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.

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!

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.

Pros and Cons: Paper Trails in Business

paper trail

With increasing environmental consciousness in both our professional and personal lives, many have not only become more careful with their recycling at home but also considerate of  what can be achieved at work. This push to be more environmentally friendly has prompted many companies across the world to go paperless in certain, or all areas of their business.

Of course, this isn’t a new concept and in a 1975 BusinessWeek article titled “The Office of the Future” the phrase ‘paperless office’ was first discussed after computer terminals were introduced. So, why, more than 40 years later, aren’t paperless offices a universal reality?

However much a paperless office is an aspiration for many businesses the world over – the pros of having a paper trail in some circumstances offers invaluable protection and peace of mind. No matter the nature of your business, you’ll come across certain situations where you’ll need to have proof you’ve followed all the correct procedures and laws. This is why printers, photocopiers, robust filing systems and stationery cupboards filled with printing supplies such as toner cartridges are all still office essentials.

So, if you’re looking to edge your business closer to a paperless future, or reduce your use of paper, what are the pros and cons you need to consider?

 

Pros of paper trails in business:

  • You have a firm method of tracing conversations and processes from the beginning

  • Can provide proof that you’ve adhered to essential procedures and laws

  • A detailed history of important information that might otherwise be forgotten

  • Should you have to take unexpected time off, a colleague has a paper trail to follow and pick up where you left off

 

Cons of paper trails in business:

 

  • Reliant on the information being recorded correctly in the first place – chances for human error

  • Space could become an issue for your business – there are only so many files you can keep neatly tucked away before they start to overflow cabinets

  • Your time will be taken up regularly with needing to archive or responsibly dispose of files

 

The reality for some businesses is that the possibility of being completely paperless and operating without paper trails could be unrealistic. However, reevaluating your paper use could be a fantastic place to start if you want to make steps towards being more environmentally friendly.

Carry out a complete audit of your processes and culture – do you print things out that could be sent in an email or via a file sharing service? Are there certain things that could be saved in a secure online environment rather than being filed in an office cabinet? Digitising some files could be a solution, even if it’s not possible for everything you do.

During your audit, you might even find you’ve got inefficient processes you can tighten up or other ways you’re negatively impacting the environment that you can adjust. Digging a little deeper and being honest with what you can and can’t change could make a huge difference.

While removing paper trails completely might not be possible for all businesses, regularly reevaluating what you do and remaining transparent can keep your business firmly on the pulse.

Is it practical to eat healthily whilst keeping busy at work?

healthy lunch

So many of us start the week with good intentions and a healthy, pre-prepared packed lunch, however, it’s all too easy to be tempted by the various sweet treats brought in by generous colleagues. Furthermore, In today’s society of instant gratification, it is sometimes very difficult to remain steadfast in the face of ubiquitous fast food outlets, expensive high-street coffee shops and grab-and-go snacks. No matter if you work for a high flying tech company or a property buying company, there are numerous ways in which you can maintain a healthy diet at work.

 

Seven ways to eat healthily at work

 
Consider breakfast

There’s a reason why doctors describe breakfast as the most important meal of the day. A filling and nutritious breakfast is the ideal way to start a day of healthy eating, whether you have breakfast at home, on the morning commute, or perhaps even at your desk. If convenience is vital for you some good options are overnight oats, a granola bar or even a nutrient-dense smoothie.

 

Preparation is key

Perhaps the most crucial piece of advice when it comes to eating healthily at work is to prepare well in advance. This means working out a meal plan at the start of each week which will allow you to make good choices in advance rather than having to stay strong in the face of temptation throughout the week. After you have made a list of what you want to eat, go shopping for any supplies that you need and get meal-prepping.

 

Pack a small treat to savour

This is important as you will quickly tire of your new healthy eating plan if there is no room for any treats whatsoever. The key here is to pick a treat that is small enough to satisfy your sugar craving while still keeping you on track with your overall health plan. Good examples of a small treat include a small brownie, a flapjack, or some chocolate or yogurt covered nuts and raisins.

 

Keep hydrated

Many of us are not fully in tune with our body’s signals and mistake the feeling of thirst for hunger. Having a full water bottle on your desk at all times can help to stave off hunger and keep you hydrated for optimal performance at work. For those who don’t like drinking plain water consider adding a low-sugar cordial to your water.

 

Be smart when snacking

It’s not realistic to expect that your healthy lunch will keep you going all day so make sure that you have packed some wholesome snacks such as nuts, seeds, wholegrain crackers or dried fruit. Furthermore, keeping healthy snacks in your desk drawer is a great idea as it means you don’t even have to worry about packing snacks to take into work and you can simply refill your healthy snack drawer when required.

 

Learn how to politely decline treats from colleagues

The modern-day office can be a minefield for those trying to eat healthily. Whether it’s cake brought in to celebrate every birthday or a well-meaning colleague who likes to bring in doughnuts every Friday, it can seem as though it would come across as rude not to indulge. However, there is a way to politely decline- simply smile and say, “That looks great, I’d love to have one but I’m being good right now, thanks anyway”. A considerate colleague will understand and won’t try to pressure you into abandoning your healthy eating plan.

 

Have a healthy, appetising dinner to look forward to

Finally, after a successful day of sticking to your healthy eating plan make sure that you have a filling, satisfying dinner to look forward to after your long day. This will keep you motivated and will be a good way of reinforcing your positive lifestyle changes.

 

Keeping the momentum up

Whether or not you are actively trying to lose weight, these tips offer sound advice for those seeking to improve their health overall. By changing your routine just a little and practising good self-control throughout the day you will soon be achieving your health goals and optimising your performance at work.

Finally, if you find you need greater accountability for your actions why not buddy up with someone who is looking to take similar steps to improve their health. Similarly, there are many apps that can be downloaded to track your progress and keep you motivated to make good choices. When your hard work starts to pay off it should be easy to see the results and to enjoy the benefits of your new healthy lifestyle.

2020 Media Innovator Awards Press Release

Corporate Vision Unveils the Winners of the 2020 Media Innovator Awards

United Kingdom, 2020- Corporate Vision Magazine has announced the winners of the Media Innovator Awards 2020.

The greater media landscape is an ever evolving one, adapting to the changing needs and wants of the consumers it serves. Above all else, innovation and creativity are the key to enduring success in such an environment, regardless of where your company specialises in the industry. From top-tier marketing firms, to those looking to reinvent digital media, it pays to differentiate yourself from what is, by all regards, an incredibly competitive field.

Corporate Vision launched the original Media Innovator programme to recognise those that took this ethos to heart. To adapt, grow and evolve to the needs of the industry in the pursuit of bettering it and challenging others to follow their lead. Discussing the success of their winners, Awards Coordinator Jazmin Collins said: “I offer a sincere congratulations to those recognised in this year’s programme and I hope you have a wonderful rest of the year ahead.”

To learn more about these illustrious winners, and to find out the secrets behind their success, please visit http://www.cv-magazine.com.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Corporate Vision Magazine

Corporate Vision is published monthly with the mission to deliver insightful features from across the global corporate world. Launched with an eye towards bettering business practices across the board, Corporate Vision focuses on spotlighting advances in the HR, marketing, coaching, and recruitment spheres, with the goal to shine a light on the gatekeepers of better business. Those that help build, through no small amount of creativity and expertise, to develop an altogether more productive and more efficient world of work.

Corporate Vision is bought to you by AI Global Media, a B2B digital publishing group founded in 2010. The group currently has 13 brands within its portfolio that include luxury lifestyle, construction, healthcare and small business focused publications. AI Global Media is dedicated to delivering content you can trust.

Finding the Formula to Combat Back-to-Work Anxiety in STEM

stem

Article By Experts at My GP

Mental health is a popular topic at the moment, while the majority of us were trying to maintain a healthy routine and lifestyle while stuck indoors, it begged the question, what about after lockdown? Back to work anxiety was bad enough for some of us after months of leisure time and lie ins. But entering the next stage of eased lockdown regulation is a cause of mental health disruption for some of us, bringing a sense of unease, worry, and anxiety.

At first, the thought of losing our freedom and summer plans caused anxiety in itself, but once we got used to our new life it subsided. While some are eagerly anticipating a return to work and normality, others are genuinely distressed by it — whether this is facilitated by concerns of the virus or facing our colleagues, there’s a real issue that needs addressing.

In this article, we’ll take a look at back-to-work anxiety in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) industries, providing helpful tips to deal with feeling anxious.

 

What is back-to-work anxiety?

Being away from your job for a period of time can affect your feelings regarding work, whether it’s the workload or challenging colleagues. Some of us have time to mull over our skills and put ourselves down over our abilities, knocking down our confidence. According to research by YouGov, two in five are anxious about returning to work and the threat the virus has to our health and wellbeing.

Back-to-work anxiety can have physical effects such as headaches, stomach issues, trouble sleeping, and behavioural changes like feeling irritable and isolated. If your job was stressful to begin with, it’s likely that returning can be even more difficult. Although anxiety is a normal emotion, there are many self-help methods you can use to manage these feelings. You should always consider seeking medical and therapeutic care if this severely interrupts your days.

 

STEMming from anxiety

STEM industries have recently been under scrutiny regarding the working environments in these sectors fostering anxiety and depression. For example, a report called “Masculinity in Engineering” noted that more than a fifth of engineers take time off due to their mental health as well as over one in three UK tech professionals claiming they’re worried about their mental health as it has deteriorated during Covid-19 which was previously one in five before the pandemic. The fast-paced and competitive nature of the work can stop workers from switching off.

These industries are traditionally male and white-dominated sectors notorious for a toxic masculine culture which can make people feel isolated. So it isn’t surprising that this, combined with the notion of returning to work after a period of absence from the office or lab, is having a significant impact on STEM workers mental health.

Although it’s difficult to judge how exactly social distancing measures can be implemented across a broad range of sectors from science to mathematics and the different ways that these job roles are carried out, many workers are also nervous about the spread of Covid-19.

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How to handle back to work anxiety

Try to make the transition back to work easier and consider these steps. It’s also helpful to identify the source of your worries to come up with solutions. myGP, a smartphone app for online NHS services including specialist areas like mental health, suggested the following:

 
Prepare yourself

Getting into the routine of work life can be a daunting feeling, however preparing yourself can make it easier. Whether this is preparing your lunches for your break, or dinners in advance for when you get home late and are too tired to cook, what may seem like minor preparations can actually relieve your mind of things you need to do for yourself. Remember, you and your needs should come first.

If you’ve been spending lockdown not getting out much and waking up late, try to get into a good routine to prepare yourself for when you’ll be on your feet again. Spending time outdoors whether it’s walking through nature or laid out in your garden can help to calm you down and keep you grounded in the present moment.

 
Speak with your manager and colleagues

Solidarity can be helpful in alleviating feelings of anxiety — try speaking to your colleagues to comfort each other and provide support. Recognising that others feel the same can help you feel like you’re not alone.

If you feel comfortable, it could be worthwhile speaking to your manager about your concerns and throwing yourself back into work life. Employers can be helpful in introducing informal support mechanisms like online resources and volunteers to provide support. They may be able to reduce some of your concerns or make plans to help your return to work.

Find out what will have changed in the workplace. For example, you may find that there will be fewer people in the workplace in order to maintain physical distancing. You could arrange a visit prior to your first day back which might reassure you about the measures that have been put in place to keep you and your colleagues safe. This brings us to our next point.

 
Seek resources

Lear, an automotive technology leader, created a comprehensive guide of returning to work to ease anxieties workers may have, including protocols, procedures, and rules in place to keep everyone safe, as well as mandatory onsite health screenings in ‘drive-thrus’ of temperature and overt symptoms.

Many organisations have mental health or counselling resources that you are eligible to use if you are an employee — if not there are lots of useful resources online that provide techniques for reducing anxiety.

 
Plan fun things to keep your mind busy

Summer might’ve been cancelled by Covid-19 this year, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t plan fun things in the meantime. Meet up with your friends outside abiding government guidelines, go for mind clearing walks and hikes in nature, or, if you have the funds, plan a holiday next year to look forward to! Making fun plans can help tackle the looming feeling of dread when thinking of going back to work.

Avoid unhealthy habits such as reaching for alcohol, cigarettes, or caffeine when you are feeling stressed or anxious.

 

Words of wisdom…

Research mindfulness and breathing exercises you can practise to improve your mental state. Meditation can be helpful as often when we feel anxious about things, we try to distract ourselves or might spend hours scrolling through our phones to avoid the pressing issue. Writing down your problems to face them can also be extremely helpful, as well as noting down the positives and the parts and people of your job that you enjoy. And remember — try to get a good night’s sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat healthy meals to keep your energy up.

If the feeling of back-to-work anxiety feels serious or you find that you’re not getting any relief, consider getting medical advice from your GP or book an online doctor appointment if you’re concerned. Anxiety is a real condition that can be helped with the right treatment. Don’t ignore how you feel, or this can be even more difficult to cope.

Dynamic Leader Drives Forward DNA Excellence

dynamic dna

Back in 2018, Corporate Vision Magazine awarded the title of CEO of the Year to Austin O’Reilly, for his outstanding service to Dynamic DNA Laboratories. Now, almost two years on from winning that prestigious title, we return to Dynamic DNA Laboratories in order to examine the continued excellence of both Mr O’Reilly and his firm.

Dynamic DNA Laboratories is a state-of-the-art genetics-focused laboratory that specializes in advanced DNA testing for a range of different services. Everybody wants to understanding themselves better, and a keen understanding of your own personal DNA can ultimately lead to lifestyles that are both happier and healthier. Whether individuals are looking to take a more personalized approach to their own fitness regimen, or trace their family history through their own DNA samples, Dynamic DNA Laboratories is the perfect partner for such an endeavour. Since being founded in 2015 by CEO Austin O’Reilly, Dynamic DNA Laboratories has evolved to offer a major range of services including family and ancestry testing, proactive health panels, and personalized medicine reporting. Having access to the genetic building blocks of life can pave the way for so many things to be enhanced, and this firm is right at the forefront of developing that potential.

Austin O’Reilly is an experienced DNA scientist and entrepreneur, with a demonstrable history of success working within the biotechnology industry. Throughout his academic and work-based careers, Mr O’Reilly has built up a considerable repertoire of skills, including DNA testing and molecular-level techniques in clinical, health, and forensic applications. His academic career began in 2003, where Mr O’Reilly undertook a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Criminal Science at Texas Christian University. Having successfully graduated from the University in 2007, Mr O’Reilly went on to study further at the University of California, Riverside, where he completed a certification in Crime Scene Investigation. However, it wasn’t until 2008 where Mr O’Reilly’s proficiency in genetics and DNA really came to the fore.

Returning to Texas Christian University, Mr O’Reilly started his master’s degree in Molecular Biology with a focus and emphasis on the study of genetics. During this time, Mr O’Reilly was able to refine his already strong biomedical research and testing techniques before taking them into the world of biotechnology following his equally successful graduation in 2010. In September of the same year, Mr O’Reilly took a job at DNA Labs International, working as a Forensic DNA Analyst. In this role, he was able to process crime scene evidence in order to identify the presence of biological material for DNA analysis, as well as quantify, amplify, and sequence the DNA, write reports and generate statistics, as well as testify in state and federal courts as an expert witness.

After spending two years working as a Forensic DNA Analyst at DNA Labs International, Mr O’Reilly hen moved on to become a Research Scientist at the Centre for Biomedical and Life Sciences for just shy of two years once again. Drawing on every ounce of his considerable knowledge, Mr O’Reilly then founded Dynamic DNA Laboratories in January of 2015. Taking on the role of CEO and Scientist, Mr O’Reilly has since lead the firm in its mission to promote positive change in people’s lives through advanced and affordable genetic testing services. Since founding the company, every service and test has been underpinned by the strong belief that knowledge is power, and that by exploring a person’s genetic code, that person can live a healthier, happier, more educated, and more productive lifestyle.
Crucially, Mr O’Reilly also understands the fundamentals of leadership as well as the fundamentals of biomedical sciences. As part of his role
as CEO, Mr O’Reilly has surrounded himself with like-minded staff, some of whom have been working with DNA for more than thirty five years in research, testing, pathology, and crime laboratories, as well as having been published in multiple scientific journals.

Based in Springfield, Missouri, Dynamic DNA Laboratories has been built by Mr O’Reilly to become a clinical and direct-to-consumer genetic testing lab that specializes in molecular, cell, and microbiology testing and research services, as well as create high-definition microscopic artwork and one-of-a-kind DNA portraits. The facility itself is CAPaccredited and CLIA-certified, ensuring that it follows the latest regulations and meets the highest quality of testing standards. Unlike its competitors, Dynamic DNA Laboratories does not outsource its services, and instead guarantees high quality services, accurate test results, faster turnaround times, and the lowest prices by performing all of its genetic testing in-house. When it comes to handling DNA and personal data, nothing less than the highest standards of care, safety, and security will do, and that is exactly what Mr O’Reilly has sought to implement throughout the firm.

dynamic dna

Testing DNA and genetics can often be used for far more than is initially thought. Exploring every opportunity that it possibly can, Dynamic DNA Laboratories offers clients and consumers a wide range of DNA testing products in a bid to enhance many different areas of a person’s life. From improving nutrition, fitness, and skin health, to uncovering ancient family secrets and hidden family relationships, to gaining personalized medicinal reports and even discovering early signs of cancer and rare diseases, DNA is deeply personal and can be used for a myriad of purposes. As part of Mr O’Reilly’s outstanding vision for what his firm could one day become, Dynamic DNA Laboratories has also begun offering partnerships with full co-branding or white-labelling options with global distributors across more than thirty five countries. Partners can include nutritionists, trainers, gyms, spas, physicians, clinics, and other DNA companies.

Drawing on the wealth of knowledge of its CEO and extensively-trained staff, Dynamic DNA Laboratories offers three distinct categories of products primarily: Genetic Testing, Artwork, and Biomedical Research. The first, Genetic Testing, is perhaps most focused on the consumer themselves, and what DNA knowledge can do for them. Ancestry testing to discover a background or heritage, pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine reporting, fitness, nutrition, cancer and disease predisposition screenings, paternity and relationship testing, unknown sample identification, and so much more is available through genetic testing.

Biomedical research services and abilities include pharmaceutical testing, disease research, product testing, gene expression analysis, DNA sequencing, Electron Microscopy, Fluorescence Microscopy, and much more. Dynamic DNA Laboratories work with non-profits, companies, and individuals to develop experimental designs that accommodate their research needs. Mr O’Reilly also strives to always have the firm engaged in its own independent research, with the ultimate goal of advancing knowledge in the biomedical field and writing about its discoveries in scientific publications.

Finally, artwork may seem an unusual choice for a DNA company, but it is something deeply personal that Mr O’Reilly has made happen for so
many individual consumers and clients. Using ultra-modern research tools, the team at Dynamic DNA Laboratories create personalized DNA art portraits of an individual or family’s unique DNA profile. Using an electron microscope that is capable of imaging at up to 1,000,000x magnification, the firm can image anything at ultra-high magnification and ultra-high resolution. If there are empty walls in a home or place of work, Dynamic DNA Laboratories can custom design artwork that is tailored to specific tastes, business interests, or products.

Mr O’Reilly was awarded the title of CEO of the Year back in 2018, but his ongoing pursuit of perfection within the biomedical field and particularly that of DNA has seen the firm achieve even greater heights since then. Taking something so intimate and personal before transforming it into actionable knowledge or magnificent artwork is truly spectacular, and both Dynamic DNA Laboratories and Mr O’Reilly are fully deserving of every success now, and in the future.

How To Improve Company Culture with Payroll

payroll

By Steven Cox, Chief Evangelist at FMP Global.

It is widely accepted that a good company culture is essential for a business to succeed, but various aspects that can help create this often go overlooked. The implications of payroll on company culture is one such aspect. The fact is, payroll has an effect on many areas of a company including cash flow, productivity, and overall business success. Because of this, it’s vital that business owners and senior staff do what they can to make sure payroll runs smoothly and correctly.

 

Why is payroll important to company culture?

Research carried out by The Workforce Institute at Kronos revealed that 49% of Americans would start looking for alternative employment after just two payroll errors in their current workplace. This statistic illustrates just how important it is to make sure payroll is consistently correct.

Not only this, but it’s known that when they’re looking for a job potential employees value perks, programs, and benefits that come with a position. In most workplaces, these would also come under the responsibility of the payroll team.

Without an effective and efficient payroll department that can accurately maintain wages/salaries and other compensation, it’s likely that costly errors will start to occur. If this happens, doubt and distrust among employees could easily start to spread. This, in turn, would damage company culture. To understand more about the relationship between company culture and payroll, read on for advice on how to cement this relationship.

 

How payroll builds company reputation

Ensuring that your payroll department manages all its processes well, and adheres to strict security measures, means there’s a lower chance of mistakes and questionable activity. This helps engender a good reputation for your payroll department, and by extension your company.

On the other hand, if your payroll team become known for regularly making mistakes and for potential suspicious activity, this will lead to bad press. Whether this is through the media or simply word of mouth, it can severely damage your company’s reputation. Such negativity will likely impact your relationships with stakeholders, including staff who will feel let down and maybe even tempted to part ways.

 

Payroll can increase employee engagement

Being paid correctly is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – priorities for employees when it comes to work. If staff are subjected to incorrect payments more than once, they are likely to start feeling undervalued. This will then lead to a feeling of disengagement. Why would an employee want to put in 100% of their effort if they are going to be paid insufficiently or incorrectly?

Incorrect payments can also plant a seed of doubt regarding the financial stability of a company. If staff are not receiving an adequate amount in their pay check, they may well start worrying that the company can no longer afford to pay them. This too will likely lead to feeling demotivated.

Employees are hired to do a job in exchange for an agreed payment. Therefore an effective payroll team that gets this payment right every time is needed in order to maintain the relationship. It’s also reassuring for staff if they know they can communicate with the payroll team as needed, and get any queries answered in a timely manner.

 

The payroll department provides compensation

No matter how much an employee enjoys their job, the fact is that they are only doing it on the understanding that they will be compensated in the form of a pay check and any agreed benefits. This age-old system is vital in order to keep employees feeling motivated and happy at work. Without correct and adequate compensation from the payroll department, it will only be a matter of time before employees feel angry and a poor company culture is born.

If a member of staff goes the extra mile, while they might not expect it, financial compensation can go along way toward ensuring they feel valued and happy. Performance-based pay models can be useful in some businesses because they mean that staff are properly compensated in accordance with their performance, which could include commission or a target-based bonus. Such flexible compensation needs to go through a reliable and accurate payroll department.

 

Payroll motivates employees to progress

A big factor in achieving a good company culture comes from whether or not staff feel they can progress – or even whether they want to. Stagnated employees invariably end up feeling bored and discontent, which can be toxic in a work environment.

These kinds of feelings can be avoided, however, if it’s clear that there is room for progression, and that any promotions will come with an increase in salary from the payroll department. It’s vital that the payroll team is always fully in the loop when it comes to staff job roles, so that they can administer the right payments to the right people, whenever they are due. This may not always be salary, but also bonuses and other benefits too.

 

Offer more payroll visibility

Another helpful way to improve company culture via the payroll department is to offer staff more visibility of their pay packet and any other relevant benefits. This can be done using effective and reliable payroll software that includes the option of online payslips or a payroll app service for employees.

This kind of additional service means that employees don’t always need to approach their payroll team to get their questions answered, because their pay information is readily available on their mobile or tablet. Having this access to their information will offer reassurance to employees, who will gain more confidence in the payroll team due to the level of transparency.

Considering all the ways in which the payroll department effects employees, it’s clear that payroll has a significant impact on the overall culture of a company. With ineffective or poorly run payroll, businesses will soon end up with a bad reputation, unhappy staff who are disengaged, and probably a high employee turnover. To avoid these issues, business owners need to make sure they invest time, money, and attention in their company’s payroll.