Issue 9 2020

Welcome to the September issue of Corporate Vision Magazine. A monthly publication devoted to providing you with the latest insight and news from across the corporate landscape.

In this month’s edition, we have amassed a fine selection of articles which celebrate the success that a number of businesses have had during these turbulent times.

From an innovative software development agency which wastes no time in finding ways to achieve the best results for those they work with, through to a full video production studio which has discovered new ways of production despite the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in today, this is just a glimpse of the extraordinary accomplishments made by firm’s across the globe.

The team at Corporate Vision sincerely hope that you are all well and staying safe. As always, we will be here to provide you with the latest features from across the corporate landscape and look forward to hearing from you.

Making the Difference

Founded in 2017, Tenthpin is a global management consulting firm with headquarters in Basel, Switzerland and offices in Germany, Portugal, UK, USA, China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Following on from their success in the Corporate Excellence Awards 2020, we got in touch with Michael Schmidt to find out more.

With deep expertise in the Life Sciences, Agriculture and Chemicals industries, Tenthpin strive to be the most trusted advisor, who understands the unique challenges within each sector of their core industries across the entire value chain.

To begin, Michael offers more insight into the firm’s specialisms and its client base. “As the leading experts in our field, we typically specialise in Digital Transformation Programs, Global ERP (SAP) Transformation Programs, Analytics, Innovation Management, Mergers & Acquisitions, Project and Change Management, all tailored to the needs of the Life Sciences industry.

“With our clients coming from all relevant segments including Pharma/Biotech, Medical Technology, Animal Health, Clinical Research Organisations and Pharmaceutical Distributors, we cover the whole Life Sciences value chain, from the design/molecule to the patient.”

Working with many of the top 20 global Life Sciences companies, Tenthpin have been involved with a variety of business transformation projects in recent times. Moreover, as Michael goes on to explain, putting the client at the centre of everything whilst establishing strategic partnerships has been key to the delivery of successful project delivery.

“Once we start working with a client, we are typically collaborating for multiple years and we believe in forming long-term relationships. By providing independent, unbiased advice and services to our clients, with the latest technology drivers, we believe we are making a difference in transformational change. With our consultants possessing deep industry knowledge, we are recognised as a delivery focused organisation who can implement the solutions to make business strategies work.”

Currently, the consulting industry is an extremely competitive one to operate in, however as Michael goes on to explain it’s their client-focused approach, combined with deep industry and technology expertise, which has seen the firm distinguish themselves from their closest rivals. “Our founders are hands-on practitioners who work with our clients on a daily basis, so collectively we are fully aware of any potential obstacles. As a team of problem-solvers, we can develop powerful solutions and achieve great outcomes for our clients. Moreover, although we are a truly global firm, we are highly flexible in being able to adapt to changing industry requirements.”

One of the major reasons behind Tenthpin forming was down to the Life Sciences industry being at a crossroads. Moreover, as Michael goes on to explain, the firm were presented with the opportunity to help Pharma companies redesign their value chain. “Seismic shifts are disrupting the status quo of the industry, and the life sciences value chain of tomorrow, from the molecule/design to the patient, or vein-to-vein, will be leaner, faster and self-orchestrated. Value-based care models, risk-based-pricing, advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMP), personalised treatments, and the increased focus on patient experience, are changing the face of the industry forever.”

Going the extra mile to ensure the firm and its clients are successful is what Tenthpin prides themselves on, and as Michael goes on to explain, the company culture currently in place is something everybody adheres to. “Our core values are passion for excellence and commitment to delivery, with our people staying true to these core values day in and day out together with our clients. In addition, with only three levels of hierarchy, communicating amongst each other has been that much easier.”

Regarded as key assets of the business, Michael feels very strongly about getting the most out of the talent at his disposal as he explains further. “With our mentoring concept based on the objective of getting the best and most out of our talent, we actively support their professional consulting career needs, whatever those are.”

If we take a closer look at the industry today, with new technologies being developed it is vital people’s skillsets are updated as Michael confirms. “We take knowledge exchange very seriously and by holding training sessions with our global team, we ensure our people fully understand what we are doing with our individual clients in all different markets.”

Despite working in a global competitive market, Tenthpin are able to attract some of the finest talent around due to the journey they’ve been on as Michael points out. “Even though the market is very competitive, our story is compelling and exciting, and this is why many candidates decide to join us opposed to joining a larger consulting firm.”

Finally, Michael comments on the future of the firm and the plans in place for 2020 and beyond. “Going forward, we will continue to extend our track record of successful transformation projects in various segments of the Life Sciences industry. At the same time, we will intensify our collaboration with the industry, especially for real co-innovations.”

“Currently, we are already co-innovating in the area of clinical e-labeling, and with the introduction of virtual, decentralised clinical trials, we are looking forward to further extending our list of co-innovations, specifically in the clinical supply space, during the next couple of months. Beyond that, we will continue to focus on growth, while at the same time remaining flexible enough to adapt ourselves to the ever-changing requirements of the Life Sciences industry. Last but not least, we are investing a lot of effort and energy into our team events, for which we bring our teams physically together for several days full of fun, entertainment and education.”

5 Most Useful Features Of An Auto Dialer

auto dialer

Auto dialers tend to be crucial for relatively any business. This technology is quite inexpensive, requires no special skills, and is easy to use. Also, in-house marketing representatives can use the auto dialer features to improve productivity and increase opportunities for sales. 

Here are five out of the many useful features of an auto dialer you should consider for your marketing campaign:

1. Easy Integration To CRM

Some business owners believe that adding new technology to marketing practices takes a significant amount of time, money, and effort. But, auto dialers may prove such a thought wrong. 

An auto dialer, like Call Cowboy, can easily integrate into other marketing practices. It’s because this technology can connect to your current customer relationship management (CRM) software. Thus, you don’t have to use another app to feed contacts into the auto dialing software. 

Some auto dialers may even offer cloud-based integrations. You can take advantage of these cloud-based features to capture and retrieve data from the cloud. In turn, it allows you or your marketing representatives to contact potential leads or existing clients from anywhere with a stable Internet connection. 

 

2. Unproductive Number Detection

Does your cold calling or telemarketing team have problems with contacting numbers that don’t respond?  Note that voicemails, answering machines, and unanswered calls are unproductive numbers. In other words, these contact numbers tend to have little to no opportunities in improving your marketing campaign’s success rate. 

A reliable auto dialer tends to have advanced features, such as the automatic filtering of unproductive numbers. For example, one of your marketers tried calling a particular lead twice. However, those calls returned with no results as the person didn’t answer their phone. So, the system will perceive this event as a ‘no show,’ allowing other members of your marketing team to not bother with this phone number again. Other staff members may still attempt to call this individual, but they might do so using manual dialing instead.  

 

3. Predictive Dialing

Contacting potential leads and customers using cold calling and telemarketing techniques require putting deep importance on the value of time. In other words, timing is crucial in marketing through the telephone. Each second spent should allow marketers to get the most value out of the call. But, one second might spell the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity. 

For example, one of your cold callers was trying to find the contact information of a particular lead in your CRM. Perhaps, this act took that individual three minutes before finding that phone number. Then, it took about ten seconds more to manually input the phone number using a conventional telephone.

Overall, it took about three minutes and ten seconds before that cold caller could even attempt to touch base with the lead. Some people might think that the time spent in doing this act isn’t so bad. But, if this scenario repeats several times in a workday, that marketer may lose valuable opportunities as they can use the lost time calling other individuals. 

Keep in mind that a company overlooking technology may stifle its business growth. Hence, a reliable auto dialer is one technology that may improve sales opportunities and enhance chances for business development. 

Let your marketers use an automated dialing app with predictive dialing features. With these functionalities, the software chooses the next number to call, and it should only take a few seconds to complete. Therefore, your business isn’t wasting time in contacting valuable leads and clients. Now, you and your marketers can make the most out of any workday by maximizing efficiency in employee productivity.

 

4. Set Pacing Speed

Keep in mind that each human being has their specific skills, talents, and flaws. This notion is still correct when looking at your marketers. For example, one marketer may finish a cold call within 15 minutes, whereas another can do it in five minutes. But, does that mean that the individual that took longer to complete the call is more inefficient than the other cold caller?  It depends as several factors are at play here. 

However, the cold caller who took longer might have a higher success rate than the five-minute finisher. One of the factors that may affect this success is the pacing of the calls. 

Some auto dialers can adjust the pacing of each dialed number, allowing your marketers to reach leads or customers at a desirable speed. Going back to the previous example, the 15-minute cold caller might take about ten seconds to breathe before dialing another number. On the other hand, the other marketer might require more time before contacting another person. 

This pacing feature may also benefit businesses in another way, and it depends on the length of the calling list. For example, your contact list has 100 phone numbers that your company needs to call within the day. Furthermore, your 20 cold callers are ready and waiting to touch base with the individuals in the contact list. Now, if each call finishes in about ten minutes, your marketers might complete the entire calling list in less than an hour. If this scenario happens, you’re going to pay for your marketers’ idle time. 

With an auto dialer’s pacing feature, it uses different algorithms to study each caller’s desired calling speed and the length of the calling list (along with other factors). This technology helps businesses make the most out of each workday, allowing employees to make the most out of each second.  

 

5. Follow Marketing Laws

Businesses need to follow strict marketing laws or, else, they’ll be on the receiving end of legal charges. Trustworthy auto dialers should have features that follow and respect these regulations, allowing you to have peace of mind while contacting potential leads. 

On that note, an automated dialing system may filter phone numbers registered in the ‘Do Not Call’ registry. Hence, you or your marketers won’t have to worry about calling individuals found in this list. 

 

Final Words

Your marketing representatives should do well with a reliable auto dialer. This program has several useful features, such as easy integration to a CRM, unproductive number detection, and predictive dialing. Use the right auto dialing app for your business, and you may see growth in productivity and sales soon.  

End of Furlough Scheme Impacts Job Vacancies: UK Jobs Drop 6%

lack of hiring

Vacancy numbers across the UK dropped 6% week on week at the beginning of September, with applications per vacancy higher year on year as the job retention scheme begins to wind down. That’s according to the latest real-time statistics from the world’s largest network of job boards, Broadbean Technology.

Skills shortages fuelling recruitment

Across the sectors, only two areas bucked the trend and reported an increase in jobs week on week. Education & training and ICT vacancies reported a 12% and 3% increase respectively for the week ending 6th September. This is indicative of the continued struggle to source teaching professionals as schools reopen. With the on-going preference for remote working, the demand for ICT experts to manage and update IT systems and infrastructure has remained consistent since lockdown was first announced, a trend that looks set to continue.

Job applications set to spike

Broadbean Technology’s data also revealed that the number of applications per vacancy were up 20% year on year last month. Despite this annual increase, month on month this figure dropped 31% between July and August. While this is encouraging, it is likely a seasonal lull in job hunting and it’s expected that September will see a sharp increase in applications as the job retention scheme nears its end.

Alex Fourlis, Managing Director at Broadbean Technology commented:

“The summer months tend to see a drop in the number of people applying for a new job as holidays stall candidate applications. Our data suggests that despite the crisis that we’re experiencing, this trend has continued in 2020. However, with the furlough scheme winding down and employers contributing more to the salaries of furloughed staff, we’re predicting that an increase in job losses will soon create an uptick in the number of people applying for each vacancy.”

“While the drop in vacancy numbers overall is something to keep an eye on, it too is a possible result of the holiday slump in hiring activity. The demand for education professionals, however, is a recurring trend that we’ve seen since before lockdown began, and with growing reports of teachers isolating already due to increased cases of the virus, education institutions will only continue to struggle to source staff in the coming months.”

Tips for University Study During COVID-19, According to An Education Expert

uni students

During the next few weeks, thousands of students are set to arrive at England’s universities. Under new Government COVID-19 guidance, students must limit socialising, stay within separate households, and be taught in managed groups or online. As the mass return of students raises the risk of a COVID-19 second wave, many universities have chosen to switch to full online learning. But for students, how can they effectively learn without classroom-based interactions? Richard Evans, of the Tutors’ Association and founder of The Profs, shares his top tips on how to study during COVID-19 for university students.

 

1. Ensure you have all the right tools to study

Online lectures will require a well-functioning laptop and a good internet connection. Some students already own these but if you don’t, it is important to speak to your student services office about how this can be facilitated. Your university may offer a laptop loan service, or you could get a student discount which will help you get the equipment you need. Don’t forget to make use of the vast array of online resources you have access to, including the library, peer mentoring and digital workshops organised by the student’s guild.

 

2. Consider your work from home space  

Without lecture halls to visit, most large-scale group teaching will happen online. Therefore, it is important for students to set up a study space in their home, so they can differentiate between work and their downtime. Some students are lucky enough to have a desk in their bedroom but if you do not, try using the kitchen table or the sofa. Then, make sure you keep your study materials nearby so that you don’t have to keep getting up and ensure your space is free from distractions- whether that be from the TV or your flatmates. Whilst you may feel productive without a study space, working this way can lead to burnout and a sudden lack of motivation over time. A study space will allow you to concentrate on your work better and, when the time comes, you’ll find it easier to switch off.

 

3. Find out what type of learner you are

You don’t have to stick to a 9-5 schedule if it doesn’t work for you. Identify the hours that are most productive for you and schedule your individual study time around that. However, you should try to attend your lectures during their dedicated time slots, so you get the opportunity to ask questions and interact with other students on your course. It’s a good idea to stay active and take notes while listening to or watching an online lecture, as you would when attending in person. For this, it may be useful to identify what type of learner you are too. Perhaps you are a visual learner and organising lecture notes in pictures, diagrams and written directions would be the most effective way of studying, or perhaps you are an auditory learner and have an easier time understanding spoken instructions. Using this time to understand your preferences in which you absorb, process and retain information will prove useful for years to come.

 

4. Keep socialising where you can

Online learning doesn’t have to be anti-social. Forming a study group will make you feel less alone when you are studying. Whether this be with your housemates or virtual group chats, study groups maintain social contact, so you don’t feel too isolated studying alone. If you are studying with course mates, study groups allow time to discuss ideas, analyse texts and share academic difficulties together. So that the session is productive, ensure that you set a plan in place beforehand and try to stick to the topic. It may also help to schedule in group study sessions each week, so you have something to look forward to.

 

5. Embrace the freedom

Whilst studying without the usual structure of a university timetable can feel daunting, it is your chance to make your routine your own. Do you prefer to take regular breaks during the day to keep your mind fresh?  Or perhaps you like to listen to music while studying? Well, you can do these things now! You now have complete freedom to adapt your timetable to your preferences- so make the most of it.

Remote Onboarding – 5 Steps to Success

remote onboarding

Recruiting and onboarding new staff in line with social distancing is uncharted territory, but using cloud contact centre solutions can get you off to a good start. Thomas Rødseth of Puzzel and John Bhairoo of Black & White Recruitment share a five-point plan for success.

According to comparison site Finder, 60% of the UK’s adult population is currently working from home (WFH) during the Coronavirus lockdown*. It is a trend that is likely to continue as a result of the ongoing health crisis. At the same time, many companies are beginning to look for fresh talent to push their businesses forward and start planning for the future. As a result, employers will find themselves in the fairly unique position of onboarding new staff members remotely rather than in person or at the office. For contact centres still inundated with customer calls, how do they transform novice agents into fully fledged members of a high-performing team as quickly as possible?

Be prepared

Managers have a critical role to play in creating an end-to-end onboarding process that is welcoming and productive. Nothing is more demoralising than a ‘sink or swim’ attitude. Therefore, make sure new starters are engaged from the time they accept the job offer by fostering an inclusive environment where new agents flourish and quickly adapt to your contact centre’s culture.

Send new employees a welcome email a week or two before they begin with details of what to expect when they arrive, or login, along with mugs, T-shirts and other promotional accessories plus links to videos or a company handbook by way of introduction. In addition, use video to introduce other members of the team. Colleagues could produce pre-recorded introductions sharing something interesting about themselves and what they do, including how they are set-up to work from home (WFH) and fun things such as how their pets are part of the team. Consider buddying new recruits with a mentor who is on hand to answer quick day-to-day questions and illustrate contact centre culture.

In the new world of WFH, access to good IT tools and support is vital. Check whether the new starter has adequate Wi-Fi. If they are using their own laptop or mobile phone, help them understand your IT policies especially when it comes to security. Leave yourself plenty of time when placing IT orders so new recruits can be fully integrated and get off to a flying start.

Make the most of collaborative technology to create an enjoyable and informative onboarding experience. Set up video calls with key people in the business and organise a virtual lunch to welcome them to the team. Face-to-face screen time decreases feelings of isolation and builds trust, but don’t overload new agents and remember to ask for feedback so that you can improve the onboarding process for other new joiners.

5 Ways technology can make a difference

When Puzzel surveyed over 100 contact centre professionals, ‘IT issues and/or clunky technology’ were major barriers to agent happiness (at 71%) so give new agents the right tools to do their job** from the off-set.

1) One single solution, instant results – cloud contact centre solutions integrate seamlessly with corporate databases, CRM and social media tools so that new agents can find all the information they need to deliver a first-class customer experience quickly and with minimal training. What’s more, the latest agent applications are innovative in their simplicity. They bring together all communication channels in one place, providing new agents with a single view of customer interactions and enabling them to receive and respond to customer enquiries by telephone, email, SMS, social media and web chat.

2) Let Artificial Intelligence (AI) do all the thinking – maximise AI learning from the contact centre to provide agents with the real-time knowledge they need to resolve customer interactions without switching applications or resorting to pop-ups. New recruits might be home alone but using chatbots through either speech or text can help them find answers to customer queries and suggested responses quickly and easily.

3) Build confidence with Silent Monitoring – silent monitoring has long been a valued training tool for new starters and most vendors today embed some kind of silent monitoring functionality into their core contact centre solution. This allows managers to listen to agent calls and provide instant feedback to new recruits including both praise and advice to quickly build confidence and take them to the next level of experience, wherever they are located.

4) Make learning fun – incentives, competitions and rewards have always been a popular method of motivation in contact centres. The only difference now is that technology can automate the gamification process, making it a great way of educating and motivating new starters, especially remotely. When all your agents are working from home, shift the focus from individual to team performance for greater inclusivity. Virtual gamification has the added bonus of reducing onboarding time while making learning fun.

5) Workforce Management – combining work with domestic duties is difficult enough for the most confident, seasoned members of your WFH agents so imagine how daunting the process is for newcomers. WFM is a great way to create a supportive environment that minimises stress levels. Use it to build flexible schedules in the early days, ensuring new recruits have enough time away from customer-facing duties to benefit from training and plenty of opportunities to get to know their colleagues via informal online chat or videoconferencing facilities.

Puzzel’s partner, John Bhairoo from Black & White Recruitment believes it’s hard to replace the energy of being surrounded by colleagues in a contact centre, however, it is possible to recreate a positive atmosphere and culture by using the right onboarding techniques and communication tools.

Why Virtual Classroom is the Way to Go When Planning to Attend an Online Course

virtual classroom

Online courses have slowly yet steadily made their way into the lives of many. From students to working professionals, everyone today is in search of gaining more knowledge or upskilling themselves. For some, upskilling would help them get a higher paying job while for some it’ll help them understand the core of their choice of interest. 

While it is true that online courses have faced their own list of challenges, it is also true that such courses are a lot more beneficial than offline colleges in many ways. 

Not only does it allow learners to attend the classes at their own convenience but also let them choose the location. However, staying motivated to actually complete the course or getting answers to their doubts then and there can often get difficult. 

Not anymore. Today, there are virtual classrooms that have been designed especially to offer a similar experience as that of the traditional ones. A virtual classroom software ensures that the students or learners are getting a remarkable experience for their online courses. It helps them stay productive and often finish the course on time. 

In this article, you can read about how virtual classrooms are much more beneficial and better than the traditional classes. 

 

Offers freedom and structure both 

Every learner belongs to a different category of age group, professional life, or educational qualifications. One of the major concerns that working professionals or university students have is managing their schedules. 

Online classrooms make that a cakewalk. 

With online classrooms, it is true that learners are required to give tests, submit homework, participate in online events, or attend a particular session. But the best part is that they have the freedom to choose when they wish to do that. All learners need to do is set up their calendar and inform about their preferred slot of the online classroom. The best part is that they don’t even need to travel to their college!

 

Diversified classrooms

Often traditional colleges are also a mix of people from different races, sexes, and countries, however, the ratio is much less. With online classrooms, non-natives are not required to travel all the way to a particular destination just so that they could attend college. 

With humongous diversity of people joining the virtual classrooms brings with it a fresh and different perspective on various things. It helps in expanding the knowledge, ideas, minds, and thoughts of the learner. Natives can collaborate with international students to work on projects which helps then gain new insights into their culture. 

 

Easy access 

With online courses, one benefit that makes it appealing for many is the lack of a rigid location. Online courses do not have any need of a particular location. Whether you are traveling from one destination to another or simply wish to attend the class while sitting on your bed, a virtual classroom is a lot more easy to access. 

The only two things that you require are your laptop and a great internet connection. With this, you can easily use the course material, post homework, take your assessments, and more in just a few clicks. 

 

Immediate feedback on assessments 

When you publish or submit your assessment, it feels like ages before the results are announced. The anxiety and anticipation of how well or bad you performed on the test truly stresses out an individual. 

A virtual classroom is here to take some of that stress away. 

With online courses, learners take an online test and get the result right after they present the submit button. This helps them immediately learn about their areas of improvement and ask for the help of their educators. 

 

Conclusion 

While it is true that the experiences that virtual classrooms offer are completely different from the traditional ones. However, if executed well, a virtual classroom can easily become the most favorite one for many.

Scalable, Flexible, and Secure Cloud Computing Platform — Get Expert-Level Knowledge of Azure with the Microsoft AZ-303 Exam and Practice Tests

azure

IT experts describe Microsoft Azure as a unique platform with endless opportunities and infinite potential. But, as it is constantly developing, the professionals working with it should pay much attention to their continuous education in the field. So, how can you improve your knowledge to the expert level and where to start if you already have some valuable experience?

The fastest and most convenient way of achieving this is offered by Microsoft. It provides several certifications and tests, and in this post, we will discuss AZ-303 exam. We will show you its main details, the necessity of picking the right preparation materials, a summary of the Azure architect technologies, basic exam facts, and your prospects as an Azure Solutions Architect Expert certified by Microsoft.

 

Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies

Well, in its most basic concept, Azure refers to a public cloud computing platform that was developed by Microsoft to enable organizations to deploy and manage services and applications anywhere. It has a variety of solutions including Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies, also known as AZ-303 assessment, is meant for students who design and implement solutions on Azure. These skills include security, storage, networking, to name a few. While working in modern IT departments, these professionals can take multiple roles including advising sponsors on business requirements and transforming the same ideas into reliable and scalable cloud solutions.

 

Knowledge Needed to Take AZ-303 Exam

Candidates who get enrolled in the Microsoft AZ-303 training and are aiming for the credential must have the following skills:

  • Advanced experience in managing IT operations

  • Advanced knowledge of the relevant domains including security, business continuity, budgeting, data platform, disaster recovery, governance, networking, virtualization, and identity

Should have expert-level knowledge of Azure administration with a specific interest in DevOps and Azure development processes.

 

Microsoft AZ-303 Exam Format

AZ-303 is a 3-hour long test with different question formats varying from multiple-choice and mark review to drag-and-drops, among the rest. To pass the assessment, you must record a score of 700 points and above. Such a challenge requires good preparation, so you should allocate enough time for studies and use reliable materials. Apart from available courses and books, check yourself with practice tests before the main exam. This will help you understand your real level of readiness and identify knowledge gaps.

Speaking of the cost, you’ll need to pay a registration fee of $165. This amount includes the taxes which in some cases, may differ depending on your country. Remember that it won’t be the only expense since you also have to pass AZ-304 exam to obtain your Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert badge.

 

Career Options and Salary

Microsoft Azure Solutions Architects have a strong background in providing application migrations and developing on Azure platforms. They work with clients to offer reliable solutions while also guiding the technical team on the most efficient business strategies. However, such significant responsibilities are also paid well. According to the information at PayScale.com, an expert-level Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect with the right training can expect up to $153k every year.

 

Final Thoughts

Going by the details of this post, indeed Microsoft Azure gives limitless opportunities to learners who are willing to enhance their skills and make a name for themselves in an insanely competitive IT world. With the right study materials like books and practice tests, you’ll easily ace AZ-303 and AZ-304, earn the certification, and get ahead in your career!

A Simple Guide to Being More Productive

working from home table

Productivity is the art of producing value, and it’s often associated with providing economic value. 

Although we have no trouble understanding the value of productivity, it is not something that we habitually do. At most, we sometimes get into the zone and become productive for a short while. The sad truth is that we are often not as productive as we would like. 

Here are some ways to learn how to become more productive regularly:

 

Raise Self-Awareness

If you’d like to be more productive but still procrastinate on getting the most important things done, then there is something that you don’t know about yourself that is keeping you stuck.

While, of course, you can always go to a psychotherapist to figure things out, your issue may not require therapy, just some reflection.

One way of reflecting is by writing. You can write privately, in a journal, or you can write publicly through a blog. And, of course, you could always do both.

Journaling will help you initiate a deep conversation with yourself about what’s going on in your life. Conversely, you may prefer to share your views and insights with other people through a blogging platform because it will let you express what’s on your mind and get feedback from readers. If you don’t have the time or inclination to build a blog, you can start sharing your ideas with others through Medium, an easy-to-use blogging platform, capitalized by The Chemin Group (TCG), for amateur and professional article writers.

 

Give Up Multitasking

Multitasking is a productivity myth. Although you might feel you are being highly productive by doing more than one thing at a time, this is an illusion. You are, in fact, becoming increasingly more inefficient over time–and will eventually reach a point when you’ll feel exhausted and overwhelmed. You also discover your performance fell well-below your expectations. In truth, the human brain does not do two things well at the same time.

 

Dispel Perfectionism

In a similar way, perfectionism is not as noble as we often make it out to be. In fact, psychologists often view it as a mental health issue they call “obsessive-compulsive disorder.” When a person has high expectations and tries to live by a high standard, nothing they do appears to be good enough for them. While their work may appear amazing to other people, they dismiss any kudos because they feel embarrassed by their minor mistakes. There is an enormous difference between doing work competently and well and always trying to be perfect.

 

Exercise During Breaks

If you work on a computer for long stretches at a time, you are increasing your risk of eyestrain and headaches. So it’s important to not only take periodic breaks to give yourself time to recover, but it’s also important to do some gentle exercises, such as yoga or stretching, during your time away from your desk. Think of this practice as rebooting your mind and body for the next round of work. If you follow this simple practice, you are far less likely to feel burned out at the end of the day.

 

Minimize Interruptions

Finally, the fewer interruptions you have when working, the more you’ll be able to focus on what you’re doing. Interruptions not only pull you away from your task, but it also takes a little while to reorient and remember where you left off. While you may not be able to cut out all interruptions, such as people stopping by your office on a work-related assignment or getting important phone calls, you can reduce the number of interruptions you experience throughout your workday.

To sum up, you can be far more productive than you thought possible by taking a few simple steps such as becoming more self-aware about your emotional blocks, by giving up multitasking, by dispensing with the need to be perfect, by giving yourself short exercise breaks when working on your computer, and by minimizing as many interruptions as you can during your workday.

Doubling Your Annual Leave In 2021

vacation

We know it’s still 2020, but I think we can all agree it’s been a pretty tough year for everyone, so you can’t hold it against anyone for wanting to plan ahead and make the most of the holidays in 2021. And what better way to make the most of your time off than to transform it from 28 days to 53. When it comes to Bank Holidays and annual leave, the UK workforce have an ok deal, with an average entitlement of 28 days per year (20 days annual leave and 8 bank holidays). So, not as good as South Korea on 16 days, but definitely better than the USA, which technically has zero.

You may be asking ‘but how do I get to 53?’. Here, we have HR Director and resident math-wiz Rachel Evans from Gear Hungry to provide the answers. ‘Luckily it’s not a case of suggesting you pull a load of sick days. Essentially, you need to book your days off around Bank Holidays and weekends, so you accumulate large periods of time off as opposed to a few days here and there. To be clear, this isn’t a guide that involves sinister actions like placing your work colleagues holiday application in the bin, or pretending to attend a dentist appointment for the 14th time in 6  months, but a system to use if you want to get the most out of your time off.’

 

Firstly, the 2021 Bank Holidays are –

  • Friday 1st January – New Year’s Day
  • Friday 2nd April – Good Friday
  • Monday 5th April – Easter Monday
  • Monday 3rd May – May bank holiday
  • Monday 31st May – Spring bank holiday
  • Monday 30th August – Summer bank holiday
  • Monday 27th December – Christmas Day
  • Tuesday 28th December – Boxing Day

‘Like a puzzle, we have the outline of the days we need to work around, and by doing so we can double our days off in 2021 – let us get to work!’

 

Friday 1st January

‘I’m going to omit this from the breakdown, as it comes straight after a Christmas and New Year’s Eve holiday, and being a stickler for rules, I do still consider this part of the 2019 holiday package.’

 

April Bank holiday – 16-day break (8 days into 16)

‘This is a welcome little break to have at the beginning of the year, and perfect for an Easter getaway or extended family time with your loved ones, and with strategic planning you can double you time off! Book eight days annual leave in two small chucks from 29th March to the 1st April, and then 6th to 9th of April, and as you have two bank holidays on the 2nd and 5th of April you’ll be totaling 16 consecutive days away from work, including 3 weekends. Time off from Saturday 27th March to Sunday 11th April and only using 8 days annual leave? That’s the perfect amount of time to recover from all that easter chocolate’.

 

May Bank holidays – double the fun (8 days into 19)

‘By now you’re nearly halfway through the year and – if you’re anything like me – probably miles away mentally dreaming of long weekend breaks away. Luckily May has two bank holidays that you can work around to get extended time off, using 4 days annual leave to get nine, and the best part is you can do it twice! At the beginning of May on the 3rd, the UK has a bank holiday that turns your 4-day break to nine, if you book from Tuesday 4th to Friday 9th, so consecutively you’ll be off from the 1st till the 9th of May. And then at the end of the month you can do exactly the same thing with the 31st Bank Holiday. Book off the 1st of June to the 4th, and once again get nine consecutive days off from the 29th of May to the 6th of June. Perfect for Americans wanting to celebrate Independence Day, or Brits wanting to celebrate the 4 days of sun we get every year.’

 

August Bank Holiday – Summertime Holiday (4 days into 9)

‘By now, you should be getting the hang of how to make the most of your annual leave, and as it’s now August, you’re probably looking to get away and enjoy some hot weather abroad. Make the most of your time off by once again stretching four days of annual leave into nine consecutive days off. The summer bank holiday falls on Monday 30th of August, so you’ll be looking to take you time off from Tuesday 31st August to Friday 3rd September, giving you nine days away from your desk from 28th August to 5th September. A welcome break to enjoy the last few days of summer’.

 

December Bank Holiday – no more winter blues (3 days into 10)

‘The Christmas break can feel like it’s already over by boxing day, as the mince pies run out, and the dread of returning to the office sinks in. Fortunately, there’s a way to prolong the festive period for a bit longer, so you’ll have more time to watch Netflix Christmas films and eat leftover turkey. The Christmas bank holidays fall on Monday the 27th and Tuesday the 28th, so for a few extra days off with your family, you can book the 29th to the 31st of December, giving you 10 days off straight!

Returning to A Toxic Workplace – How to Make A Change

toxic workplace

Setting the circumstances aside, for many working from home is a welcome break from the endless commuting, offices politics, and workplace gossips. With some normality coming back to 2020 – it looks like for most of us – we will be expected to return to the workplace. For lovers of the workspaces, this can be a welcome relief as it means no more zoom meetings at 9am, but for people who work in a toxic environment the thought of returning may be filling you with dread. A survey conducted by TopResume found that out of 1,229 professionals, 71% of them felt bullied by a boss or supervisor, and a minor 4% claim to have never felt bullied. Working in a toxic work environment is a recipe for disaster, for both your career and wellbeing, and it’s not just bullying that effects our metal health. Gossiping, unrealistic goals set by managers or negative personalities all play a part in reducing your happiness at work; so how can you combat this?

Here, HR Director Lauren Wolfer at LastVerdict breaks down a selection of problems we can face in a toxic work environment, as well as how to tackle them. ‘Having to continuously return to a location or place of work that damages our mental well-being can whittle our confidence down and make us question our career choice. From experience, you should never hide your feelings and say ‘well, this just the industry, I’ll get on with it’. Look to make changes, tackle the issues and make your life better’.

 

Toxic co-workers

We tend to think of difficult co-workers as either bullies, or toxic, but as Wolfer states, they are not mutually exclusive. ‘They’re the same thing usually. Whether it’s a co-worker subtly digging away behind you back, or another correcting non-existent mistakes the outcome is always the same – your mental health suffers. Typically, negative people who bring the workspace down tend to do it for the same reasons a school bully does; they thrive on the power they have to manipulate others and/or they’re insecure about their position. Unfortunately, toxic environments can sometimes produce success by enforcing fear or a negative workspace, but staff tend to not stick around to see (or care) about the results.’

‘Toxic co-workers can be your friends also, as there’s such a thing as ‘blowing off too much steam’ with a colleague. Ranting about work is an important and natural part of life (and has proven to be healthy for team moral), but it should be kept in check, and it’s essential to know if there’s a line that’s been crossed. If not kept under control, complaining at work can turn an already negative and toxic workplace into a hostile one, leaving you focused on the bad qualities and blind to the good ones. If you find yourself being dragged into a situation that might be negative, it’s best to put a stop to it as soon as possible. When you walk away from the conversations you have and think ‘do I feel positive or negative right now’? If it tends to be more negative than positive, then it might be time for a change.’

 

Can a toxic workplace effect my health?

It is not the most helpful thing to ‘grin and bear it’ or ‘keep a stiff upper lip’, as -and who would have guessed it – ignoring the causes of stress result in more stress. ‘Obviously there are clear reasons to try and remove a toxic environment – work efficiency suffers greatly, as does team moral and respect for the company, but the effects on your mind have real ramifications. Scientifically, there’s a reason you dread sitting down at your desk on Monday morning, as a toxic environment keeps your mind endlessly on edge. The constant flow of cortisol, testosterone, and norepinephrine produces physical, emotional, and mental stress on the body and makes it almost impossible to maintain a healthy work rate’.

 

Making the change

Making a change in your social life when you have complete control can feel like a herculean task in itself, so how do you change your situation at work when aspects are totally out of your hands? ‘Because it’s common to feel down about your work, don’t think that you’re alone fighting this battle. Try to establish a network of work colleagues you trust and consider honest. It doesn’t even have to be a big network, just one or two close people will provide the guidance you need when questioning things that seem unfair. In all likelihood, they will have experienced relatable circumstances in some way or another. Getting advice that helps you see things from another point of view can provide a different understanding of the situation, and you may start to understand (if not agree with) the other person’s intentions. Ask yourself what’s making them act this way to you? What actions are they expecting from you? What can I do to make them less hostile? Just remember to choose your friends wisely, as you’re probably going to be speaking candidly about you concerns, and the last thing you need is to be spilling your heart out to the office gossip.’

‘It’s a bit tacky sounding, but if you’re looking for change, then it doesn’t hurt to ‘be the change’. Toxic workplaces tend to be very competitive, making the atmosphere tense and unwelcoming. In these types of environments, it can feel that you’re always on high alert and ready for a new attack, but you don’t have to lower yourself to their level. Look for way to improve yourself, and in turn the place you work, from being nice to everyone (even the problem people) to giving a helping hand to people you would normally stay a million miles away from. ‘Work hard, be nice’, and stay as far away from drama as possible. The effects of this won’t be immediate, and in no way am I suggesting you’re become best friends with everyone, but it will change their intentions towards you, though probably not to others. Combine this new attitude with staying focused on work and steering away from office gossip, and although you maybe won’t change the entire office dynamic, you will focus on it less, and hopefully become happier outside the workplace too.’

‘Toxic environments have a knock-on effect on your social life too, and it can become an all-consuming 24/7 void. Aim to cement a perfect work balance of only focusing on the people from work when you’re at work, which can be done by setting boundaries to ensure you have a job and a social life. Going into work after spending a whole weekend thinking about how much you hate it is only going to create a cycle of distress.’

‘If all else fails, and you just can’t seem to escape the bitching and infighting of the workplace, and it’s making you feel worthless, both physically and mentally, then take a deep breath, reevaluate the situation and make the leap into looking for somewhere else. Never be rash, try to think things through, and remember that all situations are temporary. Spend an hour or so a night seeking out different opportunities, because ultimately the best way to overcome a toxic environment that will never change is to move on from it’.

The 5 Easiest Languages to Learn for English Speakers

spain

When you hear stories of new language learners who reached proficiency in a short time, you can’t help but wonder how they did it. While it’s true that we can learn anything, we set our mind to, some goals are easier than others. As the English language has its roots in many other languages, some languages share extremely similar grammar and structure, making it extra easy for any English speaker to learn these languages in no time.

We spoke to language expert at Absolute Translations, Sergio Afonso on his thoughts on the easiest languages to learn for English speakers. Whether you have been recently studying a new language or it’s been a while since you brushed up on your bilingual skills, the fact that you already have the foundational knowledge needed means you will learn a new language in no time.

 

1. Spanish

With nearly everyone on this planet knowing a Spanish word or two, Spanish is one of the most popular and spoken languages in the world, with over 477 million native speakers expanding over 20 countries and 572 million speakers as a first or second language, Spanish had to be the first language on our list. While there are many significant grammatical differences between English and Spanish, the fact that they share many identical words and similarities makes Spanish one of the easiest languages to learn.

 

2. Portuguese

With the rise of the Brazilian economy, Portuguese has become an increasingly popular language to learn. Lots of jobs and new opportunities are flourishing in South America especially Brazil, making Portuguese a highly demanded language to learn. If you know English and Spanish, Portuguese will be an easy language to learn. Whilst English is a Germanic language it does have its roots in romantic languages. This means both Portuguese and English share similar language roots, making it easier for an English speaker to quickly pick up the language.

 

3. French

The language of love has its roots in the romance language family, yet it’s not as easy to learn as Spanish or Portuguese. Differences between English and French manly exist in the grammar, as there are 17 verb forms in French, compared to the English 12, not to mention that it gets harder when you count the silent pronunciation and accents. Yet, French culture is loved wherever you go around the world. The fact that there are plenty of French movies and TV shows online, French speakers and great job opportunities in France makes this language very accessible and familiar to many people.

 

4. Indonesian

You must be wondering, how did an Asian language make it on this list? But we listed the Indonesian language for a good reason, as it’s one of the few Asian languages which uses the Latin alphabet. While other Asian languages usually use unfamiliar written characters, Indonesian is one of the rare exceptions. Moreover, what makes the Indonesian language easy to learn is the fact that words are pronounced exactly as they sound! Making Indonesian a straightforward and easy language to acquire.

 

5. Afrikaans

Widely spoken in South Africa, Afrikaans comes from the same West Germanic language family as English. This means several things for English speakers: no verb conjugation, gender, or pronouns that you must specifically learn for Afrikaans.