The benefits of pets in the workplace


While there are many reasons for having a pet, not the least of which being that they offer significant health benefits to people – pets in the workplace can also create benefits for both employers and employees.

The pet population in the UK is an estimated 54 million, with dogs being the most popular pet, owned by 24 per cent of people.

In the past, pets in the workplace have been seen as an employee-only benefit, however factors that positively affect employees have a connection with improved office morale, absenteeism and a healthy work-life balance.

Pet care company, Purina believes that pets and people are better together and can create happier workplaces.

Since 2003, Purina has welcomed pets into their offices, and they have also carried out research with other companies who have experienced the benefits of bringing pets together in the workplace.

Some key finding include:

  • 40% of people with pets at work say it enhances work-life balance
  • 24% of people with pets at work say it improves relationships in the workplace
  • 45% of people with pets at work say it creates a more relaxed environment
  • 50% of employees with pets at work see it as a benefit


Having pets at work can also reduce stress, promote happiness and increase collaboration. Watch Purina’s video to find out more about the benefits of pets in the workplace.

A number of well-known companies such as Google, Ben & Jerry’s and Amazon already welcome dogs into their corporate headquarters and this may be something more organisations will allow in the future.

Also read: Pets in the workplace: why an office dog is a good idea


Image source: fthmb

Sweden introduced six-hour working days and sees benefits

Handicap patient in a wheelchair at the hospital talking to a friendly nurse and looking very happy - healthcare and medicine concepts

Sweden has experimented with six-hour working days, with workers allowed the opportunity to work fewer hours on full pay. The two-year trial has now come to an end, and the findings are somewhat surprising.

A few companies in Sweden moved to a six-hour working day in a bid to increase productivity and build a happier workforce.

Employers across the country made the change to get more done in a shorter amount of time and have more energy to enjoy their private lives.

Toyota centres in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, made the change almost 14 years ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and climb in profits during that time.

Filimundus, an app developer situated in the capital Stockholm, introduced the six-hour day in 2014. In an interview with Fast Company, Linus Feldt, CEO of Filimundus, said, “The eight-hour work day is not as effective as one would think.”

Feldt added, “To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge. In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the workday more endurable. At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work.”

He went on to say, that employees are not allowed on social media, meetings are kept to a minimum, and other daily distractions were eliminated. The aim is that staff will be more motivated to work more intensely while in the office.

The new workday would ensure people have enough energy to pursue their private lives when they leave work – something that can be difficult with eight-hour days.“My impression now is that it is easier to focus more intensely on the work that needs to be done and you have the stamina to do it and still have the energy left when leaving the office,” Feldt added.

Doctors and nurses in some hospitals in Sweden also made the move to six-hour working days.

After working for 2 years of six-hour shifts, assistant nurse Emilie Telander, 26, was told to go back to eight-hour days. “I feel that I am more tired than I was before,” she said, expressing the fact that she now has less time at home to cook or read with her daughter.

Telander was one of around 70 assistant nurses at Svartedalen’s elderly care home, who had their days shortened for the experiment, the most widely reported of a handful of trials in the country.

During the trial, the nurses working shorter hours logged less sick leave, reported better perceived health, and a boost in productivity by organising 85% more activities for their patients from nature walks to sing-a-longs.

While the experiment saw many benefits, the project also faced tough criticism from those concerned that the costs outweighed the benefits. Attempts to prove the effectiveness of reduced hours have been inconclusive so far.

One success is Toyota’s Swedish service centre, where the company has kept the shorter shifts ever since they were cut somewhat 14 years ago. The company continues to see a boost in productivity and increased profits.


5 essential ways to set up remote workers for success

remote workers

Businesses looking to grow their virtual teams need to consider a number of support incentives and tools that will allow remote employees to thrive.

If your company is looking at hiring remote workers or considering to expand into this flexible working style, here are five ways employers can set up remote workers for success.

1. Determine means of communication

Communicating with co-workers who are working remotely remains one of the most obvious challenges.

Employees may find it challenging to communicate virtually because they do not fully understand the benefits and difficulties of non-traditional forms of communication. Communicating verbally is the most natural way to communicate with co-workers but, outside the regular office, communicating face to face isn’t always an option.

Remote workers rely on emails, messaging platforms, phone calls, texts and video calls to discuss work. Businesses can establish a system of communication that is best for each situation. For example, day-to-day updates around projects can be discussed through emails, but video conference calls would work better for brainstorming sessions.

2. Give feedback: even if it’s bad

You should never sugarcoat feedback. By not providing valid feedback to remote workers, employers are hurting their business in the long run by letting problems fester.

Employers need to let their remote workers know when they’re happy with their work (ideally face-to-face, using video conferencing). Otherwise, employees will not know if they are meeting the mark and continue to make the same mistakes.

3. Nurture collaboration

Relationships developed by employees in the office have an immense impact on their productivity and job satisfaction. In 2015, Virgin Pulse conducted a survey of more than 1,000 employees. 66% said their co-workers positively affected their focus and productivity. Furthermore, 40% said that working with their co-workers was what they loved most about their job.

Remote workers spend most of their working hours outside of the office, and can therefore begin to feel disconnected from the rest of the team. Depending on the circumstances, some members of your virtual team will never meet in person. Communicating and working with faceless co-workers all day, can make remote workers feel somewhat lonely.

Employers need to properly introduce all members of a virtual team. If possible, it’s a good idea to have them meet in person, so that a face can be put to a name. Your team of remote workers should develop trust and understand each other’s strengths and skills.

If the right type of collaboration is encouraged among employees working at home, their relationships can be as strong as those in-office.

4. Make use of daily reports

Daily reports are essential — and one of the most important rules for managing remote workers.

Being clear about what your virtual team is working on, helps everyone know where they stand. It also prevents overlaps and miscommunications, and allows employers to easily schedule tasks and deadlines.

2. Access to technology

It’s important that full-time remote employees have access to the right technology to complete their tasks. Whether it’s hardware or software, no employee should be required to obtain the right equipment on their own, unless an alternative agreement is reached.

Investing in hardware or software for remote workers will ensure that your company has direct ownership of the technology; and for security reasons, it ensures that employees aren’t using personal devices to complete company work.


5 ways to nurture a more entrepreneurial culture

entrepreneurial culture

Building a strong culture within a team has become an important advantage for business leaders who strive for increased business success. You want to create a culture that identifies and embraces shared values, perspectives and ways of thinking that characterise the goals of a business.

Building an environment with like-minded and interesting people does not happen overnight — like most things, it requires hard work to nurture a more entrepreneurial culture.

Here are 5 ways to create a culture of entrepreneurs within your business.

1. Bring aspiring entrepreneurs on board

Ideally, every employer wants an employee who’s a motivated entrepreneur. However, employees often spend too much time looking for people to fill positions within their business, rather than seeking and sieving out assets that will help grow the organisation.

Aspiring entrepreneurs are likely to be attracted to a new business environment, eager to gain experience and see opportunities in the market where others do not. Founder and CEO of, Matt Ehrlichman says that you need to bring these people in, and empower them to flex their entrepreneurial muscles within your business.

2. Accept small failures

Establishing an environment in which employees understand that small failures can happen in the pursuit of bigger success will go a long way. This will support them in taking risks, ultimately allowing a new business the opportunity to grow faster and smarter.

It’s often tough to accept that making mistakes is OK, but if you prove to your aspiring entrepreneurs that it is, they will take risks and potentially find a better way of doing things.

3. Your company is their company

Give employees in your company equity, and motivate them to feel like partners — viewing your company as their company. The best business leaders will make every employee feel like a business partner. Why? Because when your employees feel ownership, they look out for it, protect it, and pour themselves into it.

4. Give your employees a voice

Ask your employees for their recommendations — they will more than likely present information. You need to ask them questions like “What do you think?” and “How do you think we can improve this?”

By asking questions such as these, you’ll craft a business culture of thinking beyond contemporary procedures. Founder of Growthworks Solutions, Leah Neaderthal believes that asking employees for their recommendation is the first step towards creating entrepreneurs.

5. Allow your employees to take ownership

According to Avery Augustine, manager of a tech company, you need to coach people into leadership day after day — but your employees won’t actually use these skills unless they feel like a trusted, valued, and impactful part of the company.

“If you teach your employees how to make smart, informed decisions, but still require that they run every idea by you before they’re allowed to make a move, how empowered will they feel?”

Creating an ownership mentality begins with trusting your employees and giving them the authority to make decisions. This can also involve listening and implementing their ideas or allowing them to work on side projects that they believe will increase sales.

When your employees feel like an integral part of the company, they’ll naturally step up to the plate and emerge as leaders.


Smoking Breaks cost businesses £8.4bn


The smoker’s corner is a common sight across all industries – a bunch of employees usually involved in deep conversation under clouds of residual smoke hanging in the air. While smoking sessions may encourage employee bonding, a recent study shows that these ten-minute sessions cost employers large sums of money.

Research by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) says cigarette breaks cost British businesses £8.4 billion a year in lost productivity — of smokers who disappear for a cigarette for 10 minutes, four times a day.

Smoking breaks cost employers £1,815 a year for each full-time worker who smokes during working hours. That’s according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

The one-in-five of employees who smoke take an average of 3.9 smoking breaks per day, each lasting 9.8 minutes. The study shows that these employees spend around 4.3 minutes of each working hour on a smoking break.

“With the average smoker taking at least four smoking breaks a day, their addiction is seriously increasing their risk of conditions like heart disease and stroke. It’s also costing their employer significant sums in lost productivity. For many workers, smoking has become part of their daily routine at work, which makes it extremely difficult to break.” said Lisa Purcell, manager of the BHF’s ‘Health at Work’ programme.

“Over a working week, smoking breaks cost businesses £25.91 per smoker in lost time that would otherwise be used productively,” says the CEBR’s report, adding “While it may be argued that time spent on smoking breaks enhances productivity, providing an opportunity for refreshment and reflection, there is probably a decrease in productivity in the time before the smoking break which, on average, cancels out the effect, leaving the smoking break itself as lost productive time.”

Another survey conducted by OnePoll for the BHF comprised of 2,000 employed smokers, showed that cigarette breaks take up 8.1 per cent of a full-time member of staff’s time spent working, and 5.4 per cent of that of a part-time worker — costing their employers £447 a year.

Opinium Research reveals that 40 per cent of smokers who take a cigarette break do so simply because they “want to get away from their work”. Other reasons for taking a cigarette break include:

1.Pressure getting to them and making them irritable (30%)

2. To gossip with their colleagues (14%)

3. To flirt with their co-workers (4%)

4. Strategic opportunity to talk to their boss (4%)

According to CEBR’s analysis of the Office for National Statistics’ annual population survey of the smoking habits and working patterns of more than 300,000 British workers — Smokers also take 70% of an extra day’s sick leave every year more than non-smokers. CEBR calculates that this time away from work costs businesses around £50 per smoker per year, or a further £288 million overall, bringing the overall cost to business to almost £8.7 billion a year.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) did not comment on the £8.4 billion productivity loss. A spokesperson said that firms did not monitor or break down on smoking breaks. “Smoking is bad for your health but it is an individual choice. Many companies offer employees who want to quit support to do so. Employers take a common sense approach on smoking breaks, in the same way that they would for other brief breaks from work, like making a cup of tea.”


5 tips to create future-proof apprenticeships for your business


An apprenticeship is undeniably a great way for people to enter the workforce. Providing apprenticeships is a mutually beneficial process and the companies hiring them have as much to gain as the workers themselves.

For small businesses, the biggest opportunities apprenticeships offer is the chance to build a dedicated, loyal workforce.

Here are five ways that you can create future-proof apprenticeships for your business.

1. Determine how apprenticeships can address your business needs

When creating an effective, sustainable apprenticeship programme, you need to ensure that it is embedded in your workforce planning strategy and responds to real and tangible business needs. The apprenticeship should not act as a separate initiative to your workforce.

Your business will also have its own niche and particular way of doing things. Whether its unique selling point is excellent customer service or the special attention to detail in product development, that approach needs to be as important to your employees as it is to you. By taking on an apprentice at the very start of their career, you can instil in them your unique business ethos.

2. Add up the costs and identify if your business is eligible for funding

When employing apprentices there are two direct costs – their training costs and their wages. Government provides funding to cover some or all of the training costs, depending on the criteria you and your apprentices meet, but you will have to cover the wage costs yourself.

Small businesses can apply for a £1500 grant paid around 13 weeks after the apprenticeship begins. The average apprentice wage is £200 a week.

3. Address current and future skills gaps in your business

Apprentices are now required to complete an approved course of training aligned to a job role known as a “standard” under the new system in England. There is an extensive list of standards to choose from – allowing employers to bring specific skills into their business.

By recognising the skills that your business requires now and in the near future, you will be able to choose the standards that best match these needs. If an appropriate standard doesn’t match these needs, you can create your own.

 4. Locate a fitting training provider

There are a number of training providers for employers to choose from including private and apprenticeship training companies, local colleges and the National Apprenticeship Service has a handy online search tool which allows you to find a list of registered providers.

Employers can also choose to register as a training provider to carry out their own in-house programme. To design the best scheme for your business, you can mix and match the range of local and national providers you partner with.

5. Equip your apprentices with the skills they need

Provide your apprentices with the kinds of skills and experience they will need for more advanced roles to thrive in your business. These skills don’t just have to be technical ones they learn as part of their training – you should help them develop a broader skill set through leadership tasks and social action.

96% of apprentice employers say they are beneficial to their business.


Workplace workouts: Self-powering gym workstations

(FILES)Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates attends the Clinton Global Initiative during in this September 24, 2013 file photo in New York. Microsoft announced February 4, 2014 that Satya Nadella will take over the reigns as CEO succeeeding Steve Ballmer who is out effective immediately. Microsoft also announced that Gates, previously Chairman of the Board of Directors, will assume a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor, and "will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction." AFP PHOTO/Mehdi Taamallah/FILESMEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Bill Gate

Self-sustaining gyms

Businesses around the world are moving towards self-sustaining gyms, ensuring that when you get your cardio in at the gym you’re doing more than getting a good workout, you’re saving energy.

The Cadbury House Club, a health club in Bristol makes use of gym equipment that harnesses the energy produced during workouts, feeding the building’s power supply. The Cadbury House Club was one of the first gyms in the world to install the ARTIS Technogym machines.

ARTIS uses unique technology that reduces energy use, recycling and renewing energy. The human energy is rerouted into the network and renewed to feed the gym.

Self-powering gym workstations

More businesses may look to implement self-powering gym workstations in the office environment. A healthy lifestyle can improve your workforce productivity – encouraging business leaders to promote a healthier working environment.

Business leaders can now take the fitness concept further than cycling to work or heading out to the gym during lunch hours – with self-powering desk based exercise equipment. The idea behind self-powering gym workstations is that you can use them easily to include a ‘little and often’ exercise routine into your normal working day.

Office Fitness and other companies offer businesses a range of exercise equipment designed especially for the office. This equipment includes: under-desk steppers, mini-bikes and treadmills.

The Inside Trainer offers an upper body option, the OfficeGYM attaches to a standard desk chair’s back, with rubber resistance bands for exercises targeting at least 25 muscle groups. This allows three-dimensional exercises based on the principle of resistance training.

The value of self-powering workstations

The nine to five grind keeps many employees penned up at their desk, making exercise difficult to fit into an everyday routine.

Self-powering gym workstations don’t require energy and are friendly to the environment. Furthermore, encouraging fitness in the workplace can be extremely beneficial for employers.

Office exercise equipment such as the office fitness bike, have health benefits over inactive sitting for long periods of time. Endorphins are released during exercise, aiding employees with more self-confidence and energy – allowing them to have a more positive attitude when at work, and feel less stressed too.

By showing your employees that you care about their fitness levels you will boost morale – it demonstrates to your employees and colleagues that their health and well-being is important to the company they work for.

The future of corporate fitness

Workplace fitness is becoming the norm rather than a novelty. More companies are introducing either policies or activities that support and improve healthy behaviours. This makes employees feel valued and cared for; with less sick days, better productivity and overall more loyalty to a company. Adding gym workstations are a clear way to add healthy habits to a workforce.

In the future, we may see businesses including self-sustaining gym workstations into the office environment – rerouting workforce energy to feed the business. One thing to note is that any fitness initiative put into practice by a business should be voluntary and fun.


Image Credit: OfficeGYM

Your annual gas inspection is really fun!

Annual gas inspection

As a business owner and a British Gas business customer, you may not be that excited about your annual gas boiler and appliance service, but it’s important that you know your legal responsibilities when it comes to maintaining a safe working environment for your employees. Fortunately,  making sure your gas appliances are safe has been made easy for you. As well as the annual service from a local, Gas Safe registered British Gas engineer, you’ll have access to a 24-hour UK helpline, available 365 days of the year and your own gas appliance record, which helps you make any necessary adjustments.

Watch the animated video below:

Reminder! Gas appliance service

Reminder! Gas appliance server

As a business owner, you’ve got a lot of things to remember, like your business’s annual gas safety check. If you own or manage a UK-based business with employees, you need to know your responsibilities when it comes to your gas appliances. British Gas business provides an annual gas boiler and appliance service, so you can have peace of mind and reassurance that your appliances and staff are safe. The service includes a yearly visit from a local, Gas Safe registered British Gas engineer, who will make sure that your boiler and other gas appliances are using the safest and most efficient technology available.

Watch the animated video below: