Using mobile phone

UK consumers green about environmental impact of Tech

UK consumers are ‘green’ about the environmental damage caused by the constant ‘upgrading’ of tech products, according to new research.

In the study despite 59% being concerned about the environmental impact of frequently replacing smartphones and tablets with new models, seven out of 10 admitted they don’t fully understand the recycling process for old hardware devices once they have been discarded. The findings show that 38% regularly replace their smartphone with the latest product.

The ‘IT Trends Research’ was carried out by technology services business Lifeline IT to ascertain consumer attitudes towards information technology. It revealed that 77% now think wearable devices, such as Apple watches and branded headphones, have become more of a fashion accessory.

Said Lifeline IT founder and director Daniel Mitchell: “We’re all guilty of wanting the latest iPhone or tech accessory, but maybe next time you go for that upgrade, find out exactly what happens to your old model and make sure it’s recycled with minimum environmental impact.

“The constant mining of materials for new phone batteries is hugely detrimental to the environment. If we all stopped replacing our phones every time a new model comes out, it would have a direct positive impact.”

The study, carried out annually by Lifeline IT and is now in its 10th year, also looked at the issues of security and data protection. Despite the much-vaunted GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules of 2018, 73% of those questioned did not know or were unsure if companies and organisations are looking after their data in a way that is GDPR compliant.

And despite a vast increase in home working since the outbreak of COVID, 49% of those questioned aren’t confident they have the same IT security in place as they do in their office or place of work.

The growing area of IT subscription services, such as Cloud storage, iTunes, Dropbox and Adobe software, was also looked at in the research. Almost five out of 10 admitted they have more subscription services than they did a year ago, with 46% saying they would be less expensive if they were one-off payments, rather than monthly/quarterly charges.

Added Daniel: “Apathy seems to be the common issue that’s come out of this year’s research – it’s often easier to keep the status quo rather than change things.

“But it’s important to regularly review your tech services, especially now so many more of us are working from home. Always make sure you have the correct software in place when it comes to security and if you’re unsure if your data is being handled correctly, check with the company involved that they’re GDPR compliant. Now is also a good time to review your IT subscription services and assess which ones are business-critical and what’s the most cost-effective way of paying for them.”

Published by Business Matters

Commuters at London Liverpool Street

Brits still love the office, but want one closer to home post covid

New research from has revealed commuting is the biggest barrier to the return to office life post-Covid, with only 8% of Brits now prepared to travel more than an hour to get to work.

In the short term, workers are set to follow Government guidance by continuing to work from home, in the longer-term, six in ten want an office that is closer to home and an even greater proportion say that a more conveniently located office is a must-have for their next job move.

A reluctance to commute is a key driver in accelerating the demand for office space in smaller towns and cities post-Covid. IWG, the flexible workspace provider who commissioned the research, has reported a 22% jump in sales between June and August this year in the UK, fuelled by buoyant demand in the suburbs. It’s a different situation in London city centre locations however, where the company saw sales decline by 40% over the same period, reinforcing that workers are still hesitant to travel far from their front door, and that a fundamental shift in where offices will be based in the future is about to take place.

Londoners are leading the way in calling for a reduction in their commute to work, with 70% wanting to cut travel times. This is having a direct impact on an increasing demand for flexible workspaces in M25 commuter hotspots. In the last three months, IWG’s centres in Uxbridge and Luton have both seen a 74% increase in demand for flexible office space, followed by Croydon and Harrow.

A similar shift towards the suburbs can also be seen in the North, where demand for spaces on the outskirts of Manchester has doubled compared to locations in the city centre (37% compared to 18%). The biggest increase in demand across the UK has been in Plymouth with a 114% increase.

Mark Dixon, CEO and Founder of IWG said: “The changes we’ve experienced in how and where we work are here to stay. As we have seen during the pandemic, people have enjoyed working from home and have tasted the relative luxury of not having to commute. This is unsurprising given a vast array of sources, from the Office for National Statistics to Princeton University, tell us continually that commuting is the least favourite part of the working day for many.”

Dixon continued: “Whilst there is undoubtedly an aversion to travelling far to the office, when guidance allows, companies still need to have offices that employees can drop in for social interaction, meetings and business reviews. Put very simply, you don’t want to meet people in your front room or bedroom.”

Businesses looking to meet employees’ new expectations should note that for a fifth (21%), three is the magic number of days per week that they would like to work from the office. Almost half (46%) even say they would quit their job if they were asked to go back to the office five days per week.

Strong demand for a flexible working week is understandable, especially when UK office workers could be saving an estimated £21m on travel per week collectively by only going into the office for three days compared to the traditional five. They would also pocket an extra £322 each per year by reducing expenditure on takeaway coffees, lunchtime shopping and after work drinks.

Client: IWG
Published by: Business Matters

Working from home

New research has revealed that 52% of Brits are happy to continue working from home for as long as is required.

However, some 37% admit that they are starting to feel the pressure and 6% admit to already finding this new way of life a struggle. 

Moneypenny, the outsourced communications provider, polled 2,000 UK workers, who are currently all working from home, to reveal how they are tackling bringing their work life into their homes. 

With the Government urging all non-key workers to work from home where possible, this study has shown that whilst many have become accustomed to this new way of living, some have had to implement new changes in order to cope with the transition. 

When it comes to the workers’ routine, the findings showed that we are adapting to a new schedule when working from home. 

Interestingly, almost half (43%) get up less than an hour before they start work. 

  • 42% get up about one hour before they were due to start work
  • 17% get up about 30 minutes before
  • 15% wake up 45 minutes before work

6% confessed to having a lie-in, stating that they get up about 15 minutes before starting work, with a further 5% revealing that they get up about 10 minutes before work. 

Only a handful of workers (15%) give themselves over 1 hour before starting work. 

When it comes to taking breaks, around 46% of those surveyed said they made sure to stick to their normal lunch hours.

28% said they take shorter lunch breaks then they usually would when in the office. 11% take longer breaks. 15% stated that they don’t take any lunch breaks at all. 

Some people are finding it far more difficult to switch off from work, with three-quarters (73%) admitting they answer calls and emails after normal working hours.

The research also highlighted that 72% of those people who work from home have experienced a day where they did not speak to any colleagues. Of those, almost a half say they don’t speak to anyone for longer than one day. 

The findings also revealed the most popular places in which workers set up their office space in order to create a sense of normality and to maximise their productivity. 

Just under a quarter (24%) of adults prefer to work from their living room. This is followed by 15% who use the dining room or sitting room. 

Only 13% already have a dedicated home office space set up at home. 

Furthermore, 12% use their bedroom and 7% created a makeshift home office.

Interestingly, 5% of workers stated that they do not have a specific space to work from at home, meaning their work spaces are slightly more unconventional; 3% find themselves working from a garden, shed or summerhouse, and 3% work from the garage, studio or attic. 

Over a half (53%) say their company did not supply anything to help and set up their home

office. 26% received screen and any office supplies they needed. 16% of workers said they received a voucher or cash to buy what they need to set up their home office.

Commenting on the survey findings, Joanna Swash CEO at Moneypenny said: “It’s clear that many companies are relying on their staff having a full home office to enable them to work from home and companies should be auditing the facilities their staff need and providing them.”

The 2,000 respondents also gave their recommendations when it comes to working from home. The most common tips were:

  • Having a comfortable chair.
  • Having your own space to focus.
  • Writing a plan.
  • Having regular breaks for fresh air. 
  • Listening to music.
  • Keeping active. 

Published by MoneyPenny

working from home

Staff less motivated out of office, say company bosses

Only 23 per cent of businesses think that their staff have been more productive or motivated while they have been working from home, a survey suggests.

CMS, a law firm, commissioned Trends Research to question businesses in the UK, Europe and Asia and 64 per cent said that staff motivation and enthusiasm had suffered because of remote working. However, most said that a mix of home and office working was the best option for creativity and innovation, productivity, and motivation and enthusiasm.

On average employers predict that they will not have more than half their staff back in the office before the middle of next month. Companies in Singapore said that most would not be back before then.

Many companies, including Standard Life Aberdeen, have told most staff not to return to the office this year. However, some bosses, including Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JP Morgan, have called for a return to the office. He noted that productivity at the bank with people working from home was lower on Mondays and Friday.

The majority, or 61 per cent, of businesses questioned said that they would refurnish their offices when staff returned. They said that their priorities would include an environment that supported mental and physical wellbeing, productivity and social distancing.

Sixty-nine per cent said that they were preparing to reduce workspace costs by having staff work more flexibly. In England and Wales 7 per cent of respondents said that they planned to close offices and switch entirely to home working.

Published in The Times 

Working From Home

We do more work at home, say missing office millions

More than half of British workers believe that they are more productive while doing their jobs from home, according to a new survey.

In a poll by Trends Research commissioned by Talktalk, the broadband provider, almost six in ten employees said that they felt more productive at home, and nearly a third of company directors and senior executives agreed with them.

The survey found that half of workers did not expect ever to return to the office for five days a week.

Employees in Britain have been slower to go back to work than their European counterparts. Research published by Morgan Stanley last month found that only one in three British workers was back in the office, compared with seven in ten in Germany and more than eight in ten in France.

However, some industry experts suspect that increased working from home may even raise the prospects of a four-day working week in the near future.

Cathryn Barnard, 49, partner at Working the Future, a management consultancy, said: “If someone can do their work in four days rather than five as a result of flexible working hours, it stands to reason that they can use the fifth day to further improve skills that complement their role.”

The time saved by not having to commute had led to many learning new skills, with a quarter of those surveyed saying that they had started to learn a new language during lockdown.

Published by: The Times 

money spending

Pester power from children pushing parents into debt

money spendingFathers are more likely to be repeatedly pestered for items by their children than mothers, the Money Advice Service said.

A third of parents say caving into pester power from their child has caused them to go overdrawn or take on new credit, a survey has found. With Christmas approaching, 33% of parents report that giving into pester power has caused them to overstretch their finances, meaning they have been overdrawn or taken on some other form of credit to pay for the extra expense, the Money Advice Service (MAS) found.

Toys and games are the most likely items children pester their parents about, with eating out, drinks and sweets, games consoles and holidays also high on their lists of demands.

Fathers are more likely than mothers to say their children repeatedly ask them to buy items, with 59% of fathers saying this happens to them compared with 54% of mothers.

The Trends Research survey of over 1,000 parents with children aged between two and 18 also found nearly two-fifths cave into pester power because they feel guilty for not being there for their children all the time, while many said they do not like being asked the same question repeatedly or feel tired and fed up.

The findings were released to mark Talk Money Week, an awareness campaign running until November 18 aiming to improve people’s money management skills and financial well-being. Sarah Porretta, UK financial capability director at the MAS, said: “Although a child pestering may seem harmless, our research suggests that many parents are struggling to cope. “Some are even dipping into their overdrafts and using credit to pay for this expense, which is worrying.”

She said it is “perfectly OK to say no to your children”, adding: “It’s important they know the difference between needs and wants. “Just make sure you explain why, take this as an opportunity to teach them that we have money for certain items, but not always for sweets or toys.”

Here are some suggestions from MAS, the body set up by government to offer money tips, to engage children positively with money

For younger children, play is a great way to keep money fun and engaging. For example, children love playing shop. Show them the difference between coins and how many you need to buy an item. Explain that two 1p coins equal a 2p coin and how that can be used to buy something they want.

One of the benefits of using real coins is that it helps children get used to handling money in everyday situations. Explain that when money is gone, they have to save up to get more. – Use television and other technology to introduce children to money topics. Explain how adverts try to encourage them to buy items.

For older children, you can talk about bills, budgeting and where money goes and ask them to help you find the best price by comparing prices in shops or online. – In the supermarket, give your child a small amount of money to buy something they want.

Help them see what they can afford, show them how to pay and how to check the change. – Pocket money is a great way to give children responsibility for money. Even the smallest amount can help children learn how to manage money. Pocket money could be “earned” in exchange for doing chores at home.

Published by the Press Association

JK Rowling voted best female financial role model

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has topped a public vote to identify the best female financial role models.

But the survey, to mark Good Money Week – from September 29 to October 5 – also found a fifth of people do not think there are any good female financial role models in the public eye.

After Rowling, who is known for her philanthropy, Dragons’ Den investor Deborah Meaden and businesswoman Karren Brady, who appears on TV shows The Apprentice and Give It A Year, were in joint second place.

Deborah Meaden
Deborah Meaden (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

Oprah Winfrey was next in the survey, which gave people a list of names to choose from and the option of suggesting someone not listed.

Good Money Week encourages sustainable and ethical investing. This year it is focusing on female economic empowerment.

Karren Brady
Karren Brady (Yui Mok/PA)

Charlene Cranny, campaign director of Good Money Week, said: “It is a shame and a disservice to many of the amazing women doing good things with their money that many of us don’t think there are any good female financial role models in the public eye.

“Something clearly needs to change here. There are plenty of good financial female role models all around us, and we need to shine more of a light on their amazing work.”

More than 2,000 people were surveyed across the UK

Sarah Coles, a personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said its research had found that only one in five women are fully confident about their financial future.

She said: “It’s vital we conquer the investment gap.”

Published by: Irish Independant SanFran Gate MSN News

tax free shopping

Britain’s leading retailers demand Philip Hammond delivers on digitalise tax-free shopping promise

Hundreds of Britain’s leading retailers have written a furious letter to Philip Hammond demanding he delivers on a promise to digitalise tax-free shopping in next week’s Budget.

Tourists who come to the UK from outside the EU to shop still have to apply for VAT refunds using paper forms.

Most other EU countries allow shoppers to apply for the refunds online.

But Britain has yet to implement a digital process five years after first outlining plans to modernise the tax-free shopping system – and has pushed back the delivery date to 2020.

Today 600 leading retailers clubbed together to warn the Chancellor that Britain is losing thousands of international tourist shoppers every year to European rivals.

They want him to speed up plans to modernise tax free shopping – pointing out that the Government’s failure to act threatens the £2.5billion value of retail sales that tax free shopping hands the UK economy every year.

The letter is signed by major department stores such as Harrods, shopping outlets like Bicester Village and groups such as the British Retail Consortium.

It points to research showing the Treasury would boost tax receipts by allowing shoppers to claim for refunds online.

Analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research shows there is a net benefit to the public purse of up to £1.90 for every £1 refunded with additional tax coming from greater visitor numbers and spending on other non-tax refundable goods and services, such as hotels, restaurants and transport.

The letter demands: “As a matter of urgency the government takes action to introduce a digital system at the earliest possible moment.

“We have lost confidence in HMRC’s ability to deliver its preferred option, which we believe is unnecessarily ambitious, will create an inferior product, will introduce additional risks and uncertainty, and will see the UK diverging from the global norms for tax free shopping schemes.

Published by The Sun

Six workplace wellbeing initiatives & trends businesses should look out for in 2018

It’s that time of year when everyone is starting to think about their New Year’s resolutions, most of the time these resolutions tend to about their health and wellness.

Promoting good health and wellness should also be an employer’s goal for 2018 so with this in mind, here is a summary of the six best workplace wellbeing initiatives and trends that businesses should look out for in 2018.

Sit-stand desks

There is no escaping the fact that the majority of employees time in the office is spent sitting at their desks. This lengthy level of sedentary behaviour can have serious downsides to a person’s health and has been associated with various physical and mental conditions including obesity and depression.

To counteract this sit-stand desks can be effective in reducing the amount of time staff sit down and are no longer the obscure recommendation they used to be (however they can be costly). Even if a workplace can offer a regular sit-down desk only, chances are they may have electronic devices such as a laptop or a tablet that can be used to migrate to a different working area.

Finding a table top that’s the right height can be tricky, but if they have one in their workplace it can break up the day and a mixture of sitting and standing can easily become a reality.

Workplace naps

Sleeping on the job is very much a workplace taboo, however, a 20-minute power nap has been proven to reduce stress and increase productivity.

As a result of this in-company sleep pods, resting rooms and snooze friendly policies are becoming increasingly popular, with tech giants like Google and Uber leading the way.

Understandably not everyone has the luxury of being able to step away from their desk for an hours sleep but lunch hours and tea breaks can be a great time for employees to have a quick nap in a quiet dark room.

Digital detox

Many of us work in a culture where we feel we are unable to switch off or put down our phones even when it is the weekend or when we are on holiday.  The need to keep up to date with work emails or make that quick phone call to the office during personal time is something that many of us struggle with.

But not having good boundaries around work and personal time can be counterproductive and leave employees far less effective at work and can lead to an employee burning out.

If businesses want employees to take a digital detox they should consider encouraging employees to get away from their desks and disconnect from all technology at lunchtime. But most importantly employers must create a workplace culture that supports digital detoxing as many employees feel guilty about taking a break when they actually should.

When employees know that taking a break is not only acceptable but necessary for good job performance, they will be more inclined to do it. At a time when many employers expect round-the-clock communication, encouraging employees to take a digital detox is not just good for employees – it’s good for business.

Work burnout, caused by stress levels that affect an employee’s job performance is something that more and more people are suffering from. Being constantly connected to smartphones, laptops, and tablets after work can now also leave people susceptible to digital burnout.

Financial wellness programmes

Research from the CIPD in 2017 revealed that UK adults believe their financial situation will worsen due to economic factors such as driving down wages and rising living costs. This is a worrying time as financial stresses go hand-in-hand with reduced mental health and wellbeing. And while it’s devastating for the people going through it, businesses can also suffer.

If an employee is in trouble, there’s a high chance that they’ll struggle to focus on their work, make mistakes, or miss their targets. To support employees, employers should consider getting an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

It’s a confidential outlet that can help employees out of their financial hole. EAPs combine in-person, online and over-the-phone support services like debt counselling and financial advice.

Businesses should also think about offering lines of credit advice on how to manage money or a workplace financial education, Such as classes focusing on making the most of existing income through better money management and savings plans.

Giving back to charities and the community

Participating in charitable initiatives help employees feel good about themselves and proud of where they work, which in turn builds loyalty among them. Many employees would love to have time to do charity work, but can’t fit as much of it into their lives as they’d like to because of time spent working. By giving employees several hours per month to do charity work, this can be a perk that benefits not only employees but the local community, too. Giving back is an important part of Health Assured’s culture. We recently worked with a local homeless charity and donated a considerable amount of clothing, food and gifts. The positive response was not only from the charity but also from our employees.

Healthy vending machines

The office vending machine can be a quick and easy way to pick up a snack or drink at work during busy times. One of the negatives of the office vending machine is that they usually only offer processed, sugary foods and heavy carbohydrates.

Thankfully there are innovative businesses popping up across the UK who are creating healthy vending options with no preservatives or sweeteners. These are a great alternative for businesses to use so that they can promote and provide a healthier diet as part of a healthier lifestyle.

Published by Business Matters

market research

Why is marketing research important for your business?

The advancement of technology has given us so many ways of finding out what we need to do to sustain businesses of different kinds.

Regardless of the differences that are unique to each business, one thing remains important – knowing what your customer base wants, and then work on fulfilling their needs in order to survive from the competition.

With the era of monopolies now gone, it makes it very essential to on market research. That is why the major companies in the world employ the services of marketing teams and spend millions of dollars annually in recruiting research firms. Here are some reasons why you need to spend that money on research.

To have a better idea of what you are going to do

This may sound generic as ever, but the thing is – it shows you the importance of conducting research in the first place. The worst mistake you can make as an entrepreneur is shooting in the dark – you simply waste your time and resources without anything to show for it. You may make mistakes along the way even if you have sufficient information, but it is better to be prepared.

Whatever decision you make for the business, it is important to do your homework. From sourcing for suppliers, getting potential clients, and even developing the range of your products and services. It can also help in clearing up any queries that you have while still providing you with sufficient first-hand strategy that helps in progressing the business, also known as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).

It helps you to stay focused

Let us be honest here – marketing research and marketing in general is not an easy venture to get into, especially with all the multitasking that happens today. Even as a business owner, you might find yourself trying to focus on multiple projects, playing various roles within your organization, while still running the business and trying to help it succeed.

However, when you have done sufficient market research, it should inform you what your consumers want. This helps you make a list of priorities you need to accomplish, which in turn helps you in managing your time as effectively as possible. It also gives you a guide on both the long and short term strategies you need to put in place, which helps you feel more organized, less frazzled and overwhelmed in the long-term.

Gives you better insight on your customers

Regardless of whether your business has been in the game for a long time or is starting out, target customers should always be a priority, as they are either potential or loyal customers. Good market research strategies will clear doubts you may have on the identification of these customers, including their gender, ages, locations, and so on.

The more analysis you do on their spending habits and products they frequently purchase, for instance, the better you can understand what makes them tick. This allows you to focus on manufacturing certain products or giving certain services in order to retain them as loyal customers.

Helps in understanding customer behavior

Aside from getting to know potentially loyal customers, you can use market research to find out some requirements of the customers. The improvement of technology has given us some useful advanced software tools such as Google Analytics, which assist you to understand the behavioral patterns of your customers. Oncetheir spending behavior is understood, you can then refine and customize various products for them.

These software tools can use the data in two forms. One is tracking the spending habits of the customer when they are online, which is a real-time analysis (it particularly works if you have an online shop), and the other is to check their past spending behavior to see if there are any patterns involved.

Helps in analyzing competitors

If you have ever read the book ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu, it states that for you defeat your enemy in battle, it is important to know yourself and know them, and they will never defeat you. This statement is true; not just in war, but also in other aspects of life – especially when it comes to running a business.

Monopolies do not exist anymore in this day and age, so every business has fierce competition all around it. This should motivate you to do adequate research on the market as well as your competitors, and you may learn some strategies from them that can either push you ahead or reduce the growth of your competitors.

Even more important, it will help you to keep your growth consistent through the improvement of your services and products.

Gives you adequate information for selling and forecasting activities

The most important focus of sales forecasts is helping a business keep adequate inventory, an action which regulates the balance of demand and supply. The only way to find this out is through doing research. After doing a sales forecast you can then begin to plan for alternative goods you can sell, or find new methods of selling the goods. In addition, you may have consumer bases in other countries; market research allows you to find them and tailor make strategies for those areas.

Reduces losses and risk on a significant level

The best approach to use would be a contingency approach. At the back of your mind, you remember that the business may not do well due to factors that may be beyond your control, or others may be mistakes you will learn along the way.

Market research proves to be effective at reducing risks that you incur or the losses your business may suffer, as long as it has concrete findings to back it. It helps in avoiding mistakes such as poor pricing methods and poor marketing, so that your business has a fighting chance of thriving.

Final thoughts

Making your business succeed in the face of increasing competition is not an easy thing, and that is why market research exists – to enable you find weaknesses you should improve on. With these tips, investing into proper research is justified, and it will give your company great benefits.

Published by Business Matters