Your company is important to you – we know that. It’s not just work for you, it’s a true dedication; it’s a passion that you live and breathe. It takes up your every waking hour – and you love it. But somewhere, at the back of your mind, there’s a little niggle. A thought gnawing away at you that maybe, just maybe, your business isn’t running quite as smoothly and efficiently as you’d like it to.
There are definite ways to rectify this though. Here’s a few tips to get you started and ensure your company is performing as well as you’d like.
It may sound obvious, but a good place to start is the organisation of files, documents and records. From the smallest expense receipt, to that major client proposal you’re preparing to deliver. With computer systems, this can be fairly easy to alter – make sure every document saved on the server is located precisely where you, and your employees, expect to find it. The amount of time wasted trying to find documents because they’re not in the correct folder or because they’re ambiguously named can be staggering. No-one wants to open twenty Word documents just to find one item. Set up a naming system, so, for instance, you’ve saved that client proposal as CLIENT NAME – MAJOR PROPOSAL – DATE. This makes it easier to see at a glance precisely what it is. Remember, you might know that MP stands for major proposal, say, but who else in the office will? You should arrange your hard copies in a similar fashion, in chronological order and in alphabetised folders, for ease of reference. This goes for your internal structure too – make sure all departments are clearly defined and know precisely who they’re reporting to.
Manage Your IT System
If you haven’t organised your tech side yet, that’s got to be the first thing to do. That way your computer equipment can run faster, and, as we’ve said, your employees can find what they need in a flash. However, if you’re struggling to maintain control over your IT, you might consider outsourcing the role to professionals. Often these companies are area-specific. So, for instance, Lucidica are an IT company who supports companies in London, whereas if you’re in the north, you may want to consider IT support in Sheffield from Delta ComTech. The true bonus of outsourcing IT support is the fact that you no longer have to worry about it, leaving more time to focus on the day-to-day running of your business.
Set an Office Routine
No, we’re not talking about teaching your employees choreography. And if you want to increase morale you wouldn’t even consider it. To run a really effective office you’ll want your employees to know exactly what they’re doing, when they’re doing it, and where. Lay out a simple routine like having a team meeting every Tuesday at 10am, or laying out key tasks to be completed by the end of each day. Responsibilities and routine allow everyone to aim for the same targets. And don’t forget to keep to a routine yourself – it’s good to maintain a certain of level of order, but always be open to changes to the plan, otherwise you end up with a situation comparable to the stubbornness of First World War generals.
Listen to Your Staff
If your staff feel like you’re unapproachable, or unwilling to listen to their views, you’ll only encourage apathy at best and dissent at worst. So make sure you’re listening to what they’re saying – and not just hearing it and dismissing it out of hand. Play to their strengths – so don’t dump the girl with the law degree in the admin pool if you and she both know she could do a lot more good in the legal department. If your team feels like it’s all pulling in the same direction your business will naturally run smoother than before.
Look at Where You’re Working
As humans, we’re very susceptible to our environment. An office that’s too dark, or too cold, or too cluttered can seriously impact on the productivity of your staff – and that’s not going to help efficiency, is it? Health and safety issues can also affect your workplace environment, so if that’s a concern for you, don’t hesitate to seek outside assistance. Companies like Turner Business Consultants provide training and courses to support your business while raising awareness of issues that may affect the efficiency of your company. Staff falling sick or tripping over office mess won’t make your business run any smoother.
With these tips, you can begin to create an office that runs precisely how you want it to run – smoothly, efficiently, and focussed.
Climate Change. It’s probably the defining political movement of our time – well, after the global recession, at least. And wherever you stand on the issue, whether you believe we’re on the brink of an environmental apocalypse, it’s all a scam by elitists to make more money, or just somewhere in between, we can probably all agree that conservation itself knows no political bounds; that we can all work together to help keep the planet a little greener.
But it takes more than just a few folk recycling their food packaging – although, of course, that most certainly helps. To really make a difference, businesses, too, must look at their own energy consumption and reduce their emissions. It makes sense to do so, not only for environmental reasons, but for economical reasons too. Leaving a 100w light bulb on constantly can run up a bill of about £50 annually – and that’s just a single bulb! Many local businesses, such as Airedale Springs, who have recently been acclaimed for their energy efficient factory, are already taking significant steps in this area, so there’s no time like the present for your own business to join the campaign.
The first thing a business that’s looking to create an energy efficient workplace needs to do is walk around the building. With a handy checklist, you’ll be able to evaluate pretty quickly the key places that need work. Lights being left on when there’s nobody in the room is just one example. Pretty soon, you’ll be able see all manner of energy waste, from computer monitors not switched off at the end of the day to canteen kettles being boiled several times before use. A good idea is to do this at different times of the day – morning, noon, and night once everyone has left – because you may find different issues occurring at these times. If you notice an excessive waste of water, you might consider equipping your building with storage tanks. Companies like Forbes and Pure Water Storage provide rainwater and agricultural water tanks, and even GRP tanks, depending on your business and sustainability needs.
It’s no good for a business to become an environmental dictatorship – employees will only end up resenting rules they see as petty and autocratic. A far better way to win over hearts and minds is to include employees in the discussion. Do they have any suggestions for reducing energy consumption; have they noticed examples where your business can do better? Consulting your colleagues is a great way to make sure the entire company is on the same page. Better yet, it creates a sense of team-work and, if you have the resources, you might also consider competitions for recycling the most and the like.
Back in October 2013, UK Prime Minister David Cameron was branded cold-hearted by some sections of the press for suggesting we wear jumpers in the winter, to reduce energy costs. Never mind the fact that he didn’t actually say this, when you think about it, it’s a pretty sound idea. I mean, that’s what jumpers are for, isn’t it? That’s not to say forcing your employees to wrap up while you skimp on heating is a good idea – cold temperatures are as bad as seriously hot temperatures when it comes to affecting workplace productivity. But heating is one of the key factors when assessing energy efficiency, whether in the house or at work. If possible, and if it hasn’t already been done, insulate the building as you would your house, and make sure your boiler is properly maintained – according to the Carbon Trust, heating costs rise around 8% for every 1 degree of over-heating.
The Bottom Line
As a company, you’re bound to have an eye on the bottom line. Certainly for small- and medium-sized enterprises, cost is a major concern when trying to reduce energy waste. That’s why governments, whether in the US or Europe, generally offer tax credits or rebates for turning your company into an energy efficient machine. This is a great way to make sure you can go green, without breaking the business’s bank.
You needn’t put a windmill on your roof to create a sustainable business. Often it’s the little things that you might overlook that waste energy and cost money: the photocopier that’s used once or twice a week, but left on indefinitely; junking all your trash in the same bin instead of recycling. With a little thought, observation, and creativity, you’ll be well on your way to efficiency in energy usage. Every little helps!
Whether you are an environmental campaigner or not, the simple fact of the matter is that it really does make sense to live as green as possible. Living in London is expensive enough without paying for energy that is not used efficiently, so it is especially beneficial to ensure that you are as efficient as possible. The very idea of being green is to save energy. When you consider that every bit of energy that your home uses adds money to your fuel bill, when you see energy as money it becomes far more sensible to limit the amount that you waste. There are thousands of ways to become more environmentally friendly but, as with so many things, it really is true that some of the old ways are the best. Those tips that your grandma gave you do not come from million pound studies, but from a time when rationing was a daily part of life and people found practical ways to minimise waste and maximise the efficiency of the energy used.
Sheep’s wool insulation
Sheep’s wool insulation is one of the most traditional sources of insulation and is actually an incredibly complex and efficient fibre to use. We all know the joy that comes with wrapping up in a warm woollen jumper on a cold day, but instances of homes being insulated with sheep’s wool are becoming more and more common. The reason for its popularity is the fact that it is one of the most thermally efficient materials in the world, maintaining a great humidity and consistent temperature and atmosphere regardless of the outside conditions. Keeping the outside conditions out of your home is especially important in the city centre, and sheep’s wool insulation can even combat environmental pollutants that can be harmful.
Cooking one pot-meals
British cooking is awash with one-pot meals such as stews, soups and casseroles, and they are an incredibly efficient way to cook a family meal. The fact that you are only using one source of heat to cook an entire meal ensures that you are using the absolute minimum energy and in the most efficient way. If you feel that one-pot meals are boring then doing a little research into one- pot meal recipes will surely change your mind and give you fresh and tasty ideas that also save on washing up.
Wood burning stoves
Many people still see the log burner as an old-fashioned method of heating a home, but the truth is that they are a very efficient and ecologically sound way of heating a home. Logs are a sustainable resource that is constantly re-planted after they are cut down; the growth of the trees also offsets the carbon dioxide created when they are burned. Many worry that wood burning stoves in London would not fit aesthetically, but there are now a wide array of designs available that will keep you toasty warm as well as looking great.
Using a compost bin
However efficiently you use your vegetables and groceries it is inevitable that there will eventually be some waste generated; and it is a great idea to recycle this into useful compost. Almost all food waste is compostable, and when left to compost and then repurposed for growing plants or vegetables it creates a very sustainable and environmentally friendly way to repurpose your waste. Garden space in London is at a real premium and you can now buy compost bins in a range of sizes to suit your needs.
Using natural cleaning agents
Many modern cleaning agents contain an array of chemicals that can be harmful to the environment and can really be a detriment to those that want to live an environmentally conscious lifestyle. Thankfully there are plenty of old fashioned cleaning solutions that are completely natural and will not cause the same harm to the environment. Things such as lemon juice, white vinegar and baking soda will clean a variety of things and get through surprisingly tough stains. There are also natural household cleaning products available from specialist producers, meaning that you can have a clean home as well as a clean conscience.
There are certain old fashioned methods of doing things that are quite rightly out-dated and replaced with a more sensible solution, but there are also certain old-fashioned methods that are built on a solid foundation of using the best bits of nature to our advantage. If you want to live more environmentally consciously or simply want to minimise the amount of money that is wasted due to inefficiency, then any of the steps above will prove advantageous to you.
Petrol and diesel is an extremely important part of our daily lives. It lets us run our cars and trucks, getting the children to school and the groceries home. It helps us keep our grass and gardens looking great, powering mowers and lawn care equipment. It lets us get away on holidays, running boats, off-road vehicles, and motorcycles.
However, petrol can be hazardous if not stored correctly. According to fuel storage specialists, check ‘Fueltek’ for example, petrol should only be used for its purpose – as a motor fuel – and stored only when absolutely necessary. It should not be used as a cleaner, barbecue starter or for any other non-engine use!
Remember, that inappropriate storage of fuel can have serious consequences including health problems, contamination of the environment and damage to property! Therefore, here are some safety tips you can follow to avoid accidents and damage resulting from poor fuel storage practices.
1# – Never put petrol or diesel into cans or containers and leave them in the house. According to Josh Clark and his recent article on ‘How Stuff Works’ storing petrol or other flammable liquids under the stairs, in the loft or in even in the kitchen cupboards is too dangerous!
2# – Store any petrol or diesel in garage or outbuilding, as far away from your home as possible. There are also strict rules on the amounts that you can store here. See ‘London Fire Brigade’ for additional information.
3# – When transferring fuel to your vehicle, never smoke! Also, don’t use a mobile phone and keep all sources of sparks or naked flames well away from the area.
4# – Never overfill the fuel tank! In addition, don’t forget to properly label storage tanks by the product they contain!
5# – Never start the engine of a vehicle while you are filling it with fuel. Also, take care not to spill petrol or diesel on your clothes or shoes! According to ‘BBC’ fuel produces harmful microscopic particles and those cause lung cancer and other breathing problems!
In summary, petrol and petrochemical products are highly volatile and flammable substances that may cause a great deal of damage if not stored properly! So, make sure you follow these tips and stay safe!
Starting uni can be a daunting experience. It’s your first time living away from home, sampling your first true taste of independence; for that reason, it can also be the start of the most exciting time of your life. However, you still have get the practicals right, one of which is finding somewhere to live! For first time freshers or prepared PhD’ers, take a look at our guide to university accommodation for some great tips.
If you’re going to a campus uni – and not all of them are – then you have the option to be able to live on campus. The policy varies from uni to uni, but some will offer guaranteed campus accommodation to first year students who put that uni as their first choice. Campus can be a great nurturing, environment, and is frequently chosen by those who have the option. It keeps you close to the amenities and lecture theatres and you’ll almost certainly be sharing with other first years in a similar position, so you can really get to know people right away. All told, living on campus is the perfect start for any student looking to strike out on their own and enjoy the best of university life whilst still remaining within strong and supportive community links. Campus students (and parents of campus students!) might want to think about a quick trip to www.studentsurvivalkit.co.uk before term starts too. They offer fantastic student ‘survival packages’ at great prices that contain everything you’ll need for that first term!
The major alternative to living on campus is living in the city. How you do this is entirely up to you, but it’s important to note that many universities will have their own properties to rent within the city. This can be especially beneficial for a number of reasons, not least that the rent is often much, much cheaper than if you were to rent independently. For parents, it’s comforting to know that these rentals are also much safer, and though students will be living in town, it’s quite common for such areas to contain more than one student house that develop a sort of student commune. Alternatively, city living is also offered by university affiliated companies like CityBlock and U-Student. Based in Leicester and Lancaster, CityBlock offer high-quality, secure living for students that’s actually designed by students too. You can check out their Leicester accommodation at www.cityblock.co.uk/locations-leicester. In addition, another fantastic provider of student accommodation who are quickly branding out across the UK (with their new block in Newcastle set to launch this coming September), U-Student.com offer absolutely fantastic, modern and fully furnished student living in Sunderland, Carlisle and soon to be Newcastle.
Living At Home
In the face of rising university fees, living at home is becoming an increasingly popular option. Mum and Dad might joke about not being able to get rid of you but secretly they’ll be glad you’re staying. What’s more, the money you’ll save on rent will more than make up for the cost of travel – who knows, if you stay local you may even be able to walk to uni! You can take a look at www.independent.co.uk/student/student-life/accommodation/living-at-home-the-pros-and-cons-2054080.html to get a flavour of what it’s like to sample the student experience whilst living at home. It’s important to remember that living at home doesn’t bar you from enjoying everything that uni has to offer. You can still join as many societies as you want, attend all the functions, and if you want to stay at uni more often you can just crash on a friend’s couch for free!
Going to university is one of the most exciting times of your life, both academically and socially. It can be a scary experience at first, but once lectures start and you get to know people, those three or four years will fly by and you’ll be pining to go back!
Building a school is potentially one of the most daunting tasks any local community can undertake. The actual process of building is enough of a task to begin with, but you must consider how you want to develop learning, and not just take the current situation from existing schools and apply it to yours – otherwise, why would people choose your school? From concept to completion, let our blog help you with some of the things you might need to know.
Arguably the most important part of the overall plan, the concept encompasses the design elements in a way that has to reflect both the practical elements – the bricks and mortar – and the theoretical elements of learning. Involve all aspects of what makes 21st century learning a democratising affair, and reject outdated and outmoded 19th century models. The only structure you should be thinking of is your physical building, make the rest of your thinking about activities, driving your vision through with the help of all aspects of the community to create a holistic learning environment. You can read www.independentthinking.co.uk/Cool+Stuff/Articles/306.aspx from Independent Thinking to see just how and why attitudes have changed in schooling, and how you need to incorporate that to succeed.
Construction of the school has to best reflect the attitude you want to instil in students for learning. This is the building that they are going to see almost every day for a significant portion of their life. The building has to foster a wholesome learning environment that both inspires and engages, and that can be achieved even in the construction of the building itself. Pure Buildings – you can find them at www.purebuildings.com – specialise in constructing timber framed buildings within the education sector. Their flexible design can be tailored to your requirements and offers an alternative, ecologically and environmentally friendly method of construction that reinforces the way you will want your students to think about learning; take new approaches to things, think beyond traditional methods.
A school is nothing without its students, and once built and opened, the focus now becomes about them and your teachers. Create a learning environment that encourages conversation and dialogue between students, their peers and teachers. Take a look at techniques like Memrise (www.memrise.com) and from The Learning Spy (www.learningspy.co.uk) to keep yourself ahead of the curve. Both of these website contain fantastic and (r)evolutionary resources designed to get your students, and you, thinking about new ways of learning.
There is so much more that goes into building a school than what is outlined here, but hopefully this should give you the bones for a very arduous, but ultimately rewarding process. With the right mind set and a aptitude for learning – for you your students and you – you can create and implement a wonderful and engaging learning environment.
Tired of hauling round chunky textbooks? Bag breaking and your back aching? Sometimes different subjects at university require a different level of resources, and doing a subject like English or History, you require a lot of extra materials with you at all times, as well as your laptop, your lunch, your stationary, your folders.
But there is another way, and it’s really a lot less expensive than you think…buying a tablet.
When tablets such as the Blackberry Playbook and the iPad came out severa years ago, they were mega bucks. Slowly as the boom of them went down, and they became more affordable, they have become a new way to do your school work. By doing everything on one tablet screen.
Take reading for example, with an Amazon Kindle, you can upload up to 10,000 books on one memory, and a lot of classics are free. You can edit, annotate, highlight and even writes notes to help you with your studies.
iPad is by far the best for use in lectures. With its touch screen keyboard, and handy clip on keyboard for those who prefer to touch type, you can take them anywhere. With their sleek design, you can literally slide them into your bag, and they don’t take up much room at all.
If you’re against Apple products or simply prefer the android way of working, then the Samsung Galaxy tablet is for you. It does everything the iPad does, but it runs on android.
All these tablets are great for different things and they simply free up space physically and mentally by keeping everything organised onto one mulitdimensional piece of software. Prices start with the Amazon Kindle Fire, currently on offer for students at £99 instead of rrp of £139.
Being a student at university, you learn quickly that you’re going to be pretty skint for the duration of your 3 year stay. Over time it’s a thing you come to accept, and further still, your mind becomes adjusted to bargain hunting. Here a few tips on how to savemoney whilst being a student and still enjoying yourself. Here’s how to live off a $50 budget a week.
Monday- Buy the Basics- when you go food shopping, see if there’s a free bus to a supermarket near you. Abuse this priviledge. When you shop, choose the basics range, it might be a trolley full of tesco value, but it’s all the same stuff as brands, just not as pretty looking.
Tuesday- Make your lunch the night before to avoid spending unnecessary money on campus on overpriced food. Treat yourself and buy a chocolate bar if you must
Chocolate Bar= £0.50
Wednesday- You have the urge to go shopping, you’re going out tomorrow night and you want something new and different. Raid the local charity shop, score a skirt and a top for the combined total of £5.
Charity shop buys=£5
Thursday- It’s student night and you’re hitting the town. It’s £1 drinks and you take out a tenner with you. You buy 5 drinks, still have money for entry to the club and a couple of quid to share a taxi home.
Night out= £10
Friday- You want a hangover pizza, you put in for the takeaway you’re all sharing.
Saturday- You and your uni gang decide to go to the cinema cos it’s student night, you treat yourself to some popcorn.
Cinema and Popcorn=£10
Sunday- You decide that you’re going to be good and save this £10 for transport, or whenever you need an extra couple of quid.
Lasting total- £50 (£10 into savings)
Well done, you have sucessfully lived off £50, well £40 this week.
There are a lot of different ways that you can take part in volunteering, as there are so many places and roles involved with the activity. In your local community alone there is most likely a wide range of volunteering opportunities, ranging from volunteering in a charity shop to helping out at an animal shelter. There will probably be a type of volunteering to suit most people’s work ethic, experience, tastes and interests, so with a little bit of research it can be possible to engage in a highly rewarding form of volunteering.
Volunteering can be a great way to enhance a CV, to start up a new hobby, or just to pass your spare time, though different volunteering opportunities are better for different purposes. If you are interested in going into children’s nursing, then spending six months volunteering at a day care centre or something similar would be a great way to gain experience of working with children, as well as being something useful to include on your CV. It can also be a good way to get an opening for a future job. A lot of places employ people in a voluntary capacity, and depending on how well they do and fit into the place, they may be kept on full time in an employee capacity. This is especially prevalent in vocational positions, where learning on the job is a required part of gaining experience, and it can be impressive to potential employers that see you are willing to work and learn without being paid.
Energy consumption in Britain is at an all time high. However, with the cost of utilities soaring and natural resources being depleted globally it is more important than ever to save energy around the home.
Thankfully, significantly reducing your energy bills can be accomplished quite easily. There are plenty of changes that you can make around the home to save money. Simply remembering to turn off appliances can make quite a difference, you’d be amazed to find out just how many people waste electricity by leaving their TVs or computers on stand by twenty four hours a day.
Of course you can always make some more drastic changes which could see your energy bills being slash. For example, solar panels are becoming quite popular as an increasing number of people have them fitted to their homes in a bid to cut back on energy costs. Solar panels can make quite a difference to your energy bills, particularly during the summer months. There are many other renewable energy sources that can be utilised to reduce your domestic energy consumption such as ground source heat pumps too.
If you’re considering investing in an renewable energy source for your own home then you may be interested to know that the government is able to provide grants to help you cover the costs. Find out if you’re eligible for a grant and save money on your utility bills.