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The Quirkiest Outdoor-Inspired Office Spaces

Long, tiring days spend crouched over a computer monitor can become quite uninspiring. Luckily, more and more businesses, both big and small, are taking it upon themselves to incorporate some creativity into office design so that employees almost feel more motivated. Whether it’s snug seating areas, games consoles or injecting a little bit of bright colour into office décor, a little goes a long way.

Our favourite design hack that is almost certain to get you and your colleagues’ creative juices flowing? Al fresco inspired office space. Bringing a little outdoors indoors makes you feel less like you’re stuck in a dungeon all day, and in addition, plants release oxygen, so having a few dotted around the office will reduce the likelihood of a stuffy, congested environment, too. Here’s a round-up of our favourite outdoor-inspired offices from around the world:

 

1. Zappos – Las Vegas, Nevada: This online retail shop has brought an abundance of nature and outdoorsy-ness into their head-quarters. Check out their masses of ceiling foliage, which makes it feel as though you’re working in an enchanting rainforest, adding colour and liveliness to what would have otherwise been a bog-standard office cubicle!

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2. ThinkGarden – Milan: The guys at ThinkGarden thought of an ingenious way to promote creativity amongst their workers and, of course, it involved a significant amount of greenery. In the centre of their building is an area dedicated to snuggly, nap-tastic hammocks – all a mere stone’s throw away from your desk space. You’re free to nip back and forth throughout the working day in order to keep productivity and happiness levels at an optimum level! Within this quirky office construction, nature flourishes behind every nook and cranny. The impact is warming and welcoming, creating a vibrant, friendly space for work, relaxation, business meetings and 1-2-1’s. A fine source of inspiration for your outdoorsy-style office make-over.

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3. Inventionland – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: A 61000 square foot invention factory filled to bursting level with treehouses, boats, Wendy houses, man-made moats, mini-castles – you name it, they’ve most probably got it. This office space is almost unimaginable; a wander around this creative hub would give you enough positive energy and innovative flow to last a lifetime.Inventionland is where retailers, corporations and inventors come to improve their products, so nature-inspired décor is a must; hanging trees, bridges, flowing rivers – everything to make you feel as though you’re brainstorming beneath the summer sunshine with a breath of invigorating fresh air. You’d never guess you were indoors.

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4. Stanley Grange – Knowsley, Liverpool: Words fall short when trying to describe this complex of offices, located just outside of Liverpool city centre. With each office window overlooking the grounds of a stunning red-brick, barn-conversion business village, you’d certainly struggle to tire of this country-style work environment. Only 9 miles away from Liverpool city centre, Stanley Grange’s office space is fully equipped with all essential amenities just a short drive away, whilst being nestled within an idyllic, peaceful surrounding!

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5. Fruit Towers, Innocent Smoothies – London: Equipped with AstroTurf, park benches and hanging pots and plants, Fruit Towers is an enviable spot of luscious leafage. Some rooms even have grass or field inspired wallpaper which gives the office an air of quirky freshness. Little wooden sheds, alcoves and cubby holes make room for noontime naps or communal meeting or chill-out spaces. Fruit Towers is like stepping into a hot summer’s day at Wimbledon. The guys at Fruit Towers wanted to create and sustain an environment that they felt would be representative, and close to the heart of, the Innocent brand.

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What would your dream office space be filled with? How quirky is your work place? Comment below and share your thoughts and ideas!

 

 

 

 


 

Innovative Office Set-Ups for Your Start-Up

 

Any business-savvy person knows the importance of looks, and your start-up’s office space could define your initial success. It doesn’t have to cost the Earth, but coming across as quirky and original – even in the office décor – has become a norm for most businesses. Now, it’s almost expected that your employees work in the most impressive of environments, in order to come across as hip and marketing-savvy. Here’s a little inspiration from an array of start-ups that have come before you…

Quirky

Quirky

Based in New York, Quirky (designers of unique technology) starts off as it means to go on, with its receptionist sitting behind a desk made entirely out of repurposed school lockers. The walls here are made of glass, and many of the pieces of furniture have been created from unwanted items taken from public spaces, such as schools, gyms, and parks. Many of the desks around the office were once bowling alleys. With a countdown clock on the wall, Quirky really makes their environment work for them, when it comes to timing and creativity.

Makerbot

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The Makerbot office looks like a toy factory blew up all over a design and technology class. Everywhere you turn, there are microwave-sized 3D printers that look like small incubators. Here, multi-coloured figures are printed from plastic. Situated in Brooklyn, this office keeps things simple, practical, but – above all – fun.

Github

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Github – with its unmissable octocat logo – is a social coding platform, based in San Francisco. You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d strayed into a local bar, with its bright red motorcycles, beers on tap, and plentiful supply of scotch. They also have a women’s lounge and a library, so this really is an eclectic mix of office add-ons.

Foursquare

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Found in a light, spacious, SoHo loft, Foursquare is full of themed rooms, which come with their own, specially-designed badges – this includes a photo room, full of antique cameras. The walls are glass and everyone is encouraged to bring in something personal from home, to really bring individuality to their desks. There are more whiskey bottles than you’d hope for.

Tasting Table

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In most offices, you’d be lucky if you had one kitchen on the premises, let alone two. Here, digital media company, Tasting Table, develop and test their recipes. The office is open, bright, and full of energetic individuals. Based in New York, they really are in the thick of things, and they have a kegerator, kindly donated to them by Stella Artois. It’s nice to have friends in the alcohol business.

Chartbeat

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An old yoga studio, the first benefit of working at Chartbeat is that you can choose your own desk set-up. That means, if you want to have a standing desk – or prefer to kick-back in an oversized bean bag – you can. Everyone sits together – there is no separation. Due to Chartbeat dealing in real-time data, there are huge screens all around the room, and you can write on every surface. The office environment here is dynamic, but if you need peace and quiet, you can disappear to the on-site library.

 

Brought to us by Manchester based design and build interior fit-out specialist, Opus-4.

 

 


10 Top Digital Tools to Help Grow

Your Start-Up

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Starting up a business can be a fun and exciting time, but it is also fraught with challenges that you have to overcome the hard way. However, there are plenty of digital tools out there that can help streamline your company’s processes and free-up your time for other tasks. Why not make things easier on yourself and get familiar with some of them? Here are just some of our favourites – you’ll wonder how you ever worked without them!

Website Tools:

BuzzSumo

Price Range: between £50-£150 per year with a choice between Pro, Pro + Trending, Agency, and Enterprise plans*

Looking for content idea inspiration? Search which graphics and articles have gone viral through BuzzSumo, which uses keywords and topics to provide you with the most popular content on the web – along with the number of shares and backlinks it got. A really useful tool for anyone thinking of making a blog or writing content as part of their business’ marketing strategy (and you should!)

SumoMe

Price Range: free for a Beginners plan, then £6-£60 monthly for Starter, Pro or Unlimited plans

If you’re looking to grow your website’s traffic, SumoMe can help give you a boost. Snare repeat users with scroll box email sign-ups, utilise heat maps (to ascertain where your visitors are coming from), optimise your share buttons, and get a fully-functioning contact form with this handy tool.

Wistia

Price Range: Wistia free plan option or between £15-£200 a month for Professional, Business or High Volume plans

It’s likely that video marketing is only going to become more powerful for sharing content and brand awareness, and it’s definitely worth looking into as part of your marketing and branding strategies. Through Wistia, you can join the video-making game and monitor who is watching your content, as well as the duration of their session. Wistia allows you to add functions like capturing the viewers’ email and in depth video analytics. These tools have a specific emphasis on SEO and lead generation which proves more efficient than YouTube for marketing purposes.

Yoast WordPress SEO

Price Range: Free!

WordPress is a fantastic website and blogging system for any new business and you can customise it to create a website for your specifications. In order to really make your WordPress account work for you, however, use the Yoast SEO plug-in. Yoast will optimise your site for Google and other search engines by providing you with content analysis, suggestions for improvement and an XML Sitemap.

HipChat

Price Range: Free! Option to upgrade to HipChat Plus for £1 a month

In order to keep up team morale and build relationships between people in your business, it’s important that they talk on a more informal basis. Instead of sending each other impractical emails, HipChat is a fantastic platform for your team to share informal information amongst each other, without clogging up their company inboxes.

HoneyBadger

Price Range: Small, Medium or Large plans ranging from £30-£150 per month

Named rather fittingly after the aggressive wild animal that can take on lions, HoneyBadger is actually a competitor monitoring tool that lets you know how much other businesses are making online.

 

Customer Retention Tools:

Boomerang for Gmail

Price Range: Free Basic plan. £3-£30 per month for Personal, Pro or Premium plans

When sending emails out to lots of people remembering to follow them up can be a problem. Boomerang removes this issue by sending any emails without a reply back into your inbox. This way, you can keep on top of your contacts with ease. It also allows you to schedule when your emails go out, so that if you want to write an email at the weekend but don’t want to send it out until the Monday, you can set it to do so.

UserTesting

Price Range: £30 per month for Basic plan. Subscriptions plans on request for businesses using Pro plan

Want to know what people REALLY think about your website? No problem. Just prepare yourself for the occasionally cutting evaluations from UserTesting. Some of the feedback can be invaluable, and help you to make ongoing and important improvements.

Intercom

Price Range: Prices from £30-£50 per month across a range of plans

Intercom allows you to talk with customers, supporting them with answers to their questions and enabling you to offer support in order to help with customer satisfaction and retention.

 

Payment Tool:

Stripe

Price Range: 2.4% + 20p per successful charge

An alternative to PayPal, Stripe is a payment processor that is worth looking into. It will assess payments from your customers with a sophisticated analytics system, and can handle voucher codes, if you want to offer discounts for special promotions.

Which digital tools do you use as a start-up business? Are there any that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.

Brought to us by a new business resource, Business Takeaways – offering start-up support for businesses on their journey to success.

*all prices are approximate conversions of U.S Dollar to GB Pound


5 Ways to Create a More Vibrant Office

 

So you’re moving into a brand new business premises and you want your office to rock! You want your staff to be happy, motivated and productive, plus it should impress clients when they step through the front door, right?

But how do you create a vibrant office? We have the answer for you in 5 handy points:

  1. Add Colour

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There’s nothing worse than working in a drab and uninspiring business space. White and grey colour schemes may seem like the affordable and less insulting option, but they’re, well, boring.

Different colours affect mood and emotions in varying ways; white is lacklustre and demotivating. Brighten things up with a lick of paint and add some colour to your new office.

The colour you choose is up to you. You could match the interior décor to your business branding or why not think about colour psychology? Blues and greens are calming and promote peaceful thinking, whereas red and orange are stimulating and encourage pace. Think about your working environment and what you want to get out of it, then pick a shade!

  1. Add Personality

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Take a look at the offices featured in this blog. Are Spotify and Playtech’s offices ‘normal’? Of course they’re not, because these companies know that a dash of personality can create a vibrant working environment.

Okay, so we’re not suggesting you break the bank by fitting cable car quiet spaces like Google have here in their Zurich office, but a small investment can really spruce up the place. It will certainly make it a more welcoming place to work in.

Why not give each staff member £20 to pick a picture of their choice and then hang them on the kitchen wall? Or maybe stock up on some colourful cushions for their desk chairs?

  1. Add a Leisure Space

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Yes, a company premises is a place of work, but it can’t be about business 24/7. Provide your staff with an area where they can enjoy their downtime and they can de-stress for a few minutes away from everything. Kit the communal kitchen area out with a PlayStation, or place a picnic bench on the grass outside. It doesn’t have to be a huge investment; it’s the effort that counts.

  1. Add Excitement

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If you want a vibrant working environment it is important to get people excited about what they do. You can do this by sharing your business goals, objectives and other thrilling plans with your staff. This will make your staff feel appreciated, loved and in-the-know, leaving them looking forward to your future business.

Give it a try and watch how conversations and idea sharing begin to blossoms!

  1. Add a Smile

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A vibrant office is a happy and fun place to work in, and who makes it this way? Your staff, of course. All the above factors should make your office a delightful place to work, but it’s also important to think about the mix of people you employ.

Are there different characters that fuse together seamlessly in a good working team, or are people so similar that they are constantly at each other’s throats? A mix of personality types is always best because they will draw out the best and balance out the worst traits in others.

So bear in mind personality when hiring to fill out your new space. You want to see smiles on your staff’s faces not frowns.

Get started on these 5 points and you can have a vibrant office very soon! Tweet us your office pics to let us know how you get on.

Are you planning an office move? Then let Compare My Move help. Compare My Move will provide you with 4 free no-obligation commercial removal quotes to help you find the best moving deal possible. You could save hundreds of pounds so what are you waiting for?

 


 

8 Amazing Office Improvements

That Won’t Break the Bank

 

When it comes to amazing offices, Google comes up trumps. But sadly we can’t all afford to fit a slide or a row of beach huts in our business premises (we don’t have the free space either). You can, however, make some vast improvements to your workspace without spending a fortune.

Here are 8 cheap changes you can make:

  1. Bring the Outside in

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Not only will they add interest to your office space but by adding a few plants to your office you can reduce stress and boost productivity by 12% while keeping the air around you clean. Plus they add a spot of colour to the drab décor. Who knew they could be so helpful?

We’d recommend opting for a low maintenance plant so you don’t have to worry about watering it over the weekends or when you take a break for a few days. How about a cactus or a spider plant?

  1. Get the Cleaners in

Although you may not be messy you’ll be surprised how quickly dust builds up. Employ the services of a window cleaner and you’ll be astonished how much brighter the office seems. And as an added bonus, a regular clean will make the office a much more pleasant place to work in.

  1. Draw on the Walls

AOI2(image: Rhizome)

Drawing on the walls has never been allowed – until now. Have your meeting room walls painted in whiteboard or chalk paint and turn them into huge canvases! This will make meetings easier and more fun, while decreasing the amount of paper you use on a daily basis. So basically, whiteboard walls save the planet!

  1. Light it up!

A simple way of breathing new life and vigour into your office space is to pull back the curtains, wind up the blinds and let natural light shine in. You’ll be surprised by just how much bright sunshine can lift your mood.

  1. Stimulate Your Staff

AOI3(image: Andres Nieto Porras under CC BY-SA 2.0)

So you want your staff to feel stimulated and motivated in order for them to have a productive working day. That’s all well and good, but first thing in the morning they may not be feeling so sprightly. Give them the boost they need by fitting the kitchen out with a quality coffee machine.

Your staff will appreciate the investment you have made for them and there will be no need for any more coffee shop runs mid-morning. It’s a win-win situation.

  1. Brand Your Space

Your business premises are an extension of your company; they represent everything you do. So if you have mismatched furniture or a mirage of colours on your walls it may give off the impression that your business processes are just as chaotic.

Make your office look professional, sleek and stylish by using one or two cohesive colours and shapes that reflect your brand logo.

  1. Sit Comfortably

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If you and your staff are going to be sat at your desks for hours every day you should at least be comfortable. Some of the best chairs out there are built to fit to your body while providing you with essential support to avoid back pain.

Ergohuman chairs are the perfect example of this. These high-back mesh chairs are strong yet flexible and the mesh allows suitable airflow to keep you cool at all times.

  1. Throw Stuff Out!

This way of improving your office space is completely free, you just need to invest your time into having a sort out. Over time it is easy to accumulate paperwork and general junk that you don’t need. It can take up a lot of space and lead to the place looking a bit of a mess.

Be ruthless and put anything you don’t need out for recycling and then invest in some quality office storage shelving to keep what’s left neat and tidy.

See, it doesn’t have to cost you thousands of pounds to improve your office space! Do you have any tried and tested ways to improve a business premises? We’d love to hear them.

Office Image is Wales and the West’s leading office furniture and office interior specialists with over 35 years of experience. So if you’re looking for an office refurbishment, refit or simply some new furniture, this is the company for you.

 

 


 

How to: Secure Your Office

In order to protect your business, you need to make sure it’s as secure as it possibly can be. Failure to do so could result in theft of valuable items such as computers, legal documents, cash and other possessions your office may contain. An effective security policy not only protects the contents of your building, but it can reduce the cost of your insurance premium too.

So, what security measures do you need in place for your office? Take a look at this guide to find out what you can do as an SME to keep your office safe and secure.

Install a Monitored Alarm System

If you haven’t got an alarm system installed, you’re basically giving burglars the green light to break in. A security alarm is a great deterrent; if a burglar spots one then it’s unlikely that they’ll continue to attempt a break in. Why? There’s too much risk for them.

Alarm systems are able to transmit emergency signals, so if an intruder is detected, a signal will be transmitted to a centre that will verify the situation and take relevant action; key-holders of the business may be contacted, or if necessary, emergency services will be notified.

Use CCTV Cameras to Monitor Your Premises

There’s no easier way to improve the safety of your business than with CCTV cameras. Not only are they an obvious warning to burglars, they also ensure that there are eyes on your business at all times.

Monitoring your business through security cameras is vital as these devices could catch the burglars who are responsible for breaking in.

CCTV cameras are another significant deterrent factor. However, you shouldn’t rely solely on this security measure as burglars can cover their faces or keep out of camera shot if they really know what they’re doing. It is important to know exactly where to place the cameras and check that lighting is sufficient.

Invest in Outdoor Security Lighting

The majority of burglaries take place after dark, therefore outdoor security lighting can work as an effective deterrent. Burglars are likely to feel vulnerable if a light comes on when they are trying to break in; they will feel like they’re being watched, even if they’re not. Security lighting also highlights areas that are high-risk as well as enabling occupiers to notice if anyone is approaching the building.

Deciding on a type of lighting can be tricky, but as a guide, you need to weigh up the type of surveillance already in place, how high the risks are, and the location of the premises. Passive infrared is a popular form of security lighting; it is activated when someone comes into its field of vision and the beauty of it is that it is cost effective to install.

Lock Away Important Documents

This may sound pretty obvious but it’s a rule that often gets overlooked. Make it a part of your routine to ensure that all confidential documents are locked in drawers or cabinets, completely out of sight of intruders. And with an alarm system installed, the emergency services should be well on their way by the time a burglar even has time to raid drawers and cabinets.

Dodge a disaster that can be easily avoided by keeping any sensitive information well-hidden and be sure to back up virtual copies to an off-site hard drive, just in case. It’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

Author’s Bio: If you’re looking to protect your business then look no further than AVA Security. With over 30 years of experience in the security industry, AVA design and install the latest security systems for businesses and homes. Call 01633 862177 today and speak to a friendly member of the team for expert advice on commercial security systems and more.

 


Service Offices Vs Virtual Offices:

Which is Best?

There are many reasons why working environments are changing from the traditional office set up to a virtual office. Numerous businesses don’t have the financial capacity to operate from large premises; however there are reasons why some would prefer to remain on physical premises instead of the new and innovative approach to office management. 

Keep reading to learn more about a serviced office and a virtual office as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. As a business owner, this guide will help you to make informed choices as to which kind of office setup is best.

What is a Serviced Office?
A serviced office is set up in a traditional office environment: a dedicated office space that is leased by an individual or organisation for a certain period of time. This space is fully-furnished, has full access to the internet and comes with phone line rental as well as various other facilities and features. If required, full administrative support is usually available.

The Benefits
–   If your business holds client meetings then you will rely on physical space to host them. A serviced office will enable you to conduct work such as this.
–  An office space provides you with a business address which can make you appear more established. Customers can relate to you rather than your business just being a ‘thing’. You’re tangible.
– Amenities are provided which means you can start work immediately.
–  Often staffed with cleaners and receptionists which are included as part of the price.
– Utility costs are usually included in the price.
The Pitfalls
– There may be some hidden costs that aren’t included in the standard package – always check this out to avoid a nasty surprise.
–  It’s likely that you’ll have to share your office building with other businesses.
–  You may have to share resources such as parking spaces and facilities.

What is a Virtual Office?
A virtual office is not leased out of a physical office space. Instead, a business provides communication services such as phone answering or emails, and organises meetings and other office duties, without providing a dedicated space to do so.
The Benefits
–  You don’t have to pay rent for physical office space as well as the other costs associated with a traditional office.
–  There is no need to commute so you can get straight to work.
–  Due to not having to travel, you’re helping to save the environment and reduce carbon footprints.
–  Employees may feel more relaxed as opposed to feeling stressed in a busy office environment.
–  A larger pool of employee applicants because location isn’t as important

The Pitfalls
–  Longer working hours may arise because the availability is there.
–  Individual need to be self-driven which isn’t a given for everyone.
–  Miscommunication is more likely as there is a lack of face-to-face interaction, if any at all.

So there you have it; now you know why a serviced office is an attractive option for businesses and why many firms are turning to an alternative approach with virtual offices.
If you’re setting up a business then you may want to get in touch with Pure Commercial Finance to learn more about the financial requirements.  Call 02920 676727 today to speak to a business finance broker who will be more than happy to help and offer expert advice in this field.

 

 


 

5 Tips to Finding the Perfect First Office

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If you have a company that is still in its startup phase and you need to work on finding it a good office, then you will need to work on it with great care. You will need to cover a few things as you move forward with your choices. The following tips will give you pointers to use in your search:

  • Knowing your needs

There is a great importance in the size of your office and what you really need from it. You will need to figure out exactly how large your team will be and if you plan on having it grow as time goes by, especially since this will largely dictate the size of the building you’re looking for and what it has to offer in the long run. Do you want to have more open space to work with? Whether you want to have open space, cubicles or some other solution that works is up to you, as there are different approaches to each and every situation and company. Some may need more space due to certain types of work being done by the company, while others may be alright with the usual cubicle design.

  • Networking

When you need to track down great office spaces, you will need to start your search with the people and companies you already know to maximize results. You can ask around your contacts, as well as entrepreneur network and friends you know to find more information. You would be surprised to find out how much information find from sources you may not have expected. Some of them may even know certain things about potential office spaces that are not available to the general public yet. You can also make use of a real estate broker, as they will give you more information on this subject due to their better networking in this particular field of business. You should also make sure you sign a lease for longer periods of time if you can, as it will allow you to control what you have for a lot longer. You will thank yourself later down the line.

  • Money issues

Rental costs will vary due to a number of factors, such as business types, location and your own personal needs as a business owner, so you will need to ask yourself quite a few questions. You need to make a small list of amenities and utilities that work for your needs and see what needs to be done to make things work out in the long run. There are some things that need more attention than others if you want to have a better-organized business, such as Wi-Fi, phones and other types of communication, as well as a stable local network that allows internal communications without easy access from the web. If you have any sensitive information, then you may need to consider securing your servers in such a way as to disallow external access, as well as physically securing them as best as you can. Doing all of this will have its own price. Make sure you’re financially prepared for what comes ahead in the end.

  • Moving in

Once planning and preparations are complete, you will need to start moving into your new office. Doing this will take some time and preparation, so you would do well to get some professional help in the face of a moving company. They will handle all potential issues you may have with moving in, such as keeping a lot of items safe from harm during the process and giving you insurance against damages on the way. Contact as many moving companies as you feel you need to and research them so you can find one that works best for your particular situation, potentially an experienced company of movers that have been on the market for may years.

 

 

 


The surprising impact of staff uniforms on your

bottom line

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Staff uniforms are everywhere. You might be greeted by people adorned in company clothing when you get your morning coffee, stock up on groceries at the supermarket and pull into the petrol station to fill up. Because of the ubiquitous presence of these garments, it’s easy to take them from granted. When it comes to your own business, you might be a little blasé about the potential benefits of worker uniforms.

However, it’s now easy to get your hands on all the branded clothing you need. Whether you’re after staff t-shirts, polo shirts or want kitchen clothing for your personnel, you should be able to find top quality yet inexpensive solutions from specialist providers such as FireLabel. Meanwhile, going to the effort of purchasing staff uniforms could benefit your bottom line. Here is the business case for official work garments.

Giving your brand a boost

One of the biggest boons of staff uniforms is the fact that they can give your brand a major boost. Offering great products or services isn’t always enough to ensure that companies succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. Firms have to look the part too, and uniforms can help organisations to cultivate their brands. When your employees don garments featuring your company name and logo, they instantly become ambassadors for your business. Albeit in a subtle way, they are reinforcing your brand.

Ultimately, this could translate into increased sales, which is great news for your finances.

Enhancing the customer experience

Being successful in the business world means not only winning new customers, but also keeping the ones you already have. In order to encourage repeat custom, it’s important to ensure that people have a positive experience when they deal with your organisation. Uniforms can play a major role in this. They can make your workers appear smarter and more professional, which in turn should instil greater confidence in consumers.

Branded garments also make your employees easier to spot, so customers won’t struggle to identify them if they are looking for assistance or want to make a purchase.

Improving employee attitudes

Uniforms can serve to improve workers’ attitudes too. They help to foster a sense of team spirit between colleagues, and this can lead to enhanced collaboration. Also, when people are wearing company clothing, they tend to be more conscious of their actions and this can contribute to increased diligence and a better overall work ethic. In turn, this can lead to a rise in productivity.

 

 


 

5 Online Tools to Build Relationships with your

Customers

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Customer expectations are higher than ever when it comes to the availability they demand from you. They want to be able to find and interact quickly and efficiently with companies and expect teams to treat them with respect and value, giving personal assistance as much as possible.

This is already a difficult reality for established companies, but it is even harder for startups in the race to find a market fit. In this post we’ll explore some tools that every startup could implement in order to manage and provide high quality service to every website visitor.

 

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  • What is it: Userlike is a live chat software for websites that allows you to interact directly, real-time and on-site with your visitors. A fully customisable tool, integratable with CRM and Sales systems which allows you not only to provide support and increase sales, but also collect feedback from your early customers.
  • How to implement: Userlike is easy to implement. It only requires you to implement a javascript snippet code into your website HTML.
  • Resources needed to maintain: To keep live chat up and running you will need to either dedicate a service agent or provide the service yourself. You can also opt for a contact form when no one is online.
  • Cost: There is a current deal (https://www.userlike.com/en/blog/2014/08/15/the-startup-deal) which offers all eOffice startups the possibility to access Userlike live chat for 12 months free.

 

 

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  • What is it: Talkdesk is a call center software for startups and medium sized companies looking for an inexpensive and efficient solution to handle their contact center.
  • How to implement: Talkdesk is Software as a Service, therefore no download is required to have your account up and running. Simply log in, setup your account and you are ready to receive calls.
  • Resources needed to maintain: As with live chat, Talkdesk requires personal assistance to support your service. You will therefore need to dedicate a responsible agent to this task.
  • Cost: Pricing starts as low as $19 per month.

 

 

 

 

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  • What is it: Helpscout is a helpdesk software that helps small teams provide omnichannel customer service in an organised and centralised manner. Even though invisible to customers, Helpscout supports small companies in managing every customer interaction.
  • How to implement: Similar to previous software, Helpscout is also extremely easy to implement. It requires some initial setup but afterwards you and your team will have easy access (always available) to every customer interaction.
  • Resources needed to maintain: You will need to bring your team onboard and actively use this platform to reply to your customer eMails and follow up on pending issues.
  • Cost: Helpscout is designed for small businesses and therefore pricing starts as low as $15 per user.

 

 

 

 

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  • What is it: Smoope is an app for smartphones that enables customers to contact companies on-the-go. Additionally, customers are also able to send or receive files as well as receive push notifications when the company has replied to their message. Companies can also add group-chats to reply as a team.
  • How to implement: After setting up your account you can access your messages anytime from any device (PC, Laptop, Tablet or Smartphone).
  • Resources needed to maintain: You will need to allocate one or many service agents to respond to customer messages timely.

 

 

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  • What is it: Crowdbooster is an online software that allows you to take grip over your social media interactions. With this tool you can not only schedule tweets and posts to the most optimal timing (according to its own reports and analysis suggestions), but also find out who your most engaged followers are and keep up your relations with such customers.
  • How to implement: Crowdbooster is easy to implement, requiring setup and customisation to match your needs and profile.
  • Resources needed to maintain: You will need to monitor CrowdBooster daily to check for developments and optimization opportunities.
  • Cost: There is a Bronze package which costs $9 per month and allows you to add 1 Facebook and 1 Twitter Account up to 50K Followers/Fans – perfect and accessible for every small startup.

 

 

 


 

Privacy versus openness: striking the right balance in

your office

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The debate over the relative merits of open plan and private offices has raged on for decades, and it shows no sign of losing steam. Some people love the open, collaborative look and feel of large working environments without barriers, while others much prefer the seclusion and peace and quiet offered by personal offices. If you’re wondering which approach would suit your company better, take a look at this brief guide.

Open plan offices

There’s no denying that open plan workspaces have their advantages. For one thing, they represent a highly efficient use of space. Commercial premises don’t tend to come cheap and by opting for an open floor plan, firms can save themselves valuable square footage. Also, being in such close proximity to one another can help to foster collaboration between colleagues. However, it’s not all rosy in the world of open plan work. One of the major complaints that employees have about these arrangements is the high levels of noise that are often generated. Of course, businesses can take steps to lower the volume. For example, they can invest in office screens from specialist furniture suppliers like Furniture At Work.

Another common complaint is the lack of privacy afforded by open plan spaces. This can lead to increased stress levels. Perhaps even more worryingly, open offices have even been linked to raised sickness rates among employees. One study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, found that people who spent their days in these spaces took 62% more sick days than their counterparts who worked in enclosed offices. The research authors suggested this may be in part because viruses spread more easily in open plan work areas.

Private workspaces

Private work areas are associated with a similarly complex mixture of pros and cons. People often feel more comfortable in these areas and they are free to personalise them by adding photos, artwork and other decorations. Also, many individuals find they can concentrate more easily when in these enclosed areas, making them more productive. They may experience lower stress levels too.

On the flipside, personal offices are more expensive for companies and they do not tend to promote cohesion between co-workers.

The hybrid approach

Given this confusing picture, it’s no surprise that firms are increasingly turning to a hybrid approach that incorporates elements of both open and private offices. Forward looking firms are devising multifunctional working environments that allow personnel to move to different zones depending on the tasks they’re doing at the time.

For example, a rising number of companies are including breakout area within their premises where people can come together to hold informal meetings and discussions. It is also becoming more common for offices to feature enclosed spaces where workers can retreat from their colleagues to concentrate on their own tasks. Thanks to free and speedy WiFi and the range of portable technology now available, it’s easy for employees to move around throughout the working day.

If you’re determined to strike the right balance between open and private offices, this flexible approach could suit you perfectly.

 

 


How to boost morale at work

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Worker morale might be hard to quantify, but it plays a crucial role in the success of any business. High levels of employee satisfaction can translate into increased productivity, which is great news for businesses’ bottom lines. It can also help firms to recruit and retain the most talented individuals. If you’re keen to ensure your staff members are content in their roles, take a look at the following simple but effective suggestions.

Offer opportunities for progression

No one wants to think of themselves as being stuck in dead-end roles with no opportunity to progress. This is why it’s so important to make sure your personnel have plenty of chances to develop their knowledge and skills. One area to focus on is health and safety, and by visiting the websites of specialist training providers like www.sheilds.org you can explore an impressive variety of courses, including NEBOSH diplomas and certificates.

The benefits associated with offering your employees such courses are twofold; as well as giving their careers a boost, you will help to ensure that your company benefits from an improved skill set.

Provide the perfect working environment

It’s also important to provide a top-quality working environment. Your workers should benefit from a comfortable and attractive office that helps to put them in the right frame of mind to work. Shabby seating and dated decor send out the wrong message to your workers. As well as potentially preventing them from concentrating on their tasks, it can make them feel undervalued and unappreciated.

Show your employees you care

More generally, show your employees that you care about them. For example, mark their birthdays and other important events like weddings and births. Simple acts like handing out cards or small gifts will help to ensure your staff members feel appreciated as individuals. If you’re in charge of a large organisation, it may be impossible to keep track of all this information yourself. Instead, delegate the task to your line managers.

Reward success

People like to know that their successes at work are both noticed and rewarded. So, by recognising your employees’ achievements, you can boost their levels of satisfaction and engagement. When people know that their hard work and talent will be celebrated, they’re more likely to enjoy their roles. This means it’s important to provide plenty of positive feedback where appropriate, and workers’ remuneration packages should reflect their achievements too.

Incorporate the fun factor

Another top tip is to provide your personnel with opportunities to unwind and enjoy some fun. If you have the space, why not include a games area in your office where your employees can gather to chat and relax during their breaks? A rising number of forward-looking firms are doing precisely this. They realise that all work and no play over the space of an entire working day can be a recipe for restlessness and dissatisfaction. It’s also worth arranging social events outside working hours to encourage your employees to bond with each other.

By following simple advice like this, you should be able to keep morale levels high. Ultimately, this is good news for both your employees and your business.

 


Ways to Boost Office Productivity

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Office environments are often poorly designed when there is no vision involved in the process, ensuring employees will spend their time indoors in an increasingly dreary environment. That doesn’t have to be the case with you however, as you can really improve things a whole lot more than you may think. The process doesn’t involve only office cleaning. The tips ahead will give you a few ideas you can fall back on in terms of improving productivity and making your office space more welcoming:

  • Decluttering

One thing you must do if you want to have your office transformed into something new and interesting is to make sure you remove the rubbish. Cleaning the unnecessary will free up space and will give you a sense of organization. This will let you focus on what you need without having to dig through incessant clutter, useless objects and similar issues.

  • Lighting

Office cleaning is not the only thing you need to look forward to. Natural lighting is a great way to reduce the costs of electricity, as well as improving the mood of your employees. You may want to consider more windows if that is within the realms of the possible as well as mirrored surfaces if there is simply not enough light available during the day. Indirect lighting is a great way of making the place more welcoming, while at the same time ensuring you have enough to work comfortably.

  • Importance of Colors

Colors are always vital when it comes to lighting and setting the mood in any location. Interior decorations will need to help reflect natural light around the building, so if you choose a color for the office, make sure its one that helps boost overall productivity, reducing stress but not being straining on the eyes. Orange could be a welcome choice for example, since its warm and pleasant. Red works for the aggressive purposes of sales, but may prove too tiring in the long run. Green and blue are excellent for a quiet and calm work environment, as well as any neutral colors along the way.

  • Plants

Making sure you have great-looking plants around your office will really help with keeping your office clean of bacteria and mold, while at the same time having a great look, not to mention cleaning the air there. They may also affect and regulate the temperature in an office, but you should use them sparingly since allergies need to be taken into account as well.

  • Importance of Acoustics

The level of noise in an office can be disruptive to communication or the creative process, so you would need to find a way to keep that to a minimum as much as possible. The outside noises will need to be blocked as much as possible, as well as other sources of nuisance. Using acoustic screens and panels can be an excellent way of keeping things under control.

 

 

 


 

 

8 Ways to Create a Vibrant Office Space

Nobody wants to have a dull, hum-drum office space, but then again not many companies can afford to have the lavish and interesting design of places like Google.

However, all is not lost. There are many little tricks you can do in order to take your office from bland to BANG!

#1 Paint it

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What colour is your office? If the majority of the walls are white or magnolia and you’ve got a boring grey carpet then you could probably do with having a splash of colour. This does not have to be expensive – just add a feature wall there, a splash of colour here and a touch of your business’s personality to finish. This is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to improve the feel of your office, and add a drastic change to your work environment.

#2 Enable Hot-Desking

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Modern technology makes it so simple to quickly move desks that there really is no excuse for not hot-desking. This lets your team work more intimately with a wider selection of people, encourages greater creativity and lets people who work well together do just that. Additionally, this method has been proven to cut down on ‘office politics’, thus creating a livelier and friendlier place to work.

#3 Introduce Branding

Many companies have office signs on the outside and nowhere else. This is because they assume that their employees know who they are working for and visitors know who they are there to see because of external signs. However, by branding the interior you create consistency and can build a culture around the brand – think of places like Starbucks, their logo is on everything you see in every single franchise creating a cohesive image.

#4 Plants and Trees

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Never underestimate how much nature can influence your workplace. Plants have been clinically proven to help reduce stress, increase productivity, increase creativity as well as adding to the office’s aesthetic appeal. If you have a lot of room then why not fill some spaces with palm trees? You can create a cheerful and exotic appeal to even the dullest offices.

#5 Encourage interaction

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You’d be surprised by how many offices there are that are as silent as the grave because they don’t feel as though they can talk out loud. Why not encourage interaction and make sure that your employees are engaging with each other? Create social areas in the office where people can meet up to discuss ideas, thoughts or simply gossip – while this last one may not be completely productive it can create stronger bonds and friendship, helping to increase the positive attitude and forge better teamwork.

#6 Tea and Coffee as Standard

It’s unlikely you do, but if you haven’t got tea and coffee facilities as standard then you need to ASAP. If you have got the facilities available then make sure they are as good as can be – high quality coffee speaks volumes for both your employees and your clients/ visitors. You could even deck the area out to make it look like an Italian bistro and give it a homely feel – this doesn’t have to cost a fortune, you can just add fun elements to give it a warmer feel.

#7 Personal Touches

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Let your staff bring in their own items to give their own touch on the business. This could be anything from personalised mugs to a rug they want to adorn their floor space. Depending on how creative and unique you want the place to be, you can give free reign or put down brief guidelines. The personal touch can make your office truly unique and helps your employees to add to the personality of your company.

#8 Have an Aquarium

Fish are surprisingly good for increasing your employee’s concentration as well as adding a lively, bright and vibrant feature to the office. You can let your employees name the fish and decide on new plants, features or fish to go into the aquarium. This can have a huge impact on the workplace and it’s relatively cheap to buy and maintain.

None of these tips require a lot of cash to carry out and yet all of them can have a significant impact on the way in which your office space is perceived.

About the AuthorReally Red are experts in providing bespoke office signs to help increase the appeal of your office. Our design experts can work with you to ensure that your office sign stands out from the rest! Talk to us today to find out more about how we can help you.

 

 


 

 

How to Choose the Right Desk for Your Office

Your desk is the space where your business develops, where ideas come to fruition and where deals are done.

A desk that’s poorly suited to your needs can make the completion of any task a time-consuming headache. To make sure each day is a productive one, take the time to review your workspace and see whether your desk is really working for you.

Here are some things to consider:

Space

You might need a large desktop to work on but in a small space a large desk can make the rest of your office feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable.

In small spaces, look for a lightweight desk with wheels or foldaway sections. This gives you the flexibility to create a large work area when you need it and fold it away to create space for meetings or other tasks when you don’t.

When planning to use the space underneath your desk for storage, take care to check out its height and the position of the legs to make sure that a pedestal unit will fit and leave enough room for you to sit and work comfortably.

Planscape Glass Office Desk

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Functionality

Think about the kind of tasks you need to complete. For computer-based work, a simple rectangular desktop with access holes for cabling is often sufficient. They give you enough space to work on without creating trip hazards or making the office look untidy.

If you need enough workspace to deal with computing and paperwork, then an L-shaped desk gives you the space to manage both tasks comfortably. These desks are very space-efficient because they can sit neatly in a corner.

If however you have a spacious office, a U-shaped desk gives you a functional and easily accessible workspace that’s suited to any variety of tasks.

Décor

Think about how your new desk will fit in with the rest of your office equipment. If you don’t want the expense or inconvenience of redecorating or replacing the rest of your office furniture, choose something which will complement your existing style.

Durability

For the purposes of comfort, functionality and style, your desk in an investment. There are a range of options suited to any budget but as with most things, you get what you pay for.

For the home office, a lightweight desk which can be dismantled may be your best option; it gives you the flexibility to relocate easily and fit through any door frame.

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For business users, the sturdy construction of desks made from wood, glass and steel tend to make them more expensive but their durability means that over the course of their lifetime, the initial outlay is a cost which is easily recouped.

Status

A desk is a status symbol. It says something about you and your business. Do you want a traditional, heavy, solid oak desk or a contemporary glass one?

Choose wisely and you can create the right image but consider how your desk fits in with the rest of the office.

It’s common practice for management to have higher quality furnishings but if you have a lavish, comfortable workstation while your employees toil away on low quality desks, you risk alienating them and creating a division between ranks.

Planscape Executive Office Desk

To upgrade a number of desks across your business, invest wisely in those built to last. Good suppliers usually offer finance options to help you spread the costs.

For more advice or information contact the office furnishing experts at Planscape. They provide businesses across the UK with office furniture and can help you find the perfect desk to suit your daily business needs.

 

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