When you think of London what first springs to mind? Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the iconic red bus, the tube, basically all the touristy stuff that reflects its unique character. However, it’s got a bit of a bad rap as of late, particularly with soaring house prices, eye-watering prices for a pint and how damp travelling during rush hour can be (Bakerloo Line, 31.04°C, Summer 2018.)
Yet, these negative points don’t seem to deter peeps from the capital. The population increased by 1.1 million between 2008 and 2017. Although, London is rife with workers, it’s far from the only place businesses can flourish. So, why would you build a business away from the capital?
Perhaps the most enticing reason to build your empire outside of London is property prices. We talked about the population of London rising, yet over the past decade, about 550,000 more Britons left London than moved to the city. The mismatch in numbers can be explained by birth rates compared to deaths and international immigration (hope that covers it.) The point being, people are leaving the capital in search of cheaper commercial property.
Whether you’re starting a company from scratch or are just looking for a change in scenery it’s wise to extend your search further than London. A smashing idea would be to look for a location that has relatively cheap office space combined with high rates of employment, so you can secure the most productive bunch for your company. See a list of the best cities to start a business in the UK here.
Competition is fierce (Rrrr) in London and start-ups often have the lowest survival rates. With the highest initial costs to get off the ground, it was reported that only 50.1 per cent of companies traded for three years. Enormous levels of competition can mean it’s very hard to shine amongst the crowd. Moving away from the hustle and bustle that consumes London could benefit your business. With less competition you can focus on developing your own identity rather than fretting about what competitors are up to.
It’s not just brand identity that’s vital. Creating a desirable company culture that will attract talent from across the UK, potentially from across the globe (aim high), will see your business rise above the competition. As mentioned, an obvious reason for such an influx into London is opportunity, but this doesn’t mean the right opportunities are always on offer. Wherever you decide to run your company, if you can offer an opportunity worth grabbing, then location is less of a factor.
There are numerous ways to create a positive culture. Demonstrating to your employees that they are valuable is a good starting point. Everyone wants to work for a company where they feel valued, are challenged and can progress. Create a supportive environment, with tones of positive reinforcement. Introduce remote working tools that encourage a better work-life balance, the list goes on. A tip top company culture incentivises productivity amongst employees and fantastic company culture isn’t exclusive to London. Check out our tips for creating a desirable company culture here.
Even if your company sits outside London there’s no reason not to employ talent from London (there’s loads by the way.) Meeting tools such as conference calling, video calls and webinars mean who you employ is no longer restricted by location. Our flexible working 2019 survey showed that 81% believed flexible working would make a job more attractive to them and 79% believe working flexibly would make them more productive.
By investing in the tech, you are demonstrating to your employees that they are fully equipped to work remotely. Introducing flexible working doesn’t only empower your workforce but it also brings big savings. Our recent study highlights just how much SME’s can save by downsizing their office space and introducing flexible working. This is particularly handy if you’re just starting out and the capital to accommodate a huge team just isn’t there. Meeting tools are a nifty way to get around this, allowing you to grow without having to worry about unaffordable rent costs.
Reading this article, you may be under the impression that we have beef with London. This isn’t true, London is a fabulous city, full of culture and character. The purpose of the article is to show that London isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to business. Successful businesses are constantly sprouting up all over the UK and business productivity is certainly not restricted to London.
No, is the short answer. End of article (just kidding, let us explain how we got that answer). Currently, we seem to be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking what form of tech to use. Whether this be the type of fridge you kit out your kitchen with, the laptop you choose, what type of headphones for listening to that playlist you just spent four hours creating (no judgement here), the list goes on. The same can be said with meeting software. Gone are the days where a conference call was all that was on offer, now you can choose to video call, share your screen, host large scale events through webinars and much more! Nevertheless, conference calling is still going strong and is yet to receive a visit from the grim reaper. Wainhouse research forecasts that in 2020, the total audio minutes for the UK will be 5,222.8 million minutes (a fair amount). So, here we go, let’s get into some exciting reasons why this is the case.
Recently, we carried out a survey looking at attitudes towards video calling, comparing us Brits and our friends from across the pond in the US. Turns out, we’re a rather unassuming bunch with 45.5% of our UK respondents saying webcam made them feel self-conscious. 29.9% said their main concern with video is what they look like (you look great, by the way). Seems like we may not be ready to fully embrace video just yet! Although, 60.9% of UK peeps and 72.3% of US peeps did feel webcam usage will increase in the future. Let’s not concern ourselves with the future now though, let’s look at the present.
Our conference call service hosts a whopping 320 million minutes a year, so it’s clear at least some people still like a conference call (bragging out the way). Web meeting tools are jam packed with features, which if used correctly can lead to some top-notch meetings. Although, with these extra features, all it takes is a couple people with a poor internet connection for a meeting full of ‘sorry didn’t quite catch that’, ‘your screen keeps glitching’ and ‘maybe we should hop on a conference call’. We don’t want to bad mouth web meetings, they’re a brilliant tool, it’s just conference calls are obviously simpler. There’s also the added advantage of not having to show your face when you’re WFH and haven’t yet managed to summon the willpower to change out of your pjs.
Conference calling still feels more accessible and convenient to many than video as it’s built on technology that most people are familiar with, da-da-da, the phone! Everyone likes to use tech that their comfortable with. It’s particularly important if you’ve been asked to organise a meeting with a measly ten minutes to spare. You want to rely on tech that you’ve used before, keeping the nervous sweating and erratic breathing at a minimum. All that’s required to get going with a conference call is a Host/Guest PIN and dial-in number. It’s straightforward if you need to communicate with international contacts as well, as conference call services provide tons of international dial-in numbers.
Out of all the meeting solutions that exist, it’s safe to say that conference calling is a cost-effective option. Everyone likes to save some dosh. That’s one of the reasons that conference calling tech is still so widely used today. With other products such as web meetings and webinars, the wealth of features available means that they are often more expensive. Many conference call providers won’t charge a monthly subscription to use the service. You pay for the individual call, rather than paying a monthly cost for a product you may only use once a month. Plus, conference calls offer a cheaper alternative when compared to face-to-face meetings. With face-to-face meetings it’s easy to rack up all sorts of costs, from travel to lunch orders for those peckish clients.
A sure-fire sign of a dying piece of tech is a slow up in innovation. This isn’t the case with conference calling. Although, the tech may look simple on the surface (psstt, designed that way on purpose) there’s loads of innovation going on behind the curtains. Whether this be app integration, cutting edge in conference controls or continually improving audio quality, it’s all happening. It would be pointless to continue investing in tech that’s dying out. The future of smart conference calling is looking bright, so watch this space!
We love a survey over here at PowWowNow. That’s why we decided to run a survey looking at attitudes around webcams in online meetings, focusing on the UK and the US. The survey included 100 UK and 100 US respondents, women and men, ranging from the ages of 25-64. We wanted to see if our opinions around video calls differed at all from our friends from across the pond!
So there you go, we share both similarities and differences in our attitudes towards video in online meetings. One of the things we agree on is that webcam usage will only increase in the future, so why not give it a go?
A quick overview:
When you think of webinars – what do you think of? Our guess would-be large-scale event to share company insights with the wider world or announce a new product, both very much customer facing. What if we told you that they’re also a fantastic product to use internally? Whether this be for training purposes, teaching employees about the values of your company, or sharing the latest company updates, the list goes on. We want to offer some insights of our own and let you know how you can best use webinars to engage employees and drive productivity.
Webinars encourage you to get your creative juices flowing. No one wants to sit through a four-hour long presentation full to the brim with stats, charts and more charts (apologies to any chart fanatics out there). With webinar software you have numerous ways to deliver your content and to keep employees engaged – you may just have to go for broke!
Variety is the spice of life (so they say), so there’s no reason not to keep your content varied. Feel like people are drifting further away from your presentation? Bang! Hit them with a video or vice versa. The more you put into your webinar the more you’ll get out.
If you’re aware that training can make a perfect recipe for a lullaby, then use your webinar and your creativity to turn these conceptions on their head. We’re not saying that your training webinar should include disco balls and party poppers but adding some variety to your content is a simple way to increase engagement. Engaged employees are productive ones.
Webinars can be used to present on a wide array of topics and are a great way to gather insightful feedback on those topics. Get your employees involved. With features such as Q&A, polls and surveys, it can be a great tool for interacting with your staff. If you want to get feedback on the latest company changes, how you can improve company culture, what the next away day should be, (you get the gist). It doesn’t have to be used for strictly corporate purposes, have some fun with it!
By getting your staff involved they are much more likely to stay engaged and productive. The point is, make sure you know what you want to achieve with your webinar and that it leaves a lasting impression. Everyone has attended a meeting that they weren’t too fussed about, with webinars you can avoid this by choosing topics that staff are invested in. They provide an ideal platform to create a spectacle!
Another tip to keep people engaged is to teach them something new (knowledge is power). A big old downer on productivity is feeling like you’re stuck in a rut. You’re not being challenged, and you feel like your progression is coming to a halt as you’re not learning anything new. Well, ta-da, use webinars as a resource for learning. We’ve mentioned that they can be used for educating the wider world about your company, but the same can be said for educating your staff.
It’s a nifty resource if any of your staff are eager to learn more skills and a great way to show off what other departments in your company are up to. With the certificate and training feature you can even include a pop quiz, or a full-blown exam, a surefire way for you to test engagement and productivity. Just try your best not to bring back vivid memories of sitting in a sports hall, uniform on and calculators at the ready. Use the platform to make learning as exciting and fulfilling as possible and drive productivity.
That’s right get wowing with webinars! These are just some of the ways you can use a webinar to create a super workforce. It may take a little bit of practice, but it’s worth it. Don’t let this hold you back from trying something new and exciting. The platform is always there to give a helping hand by providing post-event reports so you can separate the webinar wheat from the webinar chaff. Use webinars to engage employees and drive productivity. Over and out folks.
A recent report found that mental health issues are the number one cause for absence in the UK. Whether these are caused by long working hours, tight deadlines, the daily commute, there are countless reasons we can feel overwhelmed at work. We get that tech wouldn’t be the first place you’d think of to gain some peace of mind, but it can offer a helping hand when it comes to managing your mental health. So off we go, a list of tech that can support your mental health in the workplace.
Unmind is a platform designed specifically for companies. One of their slogans being “We empower organisations and employees to measurably improve their mental wellbeing”. They use learning and development courses, clinically backed tools and assessments, all with the focus of maintaining a healthy mind state at work. It also aims to increase awareness and understanding of mental health in the working world.
It’s a B2B product, with the opportunity to request a demo on their website.
There seems to be an app for everything nowadays. With an abundance of fitness apps to look after your physical body it was only a matter of time before apps were developed to help look after your mental state. Catch It is an app developed by the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester and aims to help people suffering from anxiety and depression. The idea is that it encourages a more positive way of thinking, by asking you to ‘catch it’, ‘check it’ and ‘change it’. Helpful for when you may be feeling extra pressure or are put in an uncomfortable situation at work. By reflecting on why you are feeling that way and what you can potentially do to deal with the situation, you hopefully consider more positive outcomes than negative ones.
The app is available on iOS and Android.
A recent study found that longer commutes could be negatively impacting mental health, with health status, level of happiness and satisfaction all lower for people with long commutes. If you’re part of a company that offers flexible working and feel that the daily commute is getting you down, then spend a day working from home. Tech such as conference calling and video calls mean there is no reason for you to physically be in the office to attend a meeting. That one day you spend skipping the commute can relieve you of some stress, promoting mental wellbeing.
One of the leading causes of stress in the workplace is managing an increasing workload. Ever had it where you feel like you’ve finally completed your to-do list, only to have something pop up that you completely forgot about, which also happens to be due that afternoon. Wunderlist is an app that is designed to help you manage all your projects in one place. With a handy feature to set due dates and reminders you can make sure that you are constantly reminded of what you must do. Also, you can easily share your to do list with colleagues, letting them know just how much or little you have on your plate.
The app is available for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.
Who doesn’t enjoy a game? eQuoo takes a different approach to improving your mental wellbeing, by developing an app that’s marketed as an emotional fitness game. The storylines and skills you develop throughout the game are based on the latest psychological research. The idea is that it helps you develop emotional skills to better deal with work stress, building healthier relationships. Why not have some fun, whilst also supporting your mental health?
The app is available on iOS and Android.
Who would have thought it aye? Tech and mental health. As time goes on, we’re sure tech can play an even larger role, with developments in virtual reality and artificial intelligence. For the time being though why not give these a go? To see if they make a difference. This isn’t a comprehensive list, just hopefully a nudge in the right direction!
The days of having to be in the office in order to work are fading, remote working is on the rise. Recent research has shown that workers who spend three or four days working offsite are significantly more engaged – Boom! Remote working has many other benefits, benefits that we’ve talked about from time to time One we haven’t spoken about too often is how remote working tech can save you some rent dosh – so off we go.
The wonderful thing about remote working is you can break free from the desk. This means you can also decrease office space, saving on rent. Ditch the meeting rooms and hop on a video call instead. This way you can catch-up with remote workers wherever, you could all be in your cosy living rooms, whilst being just as productive. Tech such as screen share, present document and video mean it’s almost like being in the same room, without having to endure the micro-climate that comes with meeting rooms.
Woah, we know this seems very drastic and won’t tickle everyone’s fancy, but is an option, nonetheless. With the costs of keeping everyone in the same environment on the up and up, it’s no surprise that remote working is a growing trend. Recently, 100% remote companies have been sprouting up, that’s right 100%. And why not? With tech today, it’s possible to unite a workforce without an office. Tech even allows you to have a business phone system that works on the go. Cloud PBX technology such as hosted voice, stores your companies phone system on the cloud. No longer do you need a chunk of space just to house your phone system, you can take the system anywhere.
Back to the enthralling topic of desks. If ditching the office is a step too far then you can always use remote working tech to make the most of hot desking. Hot desking is for workers who don’t need a permanent space but may need to be in the office from time to time. You could have a system kinda like musical chairs but in the office, without the musical and elimination element (losing you? Bear with us). If one worker is working from home or wherever and another needs to be in the office, then they can just use their desk. Again, cutting down on office space and rent costs. And, for people working outside of the office they can access online meeting tools, ensuring they smash remote working.
We think remote working is awesome and a great way to help you cut rent costs. Tech makes it easy peasy. With reports showing that 99% of respondents would like to work remotely at least some of the time, it’s certainly not a fad that is going anywhere anytime soon. So, why not embrace it? And save yourself a pretty penny whilst doing so.
PowWowNow is proud to be partnering with Cancer Support UK to help support people after cancer treatment. The Cancer Coach telephone support programme is for anyone who has completed their treatment, offering them support and simple techniques on how to better manage their mental health and move forward in their recovery.
The calls are managed though our conference call service and are completely free of charge to all participants. With our conference call service, all calls are completely secure and reliable.
The courses are led by trained volunteers, all of whom have previously experienced a cancer diagnosis themselves. The programme aims to help participants find ways to better cope with feelings of anxiety, low mood and worry they may be experiencing after their physical treatment has ended.
“At Cancer Support UK we know that people who have experienced cancer often find that their emotional well-being begins to decline just as their physical well-being begins to improve. Cancer Coach will offer a lifeline at exactly this vital point of need: when medical treatment and the access and support that accompanies it stops.
Delivering Cancer Coach by phone means there are no ‘post code lottery’ barriers to accessing the service. It’s less intrusive when people are trying to get back to resume life after cancer as people can fit the course around work and other commitments”. Gemma Holding CEO
If you are interested in finding out more about Cancer Coach please visit www.cancersupportuk.org or email email@example.com
For further information about Cancer Support UK and the work they do, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flexible working has loads of benefits. A common misconception is that it results in decreased productivity, this is what we call yanking (one’s) chain. According to our 2019 survey on flexible working a whopping 79% believe working flexibly would make them more productive. Encouraging flexible working will help your company lure top recruits, with 81% of people believing flexible working would make a job more attractive to them. Here’s how embracing flexible working can help your company boss it and develop a high performing culture.
Everything is better when you’re happy. The grass looks greener, food tastes better, rubbish films become watchable and productivity increases. Flexible working is yin to productivity’s yang. They may appear to oppose one another yet they work in peaceful harmony (really digging the ying and yang philosophy). Offering flexible working allows staff to work when they feel most productive, performing at their best. Making staff work hours when they feel least productive just leads to boredom and the occasional social media binge.
With tech today, the line between face-to-face and virtual meetings is vanishing. Conference call, webinar and video call tech are on the up and up. Back to our trusty survey. 75% of people agree that technology helps improve productivity, 62% believe that virtual meetings are better with video and 57% believe that seeing someone’s screen share makes a more productive meeting. So, there you have it, the office isn’t the only place people can do their best work. Meetings are freed from the chains of location (bit dramatic). People have other responsibilities, allowing them to take their kids to school and then attend a meeting from home isn’t doing any harm. A work-life balance is essential to mental wellbeing. You’ll create a culture that not only smashes work but a workforce that takes pride in working for your company.
You’ve heard it before no doubt, but communication is essential for flexible working to remain productive. As mentioned with tech today; you can use webinar software to broadcast an event to remote workers wherever you may be. Wherever may be an overstatement, you don’t want to hold a webinar in your bathroom or under a tunnel. Not very professional or practical. But you get the gist. Communicating outside the office has never been easier. You can use web meeting software to have catchups throughout the week, keeping lines of communication open and people working flexibly in the loop. Communication breakdowns will lead to avoidable mistakes. Utilise resources to keep communication high on your agenda and to maintain an efficient performing culture.
Offering flexible working to your staff, lets you know you trust them. Trust is essential in a workplace, (stating the obvious, we know). To really make the most of flexible working then you must trust that your staff are completing their work and not just sitting round watching daytime television in their PJs. This means introducing clear deadlines and managing teams effectively and efficiently. Once trust is in place, it makes it a whole lot easier to implement flexible working taking a step closer to a high performing culture.
We really believe in the importance of flexible working. A healthy work life balance is so important and will result in increased productivity and a positive mindset. These simple pointers can help your team work smarter and benefit your business! So why not give them a try?
Flexible working legislation was introduced a whole 5 years ago (time flies), to be precise in June 2014. So, what’s changed I hear you ask. We’ve got you covered, so buckle in for a whirlwind journey exploring the world of flexible working.
First things first, what is flexible working (no it’s not stretching at your desk in spandex) and what legislation was introduced in 2014? Flexible working comes in several forms but the nitty gritty of it is allowing staff to work in ways that is most comfortable for them. This means different working hours, working from different locations or job sharing if someone has commitments on certain days. For a broader definition check out our snazzy infographic here. Legislation was introduced in 2014, that gave all employees the legal right to request flexible working if they have been working for that employer for at least 26 weeks.
We are hip when it comes to flexi (abbreviation, oh yeah) work, we love carrying out surveys looking at how it’s impacting the business world. When the legislation was first introduced, we surveyed 2000 professionals. Our findings showed 52% of companies allowed flexible working, 38% didn’t and 10% didn’t know. Compare that to 2019, where 68% of workers are offered flexible working (result!).
Although, it’s not all fine and dandy. 32% of staff aren’t being offered flexible working (boo!), even though it’s their legal right. “Since 2010 the percentage of the UK workforce adopting smarter ways of working has not risen above 27 per cent.” It seems some employers aren’t on board and don’t see what all the fuss is about feeling that flexible working leads to decreased productivity and less pay.
Conservative MP, Helen Whately recently introduced a flexible working bill in parliament on July 7th, 2019. She said that just 9.8% of jobs paying more than £20,000 are advertised as being flexible. The bill aims to make all jobs flexible by default. If successful it will turn the tables, meaning it’s the company that must explain why the job can’t be done flexibly. Will be interesting to see how that pans out.
Let’s hear from the staff shall we. In 2014, 46% of people said the flexible working meant cheaper office costs (everyone loves to save a little dosh). 42% said that a benefit was being able to pick their own working hours and 39% believed not having to face the daily commute was a fabulous reason for flexible working. Moving on to 2019 and people are just as chirpy about the benefits of working flexibly.
58% believe that technology can save businesses money, with the progress in online meeting technology it’s no surprise. Compared to 70% in 2018, 81% of people believe flexible working would make a job more attractive to them (flexible working, you saucy devil you). 35% of people would request flexible working over a pay rise, compared to 30% in 2018. The workers have spoken. The legislation may not have changed a great deal, but people’s attitudes towards the idea are changing, they’re cosying up to the idea. Why wouldn’t they? A scheme that allows them to work when they feel most productive and comfortable.
It’s safe to say that people are wanting to work more flexibly. With advancements in technology, it is going to become easier and easier. Soon you’ll probably be able to attend a meeting as a hologram, something previously imagined in Star Wars (or Star Trek for you Trekkies). Whether the legislation keeps up with the growing demand is one to watch.
If you’re keen to learn more or have been wondering, how can I implement flexible working? Then sign up to the smarter working initiative here, an initiative that aims to highlight how smarter working can benefit your business.
Working at a start-up can be great fun. Full of comradery, awkward high-fives, exciting socials and bursting at the seams with small talk about the weather.
At times it can also be hard – working hours are long, you’re keeping tabs on a bagillion tasks, but you always seem to get through it (even if you are bouncing off the walls from all the coffee – we’ve all been there).
Here are some other options for you to de-stress your start-up – herbal tea zen in no time!
Let’s start of simple, shall we? To quote Lao Tzu, proper laid-back guy (honestly Google him), he’s the epitome of chill:
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love” (bet you didn’t expect Lao Tzu to make an appearance when clicking on this).
That’s right, a smile and pat on the back (not too hard) go a long way – who would have thought it?
Being approachable is key. People will no doubt make mistakes; it comes with the territory. It’s your reaction to those mistakes that matters. Don’t immediately blow up or throw a ruler/highlighter/tip ex/wooden spoon (that might hurt!) at someone (and HR certainly won’t approve). Instead empathise and use it as an opportunity to learn. Now you’ve created an a much friendlier and happier environment (annndd breathe). Win, win for everyone involved!
We know – all very peace, love and unity. That’s the soppy bit out of the way.
There will be tension in a start-up environment at times. Conflict can be good in the right scenario; it can be constructive if it is managed and carried out in a respectful manner. This means no shouting across the floor, whilst everyone else gawps. It means constructive convos in a meeting room, with plenty of biscuits as a peace offering if it all gets a bit rowdy. It is about finding that balance. A study found that the ideal praise-to-negative feedback ratio for workforce performance should be six compliments for every criticism. So, for every five ‘Good jobs’, maybe pepper in one ‘have you ever thought about that in this way?’. Bottom line don’t be cruel!
You are what you eat, not literally. Morphing into an apple at your desk will not help with productivity or stress.
What we mean is that eating healthy will help with a healthy mind, keeping you alert and raring to go. Check out a list of foods that can help fight stress here.
This doesn’t mean never indulging in the occasional treat, everything in moderation and all that. Stick to eight coffees rather than nine. Just make sure you don’t go on and on about your healthy eating habits whilst your colleagues tuck into the latest round of biscuits bought back from some far-flung holiday.
Being a start-up means you aren’t part of the corporate rat race dudeee. You can be whatever you want to be, your company’s a peacock, unique and beautiful. I know we said soppy bit out of the way – but we just can’t help ourselves. Start afresh and develop an environment that people want to be a part of. Take pride in your small team and your tight knit culture. For example, you could decorate the workplace based on the interests of your employees, making it homely, vibrant, cuddly, somewhere that you want to be – after all you are spending a lot of time there
We know that resources for a start-up can be tight, so get creative. Offer incentives where and when you can, whether this be free fruit, coffee (or that herbal tea – yeah man!) or the occasional paid for drink after work. Other incentives could be to offer flexible working. I know we just said create a home away from home but there are bound to be occasions when workers need to work from their actual home. Catering to the needs of colleagues, within reason will result in feelings of pride that they are part of a company that listens and help de-stress your start-up. Happy days!
There are bound to be things that we’ve missed, the world of de-stressing is vast and beyond a blog post. Nevertheless, I am sure we can agree that a happy employee is a better employee. Being part of a start-up will no doubt develop you and be full of surprises. But that’s what’s exciting isn’t it, no two-days being the same. Facing challenges head on and crushing them (in the palm of your hand like an over ripe avocado – too far?). Getting to the end of day and going hey I made a difference. That’s what life is all about!
We hope these suggestions are useful and aren’t too far-fetched and can help de-stress your start-up.