait on. In the photo below, one area is designated for passengers heading towards 1 location (Haneda Airport), and another area is designed for passengers heading to another location (sorry, can’t read Japanese).
What’s even more efficient about this is that the subway stops so that the doors align with the correct landing area. This is a great example of a simple solution for a potentially complex problem. And just for fun, a humorous photo of a warning sign helping prevent collisions.
So there you have it. Several examples of how simple ideas can make daily life just that much easier for everyone. This along with the incredible on-time record of the trains down to the second, makes for an efficiently run city.