Planning and preparing your business for Christmas shut down

Planning and preparing your business for Christmas shut down

It’s a busy time of the year for many businesses as they look to meet final deadlines and round off the business year.

And with Christmas just around the corner, it’s important that business leaders plan for a controlled Christmas shut down.

This is a great time to relax and take a breather from work, but in order to really switch off from your business it pays to do a little planning ahead first.

Why a controlled Christmas shutdown is important?

With everyone eager for some time off, it’s important to make sure that all equipment and lighting is switched off. However, the way in which you shut down equipment may impact business when you start up again in January.

If shutdown is not done properly you may face issues on the first day back in the New Year, which will result in lost productivity.

This can easily be avoided with some forward thinking. Properly shut down your production line including all equipment such as computers, printers and other machinery as well as data equipment.

By undemanding how different pieces of equipment and systems interact (i.e. what happens to A and B when I switch off C?) you’ll understand how everything interacts. This will help you produce a shutdown sequence to follow on the last day of operation.

Directing employees to take annual leave

One thing all employees want to know is when their holiday starts, and ends.

As the leader of a small business, you should direct your employees to take annual leave during shutdown – this is of course if their contract agreement allows them to do so.

If there was no agreement or your employee isn’t entitled to take leave, you can direct them to take annual leave if the direction is reasonable.

Working during shut down

If employees are required to work during a business shut down, they should continue to be paid as per normal. However, if any of the days are public holidays (e.g. Christmas day) – your employee should be given the day off without loss of pay or they should be paid public holiday rates.

If an employee does not have enough annual leave to cover shut down, they have the option to take unpaid leave. However, no employee can be forced to take unpaid leave during shut down

Having an open conversation with your team is the most effective way to ensure the best outcome for your business and a happy working environment.

Other tasks to complete before shut down

There are a few productivity steps that will help you prepare your business for shutdown:

Payments – Stay on top of your accounts and follow up any payments ahead of holiday shut down.

Schedule content – e.g. marketing businesses can schedule content for their websites and social media channels to post while on holiday. This will maintain online visibility.

Set an Out of Office email – personalise your automatic replies and make sure you include important information like when you will be returning in 2018 and who to contact in an emergency.

Finally it’s a good idea to start planning ahead for the New Year before you return to work. By planning and setting goals for your business, you’ll head into 2018 with more focus and purpose.


Also read: Choosing the right office space for your business



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

1O business lessons that can be learned from cricket

business and cricket

Cricket is far more than a game – and many business leaders will agree with this statement.

Why? The rules of cricket remind us that audacious moves, thrilling tactics and bold decisions need to be in place to succeed.

Cricket is a complete pack of passion, discipline, planning, teamwork, leadership and more.

Here are 10 business lessons you can learn from watching cricket:

the ashes_cricket_business

With the Ashes taking place once again this year, viewers will be able to witness these lessons at the highest level of the game.

The first time that Australia and England formally met on the cricket field was in Melbourne, back in 1877.

Australia won by 45, a margin that was exactly matched a century later in the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where Australia once again got the better of England.

In the 325 tests that have been played between the two nations, Australia has won 130, England has won 106 and they have drawn 89.

The Ashes will take place between the 23 November 2017 and 8 January 2018.

Also read: Golf: burning calories, socialising & doing business

Image source :

Japanese firm gives non-smoking staff an extra six days holiday

6 days extra holiday 2

A Japanese firm has given non-smoking employees an extra six days holiday a year to compensate for cigarette breaks.

As a non-smoker, you might find it a little unfair when some of your fellow employees break away from work a few times a day to get their nicotine fix.

If smokers are allowed short cigarette breaks at various times through the workday, should nonsmoking employees get the same perk?

Even better than a few short breaks a day – Japanese Marketing firm Piala Inc has introduced a new paid leave allowance after non-smokers complained that they were working more than their colleagues who smoked.

Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the Piala Inc, said: “One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems.”

The company’s CEO Takao Asuka responded to this suggestion by giving non-smoking employees extra time off.

Mr Asuka hopes that the scheme will act as an incentive for the staff to quit smoking.

In recent months, tougher anti-smoking regulations have been implemented across Japan to reduce the number of smokers.

Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike has made plans to ban smoking in public spaces across the Japanese capital ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

However, this proposal is likely to face strong opposition from pro-smoking politicians, restaurateurs and cigarette manufacturing giant Japan Tobacco, which is one third government-owned and paid the state £530m in dividends in 2015.

Japan is ranked at the bottom of the World Health Organisation’s list in anti-smoking regulations according to the type of public places entirely smoke-free and around 18 per cent of the Japanese population are smokers.

Also read: Smoking Breaks cost businesses £8.4bn


Image source: Independent

Golf: burning calories, socialising & doing business


Golf – the sport of business is also a great way to burn a couple of calories whilst entertaining clients.

Unlike most sports, anyone of any age, including the 65-year-old boss of the company can enjoy a round of golf.

Golf is also typically a relaxed game, offering an atmosphere of friendly competition with low stakes.

Whether you’re playing with fellow employees to boost the office morale or going out with prospective clients, golf gives you a solid few hours to get to know these members.

In many ways, the golf course is as effective as any office when it comes to making a deal.

golf and business infographic

4 ways millennials are changing the workplace

Millennials in the workplace

Millennials are spearheading change in the workforce and will soon dominate leadership roles in many companies.

The working environment as a whole is changing rapidly, and the way things were done before is long gone. Millennials are attracted to companies that value collaboration, communication, social awareness and flexibility in work hours.

1. Collaboration

Rather than separating employees into a box, managers need to be more flexible in their approach to leadership.

Collaboration is important to employees who want to work with management, rather than being told what to do. Many millennials see leadership as an act in the workplace, and not a title.

A company’s transparency in how it goes about completing tasks is important to the younger generation. The chain of command as it was before is less significant thanks to technology making it easy for everyone to understand what’s going on at any time and offer input.

2. Communication

Millennials prefer to communicate in person or by texting. The shorter attention span, as a result to the speed with which anyone can receive news or information today, has impacted communication in the workplace.

Millennials want to get their work done quickly and they don’t have time for formalities. Digital communication is second nature as they grew up using laptops, tablets and smartphones, and this is a group of individuals who are – for the most part – used to instantaneous communication.

Whether its texting, Snapchat, email or Facebook, they have come to expect “immediate gratification,”

3. Social awareness

Just as millennials expect employers to be transparent, they also expect to know that products and services are created and delivered ethically.

A study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business revealed that 90% of MBAs from business schools in Europe and North America prefer working for organisations that are committed to social responsibility.

4. Flexibility in work hours

The former 9-to-5 workdays is a thing of the past and flexibility in the workplace is a top requested perk of a job.

Flexibility in work hours doesn’t mean less work, but can in fact lead to more productive hours of work.

Remote working is a big perk for attracting talent. Always connected, we are never truly away from the office anyway – we can check emails and complete work tasks wherever we are, whether it be at home or in a coffee shop.

The idea of work-life balance started with Generation X, but it isn’t about working less. It’s about taking part in life events, regardless of the time of day, but it also doesn’t mean that work ends at 5 p.m. sharp.

If business leaders want to attract talent, they have to be attractive to millennials – you must listen, understand, bend and trust them.

Also read: Unusual Staff Benefits: No official work hours


How technology changed the office forever

How technology changed the office forever

The digital world has shaped the way we go about doing our work and the way in which we use our offices today. Today the computer is the office – it’s got a desktop, folders, files, documents and even a litter bin.

Always connected, we are never completely away from the office and technology grows fast to keep up with the demands of the modern workplace.

Rita Dugan of Bournemouth University says: “Stress levels were not as great in the ’80s, as technology did not allow instant responses to enquiries. People tended to talk to you rather than converse electronically. This meant that issues rarely became crises, because talking tended to solve the problem.”

Technology development in the 80s

While it’s almost impossible to imagine working in a smoky environment and relying on faxes for up-to-date information, the 80s was a decade of vital technological development:

1981: The ubiquitous Post-It note arrived on our desks

1984: The first Apple Mac computer went on sale

1985: The first business was registered in 1985

1986: The first widespread use of laser printers

1989: The worldwide web arrived – the biggest single change to the way we work

Then and now:

In just a few short decades, a lot has changed in our work space. Technology has shrunk the working world, made information freely available, altered how we communicate and fundamentally changed the way employees behave and where they choose to work.

Then: He’s out having lunch so I’ll get him to call you back later
Now: He’s out having lunch but you can call him on his mobile

Then: Photocopying and handing out a memo to everyone
Now: Email to all users

Then: She’s off sick today but we’re hoping she’ll be in tomorrow
Now: She’s off sick today so she’s working from home

Then: Luke’s on holiday this week, he’ll be back in a few days
Now: Luke’s on holiday this week but you can get him on his email, he’ll be checking it regularly

Then: Faxing through updated figures once a week
Now: An online reporting system that everyone feeds into remotely and is updated in real time

Then: Handing out your business card at every opportunity
Now: Being viewed on LinkedIn before you’ve even met

Then: Booking a meeting room for a brainstorm and buying in props and pastries
Now: Could you email me some ideas please?

Then: Leaving the office at 5.30pm
Now: Checking your email at 5.30pm for any last minute requests

Then: Lever arch files
Now: Backup server

“Going to work” is now less about being at a particular location, getting face time, chatting up with co-workers and being “in the office.” In almost every industry, it is more about getting things done, servicing clients, completing projects, managing co-workers, etc., regardless of where you are.

Also read: 5 ways to nurture a more entrepreneurial culture



Formula 1 Careers – Singapore Grand Prix

Formula one careers

Instantly establishing itself as one of the most dramatic and atmospheric races on the calendar, the Singapore Grand Prix is set to provide another gripping showdown this year.

The circuit made up of public roads in the Marina Bay area accommodates more than 80,000 spectators.

With the Singapore Grand Prix just around the corner, many fans of Formula 1 will enjoy the sport only on television or in the stands.

But what if you wanted to be more involved in the sport and not just a spectator? There are many different professions that extend beyond the driver and pit crew, here are just a few:


Also read: F1 car vs. electric vehicle: which is more energy efficient?

Setting up your own home business

Setting up your own home business

There are 2.9 million home-based businesses in the UK and they contribute £300 billion to the economy.

Working from home isn’t by any means an easy process, so it’s important to anticipate and plan for potential problems and challenges.

Here are a few key things you need to know and do when starting up your own home business.

What to consider before starting your home business

Starting your own business can be very exciting, but it can be tough to get a new business off the ground, especially if you haven’t asked yourself the right questions.

Some key questions to ask yourself include:

  • Why are you starting up a home business?
  • Are you suited to working at home? (i.e. if you’re someone who procrastinates, it might not be the right choice)
  • Can you work independently?
  • Can you be accountable to yourself and your clients and customers?
  • Are your goals realistic? Building a profitable business takes time and consistent dedication.
  • Do you know how much income you need to start and what you need to earn?

Defining your business identity

Your business will need an identity of its own. It pays to go about creating your identity in the right way from the start, as to avoid going back and re-doing a lot of the steps.

Deciding on a business name and creating a logo can be an exciting process, however other tasks may seem more tedious like choosing your business structure.

When creating your businesses identity, you need to consider the following:

  • A name and logo for your business
  • A clear and concise way to communicate your offering
  • Identifying your target audience
  • Registering your business
  • Creating a website and utilising social channels to promote your business

While the identity of your brand is key, success in any business is in the quality of your product or service, and how well you market it.

Setting up your workspace

Every business that is operated or managed from home will require some sort of workspace, and having a comfortable place to work that is away from distractions will help with focus and productivity.

Not all businesses will require an office in the traditional sense, i.e. a chair, desk, computer and phone.

For example, if you operate as a freelance photographer, your main workspace in the home may be your darkroom. If you operate a dental practice from home, then your workspace will probably be a portion of your home used for a waiting room, a treatment room, and an office.

In other words, workspace requirements will vary depending on the type of business you choose to operate.

Workspace options can include a spare corner, home office or extra bedroom, converted garage, outside structures or a new addition onto your home.

Remember, before you can start your home business, you need to decide if you’re up for the challenge, identify the right option for you, research your idea, and plan every detail of your success.

Also read: Business leaders reveal their best business advice


Choosing the right office space for your business

The right office space

“Getting the right office space is so important because your business will have to live with it for the life of a lease. Get it right and you have happy and productive staff; get it wrong and it will slow people down, cause aggravation and waste money.” (Paul Kelly, head of marketing for Morgan Lovell)

Choosing and moving into a new office space can be a stressful time – the boxes, the files, the computers right down to the last paperclip all have to find a new space.

So, when you’re looking for new office space, you want to make sure it satisfies all your needs. Here are a few things to look out for.

Location, location, location:

Location is more than moving your office space to your dream area. You need to consider all things that can make your new workplace a success or a living nightmare. A few questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Is it the right location for my key employees?
  • Is the location convenient for clients?
  • What is the parking situation?
  • Are there amenities nearby?
  • Are there good transport links?

Technology facilities and support:

Technology is an essential part of successful modern day businesses, and some companies need more advanced options than others.

Design companies, for example, require a fast and reliable internet connection, just as much as IT support will provide instant help for an accounts firm that needs to zip off files at a moment’s notice.


If you’re moving into a building with multiple offices, you need to consider if there are competitors in the building and whether or not this will pose as a problem.

You don’t want employees from rival firms lingering in public spaces where they can overhear going-ons at your company, or worse still, elevator-pitching your potential new clients.

The workspace:

When choosing your new office, you need to ensure that there is enough space to grow in the future. Do a test fit or mock out a potential layout before deciding on a property, this way you can be sure you’re getting exactly the right amount of space for your business

Other things to consider with your new workspace include:

  • How much freedom do you have? I.e. can you decorate the office?
  • What are the acoustics like?
  • Will the layout work for your business?

Alternatively you could opt for sharing office space with another company. This not only saves you money on the office rent, but also on the cost of common areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

For referral purposes, it’s ideal to share with complementary businesses, such as an architect with a builder or a PR firm with a Web designer.

Your new office space needs to be right for your needs, there are a range of offices which are purpose built, so don’t be afraid to turn down a place if it’s not right for you.

From choosing the perfect postcode to making sure it’s cost-effective, asking all the right questions during your search is essential to finding a perfect place to base business.

Also read: Small Business expansion: 7 ways to grow your business