We received a postcard for a play titled The Receptionist and my interest was peaked. Over the weekend I read a review in The Portland Mercury about it and they made it sound really funny! I saw a picture of the characters and they were wearing typical business casual outfits. I was sold. I giggled imagining our staff dressed in khakis and blouses. What a different world Ruby would be.

We embrace personal expression and have a very casual dress code. Some of our receptionists wake up at 4:00 am to answer calls by 5am for our east coast clients. Requesting them to wear a suit is out of the question, especially since we rarely have clients or visitors in the office. I am grateful for the personal freedom to dress up or down any day of the week.

Saturday night I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking, “I wonder how many Rubys would want to go see this play with me? I wonder if the play house does group rates? What types of horrific situations are we protected from as Ruby Receptionists? What would it feel like to work in a typical office at your standard company?” None the less, I am looking for a well rounded life and seek to inspire people to support the arts. A play would fulfill that desire. So I thought, “Why not combine desire with research!” I imagine myself in the audience with a little notepad writing down funny phrases the cast might say.

When I called CoHo Productions Lindsey Chamberland asked, “Are the tickets for a student group?”  I replied, “No, they are for a group of professional virtual receptionists.” She exclaimed, “Oh wow! It would be a blast to have you as guests.” We now have 10 tickets booked. This is now a living dream.

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Ruby Earns RecycleWorks Award

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Ruby Receptionists was recently honored to receive a RecycleWorks Award from the City of Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development.  RecycleWorks is an amazing program encouraging local businesses to engage in environmentally friendly practices.  We are proud to join the list of Portland-area businesses dedicated to sustainable practices.

We could not have earned this award without the hard work and dedication of Charlene, our Ruby in charge of Human Resources and Accounting.   Charlene spearheaded the effort to reduce waste and increase green practices throughout the office.  Because we are a virtual receptionist company, we are fortunate to naturally use little paper and produce minimal waste.  A specialist from RecycleWorks visited our office and determined that our main source of waste was from food eaten during the lunch hour.  To counter this trend, Charlene implemented Ruby’s lunchtime waste reduction campaign.  The campaign rewards staff members for bringing or buying waste-free lunches, or eating meals that create only recyclable waste.  Our staff was happy to modify their lunchtime practices, and improvements were immediately discernable.  Ruby’s daily trash output has since decreased substantially, and many more recyclable materials are finding their way into the appropriate bins rather than garbage cans.

Above, Charlene (left) accepts the RecycleWorks Award.

Our RecycleWorks representative presented us with the award during a company-wide staff meeting last month.  It felt great to acknowledge the changes we have made, and recognize their importance.  Thanks to Charlene, RecycleWorks, and our thoughtful, earth-conscious staff, being green has become a way of life Ruby Receptionists.

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…Because No One Should Be Hungry

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On Thursday evening, November 20th, about 15 Ruby Receptionists headed over to the Oregon Food Bank to volunteer. Prior to the event, there were a few misconceptions about what we would be doing. Personally, I imagined a small, classroom-sized area with a couple of tables filled with donated food from food drives. I thought perhaps we would put them in bags to be donated to families in the area that would have a hard time of it this holiday season. Because, you know, no one should go without Thanksgiving dinner.

Instead, we were directed into a large, warehouse-type room with giant crates of oranges and carrots. We were only a small portion of the over 100 volunteers who showed up on this cold and rainy Oregon evening. Many of the other volunteers were from Portland General Electric, and they deserve a shout-out as well.

We put on our aprons, our gloves and our hair nets, and we got to work. I was on orange-bagging duty: nine to ten oranges makes up a 5-pound bag. Others were bagging carrots, and later in the evening there were beets to divide up. All told, the 102 volunteers that donated their time that evening bagged 27,346 lbs of food for hungry families. In one evening, each volunteer handled the equivalent of 206 meals, with a total of 21,035 meals handled in just two hours.

By the end of the shift, our backs were sore and our hands were sweaty and powdered with that stuff in the latex gloves. We had handled more oranges than most of us thought we would see in a lifetime. But we felt like we had made a difference. In addition to the volunteer work, we had run a food drive in the office during the weeks prior to our shift. We donated several bags of food, but there was something about getting down and dirty with thousands of pounds of carrots and oranges that made us feel like we were really making a difference. And we did. The hundreds of volunteers that OFB sees every month equate to 36 full-time year-round employees. This is not something that the food bank would otherwise be able to afford.

At the end of the work shift, we first-timers were offered a tour of the building. At this time I will turn the blog over to my esteemed co-worker Sarah, who put in a tremendous amount of work organizing this event for our office:

I don’t think it was until we took the tour of the food bank that I really understood the magnitude of the organization we were doing this work for. We had a very knowledgeable and friendly guide who took our group on a tour through the building and explained each station and the inner workings of the Oregon Food Bank.

The first stop was the lobby, where they house several conference rooms that are available for free use to all organizations in the community. We were told that these conference rooms were created as a way of giving back to the community and helping to build its strength. Also in the lobby, our tour guide explained that the art on the walls was a way of telling a story about the roots of food banking. The art told the old story of “stone soup” in which a man teaches a village to share by contributing individual ingredients in order to create a feast for the whole community.

Although it was a typical dark, rainy northwest winter evening and we weren’t able to see much outside the building, we were told about the fully edible landscaping around the building and the 1/3-acre teaching garden. The teaching garden is where professional gardeners volunteer their time to teach people in the community how to grow their own food. We learned about how the food bank is not only about giving people in need a box of food and sending them on their way–it is also about working toward change and self-sustainability. There are also many programs in place to help people learn to maximize their nutrition on a small budget, including workshops and cooking classes taught by local volunteer chefs. We saw the big training kitchen where those classes are held, and it was nice to know that so much more than I ever imagined is going on on at our local food bank.

The next stop in the tour was a state-of-the-art room where volunteers redistribute meats, cheeses, and eggs. Our guide explained that volunteers work amazingly quickly to examine foods for safety and get them into the hands of people who need them within 24 hours of receiving these donations from local grocery stores. We then took a walk through a huge warehouse that was set up a little like a Costco with large pallets of food stacked in shelving structures. We also took a very chilly step into the 8,500 square foot freezer and 4,000 square foot cooler. The freezer is kept at a shiver-inducing -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

It was hard not to notice that there were a lot of empty shelves in the food bank. Our guide explained that with the current economic crisis, the need for emergency food has risen by about 19% overall, and up to 43% in some areas. This food bank provides for organizations all over the state of Oregon, so their supplies are going out about as quickly as they are coming in. I’ve heard the news stories and we’ve all seen the rising gas and food prices, but being in that big room with all the empty shelves made it all hit home a little harder for me. It made me realize just how important our little two hours of work bagging oranges could be and how important it is to continue give what we can to our community as we struggle to get through these hard times. It also made me feel really happy that an organization like the Oregon Food Bank exisists.

After the tour, we came back to the room in which we had bagged oranges and our guide gave us a breakdown of the numbers for the night (which Kendra mentioned above!). When he told us that our shift had bagged 27,000+ pounds of oranges, I was really amazed to see that just a few hours of hard work can make such a difference! Our small team of 15 Rubies helped to prepare meals for over 3,000 people in just a few hours!

Seeing the food bank in all of its glory and hearing all of the numbers and stories about how we Oregonians are lucky enough to have one of the largest and most state-of-the-art food banks in the nation made me feel really proud to be an Oregonian and to be able to be a tiny little part of this. And standing there with my tired (but committed) co-workers who were giving up their free time to make a little diffence in the community also made me feel really proud to be a “Ruby” that night.

It was a night of learning and hard work, but in the end, I think we all left feeling a little more connected and proud of our time spent there.

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During a recent search for writing tips, I had the good fortune of finding Lynn Gaertner-Johnston’s blog, Business Writing.  I have since referred to this blog many times, and have found it incredibly helpful.  Gaertner-Johnston’s writing covers a wide variety of topics, and the blog’s search feature makes finding specific answers easy.  This blog also features links to several other helpful online resources.  Business Writing is the first site I turn to when I have a specific stylistic question, and it is a great place to browse and quickly learn something new.   Professionalism is very important to Ruby Receptionists, and I am thankful to Lynn Gaertner-Johnston for helping me strengthen my writing by sharing her expertise in a fun, interesting, user-friendly format.  The next time you’re wondering what to write or how to write it, check out this fantastic resource.

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Thank you for Calling, or Visiting!

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Even a virtual receptionist answers the door sometimes.

At Ruby Receptionists, we are all about first impressions, and making everyone we interact with feel appreciated and taken care of.  Usually, these first impressions are made over the telephone, as we are a remote receptionist service.  Once in a while, though, our staff is afforded the opportunity to use more than a friendly voice to make a great impression: when someone arrives at the door of our office.

Our door-answering routine is greet, seat, and treat.  We greet guests and welcome them into our office, offer guests a seat in our lounge, and treat guests to coffee, tea, or water.  In an effort to make sure everyone at Ruby feels comfortable wowing people over the phone and in person, we recently had a bit of door-answering training.  The training was hardly necessary, though.  I can’t say enough about our staff.  The Ruby team is simply exceptional, and their natural friendliness shines through in every exchange.  I have been delighted to notice how warmly all of our guests are greeted at the door.  I am fairly sure one of our Rubies even made the postman blush.

No interaction is trivial at Ruby Receptionists.  Whether over the telephone or in person, our aim is to make you feel special.  If extending such warmth to your clients and callers interests you, call Ruby toll-free at 866-611-7829, check us out at www.callruby.com, or if you’re in the Portland, Oregon area, come and knock on our door!  We look forward to making your day.

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Missed connections translate to lost revenue. With Ruby, you have a partner in gaining and retaining customers. Plus, we’re so confident you’ll love our service, we offer a 21 day money-back guarantee*.

*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the canceled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner. Some restrictions may apply.