Things to Consider When Buying a Luxury Car

If you’re looking to invest your hard-earned cash in a luxury car, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will cover some of the things you should consider before you buy, from getting the best deal to choosing the car itself. Here are the things to consider when buying a luxury car.

 

Check the vehicle’s residual value rating

When you lease a car, it will have a residual value rating. This is how much the lender thinks the car will be worth at the end of the lease period. This is a good indicator of how much a car will be worth in a few year’s time. If you’re looking for a luxury car as an investment, this is a useful way of finding out how much money you will lose or gain in the first couple of years.

 

Check the warranty 

When you buy anything expensive, it will normally come with a warranty. For a luxury car, this will protect the vehicle against any unexpected issues. Before you buy, you should study the warranty and make sure you fully understand it. Not only will this allow you to make a more informed purchasing decision, but it will also mean that you know if you’re covered if something goes wrong.

 

See if a manufacturer offers a free maintenance package

Some luxury car manufacturers offer a free maintenance package when you buy. This might include free routine checkups for the first few years. You should ask the dealership about this and see what they can offer. You never know; you might get something extra thrown in for free.

 

Check the prices of used luxury vehicles

Chances are if you’re buying a luxury vehicle, you aren’t short of cash. However, you should still consider buying a used luxury car. You can often find huge discounts on luxury cars that are only a couple of months or years old. If you don’t need the thrill of driving the car out of the showroom, you might be to save yourself thousands. Plus, if you find a used luxury car on the other side of the country, you can use Guardian Auto Transport to ship it directly to your door.

 

Visit some showrooms and test drive

Don’t rush into buying the first luxury car you see. You should test-drive a few cars before making your decision. When you’re spending a lot of money on a car, you have a huge amount of choice. Test-driving cars will give you an idea of the way a car drives, how comfortable the interior is, and the performance. You might find that the smaller engine model has plenty of power for you.

 

Think about practicality 

Most luxury cars aren’t designed for practicality. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider it. If you’re planning to take the kids to school in the car, you need to make sure it has enough space. Also, consider whether the fuel economy is something that you’re willing to live with long term. Luxury cars with large engines often consume more fuel than standard cars, so you will end up spending more on fuel. It’s important to think about how you will live with the car on a day-to-day basis and how you will store your luxury car at home.

Start Up Loans Set to Unlock the Potential of Young Entrepreneurs Following the Pandemic

Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, today sets out its commitment to unlock the talent of thousands more people across the UK by helping them to start their own business. The disruptive impact of Coronavirus on the UK’s economy and traditional working patterns has catalysed many to reconsider their careers, whether because of additional time to reflect during lockdown, furlough or a change in employment status.

LUXlife Magazine Announces the Winners of the 2021 Global Wedding Awards

United Kingdom, 2021 – LUXlife Magazine announces the winners of the 2021 Global Weddings Awards.

There are few industries that demand excellence in the way that the wedding industry does. Expectations are high, plans are in place, idyllic setting set. All that is left is for the dominoes to fall in place. Those that operate in the wedding industry must then hold themselves to the highest of standards, aware that client centricity and perfectionism are often the cornerstone to success.

Naturally then, it takes a special company or individual to distinguish themselves from their exemplary peers. The Global Wedding Awards was launched to recognise the extraordinary work of companies all over the world who shine brightest, exceed sky-high expectations and set standards.

Awards Coordinator Holly Morris took a moment to comment on the success of the winners: “Currently, the wedding industry is facing an unprecedented challenge, though it is one that I know we can power through and emerge stronger on the other side. The wedding industry has long been a difficult one to excel in, and all of our winners are made of outstanding stuff.  I am proud of each and every one of my winners and I hope to hear more about your success in the years to come.”

To find out more about these prestigious awards, and the dedicated establishments that have been selected for them, please visit http://www.lux-review.com/ where you can view our winners supplement and full winners list.

ENDS

Notes to editors.

About LUXlife

LUXlife Magazine is a premium lifestyle publication which was founded in 2015 by the publishing company AI Global Media Ltd. Distributed to a circulation of 238,000 globally, LUXlife focuses on a range of topics within the luxury lifestyle industry, featuring articles on; fashion, beauty, fine dining, travel, luxury real estate and much more. Within our pages you’ll find everything from product news and reviews, to in-depth pieces on trends, features and comment; all designed to inform, entertain and inspire.

Key Benefits of Using a Natural Mouthwash

Adding mouthwash to your daily hygiene routine can effectively prevent gingivitis and reduce the spread of gum disease, but only if it’s based on a natural formula. Mouthwashes that contain alcohol or synthetic dyes can be dangerous for our health if used constantly. To achieve optimal oral health and hygiene, pass up commercial brands in favor of natural mouthwashes.

Commercial vs. Natural Mouthwash

The American Dental Association separates mouthwashes into two categories: cosmetic and therapeutic. Commercial and natural mouthwashes could fall into either category, as some brands will use the term “natural” to get away with using certain ingredients. Anything made by nature is “natural,” so harmful substances like cyanide would fit into this category.

The best natural mouthwashes, according to lab tests, contain ingredients that make the product taste and feel good to use and can reduce harmful bacteria without targeting good bacteria. Natural mouthwashes that benefit your oral health are free of harsh ingredients.

Read Ingredients Before Purchasing a Natural Mouthwash

Commercial brands are often bad for your oral hygiene, but without proper inspection, you could pay more for a product similar to Listerine even though they’re labeled as “natural.” Mineral fluorspar is found in several natural mouthwashes, which is just another word for fluoride.

To ensure your mouthwash is truly natural, read the labels carefully to fully understand what ingredients it contains. All active ingredients should be naturally derived, safe, and effective.

Top 7 Reasons to Use a Natural Mouthwash

1. Mystery Ingredients Are Removed

Commercial brands will fill their ingredients list with Latin-derived medical terms that the average person can’t decipher. Natural formulas don’t need to hide. Mouthwashes that are truly “natural” will state their ingredients clearly or elaborate on scientific terms.

2. Ingredient List is All-Natural and Beneficial 

Ordinary unnatural mouthwashes, like Listerine and Scope, contain ingredients that aren’t capable of preventing gum disease or cause further problems. For example, alcohol-based formulas can lead to a persistent dry mouth which leads to bad breath (halitosis). However, natural mouth rinses contain time-tested ingredients with known medical benefits.

3. Sensitive Gums and Teeth Prefer Natural Formulas

One of the reasons people use alcohol-based mouthwashes is due to the “bite” sensation that makes the mouth feel clean. That “bite” can cause discomfort for people with sensitive mouths. Natural mouthwashes can help soothe sensitive oral tissue and offer better hydration.

4. “Biteless” Mouthwashes Feel Incredible

The burning sensation in commercial mouthwashes will eventually fade with prolonged use. If alcohol is used as an antiseptic in the long term, the bacteria in our mouths will develop a resistance that will make it necessary for users to try another product. An alcohol-free alternative is equally as effective at eradicating germs, even without the burn.

5. No Harsh Additives in Sight

Sodium lauryl sulfate and triclosan, two common ingredients used to kill bacteria, can compromise immune function when consumed. In addition, synthetic ingredients can produce side effects that could worsen oral health, especially in patients with type 2 diabetes. 

6. Natural Mouthwash is Child-Safe

As long as the natural mouthwash contains all-natural ingredients, children should be able to use mouthwash without the supervision of a parent. When consumed, chlorhexidine gluconate, hydrogen peroxide (bleaching agent), alcohol, and methyl salicylate (pain reliever) could be fatal. Since most natural formulas don’t contain these ingredients, they are generally child-safe.

7. Keeps the Body Healthy

Mouthwash can be used in tandem with a brushing and flossing regimen to promote healthy oral health and prevent infections. Untreated gingivitis can make its way into the heart and infect the heart valves. To reduce your risk, use a dentist-approved natural mouthwash.

With over 700 different microbes living in your mouth, you must find a mouthwash that doesn’t target the good microbes that fight gum disease. S. mutans, for example, can turn sugars into acids and lead to tooth decay, and it’s difficult to remove these microbes through brushing alone. Natural mouthwashes can prevent harmful bacteria from re-populating.

The Hopeful CIO: A Study from Lemongrass Finds that Enterprise IT Leaders Are Aggressively Moving Their Legacy Business Systems to the Cloud Despite Various Challenges

Cost, People and Process Concerns Exist, But the Benefits of Moving to the Cloud, Such as Easier and More Secure Data Access, Are Too Good for Most Enterprises to Pass Up

 

Lemongrass, the leader in helping enterprises migrate and run their SAP systems on Amazon Web Services (AWS), has completed a study on the goals and challenges of enterprise IT leaders who have moved legacy systems onto cloud infrastructure.

A key takeaway from the survey, which was completed in January by 150+ IT Directors or above in companies with IT budgets of at least $1 million annually, is that enterprises are anxious to achieve the many business, technical and financial benefits of moving legacy systems to the cloud. However, the road to migrating and running legacy systems on cloud infrastructure can be rough for companies that fail to plan ahead.

According to a 2019 report from ResearchAndMarket.com, the global application transformation market is expected to grow from $9.7 billion in 2019 to $16.8 billion by 2024. Per the report, the market is being driven by the need companies have for “a robust and agile environment to increase scalability and efficiency in the existing business landscape, (the) high maintenance cost of existing legacy applications and leveraging emerging technologies and increasing efficiencies of existing applications.”

The ResearchAndMarkets.com report aligns with the findings of Lemongrass’s study. Following are the primary themes and data points of the Lemongrass 2021 Legacy-to-Cloud survey:

Data Access, Security & Cost Savings Motivate Cloud Migrations

A combined 77% of IT leaders responding to Lemongrass’s survey said their primary motivation for migrating legacy systems to cloud infrastructure was either a desire to secure data, maintain data access or save money. Optimizing storage resources and accelerating digital transformation were other top reasons given. Meanwhile, 78% of respondents said that IT management systems were the most likely legacy applications to move to the cloud, while 46% said security and 39% said ecommerce.

Security, People, Process & Cost Complicate Cloud Migrations

Considering the importance of data security, it’s no surprise that security and compliance were listed by 59% of IT leaders as the top challenge facing enterprises when moving legacy systems to the cloud. Meanwhile, 43% of respondents said migrations took too long, 38% said costs were too high, and 33% said a lack of in-house skills was the top complicating factor.

Regarding cost, 69% of respondents said the typical legacy-t0-cloud migration cost between $100,000 and $250,000, and 57% of respondents said that somewhat or very rarely do these projects come in under budget. In terms of job skills, database integration experience was cited by 21% of respondents as the top skill required for performing legacy migrations, followed by experience with the chosen cloud platform (15%), previous migration experience (12%) and testing validation (also 12%). 68% of respondents said it was very or somewhat hard to find people with these skills, and 40% said migrations took at least seven months to complete.

Employee Training & Data Security Are the Top Operating Challenges Facing Enterprises Once Legacy Systems Have Been Migrated to Cloud Infrastructure

42% of survey respondents said that difficulty training end users was the top challenge to using legacy systems now running on cloud infrastructure. 40% said the top challenge was that security concerns had not been adequately addressed, 34% said the cloud platforms they had chosen did not work as expected, and another 34% said the top challenge to running legacy systems in the cloud was a lack of in-house skills. Meanwhile 50% said the top skill was database management, and 48% said programming. 71% of respondents said it was hard or somewhat hard to find these people.

Lessons Learned: Migrating & Running Legacy Systems in Cloud

The top three lessons learned when migrating legacy systems to the cloud were 1) allow for sufficient time (54%); 2) dedicate sufficient financial and people resources (52%); and 3) ensure you have the correct people/skills in-house (52%). The top three lessons learned when running legacy systems on cloud infrastructure were 1) allow for sufficient time to manage the application (53%); 2) ensure you have the correct people/skills in-house (52%); and 3) ensure you achieve the outlined business goals (46%).

“The survey findings are very consistent with feedback we receive from our customers,” said Vince Lubsey, CTO at Lemongrass. “Enterprises are anxious to reap the benefits of moving legacy systems to the cloud. They understand there are challenges but the benefits far outweigh the obstacles. The key to success is following best practices, proper training and time management. It also helps to have the guidance of an experienced partner to create the required cloud operating model.”

Additional survey background: The Lemongrass study was performed by Upwave. Of the 150+ IT leaders who responded to the Lemongrass survey, 92% are based in the United States and 68% are from companies with at least $100 million in annual sales. Respondents were spread across major industries, with the majority (43%) working for Technology companies. The complete Lemongrass 2021 Legacy-to-Cloud survey results are here.

Can West Africa Lead the Way in Creating a More Sustainable Textiles Industry

– Textile and fashion is the world’s second-largest industrial polluter, behind oil and gas

– Concerted efforts are being made to create more sustainable business models

– Two solar-powered, sustainable textile plants under construction in Togo and Benin

– Increased cotton processing could mean value-added textile earnings stay in West Africa

With textiles and fashion expected to constitute an important post-Covid-19 growth driver for West Africa, stakeholders and key players in the industry are exploring ways to implement sustainable practices and make the sector more environmentally friendly.

While one might not instinctively include it among the world’s heaviest polluters, the textile and fashion industry is a key contributor to climate change, accounting for around 10% of global carbon emissions.

Indeed, with pre-pandemic annual emissions of 1.2bn tonnes, the industry is the second-largest industrial polluter behind the oil and gas industry, surpassing emissions from all international flights and maritime shipping put together.

A major factor behind the industry’s carbon footprint is the water needed for cotton production. For example, it can take an estimated 20,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of cotton, or one t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

In addition, with up to 8000 chemicals used to turn raw materials into clothes, the World Bank estimates that 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from dyeing and finishing fabrics.

Another major factor behind the environmental footprint of the industry is the sheer mass of clothes produced to meet the needs of modern “fast fashion”. An estimated $500bn in value is lost every year from clothes that are worn for a short period of time and not recycled, with much of it ending up incinerated or in landfill.

Pushing for environmental sustainability

To combat the environmental impact of the textiles and fashion industry, a number of industry players are turning towards more sustainable means of operation.

For example, Jendaya, a UK-based, Africa-focused online fashion retailer avoids plastic and ships goods in recyclable cardboard packaging.

The company is also one of a growing number supportinggin cott designers who produce clothes in smaller capacities on a made-to-order basis, reducing waste and the amount of clothing that is consigned to landfill.

Other examples of African companies promoting local production using natural materials under made-to-order models include Nehanda & Co in Zimbabwe, Naked Ape in South Africa, Nkwo in Nigeria and Awa Meité in Mali.

There are also efforts to support this approach on an institutional level. Fashionomics Africa, an initiative developed by the African Development Bank, aims to develop a sustainable textile value chain and help create business models that will keep garments in use, make use of renewable materials and recycle old clothes into new products.

Another company driving sustainable solutions across the entire value chain in West Africa’s textiles industry is the India-headquartered Arise.

On top of existing industrial projects in Gabon, Mauritania and Côte d’Ivoire, the company is in the process of constructing two textiles parks in Togo and Benin. The sites, which source raw materials, gin cotton, and process and manufacture final products, will emphasise environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors across all aspects of the operation.

For example, some of the sustainability credentials of the textile park in Togo include processing 100% sustainably sourced cotton, under Cotton Made in Africa standards, and using 100% renewable electricity, offsetting 20 tonnes of carbon emissions per day. The site will also reuse 90-95% of the water used during processing and comply with independent international certifications when it comes to dyeing and finishing fabrics.

“The private sector needs to implement socially conscientious governance models across the textile value chain, enfranchising local communities through fair and equitable labour practices while also managing ecological resources sustainably,” Bhavin Vyas, chief ESG officer at Arise, told OBG.

Economic benefits

The benefits of such an approach are not just environmental. Increasing textile production on the continent will also provide an economic boon to the region as countries continue their recoveries from Covid-19.

Indeed, in April the African Circular Economy Alliance, a government-led coalition that promotes environmentally and socially sustainable solutions for economic development, identified the textiles and fashion industry as one of the “Five Big Bets” – alongside food systems, the built environment, electronics and packaging – that could drive the continent’s sustainable development in the future.

The issue is particularly pertinent to West Africa. Around three-quarters of the continent’s cotton is produced in the region; however, most of this is shipped to South and East Asia for processing, meaning that West African countries miss out on much of the value-added economic benefits traditionally associated with the textile industry.

Every year leading West African cotton-producing nations Benin, Burkina-Faso and Mali export 1.8m tonnes of unprocessed cotton worth $922m, but then import $2.4bn in finished cotton textiles and apparels.

In an effort to address the situation, Arise’s textile park in Togo aims to convert 56,000 tonnes of cotton fibres valued at $73m into apparel worth $1.5bn. The company says the construction and running of the site will create 20,000 direct and 80,000 indirect jobs, ensuring that much of the profit will filter into local communities.

Meanwhile, in Benin, where the cotton industry accounts for 12% of GDP and 60% of industrial earnings, the government is playing an active role in promoting domestic production, implementing a ban on 30% of cotton lint exports by the end of 2021, with this figure rising to 70% by 2022 and 100% by 2023.

Drive to Your Wedding in Style – Hiring Wedding Cars in 2021

Couples work so hard to get their wedding day perfect, there is a lot to remember when you’re wedding planning, outfits, venues, dates and much more. However, couples often underestimate and forget about how they are going to get to the wedding venue. They are so fixed on everything running so smoothly that they sometimes forget the form of transport they’re going to travel in. A detailed well thought out wedding plan will include the perfect prestigious wedding car for the couple to travel to and from the wedding in style.

The wedding car will be used to take the bride from their home to the place of worship, and then by the newly wedded couple to the wedding reception, planning your wedding car shouldn’t be too low down on your wedding planning list. Alongside, the travel aspect of the car, it can also be used for those beautiful wedding photos with your family and friends. You will look back on the day and be pleased that you hired a luxury wedding car. In 10 years, when you are looking back at your wedding photographs, you will most definitely remember the prestigious car you travelled in, it will live long in the memory.

Another advantage of hiring a wedding car is that it’s a safe and reliable form of travel to go to and from the wedding venue. Many reputable wedding car hire companies service and maintain their fleet of luxury cars to ensure that you travel with no stress and enjoy the special day.  It’s also important to take into consideration the wedding car when you’re budgeting for your wedding. The last thing you want is for you to drive yourself to the ceremony, you want the day to be effortless.

Many modern-day weddings have a theme that brings consistency to your special day, from the initial wedding invitation that you create to the food that is served at the wedding reception. When thinking of a theme for your wedding day, you should think about how the wedding car fits in with the overall theme of your wedding. For example, if you want a classy, elegant wedding you may want to look at Rolls Royce wedding cars. They ooze class and would be a perfect form of travel on your big day. The wedding cars regularly come with ribbons, flowers and a red carpet leading towards the venue. These can all be customisable and many wedding car hire companies offer wedding car hire packages that help you decide which added extras you want to make the day that little extra special.

Nobody likes the stressful build-up to their wedding day, overthinking about what you haven’t booked yet or even missing something off the wedding plan. Therefore, we recommend that you book your wedding car three to four months before the big day. If you leave it too late, you may not get your dream car and then you will have to choose your second choice, your wedding should be perfect. Another thing to think about is before finalising the booking of the fleet of cars, ensure that you ask about the condition of the cars, while also asking about insurance etc. You could also ask to visit to see the vehicles to see the quality for yourself. When hiring anything, there are always terms and conditions and these terms differ between companies. Therefore, you should have a read of the T & C’s before booking the fleet. Also remember to double-check the time, date and chauffeur details with the wedding car hire company.

The last thing you want on your wedding day is for you to be rushing around and delays to occur, when you hire a wedding car with a professional chauffeur, one thing that they guarantee is punctuality. They will make the relevant timings to pick you up from your home and then getting you to the wedding ceremony in good time.

While it’s important that the bride and groom travel in style to and from the wedding ceremony, you can also get your close friends and family to follow suit and travel in a luxury car. The wedding car hire company will have a fleet of prestigious cars so you could potentially book multiple cars for your big day.

The Ever-Shifting Relationship Between Tech & Business Practices

Business and technology go hand in hand nowadays. From large international enterprises to small local businesses, technology has infiltrated just about every aspect of the business world. As consumers become more reliant on their devices to carry out their day-to-day tasks and we become even more connected, the relationship between business and technology will continue to evolve.

Technology has completely transformed the business world in recent years ago. It’s not that long ago that social media was free of advertising, employees punched cards to clock in and consumers were still nervous about buying online. The incredible growth of technology in the last decade or so has allowed many businesses to operate more efficiently than ever before, improve the customer experience, manage their staff with greater ease and offer a new and exciting customer experience.

Let’s take a look at how the technology has impacted business practices and will continue to reshape the business landscape.

 

Staff Management

Modern technology has had a huge impact on staff management procedures. While in the past, employee records would be kept in paper files, stored in rooms crowded with filing cabinets, nowadays specific staff management and scheduling software are used to keep track of employees. Try a free time clock app to see how effective these solutions can be for streamlining your staff management processes.

 

Operational Costs

In years gone by, establishing a company was an expensive venture that required you to lease a commercial space, fit out the space, hire staff and buy all the equipment you needed to operate before you ever thought bout advertising, suppliers or any other business costs. With the advent of e-commerce, many business owners have been able to eliminate virtually all of these costs.

For those companies still operating with heavy overheads, technology and business software can help to automate many tasks that otherwise would need to be handled by additional in-house staff or an expensive third-party provider. Tasks such as payroll, accounting, social media management, logistics and even customer communications can all be automated using technology to streamline your business processes.

 

Information Security

As mentioned above, employee records, along with financial, client, and operational records were typically stored in filing cabinet filled back rooms in offices around the world. While a locked door would keep prying eyes out, it didn’t help if there was a flood, fire or natural disaster that could destroy all of your business records in an instant. With cloud-based storage, business owners can now ensure that their important business records are always kept safe and secure. Using this technology business owners can also access important data from anywhere in the world, 24/7 instead of having to physically visit the business premises.

 

Better Communications

Effective communication has been at the core of successful businesses since the dawn of the capitalist world. While phone, fax and mail were the chosen mediums in the past, they were certainly with limitations. Nowadays, live video conferencing with clients on the other side of the world is possible with the swipe of a finger. You can transfer documents to clients in a few seconds and you can track every aspect of the supply chain with meticulous detail from one end to the next. Technology has connected the world in a way that many people never imagined possible and that influence has been embraced in the business world.

 

As Technology Continues To Evolve So Too Will The Business Landscape

Technology has already changed so much about how we do business. As technology continues to evolve over the coming years, we can expect tech to have even more of an impact on how businesses operate from day-to-day, as well as influencing consumer behaviours and buying trends. Where it will end, who knows, but where the direction tech and business are headed together is definitely exciting.

How to Navigate Being the Outsider When Employees Reunite

HR Manager Claire Hobbs at Soaphub

If you were hired just before, or over lockdown, you may have never actually met your new colleagues face 2 face – so, post June 21st, how do you slot into a workplace where you are neither new nor old?

Starting work during lockdown was a mixed bag. On the one hand you got to work from home, never had to worry about the daily commute and your lunch was never once mistaken for someone else’s. For many, it was the perfect way to ease into a new position without the problem of being overwhelmed by all the names to remember, or office politics to wade through. Now, with restrictions lifting, many of us are currently finding ourselves in an odd position – we are returning to a work place we do not know, with a group of people we have worked with professionally for months but never have met face to face.

Entering a new workplace can be daunting at times, but most offices are welcoming and understanding to ‘the new person’ – but if you are arriving to your new office, even though it is your first day, you might not be afforded the luxury of help from others as you are being as part of the woodwork already. Here, HR Manager Claire Hobbs at Soaphub explains how being the new to a team should not leave you frozen in your tracks, as well as providing tips for a post-lockdown world full of uninviting cliques and office confusion.

“It’s not a shock to hear that on re-entering the old, familiar world, we’re also entering a new unknown. As a society of workers, very few of us have been in a position of starting a job while everyone is working from home. No one wants to be the outsider in a workplace, and it’s vital that you feel comfortable in a place you spend so much time in, with people who you’ll be sharing responsibilities and tasks with.”

“Most people from the age of 25 to retirement work a total of 70,000 hours over the course of their work life, so making sure you enter a new work environment and settle in is vital to your well-being and mental health. And it’s not just your well-being that’s at stake, as fitting in is part of being able to efficiently show that you’re a reliable and well-rounded part of the team”.

Pay attention.

One thing that’s impossible to judge, no matter how good of a worker you’ve been over lockdown, is how the office culture works at your new company. Everyone knows how important it is to work out what isn’t and is acceptable at work, from how serious people take themselves, to dress code etiquette on a Friday. Every office, no matter how professional, has a set of unwritten rules that can only be gauged from being there day in, day out.

On starting, pay attention to the dynamic of the office, and try to forget everything you thought you knew about the place while working from home. Slowly but surely, things will begin to return to their normal office culture, so try not to be caught out doing something that you assumed was tolerable because everyone was doing it a month ago from home. Sit back and watch how things work for the first few weeks.

Find an Ally

If over the past year you’ve had to deal with constant video calls and daily e-mail back and forth conversations you’ve probably established a bond with at one person from your work, or at the very least encountered a personality that you think you’ll gel with.

Establishing an ally at work is vital to finding your feet over the first few weeks. You don’t have to go running to every new person you meet with arms wide-open, so it’s important to start a very basic bond with someone you can share a few minutes during a break with. Overtime, this person will help you settle into your company, while making you more visible to others which is perfect for places where they assume you’ve already settled in.

No matter how well you think you know people – avoid the politics

It sounds like an obvious point to make – stay in your lane and keep out of office politics – but after the stress and uncertainty of lockdown home working many people will return to the workplace all guns blazing in an attempt at radical change. If you’ve started during lockdown and want to stamp your identity on the new office as soon as possible, you may try and get involved in every single issue that comes up but try and reframe yourself and stay out of drama that isn’t yours. It can start off as something small, such as a new co-worker making a playful joke at someone else’s work over lockdown and looking to you for confirmation, but soon you’ll be embroiled in a “well so-and-so agreed with me” argument.

For the first few weeks back in the office you shouldn’t be taking a stance on things that don’t involve your position – just state that you don’t have enough context to make a judgement yet.

Have you been trained?

It can feel embarrassing to ask for training if you’ve been working for a company for some time, but these are exceptional circumstances, and it’s completely understandable to feel lost. Many people who have been working from home have been given no hands-on training and have been set tasks that maybe now won’t translate to office life.

Don’t hold back if you feel you’re out of your depth with new roles and ask how things work now you’re back in the office. No one is going to think you’re not capable of doing your job, and for the first few months there will be a settling in period for everyone returning – even the most experience staff members will need time to readjust.

… but there’s no rush

Even if you feel uncertain of your new position or role in the workplace, give yourself time to adjust before switching to panic mode. Try not to freak out after the first week if no one has suggested training at some point, because everyone is finding their feet again, not just you.

Most offices have been empty for nearly a year now, so the training of staff (who management are currently more than happy with) may take a backseat to everyday tasks like rearranging the space for new staff members. If you really feel lost, you can schedule an hour to sit down and go over questions you have, as opposed to asking flat out for help.

Ask how you’re doing

Chances are, as you’ve been working from home mainly on your own, you’ve had very little opportunity to ‘touch base’ with your boss on a regular basis. In some regards that may be a blessing in disguise, but you also may feel like you’re coasting by without any real feedback to guide you. You should never feel weird for wanting to know how you’re doing, and you should definitely check in with your boss after the first month of settling in, if they haven’t already.

From experience, bosses love an employee who wants to improve, not waste time devoting themselves to meaningless tasks, and seeks guidance in what to focus on. By doing this, you’ll get a better sense of what your role demands, as well as what your boss expects from you.

It’s also useful to get feedback on your role so far, as moving into the office can be a new beginning, and a way of removing some unwanted traits that you may be picked up from working at home.

Holiday Issue 2021

Welcome to the 2021 Holiday Issue of LUXlife Magazine.

After a long winter of lockdowns, the promise of a summer of travel and freedom is a welcome prospect for all. The chance to explore the world and revel in its many entertaining and life affirming experiences is finally within reach, and the sense of excitement is palpable. As such, in this edition of LUXlife magazine, we introduce you to some of the best luxury experiences that the world has to offer, from boutique hotels to explorations of animal conservation projects, French chateaux to beach-side bungalows.

Yet despite the summer holiday season drawing in, the award-winning companies featured in this issue continue to work hard to deliver the highest quality of services and products for their clients. From chauffeurs to architects to high-fashion designers, the companies within are dedicated to ensuring that their clients have all they need to enjoy a fantastic summer, whether relaxing at home or setting off across the globe in search of new adventures.

Client-centricity is also one of the core principle’s of this issue’s featured company, GFK Conseils-Juridis, a leading French legal services firm that specialises in superior solutions within legal, fiscal, and managerial domains. We find out more about GFK and its world-renowned CEO, Romain Gerardin-Fresses.

So, join us as we explore world-class luxury companies as they ready themselves for a promising summer ahead. Until the next issue of LUXlife, we wish you all the best for the month ahead.

Could Technology Be Good for Our Mental Health?

Brendan Street, Professional Head of Emotional Wellbeing, Nuffield Health

While some forms of technology may have made positive changes in the world of work, there is evidence for the negative effects of technology and its overuse, as well.

Smartphones and tablets mean emails can be accessed at the swipe of a screen, especially if employees use their personal devices for work. They even appear on our wrist. It can feel impossible to escape constant notifications and individuals may feel ‘always on call’ and struggle to switch off from work, long after the day has ended.

Concerns surrounding technology overuse, have also been exacerbated by the global pandemic resulting in issues like ‘Doomscrolling’ and ‘Zoom fatigue’.

Technologies can have a physical impact on the body too. Promoting a “down and forward” posture, meaning the person is constantly hunched forward and looking down at the screen. This can put an unnecessary amount of pressure on the neck and spine and may lead to musculoskeletal issues. Prolonged staring at screens can also put a strain on our eyes.

On the surface, blanket policies, which limit technology, might seem like a sensible approach. But the rise in remote working means it is now almost the ‘new norm’ for employees to work non-traditional, more flexible, hours.

The University of Sussex launched a report suggesting banning out-of-hours emails, and the resultant perceived reduction of autonomy and flexibility, ‘could harm employee wellbeing.’

It’s true, technology overuse can have an overwhelming impact on the brain and body. However, businesses can introduce policies, which help to balance the benefits and risks of technology. Technology can improve work/life balance and provide accessible emotional support.

Get appy

Technology – like apps based on smartphones and computers – can complement corporate wellbeing programmes positively, making investments more cost-effective and beneficial to both employers and employees.

Businesses are developing in-house technology to better monitor and support employee physical and mental health. Nuffield Health launched a new online digital platform PATH (personalised assessment for tailored health), which uses historic and real-time health data to understand the physical and mental wellbeing needs of employees.

In-house digital platforms help businesses provide a more tailored benefit to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. Many use several evidence-based mathematical algorithms to determine a person’s risk factors and generate a completely tailored assessment for them. The data collected can be used to drive an organisation’s future wellbeing strategy, increasing the success rate and return on investment.

Technology is making the process of seeing a GP faster and simpler, without employees having to join lengthy waiting lists and take time out of the office. For example, virtual GP services are designed for the way we live and work today, allowing employees to get advice and treatment they need via secure online video or phone consultations anywhere and anytime.

Outside of the professional workplace, there’s been a growth in downloads of mindfulness and meditation apps. Encouraging employees to use subscription-based services in their free time like Calm and Headspace can be beneficial, so they can learn to nurture better self-care outside of work.

These apps offer digital escape through guided relaxation and stress-reducing exercises. During the first lockdown in March 2020, downloads of these apps hit 750,000, marking a 25–29 percent increase since the start of that year.

Talking to tech in crisis

For many people, the notion of sharing a vulnerability or admitting a problem, is a barrier in itself. However, some research suggests counselling conducted online is as effective than face-to-face sessions. During 2020 Nuffield Health therapists delivered 3.7 million minutes of therapy remotely.

For those employers without wellbeing services now is the time to review what technological tools are available that will make a difference to your workforce. There are plenty of wellness options that can be offered to staff, which are successful both in-person and remotely.

For example, in addition to smartphone apps that promote mental wellness, certain platforms are available that allow patients to complete courses of cognitive behavioral therapy. It can also be delivered safely and effectively by phone, video or email for flexibility and privacy.

Other types of therapy, which are also safe, effective, and accessible remotely, include counselling (e.g., relationship, bereavement), interpersonal therapy, and access to psychiatric assessments.

More accurate data collection

Many assessment methods in mental-health care and research rely on self-reporting, but the resulting data are subjective and burdensome to collect. 

However, mobile phones and other Internet-connected devices provide an opportunity to continuously collect objective information on behaviour, generating a rich data set, which provides insight into the mental-health needs of individuals within the workforce. This data collection becomes the ‘pulse’ of the organization informing wellbeing strategies.

Insights can be used to alert people to the need for self-management before potential issues — and the associated symptoms — become more severe. Individuals can also choose to share these data with health professionals or researchers.

Digital communities

Research shows communicative technologies can be effective intervention tools for loneliness. During the recent period of physical distancing, maintaining contact with friends, loved ones and work colleagues via technology was often the only option.

Research supports the idea communicative technologies and digital services can be effective intervention tools in these circumstances.

meta-analysis which examined loneliness interventions for older adults in Poland and Italy discovered interventions involving technology were some of the most successful ways to decrease loneliness during the pandemic.

What actions should UK workplaces take?

While the future of what a post-pandemic workplace will look like is not certain, it does seem like a ‘hybrid work environment’ – a mix between remote and in-office working – is here to stay.

Support should be tailored for individual staff members if businesses are to provide facilities or the expectation that staff may be required to work additional hours or from home. The “one size fits all”, lap-top and go, concept isn’t supported by research

So, instead of placing limits on technology, businesses should personalise their wellness offerings to the needs of individuals. This means working out what suits your workforce, identifying staff at higher risk of stress or distress and coordinating the right emotional support.

Emotional wellbeing support can be seamlessly adapted to meet the needs of remote workers and it’s up to employers to signpost them.

This may include providing access to Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), which provide direct telephone access to a mental health specialist. Similarly, remote Cognitive Behaviour These sessions allow individuals to speak with a psychotherapist who can help individuals to understand and address unhelpful behaviour and thinking patterns, reduce distress and increase productivity.

Other measures for those back in a physical workplace could include introducing break-out areas, which encourage employees to take time away from their computers and devices, during the working day.

If companies consider that stricter policies around answering out-of-hours emails are required, this should be customised to the type of work each team carries out. For example, they could implement policies that discourage emails sent over weekends.

Setting guidelines for what constitutes as an ‘emergency, ‘ which requires an immediate response would be useful, as well as setting notifications on devices to support this.

Why British Should Set Their Sights On Portugal Over Spain

Although Spain has always been the more readily chosen destination, Portugal’s Golden Visa program makes it a more straightforward option for British retirees than its Spanish counterpart.

Portugal isn’t outside the realm of typical expat destinations for British. With over 60,000 UK citizens in the Mediterranean nation, it is a popular place for living and retiring. Although Spain has always been the more readily chosen destination, Portugal’s Golden Visa program makes it a more straightforward option than its Spanish counterpart.

Now that the UK is no longer a member of the EU, it is necessary to apply for a visa, which only adds to the bureaucracy of mobility. “Those who are thinking about retiring to Spain or who plan to move there but do not intend to work there, can either choose a Golden Visa or the Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV),” says John Hanafin, the founder and CEO of Huriya Private.

Portuguese residency through the Golden Visa investment program issues the applicants with Residency Cards after about 4 months (depending on the submission of relevant due-diligence and bio-metrics) and immediately thereafter allows the card holders visa-free access to 26 EU based countries, with the promise of visa-free access to over 170 countries when citizenship is attained after year five.

The Golden Visa requires you to invest €500,000 in property and so is out of the reach for many British retirees.

“The NLV allows you to take up residence in Spain, provided you have sufficient funds to support yourself and you do not need to work there. It is this requirement that is causing problems for many Britons.You have to demonstrate an income of €33,893 a year for a couple and €47,451 for a family of four. This requirement will rule out the option of retiring to Spain for many,” explains Hanafin.

According to Hanafin, Portugal offers similar benefits with regard to climate, lifestyle, and low cost of living. “Portugal has a similar visa to Spain’s NLV, the Passive Income Visa, which has a significantly lower annual income requirement – €11,970 for a couple and €16,658 for a family of four,” Hanafin explains.

Further to that, Hanafin adds that the visa also does not restrict you from working or setting up a business as the Spanish NLV does.“The cost of property and the cost of living in Portugal is around 10 percent lower than in Spain and the icing on the cake is that you also have the potential benefit of the Non-Habitual Resident Scheme which will allow you to pay only 10 percent tax on a UK pension and no tax on some other sources of income,” he says.

Overall the cost of living in Portugal averages out at nine percent lower than in Spain, making it a greater success story for those seeking a place in the sun.

“Add to that the tax advantages and the fact that you can work in Portugal if you want to, and there is a clear case for considering retiring to Portugal instead of Spain if you only have limited income,” Hanafin concludes.

If you are considering moving to Portugal, then please contact the team at Huriya Private for further details on the Portuguese “Non-Habitual Residence Tax Regime”. This is an excellent regime that allows qualifying individuals the opportunity to become tax residents of a “white-listed” EU jurisdiction and still legally eliminate their taxes on most foreign-source income.

Supply of Computer Science Skills Still Isn’t Meeting Demand in the ‘Swelling Tech Sector’

The number of young women sitting computer science courses has risen, but still remains low – experts believe engaging more female students is key to the industry’s continual growth. 

  • Just 1.4% of GCSE students sat the ‘Computer Science’ course in 2020.
  • More than three times as many young men (61,500) sat the ‘Computer Science’ GCSE in 2020 than young women (16,919).
  • More female students are achieving higher grades in the Computer Science GCSE, and many other STEM subjects.
  • UCAS accepted applications for Computer Science undergraduate courses have risen 49% in the last decade, but the number of female students still remains low (16%).
  • The average advertised salary for the top ten Computer Science careers is 19% higher than the average for all other roles.
  • For more information from OKdo’s Computer Science in The Classroom report, please visit: https://www.okdo.com/computer-science-in-the-classroom-report/

More than four in every 100 advertised jobs in the UK require computer science skills, but experts warn that supply is currently failing to meet demand in this surging sector and there are still not enough young adults choosing this as a career at school or university. 

The new ‘computer science in the classroom’ report by OKdo, the global technology company from Electrocomponents plc, highlights that while progress has been made in the last decade to engage students this subject at school, more work is needed to ensure the thriving tech sector can continue to grow in the UK. 

Through analysis of GCSE results data from the Joint Council for Qualifications, OKdo discovered that the number of students taking the Computer Science course in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has steadily increased since it was launched: 16,773 sat the examinations and were awarded a grade in 2014 versus 78,459 in 2020 (up 367%). However, this still only represents 1.4% of all students. 

It is also a subject that continues to be dominated by male students, despite female students typically achieving higher grades. Three times as many young men (61,520 – 2.2% of all male students) sat the course in 2020 than young women (16,919 – 0.6%) with 32% of the male students being awarded a grade 7 or above – equivalent to an A or A* in the previous grading system. In comparison, 41% of the female students were awarded a grade of 7+.  

This pattern of high performance amongst female students has been consistent since 2014 and is reflected across other STEM subjects too: in the last decade, the only STEM subject where more male students have consistently earned higher GCSE grades was Mathematics. 

Regionally, Ofqual data revealed that the highest number of Computer Science students have been based in Greater London, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire. 

Looking at undergraduate UCAS accepted applications for Computer Science courses, OKdo also saw that this figure has continued to rise over time – from 13,405 in 2011 to 20,035 in 2020 (up 49%). However, again there are still very few female students – just 3,200 (16%) in 2020 – and overall, just 4.14% of students are being accepted onto computer science courses. 

Looking at the future prospects of those considering a career in computer science, there are currently more than 40,000 jobs across the UK that require relevant skills and qualifications – representing 4.21% of all ‘open’ roles (956,049). The majority of these are based in the South East and London. 

According to jobs data from Adzuna, the number of advertised roles did drop at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, but this is already back up to pre-Covid levels and in some instances, recruitment is at near-record level. 

Salary prospects are also good – the current average salary of a graduate software engineer is £48,787 – over £20k more than a marketing graduate (£26,454), Paralegal (£22,803) or teaching assistant (£19,802). Across the ten most common computer science careers, the average salary was £42,023, while the average salary for advertised roles in the UK currently stands at £35,444.  

Salaries in the ten most common computer sciences careers have been consistently above the UK average since 2014. 

But a high salary alone may not be enough to tempt female talent. In a recent Kaspersky report on Women in Tech, 42% of women said that better marketing on the positive impacts that IT or technical skills can have within society was the most important measure to attract them into the industry. Just one in three (33%) women in a tech role were encouraged to learn IT skills at their school, college or university. 

Andrew Hunter, Co-Founder of job search engine Adzuna, comments:  

“The last few months have seen a surge in hiring for Tech and Digital roles, with the sector taking on staff at near-record volumes. Software Developers are in particular demand, accounting for over 1 in 100 of all the job ads currently on offer within the UK. There are also over five thousand Web Designer and Data Analyst roles lying open. The tough ask for employers is finding the skilled talent to meet this growing need. We urgently need to focus on upskilling and retraining the workforce into Computer Science-related roles to serve the swelling Tech sector and support even more future job creation.” 

Nicki Young, President of OKdo added:  

“Our research highlights just how important it is that the number of students studying computer science at GCSE and beyond – and choosing this as a career – continues to gain momentum. The tech industry has been reliably growing, and there is high demand for talented people with this specific skillset.   

“I hold a computer science degree and know from experience that even at an entry level, those coming into computer science roles are required to have a solid foundation of knowledge and expertise that is typically acquired through education. This in turn is reflected in the high entry level salaries. Getting more young students engaged in this subject early on will be key to enabling this industry’s continued growth, alongside the retraining of people looking for a fresh challenge in a thriving sector.   

“Progress has been made, but there is more work to do to really engage the tech talent of tomorrow. A Data Analyst, a Software Developer, a Web Designer – these should be aspired careers. This is particularly important amongst female students who are still studying STEM subjects in low numbers but have proven themselves to be highly capable; typically achieving higher grades than male students. I have led a large technology outfit with 100s of members, as a result I have been fortunate to have worked with some incredible women in tech, but there are still too few, and it is something I have always been passionate about addressing. We all have a responsibility to do more to showcase role model women in Technology, and all areas of STEM, to inspire the next generation.” 

With Sustainable Financing on the Rise, Expert Advises How Fintechs Could Step Up ESGs Activities

An increasing number of businesses are focusing on how to embed ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) goals into their strategies. As the notion of sustainability is gaining more ground in the finance sector as well, Marius Galdikas, CEO at ConnectPay, has shared how fellow fintechs could incorporate ESG practices into their business and what impact it could have on fuelling further growth.

Home Spa Treatments From The Most Luxe Resorts Around

Everybody loves a spa day, and whether you’re at home in quarantine or taking a bit of a staycation, you can recreate a totally luxe spa experience from the comfort of your own house. Even if you love to go to the traditional spa and have that luxurious experience, there’s no reason that you can’t use your time at home and save some money by recreating those spa treatments DIY-style. While your home might not be the same as an all-inclusive resort, you can use the same treatments to pamper yourself. If you want an at-home spa day, here are some of the best treatments from luxurious resorts that you can do at home.

1.  Full-Body Scrub

If you’re looking to get your skin feeling soft and silky smooth from your head to your toes, a full-body scrub could be for you. While you can of course buy a body scrub at the store and take your time rubbing it all over, you can also DIY it by using all natural ingredients. From sugar scrubs to salt scrubs, you can get your body feeling exfoliated in no time!

2.  Personalized Facial

If you’re interested in skincare and getting that glowing look, facials are probably on your radar. While you can get a face mask at the store or even DIY one yourself, engaging in a personalized process is the best way to fully treat your skin. If you don’t know your skin type, you can take a quiz or use an evaluation process to figure out which products and treatments can work best for you.

3.  Teeth Whitening

When it comes to purely beautifying treatments, there’s nothing like brightening up your smile. Of course, going to a professional for teeth whitening can be great, but at-home teeth whitening kits can also get the job done. While at-home whitening kits contain 3% to 20% hydrogen peroxide, professional teeth whitening, which contains 15% to 43%. Therefore, after a few uses, you can achieve similar results.

4.  Deep-Conditioning Hair Mask

Next, hair care is another process you can do from home during your spa day. A deep conditioning mask for your hair is a great way to moisturize and hydrate your hair and offer strength and protection. While you can use regular conditioner for your hair that you find in your shower, you can also add other ingredients like coconut oil.

5.  Facial Steaming

Before you start on your facial, a great way to open your pores and help the products work as best as possible is to steam your face. It’s an age-old trick that’s been around for decades, and it’s relatively easy to do. All you need is to boil water and pour it into a bowl, holding your face over it for a few minutes. Some people even put a drop or two of essential oils into the water for some aromatherapy.

Your Luxurious Home Spa Day

Whether you’re relaxing at home for two weeks or a few hours, you can absolutely pamper yourself with the best spa treatments that mirror those from true luxury resorts. While you might not have a team of people waiting on you hand and foot, having a cozy spa day in the comfort of your own home might be the next best thing.

COVID-19 Crisis Will Lead to a New Period of Transformative Growth: 10 Key Insights for Business Leaders

  • Transformative change: Environmental, social and technological trends are converging, leading to rapid, disruptive and transformative change. Leaders need to be ready to act  
  • COVID legacy: Organisations can harness innovative approaches taken during the pandemic to meet the challenges ahead, from experimentation in working practices to shifts in mindset
  • Tipping point: Society has reached a tipping point on an appetite for environmental sustainability, while new technologies are also supercharging the pace of change.

As we recover from the COVID pandemic, environmental, social and technological trends are converging, leading to rapid, disruptive and transformative change, the likes of which we have not experienced for more than a generation, argues Simon Sear, CEO and founder of Studio 44. Leaders need to ensure that they and their organisation are ready to innovate and transform.

Sear said: “The COVID crisis will lead to a new period of rapid, transformative growth and prosperity just like the First World War led to the roaring twenties, the Second World War to the golden age of capitalism and the recession of the late 1970s to the expansive growth of the 1980s. Spring always follows winter.”

Combining with this natural economic cycle are major tailwinds, such as society’s demand for more progress on racial and gender equality, social mobility and mental wellbeing, Studio 44 argues. Governments and wider society have reached a tipping point on progress with environmental sustainability, while technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), hyper-automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) are supercharging change.

These converging trends will result in rapid, disruptive and transformative change, the likes of which we have not experienced for more than a generation.

Sear added: “Economists are predicting record growth and leaders need to ensure that their organisations are bold, more agile and quicker to change than at any time in history in order to deliver competitive performance in terms of cost efficiency, revenues and return on capital”

Studio 44 has identified ten key insights by working with leaders during the challenging times of COVID, ranging from experimentation to mindset, technology to organisational culture.

Sear concluded: “The crisis has highlighted many insights into how leaders can prepare for this next phase of growth and the journey ahead. They are at a once in a generation inflection point, opportunity is coming, and they need to ensure that they and their organisation are ready to innovate and transform.”

Here is a summary of Studio 44’s top ten insights:

1. Create a common mission: Often, in non-crisis times, organisations pay lip service to their mission. It’s written down, but no one really buys it. If the crisis did one thing very well, it was to provide a focus.

2. The need for speed: The pace of change had been increasing, but the crisis supercharged this. Leaders need to focus their organisation on being able to respond quicker and with more agility than ever before. 

3. Change the corporate mindset: Many companies have long-held beliefs that limited their ability to respond and transform assumptions that need to be put in the bin. 

4. Make bold investments: The successful businesses of the last 12 months were the ones that had historically invested in new ways of working and bold new propositions.

5. Experiment: In a decade that will be defined by rapid change and transformation, inexpensive, fast experimentation needs to be in the DNA of an organisation.

6. Allocate your best people to your best opportunities: The pace of change is becoming ever faster and the war for talent continues to heat up. Leaders need to balance the need for transparency and fairness with quickly getting the right people in the right roles to optimise the chances of an organisation’s success.

7. Teach more than new digital skills: In building on the successes of working from home and a period of change and disruption, it’s crucial to teach employees new cognitive strategies and behaviours to enable them to adapt. 

8. Break the silos: During the COVID crisis innovative leaders gathered a multi-skilled team, incentivised them all for success in the same way and gave them the space to make it happen. Many leaders are now thinking about how they can maintain this kind of operating model and not return to older ways of working and the inefficiencies they create.

9. Keep communicating

The pace of disruption and uncertainty in the next decade means that people will often feel unsettled and will seek reassurance. These are the same needs team members faced during the COVID crisis. 

10. Practice stakeholder capitalism

Leaders need to take a cooperative model into the next period of transformation. They need to take a long-term view, to have a strategy that not only ensures financial performance in the short term, but invests, and is seen to invest, in longer-term positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

5 Beauty Treatments Celebrities Love

Whether you’re kicking back in the Hollywood Hills or you’re surfing the web on your couch in search of the best ways to beautify yourself head to toe, there are so many options out there for beauty treatments that go above and beyond. It’s no secret that all the celebs have their secrets, tips and tricks when it comes to looking like a million bucks, but plenty of those treatments aren’t as secretive as you might expect. In fact, you can get on some of the best beauty treatments that the stars love. Here are just a few of them.

1.  Coffee Body Scrub

Talk about DIY queen! Did you know that Halle Berry adds her coffee grounds to her body wash to exfoliate her skin the natural way? Not only is this a cheap, easy and interesting trick to add to your repertoire, but it leaves your skin smooth and glowing. Try it out the next time you drink a cup of joe and hop in the shower!

2.  Vampire Facials

What do Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow and so many other celebrities have in common, besides their star-studded status? That’s right, the vampire facial! The blood facial — also known as the RPR facial — can help to clear skin, brighten skin and reduce signs of aging. No wonder why so many celebs are glowing like Edward Cullen with these vampire treatments!

3.  Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are all about using complex chemical compounds administered by a professional to strip away all of the sebum, dead skin and debris resting on your face — just ask Beyonce, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Antiston, to name a few. Chemical peels are great for clearing skin up, as well as reducing signs of aging.

4.  Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a facial treatment that uses abrasion to exfoliate and smooth your skin. While some people use microdermabrasion in conjunction with vampire facials, you can also do microdermabrasion all on its own. While it may seem like a bit of a scary treatment — especially with the abrasion — it actually feels like an intense exfoliating treatment. Some people describe the sensation feeling like sand. Many people get microdermabrasion done routinely every six or eight weeks to maintain a consistent glow.

5.  Ice Baths

Ice baths aren’t the most comfortable or relaxing, but they’re the go-to beauty ritual for so many celebrities. Not only can they reduce puffiness and inflammation, but they can also work to decrease fatigue and muscle soreness after a workout — a precise reason why Lady Gaga and so many others swear by the trend. While some people take a good long soak, others prefer a quick dip. Really, it’s up to you.

Beauty Treatments From the Stars

While some of these treatments are a bit on the fancier side, some of them are here to show you that celebrities are just like everybody else! From a dip in an ice bath to vampire facials, there’s no limit to the possibilities when it comes to all the amazing beauty treatments the stars have to offer. Which one are you excited to try out?

99 Problems and a Bad Back Is One: UK Cities Suffering with the Worst Back Pain

Are you suffering from bad back pain? If yes, it’s more than likely that you’ve ventured onto the web to find out what’s caused your back pain and how you can alleviate it. New research into these searches, conducted by OTTY Sleep, reveals our biggest back pain queries and where in the UK people suffer the most from a bad back.

The data comes just two months after it was announced a number of patients are still waiting upwards of a year for help for chronic back pain. Understandably, the pandemic has put more pressure on NHS services than ever, so it’s important to understand how our back pain is being caused and how we can alleviate the pain.

Here, we explore the cities with the biggest back-breaking problems, how these issues may have been caused, and how you can help alleviate the pain and treat the problem.

Back-breaking Belfast

The research compared Google searches across the 20 most populated cities in the UK. Each city was probed for how often they searched for back pain-related terms. In total, 116 search terms were analysed for their search frequency, identifying our biggest back-breaking problems, our growing pains, and which city was most likely to feel the effect of spinal aches and back-busting agony.

The study found that people in Belfast were the most likely to suffer from back pain. For every 100,000 people in the Northern Irish capital, 742 people searched for a back pain-related term every month. This is 36 per cent above the average city. Of the back pain search terms, people in Belfast were most likely to search for ‘back pain middle’, perhaps indicating where the main issue with their back pain lies.

Belfast was followed by Newcastle upon Tyne and Glasgow as the next most back pain suffering cities. They searched for back pain related terms 27 per cent and 20 per cent more than the average city respectively. People in Newcastle sought out ‘exercises for lower back pain’ while Glaswegians searched for ‘back stretches’ over any other back pain related terms.

For other cities, back pain was less of a sore issue. People in London only searched for back pain 353 times for every 100 thousand people – 35 per cent below average. Cardiff and Bradford also suffered less than average back pain; their back pain searches were 35 per cent and 16 per cent below the average UK city.

The causes of back pain

Searches for back pain-related terms increased in 14 of the top 20 most populated cities in the UK. So, what are the causes of back pain? And is there a reason why these city people are feeling more back pain?

We can’t always identify the root cause of back pain. Most back pain is categorised as “non-specific”, meaning that the cause isn’t obvious. However, most pain will originate from the joints, bones, or soft tissue around the spine. For the purpose of identifying causes of back pain, we’ll stay away from broken bones and infections — the cause is fairly obvious in those cases.

Non-specific back pain can vary based on our position, will often feel worse when we’re moving, and can appear suddenly or gradually. The most common causes of this type of back pain include:

  • Poor posture
  • Lifting something awkwardly
  • A minor injury, such as a sprain or strain
  • Feelings of stress or fatigue

But why do some cities experience worse back pain than others? And what’s changed in the past year to cause this?

As stated, our health and lifestyle are linked to our back pain. Exercise and quality sleep are therefore integral for alleviating back pain. Interestingly, previous OTTY research has found that Belfast has more trouble sleeping than other major UK cities. This mirrors Belfast as the UK city with the most back pain. Could then our sleep quality be linked to our back pain?

In the past year, feelings of fatigue have also increased. Spurred on by the stress of the pandemic and the effects of COVID-19 and its long-term symptoms, muscle tiredness is becoming a concern for many who have suffered from the virus. The study shows that Leicester increased their searches for back pain related terms by 37 per cent in the past year, more than any other city. Therefore, the pandemic may have also contributed to a back pain epidemic in the UK. Not to fear, most back pain is reversible and can be easily treated.

Putting the pain to rest

As your back pain can be related to your health and lifestyle, it’s important to tackle these issues head-on to alleviate your spinal sores. In essence, fixing back pain lies in ensuring you’re well-rested and that your back has the strength to do all the activities you want to do in the day.

Exercise

We know that you probably won’t feel like it when you’re in pain, but exercise is very important when treating back pain. You should aim to exercise at least three times a week. This can be as simple as a brisk walk for thirty minutes. Over time, you’ll be building strength in your spine.

Idleness allows the muscles around the spine and in the back to become weak. In turn, this means that your spine is less supported, and it becomes more difficult to hold your body in good posture, further leading to more pain.

Quality rest

Poor sleep and fatigue can also contribute to back pain. It’s important that we get the rest we need; otherwise, our muscles do not have time to repair and strengthen. This begins with ensuring you’re getting around seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

An uncomfortable bed may also be contributing to your sleep and back pain issues. A hybrid mattress is recommended for supporting your body during sleep, spreading out pressure and conforming to your body and sleeping position. This allows your muscles to fully rest and repair at night.

General health

While sleep and exercise can go a long way to alleviate and treat your back pain, of course, our general health must improve to help with back pain.

Research has shown that current smokers have a higher occurrence of back pain than former or non-smokers. Meanwhile, our body weight can contribute to back pain. One pound of weight gain can cause four pounds of pressure on your spine.

If you’re looking to help your back pain, quitting smoking and losing weight should be a priority.

Whether you live in Belfast or London, back pain can be a huge issue for many people who suffer this problem. Of course, not all back pain can be cured by exercise and quality sleep. Seeing your GP may be the best option for some people. However, getting yourself out for a walk, finding a new mattress, and living a healthier lifestyle is a good place to start.

5 Ways To Protect Your Small Business From Fraud

Fraud management requires the implementation of various strategies to ensure that a minimal amount of funds is lost and any potential losses are avoided. These methods include tracking financial transactions involving the business, assessment of the security protocols of all business partners, identification of weak areas in the business model, and keeping abreast of business fraud trends.

Many small companies struggle without an effective fraud management plan in place. The right strategies and solutions are necessary to stay ahead of the game. If you want your small business to stay fraud-free, it’s crucial to act now.

Here are some tips to help you learn how to prevent fraud from negatively impacting your business:

1. Practice Accurate Recordkeeping

All records must be handled and managed properly so that you can prove the transactions are legitimate and free of errors. Here are ways to ensure the company’s records are always correct and secure:

– The safety and security of your small business depend on how the organisation handles its documents. The most basic step you can take is to carefully examine any documents for any personal or business information that you might send or receive by fax, email, or post.

– Never post personal or sensitive information online unless you’re using a secure server. If fraudsters can steal a mailing address or phone number, they can easily steal other personal and financial data from your company, too.

2. Seek Professional Support

Fraud management solutions can be used by small businesses to aid in identifying and mitigating risks. These systems are offered by a fraud management company to ensure that small businesses are equipped with the right tools to evaluate their current status and performance.

Here’s why small business owners should invest in fraud management and prevention solutions:

– Fraud management solutions aid in creating plans on how to improve the process by reviewing the objectives to ascertain business success. It also involves the secure collection and handling of information that may be useful in the future.

– Fraud management software can be useful in determining the type of fraud that occurred and the root cause to prevent future security issues. Prevention involves analysing trends and gathering information that can help determine the root cause of the problem, formulating ways to remedy it, and reviewing the security processes that are in place.

3. Perform Regular Audits

Regular auditing helps detect any obvious signs of fraudulent activity. If such activity occurs, then the business owner needs to take action to minimise the damage.

Here are ways regular audits can catch fraud:

– Having regular audits help identify any unusual activity on your accounts, such as any irregular withdrawals or purchases.

– If you want to keep your business safe and your clients happy, you must work closely with your accountant and records management team to deter fraudulent activities. Work closely with your bookkeeper to ensure that all transactions are in order.

– If a small business doesn’t have an accountant in place, then it’s strongly recommended that it immediately establish a relationship with someone who can reliably prevent fraudulent activities and keep all documentation up-to-date.

4. Implement And Update Security Systems

If your company accepts payments online, consider getting an identity theft protection system. Some companies offer this as part of a package, so you won’t be charged anything extra. This means that the personal details and other important documents are encrypted and, therefore, much harder for hackers to obtain. This will significantly reduce the risk of your small business being targeted by fraudsters.

5. Educate Your Employees

Fraud can harm the entire business organisation, whether big or small. If you’re an employee, it can be daunting to find out that your company has been the victim of fraudulent activity. One of the most important steps to include in fraud management is to educate staff about the possible risks and threats to security. How can knowledgeable employees help in fraud management and prevention?

Properly trained employees can monitor and report any suspicious transactions or activities. If you feel that your company needs to implement fraud prevention measures, take the time to assess whether your staff has the right knowledge and skills to detect and prevent fraud. While companies need to implement policies that deal with data security, if they don’t conduct the necessary training of employees, the results can be disastrous.

It’s also important to hire trustworthy and honest employees. The consequences of employees accessing sensitive information in ways not authorised is detrimental for a company and its customers. Internal fraudulent activities are even more dangerous than external threats, so it’s pertinent that you choose the right employees aside from implementing effective fraud management strategies and policies.

Takeaway

Fraud in any industry can be very damaging and pose a great danger to the well-being of your company. In the world of small business, this is even more so. Small businesses face unique risks when compared with larger businesses. However, by taking the appropriate steps, you can take part in preventing theft and fraud. Even if your company has just started operating, if it has a strong sense of integrity, you can protect yourself from the possibility of it falling victim to thieves and scammers. Don’t lose the sense of security and good reputation of your small business – start protecting yourself now.

New Growth and Recovery Video on Africa Puts Rising Demand for Power Infrastructure in the Spotlight

The opportunities for investors to play a part in Africa’s social and economic development by providing more of its rapidly growing population with clean, reliable power are highlighted in a new Growth & Recovery video produced by Oxford Business Group in partnership with technical solutions provider JESA.

OBG’s Growth & Recovery videos are among the latest additions to the company’s suite of research tools, providing essential information on developments across key economic segments and their prospects for future growth, as the global economy moves towards recovery.

In the video, OBG’s narrator noted that Africa’s fast pace of growth had heightened the need to bridge the significant gaps in power provision across the continent.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, with a population projected to more than double, from 1.1bn in 2019 to around 2.5bn by 2050. Today, more than half of the region’s population has no access to power,” he commented.

He also said that Africa was well placed to make renewables a key part of its future energy mix, boasting considerable potential across the solar, wind, hydro and geothermal segments. Focusing on sustainability, he added, would help the continent capitalise on its sources of renewable energy.

Hicham Kabbaj, JESA’s Managing Director, said rapid population growth and the ongoing urbanisation under way across much of Africa had heightened the need to make new power infrastructure there a priority.

“The potential for developing green sources of power generation in the region is huge, as the solar and wind projects already established in both cities and rural communities show,” he said. “Moves to boost the role of renewables in the energy mix will also help with broader efforts to make new growth both sustainable and equitable at a time when investors are keen to seek out projects that have given weight to ESG principles.”

Commenting ahead of the launch, Marc-André de Blois, OBG’s Director of PR and Video Content, agreed that while Africa faced several challenges in its efforts to develop the region’s power infrastructure, the potential rewards were considerable, as the Group’s Growth & Recovery video showed.

“Our broadcast highlights the positive developments under way in Morocco, which has already built major industry expertise following the country’s pledge to make more than half of its capacity renewable by 2030,” he said. “As well as highlighting the hurdles Africa faces in terms of infrastructures, we’ve been able to shine a spotlight on a renewable energy ecosystem that has succeeded in gaining the confidence of a wide range of stakeholders.”

9 Medical Conditions That CBD Can Help Manage

Hemp plants and marijuana are some great sources of cannabinoid, which is a natural substance known to have many uses. These uses also mean that in the medical field, this compound may prove to treat or alleviate medical conditions. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is available today in many forms like gummies or capsules, oil bases for vaporizers, tinctures, edible items, and beauty products like bath bombs, skincare products, and lotions.

CBD is widely believed to not have psychoactive properties unlike THC and is being seen as an alternative treatment for a wide variety of conditions. As of writing, CBD has been incorporated into hundreds of products, including painkillers, stress relievers, sleep aids, and energy boosters for women and men.

Before you shop from reliable online stores like The Other Path CBD in Los Angeles and others across the United States, get familiar with the different medical conditions that CBD may help manage or alleviate.

 

1. Arthritis

The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of cannabis are thought to help treat rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation, swelling, and stiffness of joints are some of the symptoms of this painful condition. Arthritis relief could come third in popularity among CBD consumers behind pain and anxiety.

CBD oils can be taken either orally or topically as creams and lotions that may provide effective joint pain relief. According to a study in rheumatology, people with arthritis who take cannabis-based treatment have reportedly experienced less pain when they go around, take a break, and sleep.

 

2. High Blood Pressure

A study conducted in England consisting a controlled group of men—all nonsmokers—ages 19 to 30 and have never tried cannabis before. Among them, the researchers discovered that a solo dosage of CBD could reduce their blood pressure by 6 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). This positive result is believed to correspond to reducing the risk for suffering strokes. This study published by JCI Insight has concluded that the results were probably related to CBD’s anxiety- and pain-relieving effects.

 

3. Epilepsy

One of the most commonly reported uses of medicinal cannabis is its potential to manage epileptic seizures. An epileptic seizure is when the brain is affected by electrical activity at an inappropriate time. Epilepsy and other underlying conditions can trigger seizures, which could prove fatal to some patients.

Traditional epilepsy treatments have been found to be ineffective for about 30% of people suffering from this ailment. On the other hand, some evidence suggests that CBD may help reduce seizures. Cannabis research is, however, a lengthy process. Although some evidence supports CBD’s use to control seizures, Epilepsy Foundation notices that this research hasn’t proceeded as well as it should because of the strict regulations under the usage of cannabis.

 

4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

An individual who has post-traumatic stress disorder is defined as a person who has ‘poor adaptation’ to a traumatic experience, which can be attributed to different underlying causes. This condition has been associated with severe depression, anxiety, and mood swings—all of which may significantly benefit from CBD’s therapeutic benefits. With many exciting ways to use CBD oil, you can utilize it, which could help calm yourself when a traumatic stress attack or symptom occurs once again.

 

5. Diabetes

Lower extremity nerve pain is one of the most common diabetes side effects caused by obesity and poorly controlled blood sugar levels. CBD has been found to be effective in improving blood glucose stability and relieving nerve pain and neuropathy in people with diabetes for several decades.

The American Journal of Pathology published a study on CBD in February 2012 that suggested this compound could help diabetic people.

 

6. Muscle Spasms

Muscle spasms are usually one symptom incorporated by different kinds of diseases like the following:

∙ Kidney disease

∙ Diabetes

∙ Hormonal issues

∙ Nervous system disorders

∙ Spinal cord injuries

 

An increasing number of scientific research is being conducted on the effects of CBD that may treat muscle spasms, even if this disease is least common than other medical conditions mentioned on this list.

 

7. HIV

Human Immunodeficiency Virus, also known as HIV, if left untreated can lead to AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Cannabis is thought to be able to treat AIDS by strengthening your immune system and slowing down the progress of the disease.

A study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management has shown that cannabis may help people with anxiety, nausea, and muscle pain. Therefore, the debilitating effects of HIV could be significantly diminished by alleviating these symptoms.

Cannabis medicine could be an essential discovery for treating severe medical conditions. Still, it’s advisable to speak and consult with your physician first so they can help assess suitability before you start your medication.

 

8. Acne

Humans are most likely to suffer from acne. A majority of people deal with acne at least occasionally, sometimes even in their daily lives. There’ll be variations based on the type of acne, causing it to be different in each case.

Generally, the skin produces sebum—an oily, waxy substance. Protecting the skin with sebum is essential. But when it mixes with dead skin cells, external pollutants, and other factors, it gets trapped inside the pore. When the pore becomes clogged, it becomes acne. Studies indicate that CBD oil may help treat or manage acne.

Sebum production, hormonal imbalances, and genetics are all factors that contribute to acne. The severity of the symptoms can also be affected by certain additional factors, such as diet, stress, and prescription medications. Because CBD oil is said to affect how the body produces sebum, it may reduce acne of various types. Besides helping reduce inflammation, CBD oil may also have antibacterial properties, which is believed to tackle the bacteria induced from overactive sebum production.

 

9. Anxiety And Depression

Research has shown that serotonin helps treat anxiety. CBD has been linked to easing depression. Therefore, researchers also believe that CBD may act similarly to antidepressants and antianxiety medications, which work by regulating serotonin levels.

Studies on humans are few, however. Thus, this research requires further investigation. CBD may alter serotonin levels in the body, which is the most effective way to treat anxiety and depression. If you plan to take antidepressants along with CBD, you must check and ask advice from your physician first.

 

Conclusion

There are many kinds of health conditions for which CBD is touted as a miracle cure. CBD can be found and purchased quite easily, but be aware that it’s unregulated. The label may not indicate the amount of CBD or ingredients in the bottle or your purchased product. The legality of its possession and use is also unclear, so you should determine what the laws are in your state.

A Quick Guide About the Vegan Diet

Switching to a plant-based diet is a powerful step you can take towards a more ethical, environmental, and healthy lifestyle. When done right, not only can this diet improve your general health, but it can also boost your energy levels and help prevent chronic diseases. For those reasons, veganism has now become very popular for people all around the world. 

If you are looking to make healthy changes to your life by embracing veganism, it can be difficult to know where to start. Never fear, because you’ve come to the right place! 

Here is our quick guide to everything you need to know about a plant-based diet.

What Is a Plant-Based Diet?

The vegan diet is a key part of veganism, a lifestyle that excludes all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty. For that reason, being vegan means not eating any food that contains any animal products, such as meat, eggs, and dairy. People choose this kind of diet for various reasons, from ethics and environmental concerns to health considerations and dietary risk factors. Despite what many people think, you can still meet your daily nutritional needs with a plant-based diet by focusing on natural and minimally processed plant foods. 

Is a Plant-Based Diet an Option for Gymers?

Getting enough protein can be tough for gymers, which is why shakes and supplements are consumed to up their intake. Regular whey is made from the watery part of milk that separates from curds in the cheese-making process, which makes it a non-vegan product. So clearly, vegans can’t consume whey powder. Or can they?

It turns out that vegan protein powder can help you build and maintain as much muscle as animal-sourced whey. You should choose ones that mix different types of plant proteins so that you consume all the essential amino acids and a wider range of nutrients. However, you can consume a single-ingredient protein powder and make up for the missing amino acids with your foods during the day. 

To get rid of the slightly ‘earthy’ taste of plant-based protein powders, you should consider mixing it with a few ounces of orange juice. By doing this, you are actually boosting the vitamin and nutrient content of the powder as well.

How Many Types of Plant-Based Diets Are There?

There are various types of plant-based diets that you can consider. All of them follow the basic rule of veganism (no animal products) but differ in several aspects:

– A whole-food diet: you only consume whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

– A raw-food diet: is based on the same kind of food choice as a whole-food diet, with one condition: that your foods should be cooked at temperatures below 118°F.

– An 80/10/10 diet: limits fat-rich plant intake, such as nuts and avocados. This diet encourages the consumption of raw fruits and soft greens instead.

– The starch solution: A low-fat, high-carb vegan diet that encourages cooked starches like potatoes, rice, and corn instead of fruits.

– A raw till: is the combination of 80/10/10 and starch solution, where raw foods are consumed until 4 pm and there is an option of a starch solution meal for dinner.

– The thrive diet: allows only raw food or minimal cooking at low temperatures.

– A junk-food diet: relies heavily on processed animal-free foods, such as mock meats and cheeses, fries, or desserts.

What Are the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet?

There is a lot of excellent research which has pointed out some of the major benefits of a plant-based diet, including:

– Better weight management: People who follow a plant-based diet are more likely to have a lean body than those who don’t. The food that they consume makes it easier for them to lose weight and keep it off without stressing about calorie deficits.

– Prevention of chronic diseases: There are many studies that have found that consuming plant-based and whole foods can help prevent, halt or even reverse some chronic diseases, such as heart attack or diabetes.

– A smaller environmental footprint: A plant-based diet reduces the consumption of animal-origin products, which places much less stress on the environment than a regular diet. It also requires a far greater amount of water to cultivate meat than it does to grow plants.

How to Practice a Plant-Based Diet?

To truly embrace veganism, you need to avoid animal products and animal-derived products such as meat and poultry, fish and seafood, dairy products, eggs, bee products, and animal-based ingredients. While it is easy to recognize the origins of regular foods such as meat or eggs, you may have a difficult time defining animal-based ingredients, simply because they don’t appear to be that obvious. Some ingredients you should watch out for are whey, casein, lactose, egg white albumen, gelatin, isinglass, shellac, L-cysteine, animal-derived vitamin D3, and fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids.

Fortunately, there are many plant-based alternative choices you can happily enjoy.:

– Tofu, tempeh, and seitan: fantastic sources of protein to replace that usually found in meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. 

– Legumes: provide many beneficial nutrients and plant compounds as well as increased nutrient absorption when cooked properly.

– Nuts and nut butter: a good source of iron, fiber, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and vitamin E.

– Seeds: also contain a good amount of protein and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

– Plant kinds of milk and yogurts: not only taste great but also help you achieve daily dietary calcium intakes.

– Nutritional yeast: can be used as a cheese replacement.

– Whole grains, cereals, and pseudocereals: a great source of complex carbs, fiber, iron, B-vitamins, and several minerals. 

– Fruits and vegetables: both fantastic for increasing your iron, calcium, and vitamin intake.

As much as you are feeling inspired, a sudden shift to a plant-based diet isn’t always the best way for everyone. Your body can be shocked if you suddenly cut out animal products altogether. At first, try to increase to 1000 calories of legumes, whole grain, and starchy veggies each day. This will keep you feeling full so that you can gradually eat fewer animal products over time. Veganism is not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle that will become a part of who you are. If you experience any setbacks, don’t sweat over the small things and remember why you wanted to make the change in the first place.

Is Shaving Your Head Good for Your Hair?

It’s a common belief that shaving your head induces hair growth, improves hair density, and can even change your hair structure. That’s a myth, if you have naturally thin or curly hair, it won’t become stronger or straighter after shaving. Also, if you’re experiencing hair loss, shaving won’t help, you need to find what caused your condition and deal with that first. However, all that doesn’t mean that shaving your head won’t do you any good. If you’re struggling with severe hair loss or want to try a new look, going bald can be an easy and extravagant way of expressing yourself and you easily find different coloured hair shears to try out this look. If you’re interested in shaving your head, read on and learn how it can change your life.

 

Why Do People Shave Their Heads?

Shaving your head is a growing trend in the 21st century. It’s an increasingly popular way to look cool and fashionable. There are many reasons why people choose to shave their heads these days. Some go bald because they’re suffering from hair loss or alopecia, while others want to make a bold statement. Alopecia is a common condition that affects around 4% of the population. It’s a very serious condition, and it can cause a person to lose their hair at any age. While it can affect both genders, it commonly affects women under the age of 50.

 

According to statistics, the most common types of alopecia are:

 

● Alopecia areata develops suddenly. The cause isn’t well-understood but is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. Alopecia areata is more common in those with other autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn’s.

 

● Alopecia universalis causes complete hair loss all over the body. This type of alopecia often occurs suddenly. Alopecia universalis happens when the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles.

 

● Traction alopecia is the most common form of hair loss. In this type of alopecia, tight ponytails, braids, weaves, cornrows, and other hairstyles that pull on the hair can cause scarring or permanent hair loss. Both men and women are susceptible to traction alopecia.

 

● Androgenetic alopecia is a genetic condition that causes gradual hair loss over time. It occurs when the hair follicles become dormant, and the hair becomes thinner and finer over time. It develops slowly but gradually gets worse in the long term.

 

Alopecia can be very stressful for those who suffer from it and it can affect your daily life, your social life, and your self-esteem. Luckily, there are ways for you to deal with it and live a normal life, including shaving your head. Shaving your head will help you feel more confident and help you regain your self-esteem.

 

Effects of Shaving Your Head

You should know that shaving your head doesn’t cause hair loss or make your condition worse. Instead of worrying about how your hair will look like after shaving it off, enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes with being bald. Shaving a bald head can be a great way to get yourself out of depression and force yourself out of your comfort zone. It will help you become more confident in yourself and learn to love yourself more and more every day.

If you’re thinking of shaving your head to help you deal with your alopecia, it’s best to consult with a doctor first. Your doctor should be able to recommend effective treatments for your condition and help you find ways of dealing with it. Make sure your doctor doesn’t recommend medications that cause additional hair loss such as corticosteroids or 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. These medications can cause you to lose more hair than you already have.

Don’t forget to get your prescription from the doctor, if you have a medical condition or take any medication, the doctor should be aware of that. You can also try over-the-counter products instead, such as Rogaine, Propecia, or Nizoral.

 

Shaving Off Your Hair On a Whim

If you’re only shaving off your hair because you’re bored or want a new look, that’s fine – as long as you don’t have any issues with your scalp or hair. For instance, if you’re a black man, shaving your head can create an offensive contrast between the color of the skin and the hair. If you’re a black girl and want to shave your head because you think it will get rid of your frizz, you might be disappointed. Many people think that shaving their heads will make their hair straighter or smoother. In reality, if you have curly hair, it will still be curly after shaving.

There are many reasons why people choose to shave their heads. Some choose to go bald because they have a receding hairline or an impacted hair follicle, while others want to make a bold statement. If you want to be bald there are ways for you to do that and still maintain a healthy scalp.

 

Making a Bold Statement

If you’re thinking of shaving your head because you want to make a bold statement, then make sure you know what you want to say before doing it. Being bald is a big commitment so make sure that you really want to do it.

Men who suffer from hair loss often get rid of their hair because they want to look cool and fashionable and being bald is one way of doing that. However, when choosing to shave your head, it’s very important to pick the right hairstyle. For instance, if you’re a businessman who wants to look like James Dean, shaving your head might not be appropriate. Instead of shaving your head, pick a hairstyle that is inspired by James Dean and suits your professional image.

If you’re only shaving off your hair because you want to make a bold statement, then make sure that statement is clear and understandable. Don’t go bald just for the sake of going bald. If you want to express yourself in a bold way, try something else, perhaps piercing or tattoo. They may not be as bold as shaving your head, but they’ll definitely express a bold statement.

If there was an award for the most creative ways of shaving your head, balding celebrities would win by far, they never cease to surprise us with their fashion choices. In fact, there are many celebrities who went bald for movie roles, and leading characters who are famous for their long-haired looks often shave their heads for their roles. For instance, Charlize Theron shaved her head for her role in Monster and Sean Connery shaved his head for his role in The Untouchable.

 

Summary

Rocking a shaved head is definitely a bold statement! Whether you want to do it because of medical reasons, or just want a new look, either way, you are sure to feel liberated. If you feel that you are losing your hair because of an underlying medical issue, the best thing you can do is consult with your doctor to find out the reason why. If you are losing your hair, you should not wait to go see your doctor just in case it is something more serious. If you want to go bald as a bold fashion statement, make sure that you are ready to commit to it. There are plenty of great ways you can play with a buzz cut, either with hair dye or even going to a barber who can create a cool design. Being bald and cutting all your hair off can not only feel liberating but can look great too!

3 ways to drive innovation in your SME

Now, perhaps more than ever before, it’s important to give your business a much needed boost with new and innovative business practices. Particularly as we adjust to a new sense of ‘normal’, and the world starts to open back up again following the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to look at ways in which you can change your business and its practices to bring your SME into a modern era.

Afterall, it’s a fast-paced world out there, and innovation really is the aim of the game to separate you from the hundreds of potential competitors you may have, particularly as the world moves increasingly more online. So, if your business is not continuing to invest in new and inventive ways to operate, the chances are you will end up falling behind.

Read on to find the top three ways you can drive innovation in your small business, and how this will help you to take on the challenges of operating a business in the digital age.

 

1) Embrace technology

This one might seem like an obvious place to start. The modern world is a world that stems from the boom in technology. From operation automation to artificial intelligence, technology now runs through every single department of any business. So, with that being said, surely the introduction of technology can help to spark innovation and change? It certainly can!

By giving your employees access to greater technologies, you are enabling them to find new and innovative ways to achieve business goals. Plus, by freeing up their time with automated processes, you are allowing your employees the freedom and time needed to develop exciting new ideas.

 

2) Monitor your progress

The world is evolving every single day, and one clear evolution that has come to the forefront of many businesses is the development of IIoT, also known as the Internet of Things.

The boom in IIoT has led to more and more data being available at our very fingertips. Whether that is customer data, industry data, market data, or even data relating to your business and its performance, data truly is nothing without analysis and interpretation. This is why it is so important to monitor your businesses performance and interpret this data to understand how your business is performing, whilst also highlighting valuable opportunities for innovation and performance improvement.

Keep an eye on all of the relevant insights you can think of, from competitor insights to sales data and so much more. These insights can be used to fuel your innovation strategy. Plus, they will help you to understand what is working and what is not so you can scrap costly, ineffective, resources-draining activities before they start to take too much of a toll on your time and bottom line.

For a truly innovative plan, be sure to research the needs of your customers’ demographic and highlight any pain points that you can respond to.

 

3) Invest in research and development

Research and development is a natural part of innovation. By developing new and exciting products, services or business practices, you can work to be a part of the change that drives innovation in your business. Research and development covers a wide range of developments you can make as a business to improve and innovate. These are things such as:

● The design and development of new products

● Creating more cost-effective processes as a business

● Developing more time-efficient processes for your business

● New project development

● Improvements in processes, services, materials or devices used by your SME

● The design and development of prototypes and all associated testing

● The design and development of software and IT solutions for your business

● Improving any form of process across the business to boost your productivity.

Another simple and straightforward way to innovate and improve your business is to invest in skilled technical staff who can support that need for innovation and business change.

Plus, did you know that when you invest in research and development for your business, you are not only working to drive real innovation and change, but you can also claim R&D tax credits? These tax credits are a great Government incentive designed to reward all British businesses, including SMEs like yours, for creating innovative processes, products, and services. Claiming R&D tax credits can help to boost your cash flow in the form of a lump-sum cash payment, or a way to offset your corporation tax bill.

These funds are then a great resource to be reinvested into your business to help drive forward real change and innovation over the next financial year. To find out if you’re eligible, why not complete an R&D eligibility checker.

 

Drive your business forward with innovation

We’ve outlined three straightforward ways to drive real change in your SME through the development of innovative new business practices, products or services. Plus, when you work to create innovative change in your business, you may be eligible to claim back tax credits to offset against your corporation tax bills – all of which can be reinvested to give your SME the vital funds needed to boost your business!

IT Designed to Suit Garment Manufacturing Supply Chains

These are exciting times for UK garment manufacturers – if they embrace digitalisation, writes Karl H. Lauri, managing team member at MRPeasy.com.

Significant changes are under way in the garment and apparel manufacturing industry. In many cases they are both driving and being driven by digitalisation in the sector. If the UK’s many smaller garment manufacturers are to treat these changes as opportunities rather than threats, they need to become part of the emerging digital ecosystem, and the entry level foundation for that is a competent ERP/MRP system.

There are almost 4,000 UK enterprises manufacturing wearing apparel, and 99.7% of these count as SMEs. There are of course further companies in the related fields of textile production, footwear, accessories, not to mention a small army of unincorporated individuals ranging from high-end designers and their networks of artisan makers to the many, often exploited, out- and home- workers. Manufactures range from fashion to workwear, and the factory may be the atelier of a couture house, or a contract manufacturer for retailers and brands. UK companies booked sales of £1.6 billion, at factory gate prices, in 2019 whereas the retail value of UK apparel sales is north of £50 billion. That partly reflects the dominance of cheap, and sometimes ethically dubious, imports in the mass market but also suggests that UK firms are failing to capture as much of the value chain as they could. If they can exploit the emerging trends, UK firms could improve their share significantly.

The ethical and environmental concerns of consumers, increased geo-political trade friction, the post-pandemic emphasis by brands and retailers on supply chain resilience, and rising costs in ‘cheap’ source markets are fuelling some degree of reshoring of manufacture, and a greater appetite by consumers for the local, natural, ethical and ‘authentic’. Fast, throwaway, bulk fashion is less desirable or acceptable. Such shifts do not have to be massive to transform prospects for many small producers.

Demand for customised and personalised apparel is increasing, along with the technologies required to deliver this.  IT is providing ‘virtual fitting rooms’, and is beginning to enable consumers to create their own designs – from fabric prints and patterns to shapes, styles, colourways and trims – and is on the verge of being able to use the digital files thus created to instruct largely automated manufacture – ‘robotic’ programmable knitting machines, for example, are already a reality.

The personalisation trend is partly driven by social media, and this is having other impacts. ‘Flash’ sales and product ‘drops’ are increasingly used, even or especially by upmarket brands to create near-guaranteed sell-out ‘events’ for strictly limited editions.

Social media also extends opportunities for smaller manufacturers to develop their own Direct to Consumer lines of trade thus capturing more of the value chain. Retailers and brands are beginning to use Big Data analytics and Artificial Intelligence not only to understand and influence demand, but to spot or even predict ‘micro-trends’ and create or modify designs to suit.

One effect of these trends is that unlike some other manufacturing sectors, such as automotive, which are being forced back from their Just in Time models, significant parts of the garment and apparel industry are moving towards a make-to-order, small batch size, environment. This is reinforcing the requirement for close to market manufacturing, removing some of the disadvantageous economies of scale and, at least in theory, playing to the strengths of the smaller companies, which can be more agile in response to demand changes.

For those smaller manufacturers, the challenges include smaller batches, ever-tighter lead times, and even more rapidly varying order requirements – as it is, orders from retailers and brands can be subject to almost daily variation in terms of size ranges, colourways and delivery destinations and schedules – as data analysis produces ever more granular insights, these variations can only increase. In this environment, manufacturers have to minimise material waste, ensure timely procurement of materials at shorter notice, and make the most effective use of labour – which, whatever the advances in robotics, will always be a key element. Fast and accurate planning and scheduling is key.

They are also under increasing pressure to have documented, auditable systems to prove they are complying with both legal and customer requirements – on use of sub-contractors, Health & Safety, the minimum wage, the source of materials and, because a significant proportion of UK output is exported, providing evidence for Country of Origin and other regulations.

An ERP/MRP base is essential for firms to interact meaningfully with their customers’ B2B web portal, EDI and other systems, and to support any digital D2C business they may develop. How else can the firm make that price and delivery promise in real time? Not every garment manufacturer is immediately faced with the prospect of robotic sewing, unique single consumer designs, or the application of blockchain or predictive analytics, but they all need to book their place in this increasingly digital environment.

ERP/MRP itself does not, of course, deliver digitalisation, but it is a necessary precondition. It establishes a single source of truth, it allows the effective co-ordination of a complex supply chain. including outworkers, with real-time planning and scheduling. It enables effective response to rapidly changing demand and crucially, gives visibility into whether activities and contracts are actually profitable. A well set up system also allows two-way, largely automated, communication with customers and suppliers, taking time, cost and error out of business processes. It is the basis for the verification and audit procedures that customers and consumers are increasingly demanding. It also provides the backbone on which other, more advanced, technologies can in time be mounted.

Cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service ERP/MRP systems such as those from MRPEasy, are now eminently affordable. There are low initial costs for capital equipment, training and implementation, and they are fully scaleable both in functions used and in number of users. The client is paying for usage, so on-costs are proportionate to business activity. Systems are designed for the needs of smaller companies, and routines and applications specific to the garment/apparel industry can be perfected and shared across the relevant user community.

These are exciting times for UK garment manufacturers, if they embrace digitalisation.

Help Your Team Thrive

According to LinkedIn, 94% of employees would consider staying with a company longer if there was a clear investment in learning. Young people in particular put learning, development and progression high among their top motivators. With lockdown over, many employees may be looking for new positions and it’s important that employers look at ways to retain staff.

Sodexo Engage, specialists in employee engagement, has identified four tactics that businesses should consider this Learning at Work Week to support their employees:

Design a learning journey

Traditionally, a training session would be delivered in a classroom or via a long zoom meeting with little or, no follow-up session. The downside is that people tend to forget what they have learned without regular reinforcement.

It’s important to move away from a one-off session and make learning and development a continuous journey. This could include pre- and post-workshop,activities,digital learning, on-the-job coaching, and shorter skills based workshops. Employers should also consider rewarding this behaviour to encourage ongoing learning and development in their employees.

Focus on upskilling

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a projected loss of 195 million jobs, at least 54% of all employees will need to upskill to meet changing work needs by 2022. Offering employees a chance to upskill not only supports their ambitions, but wider company success.

Digital skills, in particular, will grow in importance as the way we work and conduct our lives changes. Without the necessary skill sets, employers will find filling gaps challenging and ultimately lag behind more forward-thinking competitors.

Develop your managers

It’s easy to forget the important role of middle managers – they have a direct line of communication with employees and are often placed in a role without suitable training. Poor middle management can cause a rippling effect on engagement and staff retention. Companies should consider providing regular development to both new and existing managers to ensure they are fully equipped with the right tools. 

 

Ensure staff have a say

While employers may think they know what staff want and need, there is no better way of making sure than opening the lines of communication. Regular feedback from staff on their ambitions and needs can ensure that everyone is given a chance to take control of their own learning journey. It’s important that requests aren’t left to just annual reviews or annual employee surveys and that they can flex around current needs and requirements.

Laura Coleman Head of Learning and Development at Sodexo Engage, comments:

“An unengaged workforce can be detrimental to employers Not only can it negatively impact staff retention, it’s also the biggest threat to an organisation’s bottom line. Providing employees with access to learning and giving them the opportunity to grow is a powerful way to keep employeesengaged, and ultimately be even better at their job now, and in the future.

“On a wider scale, upskilling is a key enabler for economic growth, and the growth of individuals and our community. Following COVID-19 it’s become even more important for learning and development to move up the corporate priority list.”

How To Use Lightroom To Make Your Photos Perfect And Flawless

A photograph is much more than just an image, it is a memory that has been captured for the user to behold until the end of time. We choose to snap photographs at the times in our lives that we wish to cherish and treat them as keepsakes, holding them close to our hearts, reminding us vividly of how we felt in those momentous, joyous times. We turn to the camera during the great experiences in life such as the time when our children took their very first steps, the day when sacred vows were made to one another and when embarking upon that unforgettable family vacation. A photograph is a true vision of any given moment that captures not only our physical being but also our raw, genuine emotions, which brings them to possess the element of total sentimental value.

Photographers all around the globe understand the phenomenal sentimental power that the photograph beholds hence the reason they make it their mission in life to seize the moment and capture the perfect camera shot. They perceive their precious camera as the ultimate treasure, that they are able to bestow on each and every person who is present within their frame. After all, there is nothing more of value to the human race as the power of being in possession of the ultimate piece of nostalgia, memories truly are priceless.

 

Photography Tools Have Advanced!

In times not so long ago, the tools photographers had to work with were incredibly limited indeed however, nowadays the technology surrounding the vocation truly has advanced similarly to the innovative equipment surrounding videography. Just like all elements within the world, technology has provided endless possibilities and now photographers everywhere have the power to enlist the ultimate tool to aid them in creating the ultimate work of art.

Yes, the magnificent feature known as Lightroom has made it possible to not only snap the perfect moment but also to edit it, transforming it into the most exquisite photograph humanly possible. Lightroom is a godsend to not only the photographers of today but also the whole human race, aiding them in turning a standard image into an impeccable masterpiece! Here are some useful tips to help you in making your photos absolutely flawless.

 

Correct the White Balance

Sometimes when taking pictures, especially outside when the sun is blazing bright, we can find ourselves met with a blue tint present within the shot. This blue tint causes the image to appear artificial, proposing the need for a little tweaking for the desired natural-looking finish, like that of the naked eye. Lightroom gives you the power to edit and correct the white balance, making it possible to transform the photograph for a more natural finish. The feature allows you to correct the white balance post-production or whilst you are in action capturing the shot.

 

Alter the Saturation and Vibrance

Lightroom possesses the ability to adjust the photo’s vibrance and saturation, providing the shot with the ultimate wow factor! Lightroom comes equipped with the feature of sliders that allow you to adjust colors accordingly, by simply moving the sliders you can exhaust the feature until you stumble upon the desired effect. This feature gives you the ability to alter the color within the image without the finish looking artificial.

 

Brighten Up or Darken Specific Areas (Dodge/Burn)

There may be times when you require to brighten (dodge) or darken (burn) specific areas of the image without causing change to the entire shot. Say for instance, if you were embarking on creating the perfect shot of a person and desired to brighten up specific facial features, then the only way to achieve this would be to install local adjustment brushes for portraits – the adjustment brush will give you the power to focus on the particular areas you wish to adjust without causing any unwanted change to the remainder of the photograph. Resulting in creating a flawless portrait!

 

Adjust the Highlights and Shadows

Often photographs possess the not-so-good quality of being clipped, capturing only solid black and white areas within the shot. This results in those areas of the picture holding absolutely zero pixel detail, causing the image to appear basic. However, Lightroom has the phenomenal capability to recover most of these shots, giving you the opportunity to hopefully salvage that perfect shot!

 

Remove Pollutants from the Shot

Whether you are taking a shot either inside or outdoors, the fact is your lens or sensor glass becomes prone to picking up pollutants such as dust and environmental debris. This debris becomes most prevalent in photographs that possess flat colored areas such as the sky. The innovation of Lightroom technology allows you to remove such pollutants from shots by simply using the spot removal tool. It works to automatically remove debris from shots by copying another area of the picture onto the spot, eliminating pollutants from spoiling the photograph. It also gives you the power to adjust the area you are copying from by simply moving the position of the circle.

 

Alter the Contrast

Lightroom provides you with the ability to alter the contrast of your shot, bringing flat images to life! This can be achieved by simply moving the slider from left to right, resulting in either decreasing or increasing the contrast within the image. You could also choose to take advantage of the Tone Curve section if you desire more control over the image.

 

Crop and Straighten

It is essential for every photographer to possess the ability to successfully crop and straighten images accordingly post-shot, to ensure in perfecting the ultimate photograph. It is especially important in images that possess vertical or horizontal lines for example, an image separating the land from the sky. Also when capturing images there is the risk of suffering converging lines, which may portray for instance objects seeming off balance. The most recent version of Lightroom (Classic CC) contains an automatic option for the straightening of images and can fix the problem of converging lines. Doing a great job of putting that balance into your shots.

Yes, the ways and means of producing the perfect image certainly have evolved in recent years. Now just by adopting the magnificent features that Lightroom has to offer, you can magically edit your photographs to successfully create the most flawless, stunning images possible!

How to deal with workplace stress

Stress is a health crisis that, over the years, has been more destructive than most. While we may not get the daily reports of casualties, there are undoubtedly a high number of people who are impacted by its health implications. Dealing with your stress is one of the kindest things you can do with your body. One way to approach this health management is to better understand the connection between your mind and your gut and the never-ending cycle of influence between each.

First, we should look at how stress impacts your body and your gut. Then, it is essential to understand how these physical issues exacerbate stress and how control over your lifestyle could create a positive rather than negative cycle.

How does stress impact your body?

When faced with a stressful situation at work, our bodies release hormones that help us deal with the threat. As our brain’s protective systems have not evolved so much from early man, these hormones evoke a fight, flight, or freeze reaction. In short, your body is primed to have a fight or run away with an apex predator.

Cortisol is released to encourage your heart rate and blood pressure to rise, sending blood to the muscles that will help you with your battle. Your muscles will tense as your body is made alert for the action it will take.

Failure to release this cortisol causes quite toxic effects on your body.

How does stress impact your gut?

As the mind and gut are intimately connected, this stress response has an intense impact on your intestine, bowel, and rectum. When you are in heightened stress, these muscles tense too, and blood flows to other parts of the body needed for survival. In short, stress is a destructive force on the gut.

It need not be surprising that you feel much of your intuition in your gut. When you are nervous, you feel butterflies, and when you are scared, you experience nauseousness. Taken to an extreme, stress can cause physiological changes to your gut, including severe inflammation and other gastrointestinal tract illnesses.

This problem becomes cyclical because your diet and intake of nutrients directly impact your mental health. Therefore, people with conditions like irritable bowel system are also prone to anxiety and depression. The mental health concerns then feed into the hormonal changes to the body that exacerbate the gut’s condition.

How can you use this mind-gut connection to your advantage?

Maintaining your gut health is a way to break this negative cycle. Managing what you eat can relieve the symptoms of gastrointestinal problems and provide the nutrients you need to feel mentally stronger.

Therefore, a simple step of eating a more plant-based diet could help your gut. You will consume a diverse amount of microbes that will feed the good bacteria in your stomach. You should also eat probiotic foods, which add more live bacteria to your stomach and can be found in live yoghurts, raw cheese, and fermented foods. You should also increase your fibre intake, eating vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains, and use extra virgin olive oil as your fat of choice.

It is also about moving away from foods that unbalance this system. Highly processed foods may be tasty, but they wreak havoc on your gut health, which in turn will make your stress levels worse.

How can your lifestyle help to control this stress?

You can be more proactive still by making lifestyle choices that break the negative cycle between your mind and gut. For instance, choosing to meditate or practise mindfulness can calm the mind, which will reduce the creation of cortisol. You are using your senses to move your brain from an analytical mode where it intuits a threat to a feeling of being present and grounded. Yoga is an excellent way of doing this, too and offers other physical benefits.

You can also seek to release endorphins and dopamine into your system, both of which literally eat up cortisol. Exercise is one of the most efficient ways of doing this and is why doctors suggest this to manage stress levels.

Finally, you need to get the right amount of sleep. Our mind needs sleep to process our experiences and to recuperate the mind and body. Without this ability to rest, recharge and rebuild, your stress levels will escalate – which in turn will impact your gut – which will cause your stress levels to increase even more.

The important message

Our body and mind are interconnected systems. You cannot hope to look after one without caring for the other. Therefore, taking care of your gut will help you cope with stress. Allowing stress to damage your GI tract will exacerbate negative emotions. Using all the tools available to you to break this cycle will help you cope with work-based stress.

Manually Make A Perfect Cup Of Coffee With This Quick Guide

Almost every person in the world starts their morning with a cup of coffee. This is what makes it all the more shocking that most of the regular coffee drinkers don’t make it properly. Use this quick guide to manually make a perfect cup of joe, and skip out on all the less than perfect cups of coffee in the future. 

Use Freshly Roasted Beans

The first thing you should pay attention to if you want to make a perfect cup of joe is to use freshly roasted beans. There are many reasons why this will yield the best coffee you’ve had in a while. Firstly, freshly roasted beans aren’t readily available at every supermarket because it’s easier for them to sell ground vacuum-sealed coffee. This, although might have an acceptable flavor, has released most of its aroma because ground coffee will evaporate these substances faster because of the bigger surface. It’s better if the coffee is kept in the bean form as long as possible. In addition to this, even the beans will lose their aroma if they’ve become stale, so it’s crucial to pay attention here. Look around for a coffee shop in your area and if you want to make that perfect cup of joe, buy only freshly roasted beans and make sure you store them in a vacuum-sealed container until use.

Use the Proper Size of the Grind

Manually making a perfect cup of joe is all about small improvements on important steps. By many coffee experts, grinding the coffee is the most important one of all. The reason why it’s so important is that grind size on its own can dramatically impact the taste of your coffee. Three factors make the biggest difference when it comes down to grind size: flow rate, extraction rate, and contact time. In simpler terms, this means that the extraction rate of coffee grounds is bigger with a larger surface area, and to increase the surface area, the coffee beans need to be a fine grind. The higher the extraction rate, the less time needed, and the finer the grind is the lower the flow rate of water, the bigger the contact time. While making coffee manually can guarantee the best cup ever, grinding it manually can be very exhausting and time-consuming so you might want to consider purchasing a commercial coffee grinder. In addition to this, if you want a finer grind, a commercial coffee grinder has more power and can produce finer coffee grounds than average coffee grinders.

Extraction Methods

There are a few extraction methods when it comes down to making the best coffee at home, and they all depend on what type of coffee you like to drink. To make coffee manually though, there are a few great options: Turkish coffee, pour-over coffee, and Aeropress coffee. As we’ve mentioned, all of these are manual methods for making coffee at home and some are easier than others as you’ll soon see. 

Turkish coffee is the easiest one to make since all it requires is that you boil about 100 ml of water in a very small pot, and once it starts boiling, turn the gas off and add about two teaspoons of finely ground coffee. Let it sink, and only then mix it, and let it “rise” about three times. Turkish coffee is not filtered, so just pour it like it is in a cup and enjoy it. 

Pour-over coffee requires a filter and a special system setup of a cone to fit the filter in, but the bases are the same. Measure out the number of coffee grinds you prefer, put it in the filter and pour boiled water over it and let it drip on its own. It’s recommended to use the scale for measuring out the number of coffee grounds, as well as the amount of water that goes in to hit the perfect spot.

To make Aeropress coffee, the process is the same as with pour-over coffee but it has a tube-like shape and you essentially manually push the water through the coffee in the filter. This yields coffee much faster, and it has more crema than pour-over coffee. Even though it requires a bit of work, the result is worth it.

Manually making a perfect cup of coffee has never been easier. Although it incorporates the manual extraction methods, not every step of the way has to be manual such as grinding the beans. While it’s important to freshly grind your coffee, what good does it do to spend that much time? So instead, you can use commercial grinders to make this happen faster. Enjoy this quick guide!

Playing the Long Game: How to be Successful at Long-term Investing

By Ben Hobson, Markets Editor, Stockopedia 

 

Read the financial headlines and it would be easy to believe that an investment fortune can be made with just one trade.  

 

While it’s true that some people do get lucky with one “magic” stock during their investment journey, most successful investors build their personal wealth and security over the long term. 

 

Investing is mostly a waiting game. Sticking to a predetermined strategy is key to success in this field – while not letting emotions compromise your judgement. 

 

In the modern age of investing, this isn’t easy. New and experienced investors are being bombarded with more information and ideas than ever before. But in all this noise comes the increased risk of mistakes and misinformation – making the idea of getting quick money sound all the more tempting. 

 

That’s why Ben Hobson, Markets Editor at Stockopedia shares his insights on how to manage your portfolio for the long run.

 

 

Have a plan  

 

Investment strategies naturally change over time and making mistakes is unavoidable as markets fluctuate.  

 

Understanding the risks ahead of time and looking at the bigger picture can help you manage the highs and lows so that you stay committed for the long term. 

 

Not only will this give you confidence, but it will help you manage the fear of loss that can lead some investors to throw in the towel.  

 

Everyone is guilty of dipping into savings to fit their needs – whether it be for a treat or a surprise expense – but it’s vital to know precisely how much you’re willing to invest. 

 

For the most part, the longer you remain invested, the more you’re likely to benefit from compounding returns over time. So, being confident that you can afford the amount you have invested today, and in the years that follow, is paramount. 

 

A strategic stance 

 

Investors and investment strategies are all different and investing advice takes many forms and can seem confusing to those starting out. Yet the historical drivers of stock market profits are surprisingly consistent.  

 

Keep it simple and create a strategy around the three factors that many professional investors focus on – Quality, Value and Momentum. This way, you’re aligning with factors that have historically driven the strongest performances in the stock market over time. 

Remember that high profitability and cash flows are markers of a strong business and are likely worth looking at. Be vigilant of low or no profits, thin margins, debt and precarious balance sheets – businesses with these are usually worth avoiding. 

 

Valuation is vital when choosing a stock. Unloved shares that can be bought for a snip may offer supersized returns. But paying a fair price for higher quality or promising growth is just as viable.  

 

Finally, looking at trends and history can help you gauge a stock’s performance. Positive momentum is one of the most significant return drivers in investing. Share prices that are rising strongly often continue to do so. 

 

The perfect all-weather portfolio 

 

Stocks, sectors and markets move in their own cycles. When one zigs, the other zags, so think about the roles that each investment type plays in your portfolio and how many positions you feel comfortable with managing. 

 

Any investor worth their salt would recommend spreading out finances across a range of investment types and trying out different strategies. 

 

Diversification between different market-cap sizes, investment styles, industry sectors and even international geographies can protect you from being too exposed to unnecessary risks and can smooth out your investment returns over time. 

 

For example, having your money invested in funds and bonds can be less risky than a volatile stock, but having both could help limit losses and increase the chances of a positive return. 

 

Keeping a balance 

 

When your portfolio is in place, understanding where to prioritise your attention lets you rest easy at night rather than fretting over small changes. 

 

One or two big winners can quickly dominate your allocation, but those big winners can also be life changing. 

 

Don’t get too caught up in your portfolio performance – you need to let your investments breathe. If anything, getting too caught up in the losses can make you miss an uptick in value around the corner. 

 

Overtrading can not only fuel emotional investing, but fees and charges can quickly mount. Trading fees all chip away at your portfolio, so avoid throwing money at unnecessary trades – especially when you’re bored. 

How to Start Growing Your Own Food

Psychologists are only now discovering how important feeling capable and like we’re able to care for ourselves and providing for ourselves is for our mental health. Beyond feeling secure and like we’d be alright if we needed to fend for ourselves outside society’s grip for a while, growing our own food can also help keep us healthy, promote sustainable agriculture practices which protect everyone and the planet, and it’s an excellent opportunity to teach children about the food cycle. That’s a ton of benefits for something so simple.

The following will break down the basics you need to know if you’re interested in growing your own food. Of course, every climate and terrain is a little bit different, so it’s crucial that you take into consideration your natural environment when choosing what to grow and where to grow it. For the best results, you’re going to want to couple this article with a book or in-depth article on the soil and vegetables and fruits in your area. As well, it’s vital that you ensure you’re not introducing any species to your local environment that are known for being aggressive.

Seeds Or Store-Bought Produce

First things first, you’re going to need something edible to grow if you want to grow your own food. You can purchase seeds at your local supermarket or garden center; for bonus points, look for heirloom seeds, non-GMO, and organic. It can be hard to get all three in one seed, so take your time and do your research in order to prioritize your health. You also have the option of growing edible plants straight from produce. Many vegetables and fruits can be grown straight from stems or scraps. Once you start to notice where roots sprout, you’ll be able to experiment with the veggies you buy, saving scraps and seeing what you can grow from them.

Soil

You’re also going to need some soil to grow your plants in. If you’re lucky enough to have a yard with some decent soil, that part is sorted for you (you might need to spend an afternoon building a fence, though if you’ve got deer or rabbits nearby; don’t say we didn’t warn you). You might also want to spend a few hours turning the soil so that it’s not too tightly packed and your plant roots have a chance to get a good grip. You might also want to test the soil for any missing nutrients and supplement with a bit of store-bought soil to get things going.

Not everyone has access to a yard, and that’s okay; everyone can still grow food. If you’ve got a porch or balcony or even a shelf near a southern window, you can get some pots (plastic-free is best for plants you want to eat) and participate in the urban gardening trend. Soil can also be purchased at your local department store or garden center (it’s way less expensive than you might think), and there are nutrient-enriched, organic options for those of us who want super healthy plants. This is also an excellent option for people who live in cold climates and want to grow food all year round.

Sun

As a general rule, you’re going to want to have your plants hit by light from the south (if you’re in the northern hemisphere) and the north (if you’re in the southern hemisphere). This will maximize the time your plants have with sunlight on them. Of course, each type of plant is different, and there are the occasional veggie or fruit that likes a bit more shade. Plants still will grow in the window sill facing another direction, but they might take a bit longer to mature and will have to work a little harder to do so.

Water

You need to water your plants, especially when they’re little and just beginning to sprout. Most herbs, veggies, and fruits like a spritz every day if you’ve got the time, and you’ll quickly begin to discern when they’re wilting. Wilting always means they need more water. If you’re on a well or using rainwater (rainwater is the best option for plants), you can probably just pour the water over the soil. If you’ve got city water, ideally, you want to filter it first, but if you can’t manage that, fill a jug or pot and let it sit out for two hours at least before you use it. This gives the chlorine inside time to evaporate. Chlorine is used to clean city water, and it will kill your plants. Yes, it’s also terrible for you, but you’re growing your own food at the moment, so let’s tackle one major lifestyle change at a time.

The above points probably seem simple, and that’s because they are. Yes, you’ll get to know your plants and what they like and what makes them thrive if you pay attention, but the basics of growing food are really that simple. Seeds and plants want to grow. It’s what they’re meant to do.

Essential Style Tips That Will Help You Look Great on the Beach

Whether you are looking forward to relaxing at a chaise, attending an evening soiree, or seeking a beach to brunch outfit that wows, you have to pay attention to style. As much as you will be focused on having a good time, looking great and stylish at the beach calls for preparation. To some, preparation entails cutting down some pounds, which means hitting the gym hard a few months before summer comes. To others, hiding those extra pounds on the beach is their main concern. All the same, we all want to look stunning on the beach regardless of how beach-ready we are or feel.

Well, whether or not you were successful at attaining your desired body shape before summer, you should find this piece helpful when it comes to beach style. With a larger bias on the ladies, let’s count a few essential tips that will help you look great when spending time on the beach.

1. Choosing the Right Swimwear 

What makes beachwear so unique is that you have small cloth pieces that need to serve you in all ways. As much as you want to be comfortable and decent enough, you still want to look stunning and leave eyes gazing at you every time you walk by. When choosing swimwear, you should keep in mind that even the tiniest details count:

  • Vertical cutouts on a swimsuit give you a taller appearance.
  • Bikini bottoms with a high cut make the legs appear longer.
  • Wide shoulders are narrowed by round and V-shaped cutouts, as well as straps tied around the neck.
  • Volume is added with frills, ruffles, and other embellishments. These elements should be on your bikini bottoms if you have narrow hips and broad shoulders.

If you want your swimwear to hide the extra pounds you have, look for something multi-colored. If you don’t think your wide hips require that much attention, wear a bra with decorative elements. Looking fabulous on the beach sometimes depends on how you play around with visual effects.

2. Pick the Right Footwear 

Summer is the best time to spend at the beach. Given the warm weather, you want to keep your feet breathing while the toes enjoy contact with the soft sand. In this case, Havaianas sandals do a great job. To ensure you stay stylish, be sure to look for the Havaianas rubber logo when shopping for beachwear sandals. They come in a wide range of designs, sizes, and colors; you can comfortably match them with your beachwear or swimsuit. They literally complete your summer style look.  

3. Accessories 

Maintaining any look on the beach is highly dependent on what eye candy you have on you. You can’t blame prying eyes if all they see are your imperfections. This is because you haven’t given them something else to focus on. If you hit the gym to improve your fitness before summertime but your workouts didn’t quite pay off, you can as well invest in accessories that will divert any onlooker’s attention.

Accessories can be anything from a bright beach bag to sunglasses with fun designs and enticing colors. It can be a necklace, a hat, or something as simple as a bracelet. Keep in mind that too much of a good thing doesn’t create appeal. Therefore, limit your accessories to what creates a harmonized look or complements your outfit for that stunning look.

4. Prints and Color of the Swimwear

It’s okay if you never managed to cut those pounds before beach time. The right choice of colors or prints for your swimwear can help create a visual balance, leaving you looking stunning all through. To make this happen, you need to know what color or print does the trick and what doesn’t. Dark colors, for instance, can be used when you don’t want prying eyes noticing the extra volume. Bright colors, on the other hand, should be used in instances where you want to add some volume through optical illusion. Try out your selected beachwear in your room so you are sure each color serves what you had in mind for it.

5. Consider Bringing an Oversized Button Down

What makes a good cover-up, in your opinion? An oversized button-down shirt works the magic since it is easy to wear, traditional, and a little sexy. It can also be styled in a variety of ways. For instance, you can wear it as a mini-dress or tie it around your waist — whatever makes your heart sing!

The beach season is the ideal time to reveal to the world how beautiful and comfortable you are in your skin. In case you aren’t enjoying water sports, you’ll be enjoying the warm rays and relaxing. When preparing for this long-awaited season, the above tips will help you stay stylish and look stunning on the beach.

Gordonstoun School Honours Prince Philip With Ocean Wreath Send-Off and Newly Released School Reports

Gordonstoun staff and students have found their own ways to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.

Since Prince Philip passed away on April 9, 2021, staff and students at the duke’s former school, Gordonstoun, Moray, have made tributes to celebrate his life-long commitment to the school. Not only was Prince Philip the school’s tenth student, joining Gordonstoun when it first opened in 1934, but he also supported the school throughout the rest of his life, most notably through his visits, development of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and efforts towards the Prince Philip Gordonstoun Foundation, which enables students from a wide variety of backgrounds to attend Gordonstoun. Prince Philip’s legacy continues to inspire and support Gordonstoun students through this scheme.

In light of Prince Philip’s funeral last month, Gordonstoun staff and students shared a minute of silence with the nation. Students also undertook a morning run to the Moray coast and back, as Prince Philip often did as a Gordonstoun student. They then laid a floral tribute in the seas where Prince Philip learnt to sail with Gordonstoun.

Gordonstoun Memorial Wreath

Students and staff gathered at Hopeman Harbour on the school’s yacht, Ocean Spirit, to celebrate Prince Philip’s life on April 17. They paid tribute to the duke by laying a wreath in the Moray Firth where he learnt to sail in the 1930s. Prince Philip became a keen sailor and went on to become a cadet at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. A piper played Flowers of the Forest while they laid the wreath in the water.

‘We can’t have large-scale gatherings at the moment, but to be able to have a smaller tribute to [Prince Philip] which is still an appropriate scale is great,’ said Gordonstoun’s Principal Lisa Kerr. ‘For us to put together this tribute felt like the right thing to do in these circumstances – it represents his love of the Moray Firth, Hopeman Harbour, and Gordonstoun.’

Gordonstoun has also now released photos of Prince Philip sailing one of the school’s boats when he was around 15. The Duke even sailed to Norway, which students still do today.

‘When he came to Gordonstoun… it was a place where he found security and stability and a place where he was able to discover his true self and become the very best version of himself,’ said Kerr. ‘It was somewhere that he developed his love of the sea, his love of sport, his connection with the outdoors and particularly built his focus on service to others, which is such an important part of the Gordonstoun curriculum even today.’

Prince Philip’s Report Cards

Buckingham Palace has also given Gordonstoun permission to release Prince Philip’s school report in advance of his birthday. The late Duke would have turned 100 in June. This school report gives a clear insight into Prince Philip’s young personality and what life was like for the Duke during his school days at Gordonstoun.

In this report, the headmaster of the time, Dr. Kurt Hahn, revealed that Philip was sent to Gordonstoun because ‘whenever the Nazi salute was given, he roared with laughter’ and ‘attracted universal attention’. The report goes on to explain that ‘after he had been admonished to caution, he continued to be doubled up in uncontrollable mirth.’

‘We thought it better for him and also for us if he returned to England right away,’ his sister (who brought Prince Philip to Gordonstoun) had said.

As a founder of the Outward Bound Movement, Hahn became an inspirational mentor for Prince Philip. When the Duke arrived at Gordonstoun, Hahn noted that ‘his marked trait was his undefeatable spirit, he felt deeply both joy and sadness, and the way he looked and the way he moved indicated what he felt. That even applied to the minor disappointments which are inevitable in a schoolboy’s life. But for the most part, he enjoyed life, his laughter was heard everywhere and created merriness around him.’

‘He never lost the childlike quality of becoming absorbed by whatever he tackled, almost to the point of oblivion. And his absorbing activities varied from the captaincy of the First Cricket and First Hockey Elevens to the building of a pigsty and repairing or cleaning jobs on his beloved Prince Louis, the schooner named after his grandfather and baptised by his grandmother’.

‘He got into a fair number of scrapes through recklessness and wildness. He was often naughty, never nasty.’ For example, ‘he was in the habit of cycling regardless of safety rules, and on one occasion, he avoided a clash with a baby in a perambulator by inches, thanks to his unusual agility: he appeased the mother by an apology which was irresistible.’

Hahn went on to detail that Prince Philip ‘had grown impatient of what for short may be called Royalty nonsense. After matches and theatrical performances, people often asked him for an autograph. He found this ridiculous and on one occasion signed himself ”The Earl of Baldwin”, to the bewilderment of the autograph-hunter.’

He also recalled that Prince Philip had ‘meticulous attention to detail’ and was ‘never content with mediocre results’.

Prince Philip’s Gordonstoun Roots

Prince Philip famously endured a challenging childhood. He was exposed to the horrors of Nazi Germany and faced much grief when his father was exiled from Greece during a battle, his mother was confined to a psychiatric sanatorium, and his sister lost her life along with her family in a plane crash. Despite these tragic incidents, Prince Philip found much happiness at Gordonstoun School, where he found his love for outdoor pursuits and developed the sense of comradeship he was so well known for.

In his final year, Prince Philip became the Guardian (head boy equivalent) and took part in the Moray Badge – the award that inspired the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) award. The Moray Badge encouraged pupils to succeed in their outdoor pursuits and community service, much like the modernised DofE award does now. Hahn launched the badge as a test of physical endurance, believing pupils should learn outdoors, as well as in the classroom. And Prince Philip himself described Gordonstoun’s landscapes as ‘additional classrooms’ that ‘open the eyes of young people to the wider world beyond school and home’. He was one of the first students to receive the Moray Badge.

In 1956, Hahn and Prince Philip launched the national DofE Award, which young people aged 14–24 can complete to Bronze, Silver, and Gold level. Prince Philip has awarded the Gold DofE Award to numerous proud recipients over the past 65 years. Today, young people across more than 140 countries work towards this award.

Royal Heritage

Since Prince Philip finished school, another two generations of British royalty have attended Gordonstoun. Princes Charles, Andrew, and Edward all attended, followed by Princess Anne’s children Zara and Peter Tindall. Prince Charles and Prince Edward also became Guardians, following in their father’s footsteps, during their time at Gordonstoun.

‘When [Prince Philip] came to Gordonstoun as a parent or grandparent, there was no pomp and ceremony,’ said Kerr. ‘There’s a lovely story of how he came to one of Prince Edward’s drama performances and he sat in a seat with a handwritten sign that simply said “mum and dad”.’

Prince Philip made several visits to Gordonstoun to spend time with students, even after his children finished school. In 2014, he famously visited to celebrate the school’s 80th anniversary and insisted on joining students in the lunch queue, instead of allowing staff to bring his meal to him.

Prince Philip remained committed to Gordonstoun throughout his life and even wrote to the school in the final days before his death. The letter to the principal arrived shortly after he passed away.

About Gordonstoun School

Gordonstoun School is a widely admired co-independent school, nestled on the border of the Scottish Highlands near Elgin. Gordonstoun welcomes children from over 40 countries, who enjoy learning on the seventeenth-century 200-acre estate, which was originally owned by Sir Robert Gordon. The estate is now Gordonstoun’s primary campus and accommodation for the school’s 500 boarders. Over the years, Gordonstoun has developed its historic campus, integrating world-class facilities and artistic spaces. An additional 100 day students also make the most of Gordonstoun’s prestigious education, each learning in small teaching groups.

When students aren’t studying in the classrooms, they’re learning out in the open, both in Gordonstoun’s tranquil landscapes and in the surrounding Scottish Highlands. Students particularly enjoy taking the helm of Gordonstoun’s 80-foot sailboat.

Gordonstoun has also started one of the first and most successful summer school programmes, which offers opportunities to accommodate an array of interests.

Learn more about Gordonstoun School.

10 Oral Hygiene Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making

It should be safe to assume that everyone was taught how to be hygienic since they were kids. Most people know to brush their teeth, wear clean clothes, shower regularly, and wash their hands clean before meals. Such habits have been part of their everyday lives growing up.  

For you, being more hygiene-conscious has probably been your key to an illness-free and healthy life. However, when it comes to oral hygiene, people can actually include wrong habits in their practices. You might not have realized how harmful these practices are for your teeth. No matter how clean you think your teeth are, if you don’t stop making such mistakes, you might not fulfill your health goals. 

Importance Of Good Oral Hygiene 

Good dental health is vital for excellent overall health. If left without care, you could have dental problems like cavities and gum infections that may impair your ability to speak and eat properly. You also might experience bad breath and toothaches. Not to mention the more profound impact of bad oral hygiene on your heart health, including chronic inflammation. 

Proper oral hygiene not only results in clean teeth and fresh breath but is also one of the most effective ways to ensure overall healthy health. Here’s why: 

  • Daily visits to the dentist result in the early detection of diseases. 

Regular dental appointments are an essential part of maintaining good oral health. Do you visit once every six months? You should! When your dentist examines your teeth, they can find far more than cavities. Among the problems and diseases that a careful review may reveal are the following: 

  • Deficiencies in vitamins 
  • Reflux of acid 
  • Grinding of the teeth 
  • Diabetes mellitus 
  • Bone disease 
  • Heart issues 
  • Dementia  
  • Problems in mental wellbeing 
  • Cancers of the mouth 
  • Good dental hygiene keeps the teeth and gums in check.

While genetics play a significant role in whether or not you have cavities, routine brushing and preventative oral hygiene will help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Brushing prevents plaque that induces tooth decay and strengthens the gums, which aids in the prevention of gum disease. 

  • Certain diseases can be avoided with proper dental hygiene.

Infections that begin in your mouth will progress to more severe health problems. Gingivitis, for example, is a common infection of the gums. It has the potential to progress to periodontitis, a far more severe disease that can lead to the loss of your teeth. Conditions that begin in the mouth have also been related to the following complications and illnesses:  

  • Asthma 
  • Arthritis  
  • Premature births 
  • Respiratory issues 
  • Cardiovascular diseases 
  • Stroke 

Understanding the importance of good oral hygiene is a must. Dental health is fundamental in the efficient and ongoing treatment of oral diseases. It combats tooth decay or gingivitis and promotes healthier gums and teeth. Effective oral hygiene practiced daily could aid in the long-term durability and functionality of your teeth. 

Common Oral Hygiene Mistakes That You Need To Avoid

Now that you know the importance of good dental health, try to take a quick breath test. Wipe a cotton swab on your tongue and get a good sniff on it. Does it smell fresh or the exact opposite? If it has a foul smell, you must have been practicing poor dental hygiene practices that you didn’t know you were doing. 

It must be pretty straightforward to think that brushing your teeth alone and going to your dentist twice a year is enough to take care of your oral health. The thing is, there’s more to proper oral hygiene. Some of the practices that you’re doing now may not be good for your teeth. 

If you have no idea what these are, here are possible mistakes that contribute to oral health problems: 

  • Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard 

You might believe that removing bacteria necessitates vigorous scrubbing using your toothbrush. On the contrary, this is one of the gravest things you may be doing. Brushing excessively hard might lead to bleeding gums and could even weaken your teeth’s irreplaceable enamel. 

The plaque on your teeth is said to be very mild and does not require vigorous scrubbing to clean. All you have to do is use a gentle toothbrush and softly move it in circular movements along the entire surface of your teeth. Once done, you would’ve eliminated plaque completely. 

  • Using The Wrong Toothpaste 

It’s preferable to check for the stamp of a dental group on the dental products you use. If it has one, you’re assured of a product that has been thoroughly inspected, which may aid in maintaining a safe, cavity-free mouth.  

Choose the right toothpaste for your specific needs. You should consult with a dental professional on which toothpaste to use. If you have cavities, it might be best to use fluoride toothpaste. Meanwhile, if you have gingivitis, there are also many kinds of toothpaste that can help reduce inflammation. 

  • Skipping The Dental Floss 

Brushing won’t magically eliminate all decay-causing bacteria from your teeth. Bacteria often prefer hiding in the narrow spaces between your teeth, which your toothbrush cannot penetrate.  If you can, make time to floss all of your teeth and cover all parts of your teeth to avoid tooth decay. 

  • Not Brushing Long Enough 

You might be too busy with life that you don’t have ample time for certain activities. You’re probably only brushing your teeth quickly, thinking that it’s enough to keep dental decays at bay. But the truth is, this is a big mistake to make. 

You must brush your teeth for two full minutes. If you don’t, then your efforts could be for nothing. Not allocating adequate time to brush your teeth may encourage the growth of bacteria on your mouth’s surfaces. This could lead to bad breaths or gum infections. 

  • Brushing Teeth More Than Twice A Day 

Some of you might be brushing your teeth more than twice daily. Actually, there’s no need for it. This is because it’s believed that brushing more than two times a day can damage your gums and erode the enamel on your teeth. That’s not something that you want, right? Therefore, stop brushing three or more times a day. 

  • Drinking Excessive Amounts Of Sugary Drinks 

It’s said that a 16-ounce can of soda carries about 30 grams of sugar. Sugars are carbs which oral bacteria adore. Aside from that, they’re acidic, causing chemical degradation of the teeth. Yes, drinking soda or any sugary beverage may provide a temporary energy boost. But this terrible habit is damaging to your oral health. 

Consider substituting black or green tea for your beverages since they contain fewer calories than sugary drinks. Besides, these thirst-quenching and energy-boosting teas are healthier for your oral and general health. You may sip using a straw to prevent staining your pearly whites. 

  • Eating Sticky Or Chewy Foods 

Do you have a sweet tooth? If you do, you must know that frequent eating of sticky candies and lollipops is one of the worst foods for your dental health. Unfortunately for you, it might be best to stop. 

Sticky candies or lollipops seem to be very difficult to remove entirely from your teeth by brushing. Instead, they prefer to ‘stick on’ more, providing a feast for bad bacteria and damaging the teeth for several hours after you’ve consumed them. 

The majority of people are conscious that smoking is harmful to their bodies. It can cause a wide range of medical issues, including deadly diseases in some circumstances. However, not everyone is aware of the possible damage that smoking could cause to their teeth and gums. 

Smoking can cause staining on the teeth due to the nicotine and tar present in tobacco. Aside from that, smoking could also lead to gum diseases. Smokers are more prone to have gum disease. Smoking impedes the healing of the teeth because of lacking oxygen in the bloodstream, making smokers seem to be more susceptible to have tooth and gum cancer than non-smokers. 

  • Using Non-Approved Teeth Whitening Products 

Not all teeth whitening products are similar. What you think is more affordable may not serve you well. In your purchase of toothpaste or gel whitening treatments, always look for a dental association’s seal of approval. Otherwise, you might be using the wrong products that don’t work or could worsen your dental problems. 

  • Late Consultation To The Dentist 

Most assume that if their teeth or gums aren’t hurting, there are no issues. However, if people ignore the minor problems that might occur, their dental treatment would be more severe and costly. If you can, make routine visits to your dentist to treat even minor issues that may arise. This ensures healthier gum and minimizes severe oral problems. 

Final Thoughts 

Establishing and maintaining illness-free oral health is crucial to your overall wellness. But to do so, you need to do what’s right and avoid what’s wrong. With the guide above, identify which mistakes you have been practicing all this time and correct them. The quicker you learn from your errors, the better. 

The power of community engagement

Making your voice heard within your community is not always been the easiest. With a number of local governments still relying on traditional meetings, or pen-and-paper communications to allow the public to voice their issues or concern. CitizenLab saw an opportunity and created a digitalised community engagement platform designed to connect with residents, engage them in decision-making, and build trust through dialogue. Talking with CitizenLab co-founder Wietse Van Ransbeeck, we hear about recent business developments and what the future may hold.


Could you give us an overview/summary of CitizenLab, your role and what encouraged you to co-found the company? 

“CitizenLab is a civic tech company on the mission to make public decision-making more inclusive, participatory, and responsive. We provide governments with an engagement platform to easily consult their community and give them a say on the topics they care about. CitizenLab is being used by 300+ governments worldwide today, ranging from small municipalities and large cities to federal governments.”


“I founded CitizenLab about five years ago, together with my two co-founders, Aline Muylaert and Koen Gremmelprez. As engaged millennials, we were looking for easy accessible ways to get involved in our city and make our voice heard, but couldn’t really find how to participate. Attending a town hall meeting on a Tuesday night at 8pm isn’t what you’re looking most forward to. That’s why we created a digital platform to make it easy for people to get in touch with their governments and discuss ideas, wherever and whenever they want.” 


Following the pandemic, are you finding that more people/governments/leaders are open to the concept of civic technology?

“Absolutely. We have seen many governments starting to adopt digital tools to organise community participation.” 


“What struck us most at the start of the pandemic was that so many governments were still relying on traditional public meetings. Suddenly, they were all scratching their heads wondering how they could still guarantee democratic continuity despite the lack of in-person public meetings. That’s why we decided to bring a “face-to-face” meeting component onto our digital platform, too. We developed an online workshops module which allows governments to organise public meetings online, similar to Zoom calls visually, yet with all the tools built in to facilitate these meetings efficiently and to capture input in a structured way that lends itself to post-meeting action. The town hall meeting has been brought online, which we can only applaud – with it comes greater transparency and the opportunity for more residents to participate. Almere, in the Netherlands, has run over 20 workshops with their community since we launched the feature, and have even used it for topics you wouldn’t typically associate with digital participation: engaging the elderly on how to improve welfare and support.” 


“At the same time, we’ve seen a general awareness grow on the topic of community inclusion. A lot of local governments recognize the benefits of digital engagement -for instance,  people can participate on their own time regardless of work schedules or personal obligations – but they’re also increasingly aware of limitations stemming from the digital divide. We’ve been really inspired by places like Lancaster, in the United States, which blend online and offline engagement methods to reach more of their diverse community. By updating their traditional methods – for instance, by partnering with the public housing authority – and adding in a digital engagement platform (plus supplementing it with things like multilingual notices and QR-code posters around the city),
Lancaster increased their participation 13x, primarily from usually under-heard communities.” 


What are the main challenges you have faced over the last 12 months? 

“With more governments in need of digital alternatives for their community engagement projects, our client portfolio saw faster growth than we could have anticipated. Because we recognize that governments need a lot of education and training on digital participation, as it’s often totally new to them, we have a team of participation experts who are quite hands-on with our clients to help build their capacity so with this growth we realized we needed to do more capacity-building within governments. Seeing this as essential to making participatory endeavours successful, we are working on  developing an academy to spread expertise on community engagement and train civil servants.”


“Internally, the pandemic challenged us in maintaining our strong company culture, staying connected, and keeping everyone motivated. Going fully remote as a company was, and continues to be, an interesting challenge. While the  workplace has been totally redefined and we’ve all been exposed to totally new ways of working, we’ve been really honored and humbled by how flexible, collaborative, and kind our team continues to be with one another. We’ve also been able to grow internationally by opening vacancies to remote employees, helping us bring on a global team of colleagues across different countries and time zones.” 


Do you feel the need for new ways to engage in democracy has become clearer since the pandemic began?
 


“The model of a mere electoral democracy, in which citizenship is defined by the act of voting every 4 years, has become totally outdated. Digital technology has empowered people  around the world to make their voice heard through the internet, yet the channels haven’t always been well-designed for this to happen in the most constructive and impactful way. Luckily, we see more and more institutions developing their digital democracy platforms, creating an online public space for people from diverse backgrounds to gather and express their opinions on decisions that affect them in their daily lives.”


“However, there’s still much more work to be done. The big challenge for any digital democracy is bringing in the transformative effects of listening in real-life conversations to other perspectives. Citizens’ assemblies and the larger deliberative wave have shown us a clear way forward in recent years. The participatory democracy model of the future will be one that combines the power of digital platforms to involve many more community members  with the design of deliberative bodies to optimally tap into collective intelligence.”


Where do you hope CitizenLab will be this time next year? 

“We hope to have scaled our social impact much further, with a particular focus on being:

  • “Participatory: by creating more meaningful engagement opportunities; working beyond just the  local level (which is where a majority of our work happens today); and working  on more complex (trans-)national policy issues that require large-scale deliberation.”
  • “Responsive: by further increasing the influence residents can have on key decisions; and making those opportunities and their impact clearer by putting in place feedback mechanisms that communicate how one’s input has affected the actual decision-making process.”


What do you credit as being your biggest successes, since co-founding the business? 

“The diversity of the 300+ governments and 10,000+ projects we’ve been able to support over the past few years, all over the world. To name just a few impactful projects: a €6M participatory budget in Ghent (Belgium), co-drafting cannabis regulation in Bermuda, deliberative polls about the decolonization of public space in Nuuk (Greenland), making the city center car-free in Kortrijk (Belgium), collective urban planning in the London Borough of Newham (UK), and designing more equitable community engagement in Lancaster (PA, United States).” 


“But, we’re even more proud of having helped transition many cities into a continuous model of public participation, beyond just individual projects. Residents should be able to influence the decisions that affect them, and it’s great to see that so many governments started to make their public decision-making permanently open.”  

Should Companies Add Bitcoin To Their Balance Sheet?

There’s no denying that Bitcoin has come a long way over the last decade. The cryptocurrency that used to be regarded as the outsider, which people seemed to believe was exclusively used by people working in basements for transactions that they didn’t want anyone to know about, has become so mainstream that everyone from high schoolers to their grandparents could probably give you a fair approximation of what it is and how it works. 

However, despite Bitcoin’s increasing presence in pop culture and regular coverage in the news (how often does a week go by without some kind of story about what Bitcoin is doing?), there is still a lot of hesitancy and mistrust out there. Some of this is based on understandable concerns, and some of this is based on outdated preconceptions. Whatever the reason, the question of whether companies should add Bitcoin to their balance sheets continues to be asked. Here are a few things that you should consider if you’re one of the companies facing this question.

Bitcoin Is Not As Complicated As You Might Think
As we mentioned, there is a far greater understanding of how Bitcoin works and the opportunities it presents than there has been in the past. It is of course crucially important that you have a firm handle on it if you are thinking of adding it to your balance sheet, but this notion of it being some kind of impenetrable mystery is far from the truth. You will need to do your due diligence when it comes to research, of course, but the information is out there. 

Bitcoin Is Not Going Anywhere
One of the biggest myths surrounding Bitcoin, and all the cryptocurrencies on the market, is the idea that this is some kind of flash in the pan. A fad that a few people have got very excited about that will never have any real impact. Well, anyone who has been keeping that storyline going is starting to look a little behind the times, as Bitcoin has only solidified its status in the marketplace. 

As more and more big corporations show their very public interest in crypto, it’s only going to be more commonplace in portfolios across all industries. Now, you can buy Bitcoins on a range of different platforms that compare the best prices at that very moment, with everything from gift cards to online bank transfers. You can even purchase BTC in bulk. Paxful is a great example of a Bitcoin trading platform that helps you stay on top of every fluctuation.

Bitcoin Has Broken Through In All Sectors
This ties into the above points, but one of the most important things to consider if you’re thinking about adding Bitcoin to your balance sheet is the fact that more and more people are using it in all walks of life. Whether it was Morgan Stanley becoming the first major US bank to offer its clients Bitcoin funds access, Tesla and Time Magazine adding BTC to their balance sheets, or small business traders on Etsy and other sites accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment, it is fast becoming something that people are not only familiar with but will actually expect. 

While the value of Bitcoin has always been volatile and almost certainly will continue to be, it’s also going to continue to be an increasingly important market force for a long time to come.

Resources To Make Launching an Energy Supplier Business Easier

Being the owner of a business is no easy feat and takes a lot of time and effort to pay off. Even when you are not working or in your designated place of work, you think of things that could aid your efforts and make things more accessible as a business. 

It goes without saying, but being the owner of a small business is not easy at the best of times. Add a global pandemic into the equation, and things just seem all that more challenging, no matter the size or maturity of your company.  

If you have got to this period relatively unscathed, then kudos to you! The last twelve months have undoubtedly been some of the most difficult ones that we have ever faced that we can be sure of. 

However, you might be in the position following a period of planning where you want to open up your very own energy supplier business.  

If this is the case, we are confident there is something of value below, and which can be implemented into your business model. Whether you are a fresh-faced entrepreneurial project or are a more established company merely looking to refresh some of your practices, read on for more! 

First Steps 

Being an energy entrepreneur comes with its obstacles, much like other aspects of the business world. Distinguishing what types of energy you will be providing your customers is essential, for there is a vast range available in this day and age.  

As technology has developed, our ability to access once inaccessible sources of energy has also increased and developed. Technology resources that we once dreamed of are in arm’s reach and can be used to increase the number of people who have access to energy resources.  

While that is the case, the first steps of being an energy company is to determine if you will also be offering renewable energy. This is not the be-all and end-all when people choose an energy provider, but it does influence the decision-making process for many people nowadays.  

With the environment, climate change, and our responsibility to the world a hot topic for many, this is undoubtedly something that should be considered.  

Once you have established what markets you will be seeking to take on, you will need to use analytical tools to establish the state of the market itself while also finding out a bit more about your customers. This leads us to the following point.  

Energy Data and Information 

Gathering the relevant information is fundamental to any business, regardless of the sector or industry that you are in. While we can recognise, for the most part, that energy data and information is readily available through the likes of Government portals and associated platforms. 

While that is the case, some elements of this data require a bit more research and collection, which can be a bit more challenging to access than others. This data is crucial to the launching of your business and how you go about your business practices in future.  

However, there are available platforms and resources like that of the re.alto connect metering solution, which provide businesses like your own with the ability to access this information effectively.  

Whether you are looking to integrate the data provided with your own via a relevant app or platform within your business or intend to solely use the information provided by external resources, we are confident there is something available for you out there.  

From smart meter data access through to general trends in energy usage, you can expect to find the information you require from the likes of re.alto and others.  

Permits and Licensing 

Much like the running of other businesses, there are varying permits and licenses that are required to ensure you are doing things in the correct and legal way. The same goes for setting up an energy provider business.  

This should be sorted sooner rather than later due to the timescales that come with applying for a gas or electric provider license and when they are actually approved.  

Once you have received the relevant licensing, which signifies you can go forth and trade, some other elements of running a business should also be considered.  

Various Aspects of Your Business 

Energy providers are expected to provide a minimum level of customer service; there are a wide variety of resources available beyond the four walls of your business that are used for customer service and streamline your business’s efforts moving forward.  

What’s more, the customer service that your existing and potential customers receive is what will keep them coming to your business, after all. Providing a universal supply to your customers is essential to being an energy supplier company.  

Governing bodies in the energy supply industry want to implement more checks for new energy suppliers to ensure that they possess the relevant qualities and financial stability to go forth with their plans.  

Employee Satisfaction: Why It’s More Important Than Ever Before in 2021

Employee satisfaction. It’s perhaps not on the top of your list as a business owner, as you are likely more concerned with profits and how the business is operating. However, employees play a pivotal role in both profits and operations, which means that employee satisfaction should be on your radar. What’s really interesting, though, is the growing importance of employee satisfaction in 2021. It’s no longer an employer’s world out there, as so much of your company’s success hinges on the staff. Let’s take a look at why employee satisfaction is more important than ever and why it should be at the top of your priority list for 2021.

A Satisfied Employee Gives Their Best

Productivity is something that every business owner is hyper-aware of. Even when things are running smoothly, owners are always looking for ways to improve. While that may involve changes to production systems, the hardware used, and streamlining processes to name a few – it also involves getting the very most out of your employees.

Also, happy and satisfied employees are hard-working employees. There are plenty of studies that show the happier and more satisfied an employee is in their job, the more productive they will be. This is a huge win for you as it will only help the business to reach its goals. A satisfied employee is one that comes to work with a positive can-do attitude, which reflects in everything they do.

Retaining Top Talent Is a Big Part of Success

After you put in all the hard work to attract, hire, then train the top talent out there, the last thing you want is to lose them to a competitor. It’s a huge loss of resources in that you spent the time and energy to invest in them, only to have them leave and benefit another company. This leaves you short-staffed and having to start the entire process all over again. And what are the best ways to retain the top talent? First of all, it’s about treating them with respect and showing that they are valued. Compensating them with a fair salary that is on a par with industry rates will also be important.

Another popular way to keep top talent is to offer a flexible benefits platform for your company such as what you will find with Zest Benefits. This offering alone can be enough to attract and keep staff. Zest Benefits creates packages that are specifically meant to attract, retain, and even motivate your employees – all of which will help your business to become that much more successful. Their program can be implemented very quickly, in just under two months, and it really could be that incentive you’re searching for.

Reducing Turnover Means Things Operate Smoothly

Then there is the mere fact that constant turnover can cause chaos, create confusion, and lead to issues that go unaddressed or ignored. If there is no consistency, it’s very difficult for the company to succeed. Creating that sense of community and a team-like environment at work is difficult when people are always leaving, and new employees are coming in.

If there is constant turnover, it also means employees never get a chance to reach their full potential, which would in fact benefit the company.

Giving Employees the Credit They Deserve

Because you want to do everything in your power to ensure your company is successful and profitable, it’s important to look at the entire picture. The staff that you hire play a pivotal role in each and every process of the company, so you need to be sure you’re not only finding the best candidates, but that you do everything possible to keep them.

Caring for Scotland

In less than a decade, Cadham Pharmacy Health Centre has established itself as pillar of the community of Glenrothes, Fife, providing award-winning, comprehensive health and pharmaceutical services with friendly, compassionate patient service. Going above and beyond the duties of a traditional pharmacy, Cadham offers certified services in everything from minor ailments triage to vaccinations to world-class asthma care. As the pharmacy adds its recognition as the Most Trusted Pharmacy 2020 in East-Central Scotland to its roster of accolades, we take a closer look at the factors behind Cadham’s success so far.  

As one of only six pharmacies across the entirety of the UK to have been rated as an EXCELLENT PHARMACY by the General Pharmaceutical Society Inspector (GPhC), Cadham Pharmacy Health Centre is well-established in Scotland and beyond. However, despite its nationwide reputation for clinical excellence, it is its position at the centre of the community of Glenrothes, Fife, as a compassionate, one-stop centre for healthcare and wellbeing services for the whole family that has earnt its acclaim as a premier health centre of Scotland.

For almost a decade, the family-run business provided traditional, patient-focused service to customers across Fife, providing a broad spectrum of advanced clinical services that far exceed the offerings of a typical pharmacy. For instance, with its NHS Service Level Agreement with all GPs and Practices across Glenrothes, Leslie, Markinch and Thornton, Cadham is also an Advanced Minor Ailments Triage Clinic, enabling patients to access treatments from the qualified healthcare team at the pharmacy without having to book an appointment with the GP.

Not only does this save on waiting times and allow patients to quickly access qualified healthcare at times convenient to them, including the weekends, the service also alleviates the pressures on GPs and A&E departments, which no longer need to spend time dealing with common clinical conditions. Such conditions include chest or ear infections, sinusitis, cellulitis, and flare ups of asthma, COPD, eczema and psoriasis. If necessary, the team at Cadham can then refer patients to the GP, reassuring them that they are receiving the right treatments for them.

The triage clinic is just one of the many services provided by Cadham in its care for the people of Fife. Indeed, there is not much that this award-winning clinic can’t advise on or treat. From scanning moles to the free NHS Gluten-free Food Service, to ear wax removal and the 12-week Stop Smoking Clinic, all the way to a digital dentist service, the capacities of Cadham are endless.

The Cadham Travel Clinic provides all essential travel healthcare services, including administering vaccines and anti-malarial medicines, as well as up-to-date guidance on global travel health advice. Meanwhile, Cadham’s award-winning Pain Clinic serves those suffering chronic pain and sports injuries, as well as those recovering from surgery and looking to get back to full mobility faster. Cadham offers a free ten-minute treatment and access to the breakthrough bioelectrical medical and treatment therapy of NuroKor’s range of Ultrawearable Devices, which can offer effective pain relief for joints, sprains, and bruising, as well as aiding physical performance and reducing inflammation by improving circulation.

However, it is Cadham’s multi-award-winning Asthma Clinic that truly puts the pharmacy on the map. Driven by a mission to save lives in asthma by giving the ‘Gift of Breath’ to its community, the Cadham team works with all generations and all levels of health to provide support to those afflicted with the respiratory condition. As the only pharmacy health centre using the Asthma Single Breath FeNo Test, Cadham is able to see how inflamed patients’ lungs are, and therefore make relevant, well-informed decisions about the best way to control the asthma through preventer inhalers and medicines. Through consistent monitoring and treatment, patients are able to take their life back, enjoying a healthy and active lifestyle that is not limited by asthma.

In the past year, the pharmacy’s vast selection of services has extended even further to encompass testing and care for the Covid-19 pandemic. Partnering with Connect2pharma and Randox Testing has enabled Cadham to offer a Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Same Day Testing Service, Covid-19 PCR Testing for reliable results in less than 48 hours, and Same-Day Fit to Fly Certificates with embedded QR codes that confirms individuals have a negative PCR swab test result and are safe to fly into different countries.

The seamless integration of these vital services in the midst of the global health crisis is testament to the efficient and effective approach to healthcare championed by Cadham. However, Cadham had proven its innovative mentality prior to the pandemic, constantly evolving and introducing new services and state-of-the-art technology designed to make life easier for its community. From advanced medical equipment to the Healthera app for ordering prescriptions, to the ‘Cadham Robots’ – the 24-hour dispensary service that is ‘managed’ by Connie, Robbie, and Cadham, the friendly robots on the team – Cadham is committed to growing and developing in order to enhance the patient and customer experience for its community.

At its heart, however, Cadham remains consistent in its purpose; to care for the people of Glenrothes and beyond by offering excellent pharmaceutical and health care. Alongside its many advanced health services and technological offerings, the centre continues to deliver all the qualities of a traditional pharmacy, from flu jabs and over-the-counter medicines to repeat prescriptions and, above all else, genuine friendly care. The success of Cadham lies in its ability to move forward whilst simultaneously retaining the family values that have made it such a beloved pillar of its community, as one client attests:

“From ordering repeat prescriptions to collecting out of hours from the robots, it has never been easier. The service provided by Berni and her team is first class.”

Cadham is therefore able to add the well-deserved title of SME’s Most Trusted Pharmacy 2020 to its bountiful roster of prior awards and accolades. As the pharmacy nears a decade of operation, there is no doubt that continued success lies ahead for the whole team. We look forward to witnessing and celebrating all those successes that are still to come with Cadham Pharmacy. 

For further information, please contact Bernadette Brown or visit www.cadhampharmacy.com

SME News Announces the Winners of the 2021 Legal Awards

United Kingdom, 2021 – SME News Magazine has announced the winners of the 2021 Legal Awards programme.

The legal industry has long been considered a bastion of the UK’s professional landscape, working alongside the biggest of business and the smallest of start-ups to help guide their future and forge their path. Indeed, even putting aside legal entities as their own substantial sector, firms of all sizes play a fundamental role in all aspects of business – driving the minutiae and defining the rules of fields, industries and sectors across the country.

Now, in its third year, we have endeavoured to magnify those who have thrived over the last twelve months, despite overwhelming uncertainty and challenges.

Awards Coordinator Emma Pridmore took a moment to discuss the success of this year’s programme: “Congratulations to everyone recognised in this programme. I wish you the very best for the future and hope you all have a fantastic rest of the year ahead.”

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the SME News website where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About SME News

SME News is a quarterly digital publication aimed at those who own, run or assist in the running of small and medium-sized businesses within the UK.  SME News, by way of its digital magazine, website and social media outlets, provides a valuable tool to SMEs and their leaders for running their business day to day, seeking the best advice and for growing and succeeding in their endeavours.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 12 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

Alongside this, we have a luxury-lifestyle magazine, LUXlife, which appeals to a range of high-net-worth individuals, offering them insight into the latest products, experiences and innovations to ensure they can live the high-life to its fullest.

Habits of Today’s Corporate Leaders to Take Note Of

Those habits books that were all the rage a couple of decades ago are sorely outdated. Nowadays, CEO’s and other business leaders need fresh skills that get the job done in a highly technological, fast-paced environment. Sure, some of the old standbys still apply, like setting priorities, listening to others, planning, and more. Today’s high-level operatives need more than the basic tool box. They need the right set of specialized talents to be competitive in a global economy that relies more and more on machine input, like AI, and other non-human components. Here’s a short list of habits you should consider developing if you wish to remain at the top of your field.

 

Adaptability

Never before has there been a demand for managers who can adapt to changing conditions. Look at any of the newer markets, like cryptocurrency, financial tech, advanced pharmaceuticals, alt-fuel vehicles, and others. It’s a long list, and all the sectors and niches on it call for massive amounts of adaptability for managers.

 

Valuing Credentials

If you didn’t finish college, now is the time, no matter what your age. Unless you’re nearing retirement, having a relevant credential is a necessity in the digital workplace. This is especially true for leaders and managers, to whom other workers look for patterning and examples. If you feel the need for a graduate degree, like and MBA or a technical specialty, arrange for financing and begin the coursework. Fortunately, you can take out a student loan from a private lender and get competitive rates and reasonable terms. It’s a wise way to take education to the next level and get a degree that adds to your list of accomplishments. Plus, mid-career degrees aren’t just for show. They can add vast amounts of knowledge to your growing repertoire within your chosen field.

 

Patience

Are you a patient person? If not, take one of the tailor-made online courses that can teach just about anyone to cultivate this personal quality. Why is patience so vital in a lightning-fast commercial universe? Company leaders and supervisors at high levels need to deal with workers who don’t stay in entry jobs as long as they used to. Being patient is an essential part of training and working with new people who might not have the background and dedication to a career path that was common just a decade ago.

 

The Ability to Delegate

In the 2020’s, teamwork is not just a goal, it’s a fact of life. The vast majority of lower and mid-level corporate decisions are made by teams rather than individuals. Not long ago, companies that used the team approach for all kinds of projects were rare. Now, solo decision making is uncommon. That means even managers and CEO’s need to delegate more than ever. If you feel squeamish giving away some of your authority, work on delegation skills and attitudes one project at a time. Eventually, you want to get to a place where you feel fully comfortable turning over large pieces of major projects to others, even when you know you could do the task better and faster.

8 Things To Know About Thyroid Medication

The thyroid plays an important role in the body. It releases thyroid hormones that control metabolism. Metabolism is a process where the food you eat is broken down or transformed into energy. All parts of the body require energy to function correctly. Metabolism is like a generator in a real-world situation. It takes in raw energy and uses it to drive a big machine in a factory.

The thyroid produces thyroxine(T4) and triiodothyroxine(T3) hormones that control metabolism. Thyroxine contains four iodide atoms, while triiodothyroxine contains three iodide atoms. These hormones communicate to cells on the amount of energy to use. When the thyroid is properly working, it releases the right number of hormones to keep metabolism optimal.

But, if it’s not functioning well, it may overproduce hormones, a condition known as hyperthyroidism, or underproduce hormones, a condition known as hypothyroidism. These conditions may result in the growth of the thyroid and need serious medication before it gets worse. The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of the neck wrapped around the trachea.

If you or someone you know is under thyroid medication but still not recovering well, read this article to the end to get an overview on thyroid medication.   

 

1. Types Of Medications

While you may think that Synthroid is the only medication for thyroid, other three types of medications can be used to remedy thyroid, especially an underactive thyroid. The first one is T4-containing medications like Levoxyl, Tirosint, and Levothyroxine. The second one is T3-containing medications such as compounded T3 and Cytomel. Finally, there’s a combination of T4/T3 medications such as compounded T4/T3 medications, WP Thyroid, Armour, and Nature-Throid.

In most cases, people with Hashimoto’s might not be able to convert T4 to T3. These people might end up experiencing unresolved thyroid symptoms such as hair loss, fatigue, weight gain, and depression even when under medication. The active component in Synthroid is T4, while T3 is the most metabolically active hormone in the thyroid.

 

2. Monitoring Medication Is Key

Unlike other medications, thyroid medications have a narrow therapeutic index. The doses are prescribed in micrograms, and a small variation in dosage can lead to either overdose or underdosing. Side effects of overdosing are chest pain, insomnia, weight loss, abnormal heartbeat, excessive sweating, and irritability. Symptoms of underdosing include fatigue and loss of hair. So, monitoring your medication is important to avoid such side effects.

Sometimes, you may not experience any of these symptoms, but you can monitor your response to thyroid medication by performing Free T3, Free T4, and TSH tests. When taking these tests, it’s advisable not to take your thyroid medication a few hours before the test, as taking them may affect the accuracy of the test results.

 

3. Change Of Thyroid Medications

Although a change of thyroid medication can help, sometimes it doesn’t work out well. This may mean that a patient who was previously stable taking a particular dose may now require either a lower or a higher dose of the new medicine. Be sure to re-test your thyroid six weeks after changing your medication to check whether you’re currently taking the appropriate dosage.

 

4. Thyroid Medication And Pregnancy

Thyroid medications are considered safe for women during pregnancy. It’s even thought that thyroid medication may increase a woman’s chances to conceive and prevent miscarriage. But, if you get pregnant while under thyroid medication, it would be best to visit your doctor to take your thyroid levels. The doctor will advise you on whether you need to increase your dosage.  But, most of the time, the pregnancy may increase the requirement of thyroid hormones.

 

5. Thyroid Medicine Interactions

In most cases, thyroid medications may not work well with other drugs. This implies that other drugs might alter thyroid hormone levels or may cause side effects. On the other hand, thyroid medication may affect the effectiveness of other drugs. So, it’s advisable to seek a doctor’s advice before taking other drugs or buying over-the-counter drugs when you’re under thyroid medication.

 

6. External Factors That Affect Medicine Absorption

The absorption of thyroid medicine can be affected by many factors, including other drugs, supplements, and the food you take. But, ideally, thyroid medicines work well when taken on an empty stomach. To ensure that your body well absorbs these medicines, take them about an hour before eating or drinking anything else. During that duration, don’t take even other drugs or supplements. Supplements like calcium and iron supplements might negatively affect the absorption of thyroid medicines and should completely be avoided.

 

7. Internal Factors That May Affect Medicine Absorption

The hormones released in the thyroid gland are normally absorbed in the small intestine. Un-addressed health problems such as lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and malabsorption in the small intestine may prevent thyroid hormones from being properly absorbed. So, if you’re not responding well to the normal doses of thyroid hormone replacements, you need to be tested for the mentioned disorders.

 

8. Beyond Medication

Taking thyroid medicines isn’t enough. There’s a lot more you need to do. In many cases, thyroid disorder is caused by autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease. These conditions occur when the immune system is out of balance, thus attacking the thyroid. In most cases, even after treating the thyroid, the autoimmunity still persists.

If you fail to treat the underlying cause of the immune system imbalance, you might be at a higher risk of developing a new autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is caused by a combination of inadequate nutrients, adrenal dysfunction, infections, toxins, impaired gut function, and food sensitivities.

 

Takeaway

There are several options for treating thyroid disorders. But, you need to consult your doctor to find out which medication best works for you. Thyroid disorder can affect anyone regardless of age or gender. First, you need to know which medication best works for you. Secondly, you need to monitor your medication. There are many things you can learn from thyroid medication; the above is just a guide.

Electronomous Selects the City of Copenhagen as Host For the International Mobility Summit 2021 and 2022

  • The hybrid event will bring together thought leaders and policy makers from the global mobility and smart city community in the City of Copenhagen for the next two years
  • Call for conference speakers and abstracts is now open

Electronomous, the organisation behind ElectronomousThe International Mobility Summit, an event that brings together global industry leaders, disruptors, innovators and public and private entities to collaborate on the next generation of mobility opportunities, has selected the City of Copenhagen as host city for its International summit in 2021 and 2022. Electronomous also announced, the call for speakers and abstracts for the summit is open and now accepting submissions.
 
Marking its fifth year, the summit will take place from 20 – 24 September 2021 and will feature a hybrid format consisting of five virtual days and a one-day physical event in the city of Copenhagen. The conference covers eight tracks including: automation, clean and sustainable transport, the European Year of rail 2021, micro-mobility, electro-mobility, urban logistics, Mobility as a Service (MaaS), smart cities, connectivity and data sharing. The event will include a mix of keynote speakers, panel discussions, fireside chats and close-door discussions in Copenhagen. There will also be a number of bilateral meetings, match-making events and workshops.
 
Electronomous is working closely with Copenhagen Legacy Lab – a pioneering initiative launched by Wonderful Copenhagen’s convention bureau that seeks to integrate the international congresses held in Copenhagen with the local public, business and science communities by facilitating a systematic and proactive exploration and development of untapped potential impact activities.
 
Lars Weiss, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen also said: “As the capital city of one of the world’s leading countries within the field of mobility and sustainability, Copenhagen is an ideal location for this event. We are sure that all delegates, whether attending virtually or physically, will have an unforgettable summit experience and take home many memories from our vibrant metropolis.”
 
Mikkel Aarø-Hansen, CEO of Wonderful Copenhagen said: “On behalf of Wonderful Copenhagen, the official tourism and convention organisation of the capital region of Denmark, we are especially proud to welcome Electronomous – The International Mobility Summit to our great city in both 2021 and 2022. Electronomous and Copenhagen are a perfect match as our destination is not only one of the most popular convention cities in the world and offers substantial expertise and experience in hosting high profile events, but is also a frontrunner within staging sustainable events and creating legacy programmes.”
 
Keith Whelan, Event Director of Electronomous commented on the announcement: “It is our mission to bring policy makers, thought leaders and industries together to help to create more liveable cities, future mobility and sustainable transport. Choosing Copenhagen as the home for our event was a strategic decision by our team as the buzzing capital is not only a beautiful city but with their CPH 2025 Climate Plan, they plan to be the first capital city in the world to be carbon neutral by 2025, so naturally it was a perfect fit.”
 
Safety protocols for the event are aligned with the Danish Health Authorities standards to ensure the health and wellbeing of attendees during the event in Copenhagen. The physical portion of the event will be limited to just 500 delegates, and those wishing to attend “Join the Waitlist” to secure their spot on Electronomous.com soon.

What Is The Modern Face Of Communications In 2021?

As the year 2021 unfolds, you can bear witness to the fact that, among all fields in the present society, there’s been remarkable advancement in the communication field. A decade ago, communication was different from what you can see today. Such changes have not only influenced the way you do life as an individual, but also the way you conduct communication in business.  

Therefore, you must be adept with modern communications to be able to evolve and adapt to the fast-changing communication world. This ought to be the mentality of all forward-thinking business enterprises as well.  

To remain relevant and cope with the competition, you may have no choice but to embrace and evolve with the changing times. You can expect that the future of communication will be more advanced compared to now, so keep in phase with the modern face of communications.  

To have a clear understanding of the modern face of communication, study the examples listed below. You can also incorporate them into your business or personal life.  

Seamless Application Integrations 

More businesses are seeing the purpose to interconnect applications and productivity tools. For instance, you may do this by integrating communications with different office applications. Such integrations permit cloud-based applications to exchange data. Commonly used software are those used in marketing, customer support, and sales.  

In case you have a platform that allows you to have direct mail automation, you can email your business contacts using the mail program’s window with a single click. In this case, your corporate email account and business communications system are integrated.  

Consolidating your CRM (customer relationship management) service with your phone system offers convenience. You can easily display customer information on the CRM’s browser window anytime you have an incoming call.  

Collaborative Digital Workspaces 

Growing enterprises appreciate that group work is key for their success. Collaborative digital work areas have replaced traditional workstations. These digital workspaces allow you to incorporate social components for interaction and innovation. Such a move has been catalyzed by the demand to create good work processes, a sense of community, and diversity of thought.  

Modern digital work areas allow you to support relatively small group interactions in a more or less formal atmosphere. Big spaces may make small groups feel uncomfortable which may limit internal communication effectiveness. Embracing small digital work areas, your workers can create and share content comfortably as well as conduct meaningful consultations.  

Video Calling And Conferencing 

You may be aware that video conferencing has been around since the 1980s. However, a more focused use is emerging. Traditional boardroom video conferencing is being replaced with mobile phones or tablets that are video-enabled. This allows management and employees to call from anywhere.  

Video conferencing tools have simplified how colleagues can meet in virtual rooms, which enhances collaboration efforts. Many video conferencing platforms have embedded collaboration tools like text chat, screen sharing, and document sharing.  

Cloud-Based Applications 

Leveraging cloud technology continues to increase as you may notice that more services are moving in that direction. Many cloud technology providers have fair prices, especially those that target medium and small businesses as they can’t buy fully integrated systems to use in daily business activities.  

Today, you can access cloud-based apps and services on your mobile phone. This brings convenience in team collaboration while working on projects and facilitating group communication. You can make use of the sharing options and editing capabilities that cloud computing offers.   

Chat Platforms 

This long-time technology is still in use, though, it’s now revamped. These platforms have advanced and include other media types like video calling and conferencing. This enables you and your team to speedily update one another whenever necessary.  

You may use social intranet software that incorporates chat options and other communication tools. Several organizations are now using local intranet chat tools to facilitate communication across teams and departments. You can use chat services for real-time communication which is appealing to many.  

Video Messaging  

The use of video is widely in use on the Web. With improved bandwidth, you may expect that many people may opt for the use of video within an organization or beyond. This is an appropriate means of communication in the digital workplace; it’s engaging and has better information retention.  

You can record videos to train your staff, pass important company management announcements, or explain some processes.  

Images And Infographics  

People are visual and tend to respond to visual information better than text, which has made images and infographics widely used. Modern communication technologies provide online tools that you can use to design engaging visual imagery and pass information more effectively.  

Infographics are an effective way to explain a process to your employees. Using the designing tools and apps is relatively cheap.  

Advanced Mobile Devices 

One of the outstanding innovations you’ll notice today in communication is the powerful mobile devices available. They’ve entirely transformed how business is being done for the better as in the introduction of desktop computers in the 1980s.  

Modern smartphones have improved performance compared with what computers could do a decade ago. For instance, using mobile intranet software allows you to log into your company account using a tablet or smartphone and not necessarily a computer. You can then update information accordingly and inform your colleagues of your progress. Your employees can work using personal gadgets at the company premises as efficiently as possible.   

Conclusion 

The modern face of communication has brought cutting-edge technology that enables team collaboration, mobility, tech integrations, and video messaging. Customers’ needs are growing each day, and the need to travel has skyrocketed. Thus, communication technology has allowed work to be done while you’re away from your business offices.  

The modern face of communication enables you to stay in touch with your business partners 24/7. Future trends may see these types of communication change, at the same time, some of them may be around for many years to come. As a business person, you may consider using the above modern communication means to stay competitive and sustain your business in today’s evolving communication technologies.

Multiplying Success with Xplus London

Established in 2013 and growing at a rapid pace since then, Xplus London Limited has fast become one of the best business accountancy firms in the South London area. Such is the excellence of the firm and the growth it has achieved, that SME News Magazine is today recognising the firm as South London’s Most Outstanding Business Accountancy Firm, 2020. Join us as we profile the work of the firm and find out what makes Xplus London such an outstanding business accountancy firm.

Since its foundation nearly eight years ago, Xplus London has always operated with the mission focus of offering a personalised and dedicated approach to business accountancy services. That personalised and dedicated approach are the reasons why individuals and companies choose to work with Xplus London, and the clients appreciate the insightful approach that the firm brings to every piece of work that is carried out. Success has swiftly followed wherever the firm has been, and it shows in the fact that the firm has actually tripled in size over the course of five years in business. Vision and growth have gone hand in hand, and there is a clear synergy between the two elements at Xplus London. Like most other businesses that exist in the world, Xplus London has envisioned the growth of the company when it first started, and the tripling of its size through organic growth is proof that the vision was right.

Traditional accountants will normally wait until the end of a year to get accounts complete and filed to the relevant bodies. Whatever the financial needs of the client, their family, or their business, Xplus London is the perfect firm for helping meet and deal with them. With a cost-free initial consultation that comes without an obligation, the firm is confident that every need will be satisfied for the customer when they work with Xplus London. Staying on top of finances and accounts is absolutely imperative to the survival and success of a business and ensuring that the client can remain on top of their accounts is where Xplus London thrives.

However, Xplus London does things a little differently. Online accounting packages allow the client to view and run their business anywhere, anytime. Xplus London can also advise on what the best packages are for the client, as well as help with implementation and training on how to get the most out of an online accounting package. Receiving the books at the end of the year does not mean the journey’s end. It is about more than planning however, and Xplus London employs a number of trained and qualified bookkeepers who can visit clients at their premises, or set up secure remote access and online accounting, whichever the client prefers.

Other areas of expertise that Xplus London boasts include payroll services, tax services, and VAT services; all of which are crucial in maintaining proper finances and account. By using the firm’s payroll services, another burden can be lifted from clients’ workloads, as it ensures total compliance with employment legislation and avoidance of any possible fines. Whether a client employs a handful of people, or a massive workforce, Xplus London’s team looks after the payroll for all sizes of businesses and organisations. As if that weren’t enough, the firm can also help businesses with registering, advice, avoiding penalties, mitigation of penalties, and ensuring that VAT relief opportunities are maximised wherever possible.

Abdul and his team at XPlus London have first-hand seen the effects of the pandemic for small businesses across London. With the wavering economic situation, the team have worked hard to provide more bespoke assistance to smaller businesses and aim to uplift and empower them in such a dire time. The team are passionate to see people succeed and build relationships with client so they can take an accurate but also a holistic approach to their services.

Ultimately, working in finance requires the most precise knowledge and careful implementation of that knowledge to ensure total and utter compliance with all the legal requirements. Xplus London offers its clients all of that and so much more, constantly going above and beyond the call of duty to deliver outstanding and exceptional services to its every client.

“Our mission is to keep everything together; help you multiply and add value to your business.” – Abdul Rashidi

For further information, please contact Abdul Rashidi or visit www.xpluslondon.com

HMRC splashes a quarter of a million training staff to be hackers

HM Revenue & Customs has spent £262,251 on cyber security training for its staff over the two most recent financial years, according to official figures. This data was obtained and analysed under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act by the Parliament Street think tank.

The FOI response from HMRC revealed that £150,456 was spent on security training in FY 19-20, compared to £111,795 in the most recent financial year. This equated to 80 training enrolments in FY 20-21, and 69 in FY 19-20 for staffers operating in the Chief Digital and Information Officer Group – however, all HMRC staff (approx. 9,500 according to the FOI response) were made to complete a compulsory course on ‘Phishing attacks’, which was free of charge.

The most popular security training course amongst staffers in the Chief Digital and Information Officer Group was to become certified in the Art of Hacking, which saw 12 attendants for a cost of £15,978.

The most expensive security training course in FY 20-21, which was not available in FY 19-20, was a residential course to become a Certified Cloud Security Professional. This cost £34,103 to train seven staffers.

Additionally, 11 staffers went on a six-day bootcamp to become a Certified Information Systems Security Professional, two trained to become certified in Ethical Hacking, and nine enrolled in an ‘introduction to Cyber Security’ course.

HMRC is one of the most impersonated organisations in the UK for cyber scams, it was even revealed that Covid-19 has sparked a 73% surge in HMRC-branded phishing scams. According to experts in the cyber security field, HMRC should be commended for their investment in continued training for all staff.

Security expert Edward Blake, Area Vice President EMEA, Absolute Software said:

“Organisations which handle large volumes of personal financial information like HMRC are a top target for cyber criminals, so ensuring staff are fully trained with the latest cyber skills is essential to prevent a potential data breach.

With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing many employees to work from home, it’s also critical that organisations like HMRC ensure they have complete visibility into the security standards across all devices such as laptops, to ensure encryption is turned on and cyber protection is in place for each and every employee.

It’s also important that organisations can track, freeze and wipe lost or stolen devices, in the event of loss or theft, to keep taxpayer data completely safe from outsider threats.”

Cyber specialist Tim Sadler, CEO, Tessian said:

“Security training plays an extremely important role, but it needs to be more than just a compulsory, one-off session if the learnings are going to stick. As companies invest heavily in security training, they must ensure that the programmes resonate and help employees think twice before clicking on a scam. 

“It’s telling that staff were most interested in a training course on the art of hacking. Research shows that people learn best when training is relevant and contextual, so educating staff on the ways they could be targeted in phishing emails and teaching them the techniques that cybercriminals use to trick them, is a really effective way of raising awareness of threats and helping people to realise they are being scammed. It’s a shift away from how training has traditionally been delivered, but it’ll drive lasting behavioural changes as a result.”

How to Make Sure You’re Getting the Top Meat on the Market

Meat is a favorite on many people’s dinner plates every day. When you’re not doing beef, it’s probably a chicken day, or perhaps lamb is on the menu. Despite the high cost of fish these days, it is still a regular item on many people’s dinner menu at least once or twice a week. Well, meats are highly rich in protein, which plays a diverse range of roles in the human body, including growth and development. But to skip the biology class, not all meats are the same in terms of quality.

For instance, two pieces of beef may taste different even when cooked using the same recipe. This is dependent on the part of the body it was acquired from, where it is sourced, how fresh it is, and most importantly, the feeding habits of the source animal. Did you know that the nicest, bright-red-looking piece of meat on your butcher’s shelf isn’t always the freshest? If yes, how do you make sure you are getting the best chunks from the butcher?

Without further ado, here are some tips you can use to ensure you’re getting top-quality meat on the market.

1. Find Out If It’s Organic 

As we mentioned earlier, meat quality is determined majorly by what the cow eats. Beef from a grass-fed ox or cow has been shown to have more health benefits compared to regular grain-fed beef. For instance, it is more abundant in omega-3 fatty acids. The level of minerals like iron, selenium, zinc, and vitamins is also higher. 

Moreover, the meat is free from chemical preservatives, added hormones, GMOs, herbicides, or antibiotics, all of which can negatively impact one’s health over time. This gives you a few more reasons to go for grass-fed organic steaks the next time you go shopping for meat. You just need to identify a reputed provider of fresh-from-the-farm organic meat.

2. Smell It 

Odd as it may sound, one of the best ways to make sure the meat you are carrying home is the best and freshest is through the sense of smell. It’s fair if you do not find the odor of fresh meat very likable. If the meat has anything close to a pungent smell, this should be a red flag! Get used to the smell of normal raw meat so you can notice when your butcher is playing tricks on you. The downside with this method is that you may not tell if your meat is laced with preservatives that remove the smell.

3. Examine the Surface of the Meat

Taking the time to look at the surface of the meat will save you the loss and trouble of having to get rid of it while you had anticipated a very nice meal. Closely look at the meat surface and note the meat fibers. The grain of the fibers dictates whether such meat will be tough or tender. Coarse grain means tough meat. Beef tenderloin will, on the other hand, lack these grains of fibers. All the same, your preferences should determine the type you pick. The tough meat comes with more flavor compared to the soft chunk.

4. Meat Texture 

If you are looking for value for your bills when buying meat, then you need not shy off from feeling the texture of the chunk cut for you. Meat firmness is one of the things to consider when buying fresh meat from your butcher. Normally, fresh meat should be firm, dense, and dry due to the uniform packing of the muscle fibers. When the piece is offered to you looks like it’s going to fall apart then it was either handled poorly or the quality is poor. If you feel the chunks are slimy or sticky, then you should stay away. Whether it’s pork, chicken, lamb, or beef, the texture is the same for fresh meat.

5. The Sell-By-Date 

Most food products will have the sell-by-date written somewhere on their packaging. Oftentimes, these dates have more to do with the quality of the product in question than food safety. Manufacturers mean to tell you that the product is fit for consumption and best before that date. The product can be consumed after the date but it is the customer’s decision whether the product is still safe for their consumption. If you intend to have the chunk somewhere in your fridge for a few more days, then be keen on these dates. It’s, however, wise to acquire the freshest chunks of meat all the time regardless of your intended time of consumption.

That’s basically it. You have a few ways you can assess your meat to ensure you are getting the best quality and selection. While ensuring flavorful roasts, fries, and boiled meat servings, these tips will, as well, go a long way in helping avoid food poisoning and parasitic infections.

How to Deal with Invoice Disputes as a Freelancer or Creative

Written by Donna Torres, director of small business at Xero UK

As lockdown guidelines continue to ease and normality resumes, creatives and freelancers are likely to be seeing their cash flow patterns change and invoices starting to come in and out again as workloads increase.

The creative industry involves investing huge amounts of time and effort into your work. So when weeks or months go by without any payment for services, it can be discouraging. Not only that, but it can leave creatives with a significant financial burden and time wasted chasing invoices.  

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help reduce invoice disputes and encourage clients to pay on time. 

Here are some common reasons why invoices get forgotten or delayed, and how you can go about reducing your risk of non-payment, to ensure invoices get paid properly in future.

1. Use online accounting software to keep track

To ensure your invoices get paid like clockwork and nothing is missed, ensure you keep an accurate log of the payments that are live. Cloud software such as Xero can help with this by enabling you to send customised quotes and invoices immediately from your mobile, laptop or tablet from wherever you are.  With Xero, you are able to set up automated reminders to streamline the process, ensuring nothing is missed along the way.

By doing so, it will reduce the likelihood that payments will be missed – and means you can manage your finances from one place. This ultimately gives you time back to focus on your creative business.

2. Agree on terms of payment before the work begins

Set your own payment terms, such as discounts for early payment and payment, upfront. Once you agree on a payment date, the customer must pay you within your set payment terms.

Different clients like to work in different ways, and some may have procedures in place that differ to yours. As such, make sure you work out and agree in writing how and when you’ll get paid before proceeding with any work.

3. Invoice early

The earlier your client knows what’s owed, and when it’s due, the sooner they can schedule your payment and avoid late or missed payments. Get recurring clients to agree to a debit order payment on the 1st or 15th of the month. This way you’ll know that your cash is in the bank ahead of month-end expenses.

4. Make things simple for the client

Clear communication is key – the clearer your invoice and associated communications, the better. This is another benefit of cloud accounting software as invoices are set out clearly and simply, with a record of all your communications and paperwork in one place. 

5. Ask for deposits upfront and staggered payments

Agreeing some payments in advance is another way to avoid non-payment. Agree with your client to take a deposit, or try structuring payments so you get paid upfront before each phase of a larger project. This will make sure that you’re covered if a job comes to a halt – making it fair to both parties.

6. Provide clients with payment options

For those that already use cloud accounting software, you can add payment services directly to online invoices to give customers more ways to pay. It also allows you to see when the invoice has been opened and viewed, and send automated reminder notices. Data from Xero shows that invoices with a ‘Pay Now’ option, to take credit card payment with Stripe or to easily set up a Direct Debit with GoCardless, get paid typically in half the time of those that don’t.

Getting paid on time shouldn’t be an issue – but in reality it often is. Ensure you put in place a straight-forward and comprehensive agreement at the start of your client relationship and then keep on top of invoices for each commission. Doing this will give you more time to focus on what you do best: the creative work.

Why Holidays Are Important For Our Mental Health

By Dr Lynda Shaw, neuroscientist, business psychologist and change specialist.

The past year has been incredibly tough and unpredictable, and the uncertainty and constant changes have increased our stress and anxiety levels.  Many of us are hoping to take a holiday this summer, whether that is in this country or perhaps abroad. Here is why taking a holiday is so important to our physical and mental health.

  1. Holidays improve our physical health… Working without breaks creates an imbalance in hormone levels and increases inflammatory processes which weakens the immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, viruses and other illnesses. Giving your body frequent periods of rest prevents poor health and can reduce the chances of serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.
  1. Holidays help our mental health… Overworking and overstimulating our brains makes our neurons more excitable and alert which leads to trouble sleeping, mood swings, short temperedness, and poor memory, focus and confusion. More serious mental health problems can also occur like depression and anxiety. Holidays do the reverse and help us take time to find solutions to problems and to be relaxed in the moment.
  1. Holidays help consolidate and process memories… and make happy ones…During periods of rest our brains take time to process and sort memories so that we are more prepared for work and normal home life when we get back.
  1. Holidays strengthen bonds… Quality time with partners, children, other family members and friends strengthens social bonds. This last year has shown how unpredictable and tough life can be and as pack animals, and how we rely on a strong social infrastructure for support. Spending time with your children also boosts their self-esteem, sense of security and family values.

 

  1. Holidays decrease burnout… Burnout can influence every aspect of your life from relationships to physical and mental health. One of the main ways to tackle burnout is taking time off to relax. Time off helps to ease feelings of stress and anxiety, alleviating pressure and feelings of burnout.
  1. Holidays help us catch up on sleep… Holidays allow us to catch up on sleep which is essential for brain function. Whilst we are asleep our brains consolidate information and memories from the day which improves our mental functioning, problem solving, memory and creativity. Studies show that people with depression often have less than six hours sleep per night, meaning they do not have enough deep sleep and REM sleep, which is when the brain is restored. In fact, prolonged time awake can actually result in the loss of a certain type of brain cell known as the locus ceruleus which regulates norepinephrine. The more norepinephrine the less likely we can achieve REM sleep.
  1. Holidays sharpen your mind… Giving your brain a break from the daily activities you undertake at work and at home by doing something new helps establish stronger connections between brain cells which improves the learning process and concentration. Spending more time resting boosts creativity, problem solving skills and also makes us more efficient. Information is also transmitted from one part of the brain to another more effectively, improving recall.
  1. Holidays boost your creativity… Research has found that the brain gradually stops registering sense stimuli such as sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains consistent for long periods. This may cause us to lose focus and diminish performance and creativity. Taking regular breaks and time off helps to prevent this, leaving us more motivated and creative.
  1. Holidays make us more active especially outdoors… Most of us spend more time outside on our holidays which is hugely beneficial to our health. For example, studies have found that going for a walk outside lowers blood pressure, stress levels, improves focus, helps us heel quicker, slows ageing and simply make us happier! Exercise helps to boost your creativity even more by increasing oxygen flow to the brain. In addition to enjoying it on holidays, incorporate time outdoors into your daily routine, especially if you have a desk job.
  1. Holidays encourage us to try something new… like open water swimming, a segway, a new type of food, footgolf, a barge trip, an open air cinema or learning about a new culture. Trying new things allows us to expand our minds, learn and step out of our comfort zone which expands our horizons and increases productivity, inspiration and knowledge.

The Co-operative Bank Achieves Growth Targets & Launches Value Add Services For SME Customers

Two years on from its successful £15m award of funding from the Capability and Innovation Fund, The Co-operative Bank has delivered on its commitments to launch value added services such as a preferred Business Insurance provider and a mobile banking app for its SME customers. The Bank is also attracting a higher volume of new customers as the number of business accounts opened was 62% more in 2020 compared with 2019. To date, the bank has also doubled its target of acquiring customers through the Business Banking Switch scheme (achieved 12% against a target of 6%).

US and UK Healthcare Industry Professional are Positive UK Will Remain Attractive Destination for Healthcare Research Post-Brexit, says GlobalData

While post-Brexit regulatory changes continue to cause significant uncertainty for the UK’s healthcare sector, the UK Government’s initiatives, such as the Medicines and Medical Devices Act, provide much-needed opportunities to shape the environment for innovative healthcare following Brexit, says GlobalData a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Brexit and the Healthcare Industry – 2021’, reveals that a total of 64% of US and 56% of UK healthcare industry professionals were positive towards the UK remaining an attractive destination for healthcare research and manufacturing post-Brexit. In contrast, the respondents from Europe (excluding the UK) were more negative, with only 24% of the respondents believing that the UK could be an attractive market.

Urte Jakimaviciute, Senior Director of Market Research at GlobalData, comments: “Compared to 2018 and 2019 survey results, the percentage of the US and UK respondents who believed that the UK would continue to be an attractive destination for healthcare research and manufacturing post-Brexit, increased by more than 10% in 2021. This shift may have been influenced by the finalization of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), the UK Government’s attempts to create legislative framework to promote the pharmaceutical sector and the MHRA’s intentions to join the US FDA’s coordinated Project Orbis, which is a global program to speed up patient access to innovative cancer treatments. Even though the vast majority of the respondents from Europe remained negative, their positivity also increased by 10% since 2019. This suggests that the UK-EU TCA provided some confidence in the UK healthcare sector post-Brexit.”

In the same survey, the majority of respondents across all regions highlighted that reducing barriers to UK-EU collaboration on clinical research, followed by close alignment to the EU’s drug approval system, would be the top two initiatives that could help the UK’s pharmaceutical industry to succeed post-Brexit.

Jakimaviciute continues: “The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of clinical research and its vital role in improving healthcare. It also showed that scientific innovation requires cross-nation collaboration, unrestricted access to information, and human resources. Any prospects of the UK-EU divergence on clinical trials regulation may compromise UK inclusions in multinational clinical trials. It is particularly important for research related to rare diseases and pediatric clinical trials, where patient populations are limited or strictly defined.”

The Medicines and Medical Devices Act 2021 is aimed at boosting the UK’s healthcare industry by supporting the availability and facilitating the access to medicines. The Act also supports new regulation for novel therapies, clinical trials, and makes provisions for the use of innovations in healthcare, such as artificial intelligence.

Jakimaviciute adds: “Even though separation from the EU may allow the UK to create a more efficient regulatory strategy, the UK will need to find a sustainable balance if the country wants to keep close alignment with the EU, while moving toward its own independent, commercially viable, and competitive regulatory regime. The Medicines and Medical Devices Act presents both challenges and opportunities for the UK healthcare sector. The UK’s ability to capitalize on opportunities and minimize risks will be crucial to determine the future of the country’s life sciences industry.”

8 Powerful Tactics to Get More Engagement on Instagram

Instagram engagement. The pretty butterfly #IGers are always chasing. So if you’re reading this article, you’re probably excited to learn how you can get more activity on all of your Instagram content.

Thankfully, you’ve landed on the right page because, in this article, you will be given eight powerful tactics on how to grow engagement on your Instagram profile.

 

1. Take Control of the First 15

Not everyone knows this, but the first fifteen minutes after you post to IG are crucial for determining how much engagement your content receives. This is because Instagram is judging your post to gauge whether it’s worthy of ranking higher in more of your follower’s feeds. Therefore, posts that receive several likes right away will be shown on more home feeds and hashtag feeds. Explaining why some choose small Instagram likes that you can buy at smalllikes.com.

  What to do immediately after posting:

  • Engage with other people’s posts (like/comment)
  • If you have other Instagram accounts, like your new post from those accounts
  • Text a few friends and ask them for likes
  • Reply to all comments right away
    Announce your new post on your IG Stories.

 

2. Be Yourself & Mix it Up

While following a trend is occasionally okay, you should stick to being yourself for the most part. Other people’s content can inspire your own when you need ideas – but never copy. And honestly, why copy? You will get more reactions by being original.

The other thing to focus on while creating content is utilizing various formats. Instagram now has several different types of content available, so why not mix it up and use them all? Don’t post only single images; try carousels. Post stories frequently and make sure they tell a story. These days, Reels are big. Learn how to make them well and post lots of them! Then watch your account explode. Warning: You may need to turn off your notifications because who knows – you could be the next Bieber.

 

3. Consistency is King

Have you ever been scrolling through a hashtag feed and noticed the same person posted fifteen photos of his cat consecutively and thought to yourself, “Who does this guy think he is?”. If so, you might recognize that it’s never a great idea to batch post fifteen photos. But that is an exaggeration. It’s also not okay to post three pictures in one day and disappear for the rest of the week. A better idea is to post every two to three days consistently. In the court of Instagram, consistency is king, and you’ll be rewarded for abiding by the king’s laws.

 

4. Quality Over Quantity

Quality is always preferred to quantity. Short on time? Aim to make two great posts a week rather than five bad ones. Here’s what happens when you make a bad post on Instagram:

1. Your posts receive few likes or fewer comments.

2. The algorithm notices your lack of engagement and demotes your future posts. This means your followers will see a lot less of you.

3. You have to work even harder down the line to repair the damage your bad posts created.

 

5. You Get What You Ask for

If you want more engagement, you need to get creative with how you ask for it.

Here are some examples:

  • Make your Stories interactive with questions, quizzes, and polls
  • In your videos, make it personal by speaking directly to the viewer. Always address one person – not a group, using words like “you” or “yours”. Ask questions in your videos that elicit a response.

Also, use phrasing in your captions that encourage engagement like these:

  • “If you know someone who could benefit from this post, pass it along!”
  • “Small businesses love support from their communities. Thank you for engaging with our content!”
  • “You might want this for later – you know what to do!”
  • Or simply ask any genuine question in the first 2-3 lines of your caption.

In contrast, here are a few phrases to never use in the caption of your post:

“Like our post!”, “Leave a comment!”, “Save this for later!”…you get the drift. The algorithm penalizes posts that use statements like this, so remember: you get what you ask for, but not what you demand.

 

6. Follow Instagram’s Lead

In this dance, Instagram is leading, and it’s up to you to follow. So how do you do this? Analyzing performance on your past content will teach you the steps, and using Insights to determine when your fans are on the app will teach you the timing. Once you master the steps and the timing, you’ll be doing the cha-cha to the top of every IG feed.

Pro tip: When analyzing your past posts, it’s helpful to go into Insights and filter by each type of engagement to understand better what content your followers have found the most interesting.

Your Insights are the master key to learning what is working for you and what isn’t. If you aren’t already familiar with Insights, you need to have a professional profile on Instagram and a minimum of 100 followers. You’ll find your insights from the profile tab and by clicking on the three horizontal lines at the top right-hand corner. Next, navigate to “Audience” to see what days and times your fans are using the app and post at those times.

 

7. Optimize Always

Put on your IG nerd hat because we’re ready to go into the nitty-gritty of IG post-optimization. What’s incredible about IG is there are so many opportunities to optimize your posts that you almost need a checklist so you can remember them all. Hey, wait! That’s a great idea. Let’s do it.

Instagram Post Optimization Checklist for Your Profile, Posts, IG Stories, Reels, and IGTV videos:

  • Geotag posts to show in location feeds
  • Use relevant hashtags
  • Enter alt text into images
  • Use keywords in captions
  • Optimize your IG bio
  • Tag people in your posts.

 

8. #HashtagStrategy101

Having an effective hashtag strategy can be vital in improving your IG engagement and having your page grow wilder than dandelions in spring. The best hashtag strategies follow these three principles:

Be precise. Only use hashtags that match your post topic. For example, you wouldn’t use the hashtag #ilovetobake on a tutorial about making sushi, now would you?

Be picky. Review the hashtag feeds of the HTs you are considering using. Do they match your content? Do they give off the same vibe? If the feed is full of junk posts or spam, cross it off your list.

Be realistic. Don’t expect to get any engagement on an HT feed that has over a million posts if you only have a few hundred followers. You’re better off using hashtags whose feeds hold less than 500K. Using a mixture of low-traffic and medium-traffic HTs and sprinkling in a few high-traffic HTs will result in more engagement.

All you need to do now is apply each of these eight strategies, and remember to send a thank you card when your Instagram page reaches Kardashian levels of obsession!

Clinical Trials Day 2021: Rising Above Today, and Every Day

This article was brought to you by, Greenphire

We rise by lifting others. – Robert Ingersoll

Clinical Trials Day is a day to recognize those involved with clinical research, but this year is distinct as we recognize frontline heroes of the pandemic. In 2021, the ACRP is raising awareness of clinical research under the theme of ‘we rise’. Rising up to the challenge is exactly what clinical researchers, participants, research sites, pharma sponsors, and contract research organizations did during a year where there was no business as usual, and the need to pivot was stronger and more urgent than ever. 2020 was a refining year for everyone involved in clinical trials, one that pressurized and galvanized, ultimately resulting in stronger and more innovative trials. 

COVID-19: Impact on Clinical Trials and the Rebound of Research

From participant to sponsor, clinical trials were affected in all facets throughout the course of the pandemic. According to a survey from the Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS), 78% of research sites reported an increased workload due to COVID-19. Not only were hospitals, doctors offices and university settings shouldering additional burden due to COVID, but their employees faced health concerns when treating participants. Even so, there have been so many examples of those who rose to the challenge. Additionally, participants faced challenges related to job loss, changes to transportation availability, and the need for childcare with school closings, resulting in lower participant retention rates. Any of the changes made to enable clinical trials to continue came with associated costs. Sites experienced new costs related to remote monitoring, PPE, home visits, and medication shipments. Sponsors had to find quick and effective ways to support their sites, with consequences in efficacy and enrollment. 

What did it take, exactly, for clinical trials to continue through a year like 2020? It took an ‘all in’ attitude, quick shifts in regulation, adoption of technology, and the mobilization of thousands of participants – for COVID-19 studies and beyond. The mechanisms of patient interaction largely changed, and telehealth saw its moment. Of site respondents in a 2020 site survey by Greenphire, 69% said they are leveraging technology for at-home patient care. This included virtual health visits and the delivery of medication to homes. Sites and sponsors were intentional about paving the way for participants to be able to remain in trials, by increasing the removal of financial and logistical burdens to patients, like transportation, and costs associated with participation. 

Technology Enables Trials of the Future

Technology and new approaches were the key to enabling clinical trials to continue. In a survey by the Society for Clinical Research Sites, 62% of respondents indicated they did not pause operations during the pandemic. It has been proved that trials can continue in the current environment, and as this becomes increasingly clear, enrollment is picking up and clinical trial activity has recovered, now hitting historically high levels.

Of course, this all works in tandem with the endless dedication of sites. In a site survey that Greenphire conducted, we learned that study investigators have worked diligently to ensure that patients remain engaged, with regular phone calls, emails, and text messages. As one respondent noted, “I’m proud to say that as Study Coordinator I have been in weekly contact with each of our enrolled families either by phone or email to reiterate the importance of their involvement in our research and our desire to return to normal operations as soon as possible.” Personnel also reported giving out personal cell phone numbers and making themselves more available to participants.

The pandemic has been a proof test for clinical trials. What is evident is the added value to patients, sites, and sponsors of using technologies that accommodate flexibility and reduce patient inconvenience. Sponsors, CROs, and sites have implemented automated payments, provided simplified and pre-paid transportation for participants, and have taken additional steps to facilitate participation. Accordingly, 86% of pharmaceutical sponsors say that they are actively seeking to increase the use of technology to better support decentralized trials. In 2020, many studies employed at-home monitoring devices coupled with patient micropayments to ensure compliance of study activity outside of the clinic. 

Hybrid trials were already a topic of conversation pre-pandemic and now that this dynamic has proven successful, this trend will no doubt persist in the future. Technology designed to improve the site and patient experience can increase retention in these scenarios, and a solid financial infrastructure will remain essential. 

Healthcare Innovation: Fueling Hope for the Future 

While we see this being year unlike any other which celebrates and recognizes those involved with clinical trials, rising to the challenge embodies the core of trials themselves. Clinical research assesses ongoing diseases, conditions, issues, etc., and seeks to root out causes and pursue treatment options, forging new treatment options for healthcare as a whole. On this Clinical Trials Day, we thank all of those who rose to the challenge of COVID-19, and who continue to rise each day to pursue a brighter future for us all. 

9 Things Not To Forget Before Your Wedding Day

The wedding day is life’s most awaited and important day for most people. It triggers a significant amount of adrenaline rush. However, it also sometimes becomes a constant cause of stress due to the responsibility to get everything organized.

It makes sense because there’s so much to think about when planning a wedding. Nothing must be left last minute for the event to go as planned.

The truth is that planning a wedding isn’t and will never be an easy feat. It becomes even more challenging if you’re juggling kids, work, and other duties or responsibilities. In that case, finding the time to ensure that nothing is missed becomes almost impossible to achieve. It’s no wonder why many people look for tips to reduce stress when planning a wedding. 

So, to help you, we’ve come up with a wedding planning checklist containing nine things not to forget before your wedding day. Please take a look at it below.

 

Guest List 

One mind-boggling confusion during wedding planning is deciding who should receive an invitation and who shouldn’t. You can make this task less complicated by segmenting your list of people into categories. For example, you can group them according to the role they play in your life. They can either be acquaintances, mutual friends, neighbors, colleagues, friends, or relatives.

Note that you should already have an idea of the approximate number of people you’d want to invite before making a guest list. Make sure that the most important people in your life cut into the final list. Do it by ticking off the names of individuals whose absence on your special day would make a significant difference.

 

Wedding Website 

Don’t forget to take the time to establish a wedding website if you haven’t done it yet. You can pay someone to customize it based on your preferences. However, there are also many free options. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be fancy as long as it can inform your chosen guests about essential details of your wedding. The best thing about a wedding website is that if there are any last-minute changes or extra information you want to add, you can update it easily and quickly.

 

Entertainment 

Good music and some entertainment make a wedding complete. Consider paying for a famous band to play on your special day. Check out the best band available in your area, and book one in advance. To ensure that your guests stay engrossed throughout the ceremony, you can also invite dance performers on the day.

 

Point Person  

All you need to do during your big day is get your makeup and hair done. Then, focus on hanging out with your family and bridal party. Simply saying, you have to enjoy your day by not thinking about anything but the ceremony.   

Put someone else in charge for some tasks that need handling during the wedding day, like arranging wedding flowers, for your own enjoyment’s sake. Of course, if you already have paid for pre-arranged flowers from reliable suppliers, like The Bouqs, it won’t be a problem anymore.  

Some other tasks that you’d not want to do yourself on your wedding day include answering last-minute questions from guests, setting tables, and picking up phone calls from suppliers. If you don’t want your family and friends to have jobs to do on the day of the ceremony, hire a professional point person who will have all the answers ready and has experienced taking care of all these things before.

 

Accommodation For Guests 

At this point, your guest list should be ready. It means that you already know which friends and relatives are traveling from other towns or cities. Don’t forget to book them comfortable accommodation. To ensure that they get the maximum comfort, search for guest houses and hotels that provide great amenities and excellent customer service. Of course, you also have to consider the proximity of the accommodation to the wedding venue. It should be close for your guests’ comfort.

 

Transportation For the Bridal Party 

Booking reliable transport for your entire wedding party is highly recommended. If the plan is for each party to arrive at the venue separately, arranging transportation is crucial to the ceremony’s success.

An arranged transportation for your wedding party and your immediate family can keep people on time and ensure that everything moves smoothly during your special day.

Don’t rely on Ubers to choose the best route. Note that a fifteen-minute drive going to the church will actually take more time. There are small things that have to be dealt with during the transport. They add up on time and will make the journey a much longer process.

Think about having to load everyone up and double-check the wedding ring, bouquet, and other essentials to ensure that they didn’t get left behind. Forgetting to arrange transportation can spell disaster for your day.

Accessories 

Chances are you’ve already thought about whether to have a veil or not. But have you considered other accessories, such as earrings, bracelets, and hairpins? These are small things that you wouldn’t want to take for granted.

The expected weather or climate during your wedding day will also affect the accessories that you need to have. It’s especially true if the ceremony will be done outdoors. As you venture outside, you want something that can cover your arms and shoulders if necessary.

 

Following Up with the Vendors 

Call the band you’ve hired, the DJ, the florist, and the wedding venue’s management, and follow up with them for the final time. You should also check with your photographer and videographer. The band you’ve contacted to provide entertainment to your guests should also confirm their availability. Make sure that everything is on point. Unless you have a wedding planner, following up with everyone connected to your wedding’s organization is crucial.

 

Finalizing Headcount for the Catering Service 

Before heading into the big day, you should also finalize everything with your catering service provider. Don’t forget to tell them about the final plate number. It helps banish any contingencies from the catering side. Note that ordering extra plates is recommended just in case some unexpected guests arrive. Also, feel free to add a surprising food element if you feel like amusing your guests with your wedding menu.

 

Final Thoughts 

Planning ahead and not taking time for granted can go a long way in ensuring that any important details won’t be overlooked on your wedding day.  

With this wedding planning checklist, you don’t have to stress yourself over creating your own anymore. Use this post, tick off everything before your wedding day. That way, you can relax and make the most of your singlehood’s last moments.

Ras Al Khaimah Confirms Over £96 million Investment Across More Than 20 Sustainable Tourism Development Initiatives

  • Ras Al Khaimah’s multi-million-pound investment (half a billion in AED) supports a mix of retail, hospitality and cultural projects widening the safe and expansive travel offerings for UK travellers for when the UAE is marked as ‘green’ on the UK travel list.
  • Ras Al Khaimah, which aims to attract 1.5 million visitors by the end of 2021 and 3 million by 2025, provides world-class facilities in a wide, unspoiled landscape of vast desert, 64 kilometres of perfect beach and numerous majestic mountains.
  • Ras Al Khaimah, currently the Gulf Tourism Capital for 2021, has been at the forefront of introducing stringent safety measures – it was the first destination in the world to receive the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Safe Travels certification, and since October has been offering free Covid PCR tests to inbound travellers, the first in the world to do this.
  • Added destination attractions will include paragliding and a fixed hot-air balloon viewing platform at Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest peak; a scallop-ranch and mega-development on the beach and the Bear Grylls Survival Academy, teaching the skills necessary to enjoy the mountains and desert in safety.​

Ras Al Khaimah, the United Arab Emirates’ fourth largest Emirate, has announced a total investment of over £96 million in its tourism sector, resulting in over 20 exciting sustainable tourism development initiatives as part of its aim to attract 1.5 million visitors by the end of 2021 and 3 million by 2025.

The latest announcement comes on the back of the Emirate’s previous efforts as the region to introduce a Tourism Incentive & Stimulus Package in April 2020 followed by an Emirate wide certification as the first safe destination worldwide from Bureau Veritas and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Further underlining its credentials as a destination of distinction, in the new normal of post-pandemic travel, the new developments include a pop-up hotel concept offering cliffside accommodation on the UAE’s highest peak, Jebel Jais; a luxury mountain lodge opening in 2022 and the Bear Grylls Survival Academy, teaching the skills necessary to enjoy the mountains and desert in safety. The projects centre on Ras Al Khaimah’s new destination strategy that focuses on nature, leisure, adventure, sustainability, accessibility and authenticity in the post-pandemic age.

With the desire for social distance, tourists are no longer attracted to bustling cities and crowded beaches, seeking instead personal space and a closer connection to nature. This change in direction will allow the spotlight to shine on Ras Al Khaimah, enabling it to step out from the shadow of its well-known neighbours, offering world-class hotels and infrastructure in a wild and unspoiled landscape of desert, beach and mountains.

Raki Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), said: “It’s been an incredibly busy and proactive time at RAKTDA as the Emirate evolves into a global destination of distinction. This multi-million investment plan further demonstrates our resolve and commitment to tourism, despite the global challenges faced this past year that continue to shake our industry today. These projects also align with our vision and strategy moving forward with our new brand identity, based on the destination’s natural topography – the sea, desert and of course, our spectacular mountains – as well as our desire to progress, grow and evolve in tune with tourism aspirations and needs.”

The Emirate, currently the Gulf Tourism Capital for 2021, is the first destination in the world to receive the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Safe Travels certification, and since October has been offering free Covid PCR tests to inbound travellers, the first in the world to do this. Efforts such as these, with costs absorbed by the tourism board rather than passed on to visitors, has resulted in Ras Al Khaimah being classed as Covid-safe, including all 46 of its hotels and the world’s longest zipline on Jebel Jais mountain peak.

As part of the destination’s objective to boost sustainable tourism, Ras As Al Khaimah has also been working with EarthCheck , the global environmental experts, to co -create  genuine sustainable practices  including reduced food wastage, increase recycling, decrease in energy and water consumption across all hotels, tourist sites area clean -ups, green procurement and more. Additionally, looking at hotel inventory across the Emirate, an addition of 4,718 rooms is in the pipeline: a marked 70% increase to existing inventory of 6,726.

Alison Grinnell, CEO of RAK Hospitality Holding shared: “As we navigate through the new normal, we are witnessing a reimagined travel and hospitality sector.  Our ability to build sustainably, especially on Jebel Jais with a number of hospitality offerings including Earth Hotels and Mantis Collection with eco-principled luxury lodges as well as accessible attractions will only enhance Ras Al Khaimah as a leading tourism destination moving forward. Moreover, our large-scale hotel developments, in particular on Marjan Island with the Movenpick brand is a genuine step towards renewed confidence in our industry.”

Upcoming projects in Ras Al Khaimah

The new initiatives include over 20 projects across the destination, including Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest peak and an attraction that draws visitors from around the world.

Mountain:

  • Earth Hotels Altitude, an eco-based pop-up hotel concept set to feature 15 fully fitted accommodation units, an activation center and swimming pool.
  • Saij, A Mantis Collection Mountain Lodge, comprising of 35 luxury lodges, will provide a pure mountain retreat that focuses on nature as well as mind, body and soul with guided treks, mindful pursuits and creative experiences.
  • Cloud7 Camp Jebel Jais – the ultimate glamping experience with 30 accommodation units built out of sustainable material.
  • The new Basecamp Jais will offer affordable accommodation for outdoor enthusiasts, thrill seekers and nature lovers as well as a range of activities such as yoga, Emirati live cooking and will serve as a leisure hub at the base of the rugged mountains.
  • Jais Yard – an F&B Village with food trailers, kiosks, retail containers, vintage truck restaurants, open air cinema and children’s play areas which will drive further visitation to Jebel Jais.
  • Jais Wings – adventure seekers can take off on a paragliding experience from the top of Jebel Jais with landing pads near Saraya Islands and Al Rams. It will be the region’s first dedicated paragliding site in the GCC.
  • Balloon Base with fixed hot air balloons that visitors can take in the infinite beauty of Jebel Jais.
  • Jais Swing – an Instagramable swing made of twin ropes that provide amazing views and a unique content opportunity.
  • Wadi Track at Wadi Showka will feature a new bicycle pump track that will be the perfect spot for bike enthusiasts of all ages.
  • Building on its rich portfolio of internationally recognised outdoor events, Ras Al Khaimah is set to host the first ‘HIGHLANDER’ hiking experience in the GCC in November 2021. HIGHLANDER, the only certified international hiking association in the world, is widely renowned for its one-of-a-kind curated hiking experiences.

Beachfront:

  • A mega-beachfront development by Marjan with a marine district, inflatable aqua park, leisure trampoline, swimming pool, outdoor gym and extensive food and beverage offering.
  • Scallop Ranch at Al Hamra Marine will offer oyster/scallop diving, live cooking, family and kids’ experiences, and cultural activations. As a first of its kind attraction in the UAE, it will support and enhance understanding of the marine ecosystem with seagrass and sea cucumber species within the farm.

Desert & Land:

  • Cloud7 Camp AlSawan – a luxury glamping experience with 60 units where guests can learn what it takes to become an agriculturalist.
  • Flying Arch @Manar Mall will welcome the region’s first 130-metre aerial structure composed of over 1.5 million knots and around 300 km of twine that will cause the wind to create a choreography of constantly changing shape and color.
  • Luminaze at Manar Mall will also welcome an aesthetic and playful art installation based on a light maze, ideal for family and team activities.
  • Ras Al Khaimah is also strengthening its hospitality infrastructure through new hotels, such as the all-new Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island with 418 hotel keys and direct sea views. Guests can choose from large-sized family rooms, suites or 28 beachfront chalets with private pools and gardens. The upcoming Hampton by Hilton Al Marjan Island, comprising 515 rooms, will be the largest Hampton by Hilton globally and the first to offer an all-inclusive resort concept. Other new openings include Radisson Al Marjan Island with 388 rooms InterContinental Mina Al Arab with 351 rooms.

Significant progress on current projects

In addition to announcing new projects, significant progress has been made in the development of several tourism attractions: 

  • Sky Room, the UAE’s highest meeting room that can host up to 10 people.
  • Wingsuit Diving Platform – the first base jump platform in the UAE for professional base jumpers and home to Khalifa Al Ghafri, also known as the ‘UAE Batman’.
  • The Jais Sledder, a toboggan ride that runs a length of 1,840 meters, will be the region’s longest and is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of this year.
  • Jais Eco-Golf – a mini putt-putt 9-hole golf course with two to three hitting bays
  • The world’s first Bear Grylls Explorers Camp that opened at Jebel Jais last year will provide additional accommodation following the launch of nine units in February 2021 bringing its total to 30 cabins.
  • The UAE’s highest restaurant, 1484 By Puro on Jebel Jais, will be enhanced and enlarged to create an even more memorable dining experience.
  • Work on several hiking health and safety improvements on Jebel Jais is also underway, including the installation of markers and reflectors, implementation of Hikers Safety & Registration gates, lower trail restoration, a new trail development, safety & information boards as well as a hiker’s shower room and shaded picnic benches at vantage hiking spots.

Forthcoming Packaging and Waste Regulations Add to Pressures for Greater Packing Efficiency

The cardboard supply market is under stress, and forthcoming changes to the regime around packaging and waste will have further impacts. Retailers and shippers will need to act now to optimise their use of an increasingly valuable commodity. By Jo Bradley, Business Development Manager for Packaging Solutions at Quadient.

As is well known, on-line sales, most of which are shipped in cardboard boxes, rose 74% year-on-year in 2020. The Confederation of the Paper Industries says the increase represents what had been expected for the next five years – an extra 200 million packages in the postal and courier systems, according to Royal Mail.

Covid restrictions have constrained production, and while extra mill capacity is coming on stream around Europe, it’s thought much of this is going to China and the Far East. Some 84% of European board is made from recycled fibre, but this raises other issues around availability of recyclable material.

Unsurprisingly, all this is having a massive impact on price and availability. In the early part of the year some buyers were reportedly paying £70-£160 over Autumn prices for container board, while lead times were stretched from 48-72 hours to 6 weeks.

But, critically, two separate developments in packaging waste regulations will put further permanent pressure on the board market.

The first of these, to be implemented from 1 April 2022, is a new Plastic Packaging Tax, of £200 per tonne on all plastic packaging materials made or imported to the UK that contain less than 30% recyclate. Since 44% of the UK’s plastic usage is in packaging, this drive to replace new fossil fuel derived feedstocks with recycled material is entirely laudable, reducing both the carbon footprint and the release of plastics into the environment.

However, to meet the 30% recyclate target across the board, the capacity of the plastic recycling industry would have to increase by 100%, which isn’t going to happen any time soon. So many packaging users will either pay the tax, or will have to switch to cardboard.

The second, and more profound, change is still out for a second round of consultation (closing on 4 June). This is the proposed introduction, in phases from 2023, of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging. EPR is an approach endorsed by the OECD and increasingly being implemented by countries worldwide. Under EPR, producers – which means packers, shippers and retailers as well as material manufacturers – pay the full costs of dealing with the waste they produce.

Under the existing producer responsibility regulations, which have been in place since 1997, although packaging waste recycling rates have improved from 25% to 63.9%, the regime only raises 10-12% of waste-handling costs arising, with local authorities and others picking up the bulk of the bill.

The new rules will inevitably be complex, since they are not just about raising money but about promoting recycling collection and processing capacity and markets, encouraging use of refillable/reuseable containers, reducing use of materials that are hard or impossible to recycle (such as black plastic, polystyrene, complex films) and reducing packaging use generally.

Importantly, this will affect users of cardboard boxes in a number of ways. Firstly, there will be a clear incentive to maximise the productive use of material, by for example not using over-size boxes. Secondly, because board is already fairly easy to recycle, it is likely to be treated more favourably than other packaging materials, so users are likely to switch away from plastics towards board for many purposes, increasing demand and therefore price for new and recycled pulp. This will raise the price for all paper and board products, including corrugated.

Thirdly, users will have to consider not only the cardboard box but any void fill, from air bags to polystyrene beads – again emphasising the need to ‘right-size’ boxes and cartons.

Traditionally, packing lines use box preforms in one or several standard sizes. An automated line may use just one size, regardless of the volume of goods to be packed: a manual packer will doubtless try to use the most appropriate size but, given the difficulty of predicting need in a complex fulfilment operation, may have to use a box that is one, or even several, sizes ‘too big’ along with additional materials as dunnage. This is inherently wasteful, as well as being unnecessarily expensive in shipping charges, and very unpopular with consumers.

Ecommerce companies would be wise to look to the advantages of automated packaging systems, such as Quadient’s CVP Everest and CVP Impack, which can make right-sized cardboard boxes for each individual order at phenomenal rates. These machines can cut, fold, erect, pack and seal boxes of just the right size for each order (of single or multiple items) at rates of up to 1,100 packages per hour – equivalent to around 20 manual packers.

Overall box volumes shipped are reduced by up to 50%, with corresponding reductions in packaging material usage. A related advantage, on the Everest machines, is that they seal with adhesive rather than tape – this is good for the recycling process and avoids tape supply issues currently experienced by many companies.

Government expects EPR to cost business £2.7 Billion in its first year if firms don’t take the desired mitigating actions, such as reducing their material usage, and this would rise as further phases of implementation kick in.

Constructing individual boxes to the exact size of an order not only makes the most efficient use of an increasingly valuable commodity, but also makes good sense environmentally, operationally and financially.

Do You Want to Learn About Tax Fraud? Here Are Some Valuable Resources in 2021

So, you want to know all about tax fraud? Well, that is one of the duties of every patriotic citizen. We have to educate ourselves on ways in which we can comply with the laws of the land. Else, we may end up paying for crimes we commit through ignorance.

 

First Things First: What is Tax Fraud?

According to Investopedia, tax fraud is when you or a business entity consciously and deliberately falsifies the required information in filing tax returns. That way, they can limit the amount of tax they are liable to pay.

It is clear now that tax fraud is not just an error. Furthermore, there are different categories of tax fraud, with each of them having diverse penalties. If you do not have proper guidance or advice, what seems to be a small matter can go out of hand.

On the other hand, individuals may not intend to falsify their tax information. It can be accidental tax fraud. This happens when you are not keen during the tax season.

Whichever the intent of the tax fraud, both will cost and put you at loggerheads with the tax collector.

 

How Serious is Tax Fraud?

The IRS doesn’t pursue tax fraud for every individual. However, when they catch you, the penalty is quite harsh. In such a case, the government will force you to repay your tax coupled with an expensive fine.

The Internal Revenue Service takes it seriously when you file a false return or any other legal document. When upon investigation substantive information turns up, Tax Fraud charges could result. That is a grave crime that could send you to jail for five years if you are found guilty.

 

The Cost of Tax Fraud in 2021

Tax Fraud is quite common in the US as it is in the rest of the world. For instance, it is estimated that Tax Fraud costs the United States $190 billion a year. In the year 2020, IRS reports identifying tax fraud costing $2.3 billion.

Looking at the cost of Tax Fraud yearly, one can’t help but ask themselves who in the world are these Fraud stars. Well, these are corporations and individuals. Company employees also fall under the “individuals” categories. How do you deal with that as an employer?

 

How to Prevent Employee Tax Fraud in 2021

You do not know an employee whom you have just hired to work for you. You are looking for the right applicant with the right skills and qualifications to fill a particular position in your company.

The essential quality that you should not overlook is integrity. That goes a long way since you build a partnership on trust. Moreover, that calls for some digging on your part.

It is a popular business principle that your employee is the closest person to you for your business to grow. You have to consider the relationship between you and your employees as a partnership. No matter how “insignificant” their job may seem.

Your company’s success also depends on the input that every worker contributes on the job in addition to honesty. Else, you will see your business on its knees sooner than later.

Therefore, it is best to put in check any possible incident of employee tax fraud before it happens. That is where a background check for employment comes in.

 

How Employee Background Checks Help Prevent Tax Fraud

It is best to put an axle to the root of the problem rather than the stem. An employee who is dishonest in their tax payment may not be honest in their dealings with the day-to-day duties. So take care of the problem before hiring them.

Pre-employment background checks help you to discover the following information about applicants;

  1. Consistency.

  2. Honesty.

  3. Criminal records, which includes IRS charges.

However, you ought to be careful not to trample on the potential employee’s rights. There is a thin line there. That is why you need a professional to help you do that.

Therefore, background checks on employment play a significant role in uprooting problems such as future tax fraud, among others.

 

Do You Want to Learn About Tax Fraud? Here are Some Valuable Resources in 2021

From what you have learned so far, you realize who critical it is to guard against tax fraud. If you’d like to learn more about Tax Fraud, here are some great sources for you;

  1. The internet has a lot of information on tax fraud. Below are some credible sources you can search out;

·    FedorTax.com has a wealth of knowledge regarding this subject. Mainly because they are Attorneys and Counselors at Law, that is a great place to begin.

·    Investopedia.com is also a great place to learn about tax fraud. They have a lot of research done on the subject.

·    IRS.gov also informs you on how you can report tax fraud. It is worth your time.

  1. IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. You can visit any IRS center near you to get your questions answered.

  2. The Taxpayer Advocate Service office is another place where you can get help and get more info on tax fraud.

  3. The local library is a great place to get your questions answered. However, if your attendant cannot give you answers, they can direct you to a local organization that will be of great help to you.

Conclusion

Whether you run a company or an employee, tax fraud is a serious crime that will cost you. Therefore, it is vital to learn about tax fraud and guard against committing the crime by all means. Do not forget to do legal background checks on employees to ensure integrity and transparency for a healthy and successful business.

The Changing Face of E-Commerce

If you’ve ever bought anything online – given that over 30% of UK retail sales are completed online, then chances are you have – you’re experience will have been powered by an eCommerce platform of some description.

From Shopify to Magento, Wix to WooCommerce, there are no shortage of platforms out there, but how has eCommerce changed over the decades and what could it look like in the future?

Where it all started

Whilst we may think of eCommerce as being born out of the internet, it actually started over 40 years ago, with the introduction of teleshopping paving the way for the modern-day eCommerce we know today.

It’s history, however, is closely intertwined with that of the internet. Online shopping became a possibility when the internet entered the public domain in 1991. Closely followed by the launch of Amazon and later, in 1998, PayPal launched its eCommerce payment system which revolutionised online payments.

The newfound convenience, safety, and enjoyable user experience of eCommerce have gone on to improve exponentially since its inception all those years ago.

The growth of eCommerce

As more and more people began trading online, the need for more secure communication and transactions became apparent. In 2004, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI) was formed to ensure businesses were complying with various security requirements.

But it wasn’t just online security efforts that stepped up, in 2000 Google introduced Google AdWords. With the help of short-text ad copy and display URLs, online retailers were able to use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to promote their business to Google search users – a brand new form of paid advertising that is still widely used by businesses today.

Throughout the 2010s the face of eCommerce was transformed, thanks to the introduction of 3G, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram utilising the power of eCommerce, and Apple launching a mobile payment method.

Of course, one of the main reasons for the growth in eCommerce is the role that smartphones play in a country’s eCommerce market. In fact, around 55% of the UK’s eCommerce shopping is conducted on a mobile device with Gen Z and Millennials leading the charge in shopping via smartphone.

The impact of lockdown

When the UK went into lockdown on March 23, 2020, it caused a ripple effect on UK eCommerce. The effect of spending the majority of our time at home and the closure of non-essential retail increased consumer willingness to shop online with new retailers, as well as embrace completing common tasks such as grocery shopping.

Over the last few years, internet sales have accounted for around 30% of total retail sales. The pandemic is expected to have a boosting effect on the UK’s eCommerce industry by around £5.3 billion in sales in 2020, bringing the total market volume to £78.9 billion.

Lockdown also impacted our desire to have our products delivered fast – despite holdups caused by the sudden surge in orders, 19% of millennials still expected to receive their online-purchased goods no more than 24 hours after ordering them, compared to just 7% of the general population.

The future of eCommerce

While some believe that the shift towards an eCommerce centric marketplace is only temporary, consumer polling would indicate otherwise. Buyers enjoy the convenience of online shopping, and many will be reluctant to return to old shopping habits even as restrictions are lifted.

The reasons why someone prefers digital shopping may vary from person to person, but the result is the same. Retailers who have been reluctant to have an eCommerce presence could lose significant revenue in the years to come as buyer habits become increasingly oriented towards digital.

Of course, this will create a competitive marketplace with many businesses vying for the attention of a captive audience, leading to customer experience becoming imperative in the digital word. Today’s consumers expect easy-to-use, intuitive digital experiences across all channels and devices. Yhe brands that understand and act on this can expect to see the best ROI.

The pandemic brought about intrinsic changes to lifestyle and consumer spending habits, with sectors such as health, hygiene, home essentials, and food and beverage now topping the list of online purchases. As well as amplifying the consumer’s increasing desire for convenience, immediacy, and simplicity, with 63% of consumers citing the importance of direct home delivery.

In order to stay relevant, its important companies focus on creating innovative digital experiences that make life easier for consumers, after all it’s the consumer who is now in control.

EU Business News Q2 2021

It has been a challenging start to 2021 for businesses throughout the European Union thanks to a myriad of factors. Chief among them, however, is the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. With countries forced into lockdowns, and businesses of all shapes and sizes paying the price, the resilience demonstrated by these companies has been impressive to witness.

Now it seems that hope is on the horizon as we head into Summer 2021. With vaccine programmes gaining traction throughout the EU and businesses able to make plans for life after lockdown, there is a very real and tangible sense that better days are ahead. In this month’s edition of EU Business News, we see how businesses across a range of verticals are driving forwards to a better tomorrow, from championing sustainability initiatives to implementing recovery strategies for the harder-hit
industries.

Key to the next steps of all these measures is unity. Consistent in the successes of this month’s collection of award-winning businesses is the collaboration and partnerships that have facilitated plans for the future. These collaborations and partnerships continue to play a key role in actioning those plans. With the support of internal teams and fellow companies, businesses of the EU are well on their way to overcoming the many challenges faced over the past year.

For now, we hope you enjoy reading this Q2 issue of EU Business News and wish you all the best until our next edition.

Cost Efficiencies Could Be Made by UK Auto Retailing Industry Every Year by Adoption of E-commerce

  • Embracing ecommerce has potential to save UK automotive retail industry up to £9.5 billion per year. Even 30% phased transition could save up to £4.7 billion
  • Moving more of the customer journey online can deliver a 50% Pure Transaction Time Saving (PTTS) and a 23% Cost of Sale Saving (CSS) for the retailer
  • Adoption of an ‘omnichannel’ business model suits the needs of both those customers who wish to buy a car purely in the digital world, and those who still wish to visit a retailer for certain phases of the transaction
  • Migrating staff and time intensive processes to online provides optimum retailer profitability efficiency


By leveraging online sales, UK auto retailers could reduce the transaction time taken to sell a vehicle by 75% and cut the costs incurred in the process by 45%, according to new research released by industry-leading automotive ecommerce solution provider GForces. The data indicates that, as per 2020, based on an annual used car market of 6.75 million sales, the industry could save £9.5 billion each year. Even a more conservative approach, based on a phased 30% transition to greater online selling, the sector could save £4.7 billion.

Given the surge in ecommerce across the auto retailing sector, GForces conducted in-depth research to identify the potential commercial cost savings which retailers could reap through greater ecommerce platform adoption. Their approach looked at the current costs of traditional car retailing, as well as the projected costs of going fully online, and a ‘hybrid online model’, based on 30% of sales being transacted on laptops and smartphones.

It is widely acknowledged that the auto industry has been slow to adapt to online purchasing, compared to other industries. One key factor is that buying a car often involves significant financial outlay. As a result, many consumers are still keen to retain a human element in their purchasing journey, often including the ability to see a potential car and discuss finance and part-exchange details in person. Providing the ability to blend a physical showroom with an online sales platform, termed an ‘omnichannel’ approach is becoming the new normal.

By adapting their current commercial processes, from both a front and back office perspective, there are significant cost savings to be made by UK retailers. Just by moving to a 30% online sales strategy, a 50% Pure Transaction Time Saving (PTTS) can be achieved, alongside a 23% Cost of Sale Saving (CSS), down from £314 to £243 per unit, according to the GForces data.

Reverting from the traditional automotive sales model, where only a small portion of the customer experience occurs online, to an omnichannel approach facilitates customers’ ability to carry out all initial research and find suitable finance options online. Much of the customer-retailer interaction also moves online, with elements such as video and live chat. Some leading retailers already operating a successful omnichannel ensure that when a customer does visit a showroom to take the purchase process to the next stage, they can seamlessly engage with digital technology to enhance the experience. Examples of this include customers being able to use a QR code to view the car they specified at home, precise in every detail of trim, colour and options, on a large video wall.

“We have already seen how COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to online within the automotive sector. New and used car online purchases made through UK franchised retailers using GForces platform – NetDirector® Auto-e – increased by 1228% during 2020,” explains Tim Smith, Chief Commercial Officer at GForces. “This has been quite rightly hailed as positive news for customers; however, what can get overlooked is the significant cost and efficiency benefits the cultural shift to online buying, and the technology of the digital platforms that facilitate it, can deliver for retailers.”

“Compared with sectors such as consumer goods and travel, which have been reaping the benefits of online shopping for decades, the automotive retail industry has been a slow starter, proving reluctant to move from traditional retail methods to ecommerce. However, franchised dealers and used car retailers who took a pioneering approach and already had systems in place before the pandemic fared better than those who did not, and with online car buying here to stay, are poised to prosper further in the future,” asserts Smith.

The GForces research data has been compiled by Paul Stokes, who joined the company as Head of Ecommerce in 2018. Stokes has 29 years of experience in the UK automotive industry. His former roles include Business Development Manager at Vauxhall Motors, Managing Director of the multi-franchise dealer Nidd Vale Group and MD of the omnichannel automotive retail start-up, Rockar.

“The automotive retail industry is undergoing a paradigm shift with customers showing very clearly that they are no longer comfortable within the traditional retail environment. This does not spell the end of the retailer as a physical entity, which will be here for the long-term. However, retailers can no longer expect to engage successfully with customers if they choose to remain with the same sales model and expect the customer to visit a showroom to conduct every aspect of the sale,” states Stokes. “The middle ground is the key to success. By blending virtual online capability with physical showrooms and combining ‘bricks and clicks, ‘ retailers can create an omnichannel experience – a seamless and enjoyable journey for customers to engage with, allied to a robust and profitable business model.”

“Some customers wish to engage in a fully end-to-end online car buying solution. This incorporates home delivery and completely negates the need to set foot in a showroom at all, as seen with the proliferation of sites offering this during COVID-19 and lockdown,” continues Stokes. “However, other customers still desire to try before they buy, conduct test drives, and speak to retailer staff for guidance on the car they are considering. For such customers, it is important to deal with issues such as configuration, stock, offers and part-exchange negotiations face-to-face”.

“Creating a successful omnichannel enables retailers to satisfy the needs of both types of customer. And the enhanced level of online engagement an omnichannel approach delivers significantly optimises efficiency. It increases productivity for the business, with many traditional time and staff intensive processes migrating to online and back-office systems.

Key to being successful as the UK auto retailing industry continues to evolve is not just improving the customer experience from an ecommerce perspective, but also using it to increase retailer efficiency and profitability,” concludes Stokes.
 

Cost & Efficiency – Sales Process 

Traditional Sales Model (100% offline)

Hybrid Sales Model (30% online/70% offline)

Online Sales Model (100% online)

Sales Employee Cost of Sale per unit 

£314

£243

£172

Pure Transaction Time

120 minutes

60 minutes

30 minutes

Total Sales Process Costs (based on 7m used car sales per year)

£22 billion

£16 billion

£12 billion

7 Fun Ways To Drink Wine In 2021

People who have explored wine drinking and engaged in its many different blends are probably looking for new ways to explore this delicacy. Those who don’t like the simplicity of drinking wine may need new ways to spice things up. And that’s okay. The reality is, like in everything you do in life, it’s always fun to keep things new or exciting.

Wine has been around for ages. Most wines have a year written on them indicating its bottling or its long-standing fame. Wine doesn’t grow old since it can be paired with almost every occasion or celebration, and certainly adding some pleasurable alternatives to your wine drinking may have more meaning to your loved ones or colleagues (since you made an effort to make their time with you more enjoyable). That said, here are some fun ways to drink wine and bring out your inner connoisseur in 2021:

1.) Turn Your Wine Into Ice Cubes

For many people, everything is better when it’s frozen or cold. Whether it’s getting their wine from Usual Wines or any other wine store, some people are just cold-wine people. A cold glass of wine may be a great refresher after a long day of work or a day with a full schedule. Some people find it tedious to keep their wine cold, and regular ice cubes tend to quickly water down the wine, which may disrupt the notes in the wine that you were going for when you initially poured some into your glass.

There’s a way to resolve this issue. You could take your ice cube tray and instead of pouring water to make ice cubes, you would pour your desired wine into the tray to create wine cubes. With this, when you put the wine cubes into your chosen wine, you would have a more refined taste rather than a watered-down one. Furthermore, if you’re a massive ice cube chewer, you may find it fun to nibble on these wine cubes.

2.) Make A Wine Slushie

In 2021, people have enjoyed trying out new things and exploring new variations and combinations of all kinds of foods and beverages. A slushie is a frozen drink where a beverage is blended together with crushed ice using—you guessed it—a blender. Many people have been drawn to homemade slushies and creating their own diverse beverages within their own households since slushies were invented.

You may want to consider jumping on to the slushie bandwagon but adding wine into the mix this time. Wine slushies are a fun variation for a hot afternoon or just any other day when you’re feeling like a good cold beverage. You can also make use of your wine cubes and use them to ‘wine up’ your wine slushie. This is a cool alternative that you can try out apart from enjoying wine in its simplest form.

3.) Add Some Frozen Fruit To The Mix

If you’re a fruit lover, maybe you’re wondering whether you can add your favorite fruit to your wine. The answer is always yes. Adding fruit to your wine is a fun alternative to your usual ‘just wine in a glass’ preference. There are various benefits to adding frozen fruit to your wine. It helps keep your wine colder for longer since it’s frozen. This allows you to keep your wine from getting diluted and create a cool afternoon drink that has a fun, fresher approach to regular wine. Plus, biting into that fruit after a sip provides a change of texture from liquid to solid.

Adding frozen fruit may also help enhance the taste of your wine, adding contrasting or complementing notes to your wine. Fruits such as lemons, pineapples, grapes, pomegranates, berries, and many others are examples of some perfect frozen fruit pairings to your chosen wine.

4.) A Touch Of Sparkling Water Perhaps?

Sparkling water is like water but has a little zing to drink. Some people enjoy sparkling water, and some people don’t. Regardless of whatever you may have heard of sparkling water, you can find a refined and enjoyable combo in wine and sparkling water, which is widely known as a wine spritzer.

‘But doesn’t adding water to wine kind of makes the first tip moot?’ You might have asked this. However, sparkling water isn’t just water, per se. In all respects, it’s water mixed with dissolved carbon dioxide that gives sparkling water its signature fizz.

Plus, the nice thing about sparkling water is that it comes in a wide range of flavors, including lime, lemon, peach, and many others that you add can to either white or red wine. You may also add some frozen fruit to create more complex flavors to your drink.

5.) Add Vodka To The Party

You may find it appealing to have a blend of two different types of alcohol, but you better have had something to eat beforehand or else you’re in for one long night! Sometimes blending wine and vodka together may be accompanied by some frozen fruit or wine cubes. This is one mix that’s said to be a fun blend. Combining wine with vodka may be the perfectly strong yet fun drink for your afternoon or dinner parties.

6.) Drink From Fun Wine-Drinking Containers

For a long while, the wine glass has been the definitive choice for wine afficionados. However, even the classics may come off repetitive, and that’s not something you’ll want to have in your life.

Having funky wine glasses or drinking containers may make your wine-drinking experience more fun. Try pairing these with crazy bendy straws for your movie marathons at home. You can use rubber wine glasses that bounce when dropped and are easy to handle if you feel like storing wine glasses intimidate you.

You can also look at drinking wine from an edible shot glass. For example, there are shot glasses made out of cucumbers and watermelons that add a fresh, tropical taste to the wine. There also wine glass rings. This is a wine glass that is formed like a ring which people can slip into their fingers and drink from. It’s a fun, discreet—albeit peculiar—way of drinking wine.

7.) Go On A Wine Tour

Wineries are so prevalent in today’s world that not going on a wine tour may seem strange to some folks. And you might not know it, but going to a winery might be a worthwhile experience for you and a few of your friends you may want to bring. Going on wine tours is a fun way to understand how wine is made, how vineyards are set up, and, the main part, how complex wine tasting is.

Wine tasting may help you discover a wine that you didn’t know would end up being your favorite. You could even get to learn the different kinds of wines you could confidently pair with your dinner during dates. Take a friend or two and go enjoy the fun experience of a wine tour.


Make Wine Drinking Fun Again

Drinking wine is as old as time, so the need for fresh ways to enjoy its complex, robust flavors may be there for some people to explore. Having wine pairing parties could be fun where you blindfold yourself and your friends and guess which wines pair well with cheeses. Or you could always make use of the tips in this article to make your wine soiree more enjoyable. Some of these may just be the thing you needed for your next get-together or your time alone.

As Some SMEs Reopen for Business, E-commerce Remains Key for Sustainable Growth

As brick-and-mortar stores slowly reopen, offering relief for small merchants, some of them might choose to abandon online stores, seeing that businesses are coming back to life. However, e-commerce could bring more advantages in the post-pandemic world. 

The pandemic restrictions are being slowly loosened, and the usual brick-and-mortar stores in countries like the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Czech Republic, are being opened again, while some states in the U.S. are planning to do so soon. The U.S. saw over 31% of small businesses close down last April, and many had to move online in order to survive. But with recent reopenings growing in number, small merchants might be considering closing their e-stores as the business will be slowly coming back “to normal”.

While small businesses going omnichannel initially might have been because of a need to survive, Frank Breuss, Co-founder of Nikulipe, a Fintech company connecting Fast-Growing and Emerging Markets with the global payments industry, says that continuous use of the e-commerce solutions is vital for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) if they want to have sustainable business growth in the long-term.

“There is a risk that many smaller merchants will go back to running only the physical stores, with a possibility of closing the e-stores they run now—but it would be a waste to neglect or even stop their e-commerce business, once life moves towards the normal pace again. Maintaining the presence in the e-commerce space will allow them to access new, sustainable revenue streams, as well as better compete with the big e-commerce players like Amazon or EBay.”

Sustaining the revenue could be a challenge if the existing local payment methods (LPMs) are not exactly in tandem with the needs of small merchants. Breuss notes that creating LPMs, tailored for including small merchants, like the ‘buy online, pick-up in store’ (BOPIS) option, would be the best solution in order to help them maintain the business growth experienced during the pandemic.

A significant number of shoppers are making use of the ability to buy and pay online, picking up their orders in store. A recent McKinsey report found that 56% of shoppers plan to continue this shopping behavior they have adopted since last year. Shoppers have come to appreciate the many conveniences omnichannel shopping can provide, and BOPIS seems to be one of the trends that might not go away.

“SMEs in Emerging Markets have faced a rather harsh existence—most have had limited prospects for growth and short life cycles—however, their shift to e-commerce and becoming omnichannel, which they might not have done prior, led them to reach larger audiences. There is, of course, still much to do in terms of cross-border solutions that would be a perfect fit for the shoppers, too, but SMEs in these markets are on the right track,” explains Breuss.

Diversifying LPMs for reaching additional target groups is also something that could keep the sustainable revenue flow for smaller merchants, as the volume of e-commerce users continues to grow, with global sales predicted to reach $4.2 trillion this year. Open Banking solutions, allowing Payments Industry Fintechs to create new, safe and even pan-European local payment methods, could work as a more easily applicable payment method for SMEs to employ.

“Smaller stores especially, will benefit from these innovations and solution enhancements as they are agile, quick to adopt and use them; after all, they have a better understanding of the needs of their buyers. Solutions like these would offer merchants a serious competitive advantage, compared to most large, international players,” adds Breuss. 

While small businesses are seeing the reopening of physical stores and experiencing a surge in customers as of late, the e-commerce component should not be forgotten. Working the changed people’s attitude towards shopping to their advantage could bring small merchants  sustainable growth and revenue in the post-pandemic world.

Cybercrime Thrives During Pandemic: Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report

  • Report analyses 29,207 quality incidents, of which 5,258 were confirmed breaches
  • Phishing attacks increased by 11 percent, while attacks using ransomware rose by 6 percent
  • 85 percent of breaches involved a human element, while over 80 percent of breaches were discovered by external parties
  • Breach simulations found the median financial impact of a breach is $21,659, with 95 percent of incidents falling between $826 and $653,587

The Verizon Business 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report (2021 DBIR) examines more breaches than ever before, and sheds light on how the most common forms of cyber-attacks affected the international security landscape during the global pandemic. This year’s report saw 5,258 breaches from 83 contributors across the globe, a third more breaches analyzed than last year.

With an unprecedented number of people working remotely, phishing and ransomware attacks increased by 11 percent and 6 percent respectively, with instances of Misrepresentation increasing by 15 times compared to last year. Additionally, breach data showed that 61 percent of breaches involved credential data (95 percent of organizations suffering credential stuffing attacks had between 637 and 3.3 billion malicious login attempts through the year).

The report also highlighted the challenges facing businesses as they move more of their business functions to the cloud – with attacks on web applications representing 39% of all breaches.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on many of the security challenges organizations are currently facing,” said Tami Erwin, CEO, Verizon Business. “As the number of companies switching business-critical functions to the cloud increases, the potential threat to their operations may become more pronounced, as malicious actors look to exploit human vulnerabilities and leverage an increased dependency on digital infrastructures”.

This year, the Incident Classification Patterns the DBIR report team uses to classify security threats have also been improved and refreshed. The updated report patterns explain 95.8 percent of analyzed breaches and 99.7 percent of analyzed incidents over all time, and should provide customers with a better understanding of the threats that exist, and how their organizations can best avoid them. 

Industries under the spotlight

The 2021 DBIR includes detailed analysis of 12 industries, and shows that, while security remains a challenge across the board, there are significant differences across verticals. For example, in Financial and Insurance industries, 83 percent of data compromised in breaches was personal data, whilst in Professional, Scientific and Technical services only 49 percent was personal. Further highlights include:

  • Financial and Insurance – Misdelivery represented 55 percent of Financial sector errors. The Financial sector frequently faces credential and Ransomware attacks from External actors.
  • Healthcare – Basic human error continues to beset this industry as it has for the past several years. The most common Error continues to be Misdelivery (36 percent), whether electronic or of paper documents.
  • Public Administration – By far the biggest threat in this industry is the social engineer. Actors who can craft a credible phishing email are absconding with Credentials data at an alarming rate in this sector.
  • Retail Trade – The Retail industry continues to be a target for Financially motivated criminals looking to cash in on the combination of Payment cards and Personal information this sector is known for. Social tactics include Pretexting and Phishing, with the former commonly resulting in fraudulent money transfers.

Regional trends

The 83 contributors involved with the 2021 DBIR have provided the report with specific insights into regional cyber-trends highlighting key similarities and differences between them.

  • Asia Pacific (APAC) – Many of breaches that took place in APAC were caused by Financially motivated attackers Phishing employees for creds, and then using those stolen creds to gain access to mail accounts and web application servers.
  • Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) – EMEA continues to be beset by Basic Web Application Attacks, System Intrusion, and Social Engineering.
  • Northern America (NA) – NA is often the target of Financially motivated actors searching for money or easily monetizable data. Social Engineering, Hacking and Malware continue to be the favored tools utilized by actors in this region.

Alex Pinto, Lead Author of the DBIR, comments, “When you read the contents of the report, it is tempting to think that a vast array of threats demands a sweeping and revolutionary solution. However, the reality is far more straightforward. The truth is that, whilst organizations should prepare to deal with exceptional circumstances, the foundation of their defences should be built on strong fundamentals – addressing and mitigating the threats most pertinent to them.”

The Importance Of Good Oral Health During COVID-19

The current COVID-19 crisis has consequently emphasized even more importance on good health as weaker immunity and chronic diseases have been proved to increase one’s susceptibility to the infamous virus.  But more than just washing your hands, not touching your face, and observing social distancing, it’s now also more important to maintain proper oral hygiene as the mouth is one of the most common points of entry of the virus. 

While it’s understandable that the restrictions brought about by the pandemic have probably limited you from making it to your much-needed trips to your dentist, don’t set aside the importance of a proper dental checkup. Now that dental care services are less restricted with non-emergency cases, make sure that you make an appointment with your dentist at least once every six months. Most dental offices have already made changes to their services and facilities to comply with the new health and safety standards, like the Crescent Park Dental, which has made it easier and more convenient for patients to set up appointments and avail their services.

If you still find it challenging to get to your dentist, there are ways to help maintain your oral health at home. But first, here’s why you should make your oral health a priority too:

Good Oral Health May Help Prevent A Severe COVID-19 Case 

Recent studies, including one research published in the British Dental Journal and one in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, show that maintaining good oral health may help in preventing a severe case of COVID-19. Professor Roland Frankenberger, president of the German Society of Dentistry and Oral Medicine, stressed that oral health care may strengthen the immunity of the virus’s point of entry, which may be through the mouth, nose, and eyes. 

It’s reported that 80% of the patients who suffered a severe case of COVID-19 had an exceptionally high level of bacterial load. According to Frankenberger, a healthy mouth may act as a barrier against disease-causing microorganisms and other diseases like periodontitis that may cause severe cases of COVID-19. 

Usually, your body’s natural defenses and your oral health care routine like brushing your teeth daily and flossing are enough to keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene and leaving potential oral health issues untreated, these bacteria may reach levels of oral infections like tooth decay and gum disease, which will make you more susceptible to the virus. 

A 2020 study from Japan indicates that good oral hygiene may remove viral acid in the mouth and subsequently improve the accuracy of COVID-19 tests. It may also decrease the number of viruses replicated and released into the individual’s surroundings.  

Other than an increased susceptibility to COVID-19, poor oral hygiene may also contribute to other diseases and conditions such as: 

  • Endocarditis.  This is an infection in the inner lining of the chambers of your heart (endocardium) which usually happens when bacteria or germs from other parts of your body, such as the mouth, spread through blood flow and then settle in certain areas of your heart. 
  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD). Cardiovascular disease is a general term used to describe conditions that affect the blood vessels or heart. Although the connection between this disease and poor oral health is not yet fully understood, some researchers suggest that oral bacteria may cause heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke. 
  • Pneumonia. This condition is characterized by inflamed alveoli or air sacs of the lungs due to an infection. Fluid or pus may fill up the air sacs as a result. It was reported that certain bacteria in your mouth may be pulled into your lungs which may lead to pneumonia and other respiratory problems.

Oral Hygiene Tips 

It’s very important to practice good oral hygiene not just to prevent common dental problems but also to prevent a severe case of COVID-19 infection. Here are a few more helpful tips for taking care of your oral health: 

  • Keep Your Toothbrush Clean 

Keeping your toothbrush clean is one of the most important steps to good oral hygiene. It helps prevent microorganisms on your toothbrush from multiplying and spreading. The coronavirus may take up to three days to stay on a surface, and that includes your toothbrush.  

You can disinfect your toothbrush by rinsing it with a 0.5% hydrogen peroxide solution, which can kill COVID-19 bacteria in about one minute. Do this after every use. If you don’t have hydrogen peroxide, you can also disinfect your toothbrush by rinsing it thoroughly with hot water for a few minutes.

  • Replace Your Toothbrush Often 

It’s recommended to replace your toothbrush every three to four months. If you suspect that you have coronavirus, replace your toothbrush immediately and separate it from the other toothbrushes in your home, especially if you share the same bathroom. 

  • Store Your Toothbrush Properly 

Always allow your toothbrush to dry after each use before you return the cover and put it away. Moist objects are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

How To Maintain Good Oral Health Habits At Home 

  • If the dental offices in your area only take emergency patients or life-threatening dental conditions, it’s likely that you won’t be having your regular dental appointments anytime soon, which makes it even more important that you take steps to maintain good oral hygiene at home. It may also help prevent potential issues that require urgent dental care. Brush your teeth between meals or at least twice daily. This will prevent bacteria from building up, which may lead to a higher risk of tooth decay and other gum diseases.
  • Floss your teeth to remove food particles that your toothbrush can’t get rid of. 
  • Make sure to use toothpaste with fluoride as it may also reduce the risk of tooth decay. 
  • If your dentist recommended a care plan for you and you need a follow-up, call your dentist first as they may be able to give you instructions that you can just do at home. 
  • Avoid biting and chewing your nails. Find the right tools to open packages or crack nuts. Don’t risk damaging your teeth. 
  • If you smoke, convince yourself to quit. Using tobacco products or smoking cigarettes may increase the risk of many oral health problems, such as bad breath, tooth discoloration, and gum disease.

Conclusion 

Your oral health is a good indicator of your overall health. If you neglect it, it’ll eventually affect the rest of your body and make you prone to more illnesses. So, if you’re planning a ‘stay healthy’ strategy in the current pandemic, make sure to include the maintenance of your oral health as well. If you feel you need to talk to your dentist, try to contact them first to minimize your trips for issues that may be addressed at home with proper medical advice.

Is Working From Home Sustainable in the Long Run?

By Jiselle Rose

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every sector and industry. To avoid going under, many organizations and businesses had to innovate their operations and the way their employees worked. Working remotely has now become the new normal, as most offices and headquarters remain closed due to the virus. This working arrangement has also brought unprecedented and dramatic changes to the operations of many businesses and organizations across the Middle East and Africa.

In the region, many startups have already been employing remote teams for their technical and backend operations. Indeed, a Scene Arabia report notes that startups and SMEs have been the main driver for job creation in the GCC region, as they continue to accept remote workers from countries like Jordan, India, and Egypt. In these places, there’s an abundance of accessible talent that makes them appealing to up and coming companies.

Well-established organizations had no choice but to quickly adapt to the pandemic, too. In a previous post, we’ve talked about how the pandemic has triggered an e-commerce boom in sub-Saharan Africa as digital solutions were quickly deployed to keep companies afloat. Thankfully, bigger companies are already familiar with the work from home structures, so all they needed to do was utilize remote working programs and apps to let their employees continue working safely.

At the start of the pandemic, many workers were enthusiastic at the chance of being able to work from home and were ready to say goodbye to their office cubicles. In fact, a survey by research firm Davies Hickman Partners reports that people from the UAE were particularly happy with the remote working arrangement, and at least 64% said that the option to work from home has brought them happiness.

Managers in the Middle East are more likely to favor traditional working settings and tend to be more office-centric. However, a Bayt.com survey points out that 30% of remote workers across the MENA region have seen an increase in their productivity, so business owners and managers shouldn’t have that much of a problem with this non-traditional working arrangement.

Of course, working from home still has many pitfalls that both employers and employees need to address. For one, working from home allows for flexible working hours, which can easily blur the lines between work and home life. Because of this, writer James Gonzales advises that remote workers should still create a structure for their workday in order to avoid burnout and stress. In addition, people who work from home should carve out a space in their home that’s conducive for working, so they won’t be easily distracted by their roommates, partner, children, or pets. Lastly, managers of remote teams also need to expertly use popular remote working tools such as Zoom and Slack, as well as constantly communicate with teams to keep everyone in line.

Without a doubt, remote working structures have helped organizations across all industries withstand the dire economic consequences of the pandemic. However, many experts still think that this working arrangement is not going to become the new normal. There’s a lot that goes into making remote working arrangements effective for businesses and companies, and it needs managers to step up and create clear guidelines, clearly define KPIs, and be more proactive in handling their team members. If done right, working from home can be sustainable for an extended period of time, but companies still need to constantly find ways to optimize this working arrangement if they want to take better care of their workers and recover from pandemic losses.

Best Practices for Aligning Your Reward Strategy with the Market

Written by Steven Cox, Chief Evangelist at IRIS HR, a leading international HR consultancy, specialising in the support of global HR and resourcing from large corporations through to entrepreneurial start-ups.

Most employees desire a workplace where their contribution is valued, and they have the opportunity to make a difference. In fact, a surprising discovery on employee retention from one study found that 79% of employees who quit, or leave their role within a company cite a “lack of appreciation” as their main reason.

Fundamentally, if a business is striving for a more productive working atmosphere, and a strengthen employee retention rate, then it should consider a reward strategy. This will cover the employee benefits of working within a company, both contractually agreed-upon and as part of the company culture.

Yet, how can businesses ensure that their reward strategy maximises workplace motivation and employee retention?

A business can ensure its competitive edge in labour markets by offering a reward strategy that entices top talent globally. But, the best areas to include are often overlooked – here’s how to build a reward strategy that attracts talent.

Start with Salary

Competitive, transparent salary offers are essential in attracting talent, and keeping existing employees satisfied. This means compensation for roles must be in alignment with the industry expectations in order for it to be considered competitive.

HR and other department heads keen on talent recruitment, or retention projects, should aim to understand the labour market. What is the demand for the role like? What does the average salary package look like? Are there any variables in the pay, such as commission, bonuses or outside provisions to account for?

Not only will an effective understanding of the expected renumeration structures help companies to approach new and exciting talent, but your HR and Finance teams can build a budget more productively.

Benefits & Compensation

Outside of the expected renumeration per role, employee benefits and other forms of compensation can help to attract talent. This is often considered a key focus when approaching talent not only locally, but more importantly globally. Benefits, many believe, are equal to competitive salaries when it comes to employee satisfaction.

No two reward strategies will be the same. Businesses have a degree of creative freedom to build a package that aligns with their goals and budget. Yet, there are a few key enhancements that can help make your company more attractive to outside talent. 

A few of these include:

  • More generous annual leave
  • Medical coverage
  • Private pension schemes

If your building a strategy for a global workforce, build your benefits around cultural norms from other, target countries. The final benefits package should weigh up attractive perks for the employee based on their position and the norms within their country. It’s fundamental to think about your target audience – their demographic, country, the social welfare estate and so forth – and consider what compensation provisions will be useful to them. 

Culture Matters

When it comes to reinforcing your workplace, the company culture is a key foundation. For any project that involves retention or recruitment, culture should be a formative part in developing a productive, proactive workforce.

This becomes even more essential if your business operates globally. A company’s culture is its opportunity to advance workplace values and its ethos, whilst being respectful of other worldly cultures and perspectives.

Yet, culture will be different between each country and the businesses that operate within them.

Culture can seem elusive. It can describe a range of details about a company, whether about its sense of character and personality, or regarding the core values that motivates its business and employees. A culture is shared and, more often authored by those around your workplace. This can be opportunity to involve employee input and engagement from within, whilst building a culture and reputation that attracts talent from the outside.

Development Opportunities

Financial opportunity and growth are key tenets in any reward strategy. Yet, the modern workforce is increasingly after personal development and training benefits, whereby building their professional skills within an organisation. A culture of learning, according to another study, showed that training and benefits around development could boost retention by between 30-50%.

This can materialise differently, whether through shadowing qualified experts, training seminars, opportunities for growth through live projects, or simply by paying for qualifications. Ultimately, this perk speaks to an employee’s desire for progression professionally within their role and company.

Regardless of industry or market, coaching and training opportunities will attract more outside talent, as much as it will help upskill existing talent from within.

A reward strategy may uniquely reflect a company, its goals, and budget. But it’s major focusses should assess how much a prospective or existing employee can gain from its existing benefits. In a global market, being competitive means offering a package that excites, motivates and attracts all kinds of talent.

6 Solid Reasons Why Hiring A Private Driver For Your Vacation Is A Good Idea

You’re far away from home now; probably somewhere in New Zealand’s South Island. A place flowing with magnificent landscapes everywhere you look. From the living mountains to the fjords and the glaciers, you’re here just soaking in the beauty of nature on another level. You have to explore the Fiordland National Park and peek at the UNESCO World Heritage Area. You would even stare forgetfully at the starry skies at Mount John Observatory, and won’t be leaving town without visiting Queenstown to witness two of the most visited glaciers in the world. Of course, you will not forget to have a taste of the delicious local food and some wine in the Marlborough region. 

You may even be in Dubai taking a view of the highly attractive Persian Gulf. There will be lots of moving around in this activities-rich place. Who doesn’t know about the historical landmarks here? This Middle Eastern city houses some of the world’s most adorable pieces of attraction including the Palm Jumeirah, Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall, the indoor Ski Dubai, the Hatta Heritage Village, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, the Wild Wadi Water Park, the Madinatadinat Jumeirah, and countless others. In fact, everything good is here. You have taken this most valued vacation break and won’t want to waste it on anything less of enjoyment.

Why then will you have to get busy again with driving yourself around the places? That will definitely cut the fun. You’ll most expectedly have to assign that responsibility to someone else so that you can focus fully on the reasons you’re here in the first place: fun, relaxation, and complete enjoyment. In fact, it is more fun to stay in the back seat and observe the sights of the town while being driven from place to place than to do the driving yourself.

Here are some indisputable reasons you should hire a private driver instead:

You’ll Not Be Needing To Make Ceaseless Stops To Ask For Directions or Use The GPS

When you drive in a strange place, it’s usual to make stops from time to time asking for directions or even checking your GPS maps over and over. It can be stressful in every way, especially in the biggest and busiest cities in the Middle East. What you need is to go for a car hire in Dubai since this is where you are. They usually provide professional private drivers with a mastery of the entire precinct of Dubai. 

They’ll lead you around to all the notable spots and the new ones and everywhere you want. You will be spared the stress of driving and you’ll enjoy your vacation. Hiring a private driver will also allow you to be able to move around at any time of the day without necessarily giving a long prior notice. They’ll always be there waiting somewhere downstairs or in the car or wherever you choose. They’re at your service, and your satisfaction is their joy.

You’ll Leave A Good Impression Wherever You Turn

When you take a private car with a professionally dressed and suited-up driver, everyone would instantly take notice. It’s not that you care for attention, but you mind the respect it commands. You’ll most likely be given first attention wherever you pull up.

You’ll Not Be Driving

The fact that you use a car hire with a private driver means that you won’t be doing any driving yourself for the most part; except of course you want to hold the driver’s toy –the wheels–a little if you’re the type that can’t resist driving. Besides, with a private driver, you can just sit back and enjoy a cool evening ride. No worries. Sleep if you want to. You’re covered.

You’ll Be Able To Easily Pick A Friend Or Two

In case, you’d like to come along with a group or pick one or two friends with you as you visit the places and make some friends, you’ll be fine with a private car hire. You’ll get to pick larger vehicle options if necessary and you’ll travel safely and happily. You’ll get a dedicated driver and your entire group of friends will all be in one place with you at all times. You’d also find it easier to share the fun.

You’ll Receive A Memorable Customer Service

Using a private driver definitely outdoes getting a taxi driver. The privacy and friendly conversation, as well as professionality and mastery of culture and place, can’t be compared either. You won’t worry about faulty or noisy TVs or the dirty back seats. You’ll enjoy luxury and timelines.

You’ll Have A Safe Drive

The private driver is a trained professional who has been given much more advanced driving lessons than a conventional driver. So, you don’t have to worry. The driver has passed several background checks and safety tests so that he can’t pose a security threat.

Finally, it pays you more to use a private driver than using an Uber or other taxi companies. Get a private driver. You’ll be able to use all the time in the world and not have to worry about rising taxi fees per hour of stay. They also have their licenses and insurance, and you’ll be compensated in case of a road crash.

Hospitality: How Businesses Can Boost Efficiency and Profits

Due to coronavirus, 2020 was one of the toughest years yet for hospitality industry. Forced closures have heavily impacted on footfall and revenue – and 2021 still a year with plenty of restrictions, this challenging period isn’t over yet.

Despite this, the hospitality industry has shown a fighting spirit, proving that it can operate in a Covid-safe way. Restaurants, bars, cafés and pubs have all had to think on their feet and get creative with new ways of working. Many have quickly adapted to offer takeaway and delivery services, whilst in-door venues have worked hard to implement proper safety and social distancing measures for customers.

The good news is, the restrictions won’t last forever, and with the mass rollout of a vaccine still going strong, the signs are starting to become positive. When doors can open properly again, hospitality businesses need to be ready to make the most of the opportunity.

A host of companies are using the unwanted downtime to improve their processes, become more efficient and sustainable (e.g., by carbon offsetting). At the heart of many of these changes is a move towards digital. Now more than ever, people are going online to order food, pay, make bookings and to leave all-important reviews – so there’s never been a more advantageous time for businesses to step up their online functions. 

Here Flogas Britain looks at some of the ways hospitality businesses are enhancing efficiencies and boosting profits.

Online Booking Systems

Once open again, eateries will want to attract as many customers as possible. This is where online booking systems come into play. They look after every part of the reservation process, helping businesses maximise efficiency and revenue.

Using an online booking system means operators can manage enquiries in one place, and it allows quick and easy reservations for customers. Integrated booking systems can enhance efficiencies further, linking bookings to table management software so staff can optimise space in venues.

Kitchen management systems

With high demand for tables and only a set amount of time allowed, kitchen management systems (KMS) are helping to streamline operations. Not only do they speed up service, but they improve accuracy and heighten efficiency across orders.

With the use of kitchen screens, chefs can also see which meals they should be preparing and how long is needed to cook each dish. This helps them serve whole tables at the same time, and at speed. Orders sent through by staff or through delivery platforms are sent to the KMS and alerts make sure that tickets don’t ever get lost. Changes to orders also get fed through, removing any room for error. They can even include recipe and preparation information to assist members of kitchen staff. 

Energy efficiency

It’s not all about online tools though. By reducing energy costs, businesses can increase revenue without having to increase sales, so it pays to make sure establishments are running as efficiently as possible.

Lighting is an area where big savings can be made. Implementing lighting controls and more efficient bulbs can see lighting energy costs reduced by up to 50%.

According to the Carbon Trust, heating can use than 40% of energy in a commercial building, so efficiencies here are vital. In fact, it’s possible to save up to 20% on heating costs just through simple energy saving measures, such as setting thermostats to recommended ranges, servicing boilers and turning heat off in unused areas.

For off-grid businesses relying on more polluting fuels like oil, carbon footprints can be reduced by switching to a cleaner, greener fuel. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) has a 20% lower carbon intensity than oil and has delivered cost savings of up to 22% to some Flogas customers. It provides reliable heating and hot water, a controllable, easy-lighting flame for commercial kitchens and a portable option for mobile caterers. Auto-Ordering technology also means businesses never run out of gas, as it’s automatically topped up.