South West Businesses Piling on Debt, Bills and Overdrafts Mounting During Lockdown


A year on from the start of the pandemic, business finances in the South West have been badly damaged, with many business owners increasingly reliant upon costly sources of borrowing such as overdrafts and credit cards, a Business West survey has revealed.
40% of the 550 businesses that responded to the survey reported a higher level of indebtedness than a year ago, whilst a similar number (43%) had 6 months or less of cash reserves remaining, laying bare the huge financial cost of coronavirus despite extensive government interventions in the economy.
With pressures on firms growing after multiple lockdowns, 28% of businesses seeking out finance opted to utilise the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) – a government backed initiative offering favourable interest rates and flexible repayment terms, but this scheme has now ended.
Salisbury-based 365 Linen Hire, which provides tablecloths and napkins to the weddings and events industries, highlights how emergency borrowing has taken the strain for many COVID-19 impacted businesses. Its Manager Richard Gould said that as hopes were dashed of the economy unlocking earlier in the year, the business sought out BBLS funds to gear up for a summer reopening, having “held out as long as possible”.
The use of overdrafts and credit cards by local businesses is also relatively high, at 22% and 19% respectively, considering that these sources of finance are more expensive than government backed emergency finance. They are also more common than the formal government backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which only 16% of respondents chose, typically larger businesses within the survey respondents. The percentage of businesses borrowing money from family and friends is also quite significant, at 11%.
Bristol-based marketing agency Feisty Consultancy was one of the businesses that complained of receiving a rough ride from their banking provider over the past 12 months.
“During the first lockdown at least, the banks were helpful in reducing/removing fees,” said Feisty Consultancy’s Managing Director Vikki Little. “But this stopped some months ago and hasn’t been reinstated, despite the fact that the situation is now worse for many businesses. I wrote to my bank regarding this and was told ‘tough’ essentially.”
If the increased prevalence of short-term borrowing wasn’t worrying enough for the state of business finances, it is particularly so for the self-employed. Two fifths of respondents identified credit cards as their main source of financing during the pandemic – a finding which suggests that the self-employed (many of whom fell through the cracks of government support schemes) were unable to access cheaper, alternative forms of borrowing.
Against this background, Business West is concerned at a potential ‘finance crunch’ coming for small businesses. With repayments starting on government backed loans and the level of (often high cost) debt from financial institutions and others, the burden of this debt is expected to act as a drag on business recovery.
Unsurprisingly, after a year of lockdown restrictions, almost half of the 550 participants reported a deterioration in their cashflow, taking this to the lowest point in the last 3 years, with responses consistent across both the services and manufacturing sectors. “It is dreadful,” said Val Hennessy of the International House language school in Bristol – one of the businesses speaking out. “Virtually no income and little prospect of a real increase in income in the near future as international travel is banned or the costs of travelling to the UK for students is too off-putting. We cannot risk borrowing anymore because the future is so uncertain.” she continued.
For businesses such as The Zoots band, government financial support has unfortunately done little to make up for the income shortfall of a year ravaged by stop-start lockdown restrictions. Its proprietor Jamie Goddard revealed that he is “currently in £30,000 debt” adding “with SEISS grants of only £2500 that covered about 1.5% of my usual turnover” and hopes they “will get something eventually” to address the situation.
Aside from widespread financial worries highlighted by the survey, the region-wide study also found that almost 40% of South West employers had experienced staffing issues as a direct result of school closures.
Stephen Sage, Managing Director of ACES Ltd – an electronics firm based in Bristol – said that along with school closures: “Social distancing measures have slowed our production along with…home working,” before adding “material shortages have also compounded the problem.”
The cumulative effect of rising debt levels and lockdown restrictions on business growth and performance across the region is plain to see.
Over half of respondents reported that their turnover, profitability and cash flow have been negatively impacted as a result of the pandemic. The percentage of businesses impacted in the retail, tourism, food and drink, and consumer services industries is even worse (over 60%), with many delaying growth plans and experiencing reduced profit margins.
Despite the pain of the past 12 months, businesses are remarkably upbeat regarding the future prospects of the UK economy, with business confidence also showing signs of lifting following government’s announcement of an irreversible roadmap out of lockdown in England. On both measures, this represents a marked uptick when compared to the last quarter’s results.
 
Providing his assessment of the survey findings Business West Managing Director Phil Smith comments:
“Whilst the UK’s successful vaccination programme provides genuine light at the end of the tunnel, it would appear that businesses will have to wait a little while longer before they are able to bask in the glow of a dawning economic recovery.
“There have been few winners and very many losers as a result of the pandemic, a good proportion of whom have taken on added debt to help see them through.
“In the best-case scenario, we will see pandemic related debts repaid quickly as business activity begins to ramp up and accelerate as lockdown restrictions are lifted. In the worst case, a mounting debt burden stymies business growth and proves a long-term drag on the region’s economy.
“To see businesses utilising the flexibility of the BBLS is pleasing. However, the fact that more and more businesses are turning to credit cards and overdrafts to solve cashflow issues is concerning. The reliance on friends and family may also be interpreted as a market failure that government and lenders would be wise in addressing.
“We are worried about small businesses and the self-employed’s access to suitable finance during the recovery period. At the end of March both BBLS and CBILS closed, and CBILS was replaced by the successor Recovery Loan Scheme. However, this is available via commercial bank lending and is only government guaranteed for 80% of the loan. Our findings highlight a looming finance gap for smaller firms, given the particular finance needs of smaller businesses, who appear to not be utilising CBILS, perhaps because it is harder to access this more formal bank form of financing. We think further government finance schemes for these smaller firms may be needed.
“After business’ most challenging year in living memory, it goes without saying that eyes remain fixed on the roadmap out of lockdown, as only then do we have the realistic prospect of healing the wounds inflicted by the pandemic and repairing business finances.”

Remote Working Has Caused a Surge in Mental Health Problems

As April is Stress Awareness Month,, Instant Offices researched how the last year has affected employees mental health but also what business and individual employees can do to improve and support mental health. 

As remote working has been the new normal for the last year, self-isolation and health-related anxiety have created a general sense of unease for many people. A YouGov survey showed that Covid had impacted the UK’s overall mood, with 41% of Brits feeling stressed and 38% feeling frustrated.

The Top 5 struggles for remote workers are currently:

  1. Not being able to unplug: 27%
  2. Difficulties with communication: 16%
  3. Loneliness: 16%
  4. Distractions at home: 15%
  5. Staying motivated: 12%

Instant Offices discovered that in 2020 the biggest struggles for employees working from home was loneliness, difficulty communicating and balancing a work-life balance.

A surge in anxiety caused by the COVID-19 outbreak means managing and supporting mental health at work has never been more crucial. A 2020 survey revealed that 828,000 workers in the UK struggle with work-related stress, anxiety or depression.

Four Things Employees Can Do To Manage Stress

  1. Get a Better Night’s Sleep: The number of Brits struggling with sleep problems has risen from one in six to one in four. Tips to get a sleep pattern include reducing caffeine intake, turning off screens, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
  2. Take a Digital Detox:Now is a good time to limit the amount of media we consume due to the current situation’s uncertainty. The goal is to ensure you are informed enough to make decisions but not overloaded with news headlines that induces anxiety.
  3. Be Strict Around Work-Life Balance:Schedule the day into bite-size chunks and work in waves. By working in waves, we become energised and find it easy to switch off from work when the end of the days comes. It’s crucial also to schedule enjoyable things in the evening.
  4. Create a Calm Workspace:When deciding which space to work from, look for an area with natural light and temperate, fresh air, and minimal distractions. Space must be free of clutter and have comfortable furniture.

As workers are gradually starting to return to work, business’s needs to retain talent and put employees’ mental health first. 

Ways employers can help their employees with reducing stress and have a healthy work-life balance include:  

  1. Break the Culture of Silence – Environmental Psychologist & Wellbeing Trainer Lee Chambers says dealing with a lack of social connections during the outbreak has been a massive challenge for many people. “Without the ability to go out and socialise in the way we usually would, we have to be more creative and have more intention in our connection with others during this lockdown scenario. In some ways, the enforcement of rules around movement has caused us to slow down”.
  2. Lead By Example – Managers need to be more conscious of the challenges different households face. Encouraging flexibility, self-care, and regular check-ins is key to reducing stress.
  3. Introduce (or Keep Up) Team Activity and Training Sessions – Now is a perfect time for business’ encourage morning catch-ups, remote Friday drinks, yoga sessions or company training sessions. This is a great way to keep employees engaged and busy. 

Some of the most-requested workplace changes among UK employees, providing a guideline for businesses looking to provide better support and ease post-lockdown concerns:

  1. Flexible hours: 59%
  2. A 4-day working week: 45%
  3. Fewer people in the office: 37%
  4. Fewer meetings: 33%
  5. Mental health days: 32%

Pre- Covid, in 2019 – 2020, 17.9 million working days were lost due to these work-related mental health issues. 

60% of Brits say they’d only feel comfortable returning to the office once everyone has been vaccinated. As optimistic as that is, a new survey by CPD shows us a new wave of concerns which include: 

  1. Social distancing: 60%
  2. Workplace safety: 56%
  3. Workplace cleanliness: 55%
  4. Spreading illness to family or friends: 45%
  5. Being away from family: 16%

UK SMEs & New Technologies feature image

UK SMEs & New Technologies

As more and more SMEs opt to utilise new technology in the wake of the pandemic, how can they ensure safe operations while coming to terms with the opportunities new technologies afford?

In June 2019, research conducted by Close Brothers found 58% of SMEs in the UK were not using cloud-based computing for software, storage, or other remote business services. One year on, a report by OGL Computer found that 57% of respondents had plans to adopt cloud computing and collaborative software to drive profitability and business efficiencies.

For some SMEs, like AI Global Media (a B2B digital media publishing company) making use of technology is ever prevalent in their business plans. Tony Garner, one of three directors at AI Global Media explained his rational behind embracing technology, “Technology is critical to all businesses. For large corporates or technology focused start-ups, the reasons are clear, but the benefits for SMEs aren’t always clear and, at times, can be difficult to crystallise. An easy example is having 2 multi-function printers in the office, allowing printing on one, whilst scanning on another. Additionally, there is typically software that can report on who is using which resource which can be invaluable when monitoring activity and costs for departments / individuals. This is a minor example but by scaling up the same rationale to deploying a fully integrated Accounting and CRM system. Typically, there will be sizeable upfront costs and time commitments for the business but the main benefit from having these systems is knowledge. Knowledge that the process is being adhered to, knowledge around pricing, knowledge around who approved what and, the most important of all, knowledge around where improvements in customer experience can be made to make you better, quicker, and more focussed than the competition. This knowledge alone should be enough to bring more long-term value to the business.”

Previously, the main impediment to the adoptions of cloud services by SMEs was a lack of understanding, despite the recognition of the benefits to businesses, as outlined in the Close Brothers research. However, as the times necessitated the speedy employment of new technologies, some businesses find themselves learning as they go. A situation which is leaving businesses with a risk of exposure to hacking and data breaches.

Of course, options do exist for dealing with these issues, even when the infrastructure is provided as service, as Josh Hewitt, Head of IT from AI Global media explains, “There are a few approaches we are looking at when it comes to security of the business:
– an advanced firewall for the business which will protect incoming and outgoing traffic.
– getting everyone working on a business-owned machine
– Credentials such as 365 will be locked down with licensing so it cannot be used elsewhere.
– Blocking users from sharing business files and folders externally by use of Sharepoint advanced security permissions.”

AI Global Media, along with 59% of UK SMEs are now making regular use of applications such as Microsoft Office 365, Teams and SharePoint to communicate and share information with stakeholders both internally and externally. As the hitherto small investments made by SMEs into technology begins to steadily grow, this new market for tech companies swells; small business owners and managers must consider how to protect their assets.

Key Features of English Regency Home Decor: A Guide

The regency period was a time of grandeur and fantasy. It is named after England’s Prince Regent, who ruled by proxy for his father from 1811 – 1820, then becoming King George IV and ruling until his death in 1830. He was known for his extravagant nature and flamboyant taste, which can be seen present in regency design.

One of the finest examples of Regency design is Brighton Pavillion. Built for the Prince Regent as a holiday residence, and extended in 1815 to 1822 by designer John Nash, the Indo-Islamic exterior, and the Chinese interior, is an example of the exotic inspirations which were popular in that time. England and France had increased colonial holdings which resulted in new knowledge of various countries, which found its way into design and architecture. This influence is demonstrated with the recognisable domes and spires of the Pavillion.

If you are updating or renovating a Regency property, or otherwise inspired by the period, here are some key features of English Regency home decor.

 

Chinoiserie

A feature which was popular for some years was chinoiserie, influenced by Chinese art. This was included in Brighton Pavillion as part of its fanciful interior design which had many oriental elements. This is illustrated in the Banqueting Room of the Pavillion which featured silver gilt, wall canvases depicting Chinese domestic scenes, and a show stopping carved silver dragon chandelier which weighs a ton, designed by Robert Jones.

The patterns and wallpapers of this style, that are highlighted in this example, show the exoticism present in much of Regency design. Within your home, chinoiserie can be used as wallpaper throughout a room, mixed with more classical furniture to balance out the style. Alternatively, it can be used in panels next to a contrasting colour to add a touch of this design feature and uplift a room. It adds the exuberant and playful charm existent in the regency period.

 

Furniture

Furniture from this period is elegant and often made of dark, heavy wood such as mahogany, rosewood and zebrawood. Wood veneers were popular back then. Regency furniture often has brass inlays and gilded metal mounts, such as rosettes, female masks and lion masks. These elaborate brass mounts and gilded carvings also include winged lions, sphinxes and ram’s heads, resulting in the ostentatious design that the Regency period is often known for. In the designs, lines are straight or rounded, and symmetry is vital.

Table and chair legs will frequently have metal paw shaped feet. These classic ornaments were inspired by antique Greek and Roman design, and included lion monopodium, paw feet, masks, swans and dolphins.

Dining chairs from the regency period are still very highly regarded. Features include concave or sabre-shaped front or back legs, making the legs curve forward, and high-set arms. They also have crest rails that are broad and flat, often featuring motifs drawn from Egypt, Greece and Rome.

 

Chaise Longues and Sofas

Chaise longues were a popular feature in Regency homes. It became very fashionable to have at least one or two sofas in a room. A popular choice to add a touch of regency glamour into your home is a Grecian couch with roll-curve ends and carved feet. This nods to the Greek influences present in much of Regency design. Alternatively, a sofa with scroll ends and a bolster at each end would also give the Regency flavour.

 

Chandeliers

Elaborate chandeliers can form a key feature of a regency home. They provide the grandeur and glamour existent in that time. Regency chandeliers can be a focal point for any room with their ornate, stand-out appearance.

 

Egyptian Decor

At the end of the 18th century, Napoleon’s campaigns in Egypt resulted in many archaeological surveys, this created a love for Egyptian style, decor and artefacts. This quickly made its way into English consciousness, and inspired many of the designs of the Regency period. It impacted Regency decor as it became the fashion for collecting Egyptian artefacts, sparking the period of Egyptomania. Statues or objects inspired by Egypt will give an authentic flavour to your Regency style home decor. This taste can be seen more in the dining room at Goodwood House.

 

The Empire Style

The Prince Regent had an entrenched rivalry with Napoleon I, the French ruler, which often caused him to want to outdo him when it came to architecture and spectacle. The Empire Style of France and the Regency Style of England were both born out of Neoclassicism which had come before them.

The influence that the Empire style had on the Regency period can be seen in the design of Carlton House, George iV’s residence from 1783 to 1826. There were carved and gilded doors, and luxurious draperies, curtains and wall hangings. The Blue Velvet Room had garter blue velvet panels on the walls and seat furniture upholstered in blue and gold fleur-de-lis satin. Reflecting some of the excessively ornate features present in the Empire style will provide a regency feel in your home.

The Regency Stripe

Perhaps one of the most well known features of Regency home decor is the regency stripe. To add an elegant and classic Regency feel to any room, regency stripe wallpaper may be the perfect addition. Vertically striped, you could stick to the reds, greens and golds common in the day, or put your own modern twist on the regency stripe design. Perhaps have the regency stripe design around a regency style fireplace to elevate the space, combining the classic design with the ornate and grandiose fireplace feature. Having a stand out fireplace in marble, limestone or wood, with the symmetrical patterns and gilded motifs of the era will grab the attention in any room and elevate the design.

The Regency period was one of elegance and opulence, luxuriousness and grandeur, this was mixed with a sense of fun and playfulness, inspired by the exotic. When thinking of your home decor, think of how you can mix the classical with the fantasy, for example elegant furniture with colourful patterns. Getting this balance right and combining the two will result in beautiful Regency style decor for any home.

Post-pandemic Financial Concerns: How Hospitality SMEs Can Make a Change

There’s no denying that the hospitality industry has been detrimentally hit by the events of the coronavirus pandemic. With the UK’s continuous lockdown measures forcing the part-time closure of hospitality and entertainment venues, the economy is faced with the largest recession since records began. Other than being subject to tightening restrictions limiting the regular functioning of hospitality venues, business have also had to invest more into safety equipment such as PPE for staff, cleaning products, and staff training programmes- causing business revenues to be dramatically impacted.

However, with outdoor hospitality having now opened on the 12th April and all indoor from the 17th May, there is now some light at the end of the tunnel for many. In the wake of the darkest days of the pandemic, when the nation experienced several tough lockdowns, this only highlights the importance of SMEs assessing their financial situation during financial adversity and indeed, in preparation for it, should it happen in the future. It’s vital that finance departments recognise opportunities to increase revenues, save on costs, and forecast potential issues that could occur.

With this in mind, Wisteria Accountants take a look at how SMEs in the hospitality sector could transform their businesses finances.

Fiscal Control and Financial Planning

Throughout the pandemic, the hospitality sector has learnt that they must prepare for every circumstance. Sudden decisions to protect the public are understandable during these adverse times. For example, last year hospitality venues had been restricted by a 10 pm curfew, further reducing footfall in bars and restaurants. This emphasises the importance of financial planning.

Functioning on an operating budget is expected for hospitality businesses. These budgets include the cost of wages, rent, and products. However, with the volatility of 2020, this budget type may not be thoroughly effective. Businesses have had to find additional money for cleaning equipment and staff training.

To help spark ideas as to how expenses could be saved, borrowing budget templates from other industries could help with this. For example, zero-based budgets create an optimistic perspective on cost-saving processes. Instead of looking for where cuts can be made, this budget allows finance departments and managers to argue why they should spend. In a zero-based budget, department leaders must justify every expense based on their utility and potential to drive revenue.

A 91 per cent majority met or exceeded their financial targets using this approach, according to one survey. The money saved by zero-based budgeting is often reinvested for growth. However, businesses may want to consider saving for future financial adversity, especially considering the pandemic. Each new period requires a new budget, allowing finance departments to understand the effectiveness of each approach and where further investment can be made.

Purchase management and cost control

For most sectors in the UK, the pandemic has caused revenue losses. However, this is especially detrimental to hospitality industries. The gross profit margin of a business in the hospitality sector is usually 30 per cent, making it one of the lowest profit margins compared to other industries. Even industries with lower profit margins, including construction and car sales, can alleviate the low margins with higher gross profit. Hospitality businesses cannot do this.

With this said, understanding the balance between a reflective cost and a fair one for your products and services is important. While most businesses will want to offer customers a fair price for food and drink, the finance department should identify the true cost of your service. A reflective cost breaks down expenses.

For instance, it would be important to consider the processes that are used to create your service and how much they cost when setting rates for a hotel room. This includes:

  • Staff wages for receptionist and cleaners

  • Electricity and water

  • Breakfast services

  • Interchange fee

  • How occupancy is affected during different seasons

  • How it may be impacted by the continuing pandemic

It’s a given that other expenses could be discovered too. But understanding how these costs are reflected in your price makes it easier to maintain a healthy profit margin.

To help reduce costs that ensure contracts are reliable and effective, a purchasing manager is advised. Finance departments should negotiate on your business’s behalf, with a quick understanding of how each contract can affect revenue and profitability. For example, some drink suppliers may provide free glasses but may be more expensive overall than suppliers who don’t. How the cost of glassware affects this profitability should be considered.

Reviewing your payment methods

When it comes to private sector employment, the hospitality sector is the third-largest sector in the UK. It employs 3.2 million people, producing £130 billion in economic activity and £39 billion in tax for the government. However, it’s important to remember that the sector is broad and variable. Many industries offer different experiences with the unified aim to deliver good entertainment, service, and reception.

However, it’s the expenses and how consumers pay that highlight how the industries differ. For example, you may expect a hotel to receive credit card payments more than a restaurant, who may primarily process more debit cards. A licenced bar or pub may accept more cash than the other examples. These differences have a large effect on your finances. As we move towards a cashless society where card payments are more accepted due to their low contact and hygienic nature, it’s important to understand how your finances may be affected.

For instance, it is a priority that your business reviews if the correct interchangeable fees have been paid after using VISA or Mastercard processes. Interchange fees represent 70 to 90 per cent of all fees paid by merchants to banks. For a sector that has relied on cash, it is clear how the pandemic has changed spending habits and how the increase of card payments will affect your finances.

To help gain a better understanding of the best practices in the sector and to find out what other businesses are paying, companies should speak to their audit accountant.  While auditors will not breach other company’s confidentiality, they will be able to aggregate their knowledge of what is going on in the sector and assist you immensely.

It’s vital that SMEs re-assess their finances since there is so much uncertainty as to how the hospitality sector will financially recover from the events of the pandemic. They need to assess the most effective ways to increase revenue and profitability. Finance departments can be a useful business partner in creating business strategy, whether they highlight future adversity or give a reflection of current expenditure. Your finance department should at the forefront of your business, guiding it through this difficult period.

Enabling Employers to Make the Right Hiring Decision

By Lars Pedersen, CEO, Questionmark

Employment in Australia has now returned to pre-Covid levels. Full-time jobs accounted for all of the increase in employment. But, in the rush to hire, employers must ensure that the successful candidate has what it takes to hit the ground running and boost productivity.

Employers can easily use tests to measure the skills of candidates before deciding to hire them.  By measuring a candidate’s skills with such assessments, employers can make a more informed decision about who to employ and who not to.

Australian employment is on the up

Australia’s jobless rate has tumbled recently as increasing confidence from the vaccine rollout combined with government stimulus has accelerated the recovery. 

As Australia’s recovery boosts confidence and spending, firms will continue to hire to meet increased demand.

But when hiring, employers need to be aware that classic recruitment techniques may not be up to the task of identifying candidates with the skills they need.

Some 85% of candidates admit to lying on their CV. Interviews can be vulnerable to unconscious bias, where interviewers may be influenced by unconscious views they may hold about certain groups or types of people.

This makes it hard to identify and recruit the best people to maximize performance.  Failed hires can cost organizations up to 30% of an employee’s first year’s earning.

Three critical questions

So, before making a final decision on who to hire, employers should ask three critical questions.

First, do candidates have the skills they claim?

Nearly 78% of applicants admit to lying during the recruitment process. When scaling up for a busy period, recruits must be able to do what they say they can. 

Second, do applicants have skills fit for the future?

Across all industries, the skills workers need are changing.  For instance, workers across many sectors need to be able to use, manage and apply new digital technologies. 

Employers should ensure that new starters have crucial skills that may be missing from the existing workforce. 

Third, do potential recruits have the right attitude? 

Recruits must be able to quickly become part of the team.  Certain characteristics will indicate whether they are likely to contribute positively to the culture.  If employers are regulated, will recruits have the right mindset to meet compliance requirements and protect the firm?

 

How assessments help

By measuring the skills of candidates before making the final hiring decision, employers can make the right choice.

Assessments indicate whether potential recruits can do what they say they can and if they are likely to have the right attitude for the job. 

After implementing assessments, 76% of corporates have seen an increase in the quality of hire.

Online assessment provider Questionmark enables employers and their people to unlock potential to deliver better performance and safely meet compliance requirements.

It does this by enabling employers to make more informed people decisions, based on accurate and reliable information from robust assessments of those people.

It’s why one in six US Fortune 100 companies use its enterprise-grade assessment platform.

Making informed decisions now

As the economy begins to recover, Australian employers will need to scale up quickly. 

The quality of the people employers bring into the team will help determine whether they can ride the wave of recovery and take advantage of the new opportunities it presents.   

Now more than ever, employers must be confident in the recruitment decisions they are making. 

Assessing staff before they are hired can help identify applicants with the potential to make an immediate and lasting impact.

Is Digital Transformation the Key to Business Survival in the New World?

After a turbulent year, enterprises are returning to the prospect of a new world following an unprecedented pandemic.

Around the country the way we interact with customers, how consumers buy, and what interests the public has rapidly changed. Successfully managing these digital transformations may be the difference between your success and failure at this stage of continuing economic uncertainty.

Of course, the investment may appear unviable, but the benefits maintain growth and profitability. Digital transformations change the way you conduct your business. It allows you to take a step back and reconsider every aspect of your business. This includes the technology you use, how your staff operate, and how customers interact with your brand.

The World Economic Forum has predicted that the value added by digital transformations across all industries could be greater than $100 billion by 2025. Digital transformations are allowing organisations to rapidly innovate.

Accepting this innovative approach to your business right now may spell the difference between company liquidation and prosperity. Here, we look at the benefits of digital transformation and why it’s essential for your business.

Transform your customer experience

The main objective for a business is to fulfil the needs of their customer. A positive experience is vital to retain customers and encourage new consumers to interact with your brand. Likewise, positive customer experience is a core principle of digital proficiency.

A recent study found that 92 per cent of the top 100 organisations have a mature digital transformation strategy in place to improve their customers’ experience. This is compared to all other organisations where only 22 per cent of responding companies have these strategies in place.

One way to achieve this is to recreate your e-commerce platforms to better represent the needs of your customers. A complete rejuvenation can help to identify problems and obstacles in your current system.

SMEs have the opportunity to base their digital transformations on the successes of other businesses. In terms of customer satisfaction, 70 per cent of the leaders reported a significant and transformational value in overall customer satisfaction.

Data-based insights

Digital transformation can help you to better understand your market. By tracking metrics and analysing the data that you collect, you will be able to better understand your customers. You can also gain a clearer understanding of how the sector operates under varying circumstances. This helps companies to make better business decisions.

One survey on the use of data in business showed that 49 per cent of businesses believe that analytics are of most use in driving business decisions. Two-thirds of businesses surveyed believe that data plays a pivotal role in driving strategies.

There’s a plethora of ways that businesses can collect essential data. These include surveys, transactional data tracking, social media monitoring, and in-store traffic monitoring.

Greater collaboration across departments

By centring your organisation around digital infrastructure you can create a consistent working experience. Sharing data and information with your staff can promote idea sharing and innovation.

Organisations are beginning to create companies based on a digital culture. This shapes the way that staff communicate with each other and how technology influences the way they work. This culture reinforces their other digital strategies.

It’s important to maintain engagement with staff during a digital transformation. One report indicates that 79 per cent of companies that focus on culture sustain strong performance throughout their transformation.

When organisations are built around a common goal, business transitions will be smoother.

Improved agility and innovation

Digital transformations allow your business to stay agile, in that it is always prepared to and welcomes change.

The most successful organisations do not follow the beaten track. They look to see how their company can diverge from their original mission and build on their successes. Technology allows these new approaches to be developed alongside extending business enterprises.

One survey shows that 68 per cent of businesses believe that agility is within their top three most important initiatives. This means ensuring that every interaction between customer, technology, and staff is meaningful.

These agile interactions can include, for example, the development and improvements of chat-bots. It all works towards helping locate the best possible options for staff and customers.

How to Get Started With DIY Crafting

Crafting is an exciting and rewarding hobby. It teaches you to make things on your own, spend your time in a purposeful way, acquire crafting skills and destress. You can express yourself through it and create valuable and useful items for everyone you love. The crafts you can make are never-ending, and the only limit is your imagination.

However, it can be challenging to do crafting, especially if you don’t know where to start. To help you with that dilemma, we made this article that will give you knowledge on how to get started with DIY crafting.

Continue reading so you can start creating something magical of your very own.

Research About What Type Of DIY Crafting You Want

There are many types of DIY crafting, and each one of them involves several distinct steps and takes time to master. DIY Crafting can be divided into five general classes according to their form and purpose. Here are they: 

 
Textile Crafting

Textile crafting is making things with fabric, yarn, or surface design. Through textile crafting, you can knit, quilt, weave, applique, and dye. You can have rugs, tapestries, clothing, quilts, and wall hangings as finished goods.

 
Paper Crafting

From the word itself, paper crafting is creating things with paper. This is the most common type of crafting, and many people get introduced to this type of crafting since preschool. You can do scrapbooking, cardmaking, decoupage, papier-mâché, origami or 3D origami, origata, paper cutting and calligraphy. 

 
Decorative Crafting

This category of crafting involves every crafting that will end up as a piece of decor. Decorative crafting includes everything from furniture making, metalwork, stencilling, stained glass, gilding, spongeware, basketry up to ceramics.

 
Fashion Crafting

Fashion crafting is almost the same as textile crafting, but it just includes everything related to human clothing. It can be from garments, jewelry, hats, and shoes, belts, handbags. The materials usually used here are canvas, leather, wool, cotton, linen, and nylon.

 
Functional Crafting

The four things mentioned above can be called functional. All crafts that are made with the purpose of functionality can fall under this category. The functional craft can be used after making them – it can range from furniture, textiles, metal work, woodwork, and almost everything else.

Before starting your DIY crafting journey, you have to think about what type of crafting you want to focus on. By figuring this out, it will be easy for you to navigate to the next steps.

Trading in Europe: Are You IP Ready?

By Fiona McBride, Chair of European intellectual property firm, Withers & Rogers.

For small and medium-sized businesses focused on trading in both the UK and Europe, it is important to have the right package of intellectual property (IP) protection in place to smooth the way to market and reduce the risk of their innovations being copied by competitors.

While Brexit has affected some areas of IP protection – most notably trade marks and registered designs – the process for securing pan-European patents has not changed. However, it still makes sense for businesses to prepare for EU market entry carefully and consider all IP rights as they do so.

For SMEs the benefits of IP protection can be considerable. A study conducted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2019 found that SMEs that own at least one intellectual property (IP) right are 21 percent more likely to experience a growth spurt. They are also 10 percent more likely to become a high-growth firm.

For businesses seeking to scale by expanding into overseas markets, IP rights can help to protect their business model at different stages of development and support them in realising their growth potential. At concept stage for example, the business may rely on ‘trade secrets’ to protect any confidential formulas or processes. When investing in an R&D programme however, from the outset businesses should consider filing patent applications in their target markets to protect their innovations well before they are launched. Once granted, patents can give them a period of market exclusivity of up to 20 years. If the business is aiming to sell its product or service in both the UK and Europe, it makes sense to obtain protection on both sides of the channel – either via a small number of directly-filed national patent applications, or by applying via the European Patent Office (EPO) for patent protection spanning the whole European region. This can cover up to 40 states, including all 27 EU member states and the UK, along with others in the region such as Turkey and Norway.

Prior to market launch, the business should also consider whether the aesthetics of their innovation require protection to prevent rivals from copying the appearance of their product. Registered designs are generally granted more quickly than patents, so this type of IP right can help provide protection during a speedy market entry while patents progress to grant. Since Brexit took effect at the end of last year however, businesses should bear in mind that if they want to bring their product to market in both the EU and UK, they will need to register their designs in both markets.

Trade mark registration is also vitally important and should be obtained at an early stage to protect the brand name and identity of the business prior to market entry. Depending on the success of the company’s product or service offering in the years that follow, these assets could increase in value significantly. In a similar way to registered designs, trade mark registrations should be secured in the UK and the EU if the business intends to trade in both markets.

Another important consideration for businesses planning to trade overseas is to consider the risk of infringing any third-party IP rights, which may have already been secured in that territory by a competitor. This risk can be managed by having professional searches conducted and taking a strategic view bearing in mind the level of commercial risk that might be acceptable, versus the actual risk of infringement occurring. While a patent search will always need to take into account a country by country assessment, clearance searches for trade marks or registered designs can be conducted across the whole EU, but now also need to be separately assessed in the UK. European trade mark or design registrations that were pending at the end of the transition period, can be re-registered in the UK up until September 2021, so this should be checked carefully during any clearance activity in the UK as well.

Some UK businesses that are currently trading in the EU or intending to do so in the future may have obtained the rights to a .eu domain name for their website, or may wish to in future. These domain names can now only be registered by an EU person or entity, which will have to be factored into any EU expansion plans.

Regardless of their immediate plans, it is important for all businesses to think ahead and consider how obtaining registered IP rights could support them in the future. For example, even if the business is focused solely on its domestic market initially, it may be worth considering filing for protection in other territories, in case a decision is taken to license its IP to third parties overseas in the future. By taking this action now, businesses can minimise the risk that competitors step into the overseas market and launch a similar product, with a similar look or name, before them.

The Health Benefits of Sunlight on the Human Body

  •         37% of Brits say that their energy and fitness levels are the lowest they have ever been
  •         37% of Brits say that working from home has made them the most lethargic and tired they have ever been

Living under nationwide restrictions has impacted many with feelings of stagnation, lethargy and a lack of motivation, with a third of Brits saying that being stuck in and working from home has made them the most lethargic and tired they have ever been. The timings for this current lockdown have also been far from ideal, with the winter months seeing the re-emergence of Seasonal Affective Disorder, affecting one in three people in the UK, which has had further adverse effects on our energy levels.

But now as we venture through Spring, and with lockdown measures easing, it is more important than ever that we get out and soak up the sunlight, especially with a mini heatwave set for next week. Whether that be going for a walk, a run or meeting up with friends in the park, there are tonnes of great activities we are now able to do, so now is the time to get out and enjoy the good weather and the many benefits it has on our health and wellbeing.

In fact, scientific studies have shown that exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin, which helps boost our overall mood and helps us feel calm and focused. Serotonin is also great for reducing stress and combating Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression triggered by the changing season. But this isn’t the only reason to get out in the sun.

John Nolan-Neylan, co-Founder and CEO of energy specialist, Revvies, discusses the health benefits of getting out in the sun:

Strengthens your immune system

Vitamin D is critical for your immune system and one of the best ways to absorb it is through sunlight. In the time of Covid, a healthy immune system has never been more important as it can help reduce the risk of illness, infections and some cancers. 

Reduces stress

With many of us working from home now, or you could say living at work, it has become difficult to escape the pressures and stresses of work, but getting out in the sun could help. Being outside in the sunlight will actually help your body naturally regulate melatonin, which can help reduce your stress level and reactivity. Additionally, because you’re often doing something active when you’re outside such as walking, cycling or running, that extra exercise will also help to lower stress levels. 

Helps to fight mild depression 

Sunshine is great for improving your mood and it does this by giving a boost to your body’s level of serotonin, which is a chemical that improves your mood and helps you stay calm and focused. Increased exposure to natural light may help ease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and help to fight off depression. 

Improves sleep quality

When sunlight hits our eyes, a message is sent to the pineal gland in the brain and production of melatonin (a hormone that makes us drowsy and helps us sleep) is shut down until the sun goes down again. Your body gets a clear signal that it’s no longer night and this helps to maintain a normal circadian rhythm. When it gets dark outside, your body gets the signal again and you feel tired and drowsy at bedtime. Low levels of melatonin production at night due to overproduction during the day has been linked to poor sleep quality, especially in older adults. 

Enhances brain function

Aside from promoting bone health and regulating vital calcium levels, scientists have now linked vitamin D with a number of functions throughout the body, including the functioning of the brain. A study by neuroscientist David Llewellyn of the University of Cambridge, assessed vitamin D levels in more than 1,700 men and women from England, aged 65 or older and found that cognitive function reduced the lower the subjects’ vitamin D levels were. However, more studies have found sunlight could help spur nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for forming, organising and storing memories.

Maintains strong bones

One of the easiest ways to get vitamin D is by being outside. Our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight and all you need for this  is about 15 minutes in the sun a day. Vitamin D helps your body maintain calcium to support strong and healthy bones, so getting out in the sun is one of the easiest and most effective ways of strengthening your bones. 

John Nolan-Neylan, co-founder of high-performance nutrition brand, Revvies:

“This entire year has had a huge strain on all of our energy levels, and a third lockdown has left many feeling down in the dumps. In order to overcome this hurdle, it is really important for us to perk up and stay positive during these tough times.

“Our research highlights the dramatic negative impact this past year has had on our energy levels, and as lockdown measures ease, it is more important than ever for us to get out and enjoy the great weather. The mental strain brought about by lockdown, alongside the disruption to our routines and restricted freedoms, has without a doubt resulted in increased tiredness and fatigue for millions. With that said, these are just some of the benefits of getting out and soaking up the sun.”

2 Easy Ways to Start Investing

Investing your money is the most reliable and effective way to create wealth over time and secure your future financial needs. This is why a lot of financial advisors would tell you to start while you’re young to witness solid returns. It’s placing your money in an investment vehicle today to receive more money in the future.

Investing and Compounding

For a lot of people, the term ‘investing’ may conjure up images projected by the media. Because of these misconceptions, investing may seem like an intimidating undertaking. Although this may be partly true, especially if you’re a new investor, investing doesn’t have to be a fearful ordeal.

As a newbie in the landscape, it would be best to understand and take your time immersing yourself in its many facets. You may do research about how the system works, subscribe to the best investment newsletters to get the latest stock news, download a stock trading application to learn integral investing lessons, or even work with a financial advisor. Knowing how it operates can help you understand the concepts and principles, which allows you to reap the rewards fully in the future.  

Today, with so many different options, investing for beginners is more straightforward, direct, and easy to navigate than ever before. If you perform your research, you should be well on your journey to a robust and secure financial future.

As mentioned, investing comes in many different forms and facets. In simpler terms, investing is a way to allow money to work for you. The goal is to commit money into the market or any investment channel to grow your money through compounding.

Compounding is the ability of an asset to produce earnings. This then will be used to reinvest and further generate more returns. To get you started, below are two easy ways to begin investing.

1. Work with a Robo-Advisor

If you have higher risk tolerance and want an algorithm to make investment choices for you, tapping robo advisory services may be ideal for your financial health. This is particularly applicable if your goal is long-term wealth-building while, at the same time, worrying less about the stock fluctuations or any economic slopes.

A robo-advisor is a digital service aid offered by a brokerage to help you formulate an investment plan that meets both your risk tolerance and financial targets. After identifying your goal and risk tolerance through a set of personal queries, your robo-advisor can invest your money in a highly-diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds to achieve your goals. It is programmed to maximize your ROI while ensuring that your risk level is non-threatening to your current financial status.

A robo-advisor provides the benefits of stock investing; however, it doesn’t require you to exert effort in examining and choosing personal investments.

Nonetheless, before you get too excited to reach out to these digital finance companies, you need to know that the potential downside of robo-advisors is their cost. These may charge an annual fee used to understand algorithms, rebalance your portfolio, and enhance it for taxes. Most robo-advisors require investors to pay USD$500 or less to start investing.

Although you can avoid paying the robo-advisor fees by approaching investments as a DIY project, take note that it will take a lot of time, research, responsibility, and, perhaps, prior investing experience. There’s no easy way to delve into the world of long-term investing. For this reason, majority of new and seasoned investors look at robo-advisory consultancy as worth the money, time, and energy.

2. Examine Your Investment Vehicles

As you start investing, your strategy should be tailored according to your saving goals and the period you’ve allocated to reach that goal. While there a lot of investment options to choose from, you need to be responsible and understand how much risk each carries. To guide you, here are the most popular investment channels:

Stocks

A stock is a share of ownership in a single business. These are also known as equities. Depending on the company or even the type of industry, stocks are bought for a price ranging from single digits to a thousand dollars.

Ultimately, investing in stocks is applicable if you aim for a long-term savings plan. For instance, if your goal is to allocate money for your retirement, then stock investment can help you grow your money to cater to your future financial needs.

To note, stocks can vary in different forms. Investing in single stocks is more convenient as this helps you take charge of selling your stocks. You can control the timing of your gains or even losses. Creating a diversified portfolio out of a plethora of individual stocks is great. However, it may take time and a lot of research.

Hence, for some investors, an excellent way to invest in stocks is through low-cost stock mutual funds or exchange-traded funds. Mutual funds allow you to purchase and gather small parts of various stocks in one transaction.

Bonds 

A bond is a loan to a company or public entity that agrees to pay you back in a fixed number of years. As time passes by, you acquire interest from the loan they’ve made. For this reason, this investment option is less risky and is recommended for short-term savings, about five years, because you got a clear idea of when you’ll be paid back and how much you’ll earn.

The Significance of Identifying Your Risk Tolerance

Once you have adequate money to gamble, you can start investing. However, before you start putting in your hard-earned money, you need to initially ask yourself how you would approach the process. There are a lot of investment options available at your disposal because there’s no universal approach or alternative when it comes to investing. The best way to invest money is through whichever way works best for you.

Moreover, know that investing involves risk. Whenever you’re not holding your money in a savings account, there will be a threat of loss. The stock market can go up and down. Hence, you need to identify your risk tolerance. With some investments, the risk is low, while in others, it’s high.

Final Thoughts

Investing in stocks while you’re still young means you have decades to ride out the risk of market fluctuations. Consequently, this will provide you with more time for your money to compound.  With this, start now, even if you have to start small.

What Is Invisalign And What Can It Do For Me?

Tooth alignment technology has come a long way from the traditional metal bracket ‘train track’ braces, which are often cited as uncomfortable and limiting to the wearer; Invisalign are leading the charge in a new wave of discreet, comfortable options to help straighten out your smile.

Developed in 1997, but becoming more popular in recent years, Invisalign are custom-made, transparent teeth aligners, sometimes referred to as clear braces; they sit over the wearer’s teeth, and can be removed at will, allowing more freedom than traditional metal braces. 

 

How can Invisalign help me?

Invisalign is often used for a variety of dental issues. If you have minor to moderate crowding, or widely-spaced teeth, Invisalign may be used by a dental professional to resolve this, but it isn’t recommended for heavily-crowded teeth. Underbites, overbites, and some crossbites may benefit from Invisalign being used either exclusively or as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan. 

Wearers who may receive the most benefits from using Invisalign are those aged over 16 with minor teeth crowding, and individuals who’ve had traditional braces in the past and failed to wear a retainer consistently—resulting in unwanted tooth movement.

 

How does Invisalign work?

Just like traditional metal braces, Invisalign treatment works by applying calculated pressure to a person’s teeth to get them to move in the desired direction. Invisalign users are presented with a custom-made set of clear aligners which fit over their teeth, and put pressure on the teeth which need to be adjusted. The user is usually required to switch to a new aligner every two weeks or so, with each aligner being progressively closer to the goal teeth placement.

For best results, aligners should be worn all the time, and only be removed for eating and cleaning; however, your oral health professional will provide you with instructions to maximize your results. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why a person might choose Invisalign. 

 

1. Custom-made solutions

Invisalign aligners are custom-made for each user, in order to be as effective and comfortable as possible.

Once Invisalign has been agreed upon as a suitable option, impressions of your teeth will be made by using either an impression tray or sophisticated scanning devices; this is what your aligners will be based on. As the aligners are made just for you, they should fit perfectly over your teeth and prevent any unnecessary discomfort. 

 

2. Effective malocclusion correction

One of the more common reasons why people choose teeth alignment options such as braces or Invisalign is for malocclusion correction. Malocclusion is when your teeth are not correctly aligned in the mouth when you bite down, and can be caused by a variety of factors including teeth grinding, injuries, thumb sucking, or unusually-shaped teeth. Malocclusions can cause headaches, mouth injuries, and difficulty breathing or eating, so they should be treated as soon as possible. 

While early studies in Invisalign effectiveness were reluctant to recommend the treatment for anything more than mild-to-moderate malocclusions, more recent studies have suggested that this was due to the early stage of development that Invisalign technology was in at the time. Recent case reports have provided evidence of Invisalign being successfully used to treat moderate-to-severe orthodontic malocclusions.

At your next dental appointment, consider asking your dentist about any lockdown-related dental issues such as cavities from sugary snacks, or enamel damage from grinding your teeth, and whether any malocclusion correction treatments would be recommendable for you.

 

3. Minimally disruptive treatment

Treating teeth alignment issues with traditional braces generally requires brackets and other dental equipment being fixed to your teeth for the duration of the treatment, and in some cases may even require the removal of teeth—all of which can be time consuming and sometimes painful.

Invisalign clear aligners do not typically require any teeth removal, and aside from the teeth impressions, require very little in the way of dental procedures. This makes Invisalign a relatively straightforward and pain-free option when compared to traditional metal braces. 

 

4. Discreet alignment options

As the name suggests, the Invisalign system is virtually undetectable at a glance; the aligners are made of a clear plastic, and are designed to fit snugly against the teeth, minimizing any speech difficulties a person may experience while getting used to the treatment. While some Invisalign treatment may involve ‘attachments’ (small amounts of dental bonding solution) or ‘buttons’ (anchor points for elastic bands,) a typical user will only require the transparent aligners.

Although aligners are generally very discreet, users should be aware that their presence may be more obvious in direct light (due to the shiny nature of the plastic,) or if the user gets any lipstick or food remnants on them.

 

5. Flexible and removable

One major advantage that Invisalign has over traditional metal braces is the ability to remove your aligners at any time. If you have a special occasion, sport, or activity for which you’d prefer not to be wearing braces, you can simply remove your aligners for a few hours. Many users of traditional braces might be familiar with the embarrassment of having food caught in the metal; Invisalign users can simply remove their braces to eat.

Aligners may even be used as teeth whitening trays, although this should only be done under the supervision of a dental health professional. Make sure to discuss this with your dentist prior to attempting at home.

 

6. Easy to use and clean

As Invisalign is a removable treatment option, users may find it easier to clean their teeth with aligners than if they had traditional metal braces.

Traditional braces require a significant amount of attention to prevent food from getting stuck between the metal brackets, and to prevent build up from occurring in areas that a toothbrush may have trouble reaching effectively.

By comparison, Invisalign aligners can be removed completely, allowing them to be cleaned thoroughly, and removing any obstacles to your normal tooth brushing routine. Practicing good oral care with the right toothbrush technology could prove critical in optimizing the end result of your treatment. 

 

Conclusions

There are many treatment options for malocclusions and other teeth alignment issues; however, Invisalign is a discreet, flexible option that might just be right for you.

If you’re looking for a minimally invasive, removable tooth alignment solution, discuss Invisalign with your oral health professional to properly determine whether it’s the right choice for you.

Butchershop Creative Acquires Maniak, A Digital-First Design and Technology Firm

Butchershop®, the global brand experience agency, has acquired Maniak™, a digital-first design and technology firm based in Guadalajara, Mexico. As a fast-growing independent agency, the move marks Butchershop’s continued investment in digital brand experience and innovation. Underscored by its most successful year to date in 2020 amidst the pandemic, Butchershop specializes in building brands in the new economy for B2B and B2C clients across health and wellness, hospitality, DTC and consumer products, fintech, crypto/blockchain, data + AI, SaaS and cybersecurity verticals. Past and current clients include BFA Industries, Okta, Databricks, Nike, Mountain Hardwear, and Real Chemistry. By combining proprietary brand discovery tactics, strategy, creative storytelling, brand design, digital experiences and solutions under one roof with Maniak, Butchershop will bring greater value to client partners and teams internationally.

Q2 2021

Welcome to the Q2 edition of APAC Insider Magazine, your quarterly source for all of the latest news and updates from across the Asia Pacific region.

We started the year with our Q1 edition saying that we wanted 2021 to be the year of change and innovation following 2020 acting very much as the catalyst for that change. Three months on, and we are certainly seeing the benefits of change and innovation across the Asia Pacific region. One of the biggest pieces of technological innovation has actually been growing over the last five years since a firm called Confinity Solutions was established back in 2016.

Featured both here and in our sister publication, Corporate Vision Magazine, Confinity Solutions is changing the game for financial technology, particularly regarding the ever-evolving world of low-latency messaging. Financial services require lightning fast technology to keep up with the split-second decisions being made every day. Confinity Solutions offers this, and so much more, and these pages hold the story behind the firm’s success from the CEO’s own mouth.

It is hard to believe that we are a third of the way through 2021 already, and so much success has been achieved. As we look forward to another two quarterly publications that will surely feature bigger and better things than ever before, we are more excited than ever to showcase the brilliant business taking place across the Asia Pacific region. Until next time, stay safe and well, and we look forward to welcoming you back for our Q3 edition.

Power Pearls: How a Classic Gemstone Came to Represent Female Empowerment

When it comes to jewellery, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris likes keeping things subtle – at least to the average eye. Looking a little more closely at her fashion choices, you’ll quickly notice a recurring theme: pearls.

Pearls have served as the favourite gem of royalty since the Victorian era. The lustrous and pure elegance of pearls surely stands out as an unfailing sign of good taste. Queen Elizabeth II loves keeping things traditional and thus swears by her three strands of pearls. You can rarely she the monarch without her favourite necklaces which have evolved into a part and parcel of her official uniform.

The sheer aura of pearls has also captivated ladies in the field of politics. Martha Washington, the foremost First Lady turned heads with a dove-shaped pearl studded pin and a beautiful double stranded gold and pearl chain necklace. Next came Abigail Adams who popularised the concept of faux pearls which became a rage during the 18th century. 1960s style icon Jackie Kennedy was occasionally seen donning diamonds while pearls served as her ultimate BFF. She felt that pearls can blend in effortlessly with any attire from your wardrobe and can help you nail a sophisticated look irrespective of the occasion. Her signature piece was a triple strand pearl necklace which looked gorgeous when worn over bright and bold hued dresses. The iconic and timeless pearls have been graced numerous first ladies of USA since then.

Harris also nurtured a soft spot for her precious pearls and was seen wearing a pearl necklace and earrings at her graduation snap. She included pearls into her power dressing routine while running for the election campaigns. Her California senator’s debate night jewellery consisted of a double stranded necklace, two pearl trinkets and gold-embroidered earrings. Pearls also serve as a nod to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority of the US Vice President which is the first Black Greek sorority, whose founder members are commonly known as The Twenty pearls. When Harris completed her graduation in 1986 from Howard University, she walked away with a strong bond of sisterhood which is going tough even till this date.

The true meaning of Alpha Kappa Alpha lies in training young ladies to become wise leaders of tomorrow. While Kamala Harris took the vow as the 49th Vice President on Inauguration Day, countless black and brown American girls watched in pride, awe and renewed sense of hope as her pearls spoke out of commonality amongst its members. During the 59th inaugural ceremony, the first South Asian Vice President of colour made headlines with her purple dress and matching coat which was accessorized to perfection by a beautiful pearl necklace designed by Wilfred Rosado. This striking piece of jewellery was custom made to mark this special occasion. The necklace carried few unifying themes, gold open links symbolising strength, 12 South Sea pearls representing femininity and resilience and 11 diamond brilliants for enhancing the glamour quotient of the prestigious occasion.

The Pearl Source is a reputed online retailer and distributor of pearls in the United States. It has launched the Power Pearls collection by drawing inspiration from the trendsetting style of the US Vice president. This collection pays homage to all the colossal ladies who have instilled confidence amongst other women for attaining greater heights in both personal and professional fields of life. Users can avail the Kamala Harris inspired collection throughout the month of march following which it shall be replaced by a new one. A portion of the sale proceeds shall be donated to Dress For Success, a philanthropic organisation which empowers women and helps them attain economic independence by offering a support network, development tools and professional attire.

This announcement of collection launch by The Pearl Source commemorates the International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. 2021’s inspiration is #ChooseToChallenge which is actually a pledge of changing the world by challenging the age-old norms and bringing in alertness. Apart from generating money for the under-privileged women, it also aims to draw attention to the powerful female figures who often fail to receive their share of spotlight in the patriarchal world of modern times. Be it athletics, politics or business, women are often treated as a weakling and this is exactly what the women empowerment campaigns are trying to target. Various celebrities like Tom Hanks and Reese Witherspoon have also rendered support towards this cause by wearing vintage pearl pins to red carpet events.

Why you should stop using your inbox as a CRM tool

As an SME, preserving your revenue and your bottom line is essential. You might be dubious about investing in a CRM system (customer relationship management system) and the ROI. The last thing you want is to throw money away on another cloud-based system that stores your client data. Or that’s what you’ve been led to believe.

Many companies are guilty of using their inbox as a CRM tool, hoping to recreate in-depth customer interactions, stellar customer service, and even manage tasks from start to finish via their email. It’s easy to imagine that using one platform to handle your customer relationships is a cost-effective and simple way to streamline these often complicated processes. In truth, this approach could be undermining your business, your employees and allowing your business to consistently fall short of the expectations of your customers.

By procuring a CRM system, you can maintain high levels of customer service and tailored marketing strategies whilst nurturing the connection between your company and your clients, at every stage.

Want to know more? Read on to discover why you should stop using your inbox as a CRM tool.

Data is safe, secure, and protected

Storing client data is a regular practice, but when it comes to protecting that crucial information, not everyone is on the same page. Using your inbox as a CRM tool means putting your client data at risk. It is at risk from the following: cybercrime, increasing the possibility of mislaying files and accidental deletion. Searching through an inbox to find the customer file you need is both time-consuming and frustrating, and your client will only agree. Switching to a CRM tool means all your client data is fully protected and collaborated in a cloud-based storage system. This system is accessible to employees across your business, streamlining processes and eliminating email chains and accidental GDPR breaches.

You know exactly what your customers want

Anyone can pitch a sale to a prospective customer or target a certain demographic and see who bites – and when you’re using your email as your CRM, this is often the extent of your reach. But using a genuine CRM system means you’ll have access to detailed customer data, which means you can analyse the genuine needs of your customers and target them with accuracy, even tailoring marketing campaigns to increase the ROI and boost sales.

Cutting down on admin

Admin is necessary, but it slows down those crucial sales and marketing processes. Using your email as your CRM will only pander to this sluggish approach, over-complicating an already complex procedure. Switching to a CRM system means your teams can accomplish more. Eliminating duplicated work and automating many of the tasks that steal time from your employees essentially gives your staff more time to focus on customer relationships.

Customer experience

To put it simply, building customer relationships, rapidly producing automated personal replies, targeting specific customers with relevant sales and products, identifying leads, opportunities and being able to resolve queries faster with personal responses is something your inbox cannot match. It’s time to make the switch to efficient, innovative CRM software.

Achieving Success for American CEO

Founded by attorneys, for attorneys, WealthCounsel focuses on helping estate planning and business law attorneys practice excellence. Providing continuing legal education, a strong community of thousands of attorneys, and thoughtful analysis on legal topics and breaking industry news, WealthCounsel is at the top of its game. Much of this industry-leading work is spearheaded by the firm’s CEO, Henna Shah, JD, LLM. Today, we find out what makes the firm so exceptional, and why Henna is deserving of the title of CEO of the Year, 2020 – the USA from CEO Monthly.

Having established itself more than twenty years ago, WealthCounsel has had time to build a reputation that precedes it. Today, the organization is perhaps best known for its superior automated document drafting software for estate planning and business law attorneys, with solutions including Wealth Docx®, Gun Docx®, and Business Docx®. Most recently, the company has launched a streamlined solution for trust administration called Wealth Tracx® with outstanding success. Alongside these software solutions, WealthCounsel provides continuing legal education, a strong community of thousands of attorneys, and thoughtful analysis on legal topics and breaking industry news. Since its inception, WealthCounsel has not deviated from its mission to be the number one source for estate planning and business law attorneys who want a complete approach to success for their practice. Internally, four core values determine how the firm goes about this.

First, WealthCounsel seeks to see things through its members’ eyes. Second, WealthCounsel embraces expertise. Third, WealthCounsel employees understand that work can happen anywhere. Finally, they know that they can go further together. These four core values have defined the firm’s success for the better part of two decades and have made the company unique in the industry. WealthCounsel constantly strives to provide comprehensive support for attorneys and their practices regardless of the attorney’s level of experience. The company does this through its own four pillars of service: automated drafting, learning, coaching, and community.

WealthCounsel’s automated drafting solutions are the gold-standard in estate planning and business law document drafting. Wealth Docx accommodates the drafting of both basic and complex estate planning strategies with its Core and Complete versions. Further, it offers single point-of-data entry as well as software integration with practice management systems like PracticePanther and Clio, helping reduce errors in drafting and increase efficiency.

Learning is another pillar of service: WealthCounsel knows the key to a successful practice goes beyond drafting documents. The company understands the importance of a robust, learning-based approach to keeping attorneys up-to-date on current developments in the industry. It provides clients with powerful learning solutions, providing on-demand and live webinars and timely written educational content. WealthCounsel members are consistently educated on the best planning strategies they can implement for their clients.

The coaching and community elements of the business go hand in hand. WealthCounsel welcomes attorneys at every experience level, recognizing that many attorneys are transitioning into estate planning or business law or are looking to take their practice to the next level. There are coaching programs implemented in-house to help members acquire clients, serve their client base, and add the best possible value. Offering such a tailored and individualized approach is one of the best examples of WealthCounsel’s commitment to its members’ success. A WealthCounsel membership offers access to a vibrant and engaged community of members, truly setting the company apart from its competitors. WealthCounsel members provide each other with unparalleled support.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the leadership and vision of someone at the top, steering the ship and helping to keep the company on the right course. For WealthCounsel, that someone is Henna Shah, JD, LLM, the CEO of WealthCounsel. Henna provides the vision and strategy behind WealthCounsel’s steadfast focus on the success of its attorney members. Drawing on her deep pools of experience in and knowledge of estate planning, Henna ensures that every decision benefits both the company and its members.

Before joining the team at WealthCounsel, Henna worked in private practice as an estate planning attorney for several notable national law firms. In these roles, she gained experience and became a formidable force to be reckoned with. In 2007, Henna established her own successful estate planning boutique firm, Shah Law LLC, where she focused on planning for high net-worth families and individuals. Henna has an AB in Political Science from the University of Michigan, a JD from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, and an LLM in Taxation from the New York University School of Law. Eventually, Henna joined WealthCounsel as part of the Editorial team, spearheading Wealth Tracx.

As exceptional as Henna’s leadership is, the success of WealthCounsel also comes down to the staff that she has surrounded herself with. WealthCounsel’s staff have direct contact with members and are proud of the level of service they provide. The personal attention that WealthCounsel staff offers to members makes a tremendous difference in encouraging an overall sense of community. Many WealthCounsel members have been with the company for years and have formed long-lasting relationships with WealthCounsel staff. The company continuously works with members and staff in the pursuit of excellence.

Ultimately, the work of WealthCounsel continues to be vital for estate planning and business law practitioners across the United States, and that comes from the visionary leadership of Henna herself. As CEO, she continually pushes the boundaries of what her company can do and delivers success after success for WealthCounsel’s members. Henna’s vision and ambition drive the company forward, and the future remains bright for WealthCounsel.

For further information, please visit www.wealthcounsel.com

Fantastic Flowers Bloom in the Capital

Everyone should be able to enjoy the beauty of flowers, in all their radiant wonder. At the right time of year, flowers are truly stunning additions to almost any interior or exterior space. A garden can come to life with bursts of colour, or carefully placed greenery, whilst a living room can be made that much more luxurious with a glass vase and a collection of roses sat on the coffee table. Flowers are majestic, and the belief that everyone should be able to enjoy them is the core philosophy at Blue Florist. Discover more about this Greater London-based florist, and why it has been named Best for Same Day Flower Delivery, 2020 – Greater London.

Family-owned and operated as an independent business, Blue Florist has almost two decades of experience in the floristry industry. Throughout that time, the team at Blue Florist has only ever worked directly with flower growers themselves, and has never settled for anything less than the most stunning of nature’s bounty. Approaching floristry in this way has ensured that, for eighteen years, the florist has delivered flowers of the highest quality and done so in a manner that exemplifies the exceptional service that customers have come to expect. All of the flowers themselves are hand-picked, hand-prepared, and delivered by experienced local florists themselves, just to lend that extra personal touch to the service provided by Blue Florist. There’s nothing quite like receiving flowers, and Blue Florist ensures that their every bouquet is delivered with the utmost precision and care to preserve that special feeling.

Blue Florist is also dedicated to offering both great quality, and exceptional value. It is not simply about having flowers delivered; it is about having flowers delivered that match exactly what the client wants. For instance, perhaps there may be a colour scheme in the living room that a client wants to enhance or complement. Maybe, there is a specific flower type that is somebody’s favourite, and the client wants to ensure that the intended recipient is getting their favourite flowers. Whatever the reason, Blue Florist ensures that its customers always receive beautiful floral arrangements that are exactly matched to their every need and requirement.

The team of expert florists has a floral arrangement and style for every occasion, including birthdays, anniversaries, luxury occasions, get well soon visits, sympathies, funerals, saying thank you, or welcoming a new baby into the world. Flowers are universal in their ability to send a message, and they are a perfect gift for so many occasions. However, we do sometimes forget these occasions or they can be unexpected in their arrival. For these times, this is where Blue Florist’s most exceptional service comes into play; same-day delivery. For those who may be somewhat forgetful, or often find themselves invited to an unexpected celebration, or simply want to show that they care in a speedy fashion, Blue Florist does offer same-day delivery on freshly made bouquets anywhere in the United Kingdom if the offer is placed before 3pm.

Sending a message with flowers is one of the most wonderful things that a person can do, showing real heartfelt emotion and care for those that are receiving the flowers themselves. The message can mean even more if accompanied by a floral arrangement that shows delicacy, class, and elegance, and that is exactly what Blue Florist provides. Exquisite and exceptional in every sense of the word, these flowers are truly stunning and Blue Florist deserves the success it has earned as Greater London’s best florist for same-day delivery.

For more information, please contact Agron Lika at www.blueflorist.co.uk

Reopening of Retail Could Create Perfect Conditions for Economic Growth Over Summer


Despite Lockdown restrictions and post-Brexit trade disruption, February saw the UK economy grow by 0.4%, according to the ONS. Although not quite a boom, this minor growth in economic output is an important foundation for the months to come, and brings ever increasing optimism that the reopening of the economy through April will bring with it an even better performance. “We’re looking for a 4-5 per cent bounce in GDP in the second quarter,” said James Smith, economist at ING. 

February’s improvement from January’s slump was in large part due to the construction sector, which increased by 1.6% thanks to both new work and repair and maintenance on existing rooms and structures. Lockdown has both provided an opportunity for home improvements, as well as new challenges for the building sector as it adapts to Pandemic restrictions and safety requirements, although Ben Dyer, CEO of Powered Now, added that “restrictions seemed to have had a negligible impact on the construction sector so far.”  

As of September, Santander estimated that three in five (61%) of homeowners carried out a DIY or renovation project during lockdown. To add to the economic activity caused by these home improvements, Powered Now CEO also noted that “the Stamp Duty extension has been a house building bonanza, so growth in the industry is no surprise”.  

Now shoppers can visit their local high streets, it is hoped that the construction sector can pass the torch to the retail and hospitality sectors in driving Britain’s GDP growth. Research by Cornerstone Tax, a property tax firm working with small businesses, illustrates this highly positive consumer sentiment – with 53% of the UK wanting to spend their money at local, independent stores. 13% even want to start their own business. This is backed by PwC, which charts the highest consumer confidence since their records began. At +8, it is an incredible 34 points higher than at the start of the pandemic 

This shows that through the restrictions we have all faced, our tastes have changed. It seems the British public want not just to shop physically, but also want to shop at more specialist and independent stores, hinting at a shift in sentiments. We are now more sympathetic and supportive towards independent stores that are part of a community, rather than part of a corporate chain, and the intrepid entrepreneurs behind them that have survived so far through the Lockdowns. 

We have also seen a trend of deurbanisation in the UK – as people leave major cities to look for cheaper properties, rent and more living space now they can work from home. This has obviously effected house prices, with rural areas seeing the biggest rise and inversely London prices falling. However, it has also distributed more consumers throughout more of the UK, which means more spenders and saving stimulating economic activity throughout more of the UK, and crucially, to regions that have long needed it. 

Discussions around saving the high street are nothing new, and have been a part of the British political landscape for years, cropping up at particular moments of difficulty such as the 2008 recession, and now the Pandemic. It is not just good news for the traders themselves, or the shoppers who get to experience something more special, but also the economy as a whole. SMEs account for two thirds of employment, and half of national GDP; meaning this new focus on the high street is good news for everyone. 

David Hannah, principal consultant at Cornerstone Tax, discusses the optimism felt by business leaders in the UK: 

“It has been a tough year for many, but the light is truly at the end of the tunnel for a nation of shopkeepers who can finally serve the public. The 12th April was a vital first step towards reopening the economy safely, and it has come just in time for many – particularly the hospitality and physical retail sectors that have struggled so much through various restrictions on economic life. 

The news that the economy grew in February, even if only marginally, is welcome news for business leaders throughout the UK. This growth is only expected to go one way: up. If the UK can keep infections low, and the vaccine rollout continues uninterrupted, April should be a month of elation as pounds head to the high street.” 

Designer Studio Recognized For Luxury Interior Design

In recent years the Qatar skyline has undertaken a transformation with ground-breaking projects taking their place alongside traditional architecture. From the modern landmarks such as The Torch Doha to the traditional styled Qatar National Library, Qatar is an ever-evolving landscape and amalgamation of contemporary and historic design. A common bond between the two is the need for high end interior designers that are able to marry the contemporary with the classic and create the luxurious interiors that befit the end users lifestyle and requirements.

Established in 2018, Doha based Designer Studio emerged to respond to the need for intelligent and considered interior design. Their unique focus on creating ‘liveable’ luxury that not only provides a superior aesthetic but fulfils the requirements of the client has resulted in an impressive portfolio of both residential and hospitality projects and a plethora of satisfied clients.

It all starts with the consultation process and the team dedicate a huge amount of time to focus on the client and really understand their key project goals. Once these have been identified then the team can start the exhaustive process of sourcing and designing the interiors unique to their client within their specified timescale.

While many aspects of each interior design are sympathetic to the local culture and design accents, the Designer Studio has an enviable connection with some of the key manufacturers from around the globe. Whether that’s sourcing the latest upholstery from Belgian weavers, unique marbles from Portuguese quarries or finding statement lighting, the team’s understanding in going that extra mile to source the exquisite is what sets the practice apart from the average studio and helps then exceed the expectations of their clients.

Taking inspiration from the surrounding landscape and culture sees many of their projects utilise the use of calming neutral palettes. The idea to provide opulent calm lends itself well to their luxury clients who typically seek interior spaces that help rejuvenate and provide an oasis of calm in often business lead lifestyles. This also plays a key part in some of their hospitality designs, where the ability to provide luxury hotel rooms that suit both the business and leisure traveller play a fundamental role.

With an ever-growing hospitality sector in Qatar, the need for interior services that understand the importance of how materials, design and specifications work in the contract sector is paramount. The continued high-level traffic in hotel rooms and the effect this has on fittings and fixtures is one that the Designer Studio understands and continues to invest time in keeping abreast with the latest developments in contract sourcing. Taking the time to discuss suitability for contract sectors, the Designer Studio have built up an impressive contacts list that helps prevent unnecessary replacement and keeps their designs looking their best.

It was this eye for detail and meticulous preparation that caught the eye of the Luxury Lifestyle Awards panel. Browsing through their portfolio of projects provided a true understanding of the fine balance between providing luxury aesthetics and creating usable space and resulted in the studio being awarded The Best Luxury Interior Design Studio in Qatar. Despite being one of the youngest professional practices in Doha, the team had built a strong foundation in providing quality throughout each project. This highly sought award celebrates the best in luxury design and the movers and shakers that help define its aesthetics.

Current projects include an extensive residential project that incorporates vast living areas while incorporating the luxury elements such as leisure spaces, pool and gym. This project is due to be slated in 2021 and will be a testament to the teams’ dedication to design and an ability to provide versatile luxury living spaces.

As per their ethos, the Designer Studio is committed to creating luxury interiors one space at a time and with an ever evolving location such as Qatar, it is very likely that their practice will be key at defining some of the most iconic buildings of the future within this exciting and competitive region.

6 Tips to Save Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The pandemic has had an enormous effect on everyone, especially on our mental health. The majority of the global population never had to deal with similar situations before which is the reason why so many people didn’t know how to react. People had no idea how long the lockdown would last, or what to do to stay safe. When the instructions regarding wearing masks and social distancing became more or less clear, there was another problem to solve –  how to stay sane during this time. Parents had to explain to their children what’s going on. Students had to focus on their engineering homework no matter what, while doctors had to save lives. If you are currently struggling, here are six tips on how to improve mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. Some of them are rather obvious. However, we tend to forget that even doing these simple things can help you improve your mental health. This way, it will get easier for you to deal with your everyday tasks whether it is completing engineering homework or searching for engineering assignment help, holding work meetings online, or saving people’s lives.

 

1. Recognize that feeling anxious is completely normal

This is the first and most important step. Even though no one enjoys feeling anxious, it is your organisms’ response to staying vigilant and alert. Thus, the first step is to recognize that you have anxiety, while the next one is to come up with a plan. Here’s a simple example. If you can’t deal with your engineering homework at the moment, it is probably time to ask for engineering homework help instead of torturing yourself. This way, you will have an expert assist you, as well as feel less stressed because of the situation. Besides, getting engineering homework help is easier than ever. All you need to do is to find someone who has a lot of experience in this field and is eager to assist you with your engineering assignment.

 

2. Focus on yourself

When you can’t control what’s happening in the world and around you, focusing on yourself and your own needs/interests/hobbies is a great way to keep your mental health in check. This is a great opportunity to learn something new, to start a hobby or even to get additional engineering homework help you so desperately require in order to complete your assignment on time. You have more time on your hands. Try to be more productive. Besides, it’s also a great way to control what you can change.

 

3. Find a distraction

The pandemic and coronavirus are both those things which most of us can’t do anything about apart from wearing masks and following social distancing rules. One of the most effective ways to improve mental health in this situation is to find a distraction. You can’t read the news all day long. You will only get more agitated. However, it won’t help you deal with the situation. That is why, focusing on something else is the best thing you can do to stay sane. If you have been experiencing difficulties with your engineering assignment, try looking for engineering help. If you have always wanted to read more, this is your chance. Find something you enjoy doing.

 

4. Understand what you’re feeling

Before you are able to act, you need to understand what triggers you. Once you do that (either on your own or with the help of a psychologist), you’ll finally be able to move forward. You may not know what the best way of dealing with disappointment or anxiety is. Yet, you can find out if you understand what you’re feeling and what causes it. The faster you do that, the easier it will be for you to build defense mechanisms. The most important thing to remember is to let yourself feel all the emotions even if it’s a painful experience. It will help get better much sooner.

 

5. Find new ways to stay in touch with friends

One of the many reasons why the pandemic has hit so hard in terms of mental health is the lack of social interaction. No matter how developed technology is, it’s not the same as going for coffee and a stroll in the park with a friend. However, it’s important to keep distance for the time being. Thus, using video calls or calling your friends instead of texting may help you feel better, as well as stay more connected with one another.

 

The sixth and last tip on our list of how to save mental health during the coronavirus pandemic is to be kind to yourself and others. The pandemic itself is hard enough to process. There is no need to cause additional problems to others (and yourself) who are already struggling with everything that’s going right now. Don’t go hard on yourself, and think twice before you are about to make another snarky remark. Now is the time to support each other in the best way possible.

7 Jewellery Pieces Every Woman Needs in Her Collection

Just as there are certain articles of clothing every woman should have in her wardrobe, there are classic pieces of jewellery that add easy elegance to a woman’s office outfits, formal wear, and casual clothes. Since few among us have the space or the budget for a new bangle for every outfit, you want pieces that multitask. Slow fashion teaches us that it’s best to invest in items that will last and be enjoyed for years, and even longer. Read on to learn which jewellery pieces every woman needs to have in her collection.

 

1. Pearl Strand

Pearls are the little black dress of any jewellery collection. With their exquisitely feminine shape and flattering glow, pearls are iconic and look fabulous with virtually everything in your wardrobe. Pearls are ideal for special occasions like graduations and weddings, and elevate your everyday clothes to another level. If you think traditional white is too staid, keep in mind that pearls come in every colour of the rainbow and beyond, including gold. If you want something truly unique but still timeless, consider exotic Tahitian black pearls. A pearl necklace is delightful on its own, but many women prefer complete sets. Pearl strands pair perfectly with pearl bracelets, and pearl earrings especially in a business environment. When it comes to building a wardrobe worthy of a boss lady in charge, you can’t go wrong with pearls.

 

2. Diamond Studs

As the saying goes, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Diamonds make you feel gorgeous and special, but not everyone can afford a diamond necklace — and how often do you need one anyway? This is not the case with diamond studs. They go with everything from jeans to business suits, and instantly make you look stylish and pulled together. Wear them anywhere: to a board meeting, to brunch with the fam, or out for a night on the town; diamond studs take your through your busy day with ease. They can be worn for any occasion or none at all, and look fantastic with short, sassy hair or an elegant updo. P.S.: If price is an issue, you can always go with CZ (cubic zirconia). We won’t tell — and no one else will be able to either.

 

3. Gold Hoops

Gold hoops are every bit as timeless as diamond stud earrings. Gold is always glamorous, and complements everything from casual to formal attire. The simple, round shape of hoops denotes wholeness and infinity. Style options are as infinite as their shape: petite, bold, sleek, double, even organic out-of-round forms are all considered classics. Hoops look great against long hair and are just as charming with short, smart styles. For everyday wear, you can’t beat red lipstick and gold hoops. Whether you prefer delicate circles or shoulder-brushing oversize, gold hoops are your go-to for all occasions.

 

4. Stylish Watch

Sure, everyone knows the time thanks to their mobile, but a bulky device is no replacement for a chic timepiece. A watch allows you to check the time discreetly, and will cut down on at least a few peeks at your iPhone. A woman who wears an elegant watch conveys confidence, sophistication, and organisation. She’s someone you can rely on. But the best part is getting to pick out your fave. There are so many fabulous styles to choose from: bracelet, mesh strap, leather band, cuff, and even a sexy yet still classic double-wrap. The practicality, beauty, and functionality of a handsome wristwatch can’t be denied, and will definitely garner you many compliments as well.

 

5. Pendant Necklace

Less is often more, and this is the case with a pendant necklace. A simple, slender chain paired with a lovely pendant completes your outfit without taking over. Another reason to love pendants: they tend to be budget-friendly while still conveying style and elegance. A pendant may be worn solo or layered with other necklaces, making them supremely versatile. Pendants can be deeply personal, such as a locket, birthstone, charm, or engraving, or they may simply be something you picked because the colour matches your outfit; the decision is yours. A unique pendant lends an air of mystery to the wearer, which is why every woman needs at least one pendant necklace in her collection.

 

6. Tennis Bracelet

Tennis bracelets are perfect for today’s active women who lead busy lives. A sleek, elegant diamond bracelet conveys your style in an understated way. Once known as an ‘eternity bracelet,’ the design was popular long before Chris Evert lost hers on the court during a match back in 1978. But the name stuck, and so has the bracelet’s popularity. A tennis bracelet won’t clash with your outfit, no matter whether you’re from running to a meeting or to save a break point!

 

7. Swank Rings

No matter if your taste leans more toward minimalism or maximising, every woman needs a few stylish rings in her collection. This is especially true if you are not much for bracelets. Simple rings are always lovely, but maybe a bold statement ring is more your style. Another classic option is a stately signet ring. For a modern approach on a timeless design, consider stackables. Worn together or singly, stackable rings make your outfit, and you, shine. Rings highlight a fresh manicure and add sparkle to any ensemble.

Owning classic pieces means you’ll always have something elegant to wear. When you invest in quality jewellery, it can last a lifetime and beyond. Properly cared for, there is no reason why your jewels can’t become cherished family heirlooms.

Wishpond Launches Marketing Funnels Product Enabling SMBs to Improve Their Online Success

Wishpond Technologies Ltd., an emerging leader in all-in-one digital marketing solutions that empower businesses to achieve success online, is pleased to announce another expansion to the Wishpond platform with its new Marketing Funnels product. Wishpond’s Marketing Funnels helps businesses and entrepreneurs monetize their website traffic by converting clicks and marketing leads into customers through an online step-by-step funnel process. The Marketing Funnels product is easy to setup and collects user data using a series of online forms and selection pages. The end result for businesses is more leads, higher conversion rates, better insights on customers, more targeted follow-ups and improved online sales.

Benefits of Internal Mobility

Recent research revealed that what numerous workers have known for quite some time, the majority of companies and organizations are ill-armed to move talent internally. There is a significant change in the world of business over the past couple of years as power has transferred from businesses to employees in the choice of the best fit for a position.

Reasons to Use Edible Utensils

Edible plates, straws, packaging, and different types of edible utensils are some alternative innovations towards sustainability. If you are one of the managers or owners of restaurants and some food outlets in your locality, then you should start using edible utensils in providing foods and drinks to the consumers. In this way, you can help the environment by having a good impact to the planet. As much as possible, you should quit using plastic utensils when giving food to the customers. It is because plastics are non-biodegradable which have a longer lifespan in the world. Thus, these plastics badly affect the whole environment. 

When the customers purchased foods from the restaurants, and you packed the foods with plastics, then there are some instances that they just throw these plastics in the garbage pins and do not even consider recycling them. So, it would be better if you start using edible utensils so that you can help limit the utilization of non-biodegradable materials. 

Perhaps, you’re still wondering how this edible plastic & packaging helps everyone in the process. If you want to learn something about it, then here are the lists of the reasons why you need to use these edible utensils not only in your business operations but even at home:

  • These are said to be functional – Edible utensils may come in various shapes and sizes. These can become spoons, forks, or even chopsticks. Typically, these could have a lifespan until 18 months. Once you’re not done eating them and already reached their expiration date, then you can just pour some water on these utensils or let them decompose. These can be degraded with three days. 
  • These are Eco-Friendly – Using edible utensils is good for everyone and for the whole environment. Edible utensils help limit the use of plastics, resulting to the reduction of plastic wastes. These are also biodegradable and would decompose if not needed already. These types of utensils are better be utilized at home and in business operations instead of using plastic cutlery. It is because plastics are typically made up of polystyrene and polypropylene, which could take more than 400 years to perish. 

Moreover, the production of at least 1 lb. of plastic flatware could almost take around 78 L of water, releasing 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide. On the other hand, edible utensils are made up of ingredients that are safe to be taken by the human body. For instance, some restaurants utilize ingredients like sorghum, rice, and wheat. When they produce sorghum, there would be around 4.35 L of water is being used by the 1 lb. of sorghum. It also releases 0.19 pounds of carbon dioxide. 

  • These are nutritious – Edible utensils are basically good to the health of the body. It is because these offer iron, protein, fiber, and calcium. Moreover, sorghum is said to be rich in micro-nutrients. If you are celiac, you can also have edible utensils that are gluten-free. At some point, if you badly need to boost up your energy, then these also contain around 34.86 calories for every utensil, which are good in providing additional energy. 

Below are some nutritional pieces of information per utensil:

  • Energy – 34.86 kilocalorie
  • Fat – 0.12 gram
  • Proteins – 1.06 grams
  • Fiber – 0.19 gram
  • Minerals – 0.13 gram
  • Iron – 0.56 gram
  • Carbohydrates – 7.64 grams
  • Calcium – 2.13 mg
  • Thiamine – 0.03 mg
  • Carotene – 3.97 mg
  • Niacin – 0.28 mg
  • Riboflavin – 0.01 mg
  • Folic acid – 1.33 mg

With these nutritional facts, you will be guided on how nutritious the edible utensils are. So, you may prefer to use these instead of plastic utensils in the kitchen at home or even in your restaurants for your business operations. 

  • These are the perfect combination with your soup during meals – For say, you’re using edible spoons during your dinner or lunch. Then, these edible spoons would complement your soup as well. Unlike normal croutons or crackers, these edible spoons will not become moist while you’re eating your soup. 
  • These are delicious and safe to be eaten – Generally, edible utensils come in three flavors such as sweet, savory, and plain. Although these types of utensils have different types of flavors, you can have a guarantee that these will not overpower the regular taste of the food. In addition to that, these are safe to be eaten or taken by the body. Rest assured that there will be no side-effects upon taking these along with your foods. In fact, there are some people who already started to use edible utensils since they believe that these could somehow help them in achieving economic sustainability.

So, if you think that these edible utensils are good alternatives from plastic utensils, then you may start using them now in your kitchen. Using ample time and a perfect recipe, you can make sure that you will have a perfect experience when eating your favorite dish with your family. 

However, you need to know first some of the basic characteristics of edible utensils once you want to use them for good. Here are some of them:

  • Edible utensils don’t perform well on cutting foods. 
  • Edible forks contain clumsy teeth compared to regular ones.
  • Knives that are edible don’t have sharp edges; so, they cannot cut through foods if you wish to do that.
  • Edible spoons are designed for scooping, pushing, pulling, and holding foods easier than those with knives and forks. 

Some cultures don’t use knives or forks while dining with their family. In fact, some of them only use fingers and hands when eating. There are also some people who consider sharp objects at their meal table as rude since these remind them about hunting and killing games. These also evoke their thoughts and ideas about butchering processes that are being considered as very indelicate. 

But regardless of the different cultures and religious practices on eating, the notion pertaining to utilizing edible utensils is quite intriguing. This is a kind of idea which encompasses opportunities. So, you may also try using edible utensils in your kitchen and even eating foods at home.

TheraNow Transforms Hands-On Care Through Remote Physical Therapy and Pain Management Solution

Whether it’s isolation, job insecurity or general anxiety, the COVID-19 pandemic presents innumerable challenges to nearly everyone, especially those suffering from existing injuries and conditions before the outbreak. This is due to an increased risk of severe illness or death which, according to the CDC, those with pre-existing conditions are two to three times more likely to experience if the virus is contracted. For those living with these conditions and injuries, this brought a new and concerning reality into sharp focus; in addition to the challenges faced by everyone else in a pandemic, the very act of seeking and receiving in-person medical care now meant risking one’s life.

As such, many patients have begun deferring and avoiding medical care. According to the CDC, over 40 percent of adults in the United States reported avoiding healthcare services throughout the pandemic due to these concerns. The same study reported the rate of avoidance was higher among people with disabilities and people with two or more underlying conditions, presenting a clear need for remote and accessible healthcare solutions.

Recognizing this, many healthcare providers worked to blend technology and necessity together to birth a range of remote health technologies that provide primary care services, virtual therapy, psychiatry services, and even virtual dentistry services. Through these innovations, patients can seek and receive health advice from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Even types of care traditionally considered to be ‘hands on’ have emerged, giving patients safe avenues for physical therapy and pain management care from home. An organization offering exactly this is TheraNow.

At their core, TheraNow provides convenient and reliable online therapeutic services through board-certified physical therapists and health experts via video consultation. Their network of physical therapists and health experts work cohesively through the platform to develop customized care plans for patients while tracking outcomes in real time. Due to their tailored nature, TheraNow can help patients with home exercise, functional training, and chronic pain management plans.

The pandemic has exposed flaws in the existing healthcare system around effectively treating patients in a way that is tailored to their specific needs. TheraNow uses the convenience of telehealth technology to bring experts in the field of musculoskeletal disorders, pain management and rehabilitation directly to the patient. It’s a new paradigm in healthcare, and one that has been proven throughout TheraNow’s work with institutional clients and partners. Now, this form of safe pain relief is available for anyone, and it couldn’t come any sooner for patients confined to their homes suffering from pain.

According to the CDC, chronic pain affects an estimated 20.4 percent of adults in the United States, in which the only treatment options are physical therapy or medication. Unfortunately the latter option is proving to be disastrous, with 21 to 29 percent of those prescribed opioids for chronic pain management going on to grow a dependence or misuse them entirely. This makes the need for remote and accessible physical therapy services like TheraNow more cogent than ever.

Built on the premise of simplicity and accessibility, TheraNow enables patients to use the platform either through the website or an app on their smartphone or tablet. This means it can be accessed anywhere, at work, from home, or even while on vacation. Accessibility is taken a step further through their affordable pricing structure, with plans starting at $75 for their initial consultation session and additional treatment bundles which patients can purchase in packs of four or eight. Many insurance providers will also cover TheraNow, but the pricing is set so even those without insurance can access their essential pain management and other physical therapy services without significant financial barriers.  

This high level of accessibility blends convenience with care, meaning that while a patient has the convenience to book care outside of standard brick-and-mortar practice operating hours and from any location, they also receive a high level of dedicated care. In fact, through TheraNow, patients are paired with their own dedicated healthcare provider who will advise the patient throughout the course of their treatment, rather than switching out providers with each session. This allows the patient and provider to build a working relationship of consistency, trust and care to reap the best health outcomes possible.

While the pandemic has heavily affected those with pre-existing conditions and comorbidities, the rapid emergence of technologies enabling access to remote care has enabled these people to continue seeking care without risking significant illness or death. Even traditionally hands-on care, like physical therapy, has joined the revolution through platforms like TheraNow, enabling patients to take control of their health and the management of issues like chronic pain from the comfort and safety of their own homes.  

Argentina Becomes the Second Country That Invested the Most in Bogota in 2020

Bogota is becoming an increasingly important investment destination for Argentine companies. According to figures analyzed by Invest in Bogota for the period 2016-2020, year after year, the number of new investment and expansion projects that arrived in the city from the Latin-American country remained constantly on the rise, except for 2020.

New Coalition to Support SMEs Out of Lockdown and Ensure UK Meets Net Zero Target

Zero Carbon Business Partnership finds small businesses don’t know where to turn for help in moving to net zero

Emerging out of lockdown, small businesses must, and want, to play a key role in the UK’s journey to net zero, but don’t know where to turn when it comes to cutting carbon emissions, finds a report from a coalition of top business groups, energy networks and expert bodies released today.

The research, entitled Small businesses advice on net zero: discovery phase, was commissioned by a new coalition called the Zero Carbon Business Partnership, comprising several of the UK’s leading business, energy, industry and education bodies including, amongst others, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the British Chambers of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Make UK, Electricity North West, Northern Powergrid and Western Power Distribution. It is the first time that a coalition of this magnitude has come together to drive SME progress towards the UK’s legally binding net zero target.

It finds that as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) emerge from lockdown and look to reconsider their investments, despite caring about cutting carbon, they are unsure where to start; where and how to get help; need to put financial viability at the heart of decisions to cut carbon, and have no time to research a net-zero strategy for themselves.

Miranda Barker, CEO of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy, which means they have a critical role in ensuring we meet our net zero target. In order to help us get there, they need to be able to understand what net zero means, along with clear guidance from trustworthy partners.”

The report calls for an advice service tailored for the specific needs of SMEs, which make up over 99% of businesses in the UK, provide 60% of all jobs, and nearly half the nation’s business-related emissions. The research reveals that environmental impact is up there as a top priority for businesses, together with Covid-19 and growth.

Allen Creedy, DEFRA Policy Unit and Vice Chair EPU UK Policy Committee:  “The UK Government’s ambition for net zero cannot be realised without an empowered and supportive small business community. Evidence suggests that while small businesses support net-zero objectives, they do not yet understand their pathways to achieve this. 

“That’s why this platform is fundamental. It’s an exciting project which will light a clear and consistent path to net zero, enabling the UK to becoming a powerhouse for low-carbon infrastructure, technology, goods and services.” 

The research finds that amongst a survey audience of UK trade association members, the top priorities for SMEs are balanced between Covid-19, growth and environmental impact. Despite that, the survey of 254 SMEs found:

  • 71% could not recommend a single web source for help on decarbonisation.
  • One third were not familiar with the phrase net zero.
  • 57% rated the perceived importance of their environmental impact the top two scores of 4 or 5 out of 5.
  • 40% said money was a blocker to taking action.

 

Steven McMahon, Deputy Director of Electricity Distribution and Cross Sector Policy at Ofgem, said: “Businesses want to play their part in tackling the climate emergency. It’s timely that they are being given the tools to do this in the year that the UK hosts the UN climate change conference in Glasgow. 

“This is just the start. It’s great that some of the big players in the energy sector are joining the Zero Carbon Business Partnership to help small and medium sized businesses cut their greenhouse gas emissions and play a wider role in a cleaner, greener energy system.”

The report highlights seven main requirements for SMEs to reach zero:

  • Clear information – Businesses are confused by the language of net zero, unclear about what policy changes will affect their businesses, and necessary information is not reaching them. They require simplified and standardised language targeting SME climate action.
  • Staying in business – SMEs care and are aware of the need to decarbonise, but they need help to reconcile carbon reduction with staying in business. Financial viability should be at the heart of messages about carbon reduction.
  • Financial and digital literacy support – Those making faster progress towards net zero have better financial skills and digital literacy. 90% of all jobs will involve digital skills by 2025. Without collaborative, integrated solutions and support, many SMEs will struggle.
  • Trust and transparency – SMEs trust trade bodies and business groups over institutions and official narratives. Within an information service, trade bodies could enhance trust and transparency through feedback about SMEs’ experience of the net zero transition.
  • Peer-to-peer relationships – SMEs need examples of good carbon reduction strategies. Peer-to-peer support structures, particularly at local levels, will enhance trust, capacity and confidence to act, particularly within as-yet immature low-carbon supply chains.
  • Meeting the challenge of COVID-19 – SMEs are too stressed to think beyond immediate survival. Services must offer uncomplicated guidance for the first steps on SMEs’ net zero journey, and show that a green recovery is the way to meet the challenge of COVID-19.
  • A joined-up narrative – SMEs are more engaged with climate issues, even if they do not use the language of net zero. But pragmatic actions are hampered by confusion over definitions and meanings. SMEs need a joined-up narrative to cut through the confusing jargon.

 

Richard Hagan, Managing Director of Crystal Doors, SME in Rochdale said:  “I was in a proper crisis in 2015. I had to change, or I’d have had to close my business. So, I learnt as much as I could about climate change as quickly as possible – which is what everybody needs to do – and I turned it all around.” 

In the run up to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow this November, the Zero Carbon Business Partnership is developing an information service that provides SMEs with the tools needed to begin cutting carbon and to resolve the issues highlighted in the report.

The provision will ensure SMEs are provided with clear and easy to follow advice and support on how to get started and ahead of the targets.      

Earlier this month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng wrote an open letter to businesses, detailing the government’s Plan for Growth. It stated that its three priorities for businesses were to ‘Enable our transition to net zero’, ‘Unite and level up the country’, and ‘Support our vision for Global Britain’.

In response to the news that a third of the UK’s biggest companies signed up to the United Nations Race to Zero campaign, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng recently said “businesses wield incredible influence to drive change across society and the economy – we need to harness this power to fight climate change.”

Hair Loss Treatment For Men: 4 Noninvasive Methods For A Thicker Hairline

For most women, hair is considered as a crowning glory that affects one’s self-esteem significantly. What most people don’t realize though is that even men are concerned about keeping their hair in its best condition. However, there are instances wherein a thinning hairline becomes a problem, particularly as a man gets older. Fortunately, there are now various noninvasive methods that you can consider for a thicker hairline.

Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP)

One of the primary ways to address hair loss, particularly for men, is through scalp micro-pigmentation, or SMP. The professionals in scalp micropigmentation in South Florida suggest that you only go for the services of licensed specialists should you consider this option to address your thinning hairline. The reason behind this is that even if SMP is noninvasive or non-surgical, the proper procedure should still be followed to ensure the success of the treatment.

With SMP, you will be subjected to a treatment session wherein tiny needles are used to deposit pigments in your scalp. The pigment matches your natural hair color, providing the illusion of thicker and healthier hair. This procedure is not only intended for men with a thinning hairline, but this is also advisable for those suffering from alopecia. Because of the use of needles, the procedure may hurt a little, which is why a numbing agent will most likely be applied to your head before the session. Since SMP is noninvasive, there is no recovery time required after the process.

Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT)

Another way to address a thinning hairline for men is through low-level light therapy treatment. This kind of procedure is another non-invasive way to treat hair loss that can even be done at home. In this case, you need to use a certain type of helmet that is incorporated with LED lights that create ATP, which is a form of cellular energy. The outer layer of your scalp absorbs ATP, promoting hair follicle growth.

To ensure the success of this treatment, you may need to wear the helmet every other day for a duration of four to six months. Nevertheless, the success of LLLT varies from one person to another. For this reason, before you invest in a helmet, make sure that you get in touch with a specialist or your primary care physician to determine whether this is the best option that you can do to improve your hairline.

Oral Medication

Aside from clinical treatments, you can also consider oral medications to address your receding hairline. Some of the oral medications that you can consider include Minoxidil, Finasteride, and Dutasteride. While Minoxidil was primarily a hypertension drug, it can now be used for hair regrowth. You can choose between a 2% and 5% strength and while the 5% strength tends to be more effective, ideally, you should begin with a lower dosage.

Finasteride can increase your testosterone, which in effect can restore your hair loss. This is the reason why this oral medication is one of the popular ones considered by most men with a receding hairline. While women can also take Finasteride, they can be more prone to its side effects, which is why this oral medication is usually prescribed only to men. It may take a year, however, before you fully notice the effect of Finasteride on your hair. Dutasteride is another oral drug with a similar effect as Finasteride.

Natural Remedies

Finally, you can also consider natural remedies to restore your hair growth. In this case, you can consider the use of peppermint oil that contains menthol. The menthol in peppermint oil can increase the blood circulation to your scalp, effectively reducing hair loss. You can also consider topical solutions with folic acid. Folic acid can foster the creation of DNA, which then reduces inflammation and prevents anemia. Folic acid is also believed to reduce hair loss although more studies are needed.

You can also consider taking biotin, which is a B vitamin that converts food into energy primarily. During the conversion process, biotin also fosters hair growth. Even a scalp massage can help foster the growth of your hair because it can increase the blood flow to your scalp.

When it comes to hair loss treatments, you already have numerous options. For instance, you can consider scalp micro pigmentation or low-level light therapy. There is also the option for you to think about taking oral medication or using natural remedies. The great thing about these treatments is that they are noninvasive, which means that you don’t have to go under the knife to restore a thicker and healthier hairline.

No Gym Required: 7 Ways to Get Fit at Home

Surely, you like to get fit. But not everyone that wants to get fit has the luxury of time and money to spend on a gym membership. Add up to that the expense of traveling back and forth the gym, paying for an instructor, and whatnot. So, if you’re pressed by time and you’re on a budget, it’s normal to feel like you’re falling behind your fitness goals.

Then, fast forward to this time and season today. Perhaps many gyms are still closed given the pandemic, and much of the world has to stay home. If you succumb to these challenges, then you’ll only fall even far short of your goals.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t always have to be that way. According to 28 AT HOME, even if you’re just at home, there are many ways to start your fitness journey, especially if you religiously follow a fitness program. Moreover, here are more ways to get fit at home:

1. Walk For at Least 20 Minutes

You’ve probably heard that all-too-familiar advice that sitting down the entire day isn’t good for you. Additionally, the danger with working from home now is that you may be tempted to spend the entire day working with very minimal breaks, just to get it over fast.

Rather than taking this route, have a regular break as you would’ve done so if you were still in the office. Then, during this break, don’t just sit, eat, and go on social media. Take advantage of this time to move around. If you can, take a 20-minute walk around your neighborhood. This is more than enough to give you that daily physical activity needed to stay fit.

2. Get Started with an Exercise Routine

If you’re still new to exercising, you don’t necessarily need to exercise daily right away. What’s important is that you make it a point to get started as soon as possible with a workable exercise routine–something that can be done at least thrice a week.

Here’s a good example of a routine you can start with. Aim for at least half an hour of cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week and at least 20 minutes of strength training. What’s important is that whatever your routine is, it covers your major muscle groups in the upper and lower body.

The hardest decision is to get started. Once that’s done and over with, it’ll be seamless for you to keep going with a routine that works for you.

3. Use Tabata

With your daily responsibilities, it often feels as if there’s just not enough time in the day left to you to have your ‘me time’ and squeeze in a bit of an exercise.

If this is the case, then your solution is a five-minute Tabata workout. Even though these are very quick, it’s just as effective as other, longer exercises, as long as you do this consistently.

Here’s how Tabata works:

For five minutes, you exercise for 20 seconds and then take 10 seconds off. The same cycle repeats until you finish the Tabata timer app, which is set at five minutes. You can run, do burpees, jumping jacks, and even planking if you know you can last 20 seconds.

Consistent Tabata training can increase your metabolism and heart rate. Eventually, you’ll start to see the results coming in.

4. Find an Exercise Partner

Even when you’re just at home, you can ask your sibling, parent, spouse, or children to be your exercise partner.

Yes, there are exercises you can also enjoy with the entire family. That way, you’re sure to allocate time of the day for exercise. You can avoid having the children bother you in the middle of your exercise.

Plus, when you’ve got an exercise partner, it’s easier for you to remember and stick to the routine. It’ll also become more fun when the entire family joins in the fun.

5. Switch Off

Getting fit isn’t just about the exercise. It’s also about getting healthy, holistically.

When you’re just at home, one of the biggest distractions to productivity is your gadgets. Hence, make it a point to switch off your gadgets regularly. Getting enough sleep is crucial to being fit and having so many gadgets turned on with the notifications popping up regularly isn’t going to help. Next thing you know, you’ve just wasted two hours simply scrolling mindlessly on your social media account.

That time could’ve been spent exercising, meal prepping healthy food, and even resting.

6. Schedule Your Workouts

One of the most common pieces of advice you may have heard from productivity experts is to plan your meals for the week. It pays to have a schedule so it’s easier for you to envision what’s coming right ahead in the week.

As you create your schedule, be sure that you key in exercise time at least every day. That way, it becomes a part of your routine. As much as possible, have your exercise time very early on in the morning. Not only are you increasing the chances of actually being able to do these exercises, but you’re also increasing your energy level and have a positive attitude set for the entire day.

7. Do a Cleaning Chore Every Day

Doing a household chore is actually like hitting two birds with one stone. If the days just get impossibly long and busy, and the house is still a mess, go ahead and clean up! Cleaning the house is a sneaky way to exercise. Not only will cleaning be more fun, but you’re also burning more calories as you go.

Conclusion

If this past year, you’re like everyone else who may have had to put a temporary halt to your fitness routine, you’re not alone. But this brand-new year comes new hope and opportunities. As you now adjust to spending more time at home, this means that you should’ve already gotten by a routine that works for you.

It’s time to put a stop to being a couch potato. Rather than spending half an hour watching TV, get up, get moving, and get started with your very own home fitness routine.

APAC Insider Magazine Announces the Winners of the 2021 Australian Enterprise Awards

United Kingdom, 2021– APAC Insider Magazine has announced the winners of the 2021 Australian Enterprise Awards.

Now in its fifth year, the Australian Enterprise Awards seek to acknowledge the incredible achievements of businesses and individuals across the country. To say it’s been a tumultuous and challenging twelve months would be a gross understatement, yet the strength of Australia’s entrepreneurial and innovative spirit has helped companies of all sizes to weather the upheaval. We launched this year’s edition with that context firmly in mind and endeavoured to spotlight those that have both belied the uncertainty to attain growth or found new ways to thrive.

Awards Co-ordinator Steve Simpson commented on the success of the deserving winners at the launch of the supplement: “Australia continues to be a leading light on the world stage when it comes to business innovation and growth. As part of this awards programme, we wanted to reward all businesses -whether a start-up or an established behemoth on the market. With the events of 2020 mostly behind us, I offer my sincere congratulations to all of our winners, and I hope you have a fantastic 2021 ahead.”

To find out more about these prestigious awards, and the dedicated professionals selected for them, please visit https://www.apac-insider.com/ where you can view our winners supplement and full winners list.

ENDS

Notes to Editors.

About APAC Insider

Here at APAC Insider, our approach reflects the innovative, dedicated and results-focused culture that has seen the Asia Pacific region become home to some of the most prominent industry-leading businesses in the world.

Playing host to more than one third of the world’s biggest businesses and boasting more Global 2000 members – among them worldwide brands such as Toyota, Samsung and Bank of China – than anywhere else on Earth, we are rapidly becoming the region to watch for those seeking the corporate world’s next big thing.

Exploring everything from business strategy and analysis to emerging trends and growth opportunities, APAC Insider is an invaluable resource for more than 160,000 leaders and decision makers looking to be kept fully informed of all the major developments in this most vibrant of business arenas.

We can see the great success of our platform with over 255,322 page views in the last 12 months averaging at 21,200 page views per month we can see our magazine is loved by many. The unique users average at an incredible 6,830 per month and we can’t thank our readers enough for the amazing support they give us to bring this content to you.

There Are 4 Key Points for You to Follow to Be a Leader, Not a Manager

Managing a team of people comes with a new level of responsibilities. But have you ever considered the vast difference between being a manager and a leader? Harvard Business Review reports that 30 is the average age of a first-time manager while 40 is the age where people first embark on leadership training. This is a decade of lost years of building leadership skills – this can lead to ingraining bad habits and not practising to improve your style.

Being a manager doesn’t automatically make you a leader. The main difference between a manager and a leader is that managers delegate tasks to those who work for them whereas leaders have people follow them and believe in what they’re setting out for the company. The best part of the last year has demonstrated that leaders need to be prepared and agile to respond to protect their business and employees.

Here, we will determine the four ways that managers can transform themselves into leaders.

Respect goes two ways

Firstly, and most importantly, be respectable. Respect should be earned, not expected – no employee is going to consider a manager their leader if they don’t respect them. There are a number of things you should consider in order to gain your employees’ respect. After all, if they respect you, they’re likely to work harder for you, cooperate more with others, be more creative, resilient, and likely to take direction.

These include:

  • Leading by example. Be prepared to pick up tasks big and small, for example making your own cup of coffee or printing copies out to hand out to the workforce.
  • Listen to your team. Open the floor for others to speak and allow them to voice their opinions on how to improve things. Holding steady team meetings opens up a dialogue of feedback and ideas.
  • Follow through on deadlines and agreements. If you can’t meet your own deadlines, why should your team? If you offer to help someone on a particular project, honour that promise.
  • Accept responsibility if things don’t work out.

Communication is key

Never underestimate the power of communication. Managers with poor communication skills often alienate their workers, leaving the team confused and with little faith that things are being run properly. Take time to communicate your ideas, expectations, strategies, and everything in between, making everyone else feel involved in what’s going on. You can do this by thinking of any strategy the same as telling a story to someone who knows nothing about it. You can focus on things you don’t know or what you need to understand yourself in order to relay it others.

By involving your team and keeping them engaged, this will also allow successful executions and a happy, motivated team – you can’t expect a strategy to work if it isn’t understood and nobody is committed.

Shape company culture

Leaders should contribute to an active company culture. If workers’ characteristics don’t fit into the culture, this could influence their decision to leave. By defining a culture early on and recruiting those who fit into the talent pool, employees will feel comfortable which will have a positive effect on their performance.

Harvard Business carried out research to find out which qualities are most important in leaders. 700 workers were asked which qualities they value the most – 70 per cent agreed that creating a culture of engagement is a very important attribute and results in lower turnover rates, more productivity, and more profitability.

This reiterates what was mentioned in the first section – leaders must lead by example. They can determine how valued traits are within the business, for example, communication, integrity, and commitment. Employees who work in an engaging culture with their leader will have positive opinions about the company and will be strong advocates.

Leadership training programs

Go over and beyond for your team and consider enrolling on leadership training programs. which are designed to guide leaders through key issues and how to effectively adopt forward-thinking strategies. Organisations are constantly evolving in the modern world, therefore so does the nature of leading. Building on agile and reactive skills can help you become a capable and inspiring leader.

Leaders certainly have a big responsibility to inspire and encourage their workers – so it is important to do it properly.

6 Steps Towards Potential Alcohol Addiction Recovery

‘Don’t drink and drive!’ This is such a common statement that’s very easy to comprehend, but you’re always left wondering why many people still go against it. Well, there are many potential reasons that could answer this question, but the most popular one is addiction. It might come as a surprise to you, but there are people who can’t go a day without opening that bottle.

Many of them claim that alcohol helps them cope with the stress that comes with their daily responsibilities. In fact, this is a belief that’s shared by many alcoholics. What these people don’t know is that such habits are slowly making them slaves to the substance. Once you’ve started that journey, it can be very difficult to come back simply because your body has already been programmed to function well while drunk–or so you might believe.

If you open the books of records, you will find many victims who have succumbed to the effects of this product. Others have suffered indirectly either through car accidents or family fights involving a drunk partner(s). Have you become a slave to alcohol? Well, hope is not lost! It’s never too late to turn back and clean up your mess. This article aims to cover some tips that will come in handy in your alcohol addiction treatment process.

1. Contemplate on the Issue

Alcoholism isn’t something that starts overnight; you don’t wake up one day and start drinking uncontrollably. It’s a disorder that grows gradually and eventually becomes part of your life. Before you know it, you’re spending too much money and time in bars in the name of having fun or forgetting your troubles. Similarly, the recovery process can take months or even years, depending on your level of addiction.

All reformed alcoholics went through a phase where they started seeing the negative impacts of their actions. Of course, this is one thing that your mind must be willing to see for you to even realize. This explains why many alcoholics are forced to spend time in rehab facilities so that they can be monitored and guided by professional rehabilitation officers.

But then again, you don’t to be a chronic alcohol user for you to seek the services of a counselor. These experts will not only advise you, but they’ll also help you see the light whenever you feel like backsliding.

The contemplation phase, as the name suggests, is all about weighing the risks and benefits of your actions. All rehab programs usually cover focus on this area as the step towards reforming the clients. During this stage, a professional counselor will guide you in listing all the benefits and negative repercussions of using alcohol. If at all you’re committed to the course, you shouldn’t list these points just for the sake of it. Instead, make sure you focus on them at a personal level.

For instance, you could say that it enhances your fun moments and helps you interact with people. But has it broken any of your relationships before? What about your productivity? Has it improved or dropped since you started having drinking issues? The more accurate and sincere you answer these questions, the higher your chances of reforming.

2. Speak to Someone

Once you have weighed on the risks and benefits of alcoholism and accepted that you need help, what next? Well, it’s recommended that you find someone close and discuss this issue with them. However, be careful with the people you decide to share this information with. For instance, discussing it with your drinking buddies might be a bad idea. Remember, not everyone is ready to change for the best, and some of them might end up discouraging you.

One of the closest people you can speak to is your partner, that’s if you’re already married. Why is it important to share your plans with someone you trust? For one, they’ll definitely lend a helping hand either emotionally or financially. At this stage in your life, you need a lot of encouragement, and you can source this motivation from such people. It’s even better if you can find someone who has gone through the same in the past. They will not only show you the way, but they’ll also point you towards the most reputable service providers.

3. Get Help

As earlier stated, some people living with alcohol disorder are usually forced to spend some time at a rehabilitation center. They are guided from the first step to the last. However, assuming that you’ve decided to quit drinking but are still staying at home, what should you do? Well, the best move is to find a professional or get help from any recognized rehabilitation center.

Why is it important to seek help yet you can quit on your own? Many people have been inclined to believe alcohol counselors and other related professionals are only there for the money. Well, there’re fraudsters in every industry, but the work of a true counselor is to help you overcome the urge to go back to drinking.

One thing that’s common among most–if not all–alcoholics is that they’ve gone through a period where they thought they had changed their drinking habits only to find themselves back where they started. Everyone has a weakness, and like an alcoholic, your weakness is that very thing you’re trying to run away from.

What happens is that you might find yourself interacting with your old friends whom you drunk together. All it takes for them to convince you is a little taste of the product. Of course, finding a counselor doesn’t take a walk in the park, but at least you’ll have someone who understands and can give you tips on how to overcome such temptations.

4. Safe Withdrawal from Alcoholism

If you were a heavy drinker, your body might already be physically dependent on alcohol. As such, it could be a risky affair to suddenly stop your habits. Remember, everybody reacts to such changes differently. In fact, there are those who can stop drinking immediately and feel nothing significant. However, some people will undergo some form of withdrawal.

As such, they’ll feel or exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea and/or stomach cramps
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Sleepless nights

If you start experiencing any of these signs, then your body was already a slave to alcohol. Some people end up revert to their normal behavior just because it seems like the easiest and shortest way out of this suffering. Are you finding it hard to cope with the ‘no drink’ lifestyle? It’s important that you seek help from a health professional, especially if you’re going through the rehabilitation process away from the therapists and other experts.

Again, some people may recover from this condition within a few hours or days, but the whole situation can be life-threatening to some. Fortunately, there’re special drugs prescribed to heavy drinkers who exhibit extreme symptoms.

5. Maintaining Abstinence

In every project, what matters the most is not the fact that you’ve started but your consistency throughout the process. Almost all alcoholics, as earlier mentioned, have made that initial move of contemplating their actions and abstaining from the habit. However, along the way, they lose focus and get carried away by a wave of their drinking buddies. At the end of the day, such people will have accomplished nothing despite their desire to change.

Professional therapists who have been in the field long enough can tell you that maintaining that abstinence phase is the toughest of all stages. Imagine starving your body of something that had been part of your daily routine. It is usually regarded as the third stage of rehabilitation after contemplation and early abstinence.

At this point, patients who were receiving in-patient treatment at a rehab facility are discharged and submitted to follow-up programs. As such, it makes it even tougher because you won’t have someone to monitor your actions 24/7. Of course, before you’re left alone, your therapist or whoever was attending to you at the rehab facility will give you tips on how to overcome temptations.

Here are a few of the tips that might be relayed to you:

  • Avoid Environmental Triggers
  • Keep Your Emotional and Psychological Triggers in Check
  • Seek Alternative Stress Relievers

Inasmuch as you might feel strong enough to face these triggers alone, psychotherapy is an essential part of recovery. From the withdrawal symptoms covered earlier in this article, it’s clear that there is some correlation between alcohol drinking disorder and other mental issues such as depression and anxiety.

Alcohol use can easily mask some underlying mental health problems, and only a professional psychotherapist can be able to tell. At the end of the day, you don’t only want to come out a reformed alcoholic but also with stable mental health.

6. Advanced Recovery

As mentioned earlier, the process of alcohol addiction recovery can take several years, depending on your level of addiction. After five or so years of abstinence is when one can be said to have undergone advanced recovery. As you would expect, this requires a lot of commitment on the part of the addict and the assigned therapist. After all the struggle and energy used to overcome all the temptations along the way, you will now have the necessary tools and skills to live a satisfying and fulfilled life.

So, what are the strategies towards maintaining your frame and living a clean life?

  • Create long-term goals and upon them
  • Come up with a daily routine and follow it up consistently
  • Form a social group with other people who share the same sentiments and values as you, especially those who have also gone through the same situation
  • Engage yourself in recreational activities where alcohol isn’t involved
  • Take part in community work to avoid idleness and increase your happiness

Advantages of Alcohol Abstinence

Now that you’ve gone through the whole process of recovery, it’s time to note some of the benefits you’ll enjoy. Remember, these factors may vary from person to person, but most of them are common among all alcoholics.

1. Better Sleep

One thing that most alcoholics struggle with is having a good sleep. As an addict, your sleep-wake cycles are interfered with, and that makes it difficult to fall asleep or even rest for the recommended eight hours. If you’ve been facing this problem, then one of the best ways to improve your sleep is by abstaining from alcohol. Of course, it might take you some time to fully recover, but you’ll eventually see the light.

2. Healthy Weight

Excessive consumption of alcohol robs your body of some important nutrients. It’s also worth noting that the contents of alcohol include a lot of sugars accompanied by empty calories. As such, you can easily consume hundreds of calories within one night. At the end of the day, you’ll start adding weight unnecessarily, which can easily mess with your body weight. Therefore, abstaining from alcohol is one way of living a healthy life.

3. Mental Health Wellness

Talking about a healthy life, one’s mental condition is very important. Many alcoholics struggle with mental conditions, but most of them don’t even know that they’ve got a problem. The problem is that alcohol masks such issues and makes it difficult even for a therapist to realize it. However, once you abstain, you have a better chance of dealing with any underlying mental disorder.

Conclusion

The process of recovering from alcohol addiction can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. It all depends on your level of addiction and commitment to the course. The first step involves accepting the fact that you have a problem that needs addressing. Once you’re done with contemplation, you’ll need to find someone who can help you through the whole process.

Of course, the toughest stage is the abstinence phase. Depending on your body’s reaction, the therapist or doctor may recommend some form of medication. As you’ll realize, recovering from such an addiction has a lot of benefits to your relationships and health.

Spark NZ Selects Calabrio as Part of Unified Front Line Initiative

Cloud-first workforce engagement management platform chosen to enable market-leading Digital Services company to flow workforce across contact centres, retail stores and at-home visits to be where their customers are

Calabrio, the customer experience intelligence company, has been selected by Spark, New Zealand’s largest telecommunications and digital services company, to supply a cloud-based workforce management (WFM) solution as part of its Unified Front Line initiative. The initiative is a new way of working at Spark where employees are cross-skilled across multiple customer touchpoints and are part of an end to end “homebase”. Resources will flow to where the customer is: contact centres, retail stores and at-home customer visits as demand requires.

The new Calabrio WFM, with embedded Data Explorer reporting, replaces an on-premises platform and will manage the workload of frontline staff to accommodate peaks and troughs in customer demand across omni-channel touchpoints including voice, digital and in-person. The Calabrio ONE platform covers some 1500 Spark employees in over 80 different locations including the company’s contact centres, retail stores and those working from home. Calabrio WFM enables the company to manage parallel demand by forecasting, scheduling, and dynamically moving capacity between channels and sites. Customers receive a consistent response and high level of service whichever channel they select, and employees have the opportunity to become multi-skilled by working in different environments.

With employee experience a key priority for Spark, the Calabrio self-service mobile app, MyTime, will provide advanced employee engagement options by empowering agents with schedule and performance information direct to their smartphones. Employees have the ability to enter shift preferences, shift swap and process automatic holiday/leave requests, as well as easily move their own lunches and breaks via self-scheduling automation. This self-service functionality gives staff more control of their work/life balance. Additionally, WFM reporting capabilities will provide team leaders with up-to-the-minute key performance metrics to their mobile devices, providing real-time visibility of the workforce and supporting better decision making.

Daniel Cooper, Digital Lead – Consumer Channels from Spark commented, “The Unified Front Line (UFL) is a new way of working at Spark, based on simplification, mobility and flexibility. Using Calabrio workforce engagement management (WEM) software enables powerful multi-channel agility to meet customer demand. Investing in the right tools is an important part of improving both the customer journey, and the employee experience. Calabrio’s unique industry experience of delivering unified workforce management functionality across an organisation’s entire frontline was a key reason we selected this solution.”

Peter Farnsworth, Regional Director – APAC, Calabrio concluded, “More often than not, when companies look to replace or upgrade their WFM they focus on replicating processes that worked yesterday not what is best for tomorrow, or even today. Spark are adopting a new and innovative approach focusing on balancing customer and employee experience. It is a concept we have been advocating for years, and to have the opportunity to work with an organization that shares the same beliefs as us is very exciting.”

Calabrio recently unveiled the new Calabrio ONE for the new era, with the integrated WFM solution at its heart that combines the “best of the best” from Teleopti WFM and Calabrio WFM, enabling organisations to better empower, educate and lead today’s workforce.

Issue 4 2021

As always, CEO Monthly is dedicated to providing its readers with the latest news and features from across the global business world. Sharing knowledge, insights, expertise, and success stories from all over the world allows us to inspire individuals and promote positivity in a world where everything is changing every single day.

Leadership has been vital during the pandemic as businesses have taken charge of their own situations in order to survive during these difficult times. Not content to sit back and wait for things to blow over, these CEOs and business leaders have carved out their own success, despite what the world has thrown at them. This very sentiment of carving out one’s own success story can be best summed up in our cover feature for this month, Actionplus Foundation.

Grounded by the belief that people need to “take action now”, the Actionplus Foundation was founded by the Apostle Fred Osei Annin in 1997 with a dedication to destigmatising HIV and AIDS within the faith communities of the BAME population. The firm’s mission was simple, yet powerful, and it has proven effective in its almost twenty-five years of service to faith communities around the world. Were it not for Fred’s steadfast leadership, that success may never have come.

Join us as we dive into this latest issue of CEO Monthly to discover more stories of leadership success, visionary guidance, and outstanding business acumen. Until next time, have a fantastic rest of the month ahead and we’ll see you in May.

Keeping Your Workforce Sociable in a Virtual World

Keeping Your Workforce Sociable in a Virtual World

With most people working from home, the weekly after-work socials have been scrapped almost entirely. Many people have to juggle their work-life alongside other home responsibilities, so finding time to fit in a social with their team at work, has become somewhat of a challenge.

In a challenging time such as the present, it is more important than ever to look after our well-being and ensure that we distinguish a separation between our work and personal lives; especially when working from home.

With technology advancing every day, there are plenty of opportunities for virtual social events popping up left, right, and centre. Hosting a virtual social is one way of keeping in contact with your team, and to enjoy time together outside of a work environment. When searching for inspiration for virtual work socials, stick around! We have a list below of ideas, which we feel will inspire you.

Pub Quiz

This is something that can be done using the old-fashioned PowerPoint and one of the many video calling platforms that have taken over throughout the last year! Picking a particular theme for the quiz, and getting everyone to dress up, or simply, hosting a simpler, relaxed quiz which everyone participates in. The choice is entirely yours.

Organising an event like this is simple and can be coupled with a few drinks on the side. Relaxing together in the evening, to continue positive working relations, while keeping those who are feeling isolated company; we are confident that this would be enjoyable for all. Your colleagues and employees would appreciate the gesture also.

Virtual Team Building Events

Further to our previous point about the virtual world taking over in the last year or so, we can safely say that the number of virtual events for team building has grown exponentially. While team building is essential to a working environment while in person, it should also be prioritised while working from home. When looking for inspiration as to what you could do as a workforce to develop team-building skills, there are several options that you could explore.

Team Tactics host a wide range of virtual and socially distanced team-building exercises, perfect for during the pandemic and beyond. Whether you are searching for team building in London during the pandemic or team building in other parts of the country, we are confident that you will find something to suit all team sizes and budgets!

Movie Night

For those cinema and film fans out there, this one is for you! It can seem challenging to organise a film night during the pandemic but is also something that is doable. With the advancement of technology and development of certain apps, there are now resources available online and through various applications, which allows a user to stream what they are watching to other people. Using a resource like this to stream a film for your workforce to also watch at the same time, is an excellent way of virtually being together.

What’s more, if this is not possible for everyone, you could simply select the same film to watch and get everyone to watch it at a similar time. Whether you choose to watch a thriller or horror to keep everyone on the edge of their seats, or for the more favoured action or comedy films, we are confident that this would be a fun time for all.

While these are but some of the things you could do for hosting a virtual work social, we hope that you are going forth with some inspiration for your next virtual get-together with the rest of your team! While things are still challenging, we are sure that you will be able to reunite in person one day in the future.

Some Tips For A Successful Loyalty Program for Your Restaurant

2020 was one of the most challenging years of the century. Businesses from different industries were forced to shut down. Restaurants, in particular, were greatly affected. 

Around 8 million employees in the food services were laid off based on the recent National Restaurant Association’s report. 

Some restaurants tried to adapt to the challenge that covid-19 has caused. But because of the risk of dining-in experience, approximately 67% of people feel afraid and hesitant. 

If you beat the odds of 2020 and made it possible not to close your restaurant, you are lucky. However, your job does not stop there. The challenge continues. Usually, businesses only strive to expand their market reach and acquire new customers. You can also have the same goal. But once you have obtained clients, aim to keep them happy and satisfied with your services. This is where a loyalty program can come into play. 

What is a loyalty program? Does it work? What are some effective ideas for a restaurant loyalty program? Read on for more details! 

A Brief Overview on a Loyalty Program for Restaurants 

You have heard a restaurant loyalty program before. What is it? It is developed for both customers and restaurants. 

The main function of a customer loyalty program is that it tracks the repeat customers’ spending. Then, it rewards their loyalty in the form of points where they can exchange for something. It could be a discounted meal, access to exclusive events, a free menu, or anything you think your market would love and deserve. 

Does a Restaurant Loyalty Program Work? 

Definitely! A restaurant loyalty program works. A study has suggested that more than 80% of revenues come from the 20% of a restaurant’s current/existing customers. Also, a survey found that over 58% of restaurant owners added and increased a loyalty program budget in response to the pandemic. Experts suggested that the number is projected to increase this 2021 and beyond. 

But once you have invested in a restaurant loyalty program, do not forget to develop your food and your establishment’s ambiance. Plus, taking your customer service to new heights is worthwhile and meaningful at the same time. 

How to Build a Successful and Effective Restaurant Loyalty Program? 

Who says restaurant loyalty programs are only for those well-established and reputed businesses? Whether you are a beginner or do not have any prior experience with a loyalty program, you want to get the job done perfectly as planned. Below are some quick and straightforward steps you can follow when establishing your own loyalty reward system: 

  1. Reward Clients Whenever They Visit Your Restaurant

According to a 2020 report, more than 78% of clients are more likely to spend with restaurants that have a loyalty program than those who do not have, especially when they get rewarded every time they dine in a restaurant. 

But as a business owner, any reward loyalty system can be expensive. If you are short with your revenues and cash at hand, look for other affordable and valuable alternatives.

Today, people have countless choices. They will not regret finding another service provider. But it will be a big loss for your business. That is why give them reasons to entrust their dining needs and requirements to you for an extended period. 

  1. Simple Loyalty Program is the Key 

Consumers are accustomed to the concept of obtaining reward points for every purchase they make. Therefore, you do not have to exert effort to instruct them on the mechanics of a loyalty program, helping you save some cash over time. 

For that reason, your target customers will adapt to your specific program without a hard time. You can also guarantee a better user experience that clients would enjoy. 

With many ideas for a restaurant program, including gift cards into your offerings should be on top of your list. Aside from giving every customer the option to claim whatever reward they prefer and like, here are the other reasons you should provide gift cards: 

  • A gift card allows customers the choice to pick a particular menu they crave. Usually, restaurants preselect a menu themselves. A gift card can break this norm, which is extremely convenient for your diners of all ages. 
  • A gift card provides clients the freedom/right to employ and enjoy a part of it and use the rest for future dining experiences. 

If you do not have a gift card yet, do not be left behind by your competitors. Incorporate a gift card as soon as possible to retain your loyal customers. 

  1. Try to Offer Well-Tailored Experiences 

Everyone loves discounts. But if you plan to offer a loyalty program, be sure to give your all. Aside from discounts, take your clients’ dining experience to the next level. A customized reward will be your best bet. 

You can surprise your customers with something free, delicious, and nutrient-packed during their birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and other special events. That is why you have to study your clients to personalize your loyalty program and services according to their unique requirements and goals. 

A recent Bond Loyalty Report revealed that clients enrolled in a loyalty program with a great level of personalization tend to recommend a particular brand and spend more to increase their loyalty points. 

  1. Create and Build a Mobile and Digital Strategy 

Many people are switching to the online world, so it is no surprise that customers interact with restaurants digitally. Unfortunately, establishing an internet presence is not easy. This is where a mobile couple can come to your rescue. When done right, you can gather your clients’ preferences and information to provide a customized experience, establish loyalty, and even promote customer retention. Yes, everything is possible with a mobile or digital visibility. 

  1. Properly Orient or Train Your Staff

A restaurant loyalty program is effective in retaining potential customers. Do not forget that your employees should be well-trained before implementing a loyalty program to increase your success rate. You should conduct a few hours of training before anything else to make them know what they are doing during the process. 

Provide a restaurant loyalty program today! 

New Research Reveals Plummeting Employee Engagement in the UK Since Pandemic Hit

Employee engagement in the UK and has suffered a marked decline over the past year, according to new research carried out by Achievers into the state of wellbeing in the ‘new normal’.

Worryingly, a majority of employees are no more engaged than they were a year ago, and many are less so. Employers will be concerned that only 28 per cent of employees described themselves as more engaged now, with 37 per cent saying they were less engaged and 33 per cent reporting no change.

The findings are even more worrying when compared to engagement levels elsewhere in Europe. Among employees in Germany, 35 per cent claimed to be more committed after a year of pandemic and lockdowns, compared to at the same time the year before, but the number stating they were less committed was only 23 per cent. There were a similar number (24 per cent) of less engaged employees in the Netherlands, but even more engaged employees (39 per cent).

The good news is that UK workers support how their organisations have handled unprecedented events of the last twelve months. In fact, 83 per cent of employees think their company handled the last year well or very well. Employers will be encouraged by these findings, particularly when they learn that they are ahead of Germany, where the equivalent figure was 80 per cent. However, the UK result was some way behind that of the Netherlands, where 91 per cent of employees approved of their company’s response to the events of 2020.

Another welcome finding for managers is that 62 per cent of employees believe their organisation cares about their mental health. Although a good way behind the figure in the Netherlands (78 per cent), the UK result is significantly ahead of the underwhelming 47 per cent of employees in Germany who are convinced that their employer is concerned for their wellbeing.

British managers will also be pleased that 50 per cent of employees say their work has been more recognised since lockdown began, an important positive sign given the impact that recognition has on engagement. Again, the result can’t compete with that of the Netherlands (56 per cent), but remains ahead of Germany (45 per cent).

“The UK workforce believes their organisation takes their mental health and wellbeing seriously and are convinced their company culture has improved as a result of the numerous initiatives implemented by senior managers since lockdown,” commented Jon Maddison, Managing Director EMEA at Achievers.

“Despite many of the encouraging results of this research, managers will be concerned by the number of employees for whom engagement has deteriorated or remained flat. If organisations are to weather the pandemic’s storm, they’ll need to concentrate on keeping their managers and employees aligned and motivated. To make sure that company culture is a unifying and motivating force, firms will have to remain fixated on engagement by encouraging employee recognition and rewards at all levels,” Maddison concluded.

Is diversity and inclusion a priority within UK firms?

Aside from the global impact of COVID-19, 2020 will be remembered as the year when issues of race and equality took a prominent hold of the collective consciousness. Unsurprisingly, organisations in the UK have been making deliberate and visible efforts to highlight diversity and inclusion (D&I), and these initiatives haven’t gone unnoticed internally.

Among employees, 76 per cent believe their company prioritises D&I. Managers will be pleased that the three-quarters of their workforce who approve of their organisation’s D&I initiatives is appreciably more than the 65 per cent found in Germany, although they’ve still got work to do if they’re to achieve the 87 per cent approval rating given by employees in the Netherlands.

Additional key findings from the research:

• 46 per cent of British employees confess they’re worried about returning to work.
• Discussions of diversity and inclusion have been encouraged in 59 per cent of the firms surveyed in the UK.
• 71 per cent of employees believe that their company is more connected than before the pandemic arrived.

3 Common Myths About Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction is a surprisingly common condition amongst men of many backgrounds and ages. Due to the potentially sensitive nature of the condition, men often find it difficult or embarrassing to discuss erectile dysfunction openly, meaning that there are plenty of rumours and myths floating around the internet and beyond that need to be cleared up. Negative, unsubstantiated claims can quite easily contribute to the sense of discomfort and insecurity that men experience when confronting the topic, leaving many feeling inadequate and that they are entirely to blame, or are in some way unusual. This often results in men not wanting to visit their GP to discuss the problem, with an estimated three-quarters of ED sufferers going undiagnosed.

This article, written by the team at Pharmica (a popular UK online pharmacy), aims to put to bed incorrect ED health claims once and for all.

 

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction quite simply describes being unable to achieve or maintain a strong erection for long enough to enjoy sex and ejaculate. Sometimes a man suffering from ED will initially be able to get an erection, but during sex some physiological or psychological factor prevents it from being sustained, but on the other end of the spectrum a man might not be able to get an erection at all when they desire to. Erections are caused by a surge in blood flow to the vessels in the penis, caused by sexual arousal in anticipation of sex. When blood fails to flow intensely enough in a sustained fashion to the penis then this is where a man cannot maintain the erection, and we will touch on why this occurs later in this article. But for now, let’s jump into our first myth, one of the most prevalent and damaging untruths surrounding ED.

 

Myth 1 – Only old men get ED

Many people assume ED to be an old man problem, something that happens when we get older and generally less healthy, and that doesn’t occur to younger men. As you may have guessed by now, it’s not that black and white: there’s no age at which you are suddenly likely or able to have erectile dysfunction. Many men in their 20s suffer from ED, with 1 study finding 8% of men between the ages of 20 and 29 to have suffered erectile dysfunction before. With this said, it is indeed true that you are more likely to have develop erectile dysfunction as you get older, with over half of men over 40 having experienced it to some degree, with the percentages increasing by about 10% per extra decade of life from here on. This is due to physiological changes associated with ageing, but the aggregate effects of smoking, drinking or being more overweight are likely to all contribute to increased difficulty in the bedroom.

 

Myth 2 – It’s all in your head

With erections being correlated to sexual desire, on the surface it makes sense that there must be something wrong mentally with your sexual impulses. This is rarely the case. We’re so used to being able to get it up just by thinking a certain way that it’s easy to assume you just need to think differently, but less than 20% of erectile dysfunction cases are linked to psychological factors; the majority of ED issues are due to some underlying physical factor that is preventing the blood from properly flowing to the penis even when you’re fully where you need to be mentally. With this said, if you have been unable to achieve or maintain an erection before, perhaps when you ha had one too many drinks, you may be worrying about not repeating this the next time you go to have sex, and this anxiousness and fear may contribute to you not being relaxed and overthinking the situation. If you have a physical condition like obesity that’s probably the root cause of your erectile dysfunction, heading into the situation with self-doubt and worry is unlikely to help the issue. Therefore, a combination of physical and psychological factors are usually present, but sorting out the physical will almost certainly lead to greater confidence, less anxiety, and increased chances of having success.

 

Myth 3 – If an ED medication doesn’t work for me, none will

You may have tried one erectile dysfunction treatment and it hasn’t worked to the degree you were expecting, and this may have put you off medication as an approach to solving the issue. However, despite the similarities in that all ED medication aims to increase blood flow to the penis, different treatments affect men differently, and what works for you may not agree with everyone. Thankfully, there are a variety of ED treatments on the market that contain different active ingredients, and come with their own benefits. Sildenafil is a common active ingredient found in Viagra, Viagra Connect and Kamagra, but which is also available to purchase as generic sildenafil. This is part of a category of drugs known as phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, or PDE5s, and works by relaxing the blood vessels in the penis to allows for blood to easily flow to it in the presence of sexual stimulation. They prevent the blood vessels from then becoming constricted, enabling you to maintain that erection for the full duration of sex. Interestingly, once you’ve climaxed or finished sex and lost your sexual appetite, your erection will go away as it would normally, so this image of a beaming, never-ending erection that you can’t get down is yet another myth. Another medication is Tadalafil, available as Cialis or the generic Tadalafil, and whilst it’s also a PDE5, it activates quicker and stays active for a lot longer (up to 36 hours) meaning that it’s better for more spontaneous sexual encounters where you prepare in advance and it will help you achieve your erection once you become sexually aroused.

How to start your investment journey and increase your income

Looking to save money for a down payment on your first house? Not sure how to invest that new inheritance? Or perhaps living through a global pandemic has inspired you to start an emergency fund?

There is never a “perfect time” to begin investing. While diversifying your assets may be the last thing on your mind this year, the good thing is that all you have to do is start. Let’s explore some ideas that will inspire you to begin your investment journey, no matter how much money you have in the bank.

Open A High-Interest Savings Account

If you have extra cash you are not using for your immediate expenses or that stimulus check is starting to burn a hole in your pocket, you may consider opening a high-yield savings account. With a high-yield savings account, you can start investing with any amount and still have the option to access the cash quickly in the event of an emergency.

There are many banks that offer options for high-yield savings accounts online that still allow access to cash if needed. Opening a savings account is a risk-free way to begin your investment journey, and there’s no better time than now to get started, no matter your age. Thanks to compound interest, your money will grow much faster than if it were sitting in your checking account, and you’ll be less tempted to spend it!

Invest In Real Estate

If you’re looking to diversify your assets, investing in real estate is a low-risk and lucrative alternative to investing in the stock market. When you invest in real estate, you are purchasing a house, condo, or apartment with the intent to find tenants and collect the rent as a profit each month.

Many investors prefer real estate as it provides a tangible, physical asset that can be accounted for and controlled. Real estate also has the potential to appreciate over time as your property’s value goes up, allowing for an additional profit upon eventual sale. If you are considering flipping a house to sell for a profit or investing in a rental property to diversify your assets, consider getting an investment property loan to get started. Just be sure that if you’re investing in a property to become a vacation rental property, you also invest in a luxurious interior to increase your return even more!

While this seems like a no-brainer investment option, there are risks involved with real estate as well. This is less of a casual investment, as you’ll need to do quite a bit of research to get started, and rental properties cannot be quickly liquidated if you need extra cash. You also need to consider additional costs such as hiring a contractor for repairs or a property manager to handle the upkeep of your building, not to mention the potential headache of dealing with renters. Despite all this, the stream of passive income and the advantage of owning a tangible asset that can only appreciate over time, make a real estate investment well worth the risk.

Invest In The Stock Market

Many would recommend you invest your hard-earned money in stocks, and experts predict the stock market has the ability to give you the highest potential return over time. When you buy stocks, you are essentially buying a tiny piece of a given company, and the stock market gives an average of 10% annual return on investments according to the S&P 500.

 A benefit to investing in stocks is that you can choose to get as involved as you want or stay hands-off in your investment strategy. If you are interested in the stock market and have the confidence to make your own judgments, it can become a fun pastime choosing where to invest your money. If you aren’t confident yet in your knowledge of the stock market, it’s easy to get started with a beginner-friendly app like Fidelity or SoFi.

The downside in this investment option is that there is some risk involved; the value of stocks can decline over time, and making an unlucky investment can actually cost you, which is the opposite of what we want! If you like the excitement of a little risk or prefer a hands-on investment approach, the ebb and flow of investing in the stock market may be for you.

There are so many options when it comes to investing your money, and the first step is knowing what type of investment is right for you. Start exploring one of these ideas to increase your income and begin your investment journey today!

Benefits of ERP in Healthcare

The advancement of technology had made everything easier and smoother, and everything is now in a matter of a click of a fingertip. The health industry providers had resorted to using ERP software in lieu of their age-old system of data-keeping to keep up with the fast lane change of technology. The figure shows in a research conducted that in the year 2025, it is expected that US Healthcare market size will reach an estimated 2.1 billion market size.

This growing figure is an indication that most of the healthcare providers had resorted to the use of a comprehensive platform than the traditional practice of record keeping. It effectively ensures that data gathered is consolidated, kept in confidentiality and the reliability of the processes in data gathered. Here are some of the notable benefits that may be derived by your company when you are going to use the ERP software.

Eight Benefits of ERP in Healthcare

1. Easier Access to Medical Records

It may be a usual scenario in the hospital that obtaining a medical record takes time and may even start eating up one’s patience in waiting for the medical staff and nurses to pull up one’s record. Medical files are oftentimes being kept in paper files and stored in a filing cabinet that actually occupies a massive space in the office, and not to mentions the fact that it actually takes time and a lot of effort in researching and pulling up the record of the person.

This is one of the identified problems that may be effectively responded to by having ERP software. Having this system, everything will be consolidated in a single platform wherein obtaining a data is just a matter of a click on the keyboard. This will minimize the time used in researching and manually pulling up the files.

The edge of having the ERP software has been evident during this period of Pandemic wherein the world was literally paralyzed; most of the offices were closed, and the health providers that had used the ERP software had still the capability to monitor the body temperature, access the records of their patients, to have a telehealth wherein it will minimize the frequent visits of the patients to the hospital. The technology itself gives an automated result. Based on the result, it will be easy to determine to assess the severity of the health concern of the person. This is a glaring reality that the health providers that used ERP software we’re able to continually provide quality service despite the Pandemic and lack of manpower.

2. Patient’s Confidentiality

Medical records are considered confidential and must be kept in confidentiality. It involves sensitive information regarding the patient. However, its confidentiality may not be assured if it is being kept in paper files wherein it can be easily accessed. It has been shown that around 32 million patient records have been breached in the year 2019. 

The confidentiality of the patient will not be compromised if the ERP software is being used. The data is stored, kept, and only the authorized individual can have access to it. If there will be a possible breach, then it is easy to determine as to the person who had compromised its confidentiality.

3. Smarter Business Intelligence

Having ERP software will put you on the vantage point of view about your business operations. Virtually you can access all the needed information such as the facility’s operational performance, requisitions, and the budget. With this available information, it is easier to make an intelligent decision regarding what is the immediate need of the business operations.

4. More Accurate Cost Monitoring

Every industry needs to have accurate financial monitoring, and it ensures that both the cash inflow and outflow of the company are being accounted for. The healthcare providers are just, but the same with other business enterprises, for it also needs to monitor the cash inflow and outflow in order to assess its financial viability.

From the medical employees, staff, and back office employees’ salaries, operational expenditures, and patients payments must be properly accounted for. Through the use of the ERP software, such cash inflows can be easily monitored and accessed. Human errors in the data entry and input are also being minimized for the ERP is automated, thereby giving an accurate cost monitoring.

5. Simplified Industry Compliance

There are regulatory requirements that must be complied with by an enterprise that operates a business. The healthcare providers are of no exemptions. They also need to comply with the regulatory requirements.

The edge of having the mobile ERP solution is that it proactively respond to such regulatory requirements from anywhere and anytime.

6. Reduced Operational Cost

A consolidated data in one single platform would connote that the business operations such as billing, inventory, and supplies can be handled by a few individuals rather than having many employees cover such operations, thereby minimizing labor costs, which will eventually reduce the operational costs. 

7. Streamed Process Integration

Numerous processes in the healthcare system may eventually cause confusion. However, with ERP software where everything is being consolidated. The different processes will be connected into one steamed line process where an individual is being connected in each system. It will eventually improve group efficiency, collaboration, and communication.

8. Improved Patient Safety

The patient puts his or her trust to the healthcare provider, and it is just but right that trust must be kept and protected through a system that provides transparency in the transaction, communication, and treatment that is being done. This will ensure that no untoward incidents may occur that will caught both parties in surprise. This is not only for the protection of the patient but as well as to the health provider. The transaction between the patient and the healthcare provider is being streamed throughout the conversation and transaction. This will avoid future conflict that may occur between the parties.

Top Tips to Raising Property Investment Finance in 2021

In the UK, property remains one of the most resilient asset classes. From first-time buyers to portfolio landlords, getting established on the property ladder remains a popular way for many to grow their wealth. Depending on an individual’s circumstances and ambitions, Arbuthnot Latham, Private and Commercial Bank, explains the various routes to securing finance for property investment in 2021 and beyond.

Property finance for individuals

Many individuals, who have enough capital, will look to supplement their income by acquiring a second or third property on top of the one they live in. This will almost always involve a personal investment of capital and additional funds secured via a loan or mortgage.

The appeal of becoming a buy-to-let landlord is not just the relatively good performance of the UK residential property market, but the fact that the value of the asset can be increased with a proactive approach to property maintenance and improvement. Until now, property has been a very stable asset class, and is one that empowers the owner to increase its value over and above standard market movements. It is important to note, with any asset class, that previous performance is not an indicator of future performance.

If an individual is looking to make this sort of investment, any finance they are able to secure will be contingent on their own circumstances. For example, will they be able to show how they would personally cover a shortfall if rental income doesn’t cover interest payments?

Other factors banks consider with individual buy-to-let mortgage applications

Credit rating

Whether they are entering the property investment market for the first time or expanding their portfolio, a clean credit score is an essential part of the puzzle. Small issues like missed payments might not make a huge difference, but County Court Judgements or missed mortgage repayments will be a significant barrier to securing the finance they need.

Minimum income

Most lenders in the UK require a minimum income to consider eligibility, but there are options for those with a lower income threshold, and there are even options available that have no income requirements.

Existing portfolio or assets

What lenders are willing to offer will change depending on if the individual is new to property finance or already own properties. Some lenders won’t consider landlords who own several properties, but this varies across the UK.

Property finance for portfolio landlords

Individuals who own four or more mortgaged properties become what’s known as a ‘portfolio landlord’. When they pass this threshold, there are certain expectations on banks regarding due diligence. From here, it’s not just about their own personal circumstances. For example, a bank is required to know the status quo of the rest of their portfolio. They need a deeper understanding of how the assets might interact and will also want to gauge their understanding of the market they’re operating in.

Factors banks consider with buy-to-let applications

  • Do they keep accurate records? There are many conditions to satisfy buy-to-let properties (fire safety certificates, guarantees for electrical items, insurance, etc.) More important still for HMOs: annual gas certificates. If they’re disorganised, cannot produce documentation when asked, or their business approach obstructs a bank’s due diligence, this is a red flag when considering a finance application.

  • The bank wants to know that a buy-to-let landlord is competent: aware of their obligations and best practice

  • A portfolio landlord should understand the market they want to operate in. Banks look for investors who have a good handle on their local area. A speculative application – not rooted in a comprehensive business plan – means more risk for the bank and a higher rate of interest.

Portfolio landlords should make sure they chose a lender who is right for them. If the individual are vastly experienced, cheaper rates found on the high street can be the right approach. A note of caution here is that as different lenders’ appetites change, it could result in an ongoing dynamic of regular refinancing to achieve the cheapest rate.

Other investors might move away from -the potentially lighter touch relationship approach of the high street, and opt for a longer-term relationship of consistency where their banker understands their circumstances, has years of sector expertise and can tailor solutions to meet their needs.

This is particularly helpful when circumstances change. The pooled collective knowledge of a real estate finance team can be particularly valuable to help a portfolio landlord adapt when circumstances change.

Pandemic Drives Demand For More Efficient Steam Technology in 2021

  • 68% of industrial steam users are now more likely to invest in greener steam technology following Covid-19
  • Competitiveness, rising energy bills and equipment strain from pandemic demand are top drivers for more efficient technology
  • Business uncertainty, lack of capex and lack of personnel are hindering green investments
  • 59% think it is difficult to hire staff with the skills required to operate or maintain a steam boiler because of the impact of covid-19


The ability to adapt and recover sustainably and productively will drive business’s demand for more efficient steam technology in 2021. That is the headline finding from Aggreko’s latest industry research, which surveyed over 200 organisations across the public and private sector.

The research, which was commissioned in part to determine how the global pandemic has reshaped business priorities, looked to establish how different factors are influencing uptake in the steam boiler market. Those interviewed included energy and production managers in manufacturing and petrochemical refineries, as well as facilities managers in hospitals and government departments.

After the disruption that took place in 2020, it would be fair to assume most businesses are reluctant to ear-mark budget for upgrades. Yet 68% of respondents said they were now more likely to invest in greener technology or new equipment to improve energy efficiency and emissions since the emergence of COVID-19. However, a number of businesses found the extra expense difficult to justify as the economic impact of the virus becomes clear. Just under 20% said they were now less likely to invest in new technology, with business uncertainty being the determining factor.

Other results only further highlight the desire for businesses to invest, not just as a means to navigate adverse market conditions but also to keep pace with rival organisations. Some 63% of the sample identified ‘competitiveness’ as the main reason why they would now spend money on a new steam boiler, with rising energy bills and strain on current assets also scoring high at 53% and 52% respectively.

While these results give cause for optimism in 2021, there are still a number of issues that may impede business’s recovery. An overwhelming majority said it had become harder to find people with the necessary skills to operate and fix steam boilers since the pandemic. In addition to the skills gap, over half identified an increase in maintenance costs as another key issue. These problems appear to explain why almost 85% said they would now consider hiring equipment as a way to bridge a gap in demand and minimise the threat of an existing boiler breaking down.

These findings come as Aggreko is set to launch some new steam boilers into its European fleet. The two and five tonne models have a number of benefits, including rapid steam production from cold start, higher energy efficiency ratings and low carbon emissions. The company believes it will not only help meet a surge in demand across various end-user industries, such as power generation and chemical processing, but also help to navigate uncertainties following COVID-19 and the UK’s departure from EU in January.

Graeme Cunningham has been appointed by Aggreko as Sector Development Manager to grow the company’s share of the steam boiler market. He said: “It’s encouraging to see businesses willing to invest despite the difficulties experienced throughout 2020. Steam boilers form a central part of many different production processes, so it was important for Aggreko to gauge how conditions have changed and what will drive uptake of more efficient equipment in the years ahead. There are clearly concerns, particularly around supply of skilled labour and a heavier demand on existing assets, so it’s vital there are options available to mitigate these issues. We believe our two new models will bridge gaps in demand and help to stimulate economic recovery in 2021.”

Consumers Set to Spend More Online this Ramadan, Driving Adoption of Digital Payments Across MENA

A new survey from Checkout.com a leading global payment solution provider suggests there will be an even greater surge in online shopping during the upcoming Ramadan period.

Going into the Holy month, consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia have noted a strong inclination towards online shopping. 95 per cent of those surveyed in these two countries say that they shop online, with 29 per cent doing so weekly or even daily. That is largely consistent with an earlier Checkout.com report from September 2020 indicating that consumers’ embrace of online shopping is more of a long-term behavior change rather than a temporary shift resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. In countries like Saudi Arabia, the frequency of online shopping overall seems to be increasing, with the percentage of consumers making online purchases either daily or weekly increasing from 20 per cent in September 2020 to 26 per cent today. 

Looking to the month ahead, approximately three-quarters of those surveyed (76 per cent) plan to purchase products and services online more frequently this Ramadan, or at least the same amount as last year. Meanwhile, a quarter (26 per cent) say that they will be shopping in-person less frequently for products and services. Merchants can expect certain demographic groups to drive more frequent online Ramadan purchases, particularly the most affluent consumers and those aged between 18-34 years of age.

Not only do people anticipate making more online purchases, but they also plan to purchase a wide variety of products and services more frequently this Ramadan compared to last year. The most popular category of products is expected to be groceries, with 60 per cent of respondents planning to purchase these online more frequently this Ramadan. That is followed by food delivery (50 per cent), clothing (44 per cent), and household products (39 per cent).

For such purchases, the most common form of payment for the majority of consumers (67 per cent) is card payments and digital wallets, breaking the mold of what has historically been a region dominated by cash payments. This is a behavior change that has been accelerated by the global health pandemic as consumers shun cash in favor of contactless and online purchases. In fact, one in three (37 per cent) say that they anticipate using cash-on-delivery less this Ramadan compared to last year. The survey further suggests that consumer preference for digital payments is higher during Ramadan than at other times of the year (59 per cent), comparing similar data from six months ago. 

Mohammed Ali Yusuf, MENAP Regional Manager at Checkout.com, said: “Many traditionally cash-centric countries in the Middle East are now converting to higher rates of digital payments. The pandemic has spurred a payments revolution of sorts, and it is not one that is going away. With more consumers now appreciating the convenience of online purchasing and payments, there is a clear opportunity for forward-thinking businesses to do what they do better by unlocking more value in every transaction. This is particularly important during a period like Ramadan when competition amongst merchants is high, and businesses need to provide the online shopping experience that consumers are looking for.”  

According to Checkout.com’s Connected Payments in MENAP report released in November 2020, nearly half of consumers in the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (MENAP) region are likely to increase their online shopping this year compared to 2020. At the time, Checkout.com confirmed that between March and September 2020, it saw an 86 per cent growth in its own online payment volumes year on year within the region, and had processed approximately 400 million e-commerce transactions in the region between 2019 and 2020 alone.

Cool Clothes CEO

The clothes industry is one that is constantly moving forward, and the team at Kewiloo are no exception. Under the stalwart leadership of Jonathan Cohen, this impressive team have moved from success to success. We take a closer look at the firm, and how Jonathan’s impressive guidance has allowed the business to thrive in challenging times.

Curating clothing is immensely complicated in the world today, especially when it comes to sportswear. The team at Kewiloo excel in this regard, providing customers with a fit and finesse that reflects the high standards they have come to expect. When combined with an online shop front that is open to all, it’s clear that the team have achieved something truly special.

At the heart of the Kewiloo approach is Jonathan Cohen, who has been CEO since 2017. Under his reign, the business has gone from strength to strength, not only finding new and exciting items of clothing, but building closer connections with customers so that they keep coming back to buy more. For many, Kewiloo has become the first port of call for clothing, thanks to their accessibility and range of apparel.

When people come to Kewiloo, they find some of the most interesting items on the market. These are chosen because of their quality and interest. While the team may not stock in high quantities, this simply means that you need to keep your eye on the store for something that takes your fancy. Kewiloo doesn’t just act as a leading clothing provider, but as a home for those gadgets that make your life a little more intriguing. Few places stock the latest technology, such as 3D printed fitness apparel, but the team at Kewiloo has built it into their business model.

The key to success has not just been what is provided, but the level of interaction that has been encouraged across by the board. This is a top-down decision, with communications strong across the board. The team want their customers to feel comfortable shopping with them, trusting that they will do everything in their power to have the items they want, delivered safely and quickly.

A key part of this growth has been thanks to the team’s work with social media. While privacy is a priority at all times, being able to meet people through Facebook and Instagram has allowed the team to have a public shopfront that carries by word of mouth. These connections not only build more loyalty, but ensure that people return to buy more. The use of programs like easycall has eased the way in which Kewiloo connections with customers, increasing the levels of trust, and therefore the conversion of potential sales to actual sales immensely.

When a firm is built around a promise to make your life cooler, it’s not just about making a space that sells good gear. What Jonathan has been able to do is build a place where cool is how the team operates. It’s where people can build a community. This community is not just a group of passionate purchasers, but the heart of the company going forward. By continuing to nurture this committed team, the firm will be able to achieve long-lasting success.

For further information, please contact Jonathon Cohen via email: [email protected]

5 Tips To Improve Your Health In 2021

This year, caring for yourself and looking after your health and well-being should be prioritised. The saying about health being everyone’s wealth is highly applicable, especially in the current time’s condition. Particularly, this pandemic substantially affected almost every aspect of one’s life, including both physical and mental wellness. Regardless of the situation, your health should be your top-most priority. Fortunately, there are various techniques that you can utilise to achieve good health.

Taking the right steps to boost your health is crucial in achieving a quality life. To do so, you need to learn some things about practicing healthy eating, following your dietary plan, and regular exercise. Also, you might require the help of a knowledgeable speaker to help you with this matter, like ED Latimore or any other well-experienced and skilled speakers.

Aside from this, you need to learn some ideas which you can utilise to choose the right things regarding your health, which is largely all about familiarizing yourself with essential things to improve your health.

Being wealthy equates to having good health. Do you share the same view? People may have varying perspectives regarding good health, but it’s an undeniable truth for everyone that good health is essential for achieving a quality life. While people tend to utilise different approaches in achieving good health, one thing’s for sure: Their common goal is to have one.

Aside from being the key to achieving a quality life, making efforts to have good health is an essential topic this year. Various strategies, such as observing a proper diet and healthy eating practices should also be prioritized.

To ensure you’re the healthiest version of yourself, here are some helpful tips for you:

 

1. Practice Healthful Routines

You probably heard this before, but having good health means taking the right initiatives which can be beneficial to you. Recognising your basic needs like sleeping and eating and engaging in outdoor activities substantially helps in improving your overall well-being. Similarly, providing adequate care for yourself helps you improve your mental health as well. Practicing healthful routines can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood and self-esteem.

 

2. Get Enough Sleep

Having enough sleep every day allows you to perform your daily routines effectively. If possible, aim to get, at least, seven to nine hours of sleep a day. Also, you can set a timer on your mobile phone to shut off all electronics before going to bed. Keeping a record of your sleeping routine can also be of great help to you. Next, instead of scrolling through your mobile applications, opt for listening to music to help your body de-stress, and choose to engage in relaxing activities like yoga, reading, or meditating. 

 

3. Observe Healthy Eating Practices

To effectively improve your health this year, you should prioritise eating fruit and vegetables. Aside from being good for the health, these are a cheaper alternative or addition to your diet. You don’t have to worry about spending too much money to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need.

This alternative also allows you to get the essential vitamins and minerals which are beneficial to your body. Also, they provide certain nutrients which sustain your dietary needs.   

Some other healthy eating practices include:

  • Avoid Cancer-inducing Fatty Food  

To effectively achieve your goal of following a healthy eating routine and having a healthy body, one of the primary things that you should take note of is to avoid consuming too much fatty food and stick to food that’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

When you’re trying to improve your eating practices, avoiding fatty food should be prioritised. Aside from inducing severe health illnesses, fatty food poses significant impacts on your body, which may result in various bodily imbalances and health issues such as hypertension and obesity.  

 

  • Hydrate Yourself

You may have probably been told this before, but a person needs to drink eight glasses of water every day to regulate basal metabolism. You’ve also been told that drinking water helps you avoid severe health problems. Aside from that, proper hydration helps regulate and maintain your body temperature. To better improve your health this year, drinking plenty of water every day should be prioritised as this helps in regulating processes crucial for bodily function. 

 

  • Choose Plant-Based Products  

Eating plant-based products isn’t just beneficial to the environment, it’s also good for you and your health. To effectively improve your health this year, try selecting plant-based products for your needs. Similarly, these products may also help you reduce the risks of serious cardiovascular health issues.     

Aside from this, producing meat-based products like beef requires more compared with plant-based proteins, such as beans, wheat, and some grains.

 

4. Engage in Outdoor Activities

Choosing activities that you like and are passionate about is essential in achieving a quality life. Aside from this, engaging in physical activities can also significantly improve your health better as this allows your body to burn calories and fat.

Working out and exercise, such as yoga, walking, and jogging are also beneficial not just for your physical health, but also for your mental health.  

 

5. Stay Active

There are a lot of things to do to improve yourself, and one of these involves staying active. For instance, coming up with an exercise and fitness regimen can significantly help with this matter. Staying as active as you could is one of the most important things that you can do to effectively improve your health this year.  

As much as possible, try to focus more on getting fit even at home to help you get through this pandemic. Improving your fitness at home can make a huge impact on your health, and this includes working out and getting some exercise once a day.

 

Final Thoughts  

While the past year had been a difficult and challenging year for everyone, it significantly gave a lesson about caring for one’s well-being and improving health to achieve a happy life. Practicing healthful routines, getting enough sleep, observing good eating practices, engaging in outdoor activities, and staying active are several essential health tips which can help you better improve your health this year.

Regardless of the situation, having good health and making sure that you’re the healthiest version of yourself should be prioritised this year to achieve a more enjoyable life.

Luxury Ways to Embrace the Great Outdoors

When we have spent the best part of the last year indoors, there is no surprise that many reading this will be itching to get out and about in the vast outdoors. Walks in our local area have kept us going and have given us the opportunity to explore places in our local area that we may not have been aware existed. 

Following the recent news from the UK government detailing the route out of lockdown, that international travel could be making a comeback in time for the summer, we are confident that the idea of getting away once more has been at the forefront of many people’s minds.  

We recognise that many people will enjoy getting out and about in the great outdoors and that they have no issue with getting to grips with nature while camping and through other activities. While that is very well the case for many people, there will be some who simply prefer doing so in a more luxurious way, and that is where we come into the equation! 

We have compiled a helpful list below of how you can embrace the great outdoors but in a luxurious way. Read on for some inspiration for your next trip away!  

Glamping  

A term that many of us have become more accustomed to over time and an activity that has increased in popularity. Not to mention, it has even made its way into the Oxford dictionary! Glamping is the type of camping that provides its visitors with more upmarket facilities than what you would usually expect while on a camping trip. 

For those who plan to head on a staycation in the UK when lockdown restrictions are lifted, this is an ideal suggestion for you. More so, when wanting to treat yourself to a luxury trip away following what has been a rather tumultuous time for us all.  

Glamping comes in many forms, including the likes of treehouses, domes, bell tents, and pods. For those who usually live in a bustling city and who are accustomed to their mod-cons but want a taste of the countryside, this is perfect for you!  

Not to mention, glamping has even made it to the festival scene; those who are heading to a festival to camp for several days but don’t want to get too muddy can experience their entire stay from the comfort of a glamping pod. Fantastic, if you ask us!  

Thinking of Heading Abroad? 

If you are anything like us, you have been dreaming of the days when you can step off an aeroplane on a daily basis. The excitement of packing and making the early morning trip to the airport just can’t be matched and is something that many of us have been missing throughout the last year.  

When you are considering how you can experience a luxury break away internationally following the easing of lockdown restrictions, there are plenty of options available to you. For the most part, when you consider a luxury holiday, heading to the Alps and other related places springs to mind; what better way to explore the great outdoors in a luxurious way than heading to the stunning slopes? 

Before heading off, you must consider your abilities as a skier and what routes would suit you and other members of your party. Piste Pro provides prospective skiers with the most up to date piste maps and skiing information. For example, those heading to the popular ski area of Paradiski can take a look at the La Plagne piste map, to determine where abouts to stay.  

While these are but some of the ways that you can enjoy the great outdoors in a luxurious way, we hope that they have provided some inspiration to you! One thing we can be sure of, this summer is going to be one of the best ones yet! 

Moving Your Large Furniture: Practical Tips

Moving Large Furniture

Are you preparing to move house? Have you already started packing up all your smaller belongings, leaving the bigger items until the end? This is the common approach people take, and then suddenly they are left with the question of how to best move their large furniture without damaging it, or the home. We’ve got a number of practical tips you can use as you prepare to move house and deal with moving those large pieces of furniture.

Start with the Big Pieces – Get Them Out of the Way

While most people are tempted to leave the large oversized furniture until the end, in some cases it can make more sense to begin with those items. Any furniture that isn’t essential to your day-to-day life could be moved to a storage unit. Companies like Safestore offer storage units that make it possible to store your items in a safe and secure manner, giving you much more space to move around in your house as you organise, pack, and eventually move out. You can even get a quote online by entering your postcode, city or town. Be sure to check out the various storage room sizes with the virtual walkthrough, photos, and videos so you find the best one for your needs.

Your furniture can remain in a storage unit until you are in the new house, and you may even choose to leave it there for a while. Perhaps the new house doesn’t have the same amount of available space, or then again, maybe the furniture just doesn’t work with the new décor. Either way, you can keep your items in storage as long as you need.

Don’t Think About Moving Pieces on Your Own

The next tip is to make sure you don’t over-exert yourself and try moving those large pieces on your own. This is an excellent way to do damage to the furniture, walls, floors, and to yourself. Instead, plan in advance and get a couple of friends or family members to give you a hand with moving the furniture. If you don’t have anyone that can help, it can be well worth it to hire professional movers just for the heavy items like the furniture. They will have the proper skills and equipment to move the items in a safe and efficient manner.

Make Use of Furniture Sliders

When it comes to the equipment needed to move furniture, the most useful items are furniture sliders. These sliders go under the feet of your furniture so you can essentially slide items across hard floors without scratching the floor. Some sliders will also work on carpeting, as long as it’s not thick pile carpeting. Experts recommend that you leave these sliders on the feet of your furniture after the move is complete, as they will continue to protect your floor.

Measure and Plan Your Execution

Before you start to move anything, you will also want to take a little time to map out your plan. This means measuring the furniture itself, the doorways, the stairs, and so forth. Then figure out what is the best and most direct way to get the furniture out. You don’t want to get stuck in a doorway or mid-way down a staircase simply because of poor planning.

Lift the Safe and Proper Way

When it comes to lifting, make sure you are using proper posture and technique. This means you lift with your legs, rather than lifting with from your back. As you bend down, make sure your legs and knees are bending, not just your back. You can also help to prevent injury and stress to your body by using a dolly, harnesses, and lifting straps.

Each of these practical tips will ensure that moving the big pieces of furniture doesn’t have to be stressful or dangerous.

“Big firms should have to explain ‘unapproved debt’”

By Guy Corbet, Fourteen Forty

Late payment is the most common problem that SMEs face. But it doesn’t have to be. Small businesses, not taxpayer handouts and public works, will be at the heart of economic recovery. They will start up, create jobs, build, grow and bristle with vitality.

Some will say small businesses need handouts and top-down schemes to get moving again. But not necessarily. For a great many, getting the money that should be theirs already will be enough.

Looking at the root causes of late payment, the company policy or “prudent financial management” of larger customers, quickly points to straightforward answers.

The solution is to call late payments what they are, “unapproved debt”, set default payment terms to 30 days and require PLCs to report on their performance in annual reports.

Late payment destroys jobs

Our client, Xero’s data shows that late payments cause a cash-flow squeeze which contributes to some 50,000 small business failures each year, pre-Covid. At any one time, typically each firm is owed £24,841. This equates to around 10% of a small firm’s turnover on average.

Across the economy, it amounts to £141 billion a year of their own money that is not available for small firms to build their businesses and create jobs. Xero analysis of payment data shows that larger firms pay more slowly. On average firms in the FTSE350 pay up seven days more late than smaller firms. For decades governments have paid lip service to the problem, but they have not fixed it.

The root problem is deliberate or neglect

Late payments once stemmed from inefficient manual processes. But since then the world has automated.

Payments are now late because (a) invoices don’t get passed on to finance teams to be paid or (b) it is company policy to manage cash flow, often delaying payment for as long as possible. Remember Carillion, where payments were late and standard terms were 120 days.

Indeed, it is often considered “best practice” to pay late or impose 60- or 90-day terms. Suppliers don’t complain lest they sour relationships.

The answer is straight forward

It’s time to recognise that the late payment problem is often due to those company policies. Once that is recognised, solutions become clearer.

1. Rename late payments as “unapproved debt”. The expression “late payment” is an inadequate explanation for using someone else’s money without their permission. Calling it “unapproved debt” would help make it clear that it is not a by-product of prudential cashflow management. It would present it as unapproved finance, which should be explained or scrutinised internally and externally.

2. Set payment terms at 30 days. Too often larger firms set their payment terms at 60 or even 90 days. That may be acceptable between PLCs, but for large firms to impose these terms on small ones is not. Standard payment terms should be set at 30 days. Longer terms should still be allowed, providing firms keep track of how many of their contracts operate on 30, 60 and 90 day bands, and they are ready to explain why.

3. Require annual report reporting. It should be a reporting requirement for PLCs to set out their payment performance in their annual reports. As well as breaking down the payment terms, they should be required to explain why they are using “unapproved debt” to finance their firm.

These steps should be introduced now, when the economy needs small businesses to pick the economy up off the floor. This is not a request for a handout or a concession. It is simply to ask is that small firms be allowed to have, and use, what is theirs. It is a real opportunity for the government to show that it is helping remove barriers to growth, job creation and prosperity.

Retail’s reopening: How luxury brands can create kerb appeal and excite consumers

In any typical year, the most highly anticipated event on the UK’s fashion calendar is London Fashion Week. But not this year. Today, April 12th is the date marked in everyone’s diary, as it’s the first time this year that non-essential retail outlets have been able to open.

In this piece, Robert Lockyer, CEO and founder of Delta Global, an innovative and sustainable packaging supplier for luxury retail brands across fashion and beauty, discusses how businesses can create kerb appeal in order to entice customers back in-store.

Four months into 2021, and for the majority of brands, not a single garment or accessory has been sold in a physical store. No customer has been able to browse, try on and immediately take home an item, all while enjoying a curated brand experience, in-person.

You would think then, customers will be rushing back to shops once they reopen. However, the playing field has changed. Just because shops have been closed, it hasn’t meant consumers have been going without their fashion fix. Rather, they have turned their attention, and taken their money, online. And according to a recent survey, 90% of these now-digitally-savvy shoppers will continue purchasing through ecommerce channels post-pandemic.

Kerb appeal is vital for the successful reopening of retail. All efforts must go towards enticing customers back to stores, but while also ensuring their health and safety remains pivotal, as this will help rebuild trust and confidence in the long run.

And unfortunately, this will require much more than mannequins in the window modelling the week’s new-in pieces, or sale signs plastered across the store front. Instead, brands will need to think outside the box, and adjust focus to the needs and expectations of a COVID-effected audience.

 
Window displays

Now, that’s not to say window displays are no longer important. It simply means rethinking the content and purpose of the display. What’s shown will be a store’s one and only chance to catch the attention of those passing by and reassure them of the safe and risk-free environment inside.

Therefore, it’s likely we’ll see a greater number of stores adopting an informative approach for their displays, which may include signage regarding the measures the brand is taking to ensure the safety of any visitors. However, this poses the challenge of standing out. If all stores take the same approach, what is it that yours will do differently in order to set it apart?

Digital or interactive displays are one option. It could be that a digital board placed in the window at the front of a store displays the number of customers that are currently inside alongside a capacity amount, which can reassure shoppers of the space available, or enable them to make their own mind up about the risk. Similarly, a graph displaying footfall rates over time can also inform customers when might be the best time to return or the periods which should be avoided, help both the brand and customers to contain the spread of the virus.

But as well as this, brands can use their window displays to express other important values too. For instance, Fortnum & Mason, who is renowned for its quirky and extravagant window displays, recently used the platform to showcase its commitment to eliminating single-use plastic from its stores and products. Using 140 tonnes of what had been removed, the brand created a plastic whale which is displayed in the window, alongside a message explaining the move.

While the message might not be strictly COVID-related, it is appealing to the newfound focus on sustainability and ethics, which consumers have adopted due to pandemic restrictions, and is likely going to be a huge success in generating interest and driving in-store purchases.

In a similar move, Selfridges’ not-so-subtle “Let’s change the way we shop” signage that is displayed not only on windows, but also across the bricks of the higher storeys of the Oxford Street store, is another example of a way to appeal to these consumer needs.

But while window displays are a way to get them in, these values and efforts must be reinforced by the in-store offering in order to encourage a purchase. For example, for brands that take a sustainability approach, this must then be reflected in their use of packaging. The plastic bag charge is of course, mandatory, but those enticing customers with a claim of sustainability will be expected to be doing more through use of innovative packaging solutions that are not only recyclable, but also manufactured ethically.

After all, this packaging is another great opportunity to generate kerb appeal among customers who may not be directly outside your shop, but instead, pass someone who is carrying a bag on the street or in a shopping centre.  

The experience economy

It’s no secret our economy has taken a significant hit as a result of the pandemic, and financial concerns are likely going to be a hinderance to store sales figures bouncing back any time soon. However, the experience economy is booming. And as we navigate out of restrictions, consumers’ desire and demand for experience will be stronger than ever, particularly after having been deprived of them for so long.

This will be key for creating kerb appeal. Shops must understand that the in-store offering and services, which play a significant role in creating a brand experience, will play a much bigger role in encouraging a store visit, than simply the products on offer themselves. 

In the luxury sector, the in-store experience has long been an influencing factor when it comes to making a purchase. It’s the personal greeting at the door, followed by tailored advice and attentive customer care, and maybe even a private dressing room and a glass of champagne, which help encourage sales. The service is personal and unique to the sector, which makes the purchase feel that much more special, as well as helps build trust with customers before they part ways with a larger sum of money.

This level of service isn’t something that can be replicated online, and will likely be a reason for the successful, and long anticipated, reopening of stores. However, experience should span far beyond this in the post-COVID era if stores are to remain resilient to digital transformation and advancements in technology.

Going forward then, brands should look towards those who offer much more than a point of sale for inspiration. Again, let’s take Selfridges as an example. The brand has perfected its experiential offering, which combines the attentive and tailored luxury service, as well as personal shopping assistants, restoration services and even a restaurant and bar. A visit to the department store is much more than a shopping trip, but instead, a complete leisure experience.

And away from luxury, even brands such as Primark have developed an experiential model with the introduction of cafés, restaurants and beauty bars into its stores. While the retailer is one of the few in fast fashion that does not sell online, its in-store offerings are the reason customers cannot stay away, and why they may see significant sales success once retail reopens.

As well as offering customers more under one roof for greater convenience, the model makes even more sense from a business perspective. It provides brands with multiple revenue streams and allows them to cater to a multitude of needs. For instance, a customer may not see an item they want to buy, but may feel peckish or thirsty and so spend money at the restaurant or café instead.

No doubt are we all eagerly awaiting store reopenings, namely for a change of scenery and some semblance of the normal we once knew. But the short term excitement should not be mistaken for long term success. A narrow view could prove damaging for any brand. To stay ahead and ensure a sustainable store presence, kerb appeal needs to be given some thought.

5 Ways Technology is Changing Care Forever

Digital communications and technology have become a familiar part of our daily lives. From FaceTime calls to virtual Zoom meetings, on-demand TV and location tracking, we have never had such instant global accessibility.

While mobile providers battle to bring out the newest, fastest, most advanced smartphones, other extraordinarily valuable uses for these technological developments are profoundly changing the way we deliver care, support services and medical treatments.

Here we’ll explore five ways that technology is revolutionising the UK healthcare sector – in ways you might not expect!

 

1. Care Data Developments

Data is one of the most valuable assets to almost any organisation. It is traded at high prices within the commercial world, with new legislation such as GDPR required in recent years to manage how personal information is recorded, stored and processed.

One of the positive outcomes of this transformation of data uses is in care.

Having immediate access to comprehensive patient data empowers carers and medical staff to improve the speed at which they can make a diagnosis, provide treatments, and administer medication with a complete overview of the patient’s healthcare record.

Organisations such as Fusion eCare are at the forefront of this area of growth, developing apps and care management software that can:

  • Record real-time data.
  • Instantly update medical records.
  • Operate on tablets and mobiles.
  • Be accessed remotely by any authorised user.
  • Store data in the cloud for information security.

 

It’s vital never to underestimate the value advanced data management systems bring to care homes, clinics and hospitals.

Nurses and social care workers are all used to making fast, autonomous, and often life-saving decisions. If they have all the information they need at the tips of their fingers, they have the right resources to make sound judgments for their patients’ wellbeing.

 

2. Healthcare Staffing Technology

Care staff vacancies and staff retention is an ongoing challenge. This was especially highlighted with keyworker support during the pandemic, highlighting care homes and support charities. The need to engage with skilled candidates and potential applicants on a last-minute basis has never been more in demand.

OUTT.com is a jobs marketplace offering placements, urgent shift requirements and an advertising portal for temporary vacancies, with benefits for both parties.

This app directly connects employers with a large pool of qualified candidates to ensure a faster, more efficient and ultimately more cost-effective process.

These applications have transformative effects on social care organisations:

 

  • Reducing agency spend.
  • Improving response times for urgent shift cover.
  • Removes the need for traditional staffing agencies.
  • Flexible working, with assignments from as little as a single shift.
  • Faster process for candidates to accept placements.
  • Connecting local care employers with quality staff.
  • Reducing the time and expense of vetting candidates.
  • Cutting down on time pressures to manage physical paperwork.
  • At the same time, keyworkers are paid more!

 

Another positive effect is that, in managing staffing recruitment digitally, care facilities can also produce environmental benefits by moving their processes online, eliminating paper waste, and the risk of virus contamination when documents pass through multiple sets of hands.

Outt.com is open now for experienced care worker registrations. Find out more by visiting www.outt.com/join-outt 

 

 

3. Personal Health Tracking Technology 

Wearable tech has come a very long way in the last few years. Some of the (many!) examples include:

  • Apple smartwatches
  • Whoop fitness trackers
  • Fitbit watches and bands
  • Mobile step counters

 

Personal health technology is becoming commonplace and does something remarkable – it makes the wearer responsible for managing their own health.

Not only are we more aware of spikes in our heart rates, sleep performance, calories burned, and activities per day, but also wearable technologies provide innovations that can have a direct impact on clinical decision-making.

For example, noticing a potential health concern early on might reduce the cost of care, be used to support patient rehabilitation, and identify early warning signs that medical intervention is required.

 

4. Virtual Reality in the Clinical Sector

Virtual reality (VR) is so much more than an exciting and immersive way to play games. It is also of phenomenal benefit to the surgical and clinical sectors.

There is little more essential to surgical training than seeing real-life scenarios unfold. VR can share groundbreaking interventions, complex operations and innovative technological treatments with peers and colleagues worldwide.

It also has applications in patient support, enabling surgeons and doctors to demonstrate through virtual 360° modelling what is involved in a recommended surgery. This results in:

  • Better patient understanding.
  • Improved confidence in the procedure.
  • The ability to ask questions and explore alternatives.
  • Enhanced satisfaction with surgical outcomes.

Explaining planned treatments through an understandable medium is key to doctor/patient communications. Virtual reality is a unique way to break down medical terms to help patients maintain better control over their healthcare.

 

 

5. Robotics in Medicine

Finally, robotics is another technological advancement that will change forever the way hospitals, surgeries and care organisations operate.

Many of us have seen footage of skilled robotics used in fields such as keyhole surgery and prosthetics.

Robotics can be used during surgeries, with experienced surgeons controlling the instruments via joysticks or control panels – this not only improves the accuracy of delicate operations but enables surgeries to be less invasive, with fewer risks, potential complications, and a faster recovery time.

However, there are other equally powerful applications.

Disinfectant robots, for example, are one asset that ensures hospitals remain clinically safe so that medical teams can focus on delivering their skills directly to patients, reducing the time required for routine tasks.

There is no doubt that technological advancements have the potential to improve every aspect of healthcare distinctly.

From making procedures safer, helping medical personnel make faster decisions, and equipping the doctors, nurses and carers we rely on to deliver exceptional care, supported by the latest digital developments.

How to Pick the Right Wall Art for Your Home

The character of your home should reflect your personality because when it does, you will most likely be more comfortable in your personal space. There are various ways on how you will be able to decorate your home to reflect your personality and one of these is by decorating your space with wall art. This article lists down some of the things that you need to consider in picking the right wall art for your home.

Consider the Available Wall Space

To be able to pick the right wall art for your home, one of the primary things that you need to consider is your available wall space. The art enthusiasts behind Canvas Prints suggest that you view your walls as a blank canvas. In parallel to this, you need to take out your tape measure and start measuring the available space that you have. For instance, if you want a single statement piece to be the focus of your space, then you may need to go for large-scale art. On the other hand, if you are more into adding a bit of visual interest into an already cozy space, then you may want to find artworks in smaller frames.

You should also consider the room that you are designing. For instance, if you are trying to enhance the look of your kitchen, then the spaces above your cabinets are the perfect place to put your wall art. On the other hand, when you are decorating your bedroom, then your wall art will be perfect if it is placed directly over the bed or on the wall that is opposite your bed. If you have a home office that you want to accentuate with wall art, then the masterpiece will be perfectly installed over your workspace.

Think About Your Existing Decor

Another thing that you need to consider for you to choose the right wall art for your home is your existing decor. If your room is mostly made up of neutral colors, then the infusion of a rich and colorful work of art will prove to be perfect. On the other hand, if your room is already filled with color and texture, then you may want to look for a simpler and more subdued art piece.

As much as possible, try to pair complementary styles and colors together. To make this rather challenging feat quite simple for you, you can consider buying wall art pieces that are already sold as a pair. Otherwise, go bold and mix styles that feel right for you. The key is in going with your inkling because choosing the perfect wall art is still about your intuition.

When it comes to choosing the right wall art for your home, you need to consider the available wall space that you have. You also need to think about your existing decor to ensure that your wall art will complement them accordingly. All these are geared towards ensuring that the wall art you end up with will not only reflect your personality but will also be effective in enhancing the coziness of your home.

6 Types of Brain Disorders

The brain is an essential organ responsible for regulating every function in the body. It controls everything from hunger, breathing, emotions, motor skills, body temperature, to memory, thoughts, and so much more. Thus, having a slight injury, infection, or problem in the brain can likely wreak havoc on a person’s life.

But what are the brain conditions that you need to watch out for? Read on to learn more about the different types of brain disorder and their causes.

1. Brain Tumors

Brain growths or tumors are abnormal cells growing inside the brain and can strike people of any age. Despite extensive medical research, there are still many unknown facts about what causes these growths.

Just like tumors popping up in other parts of the body, brain tumors can either be malignant or benign. Malignant growths mean they are cancerous. Also, they can either be primary or secondary brain tumors.

Primary tumors mean the cancer cells first started in that same growth. Meanwhile, secondary tumors indicate the cancer cells have metastasized in the brain but originated in other parts of the body. Whether a tumor is primary or secondary, cancerous brain growths can be aggressive and dangerous.

The most common symptoms of a brain tumor are:

  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Tingling or Numbness in Your Extremities
  • Difficulties in Balancing or Movement
  • Personality Changes
  • Vision, Hearing, or Speech Impairments

What are Modalities of Treatment For Brain Tumors?

Many factors would determine what type of treatment is best for a patient with a brain tumor. These include the age, overall health condition, and the tumor’s size. If you have malignant brain growth, you may undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

But mainly, a patient will need surgery to alleviate symptoms of this type of disorder, whether it’s cancerous or noncancerous. If you need to undergo brain surgery, you must go to a specialist, such as Dickinson Neurological Surgery, because the brain is a delicate organ, and the treatment procedures involved can be complicated.

2. Trauma

Brain trauma is another common type of brain disorder caused by injuries or accidents. Trauma, specifically blunt force trauma, can harm neurons, brain tissues, and nerves. When that happens, the brain’s connection with the rest of the body may be hindered. Some examples of brain injuries are:

  • Concussions
  • Bruising or Contusions of Brain Tissue
  • Swelling or Cerebral Edema
  • Hematomas

When you experience trauma to the brain, you need to watch out for these common symptoms:

  • Bleeding from the Ear
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Numbness
  • Speech Impairment
  • Paralysis
  • Problem with Concentration or Memory Loss

Car accidents, falls or slips, and sports-related accidents are the most common causes of brain trauma. For minor injuries, pain medication is usually prescribed to address the trauma. In some instances, patients may require specialized medication and rehabilitation. However, severe cases typically require surgery to repair or even remove affected tissues, primarily to relieve pressure in the brain.

Many studies are underway on how to best address brain trauma among athletes because of high-profile sports-related injuries, particularly in soccer and football players. Some of the medical advances include putting sensors inside helmets for real-time assessment of brain damage during a game and even using Artificial Intelligence to help evaluate CT scans of players and detect early signs of severe brain damage.

3. Cerebrovascular Diseases

Cerebrovascular diseases affect the blood flow and circulation to the brain. These can often cause strokes. These problems affect parts of the brain temporarily or permanently, and in many cases, it can lead to death.

Stroke is the most common vascular brain disorder in the United States. Someone dies from a stroke every four minutes, according to figures from the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. This problem occurs when a specific part of the brain suffers from the interruption, reduction, or blockage of blood flow. When that happens, the brain tissues stop getting adequate nutrients and oxygen.

Here are the most common types of cerebrovascular disorders:

  • Stenosis: Characterized by narrowing of the blood vessels and restricting blood flow to parts of the brain. Carotid stenosis affects the carotid or one of the main arteries that carry oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Vertebral stenosis, meanwhile, is the tightening of spaces within the spine. Lastly, intracranial stenosis is the narrowing of other arteries in the brain.
  • Brain Embolism: Characterized by a blood clot blocking a vessel in the brain. It occurs when the blood clot originating from other parts of the body travels to the brain and blocks the blood flow. Brain embolism is dangerous and needs immediate treatment and care.
  • Brain Aneurysm: This happens when there’s swelling or bulging in the brain’s blood vessels. The cause of aneurysm is unknown, but when the swelling leaks or bursts, it can lead to complications, including death.
  • Vascular Malformations: This refers to congenital abnormalities in the blood vessels located in the brain.

Cerebrovascular diseases can trigger a host of common symptoms. These include the following:

  • Severe Headache
  • Disorientation, Confusion, or Memory Loss
  • Nausea, Dizziness, or Vomiting
  • Weakness or Numbness of Extremities
  • Sudden Slurred Speech
  • Difficulty or Loss of Vision

Doctors can treat most cerebrovascular diseases with blood thinners, cholesterol medications, or heart disease drugs. Some surgeons might suggest angioplasty and stenting.

4. Autoimmune Brain Diseases

Autoimmune brain diseases happen when your immune system attacks healthy tissues and cells in the spinal cord or the brain. Such disorders could result in inflammation that can cause psychiatric or neurological symptoms and impaired brain functioning. Early diagnosis is essential for autoimmune brain disorders, but doctors may find it hard to diagnose them early because the symptoms vary.

The common types of autoimmune brain disease are as follows:

  • Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a disease wherein the immune system hits myelin, the tissues that insulate the nerves. It can affect the efficient neural communication between the body and the brain.
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus or Sjorgen’s may trigger central nervous system vasculitis. This disorder happens when the spine and the brain’s blood vessels are swollen or inflamed. Central nervous system vasculitis is a severe problem but treatable if addressed immediately.
  • Autoimmune encephalitis happens when the immune system attacks the brain and spinal tissues or cells. Typically, viruses or bacteria are responsible for causing encephalitis. But in this type of encephalitis, the cause of the disease is the patient’s immune system. It’s a rare disease and can rapidly cause significant mental and physical health changes in the patient.
  • Hashimoto’s encephalopathy is a brain disorder with an autoimmune origin. In this case, a high number of antithyroid antibodies in the body is causing the problem. Women are more prone to this disorder.

The common symptoms of autoimmune brain diseases include:

  • Seizures
  • Abnormal Movements
  • Weakness in the Arms or Legs
  • Sleep Problems
  • Psychiatric Symptoms of Depression, Paranoia, Erratic Behavior, or Hallucinations

There is usually no cure for autoimmune brain disorders, but doctors can help manage symptoms with medication, supplementation, and physical therapy.

5. Neurodegenerative Diseases

The weakening of your nerves and brain over time typically causes neurodegenerative diseases. This deterioration may impact your personality and brain function. These diseases can cause permanent damage, and symptoms generally progress to the point that a patient’s quality of life is severely affected.

The common types of neurodegenerative diseases are as follows:

  • Alzheimer’s: This is a progressive brain problem that triggers shrinkage of the brain. This irreversible disease usually affects thinking and memory skills. It eventually impedes the patient’s ability to do even the simplest tasks.
  • Dementia: A general term used for cognitive decline, often observed among sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease. Some other types of dementia are Huntington’s, vascular dementia, Lewy Body, and mixed dementia.
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): Also known as Lou Gehrig’s, ALS is a degenerative brain disorder that causes muscle control loss.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: Another progressive condition that affects mobility and movement. At first, symptoms of tremor and stiffness occur gradually. But as the disease develops, more severe symptoms appear. This includes the inability to swing the arms when walking or experiencing slurred speech.

The common symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases include the following:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Apathy
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Mood Changes
  • Loss of Inhibition

6. Mental Disorders

Mental illness or disorder is an umbrella term representing various conditions that affect a patient’s behavior, thinking, mood or feelings. Such disorders can affect a person’s ability to deal with other people and perform regular day-to-day functions. 

The most diagnosed mental disorders are:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder

The symptoms can manifest differently from one person to another. It’s even possible that two people with the same mental illnesses have entirely different sets of symptoms. However, people suffering from this problem typically show changes in moods, thought patterns, or behavior.

The most effective treatments for mental illnesses are psychotherapy and medication. However, some patients add alternative therapy such as yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques to complement their medication and psychotherapy.

The Bottom Line

There are a variety of disorders that can affect your brain. It’s essential to read the subtle clues or symptoms of such diseases so you can immediately seek help and treatment, especially since many types of brain disorders are severely debilitating. Whenever you’re dealing with brain disorders, always consult your doctor.

Ramadhan in the Workplace

By Andrew Willis, Head of Legal at Croner

Monday 12 April 2021 signifies the beginning of Ramadhan, the holy month of the Islamic calendar in which Muslims often commit to a period of fasting during daylight hours. Considering this, here are three top tips for supporting staff during this time:

 

Flexible working and working from home

Given the physical demands of daytime fasting, staff may require some adjustments to their working routine during Ramadhan, even if they are working from home. This could include altering shift patterns, allowing staff to start and finish earlier in the day to aid with daytime fasting, or amending workplace duties to reduce the chance of fatigue impacting performance or increasing the risk of injury. 

 

It is important to remember that the requirements may affect each person differently, and organisations should refrain from taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to flexible working arrangements. Arguably, it is more important than ever that organisations take steps to accommodate their employees’ personal circumstances.

Annual leave and rest breaks 

Consider that some individuals may wish to use their annual leave entitlement during Ramadhan to allow them sufficient opportunity to rest during times of fasting or to participate in the Eid celebrations that follow. They may also ask for increased rest breaks or to change the time of these breaks. While it will be fair to expect staff to request time off in the usual way and provide sufficient notice, it may be wise to make an exception where possible to avoid discrimination, such as where requests occur on short notice or clash with other team members.

 

It may be difficult for an organisation to accommodate annual leave requests as a result of the coronavirus. However, given the importance of this to those who celebrate it, it is important to be as accommodating as possible. 

Harassment and respect 

Unfortunately, it can be the case that Muslim employees are at an increased risk of suffering religious harassment at work during Ramadhan, either at the hands of third parties or their colleagues. Other staff may have the misconception that Muslim employees are receiving ‘special privileges’, especially if they are given time off or increased flexibility during the outbreak. Organisations should work to dispel any notion of this. Also, make sure to remind staff that appropriate action will be taken against anyone found responsible for offensive behaviour and that ‘workplace banter’ will not be accepted as a legitimate excuse for discrimination.

 

Given the importance of Ramadhan to Muslim employees, it would be advisable to outline the organisation’s approach in a religious observance policy, giving individuals a clear source of information on their rights at work during this time. Having said this, any policy will need to be inclusive, giving equal footing to other religions, to avoid further claims of religious discrimination.

U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 Launches: Promotes U.S. Role as Primary Investor in African Energy

The U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 – organized by Africa Oil&Power, in partnership with the African Energy Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Committee – will foster alignment between U.S. and African governments’ energy policies and highlight African oil, gas, power and renewable projects across the energy value chain for U.S. investors; the multi-day forum unites U.S. and African policymakers, energy executives and industry leaders to create new linkages and foster discussions that drive long-term policy formation and project execution; the in-person, two-day summit and gala dinner will be hosted in Houston, Texas (October 4-5, 2021) and an online seminar and in-person networking event will be held in Washington D.C. (July 12).

Africa Oil&Power (AOP) and the African Energy Chamber are excited to announce the launch of the first-ever U.S. Africa Energy Forum (USAEF). This event aims to create deeper cooperation between the U.S. and Africa on energy policy, to reach alignment on long term sustainability goals, to stimulate greater American investment in the African oil, gas and power sectors, and to engage and reposition the U.S. as the primary partner of choice for African energy developments. 

Under the theme “New Horizons for U.S. Africa Energy Investment” the forum will explore diverse foreign investment and export opportunities across the continent, including natural gas as a vital fuel for the energy transition; energy storage and battery minerals; Africa’s place in global energy supply chains; the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area; evolving energy technologies and how they relate to the future role of petroleum resources; and on-and off-grid power developments. 

An online seminar and in-person networking event will be held in Washington D.C. on July 12, 2021, building up to the in-person U.S. Africa Energy Forum summit and gala dinner, to be hosted in Houston, Texas, on October 4-5, 2021. Africa Oil&Power and the African Energy Chamber invite all U.S.-based companies with an interest in engaging with African industry leaders and project developers to participate in the USAEF Houston summit.

This initiative comes at an important juncture in U.S.-Africa relations. The Biden Administration’s announcements of its intentions to proactively build a stronger U.S.-Africa partnership coincides with the fact that African projects are seeing rising interest from U.S. companies and lending institutions alike. The USAEF event is thus dedicated to enabling dialogue between its participants that advances these developments.

“Our mission has always been to showcase the resource potential that Africa has to offer while at the same time showing its growing preference for sustainable energy policies and technologies. Toward that end, we hope it becomes evident that Africa does not just want investment capital: it wants smart capital and an accompanying partnership with the investors,” says James Chester, Senior Director of Africa Oil&Power. “The U.S. Africa Energy Forum represents the first-of-its-kind opportunity to catalyze U.S. participation in Africa’s energy transformation – via technology, policy support, capital injection and skills development – and turns a new page in the chapter on global energy investment.” 

In partnership with the African Energy Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Committee, AOP will introduce American companies to African opportunities and advance an agenda of sustainable, long-term investment in African energy and other sectors by U.S. organizations. 

“The rise in support from the U.S. to the continent is a credit to Africa itself, which is increasingly viewed as a favored destination for global investors, multilaterals and export credit agencies,” says Jude Kearney, President of Kearney Africa and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Service Industries and Finance at the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Clinton Administration. “Africa continues to command a healthy share of global FDI in oil and gas industries. It has for decades shown that investment in those sectors is favorable compared to other jurisdictions and can be successful by many measures. Even as Africa and the rest of the world wrestles with a global pandemic, Africa’s energy sector shows vitality and resiliency – not only in hydrocarbons but in regard to new opportunities in mining, liquefied natural gas, and agriculture.”

Both African governments and private sector sponsors of African energy projects value highly the combination of investment and partnership that US investors famously convey. The USAEF seeks to enable successful partnerships between its participants such that the energy development goals of U.S. investors and strategic partners and their African counterparts can be achieved.

Anywhere365® Awarded Most Innovative Cloud-Based Contact Centre Platform 2021

Recognized by Gartner, Certified by Microsoft

We are happy to announce Anywhere365® as this year’s winner of the Global Excellence Award for the Most Innovative Cloud-Based Contact Centre Platform. Anywhere365® is a leading omnichannel dialogue management and cloud contact centre platform, native to Microsoft Teams. Over 1800 global enterprise companies use their flagship product, Dialogue Cloud.

In the 2020 Magic Quadrant report for cloud contact centres, Gartner honorably mentioned Anywhere365® as a vendor to watch. And on top of that Microsoft Corporation announced Anywhere365® as the world’s first official certified Connected Contact Centre for Microsoft Teams.

Journey with Microsoft

Anywhere365®, since its beginning, has built its solutions almost exclusively to Microsoft platforms like Lync and Skype for Business, and now Teams. The COVID-19 pandemic spiked the use of Microsoft Teams in the triple digits and Anywhere365® saw their business grow almost as hard. While the transition from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams has been tough at times, Anywhere365® has followed their journey with Microsoft, focusing on delivering a state-of-the-art Microsoft Teams contact center application.

‘It is not about the contact centre’
Surprisingly though, the winner of the Most Innovative Cloud-Based Contact Centre Platform 2021 is actually not about the contact centre. The company has embraced an enterprise-broad vision that goes beyond the contact center, which they call Dialogue Management. Anywhere365® believe and have proven in many global enterprises that the way forward for enterprise communication and customer engagement is not growing your contact centre. Founder and CEO, Gijs Geurts said: “It is about growing the intelligence in your business communications, so that you can reduce your unnecessary dialogues in every channel and every handler, whether they are human or AI driven.”

Enterprise Dialogue Management approach

“The difference between the contact centre approach and the Dialogue Management approach is that we believe that everyone in an organization is part of any dialogue. That is possible with a unified communications and collaboration platform like Microsoft Teams,” said Geurts. “With a large proportion of businesses using Microsoft Teams, there’s no reason for a business to maintain two versions of presence, one for agents and one for enterprise users. Anywhere365® doesn’t introduce the concept of agent presence; we leverage Microsoft Teams presence for our users.”

Voice, chat, email, social media, video or bots: Anywhere365® lets you engage your customers effortlessly across communications channels. At any time and from anywhere. There is real-time text-to-text, speech-to-text and text-to-speech processing and translation in place for over a dozen languages.

Direct Routing and AI

Anywhere365® AI voice bots and chat bots can handle routine requests, leaving more complex dialogues to live agents. Or any other Microsoft Teams user in the organization. The routing can be based on numbers, agent skills, geography, CRM data, VIP customer routing and many more. The CRM data, context and history of the dialogue always moves with the customer, ensuring customers enjoy first contact resolution of their issues.

What’s also great is that Anywhere365® supports a myriad of desktop environments, allowing agents and supervisors to access customer data, monitor service levels and easily transfer interactions from a single pane of glass. There are over 30 CRM integrations in place. From Salesforce and Bullhorn to Microsoft Dynamics, SAP C4C and even ServiceNow for IT helpdesks. This means that the workforce doesn’t have to switch between different point solutions, allowing for faster call handling, saving costly time and over-delivering to the customer’s expectation.

What we’ve also found, was that, due to the robust, highly scalable and extremely flexible implementation, Anywhere365® has been built to easily incorporate future business requirements without significant additional overhead.

Track, monitor and measure performance

Of course, Anywhere365® lets you record, measure and analyze agent performance and effectiveness, and benchmark them against their peers to continually improve customer service. But tracking your Contact Centre Success won’t cut it, Anywhere365® states. CEO Geurts: “Your contact centre can be very successful, but your customers can still be upset. Customer dialogues simply don’t always end in the contact centre.”

Anywhere365® lets businesses report on customer dialogues from initial contact to final resolution across the entire enterprise, not just the contact centre. Comprehensive business intelligence tools detect dialogue patterns, capacity bottlenecks or compliance violations and help to positively impact business workflows, improve customer service and streamline operations. If you wish to find out more, please visit anywhere365.io

77% of the UK Experience This Work-Related Syndrome

You may read the phrase “imposter syndrome” and be surprised that there’s a phrase for something you feel without realising it’s a common thing. Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough for the career you have? Do you doubt yourself and feel like an imposter in the workplace? Do you have a nagging feeling that you’re winging it? You’re not alone.

77 per cent of the UK experience imposter syndrome.

Some signs of imposter syndrome are:

  • Doubting yourself
  • Being unable to accurately assess your competence and skills
  • Attributing your success to external factors
  • Criticising your job performance
  • Being afraid of disappointing

Did the pandemic make imposter syndrome worse?

Interestingly, research has found that working from home can mitigate these feelings – according to the University of Nottingham, there was a 75 per cent decrease in feelings of imposter syndrome compared to the year before, when we were in the physical office.

Associate Professor Dr. Terri Simpkin at the University of Nottingham commented: “Imposter Phenomenon is related to context and so if the context changes so can experience of Imposterism…It’s socially constructed so change the social circumstances and the experience may change too.”

This may not be the case for everyone, however, and some workers may have intensified feelings of self-doubt combined with feeling deflated and isolated when working from home. Remotely working for significant periods of time can impact company culture, social integration, and being in the general thrall of it all. You might feel out of the funk and start to doubt your skills when you’re out of the swing of things.

If you feel like your feelings of imposter syndrome have subsided, but you’re worried about them flaring up again upon return to the office following Boris Johnson’s roadmap to normality, we’ve got some tips to slip back into the swing of things.

Overcoming imposter syndrome

Being so critical of your work performance, even when you do well, can make it hard for you to get some perspective. Here, we look at some steps you can take to overcome imposter syndrome when you get back to the office donning your smartest work suit.

Facts over feelings

We can be prone to letting emotions override logic. Focusing on facts over feelings can apply well to many different areas of our lives, but particularly imposter syndrome. When you perform well, are given praise, or are generally getting things done, praise yourself for your achievements that you’ve worked hard for. Due to your competence, you’ve succeeded, not because of luck or a fluke. Occasionally there’ll be times where things don’t go to plan for everyone, and that can be disappointing. But when you perform well, don’t gloss over the moments or downplay it.

Try not to assume how other people feel about you, for example assuming and feeling like your boss thinks you’re rubbish at your job – you are projecting your own misconceptions about yourself onto others.

We’ve all got to start somewhere

If you’re doing something new at work or are given a new responsibility, don’t put pressure on yourself to master it first time. Everyone has to start somewhere and learn.

Whenever I’ve started a new job or tried something new, I’ve wanted to master it on the first try. Needing additional guidance made me feel like I was weak, especially if there was an audience. Clearly, it’s unfair to put that kind of pressure on ourselves, which it’s why it’s important for us to flip the script.  

Instead of feeling as though we need to prove our worth, we need to remember that we all have to start somewhere. We all try and fail before we succeed. There’s nothing worse or more flawed about us than there is about anyone else. Keep that in mind the next time you feel like you’re not learning fast enough.

Talk to your colleagues

If you have friends you feel comfortable opening up to at work, confide in a colleague. If not, speak to your friends outside of work. Chances are, saying your thoughts out loud may help you realise how wrong you are when there’s no evidence of you underperforming at work. Plus, others may be going through the same thing – being honest and open about your feelings to those close to you can have tremendous benefits on your wellbeing.

Take a break from social media

Returning to the office? Queue an influx of LinkedIn posts as workers race to post optimistic and motivational posts about getting an ounce of normality back. Like all social media, LinkedIn can be tough on us if we’re feeling down. And like all social media, everyone only posts their best and highest achievements rather than when they’ve failed on a huge project or are struggling to keep up with their workload.

Avoid putting pressure on yourself and take a break from social media, including LinkedIn – unless if your job relies on it. Ease yourself back into it when you’ve settled back into office life and feel ready to see what other people are posting about.

Look at what you’ve accomplished so far in your career and be grateful for all you’ve achieved. Overcome feelings of fear and anxiety and recognise your successes. After all, you’ve kept your job during a pandemic, so continue working as hard as you are!

4 Potential Ways CBD Can Improve Your Wellness

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the potent phytocannabinoids found in cannabis, accounting for more than 40% of the cannabis plant’s extract. It’s also one of the many cannabidiol receptor ligands (this means they interact with the brain receptor only).

CBD was initially developed as a possible replacement for the psychoactive substance THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main ingredient in pot. But CBD’s effects were investigated separately for many years before it was finally accepted as a potentially useful medical product.

You may have heard many comparisons between CBD and marijuana. But unlike THC, CBD doesn’t produce a ‘high,’ or intoxication, the way other THC-like chemicals do. Instead, it causes a relaxation of the blood vessels and brain, relieving muscle spasms and reducing anxiety, even to the point of improving moods. Also, compared to other pharmaceutical medications, CBD doesn’t cause serious side effects, like addiction or dependency.

The most common form of CBD is found in the oil extract of the cannabis plant, and CBD oil has been shown to effectively reduce the symptoms of different health ailments. In today’s world, we’ve heard about many different illnesses and diseases, like anxiety and depression, to the point that it’s really hard to believe that there could be an herb that would help alleviate the effects of such things, as well as improve a person’s quality of sleep.

But in what other ways can CBD improve your health?

1. Relief from Anxiety and Depression

There have been numerous studies done about CBD and its positive effects on your health. One of the most common ailments that are helped by CBD is anxiety.

In today’s society, anxiety and depression are two of the most common ailments that people suffer from. How can CBD help with depression and anxiety?

  • Various studies suggest that CBD may help reduce the symptoms of depression or anxiety in people who are currently taking medications for that condition. One of the most exciting benefits of CBD is the anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety effects it has on people. This is because CBD is very powerful in reducing the activity of certain enzymes that produce feelings of stress and anxiety. CBD has also been shown to improve mood and concentration.
  • The ingredient in cannabis is considered a safe alternative to prescription medication for depression or anxiety because it doesn’t cause the same side effects or complications. By calming the body and mind with little to no side effects, the levels of negative or anxious feelings are alleviated or minimized.
  • Unlike THC, which stays in the system throughout use and produces psychoactive effects, CBD is a non-psychotic, or mind-independent, substance.

2. Alleviate Pain and Inflammation

When a person is in pain, they tend to turn to their pain relief mechanism, which is to either get up and move around to alleviate the pain or to take a break and rest the affected area. Some take over-the-counter pain medications or ask for a prescription drug from their physician. But what many people don’t realize is that the powerful pain-relieving effect of CBD comes from the way the drug stimulates the body’s natural pain relief mechanism. Hence, CBD works by blocking the pain receptors, resulting in less pain and discomfort. This is why many people turn to their CBD subscription for natural relief from pain.

Another very interesting aspect of CBD is that it works extremely well as an anti-inflammatory. Endocannabinoids are lipids, fats, and protein fragments that are secreted by cells within the body. These chains link to different parts of the body and mediate a range of activities, including the natural anti-inflammatory actions of the two main active compounds in CBD oil.

CBD may offer people not only a more natural form of treatment for certain forms of arthritis but also a way of avoiding the common side-effects of prescription pain-killers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. The benefits of CBD also extend to the circulatory system and the improvement of muscle tone and range of motion in people suffering from muscular arthritis.

3. Reduce Cancer-Related Symptoms and Side Effects

Recent studies are trying to prove that CBD can help lessen the symptoms of chronic pain associated with certain forms of cancer. In some experiments, test subjects who were prescribed CBD did report less severe physical side effects than those given placebos.

CBD may also help lessen the signs of the disease as well–it has shown the ability to reduce certain types of tumor cells from reproducing. While the National Cancer Institute (NCI) doesn’t endorse CBD or any cannabis-related medication as cancer treatment, they acknowledged CBD’s effect in moderating inflammation and the reproduction of cancer cells.

4. Improve Energy and Brain Functions

CBD may improve brain function by reducing the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for activating certain brain cells. Since CBD helps reduce the amount of dopamine in the body, brain cells will now work normally.

Aside from promoting a healthy nervous system and reducing anxiety and depression, CBD may also help increase your energy levels. This is due to CBD’s ability to increase blood flow throughout the body. Hence, when you take CBD, your mood may improve and your entire body will feel good.

CBD May Be Beneficial For Your Overall Wellness

In addition to the aforementioned potential health benefits of CBD for one’s wellness, CBD is also being investigated for its ability to help treat illnesses and prevent disorders of the entire human system.

While the body does contain some naturally occurring CBD, the synthetic CBD that we see on the pharmaceutical market isn’t one of them. Instead, what you most commonly find are CBD oil products or CBD capsules that are extracted from cannabis.

By taking an entire plant apart, researchers have been able to isolate and produce a wonder compound called CBD. This unique formulation provides the health benefits of CBD without the negative side effects that come from using marijuana or chemical drugs.

Takeaway

The bottom line is that CBD is great for your body. It may help you to feel better, reduce your chance of disease, improve your mood, help reduce anxiety and depression, and even boost your energy levels.

AI powered E-Commerce Sales Growth

Ezapp Offers AI platform for Customer Analytics and Empowering Ecommece companies to maximize Sales. Ezapp has utilized Machine Learning models like ARIMAX, Neural Network, XGBoost models to provide automated shipments forecasts so Clients can manage the manufacturing Units in advance. Ezapp built Order Predictability and Fulfillment rates for Demand Sensing. Ezapp successfully built a Product Pricing Model for Sales activation on the Product Catalog.

The Three Areas Businesses Invested in to Make it Through the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has taught us a lot of lessons. We have a better appreciation of our key workers, which includes NHS staff, shop workers, and transport and logistics providers. A better understanding of the spread of infectious viruses has helped individuals and businesses protect themselves and their staff.

The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns also taught businesses the importance of digital solutions that enabled remote working and collaboration. Roles that could be carried out from home made the switch. For businesses that had already invested in digitisation, this was a straightforward move. In some cases, employees were already used to home working. But for others, investment was required quickly to implement the necessary technologies. 

A McKinsey survey found that as a result of this need to adapt, businesses accelerated their digitisation by a huge seven years, highlighting one positive side-effect of the pandemic. But where have businesses been investing during this time?

Digital marketing takes the front seat

Many businesses have realised the value of digital marketing in the face of an increasingly competitive industry. This is especially true for retail and B2B organisations that have traditionally operated face to face. For non-essential retailers, national lockdowns meant they could only transact online. While many of these businesses were already operating in the e-commerce space, they didn’t necessarily have the same presence they held on the high street.

Online visibility has been more crucial than ever because many retailers were pushed into the online space. National lockdowns also resulted in consumers spending an extra day a month online. Online sales as a percentage of retail sales shot up by over 50% between February and April 2020 from 19.1% to 30.2%. The current lockdown has seen these sales soar further to 36.3% of all retail sales.

As a result, ad spend on traditional media fell by 50%. Even retailers who increased their sales during the pandemic, including Amazon, reduced their traditional media spend. Meanwhile, after an initial dip due to heavily impacted sectors postponing activity, Google’s parent company Alphabet recorded record profits. Tellingly, 81% of its sales came from digital advertising.

Visibility on search engines and social media is crucial to online success. While undertaking intensive SEO work should be a long-term goal for businesses looking to increase their online market share, paid search can create some quick wins. Many businesses turned to Google Ads to increase their online visibility and sales. Then, as your business grows its online presence, paid and organic search can work together as a lucrative income channel.

Customer service goes digital

As a result of the pandemic, the McKinsey survey found that businesses in Europe increased their percentage of digital customer interactions from 32% to 55%. Interestingly, almost half of brands with over 20 years of longevity ranked customer engagement as their investment priority. Only 39% of younger businesses, however, said the same.

The demand for digital customer service has increased in recent years and has also been accelerated by the pandemic. Businesses that don’t offer digital communication risk losing customers who will seek organisations that prioritise their experience. Of the organisations that rate themselves as excellent in delivering customer engagement, 67% exceeded revenue goals in 2020. What’s more, 75% of these brands are increasing their budgets in 2021.

It’s important to make sure these digital options are available to your customers even when things go back to “normal”. It’s widely assumed that younger customers prefer digital contact methods and their older counterparts overwhelmingly favour traditional communication. However, new research shows a third of over-65s prefer digital contact. For important interactions, the same Echo survey showed 53% of people prefer to speak in person or over the phone. But for information or basic tasks like paying bills, customers prefer digital communication or online self-service options.

With all of this in mind, there’s no clear winner when it comes to how you deliver your customer service. Blending face-to-face interactions (where possible), telephone, email, live chat, and web self-service will ensure you’re meeting the expectations of a wide cross-section of customers.

Employee engagement is on the agenda

The past year has been turbulent for office-based workers. The majority were instructed to work from home in March 2020, before being encouraged to go back into the office, and were then sent home again… and so on. Business spend on digital communication and engagement tools skyrocketed, with Microsoft Teams and Zoom usage growing by 894% and 677% respectively between February and June 2020.

With a plan for exiting lockdown in place, many organisations are now preparing to welcome staff back to the office again after more time away. While you’ve likely got hygiene and social distancing measures in place, employee engagement is important. Especially considering over two-thirds of pandemic home-workers feel less connected to their colleagues and businesses as a result of working from home.

For colleagues returning to the office, there are a number of ways you can increase engagement and keep them up to date with company news and performance. Placing digital signage screens throughout your office that display company bulletins, performance metrics, or even industry news can help your employees feel more connected to your business. Equally, hosting regular business update sessions in your office or at another venue that incorporate team-building exercises and a social element will help your people reconnect.

If you’re one of the many businesses incorporating flexible and remote working into your long-term business plans, there are still ways to engage remote employees. Keeping your company intranet up to date is key to helping employees feel like they know what is going on with your business. Team-building activities don’t always have to take place in-person, either. Virtual quizzes, movie nights, or even gaming sessions are a great way to get your remote workers involved in your company’s culture.

Overall

For businesses whose operations were brought to a standstill because of the pandemic and lockdowns, cost-saving has been essential. But for those that have continued to operate throughout multiple national lockdowns, investment in the right areas has never been more important. Businesses have prioritised digital marketing, customer experience, and employee engagement, and these areas are still key focuses as we begin to slowly return to something that looks like normal.

What To Look For When Selecting A Patient Engagement Platform

Patients and health care providers today are awash in data. Some of it, like many readings recorded by a piece of wearable tech, may not actually mean all that much. Other pieces however, like a patient’s medical records, can help providers and patients to work together to reach better health care outcomes and lower costs.

A patient engagement platform (PEP) is a piece of technology that helps to encourage patient-centered medicine by involving patients in their own care. If you’re a health care provider, you might be interested in implementing a PEP in your practice—something like the Patient Engagement Platform by Relatient, or another solution used by your peers—but the choices can be overwhelming.

Right now is a good moment to address this. COVID-19 has made patient engagement more difficult than ever before, so it makes sense to look for all the ways in which you can better center your patients in your practice.

Plus, there’s evidence that patient engagement platforms work. A study published in 2020 looked at the use of PEPs in postoperative management of patients who had undergone orthopedic surgery. According to the study, PEPs—which included “portals, mobile health applications, and chatbots”—led to “improved patient satisfaction scores and outcomes.”

The study’s authors did note, however, that for those looking to use these platforms in their practice, it is critically important to “identify what you are looking to improve upon within your health system and choose a platform accordingly.”

So, if you’re wading through a sea of apps and other platforms, this article can help to clarify what you need to look for when choosing a PEP for your practice.

 

What is patient engagement?

Patient engagement is the process of “providers and patients working together to improve health.” That description comes from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and it makes clear how broad a field this is.

Writing in Patient Engagement HIT, Sara Heath argues that you can drill down into this broad definition to find three main areas underlying most patient engagement strategies:

  • Access to health data—Patients having access to their own health data is a game changer. Patient platforms and other means of sharing data can help to empower your patients to “coordinate [their] own care.” By viewing their medical records before appointments, patients can better equip themselves for their time with their doctor. On the whole, it makes them better collaborators.
  • Communication—This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it bears repeating: health care providers need an open channel of communication with their patients. Face-to-face interactions play a major role here, and providers need to remain empathetic in these encounters; however, patient portals can help with this too. A patient can ask if they need to come into the office over a particular concern—chest pain, a rash, etc.—or not. This can help to prevent a serious condition from getting worse.
  • Satisfaction—As Heath argues, the point here is that it’s not enough to give patients access to information, or even to educate them about their care. Doctors also need to make them feel respected. This can be a place where cultural competence plays an important role, something which goes beyond putting materials in the right languages. You might consider spending time developing relationships with relevant community organizations, for example. 

As you’re formulating and executing a patient engagement strategy, it can feel like you have too many balls in the air at once; however, if you’ve got a clear plan, the right patient engagement platform can help to make the whole process easier.

 

How do PEPs help?

If access to health data, communication, and satisfaction are the key components of successful patient engagement, then how can a PEP help you to provide those things to your patients?

In the first case, it can help to sort data. After all, this is not an area where “more is better” applies in any simple way. For instance, with the advent of wearable technology, patients began showing up in their doctors’ offices and presenting them with huge amounts of data, then expecting them to do something with it.

Instead of having patients show up with reams of data from their FitBit, a PEP can help patients to better understand how they could, and should, be involved in their own care. It can also help you as a provider to sift through data in order to see what you need, when you need it; this will help you to be more present for your patients.

According to the study cited above, focused on orthopedic surgery, PEPs can “automate clinician-like tasks” including:

  • Delivering educational content
  • Sending reminders to patients that they need to follow postoperative treatment protocols
  • Allowing patients to report pain scores and mobility reports
  • Managing photos of wounds
  • Recording and monitoring health outcomes.

On the whole, using these apps can also help patients to feel more connected to their doctors, which can lead to improved feedback and increase referrals.

What to look for when choosing a PEP

With all these benefits in mind, what should you as a provider be looking for when it comes to choosing a PEP for your practice? Some key aspects are straightforward, but they’re worth articulating explicitly:

  • Quality and quantity—What the platform offers is important. In terms of educational materials, you want something high-quality and helpful. For its communication features, you want a balance in terms of quantity: it should be efficient, so that it doesn’t overwhelm you or your patients, but it should also feel easy for a patient to reach out when they need to.
  • Reach and adoption—It can pay to use a platform that has a wide reach, since it will be easier to find support for it and to get advice from other providers about how best to use it. Looking at the adoption of a PEP elsewhere by patients can also be a promising way to indicate how likely you are to achieve the outcomes you’re after.
  • What devices does it work on?—This is simple but important: if your PEP requires patients to use it on a regular basis or to access important information, you want them to be able to get to it in as many ways as possible. A PEP will hardly seem like something that improves communication if it actually makes it harder for your patients to communicate with you.
  • Does it support the languages you need?—You know your practice, and you know what languages (or translation support) that you’ll need from any platform you want to implement. This is an especially important consideration for certain providers, but it’s worth thinking about for everyone.
  • Intuitive interface—You want the PEP you choose to be as intuitive as possible. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be hiccups, but choosing something that doesn’t throw up immediate roadblocks will help to ensure that patients are more likely to use it. After all, if no one uses a PEP, not much engagement is likely to come from it.
  • Accessible training included—You need to make sure that patients with all sorts of technical ability can use the platform, especially if your goal in implementing a PEP is to increase and improve patient engagement. Many platforms include training materials, but be sure to have a look at them yourself, and to ensure that they’re really accessible so that all your patients will have the best chance of using them.

 

Choosing a PEP and implementing it

As you start to look for a PEP for your practice, be sure to understand, and articulate to others, what your major goal is for the platform. For example, maybe you’re trying to increase patient satisfaction as measured by a particular metric. You may know this clearly from the outset, but unless you let your staff and other stakeholders know, they may see this as simply another piece of technology being added to their workflow.

Instead, make a point of explaining what you want to accomplish. Not only will this help you to find the right platform, it will also help you to bring along the people in your practice whom you’ll need to implement it.

When you’ve started using your PEP, you may be tempted to make sure that it plays nice with all the other technological aspects of your practice. Don’t worry too much about that at first. Instead, focus on getting it fully implemented, then worry about the integration questions.

Finally, remember that you can’t just set up a PEP and walk away. If you’ve chosen well, it will be something that regularly provides new insights, inviting you to consider using it in new ways in response. 

 

Conclusion

As you look for a PEP for your practice, make sure to consider the elements of patient engagement that you’re trying to foster. Then, consider how accessible and easy to use the platform is, and will be for your patients. Finally, make sure that you articulate why you want to implement it in your practice, and be sure to keep working with it as you use it in order to get the most out of it.

DFW Based BluCollar to Launch Bold New ICO and NFT Marketplace For the Manufacturing Industry

With the ever-increasing popularity of cryptocurrency and NFT (non-fungible-tokens), BluCollar.io is launching its first ICO to capitalize on an underserved market – the manufacturing industry. With little in the way of investable channels, this 2334.60 billion dollar industry (2018) in the U.S. alone, BluCollar is looking to translate those financial transactions and assets to the digital space utilizing the exploding world of NFT’s via its own marketplace.

Girts Berzins

Employee of the Month – Girts Berzins

As Girts’ final weeks with the company we are pleased to announce him as our employee of the month.

With an infectious positive attitude and willingness to help any team, Girts has always been brilliant to work with and a great employee for the business.

Always happy to go the extra mile to provide assistance with any task, he is always quick to respond and a great member of the team.

Thankyou Girts for your time with the business and for your hard work and commitment. You will be missed by many!

Beacon for Biotech Success!

Science is moving at a remarkable rate, and no area more so than that of Biotech. This branch of the applied sciences sees specialists harnessing the potential that nature has to offer to benefit mankind. A leader is in this research is the team at Dyna Biotech. As one of India’s leading biotech equipment manufacturers, with years of success behind them, we thought we’d take a closer look to find out more.

Since 2013, the team at Dyna Biotech has been leading the field when it comes to the creation of biotech equipment. In a pioneering sector, companies need a manufacturer that they can rely on to deliver equally pioneering resources. That’s the team have always aimed to deliver and is what they excel at.

The firm was started by Mr. Vinodkumar Patil, a qualified microbiologist and an exceptional engineer. It’s this combination of skill and ability that has allowed him to develop Dyna Biotech to the extraordinary high standard it holds today. It was not just his academic talent that led to Dyna Biotech, however. Over the years, Mr. Patil has taken on increasing responsibilities at a number of firms, including Lupin, B. Braun Biotech (Germany), Sartorius, Shantha Biotech (Sanofigroup company) and Serum Institute.

When Mr. Patil established the firm, it was with this immense knowledge of the field in mind. His aim with Dyna Biotech, however, was to act specifically as a gamechanger within India’s biotech industry. There was a great deal of potential for growth in the sector, but this was hampered by a lack of knowledge, resources, and the ability of firms to scale quickly. With expertise in antibiotics production, steroid biotransformation, cell culture, vaccine process development, production, scale-up, optimization, validation and product launch, he knew he could start his own business and quickly bring it up to speed with the key players in the global market.

The priority in those early days was to create a company with the ability to adopt innovative technologies quickly and allow India a foothold on the industry. This, Mr. Patil has achieved with astonishing success. The country has moved forward rapidly over the last seven years, with Dyna Biotech providing an enviable benchmark for quality in the industry at large. Mr. Patil’s firm has proven capable of delivering a wide range of Biotechnology and Biopharma equipment, tackling the complex steps of manufacturing, validation, installation and service without fuss or delay. Clients have often complimented the team on their ability to deliver truly astonishing results.

What started in 2013 as a goal of providing predictive and personalized systems saw the team quickly move into the niche of developing highly specialized automated fermentor, bioreactor manufacturing. This ability has remained key to the brand ever since, with Dyna Biotech products able to achieve more output at fermentation and better yields in the downstream processing. This success comes from an approach which sees the team constantly and deliberately trying to improve every aspect of the system. The team reinforce their dedication to all through continual product and process improvement.

The mission of Dyna Biotech has always been clear, namely to make strategic investments in research and development that will benefit clients. These investments see the teams existing range of products constantly expanding, not just in terms of new products, but in new applications. This ensures that the team is constantly moving forward, in line with its pioneering promise. The ability to deliver such an impressive product portfolio is why clients continue to turn to the team with their own complex needs.

Of course, in the business world, the promise of a pioneering approach is not enough to secure success. Under Mr. Patil’s care, the firm has ensured that it applies a commercial aspect to its approach. Clients are supported through a comprehensive customer service program, while the team have a commitment to deliver the product on time. This commitment is essential to the success of Dyna Biotech, and is why so many clients continue to turn to the firm when they require assistance.

When the team at Dyna Biotech take on a project, it must go through many phases before the production process can begin. The first of these, understandably, is research and development. While the team have already created a system of constant improvement, the needs of the individual client guide this stage throughout the development process. A highly experienced and motivated team are on hand to ensure that new products meet every single need that a client has. The research and development team target their years of expertise at every problem, finding innovative ways to ensure that systems meet the requirements of every application.

Often, this involves building on work that has already been done with highly automated machines in the field of biotechnology and microbiology. Dyna Biotech has an exceptional track record when it comes to new ideas generation, new product development, dedication in the field and value additions in product. The team are equally adept when it comes to designing new biotech facilities or modifying existing facilities to meet the needs of a growing business.

The process of development is always ongoing, even when products move into the manufacturing stage. This research can be carried onto later projects, or new equipment batches requested by the client. The nature of the manufacturing process at Dyna Biotech means that each product is not only bespoke, but often has no previous testing undertaken. Clients can rest easy, knowing that a key part of their equipment list is supported with documentation that includes Design Qualification (DQ), Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification(OQ), Factory Acceptance Test (FAT), Site Acceptance Test (SAT) and Performance Qualification (PQ) Test. This high level of accreditation is why people keep coming back to what Dyna Biotech has to offer.

Finally, when all is complete and installed in its new home, the Dyna Biotech team don’t see their job as complete. A comprehensive service and support system has been established to ensure that the new equipment meets the necessary requirements. Like all aspects of Dyna Biotech, it is built on a system of qualified and experienced personnel who are available around the clock to ensure that your biotech operation is not slowed down. The team understand that their equipment is often a vital, and unique, part of a firm’s operations and any fault can lead to spoiled work and an incredible backlog of work. The service engineers employed by Dyna Biotech provide process trouble shooting, automation updates, process expert visits and consultancy services to guarantee the smooth running of every system.

The success of Dyna Biotech is a credit to the hardworking team, led forward by Mr. Patil. His ambition is why the firm has thrived over the years, with innovation and revolution at the core of the company. As standards continue to escalate, and the ambition of biotechnology continues to increase, the need for firms like Dyna Biotech to rise to the challenge is clear. Fortunately, it’s something that this team every time with considerable aplomb.

Dada Group Installs Digital Growth Engines For Electronics Stores

Dada Group, China’s leading local on-demand delivery and retail platform, is pleased to announce that JD Daojia (“JDDJ”), the on-demand retail platform of Dada, has expanded its partnership with authorized phone resellers and accelerated their digitalization process to deliver products within one hour. As of March 2021, 670 authorized phone reseller stores have launched their services on JDDJ, covering hundreds of cities and counties in China, and had the access to JD’s online channels through the Omni-channel Fulfillment Program.

In October 2020, dozens of authorized resellers across China have established their partnership with JDDJ with a focus on omni-channel operation and digitalization. As offline brick-and-mortar stores, authorized stores take advantage of supply chain and brand resources, while JDDJ empowers the offline stores in online traffic, efficiency improvement and user operations. The partnership also creates the micro e-commerce consumption scenarios featuring one-hour delivery service in electronic products, and speeds up the online and offline retail integration. Both sides aim to offer stellar products with affordable prices and tailored services.

Once users place orders on JDDJ’s platform, a nearby authorized stores prepare the products and Dada Now, the local on-demand delivery platform of Dada Group, deliver the digital products to the users within one-hour.

In 2020, JDDJ and JD began their strategic partnership and created Omni-channel Fulfillment Program, which enables users place an order on JD.com to receive the product from nearby off-line stores on JDDJ’s platform and enjoy Dada Now’s home delivery service. Through this program, authorized reseller stores have the access to JD’s nearly 470 million users and promote the systematic upgrading of online channels.

According to JDDJ’s 2020 White Paper on On-demand Consumption of Mobile Phones, more than 6,000 electronics stores have launched on JDDJ’s platform. Mobile phones have become the category with the most potential in the field of on-demand retail, besides fresh food and groceries.

“The era of micro e-commerce has arrived. One-hour delivery is no longer a need, but the consumer habits,” said Jianzhen Peng, Secretary General of China Chain Store & Franchise Association, China’s national representative for the retail and franchise industry. “JDDJ works closely with offline stores to promote digitalization, and has successively launched digital empowerment solutions including online traffic, products, users, marketing, and order fulfillment. This is a model of digitalization for electronics stores.”

“The micro e-commerce and on-demand retail for one-hour shopping, bring the great opportunity and a prevailing trend to build the omni-channel retail ecosystem in the mobile phone sector,” said Guangsen Mou, General Manager of Fashion and Digital Electronics Business Department at JDDJ. “The digitalization process would create a new growth engine for offline electronics stores. More consumers, especially young ones, demand a faster delivery service for mobile phones. The market education is emerging”

This year’s JDDJ 415 Anniversary Shopping Festival is launched from April 8 to 18. During the period, JDDJ partners with leading supermarket chains in China, including Walmart, Yonghui Supermarket, CR Vanguard, BBG Supermarket, Aeon, Jiajiayue, Lotus and famous brands, such as Yili, Mengniu, P&G, Unilever, Yihai KerryMars Wrigley, PepsiCo, Nestle, as well as over 100,000 merchant stores on the platform to create a “One-hour Shopping Carnival”. This provides consumers in nearly 1,400 counties and cities in China with “one-hour delivery” services for all categories of products, such as supermarket groceries, fresh meat and eggs, daily necessities, mobile phones and electronics, beauty and clothing.

Seven Post-Pandemic Office Tech Trends to Look Out For

Last year, Global workspace specialists Instant Offices predicted a tech breakthrough in the commercial real estate industry would be one of the most significant workplace changes to come about in a post-COVID world.  Today, they are seeing first-hand how sectors are using technology to make the workplace safer and more hygienic. 

As the pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives, the need for a new way of working is also affected. With that in mind, John Williams, Head of Marketing at Instant Offices reveals the top seven Proptech trends that aim to keep employee safe in a post-COVID office: 

High tech wellness checks

Employees must be screened for symptoms before entering their workplace to ensure that they aren’t contagious. Many teams now complete a quick health survey via a mobile app on their way into the office so that they can be effectively screened before arrival.  

Touch- free & Voice enabled tech

COVID-19 has caused a surge in voice technology adoption. According to an Adobe Voice Survey, 86% of people said that voice tech would make the office more sanitary, while 77% expected to use this tech more frequently in the next year. Movement-activated doors allow workers to enter and exit spaces without touching anything. Voice-enabled devices and appliances help to reduce physical contact dramatically.

Air Filtration

Did you know that around 75% of the air inside an office is recirculated indoor air? Businesses can effectively improve air quality and cleanliness at work by properly installing (and maintaining) their existing HVAC and filtration systems. However, some are going a step further with cutting-edge innovations like UV light purification technology.

Social Distancing Sensors

Office layouts are changing to accommodate social distancing, with one-way circulation patterns in the hallways and workstations spaced further apart. For example, sensors can monitor occupancy and send alerts when too many people are together in a space.

Automated Cleaning

From UV light treatments to self-cleaning surfaces for high-traffic points around the office, companies now have a wealth of germ-busting technology to choose from. A study by AJIC,  found that high-energy UVC light reduced live Coronavirus on laboratory surfaces by 99.7% in just 30 seconds

Enhanced Cybersecurity

While much of the new tech we’ve mentioned aims to mitigate the threat of infection, other innovations are addressing the increased security risk that comes with remote working. According to Gartner, 52% of compliance leaders in 2020 said that third-party cybersecurity breaches were their biggest concern due to remote work since the COVID outbreak.

Remote Collaboration Platforms

Statista reported that between Q4 2019 and March 2020, the UK saw a 24% increase in Hangouts Meet downloads, a 20% increase in Zoom downloads and a 13% increase in Microsoft Teams downloads. Businesses are adapting by implementing systems where employees can reserve a conference room or desk space quickly and easily online.

Businesses are adapting by implementing systems where employees can reserve a conference room or desk space quickly and easily online. Many in-office meeting spaces are being repurposed and the overall design of the office shifts to allow for better social distancing.

Is the Switch to Digital Healthcare Here to Stay?

In some ways, it’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since the pandemic forced us into the first national lockdown. In other ways, it feels like it’s been much longer. One thing we know is that it has changed many of our habits.

Online shopping rose by 50% within two months, while many of our usual appointments were either postponed or held virtually. 2020 was the year of video calls, with work meetings, pub quizzes, family gatherings, and even GP appointments held online or over the phone. This shift to virtual healthcare appointments in particular represents a huge change in one key area of our life.

We’re not out of the pandemic woods yet, so many GP and hospital consultations are still being held remotely. This allows patients to seek medical help in a risk-free environment, while also ensuring the safety of our NHS staff. Remote appointments also have the potential to save time for patients, who won’t have to travel to the surgery unless necessary.

This move to remote consultations saw interest in digital and online GP appointments skyrocket. As we navigated the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, our healthcare needs evolved. But is digital healthcare set to stay, and if so, is that the best option for ourselves and our families?

Health cash plans provider Westfield Health has analysed Google search data throughout the coronavirus pandemic to find out if we’re ready to fully embrace digital healthcare, and what a shift to digital means for you and your family.

The way we managed our healthcare changed

It’s no surprise that, as the first national lockdown forced surgeries to close their doors, we were required to seek online alternatives. While 99% of GP practices had the capabilities to hold video consultations in place, NHS data shows that these appointments actually dropped by 77.24% between January 2020 and April 2020. In the same timeframe, telephone appointments more than doubled.

For many, however, telephone appointments weren’t ideal. How can you accurately show or tell your doctor your problem if they can’t see you? Patients in Scotland reported frustrations with telephone appointments not meeting their needs. This is particularly impactful on certain groups of people, including parents of young children, as children may not be able to verbalise exactly what is wrong. Video appointments are certainly a better option, but they may still not allow GPs to accurately treat a child without a physical examination.

Searches for online GP support soar in first lockdown

As expected, searches for a number of terms related to online GP appointments and consultations hit their highest peak when the first national lockdown was announced in March 2020. The term ‘NHS online GP’ increased by 650% from the previous year from 720 monthly searches to 5,400. ‘NHS online consultation’ rose by a huge 2,614.3% year on year, from a modest 70 searches a month to 1,900 at its peak, as people sought out alternatives to telephone appointments.

All searches related to digital and online GP support experienced a 71.87% increase in searches year on year in March 2020, reaching a total of 85,400 searches. This number dropped slightly but remained strong in April 2020. Searches centred around online and digital GP services were still up 63.51% year-on-year in April 2020 as lockdown measures continued.

The easing of lockdown

Our shift to seeking digital healthcare support may have been forced upon us, but was it a positive change that continued?

Many surgeries offered an eConsult option to patients during the pandemic, which guided users through a form about their health concern. The form is then submitted to their GP, the patients receive a reply and, if necessary, a video, telephone, or in-person consultation. A report by the Health Innovation Network South London found that 75% of patients who had used the service would do so again, with 64% reporting that it saved them time. A BMJ report also states that GP surgeries report high levels of patient satisfaction with video consultations.

But as lockdown measures first began to ease in May 2020, so did our interest in digital GP services. Despite outstanding levels of satisfaction with digital services, online interest began to drop in line with lockdown restrictions lifting.

While interest remained higher than the previous year, searches decreased by 15% between March and May 2020, and a further 16.48% from May to June. When restrictions were at their lowest levels in the summer, with the exception of local lockdowns in Leicester, search levels were closer to their 2019 levels. They remained at a lower level for the rest of 2020. This suggests patients reverted to their “normal” routines when it comes to healthcare, favouring in-person appointments.

New lockdown, renewed interest

As we entered a new lockdown in January 2021, interest in online GP services rose once again; searches for these terms rose 18.32%. Interest didn’t reach the levels of March 2020, but this may be due to the fact that people were registering more for digital NHS services throughout last year.

NHS Digital data that shows usage of its digital solutions increased across the board in 2020. The number of people using the NHS App increased by 912% between December 2019 and December 2020, rising from 192,676 to 1,951,640. The NHS App can be used for booking in-person, face-to-face or telephone appointments, ordering repeat prescriptions, and viewing your medical record, perfectly blending digital and traditional healthcare.

Is digital healthcare the way forward?

Despite the fact that interest in digital healthcare dropped as it became less of a necessity, satisfaction with these services is high. So, why aren’t we turning to these options more?

While we’ll never fully eliminate in-person appointments, the option of digital healthcare offers many benefits both to the NHS and patients. The biggest benefit, which users of the eConsult service have noted, is time saving. In the same way that we’ve adopted working from home and seen a better work-life balance, we’ve recognised that virtual GP consultations also offer this benefit. We may also be more likely to book 10-minute phone appointments knowing that we only need to allocate those 10 minutes, instead of factoring in travel and waiting times. This additional time investment can be off-putting to those with busy lives or family commitments.

This not only benefits patients, but it can also allow doctors to prioritise high-risk and vulnerable patients. These digital options are fantastic and meet a number of needs, but they must be blended with face-to-face appointments. We could even see a scenario where high-risk patients and parents are prioritised for in-person appointments because it would be difficult to receive adequate treatment over the phone or online.

We were forced to change the way we deal with our healthcare needs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic last year. GP surgeries shut their doors to almost all patients, consulting remotely instead. This pushed us to seek digital support, and while we can see from search data that this was largely an enforced change, it was certainly a useful one.

Interest levels rose and fell in line with lockdown restrictions, so for many, digital services were a means to an end. However, these options offer benefits to both patients and doctors. While we’ll never see digital replace traditional healthcare and GP treatment, the blending of the two services is the way forward.

Europe’s Order-to-Cash Leader Sidetrade Acquires Major Order-to-Cash Player in North America, Amalto

Sidetrade publisher of an AI powered platform, dedicated to the management of the Order-to-Cash (O2C) cycle – has announced today conclusion of a firm acquisition agreement covering 100% of the capital and the voting rights of Amalto, one of the main players in the dematerialisation of inter-company financial transactions in North America, for an amount of $16m. With this deal, Sidetrade enriches its O2C offering, and accelerates its penetration of the North American market.

The Silk Road: A Living History

Of the journey, Wilton-Steer adds: ‘When we fly somewhere, we arrive at the destination and all aspects of life are different. By traveling over land, I hoped to understand more about the similarities between different cultures and learn more about what connects us.’

The exhibition follows well-received presentations by Wilton-Steer at the Institut Française in Antananarivo, Madagascar (2016), The Royal Geographical Society (2018) and Philanthropy House, Brussels (2019), and was conceived with the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF). Established in 1967, the Foundation works with poor and marginalised communities in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to improve the quality of life, promote pluralism, and enhance self-reliance. Together with its sister agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network, it has been active in Central Asia for nearly 30 years, and for almost a century in India and Pakistan. Working alongside governments, the AKDN has been a long-term partner in the development of Afghanistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India and, more recently, Kazakhstan.

In the last 30 years, the AKDN has invested and channelled several billion dollars into the economic, social and cultural development of Central Asia with the promotion of pluralism and women’s empowerment central to those efforts.

Some examples of AKF and AKDN’s work along the Silk Road are documented in the exhibition, such as the Vanj cross-border bridge between Afghanistan with Tajikistan. This is one of six bridges constructed by AKF to help improve connectivity between these two historically linked regions. Agreements between the respective governments allow traders to sell goods in specially designated markets on one or both sides of the bridges. Afghans can also cross these bridges to receive critical health care saving them a long and arduous journey through the mountains to the nearest Afghan hospital.

Financial Tips For Starting Your Own Business

If one positive emerges from the miserable pandemic year, we have all endured, it is that the number of people in the UK who want to start their own business – to take control of their own destiny – is on a strong upswing. And it is not just a case of people who have lost their jobs casting around for alternatives. Recent research shows that one in five adults are planning a start-up, a figure which rises to 34 per cent among 18 to 34-year-olds. Only 6 per cent said it was because they had become unemployed. So, it would appear, the entrepreneurial flame has not been dimmed by the ravages of Covid, but while the ambition to branch out on your own is admirable, it is only prudent to be aware of the pitfalls as well as the pinnacles of being your own boss.

Stress Awareness Month: 7 Steps to Managing Stress As Workplaces Reopen Post-Covid

With 73% of workers admitting they fear a return to the workplace could pose a risk to their personal health and safety, David McCormack, CEO of employee benefits and outsourced payroll provider HIVE360, shares seven practical steps for Stress Awareness Month, that will help ease workers’ worries about being back in the workplace post COVID lockdown, and ensure they feel comfortable you are providing a safe environment for them.

  1. Communicate – ensure workers know it’s ok to feel anxious about the return to the workplace after months of working from home, and encourage them to talk about their feelings so you can reassure them and take any additional action to ease their worries.
  2. Be flexible – for people anxious about a busy commute to work, be open to an early or late start / finish time for the working day. For those feeling really uncomfortable about being in the office, give them the option to continue working from home some days each week.
  3. Be safe – People are counting on their employers to help them get back to work safely. Putting health and safety and employee wellbeing at the heart of any return-to-work planwill help with employee support and reduce the stress of transitioning back to work. Be COVID aware, safe and secure; employers have statutory duties to provide a safe place of work and general legal duties of care towards anyone accessing or using the workplace. Carry out a risk assessment of the entire workplace and implement measures to minimise these risks, and create and share with all employees and visitors to the workplace a clear policy on behaviour in the workplace such as the rules on wearing facemasks, social distancing measures, hand washing and sanitizing, with the relevant equipment available to all, along with what people should do if they or someone they live with feels unwell or tests positive for COVID.
  4. Be caring – employees feel uncomfortable speaking about poor mental health, and this won’t change. With concerns about the effects of COVID-19 on society and the economy, mental health continues to be a growing problem, so demonstrate you are an employer that recognises and understands by introducing and communicating the tools, support and measures available to them to support them and address any fears they have about the return to work. Give them access to specialist medical support and information on wellbeing support.
  5. Keep in touch– the need for clear communication is more important now than ever. Make a point of checking in with your staff regularly, and ask how they are coping.
  6. Encourage work:life balance – poor work:life balance reduces productivity and can lead to stress and mental health problems. Build-in positive steps towards work:life balance to your staff mental health and wellbeing strategies; encourage staff to work sensible hours, take full lunch breaks and get outside for fresh air and exercise once a day.
  7. Tailor solutions – let your employees know you understand everyone’s personal situation is different and that you’ll do your best to accommodate it. Remind people of their worth as an employee, and the positive attributes they bring to the team. After all, people are every company’s most valuable asset.

High-Ranking Solutions

SciChart Ltd designs, develops and sells the world’s fastest, most flexible, cross-platform 2D/3D Chart components as a software development kit. Recently, we caught up with Andrew Burnett-Thompson who enlightened us about the firm, its mission and offerings.

Since inception, SciChart has been providing the only viable solutions for adding 2D/3D charting to mission-critical scientific, medical & financial applications. Going into further detail abut the solutions and its users, Andrew begins by explaining about how the firm’s customers implement SciChart’s SDKs into their work.

“At SciChart, our customers integrate our SDKs into their apps and services where they want to add high performance or feature-rich charts, graphs and data visualisations to their applications or products.”

Speed of charts and complex data-visualisations are important for mission-critical applications otherwise applications ranging from race-tuning in Formula One, to helicopter management in Aerospace & Defence to Financial analysis applications, to cutting-edge Medical-imaging solutions, to next-generation medical devices and healthcare applications, would simply not be possible.

“We make ‘Impossible Projects Possible’ with our incredibly fast & feature rich 2D/3D charting software. For example, the amount of telemetry data in IoT is huge and only growing. Asset health management is an important field: high value assets such as an oil well or mining operation need to continue to run efficiently. Visualising the data in these fields, which is often massive datasets (billions of data-points) is a technical challenge, and one that we have delivered, allowing a human operator to review the data and get an analytical impression. When there is vast amounts of data, human insight, made possible through high-performance data-visualisation is extremely valuable and relevant.”

The firm’s founding mission is to create the world’s fastest 2D & 3D charting and data-visualisation components, to enable a next-generation of scientific, medical and financial applications.

“Our desire is to become the defacto engine for charting and data-visualisation in scientific/construction/medical/financial & engineering industries in the same way that Unity is for gaming, or Tableau is for business.”

SciChart is currently used by customers in more than 80 countries and across sectors (cross-vertical). One of its unique selling points is performance and it is this which sets it apart from competitors within the industry. The other is that it treats the customer as number one and aims to provide the best software and user experience.

“We have cutting-edge graphics technology similar to game-engine technology which we have built in-house using cross-platform languages and applied to business data-visualisation software,” Andrew states. “This enables us to create faster, more rich and visually appealing charts, graphs and data-visualisations than our competitors.

“Our software is rated number one by users for speed (performance), with several orders of magnitude faster performance than competitors and allowing billions of data-points to be plotted in applications.

“We are rated number one for flexibility, features, ease-of-use and we have a 5* rating for technical support and a 98% approval rating from reviewers as a business. We enable our customers to white-label our charting software in their applications which then become their products.”

Internal culture at SciChart is of utmost importance and the firm has a culture of excellence, as Andrew is keen to highlight.

“Ultimately, our staff create our products, so they play a very important role in the success of our firm. We are a fully-remote company, with staff around Europe and working online and together to achieve our goals. We treat our staff with respect, and have a flexible approach to working in working hours, days and holidays.

“Typically, we go through trusted agencies or partners to recruit. We look for software developers with extensive experience in cross-platform graphics (or a desire to learn), and staff who are committed to long-term work to create products which are rated as the best.”

Overall, SciChart is a fully bootstrapped start-up with no investment, debt or shareholder loans. The company has been grown organically and has been profitable with growth in revenue each and every year since inception.

“The major challenge for us has been to overcome competitors and grow when we did not have the financial resources of some of our competitors. In order to do this, we had to be extremely creative and go the extra mile in our work, delivering excellence not only in software, but also efficiency.

“With regards to the future, we plan to expand our product offerings and have plans for aggressive growth in 2021 and beyond.”

For further information, please contact Andrew Burnett-Thompson at www.scichart.com

Small Businesses Profit From Online Shopper’s Support

  • 6 in 10 would consider paying more than usual for a product to support a small business
  • 81% have become more inclined to purchase from small businesses in the past year
  • 63% admit that they make most purchases between the 1st and 5th days of the month
  • 55% say that sponsored posts encourage them to make purchases

The face of online shopping has changed drastically in the past year, and so have our spending habits. Working from home, an influencer influx, and increased savings are just of few of the factors that have altered our shopping preferences – but what impact has this really had?

Interested in this, Uswitch.com conducted a survey among 4,380 frequent online shoppers to discover the reality of online shopping in 2021.

Small business appreciation

After asking about the publics approach towards small businesses, Uswitch found that 45% have become ‘very likely’ to shop from small businesses within the past year – a further 36% have become ‘likely’ and 10% are ‘neither more likely nor unlikely’.

It was also reported that almost 7 in 10 (68%) actively go out of their way to shop from smaller businesses.

Interestingly, the respondents were also asked whether they would pay more than usual for a product in support of a small business and 61% said yes! Additionally, 54% admit to favoring smaller over bigger businesses.

Online spending habits

Uswitch asked shoppers if they often regret their spending habits by the end of the month and almost 4 in 5 (79%) said yes. Following on from this, most shoppers (63%) make the majority of their purchases between the 1st and 5th days of the month, with the 11th to the 15th being the second most common (17%).

Participants report that lockdown has increased their online spending; 36% said it has increased their spending ‘a great deal’, 28% said ‘a lot’, 18% said ‘a little’ and 9% said that lockdown has not increased their spending at all.

Of those who state lockdown has increased their monthly spending, it was found that the average Brit has spent £169 more than usual each month. With unplanned impulse buys costing £102 per month, on average.

Unsurprisingly, most people prefer to make purchases online rather than going in store (64%).

The impact of online trends

Uswitch discovered that 61% of people base their purchases on current trends, with TikTok providing the most inspiration. After asking respondents which platform is their go-to for finding shopping trends, 41% said TikTok is their first port of call. Instagram places second (27%), followed by Pinterest (18%).

It seems that TikTokers also take the lead for innovation, as 37% take inspiration from TikTok influencers with just 25% preferring Instagram’s influencers. Interestingly, only 11% use their friends to find new shopping trends and just 6% choose musicians.

Alongside social media influencers come #ads and sponsored posts. They’re often hard to miss and sometimes muster complaints from followers, but they do seem to work as 55% admit that sponsored posts encourage them to make a purchase.

Followers are frequently bombarded with images of luxuries that are out of their budget; Uswitch found that sports cars, jewellery, holidays, a yacht and designer handbags are the five items people would buy if money were no obstacle.