Welcome to the March edition of Corporate Vision magazine. You may have noticed we’re sporting a slightly different look, though the content – for the most part – won’t change. As always, we aim to bring you all of the latest news and features from across the global corporate landscape.
This Editor’s letter was supposed to be walking through the rebrand and the sort of things we have in store for the year ahead: our future features, our aims, our inclusions and stories, that sort of thing. But, there’s an elephant in the room, and that elephant is Coronavirus. It seems we can’t get away from it these days. It’s all over social media and all over the news. It’s at work and at home (even if those might be one and the same place at the moment).
There’s a sort of expectation that we’ll just “keep calm and carry on”, and whilst that might not be traditionally the best way to handle problems in business, it might do us wonders here. We might have a tough few months ahead, defined by difficult decisions, but this will pass. We will recover and we will, hopefully, move on with lessons learned.
In the meantime, stay safe. Stay strong. Rest. Do things you enjoy doing. We’ll be here, and we will continue to spotlight business leaders all over the world who are doing extraordinary things. That’s our promise.
The rapid shift in the current coronavirus crisis has led to a significant proportion of office-based employees now working from home remotely, which opens up threats related to expanded network access. While this would present cybersecurity challenges under ordinary circumstances, in the current climate there are additional aspects to consider. Cybercriminals are intentionally targeting people during this trying time, tapping into fear and confusion. Don’t fall victim to such exploitation; find out how to protect yourself from phishing attacks during the coronavirus outbreak.
How cybercriminals are exploiting coronavirus
Experts at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – part of GCHQ – have discovered that cyber criminals across the world are using the coronavirus crisis as a means of exploitation, to conduct online scams and malware attacks. Paul Chichester, NCSC Director of Operations commented;
“We know that cyber criminals are opportunistic and will look to exploit people’s fears, and this has undoubtedly been the case with the Coronavirus outbreak.”
Knowing the general public feeling is uncertain and fearful, cybercriminals are using this to design specific attacks that feed into this. This could be by using social media to post links and ads for bogus ‘anti-virus advice’, or sending out emails and ads with false ‘new updates’ and links to unsolicited websites.
To illustrate just how frequent these instances seem to be, cybersecurity firm Check Point have released findings that since January 2020, 4,000 new domains have been registered which are centred on coronavirus. They’ve found that around 3% of these domains are malicious, and an additional 5% are suspicious.
Real examples of COVID-19 related cybercrime
Some examples of recent cybercrime activity that’s based on coronavirus has included:
Criminals fraudulently sent out emails posing as members of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The emails contained a malicious link and/or attachment, and some asked readers to submit sensitive information.
Cybercriminals set up a false website under the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), on which they requested bitcoin donations for funding a coronavirus vaccination.
Phishing emails have been sent out in the UK which contain attachments that detail – false – anti-coronavirus advice and defences. The attachments are infected with a malicious virus.
The different kinds of attacks are designed to do various things, from stealing money to stealing information. Examples include:
Phishing emails. Cyber criminals invest time in creating emails that look genuine, such as from a health service, bank, or trusted company. The email will request you input personal information, which the criminal can then use for fraudulent activity.
Ransomware infections. These can happen when a user clicks on a link, which could either be on an email, website, advert, or social media post. When the link is clicked, a virus is released and the user must pay a monetary ransom fee to recover their data.
Sale of goods. Especially relevant at this time, some cybercriminals advertise goods that are either bogus or non-existent. This could be a “medically-trusted anti-COVID-19 mask”, or anti-coronavirus medication.
How to recognise and protect yourself against cybercrime
In any sector, businesses that have staff working remotely need to ensure that their employees know what to look out for when it comes to cybercrime. A solid human firewall is essential in order to limit the possibility of cyber criminals’ infiltrating your company’s data. There are various things that staff should know to look out for.
Spotting a Phishing Email
Phishing emails can be difficult to spot because they are usually created by experts, and are often excellent reproductions of genuine emails. In the event that an unexpected email arrives in your inbox, carefully check over the format and spelling to identify tell-tale mistakes.
Recognising a malicious link
Whether a malicious link was displayed on an email, advert, or website, it should be possible to identify it’s trustworthiness quickly. This is because they will have been put in place in order to obtain personal data, or to request payment for something.
Detecting ingenuine products
Many cybercriminals will distribute adverts for products which have bold claims, such as, at the moment, anti-coronavirus medication and equipment. Remember, if it seems to good to be true – it probably is.
The best piece of advice regarding cybercrime during the coronavirus outbreak – and indeed anytime – is to second guess anything you were not expecting. Whether this is a product, service, or information – do your own research to find out if what you are reading is true. Good practice is to seek information and products from a reputable source, such as official government or health service websites.
Protecting remote workers from cybercrime
Throughout the current situation, measures put into place to protect the public from COVID-19 include strict social distancing and lockdowns of services. The advice is to work from home if it’s possible, and at this time it is not known how long such measures will last. Because of this, business-owners and managers are advised to plan for the long haul, and assume that the majority of staff who are remote working will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
To protect workers and consequently your business from cybercrime at this time, put the following into place:
Supply information to employees about cybercrime during the coronavirus outbreak, including about any ongoing attacks as you hear of them
Distribute cybercrime training materials to staff, and/or hold a group webinar to go over some of the key factors
If employees will be accessing your servers remotely, make sure their devices are protected with the necessary anti-virus software
The speed with which the coronavirus has spread across the globe in the past months has led to a truly unprecedented period of confusion and uncertainty among individuals and businesses. As a huge proportion of businesses have been negatively affected, it is natural that right now, the owners of these companies will be more concerned with their current bottom line than other areas such as cybercrime. While this is of course a necessity, it is also important to give some consideration to the security of your company data. If cybercriminals do manage to breach your systems, the financial impact of this could mean even further difficulties at an already extremely trying time.
Investing in online currencies is something that many people have been hesitant to do in the last decade. However, with trying times ahead for several economies, there are many reasons that you should be investing in Bitcoins and other online currency. In this article, we will be looking into why bitcoin is a positive investment in these trying times.
High Return Of Investment
One of the biggest reasons for so many people to invest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is the high return of investment that you receive from your investment. Though the market is everchanging, in troubling times, this often proves more stable as a long-term asset. Whether this is in terms of the global economy and exchange rates, or in terms of the overall price of the currency, many have found that cryptocurrencies are much more likely to hold onto their value over a prolonged period of time.
The Development Of Technologies
In addition to them being a somewhat stable investment, the development of more secure deposit methods as well as its implementation in everyday life have made them a worthwhile investment. With many people using Ai and other technology to revolutionise their bitcoin trading strategy, this has made them a popular investment, particularly for millennials and younger age groups. This is changing many social behaviours surrounding finances and is also paving the way for new and emerging financial technology to change the way that many monitor their income in a number of sectors.
The Effect Of Covid-19 On Cryptocurrency
The effects of coronavirus on the global stock markets have been monumental with some of the biggest financial drops in recent history. But with many seeing this as a safe haven investment a number of people were shocked to see the initial drop in the value of bitcoin. However, it is positive news for bitcoin evangelists as the price of the currency has clawed back over 40% of its value in the last few days. This resilience in times of uncertainty is what makes this a stable investment for many during troubled times.
The Effects Of Bitcoin Halving
Bitcoin halving takes place every four years and has proven to show an increase in the value of bitcoin every time. When this took place in May 2012 a year later in 2013, Bitcoin reached an all-time high. When the second halving took place in 2016 bitcoin surged to a $20,000 all-time high in December of 2017. This is promising for the currency as they could reach an all-time high as a result of the bitcoin halving taking place in 2020. However, with this ongoing uncertainty, only time will tell how effective this will be in revitalising the price of Bitcoin following this slight setback.
Whether you are new to investing in Bitcoin or you are experienced in Bitcoin trading, there are a number of reasons why you should invest in alternative currencies such as Bitcoin during this time of uncertainty. Where will you start?
For every hour of interrupted sleep, workers ‘cyberloafed’ for 20% of their assigned task, leading to an estimated $434million in productivity losses annually. That’s according to new analysis from leading talent acquisition specialist, Guidant Global.
‘Cyberloaf’ is the act of using company facilities to browse non-work-related websites, and according to temporary staffing agency, Flexy, this increases on the Monday following the switch to daylight saving time.
There has been extensive research into the impact of aligning time for summer and winter months and the impact this has on the workforce.
A study conducted on mining workers found that on the Mondays following the switch to DST in the US, workers sustained 6% more workplace injuries and accidents of greater severity. This resulted in 67% more days required off work because of workplace injuries sustained on that specific day.
Commenting on how the switch to British Summer Time (BST) can impact employees, Oliver Crofton, Managing Director at Flexy said:
“It’s fascinating to see how the switch to British Summer Time can impact the workforce. As this is something that has been happening for decades, few people question it, however, it’s crucial that we question the value of it.”
“Solving the UK’s productivity puzzle has been high on the business agenda for some time now, and even given today’s challenges, by looking into aspects such as the switch to BST, along with various other facets that impact the workforce, we can ensure that we are creating a better, more productive world of work.”
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) categorized ‘burnout’ as a syndrome “that results from chronic stress that has not been successfully managed”.
According to the WHO, burnout is described as feelings of ‘energy depletion’, ‘exhaustion’, and ‘negativity related to one’s job’. A Gallup survey reveals it affects nearly a quarter of today’s employees.
In light of these statistics, sleep research site Savvy Sleeper has completed a study which reveals the cities with the highest and lowest levels of global workplace burnout*.
Savvy Sleeper has standardised the latest city- and country-level data available for key health- and work-related categories** including the percentage of the population sleeping less than 7 hours, percentage of stressed Glassdoor reviews, time spent in traffic from work, mental health issue prevalence, and presenteeism to rank 69 global cities from best to worst for burnout.
Top 10 cities with lowest burnout
Top 10 cities with highest burnout
Seoul, South Korea
Los Angeles, USA
Prague, Czech Republic
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tallinn, Estonia reports the lowest ‘burnout’ across the global cities studied. It scores positively for work motivation, which supports previous research stating that 85 percent of local employees are very or rather satisfied with their jobs.
This is important as research shows sleep deprivation decreases concentration, decision-making and memory. A decline in these factors can mean spending longer on work tasks, contributing to employee burnout.
A recent study by the University of the West of England found every extra minute spent commuting can increase employees’ stress levels. In Tallinn, time spent travelling to and from work is low (0.55), with the average commute being under half an hour (28 minutes).
Ljubljana, Slovenia comes in second place, missing out on the top spot due to lower vacation time and motivation levels than Tallinn, Estonia. Slovenia officially follows the European 40-hour work week, but in 2018 employees averaged 29.6 hours of work each week.
Sofia, Bulgaria ranked fourth in our list. Unsurprisingly, Nordic cities Oslo, Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark also score low for workplace burnout, coming in third and fifth respectively.
Oslo’s work motivation levels in Savvy Sleeper’s study is high, and it also has some of the best scores for annual work hours. Research shows only 2.9 percent of employees work more than they should.
The city that tops the global burnout list is Tokyo, Japan due to some of the highest global scores for presenteeism, lack of motivation and the number of people sleeping less than 7 hours a night.
Cases of people being overworked are well-known in the city and Japan has recently introduced a new law capping legal overtime to 45 hours a month, to try and tackle the nation’s notorious culture of long working hours.
Mumbai, India has the second highest burnout levels with the longest work hours in the world. Employees work around 3,315 hours a year or 65 hours a week, double the average annual work hours of cities like Tallinn and Ljubljana.
The rankings also show lack of vacation time is high and a 2018 Vacation Deprivation Study revealed Indian workers rank fifth in the world for leaving their vacation days unused.
Seoul, South Korea, Istanbul, Turkey and Manila, Philippines complete the top five cities for highest burnout levels.
Ashley Doyle, Staff Writer at Savvy Sleeper commented on the findings:
“It’s interesting to see Estonia receives the most positive score in our study, over the typically expected Nordic countries like Norway, Finland and Denmark.
“Our study shows cities with reasonable working hours, good vacation policies and quality sleep not only have more motivated employees but also higher workplace productivity, despite staff working shorter hours.
“It’s a positive sign that cities like Tokyo and Seoul are recognising this correlation too, by introducing new laws to limit overworking and burnout among staff. However, our results show significant changes will need to be made for these cities to catch-up with European workplaces.”
New data reveals that 33 per cent of UK businesses say they lack the technology infrastructure to manage long-term remote working during the Covid-19 crisis.
The poll, commissioned by Leonne International, the global private equity provider, was conducted by independent survey company Censuswide, which questioned 200 senior business decision-makers from large and medium sized companies on the business impact of the Covid-19 crisis. The polling was conducted between Wednesday 18th March and Thursday 19th March after the Chancellor’s announcement of a £330bn package to support businesses cope with the outbreak.
Due to the global outbreak, the measures that have been introduced to tackle the Covid-19 coronavirus mean that many organisations are having to consider how their employees can work remotely for the first time. With offices closing, millions off workers are now working from home for the foreseeable future.
Additionally, 41 per cent said they plan to increase their IT and tech investment in the coming weeks to cope with the new remote working structure during isolation. This could be because 26 per cent say they lack the digital skills in-house in order to manage widespread and long-term remote working for staff.
Almost half, (47 per cent) agree that there should be more collaboration between the global business community to fortunate a plan of action in order to tackle the disruption caused by the coronavirus.
There is a concern around entering offices and public workspaces with 35 per cent of business leaders who agree they feel afraid to enter their place of work due to fear of infection. Because of this, 37 per cent say they will be working from home for the foreseeable future, which reaffirms this concern.
Worryingly, nearly one third (28 per cent) said they now were actively planning to make redundancies to survive the crisis, with 72 per cent against. Also, over half of large and medium sized businesses (55 per cent) expect a substantial revenue drop this year due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Tech expert Sridhar Iyengar, MD of Zoho Europe, comments:
“The Covid-19 crisis poses an existential threat to many businesses, with a significant number of companies completely unprepared for the sudden shift towards 100% remote working. With this in mind, it is vital that technology providers work together to offer free IT support and advice to those who need it, in an effort to protect jobs, livelihoods and the wider economy.
With many businesses scrambling to introduce virtual meetings, manage projects online and provide essential daily briefings for employees, the tech industry has a moral obligation to step in and offer resources to help companies to adapt to this new way of working. The next few months are going to be tough, with millions of people worried about their jobs, health and their family’s future. It’s up to the IT industry to rise to this challenge, take and action and do everything possible to provide comfort and support during this difficult period.”
Jonathan Young, CIO, FDM Group, a FTSE 250 company, comments:
“This threat has already forced many companies to fully integrate flexible working technology into business continuity plans. Whilst the sudden shift to complete remote working will be a shock for many, it’s vital to recognise that many organisations can operate without a formal office space. Despite millions of workers remaining isolated at home for the foreseeable future and juggling family commitments, workers still want to get online and do their jobs as efficiently as possible. It’s critical that businesses leaders take action to address these demands, bringing together digital talent from across the business to ensure every member of staff has access to online support and systems to continue operating as normal. Key to this effort is that senior management set the right example, using these online tools and platforms and ensuring that every member of staff follows suit and stays safe during this challenging time.”
“These are tough times for businesses, with the Coronavirus wreaking havoc and forcing thousands of companies to enforce mandatory remote working policies. It’s critical that companies are given the necessary financial support to respond to this threat, enabling businesses to invest in technology to ensure every worker can perform to the best of their ability, remotely.”
As the world continues to change, so too must many companies. Staff training and ongoing development is crucial for a sustaining a thriving, growth-focused business. Enter m3ntor, named in Corporate Vision Magazine’s Corporate Excellence Awards as 2020’s Leading Virtual Training and Development Specialist. We profiled m3ntor to find out about how it supports businesses deliver their training – more easily.
Whilst training and ongoing staff development can be a vital tool in helping to ensure that businesses continue to expand and grow, it can be a process that is not viable for many. Smaller businesses often cannot afford to employ a dedicated training manager, and sending staff offsite for training courses can prove to be costly in terms of money and time. A perfect solution is available however, in the form of m3ntor. As a virtual training and development service, m3ntor gives business owners and their people access to thousands of online training resources, and the capability to design a tailored training plan that works specifically for them.
For companies looking to invest in their people, m3ntor represents the perfect opportunity. With instant access to more than 170,000 training resources of the highest quality across a myriad of topics, there is no shortage of ways in which this platform can benefit a company of any kind. Every account receives their own personal virtual training and development manager that can be contacted for tailored advice. As well as the advice that they offer, there are also quarterly reports and reviews to ensure that you are getting the best value they possibly can from the service.
Designed and developed by experienced training and development professional, David Breen, m3ntor can offer clients a wealth of services to help them train in a huge number of areas. Of the more than 170,000 online training resources that are available, clients can train in finance, health and safety, sales, IT, project management, customer services, business administration, and compliance to name but a few. There are a wealth of training courses far more niche than these mentioned, and the best way to discover them all is to experience m3ntor first-hand.
Spearheading the success at m3ntor is founder and director David Breen, an experienced training and development professional with more than twenty five years of working in large businesses in the United Kingdom, United States, and Europe. Drawing on his considerable experience, David’s insight, pragmatism, and grounded approach enables him to successfully identify the training needs of individuals and companies alike. For companies in any industry, there can be no better choice for a virtual training and development manager than David.
The way it works is this; once a business has signed up, everyone will be asked to complete a questionnaire that allows m3ntor to identify exactly where current training and development levels are at within the business. Following that, they will be given training content that directly relates to their own specific requirements from a suggested list of courses and resources that can be accessed seamlessly. Every three months, m3ntor will then also review the business’ use of its service before offering advice as to how everyone involved can continue to make the most of it.
m3ntor is available from anywhere in the world, and at any time of the day or night. As well as the professional development that it can be used for, users can also access the service in their own time should they wish to train in topics of personal interest. With no extra cost, every user can benefit from being able to engage and train in areas through the service that m3ntor provides. From exceptional Excel skills to superior social media marketing, there is something for every business with m3ntor.
Imperative for users, the ease of accessibility, and sheer amount of virtual learning modules are key elements that stand m3ntor apart from the crowd. Navigating them is a breeze, as the clear and simple user interface and experience can be easily used to find whatever skill is required. Whether that be a more common skill such as digital marketing, or something more niche such as mining, users can find exactly what they are looking for without hassle.
Key to its ongoing success is m3ntor’s ability to offer different styles of online learning. All people learn in different ways. Individuals often require different approaches and methods to help optimise learning, and m3ntor overcomes this obstacle with a variety of content types and lengths. Interactive activities, videos, listening exercises, skill hubs, and documentation all represent different forms of learning on m3ntor’s platform, and can change the pace for users. They can also keep track of their progress through the MyLearning tab; a place where users can schedule courses and help organise experiences to better absorb what is being taught.
Alongside the wealth of online training and development capabilities that m3ntor offers to its clients, the firm also works hard to deliver hands-on, actionable advice and expertise.
This can take the form of wider training consultancy, face-toface workshops and facilitation, leadership and management coaching, and the creation of specialist training material that caters to exact needs.
By making full use of all the services that m3ntor offers, businesses can benefit in a number of different ways. Firstly, executives and business owners can rest with the peace of mind that a workforce is being invested in, developed, and trained to take the business to even greater levels of success. Secondly, it is far more costeffective than hiring a full-time training and development manager. This easily-accessible way of providing professional development can increase levels of engagement, retention, and overall workplace satisfaction. Finally, there is increased protection for the business.
Everyone has access to compliance training, allowing them to continually meet any legal obligations.
Ultimately, m3ntor’s services are for more than just a business. The development and training resources that the firm offer are designed to bring out the best in people, and drive growth at the companies they work for. Business owners and workers alike can benefit hugely from this beacon of corporate excellence in the eLearning sector.
Britain’s army of supply teachers – and the recruitment firms that partner with them – face an uncertain future as schools across the UK close their doors to pupils. That is the warning from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).
There are currently tens of thousands supply teachers working across the UK, with government figures revealing that £1.3 billion was spent by maintained schools and academies on supply staff in 2015/16 and 2016/17 alone.
Unlike permanent teaching staff, supply teachers who are out of work due to school closures are likely to be directed straight towards the benefits system.
According to guidance from teacher union, NASUWT, agency workers who have three months continuous service may be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) subject to earning a minimum of £118 per week if they are self-isolating. However, Supply teachers who are well but unable to work due to school closures could claim Universal Credit or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.
Commenting on the current situation, Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and Head of Public Affairs at APSCo, said:
“School closures will have a major impact on our members working in the education sector and the supply teachers they partner with. With ministers suggesting that schools could be closed until September, there is no end in sight – and for the supply staff that schools heavily rely on in usual circumstances, if there is no work then there is no pay.
“Education recruiters, meanwhile, will be in the unenviable position of deciding whether to terminate assignments with their clients and will also have to look at their own business continuity planning given this decision. There is also the issue of protecting the income of the flexible workforce given that other sectors are also being impacted. We hope that the package announced by The Chancellor to help businesses survive this crisis will be accessible soon and easily.”
By Jonathan Sharp, Director, Britannic Technologies
Companies around the world are telling employees to work from home to protect themselves from catching the Coronavirus and stop it spreading. Business continuity is not the only reason for employees to work from home, remote working increases productivity, results in a happier and healthier workforce and encourages employees to remain in the business for longer. The outbreak of the Coronavirus may change or influence working patterns from now on with more companies willing to accept the request for remote working.
More than 1.54 million people now work from home for their main job, this is an increase from 884,000 ten years ago (ONS Labour Force Survey 2018). The Office of National Statistics believes that 50% of the UK’s employees will be working remotely by next year and a total of 90% of staff will request that they would like to work remotely at least part time.
The workplace has and will continue to change beyond recognition with new technology enabling employees to work remotely and collaborate more effectively. The younger demographic has turned the traditional office and working practices upside down with requests that are radically different to previous generations. Coupled with the existing and increasing digital skills gap, companies need to transform themselves and invest in attracting and retaining talent by vanquishing traditional mindsets and processes.
The Now and Future Employees
The European workplace now has 160 million millennials in it and naturally this is set to increase to 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Companies need to shift from ‘this is how we have always worked’ to ‘how can we make changes to attract and retain the younger demographic?’
The desires of millennials and younger generations are very different to previous ones where the expectation was to be shackled to the same desk every day from 9.00-17.00 and there was very little flexibility on any level. They only want to work for businesses that believe in work-life balance bringing them flexibility and the ability to work remotely.
A positive work-life balance reduces workplace stress, resulting in a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.
Widen your Recruitment Pool
By implementing remote working you can widen your recruitment pool and attract and retain top talent from further afield and even overseas. You can also work with freelancers opening up the ‘gig economy’ that now includes approximately 4.8 million people with freelancers comprising 42% of that population and 6% of the UK workforce as a whole (Association of Independent Professionals).
Technology the Enabler
Companies need to provide employees with the correct technology to enable remote and flexible working. Cloud based conferencing and collaboration solutions such as Mitel’s MiCollab and Avaya’s Spaces empowers employees to hold audio and video conference calls together over their desktop or via a mobile. Send instant messages and share and work on documents and presentations together. It is important to use intuitive technology that is easy to use, set up and to keep your documents secure to protect data and privacy.
Seeing Things Differently
Employees need to be trusted from the outset and given autonomy to do their jobs wherever they are. Trust should be given and not earnt. Naturally, this maybe more difficult for the baby boomer managers because they are used to traditional methods of working such as being seen in the office working late at night.
Providing them with remote and flexible working that fits into their personal life demonstrates that you trust them to do the job; no matter where they are. Employees require clear direction of what needs to be done and key performance indicators can be put in place to ensure that employees are achieving. Software such as workforce management tools and collaboration software ensures you can access project progress and knowledge bases.
Time to Step up the Productivity
Remote working increases productivity because you are enabling your employees to fit work in with their personal lives. Your employee will feel happier therefore will be willing to work harder and go the extra mile if required. Airtasker recently issued some research stating that remote workers work an extra 1.4 days a month which equates to 16.8 days a year more than people work in an office.
Healthier and Happier Workforce
ConnectSolutions’ survey states that 52% were less likely to take time off ill when remote working, 45% of remote workers sleep better, 35% exercise more and 42% have healthier diets. Mental health is protected, with 53% claiming they suffer from less stress. Implementing remote and flexible working clearly results in healthier and happier employees who will take less time off ill and ultimately be more productive.
Connecting People Together
It is important to provide remote and home workers with the correct tools to communicate with, so they still feel connected to the team and maintain a social bond with their colleagues. Buffer stated that 19% of remote workers get lonely and 17% struggle with communication and collaboration. Conferencing and collaboration tools help combat this, enabling you to conduct phone and video conference calls, share documents and send instant messages. Some companies schedule virtual coffee breaks into their agendas so they can socialise over video chat or IM.
Home workers will usually worker longer and harder and are less distracted in the day so it is vital that you set guidelines on switching off from work so they can separate their home and work life. Suggest no emails after working hours and no working on holidays, this will ensure that your productive remote workers remain happy and healthy and are more likely to stay with you if clear expectations are set.
Future-proof with Flexibility
Remote working is much bigger than business continuity issues such as protecting employees from illnesses. Future-proof your workforce by providing them with the flexibility, trust and autonomy to work at home or remotely within flexible hours if required. Set your employees free and you will have a healthier, happier and more dedicated, productive and efficient workforce. Along with the ability to attract and retain the top talent that you need.
Studio Graphene has commissioned a survey of over 500 full-time professionals in the UK technology sector to uncover the diversity problems that tech firms currently face. It found:
60% of respondents acknowledged that a lack of diversity is an issue in the tech sector
Women (66%) are more likely than men (56%) to hold this view
Half of women (49%) have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace
A fifth (20%) have resigned in the past because of discrimination or harassment in the workplace
In terms of potential solutions:
The most popular solution is improved protection for whistle blowers – 62% of women are in favour of this
58% of women want to see more flexible working practices that support parents
54% back anonymising CVs during the recruitment process to prevent bias
Less than a third (32%) of people, and even fewer women (29%), want to see mandatory representation quotas
Half of women have experienced discrimination while working at a tech firm, new research from Studio Graphene has revealed. The London-based digital agency commissioned a survey of 500 full-time workers in the UK tech industry. It found that 49% of women have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace, while 20% have resigned from a role in the past because of discrimination or harassment. The majority (60%) of respondents believe that a lack of diversity is an issue in the tech sector, though women are more likely than men to hold this view (66% versus 56%). When it came to potential solutions to the diversity crisis, the most popular option among women is improved protection for whistle blowers – 62% are in favour of this option. Studio Graphene’s research showed that 58% of women want to see the introduction of more open working practices, such as flexible and remote working, to help parents with young children. Furthermore, 54% back the move to anonymise CVs during the recruitment process to prevent bias. By contrast, setting a mandatory representation quota of women in tech companies is a less popular solution; less than a third (32%) of people, and even fewer women (29%), support this idea.
Ritam Gandhi, founder and director of Studio Graphene, said: “The results of the research are striking; not only are there too few women in senior positions across the UK tech industry (77% of tech director roles in the UK are fulfilled by men), but there is also an alarming number who face discrimination and harassment in their roles. Meanwhile, there are less obvious but still important issues to consider, including the way that company cultures and working practices could be ostracising women. “Tech firms are in the throes of a diversity dilemma and should take heed of these results – new interventions are desperately required to foster inclusion in the sector. We ought to be celebrating gender and ethnic diversity, but first startups and large corporates alike must stringently assess how they perform when it comes to hiring, supporting and promoting minority groups.”
By Dominic Buch, co-founder and managing partner, Caple
Tech firms are at the heart of the UK economy, underpinning many other sectors including manufacturing, finance, marketing and healthcare. We have the third-largest digital technology sector in the world, generating £184bn in turnover in 2018, according to government statistics.
Thousands small- and medium-sized businesses contribute to that sector, developing state-of-art capabilities and innovations that help other firms and industries grow. Yet despite all they do to help others, some of these small and ambitious firms find it difficult to access the right growth finance.
What’s the issue?
Based on the amount of funding that goes to some tech firms, some commentators might argue that the tech sector attracts all the funding it needs. Certainly, this may seem true when considering that venture capital investment in the UK sector reached £6.3bn in 2018, more than any other European country.
But, while such third-party equity funding might be right for many start-ups and scale-ups, for other tech SMEs it is not the best route. Part of the challenge is that many of these firms find it difficult to access lending from their bank.This is because banks prefer to lend against collateral, usually tangible assets such as property or machinery. As a result, the availability of secured lending is limited by the availability of collateral within a business.
However, many successful tech businesses are growing by developing intangible assets such as intellectual property, data, or networks. Tech SMEs can therefore quickly reach the limit of bank finance. It is at this point where many tech business owners have to consider issuing equity to raise funds or agree to personal guarantees.
But very often business owners do not want to issue equity and dilute ownership to fund growth. Instead, they would prefer to raise money through long-term debt, if they could. So, the lack of access to genuinely unsecured lending is a critical barrier to growth for SMEs in the sector.
What’s the solution?
Many growing SMEs need this unsecured lending to grow, often in loan sizes of £500,000 to £5m. The businesses looking for loans of this size are too big for peer-to-peer platforms and usually too small for specialist banks and debt funds. They are profitable and cash generative but have no hard assets to offer to lenders as security.
Caple is the first in the UK to offer long-term, fully-unsecured lending, based on the future cash flows of the SME. We do not require collateral or personal guarantees as security.
The loans also work alongside existing bank lending or invoice discounting. This means firms can have access to more funding overall than they would get from their bank alone, while also maintaining their existing bank relationship.
How do we help?
Proving the appetite for unsecured lending in the tech sector, we have recently completed several deals with innovative UK firms.
For instance, we recently supported iPLATO, the UK health tech company, to access a multimillion-pound eight-year unsecured loan.
iPLATO, which simplifies access to healthcare for millions of people with its “myGP” platform and app, will use the loan to invest in its technology and marketing. This will enable it to grow in the UK and to launch internationally. The business will also develop new products and services to enhance the experience for patients, doctors and the NHS.
As Martin Rowden, CFO of iPLATO, summarised: “We aim to transform healthcare by making it easier for patients to better organise their and their family’s healthcare. To do so, we need funding that reflects our ambitions. While equity funding was a possible option, it was expensive, failed to match our vision, and we did not want to dilute our ownership.”
In all of our deals, business owners are keen to access funding to drive the growth of their business. But they want to do so in a way that means they retain control.
When small but growing tech firms contribute so much to the UK economy, we need to help them secure the finance they need to scale-up. We can do this without pushing them towards diluting equity and losing control.
Taking your business to a foreign market is a complex and expensive process. That being said, it also brings with it some substantial potential for reaching new clients, boosting your brand, and gaining a competitive edge in your industry.
If you are ready to take your business to an international market, then there are many steps that need to be taken.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before taking those steps in order to set your business up for the best chances of success in a foreign market.
Do You Have the Required Capital?
Expanding your business into international markets is no cheap venture. There is a requirement for quite a bit of upfront capital. If you don’t have the capital necessary of your own accord, perhaps you should seek out an investor to help you get things off the ground.
Furthermore, depending on where you are looking to expand to, the currency of your native country might have a lesser value when compared to the currency of the country you are hoping to set up shop. Make sure to assess the value of your capital against the appropriate currency.
You will want to plan for all contingencies that could arise in the long term as well. There are some hidden costs to expanding internationally that could ruin things for you in the future even if you get off to a good start initially.
For example, there are different rules that apply to the treatment of employees in different countries. This can mean that if you wish to terminate an employee in your foreign location you might have to give them a much larger payout that you would back home.
Be sure that you have the capital necessary to carry you through while you wait for your international business to become profitable.
How Will You Hire Local Employees?
The recruiting and hiring of employees for your international office can be a tricky process. Various countries have different customs and regulations when it comes to the
standards for employment. More difficulty can arise from not being fluent in the local language as well. Much confusion can result when things get lost in translation and time could be lost, leading most likely to a waste of money.
One option available to you is to seek out and enlist the services of a local partner. Such organizations are designed to deal with the legwork of employee recruitment on behalf of foreign businesses wishing to expand to their country. These professionals know the ins and outs of hiring employees and, since they are locals as well, you don’t have to worry about things getting lost in translation.
Finding such organizations isn’t difficult, either. If you wish to expand to Japan, for example, a simple search for recruitment in Japan will allow you to find the right local partner to help with your expansion. Doing so will aid you to not only find the right employees for your new offices, but also ensure that the cultural needs and regulatory standards for those employees are sufficiently met.
Have You Done Enough Market Research?
Before you take any real steps towards expansion, it is critical that you do enough market research so that you can know exactly what you are getting into. Furthermore, you need to make sure that the type of business you run is a good fit for the country you wish to expand to.
One of the challenges that you will probably face has to do with the way your business is branded. You will need to adjust your branding to fit the local language and culture. If you don’t already have at least a loose grasp on the local language, you will want to make this a priority before you expand to a new country.
Some cultures might not have a need for the product or service that you offer. Others might have a number of businesses that already do what yours does. If you aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to the market research that you need to do prior to expanding, then you could always look into hiring a local market research firm. Such firms can help gain information about potential target demographics, the compatibility of your business with the market you are looking into, as well as information about competitors.
Is Your Business Compatible With Local Regulations?
From a regulatory standpoint, the country you wish to move to could have certain regulations in place for your industry that your home nation doesn’t. Understanding and abiding by these regulations might not be a feasible ask for your business model. You also need to assess whether or not your company is prepared to pay taxes in both your home country and the foreign nation you are expanding to.
Other things like intellectual property filings and your company’s terms of service will need to either be adjusted or redone entirely. This can amount to quite a lot of work upfront for which you will very likely need the assistance of an experienced local attorney to complete properly.
Another area where you will need the guidance of local experts is real estate. Whether you wish to rent an office space, or purchase one for long-term use, understanding the real estate regulations of a foreign country can be quite difficult.
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