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  • Working for Home and Working Out Sage Advice to Stay Ontop of Your Game Dec 9, 2020

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    If you are working from home full time, or even just the occasional day when required, you need a good space to set up a desk. Not everyone has the luxury of a spare room or office desk, so how can you be comfortable and productive? And keep yourself buisness fit with a home gym design.

    In a perfect world, you’d have a spare office. One wall would be inspirational business books in intentionally haphazard shelving—your teleconference background. Then, you’d have an ergonomic desk, salubrious swivel chair, and it would be soundproofed to keep the kid’s noise to a dull roar. But, it doesn’t always happen like that. In fact, it never happens like that.

    Where does the office go?

    If you have a spare room, then that’s the obvious spot for your workstation. It’s rarely occupied, you can set it up how you like, and shut the door to the outside world when required. However, a spare bedroom or dedicated office is not something everyone has.

    The main lounge area is good as there’s usually good lighting, it’s close to the router, and close to snacking facilities. However, if there are others at home, it’s noisy, full of distractions and often chaos. You can’t leave things on the table and you definitely can’t have a conference call.

    The bedroom is quieter, but it’s not great psychologically. Bedrooms are for sleeping. Adding an element of working/ computers to the space isn’t great for sleep patterns.

    If you have a warm climate, then a caravan outside could be good (a wifi repeater will be needed). Often a small nook is all you need, so find a cosy space, a nook in the corner out of the way somewhere.

    Lighting

    While you don’t need to go all-out on the lighting, you need to make the space usable. Facing a window can be difficult due to the brightness of the sun and having your back to a window can mean glare and reflection in your computer monitor.

    Natural lighting is important to keep natural circadian rhythms so you sleep at night and stay awake during the day. Sunlight is important for productivity, mental health and physical health, so sitting in a darkened room with the curtains drawn is a bad idea. If your room is glaringly bright, consider installing a cheap glare-blocking blind so you can turn down the sun when required.

    If you work at night or the room is too dark, a desk lamp may be all you need to scare away the darkness and allow you enough light to work.

    Internet

    You need high speed internet for everything. It’s not just frustrating, but it hobbles your productivity levels as you attach files, wait for emails to send, upload, download, or try to join a call. It’s estimated that employees burn through an entire week every year, just waiting on their internet.

    Find a high speed service provider. It may mean you have to switch. Consider having a data stick for an opposition company, so if one fails, you have a backup. If your office is a long way from the main router, get a repeater. This means your signal isn’t a pathetic one bar that drops in and out, but a full force strength connection that allows you to do what you need.

    Power supply

    Home offices can demand a lot of power points. Computers, printers, monitors, lamps, chargers, there’s no end to the tech. You need to invest in a high-quality multi-power plug with surge protection. Overloading plugs is no joke- it’s a huge fire risk (make sure you update your home insurance if you do insist on overloading a power point) or even consider getting some extra power points added, especially if you’re running off a long extension cord.

    Desk options

    If you can’t afford to buy a flash desk with perfectly height-adjusted ergonomics and space for a keyboard, then that’s ok. You just need to make sure whatever you are using is comfortable and at the right height. Use a laptop riser, which are super cheap, to ensure the keyboard is at a comfortable angle and the screen isn’t too low.

    The other option is a standing desk. This is better for you than being seated uncomfortably, and you can buy a standing desk option that’s relatively cheap and stable—or get your DIY inclined family to construct a box that sits on top of an existing table.

    Clear a workspace

    At home, this can be incredibly difficult. Desks are often dumping grounds, and even if your desk isn’t, the area behind you is. Try and get rid of the clutter and throw out all the junk—you really don’t need ten dead AA batteries. When setting up the room, ensure there’s a clear space behind you so that when you’re on video calls, your customers or colleagues see something other than a pile of laundry.

    Office chairs

    If you’re not a full-time standing desk kind of person, then you will need a chair to sit on. If WFH is short-term, then re-purposing a dining chair is OK, but in the long term it’s not great for posture or comfort. There’s no way around this; if you are full time working from home, you’re going to have to buy a comfortable ergonomic chair.

    What else do you need?

    This is different for everyone. Depending on your business, think about:

    • A printer

    • Filing cabinet

    • File/ organiser

    • Whiteboard
    Boundaries

    The single most important thing in your office is boundaries. If your husband, children, flatmate or spouse is constantly interrupting you, you will get frustrated and angry. Every interruption means a loss of more than 20 minutes of productivity. Set up a plan with the family where you’ll be available for certain timeframes, or if the door is closed they need to manage a situation themselves.

    Probably the person you need to maintain the strictest boundaries with is yourself. Being at home can be a very tempting waste of time. To avoid problems, take a few simple steps:

    • Make sure you have everything you need in your office. Grab your coffee and you are ready to rumble.

    • Have a clear workspace. Get rid of clutter.

    • Manage your time. Some people love the Pomodoro technique, others allow themselves breaks between set tasks. Reward one piece of work completion by allowing yourself to hang out the washing.

    • See these tips on fighting depression at work.
    Enjoy the ability to WFH. It can be the best thing—or the worst thing—in the world. Often, simultaneously. Maintain your rules and boundaries, make yourself a comfortable, productive space, and enjoy the ten metre commute!
  • What Could the World of Business Look Like in 2030? Dec 7, 2020

    Though 2030 might seem like a long way off, there is no doubting that there will be some substantial changes to our world before then. Business has leapt forward a massive amount since 2010, and we will see some more epic improvements across the next decade. Let’s take a look at where the world of business might stand come 2030.

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    source: Pixabay

    Vast Digital Landscapes


    eCommerce has boomed in the last two decades and it is likely to only continue to grow. Currently, it is thought that over 75% of people are shopping for goods online at least once a month and that is only set to grow. More and more companies are introducing online retail spaces, and some are thriving and becoming industry leaders without ever opening a physical store.

    With the increase in development in systems like augmented reality, consumers are now even able to visualise items as if they were right in front of them in their homes. Systems like this are only going to become more commonplace, and we are likely to see an even bigger range of products emerge online than what we already have access to.

    Widespread AI Implementation

    The development of AI is one of the most interesting stories to emerge in the digital age thus far. For all the advancements we have seen up until this point, it is no exaggeration to state that we are only at the very beginning of understanding precisely what AI is going to be able to do for us.

    Experts like Tej Kohli and Demis Hassabis are working on ways in which AI can be used to benefit not just the world of business, but all working cultures around it. It is likely that, by 2030, we are going to be living in a world that interacts seamlessly with AI to a much greater extent compared to what we are currently able to see.

    Continuing Office Cultures

    There have been many conversations in the past year as to what effects the widespread adoption of remote working will have on office culture. While it might seem like many companies are in favour of adopting remote working over a long period of time, this might not necessarily be the truth.

    It is important to remember that, at our hearts, humans are social creatures and we thrive off interactions with other people. Being able to come together to work and collaborate is always going to be beneficial to us and to the world of business. Therefore, it is likely that we will see thriving office cultures in 2030, even with the advantages that remote working has brought to us.

    It is always going to be exciting to think about what the future could hold for us. Though 2030 seems a long way off, it will be here sooner than we might think. Therefore, though there are to be some surprises that we can’t predict yet, we might see a world of business in 2030 that does not look too different than the one we currently inhabit.
  • Brexit threat to consumer protection experts could leave thousands of UK consumers unprotected Oct 4, 2020

    The UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) offer free advice and assistance to consumers who have bought goods or services in another EU country (or Norway and Iceland) and experienced a problem. It is the only service of its type available to UK consumers and performs a critical role in the UK consumer protection landscape.

    But staff at the centre based in Basildon, Essex, face redundancy if the UK Government and the EU fail to agree on its future role before December 31. A total of 11 staff – mostly specialist legal consumer advisers whose role is to advise UK consumers about transactions with EU-based companies – face the axe and thousands of UK consumers could be left unprotected if the centre closes because of a lack of an agreement.

    The UK ECC, founded in 2007, is part of a network throughout EU member states plus Iceland and Norway offering UK consumers support with queries about companies and products purchased in those states.

    In May, the centre reported a surge in consumer queries directed at the centre, with Republic of Ireland-based Ryanair's mass cancellation of flights a key catalyst for the rise. By mid-August, the UK ECC had registered 7,067 consumer cases since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown on March 23.

    The consumer centre network relies on cross-border cooperation with fellow ECC offices which liaise with overseas businesses on their behalf. The centre, hosted at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), employs 11 staff in Basildon, Essex, and is joint-funded by the UK Government and the European Union; however, the Brexit negotiation phase has created uncertainty about the future of the centre with funding from the EU likely to be removed at a time that demand for the service seems to be rising.

    Andy Allen, Service Director at UK ECC, said:


    "The UK ECC could face closure, the 11 staff could lose their livelihoods and thousands of UK consumers would have no-one to help them in their disputes with traders in the EU if an EU Exit agreement is not made.

    "It is possible that staff could lose their jobs because at the moment nobody can decide whether to keep the centre open past December 31.

    "It is feasible that a decision could be made to start up again sometime in the future, but this is not a tap that can be turned back on again at a moment's notice – these are specialist jobs. That future decision will be cold comfort to the staff who would already have been made redundant.

    "UK ECC is the only service of its type available to UK consumers. It's a service that's free to consumers using it. For 13 years, we have helped many hundreds of thousands of consumers, and we will continue assisting them throughout 2020.

    "I ask that the UK Government understands the critical role UK ECC performs in the UK consumer protection landscape and works out a solution which retains this valuable service during the negotiations."


    Consumers should contact the UK ECC with any queries by emailing the centre at [email protected]
  • 5 years of success for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Scheme Oct 4, 2020

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    The Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) is celebrating five years of success this month, with the last year proving particularly successful after the latest report revealed a 32% year on year growth in membership.

    Nearly 69,000 UK businesses have now joined the scheme, demonstrating the increased
    popularity of seeking support from a third party organisation to help resolve customer
    disputes outside of court.

    The scheme was launched in 2015 and its aim is to help all its members improve customer
    service standards. Businesses who belong to a CCAS code sponsor can display the Chartered
    Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved code logo so when consumers are searching
    for a business, they can look out for the logo and be confident that any approved business
    they choose has a proven commitment to honest business and higher customer standards.

    It provides businesses with peace of mind and helps them stand out from the crowd by promoting the fact that they are trustworthy and reliable, as all scheme members are required to have clear terms and conditions and provide access to a clear complaints and ADR procedures for their customers. Demonstrating that the business has a robust complaints procedure which will help attract and retain customers.

    Growth in consumer spending across code businesses surged by a staggering £51.5bn which represents a 62% year-on-year increase with almost £135bn of spending now protected by the scheme. Approved ADR bodies received over 110,000 contacts last year and handled approximately 70,000 cases, while ombudsman services upheld 83% of the complaints referred to them in 2019.

    Sue Steward, Head of Client & Commissioning at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) which operates the scheme, said:

    "I am pleased to report that one of our code sponsors, the Home Insulation and Energy Systems Scheme (HIES) received an award at the UK Complaint Handling Awards this year.

    "This is good news not only for customers but also businesses during what is an extraordinarily difficult time for UK business. The unprecedented pandemic has hit consumer confidence, and as such CCAS membership is an important tool for improving it. Businesses that are part of an approved code benefit from improved customer relations standards and supports the confidence of consumers.

    "ADR schemes give businesses the peace of mind that there is someone there to help overcome disputes outside of court. Avoiding costly legal cases is a priority, especially during challenging times for business.

    "I look forward to the next five years, which I'm certain will bring even more reassurance for businesses and aid the recovery of the economy."


    Find out more about The Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) for your business.
  • COVID-19 guidance launched for the hair and beauty sector Sep 19, 2020

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    For businesses such as hairdressers and beauty salons which operate ‘close contact services’, the COVID-19 crisis has been a source of significant uncertainty. Months in lockdown has led to understandable anxiety about their financial survival; and now, as they reopen, many are likely to have legitimate questions and concerns about the procedures they need to follow to keep their staff and customers safe.


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    With this in mind, Business Companion, in partnership with the National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF), has published a new bulletin for the health and beauty sector, setting out in simple terms the latest government rules which businesses need to be aware of.

    Every workplace should adopt practices that minimise the spread of COVID-19 among anyone who comes onto their premises. In the hair and beauty sector this is particularly important, since salons and barbershops bring people into close proximity to one another, often in the area of the head or face – the ‘highest risk zone’ for spreading the virus.

    The hair and beauty salons and barbershops COVID-19 bulletin includes up-to-date and practical guidance on:

    • conducting a health and safety risk assessment incorporating COVID-19 provisions

    • COVID-19 risk mitigation measures

    • the information you need to give to staff and clients

    • the procedures you should follow around deliveries

    • how you should support NHS Test & Trace

    • best-practice cleaning measures

    • toilets and washrooms for staff and customers

    • safe use of water systems

    • ventilation, laundry and waste
    One of the most important aspects of preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the hair and beauty sector is the correct use of PPE, face masks and face coverings. To support this, the bulletin features an easy-to-follow guide to the 12 things you need to know to get this right.

    The bulletin also provides many useful resources and links to further reading, as well as a checklist to keep track of the changes being implemented.

    Following the guidance will help to ensure the safety of everyone who works in and visits salons, giving businesses and consumers peace of mind that they are doing everything they can to protect each other during these difficult times.

    In addition to its industry-specific guidance for the hair and beauty sector, Business Companion has also published more general guidance on the safe use of PPE for businesses, which sets out important information for manufacturers, importers and distributors.

    Attached Files:

  • Retail sector: COVID-19 guidance launches Aug 12, 2020

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    The UK retail sector has been affected dramatically by the COVID-19 emergency,

    with perspex screens, facemasks and socially distanced queueing now

    commonplace in shops up and down the country.


    For those working in the retail sector, the crisis has brought with it unique challenges.

    As an essential part of the fabric of UK society, retailers have had to adapt and

    innovate to serve the needs of the public, all while ensuring the safety of their

    staff and customers remains a priority.


    To help retailers navigate the unprecedented situation they face, Business

    Companion has launched a free comprehensive guide that sets out how they can

    continue to operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.


    Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): A retail guide has been designed for businesses in need of accurate, reliable and up-to-date information on their responsibilities to staff and customers, and will be updated regularly in line with the latest government guidance as the situation develops.


    Written in plain English, the guide makes for an indispensable resource for retail

    managers and workers in businesses of all sizes and varieties, from department

    stores to greengrocers.


    It includes industry-specific guidance on PPE, cleaning and hygiene, fitting

    rooms, queue management, and deliveries and returns. It also contains answers

    to frequently asked questions and a step-by-step guide to completing a COVID-

    19 risk assessment.


    It is accompanied by a series of Annexes tailored to addressing the issues faced

    by specific types of retailer, such as independent retailers, those which operate outdoors, those which visit customers’ homes, businesses in the hospitality sector such as pubs, cafes and restaurants and vehicle traders.


    The guidance is available to read in a digital edition booklet or to download in a fully designed or printable format on a dedicated landing page has been set up at

    www.workingsafelyretailguide.co.uk


    Business Companion is a free online resource offered by the Chartered Trading

    Standards Institute (CTSI) which provides guidance on a variety of best practice

    and consumer law issues. Its Coronavirus Bulletins have been created with the

    support of the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
  • Trends in UK Philanthropy Aug 8, 2020

    In the UK, philanthropy is an incredibly important tool for transforming communities and saving lives across the globe. The UK boasts an incredibly valuable philanthropic landscape, and many philanthropists have done great things for world over the years.

    As with any kind of investment, there are trends that can be noted in the world of philanthropy. In this article, we are going to look at some of these trends a bit more closely. Read on to hear our thoughts.

    How Much Is Given?

    The amount of money that is given to good causes in the UK changes year on year. Back in 2015, was £9.7bn was recorded, and this later rose to more than £10bn in 2019. That same year, the World Giving Index ranked the UK at number 7, and as the people of Britain grow more attuned to the necessity for philanthropy, they are more likely to continue making investments into worthwhile causes.

    Trusts and Foundations

    One of the most common trends that we are seeing in UK philanthropy is the steady increase in the number of people donating to trusts and foundations. Some, like billionaire philanthropist Tej Kohli, are even setting up their own foundations in order to get straight to the heart of the issue. The figures suggest that those giving to trusts have been doing so increasingly in recent years. Personal and family foundations giving has grown by around 20%.


    Donor Advised Funds

    Another trend in UK philanthropy that you should be aware of is the investment in donor advised funds. This is becoming increasingly popular as professional advisors start to look at DAFs and their equivalents. In fact, back in 2016, DAF giving reached as much as £372m in the UK. This is an incredible amount of money and indicates a trend in this kind of giving. This is something that is expected to grow even more in the coming years.

    Community Causes

    While medical causes are common recipients of philanthropy, it is becoming increasingly common for philanthropists to offer support to small communities that are struggling. Instead of focusing on health and finding cures, these philanthropists are focusing on social change and are doing a great job. This is having a positive effect on certain deprived areas across the UK.

    Final Thoughts

    It is often up to the philanthropists what they spend their money on but there are certain trends that are setting the standards for this industry. With new trusts and foundations being set up every single year, there are a lot of great causes for those with the disposable funds to invest in. Sure, charity work can be beneficial but there is something that stands out a bit more when it comes to philanthropy. Make sure to keep an eye on the UK’s biggest philanthropists to see what they do over the next year.
  • Coronavirus Bulletin: Advice for housing and home improvement businesses May 20, 2020

    One of the many unfortunate and unforeseen consequences of the COVID-19 crisis has been its effect on the housing market. With letting agents and estate agents closed in line with government guidelines, and solicitors and removal firms similarly being forced to shut up shop for the time being, the property sector in the UK has effectively ground to a halt.


    Changes to people’s employment circumstances as the crisis continues have also had knock-on effects on their housing situation; many people who are no longer able to keep up with their rent payments are fearful of eviction, despite new government legislation designed to protect those who find themselves in a precarious financial situation at the present time.


    And in the area of home improvements, there are many questions about what kind of work can go ahead at the moment, with businesses fearful of putting their employees at risk of contagion and consumers understandably reluctant to allow tradespeople into their homes to carry out repairs. Compounding this is a scarcity of supplies in the housing trade, which has led to inflated prices for some basic DIY materials.


    In order to answer the questions that both businesses and consumers are likely to have around these issues during the COVID-19 crisis, Business Companion – a free online resource created by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) – has published a Coronavirus Bulletin focusing specifically on housing and home improvements. It contains reliable information and guidance, and will be updated regularly as the situation develops.


    The Bulletin includes answers to questions landlords are likely to have around their responsibilities to tenants at the present time, highlighting the importance of communication between landlords and tenants and explaining the details of the Coronavirus Act 2020 as it applies to possessions and evictions.


    It also explains best practice when it comes to allowing prospective tenants to view a property, including the use of web conferencing to enable properties to be viewed and inspected remotely.


    In terms of repairs to rented properties, the bulletin discusses what kind of work should and shouldn’t be carried out at the moment, with only essential repairs being advised. In those circumstances, work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating, unless it is to remedy a safety issue.


    Importantly, planned works which are not an ‘emergency’ – for example, installing solar panels or building an extension – should not go ahead.



    For the non-rental housing sector, the bulletin also goes over the current policy around mortgage holidays, with links to accurate and up-to-date information from the government.


    At a time of anxiety and confusion for many, the importance of clear, accurate information from dependable sources is more important than ever. Business Companion’s Coronavirus Bulletin has been created to address this, and makes for essential reading for anyone concerned about how coronavirus could affect their housing circumstances or business.


    To read the Bulletin, click here.
  • Car Sales and Customer Complaints May 6, 2020

    Nobody goes into business with the expectation of enduring a deluge of customer complaints. The vast majority of business owners are conscientious and professional, and when something does go wrong, there can be a tendency for business owners to take it personally, both out of consideration for the business’s reputation and the wellbeing of the customer affected.

    Many businesses of all kinds will go to great lengths to ensure that their customers are satisfied, and will bend over backwards to remedy a complaint if it does arise – after all, a happy customer is a returning customer.

    It is inevitable though that sometimes complaints will occur which can’t be easily resolved.

    It is also an unfortunate fact that the used car industry is consistently at the top of the list when it comes to customer complaints. This is perhaps unsurprising when you think about it; a used car is a fairly complicated piece of technology with which any number of mechanical problems could occur; it is likely to be among the most expensive purchases a consumer will make in their lifetime; and last but not least, people entrust their own safety and that of their loved ones to their cars, and are sure to feel a sense of anger if a potentially dangerous mechanical fault does crop up.

    According to Leon Livermore, Chief Executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), “Unfortunately, car complaints remain among the most numerous type of complaints to consumer protection bodies. It's a fact of life that cars can break down. Business must make sure that it is open and transparent with consumers and conform to its legal responsibilities before, during and after sales.”

    CTSI, along with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), have therefore published a new guidance booklet designed for used car dealers.

    Car traders and consumer law: Guidance for dealerships’ is divided into sections covering the key points of consumer law and the obligations of used car dealers to their customers.

    The guide includes information on:

    · Complying with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs)

    · Obligations under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA)

    · Obligations under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (CCRs)

    · Obligations under the Price Marking Order 2004 and the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012

    · Obligations under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015

    The guidance booklet has been produced as part of CTSI’s Business Companion website, a free online resource designed to offer information and guidance to businesses of all sizes about their responsibilities towards consumers.

    Livermore says: “Together we can build a better used car industry for both consumers and business. It all starts by reading this guide.”

    To download the guide, click here.
  • How Will the Lockdown Affect the UK Housing Market? May 4, 2020

    With people unable to leave their homes and any planned moves being put on hold, the corona virus lockdown has essentially hit the pause button on the UK housing market. There is much speculation about the longterm impact this will have on the buying and selling of houses in the UK.


    Experts are predicting a 38% decrease in house sales this year compared to 2019. This means sales will drop to around 734,000 in 2020, down from 1.175 million the previous year. Alongside a drop in sales, a slight price reduction is also expected. Property consultancy, Knight Frank, believes the drop will be around 3% across the country, excluding central London, where prices are expected to remain unchanged.


    However, forecasters have been keen to point out that everything depends upon how long the lockdown will last. Currently, predictions are based on the lockdown lasting throughout April and May and then being slowly lifted in June. Should the government decide it necessary to extend the lockdown then predictions will need to be revised and mostly likely they will get worse the longer the lockdown continues.


    Prior to the lockdown, the UK housing market had been witnessing positive movement following the election in December. With the Brexit question somewhat answered, buyers and sellers had begun to act in January and February. The question remains as to how and when the UK housing market will return to pre-corona conditions. In particular, there is concern among estate agents about how to carry out viewings in a safe way.


    It has been suggested that three things are necessary to reboot the UK housing market after the lockdown ends: firstly, a continuation of cheap mortgages, government incentives for first time buyers, and new, safe procedures for carrying out viewings. In response to the third point, it has been suggested that virtual viewings could become more popular with estate agents guiding potential buyers around a property via video call.

    Many property buyer groups are estimating that prices will fall by at least 10%.

    For those who have already brought a house and are facing mortgage repayments under the new, financially constrained conditions caused by the lockdown, the government has offered a new support scheme that gives homeowners a break of up to three months from their mortgage repayments.


    Whatever the precise outcome may be, it is clear that the UK housing market is entering a volatile period. Yet, as we saw with Brexit, the UK housing market is extremely sturdy and capable of weathering adverse conditions more robustly than other areas of the economy.
  • Web Tips from Dental SEO Experts The Fresh UK Apr 8, 2020

    With the growing number of websites on the internet it is more important than ever to have a website that does more than the average. Websites that are engaging, responsive and interactive are more interesting to users, and a sure way to grow website traffic. We spoke toPravesh Solanki at The Fresh UK Digital SEO agency and experts in the field about practical ideas to make denstists website more engaging to both existing and potential users alike.

    Improve Usability

    The usability of a website refers to how easy visitors find it to use a website. It means that your website is user-friendly, and visitors can engage in meaningful interactions on the site and complete tasks successfully.

    Improving usability is basically focusing on amplifying the certain web characteristics and behaviours to improve the quality of your website. Some of these include:

    User-centred approach – if you want to make your website highly engaging, forget (not entirely anyway) about shiny widgets, complicated functions and flashy slideshows. Focus instead on your site user and what they need in order to achieve their purpose for coming on your site in the first place.

    ● Easy Navigation – the navigation features for your website need to be intuitive and consistent. A significant number of people who click on your domain name to enter your site do not land on your homepage. The names for your web pages should be neatly categorised for the different parts of your site as well.

    ● Readability – your choice of text should be readable, i.e. the font size should be large enough to be easily read, and there should be no distracting elements taking the reader’s attention from your copy.

    ● Organisation of Information – structure is important. Important information for English websites should be placed to the top left of the page. Research shows that most English speakers spend a lot of their time on that side of web pages.

    ● Link Recognition – hyperlinks should be easy to recognise and should stand out from the rest of the normal body copy. Make sure your users know where to click by making use of colours or underlining your text links.

    Web-friendly writing – writing for the web is different from writing for hard copy. Make clear and concise copies that your readers can enjoy reading by making use of short paragraphs, using bullet-points, and breaking up content with whitespace.

    ● Remember your EAT factors, you're in the medical space, list your accreditations, make sure the information is up to date these things matter.

    ● Local search is incredibly important for dentist SEO, you need to rank in your area if you want customers. This means sorting out your Google my business listing and making sure your information on site matches that. Have your address and location clearly visible and easily read.

    Provide Original and Interesting Content

    No matter your niche, remember that there’s some other website competing with yours. How do you keep your site visitors engaged then? By providing good content that is original and interesting. Don’t be afraid to offer a contrary opinion now and then when the occasion call for it. Your posts should be regular and updated. Use your social media accounts to keep your readers updated when you post something new, and encourage them to comment, like and share. In addition, make subscription to your website information emails easy as well so that you can send out updates through emails to your readers.

    High quality photographs are some of the most engaging content you can provide on your website. Take a cue from online stores and other websites that make use of pictures as a huge part of their business – their photos are optimised for the web and beautifully shot, no grainy pictures here.

    Pictures that are optimised for the web do not impact on speed and load time and this is something that needs to be taken into consideration for your own website. A useful tip for using visual content on your website is to use high quality professional photographs showing your products in the environment where it will be used by your customers.

    Share your ideas. How do you improve visitor interaction on your website?
  • How to Begin Your Career as a Photographer Apr 7, 2020

    In the era of visual information, we all have cameras – not necessarily DSLR, but most likely quality Android or iPhone cameras – and we are all photographers to a certain extent. Indeed, the abundance and cheapness of picture-taking devices along with the boom of social networks have made photography one of the most romantic vocations that many are dreaming about and almost everyone has tried as a hobby.

    However, there’s a big difference between taking amateurs shots as memory souvenirs of the bright events of your life and shooting for money. The latter requires much more knowledge, professional equipment, and the most important – professional attitude. Photography is very diverse and all-encompassing: in addition to being an expert in photo shooting, you have to be a bit of a marketer and a bit of a psychologist at the very least. But don’t get scared – every masterful photographer was once a beginner without any idea on how to start and later, in not too much time, was already capable of taking splendid shots like those you can see on Getty Images,Depositphotos, Shutterstock, and other dedicated websites.

    For better or worse, there are no secrets to getting a head start in professional photography. Well, maybe there’s one: the best time and place to start mastering photo shooting is right here and now by reading this brief review on how to lay a solid basis for your long-term progress in the art of photography.

    #1 Pick your niche and make up a realistic plan
    Let’s take it down to earth straight away: on average, a photographer makes $16 per hour or about $35 000 a year...not too impressive for those pursuing millions, but that’s just what makes photography great – it’s all about passion and you will meet no strangers here. Any photographer will tell you that he or she loves what he does, and you will love it too.

    However, ironically enough, the hardest and the most fundamental step in your career must be done at the very start of it: the choice of genre. No one will blame you for changing horses midstream, but as practice shows, those rooted in one photography niche find it pretty hard to switch. Luckily, there are dozens of commercially and artistically attractive fields for unleashing your potential – portrait, scientific, landscape, architectural, sports wildlife, wedding, fashion photography, or even drone photos – so it’s all about picking the one you are passionate about.

    And once you’re done with that fundamental choice, proceed to make up a plan. Here are the four basic points to ponder over:

    1. Education: degree in photography vs. (online) certificates vs. internship.

    2. Photography equipment: beginner vs. amateur vs. professional.

    3. Your own brand: portfolio, website, social networks.

    4. Budget for all of the above.

    #2 Educate yourself and start taking pictures from the very first day
    No matter your action plan, budget, and photography niche, you should constantly educate yourself and preferably combine theoretical knowledge and practice. Luckily, the global pool of knowledge is abundant with worthy alternatives: you might enroll in one of the high-profile photography schools like Academy of Art University, Santa Barbara City College, or Southern New Hampshire University, take free or cheap online courses, or learn by guides, tutorials, and materials from photography libraries – the gist is to put your hands on that knowledge once and for all until you stop taking pictures. Speaking of picture-taking, the sooner you start the more time you will have to sharpen your eye, experiment, and accumulate practical knowledge. Don’t bide time – just throw yourself into this!

    #3 Purchase a DSLR camera
    Every respectable photographer has a DSLR camera, a few high-quality lenses to it, a decent monitor to distinguish between good and bad photos, lighting equipment, and finally, some minor accessories – memory cards, batteries, reflectors, etc. For starters, especially if you are short on cash, you may take pictures with your phone, but that’s only until you save up for a strong amateur DSLR camera at least. Any of the below would work:

    1. Canon Rebel T6i (750D).

    2. Canon EOS 80D.

    3. Nikon D3400.

    4. Nikon D7100.

    5. Sony SLT-A68.

    Make no mistake – you really need a DSLR and it cannot be sacrificed. As for the rest, you may buy it later. Actually, once you get the hang of your DSLR, your interest in photography will start growing exponentially and you will see it only natural to purchase all the necessary equipment.

    #4 Build your social media profile and sign up for any job you’re offered
    Building a social media profile is a hell of a task and we won’t elaborate on it here, but let’s just give a bird’s view on what you will have to accomplish:

    1. Create a portfolio including your best shots.

    2. Create a website and preferably a blog.

    3. Create profiles on Instagram, Facebook, Behance, Flickr, YouPic, Pinterest, etc.

    Once you have all that, the only thing missing will be practice with real clients. Probably the best way to go in this regard is to accept all job offers that you can handle. And for sure accept an internship offer if you are given such a brilliant chance: there’s no better way to become a master than to learn from the master, even if the payment is symbolic. Take your chance and get a head start – do not sit idly by and wait for the customers to come in some magical way.

    Time flies – very soon you’ll be generating sales from your website, blog, and social media traffic and thinking of scaling your business into a well-oiled machine with an office and staff. But that’s a whole new story, a story that you can create for yourself with your relentless diligence, perseverance, and patience.
  • How to prepare for a video interview as a professional Sep 20, 2019

    Advancements in VoIP and Digital Video Platforms are making the task of acquiring candidates, quicker, more targeted, easier and far more convenient for employers as well as candidates.” – EmployerTube.com Experts in Video Interviews


    As a freelancer / professional you maybe looking to interview in the near future, and the chances are that before a telephone interview or a face to face you will be asked to do a video interview, either in a live environment or with a pre set question list.

    This allows interviewers to get a feel for you as a candidate before they then push for a more formal interview technique.

    All of the big companies and not just those in the tech sector like Google, Facebook and Microsoft are now using the ability to interview candidates without expanding human resource resources to filter candidates down to the next stage of the process.

    For instance if you apply for the Sainsburys management program they request that you have a video interview first, this allows the company to make sure that you are a good fit to the team that they are hiring to, without having to expand valuable resources on stages of the interview that you may not pass in the first place.

    One of the key players in this field in Employertube they offer the ability for employers to witter down and filter based on how you have answered a pre-set set of questions and to view the video, this allows the employer to view your body language and behaviour, and also how well you have prepared for the interview before hand.

    In the rest of this article we will go over some of the basics that you should always do both before a normal standard interview as well as video interviews this is because Employertube allows potential employers to set a one way video-based interview up, they allow hiring managers to select from prebuilt or custom question sets that allow the company to hit on some of their core principles and see how candidates will react under these scenarios, they can also sort to filter based on other variables that are completed when a potential candidate is requested to participate in an interview.

    Act as if you were in a real interview
    It is natural to feel worried or have apprehensions when you are preparing for an interview, and this is the same for when preparing for a video-based one.

    When interviewing tell yourself that everyone can feel the same way, nervous, edgy and can become a bit absent minded

    The best way to combat this is to be as prepared as you can be, then it will have less anxiety feeding into your behaviour, don’t think about it do it.

    Having a nervous tick or playing with your hair is a natural thing to do when nervous, but these things can distract both yourself and the interviewer away from your answers to the questions they have asked you.

    Remember to just stay calm and it will be fine, make sure you pre record yourself in a mock interview before the real thing, this will allow you to catch any of these minor actions and to be aware of them in the real thing.

    Are my tools and software up to date ?
    When preparing for a video-based interview, you should make sure that all of your tools and software are up to date and working.


    If you are using a laptop make sure that it is either plugged in or the battery is at 100%, make sure if you are using Windows you have run the update tool so it doesn’t request that you shutdown or restart your mission at a critical part of the interview.


    Make sure you have a list of the software that you will need to complete the interview, this could be Skype or another 3rd party item of software that you may have to download.


    Make sure that you have changed the screen name that you use, it is very unprofessional to use a name such as cherryBomb69, change it to your name..


    An interview is an interview
    Whether you are interviewing in person or via a video-based system, you must remember that the basics are always key.

    We may think that we have the basics down, quite often people forget that the interviewer will be able to see your body language and expression.

    Always dress for the occasion, you wouldn’t turn up to an interview in a bathrobe so don’t be sat in a bathrobe during the video-based one, make sure it looks smart when sat down and avoid bold statement colours that may detract from yourself and always open with a smile.

    You should always be enthusiastic and genuine, show off your confident persona and this should be able to be reflected in your smile.

    When it comes to eye contact, you should adhere to the 5 second rule, it is video-based but again they can see you and your expressions.

    As technology progresses video-based interviewing will become a core part of the recruitment process, so you should practice and get as much experience as you can, as in the future it will be seen as a required skill

    Don’t be frightened, embrace that email that requests a video-based interview, let the technology partnership get you that dream job that you have always wanted.

    Go out be confident, be yourself and create a success
  • Why businesses should join the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme Jul 11, 2019

    If you are running a small business, becoming a member of a code sponsor within the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme can provide an endorsement of trust and confirmation that you have a commitment to high quality customer service and consumer protection - which can give you the edge over your competitors and help you to attract and retain customers.


    The Chartered Trading Standards institute (CTSI) runs the Consumer Codes Approval scheme (CCAS) and the objective is to raise customer service standards by approving and promoting codes of practice through code sponsors, protecting consumers with higher levels of customer service and allowing businesses to display the codes logo to reassure consumers.


    The benefits to your business include:


    - When consumers see the CTSI approved code logo on your marketing materials and website when searching for businesses within your industry or sector they are reassured that you have a proven commitment to honest business and higher customer standards which will give you an advantage over your competitors.

    - Belonging to a code sponsor will help drive up customer standards within your business sector.

    - Being part of CCAS proves to your customers and potential customers that you have a robust customer complaints procedure and clear pre-contractual information.

    - It enables you to promote your business as one that consumers can trust.

    - Consumers can be confident that any approved business they choose has a proven commitment to their customers and that they will have protection above and beyond normal consumer law rights.

    - It improves overall consumer confidence.


    Find out more about the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme for businesses


    CCAS continues to grow, helping over 83,000 consumers and supporting 52,000 business members in 2018 across 23 different consumer code categories across a variety of economic sectors. In the latest annual report 2018 it reveals that the work undertaken by the scheme continues to benefit consumers across the UK with a recovery of £3.7m in compensation for consumers via the complaints and dispute resolution mechanisms which code members subscribe to and a consumer spend of £47bn across all code members.


    Find out more about the Consumer Codes Annual Report 2018.
  • Business guide to alternative dispute resolution launched as consumer complaints rise Jul 9, 2019

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    The UK economy is supported by a backbone of small businesses. This has always been the case culturally, with the image of the plucky shopkeeper and self-made entrepreneur a mainstay of British identity, but it is also true statistically. Indeed, 99% of all private sector businesses are classed as small/medium enterprises, accounting for 60% of all private sector employment and 52% of all private sector turnover in the UK. However, with Brexit uncertainty looming and the prospect of another recession stifling consumer spending, the future is not looking bright for this iconic sector.


    Unfortunately, this is compounded by a change in consumer attitudes; driven by our online-focused society, consumers are becoming increasingly litigious, with some estimates gauging that up to three percent of ecommerce transactions generate a dispute. In this context, businesses need to be savvy; fighting your corner might feel like the right approach, but it can be costly, stressful and time-consuming. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) offers a different approach, helping parties to settle their difference amicably and to mutual satisfaction. In recognition of the importance of ADR to businesses, small retailers in particular, Business Companion – a free online resource produced by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) – has recently launched a Business in Focus guidein partnership with the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to help sole traders and limited companies in all sectors understand the relevant rules and regulations.


    New thinking

    The guide begins with an introduction to the concept of ADR, clarifying that it is a process for resolving disputes between consumers and traders that doesn’t involve going to court, using a neutral third party to reach an agreement quickly. It also covers some of the advantages of ADR, including cost savings, and the fact that courts will often insist on parties trying ADR before a case will be heard. ADR can also generate goodwill from a previously negative consumer, and can help businesses avoid appearing negatively in the press or through word of mouth.


    Practical considerations are also covered, including the differences between mediation, conciliation and arbitration as types of ADR, and the criteria that third parties have to meet, which should give disputing parties confidence in the fairness of the process. The guide then explores the requirements for traders, covering internal processes and communication requirements, with useful case studies to illustrate the stages.


    Finally, there is a breakdown of the online dispute resolution platform, including details of the CTSI helpline, which businesses should ensure they are aware of. This platform allows consumer to log details of a dispute, and serves as a mechanism for communication between the consumer, trader and ADR body in a dispute. If the UK’s small businesses are to survive the coming turbulence, a sense of pragmatic solutions to commons problems is a must-have; ADR fits this box, offering forward-thinking traders a calm, low-impact way to deal with potentially sticky dispute situations.