Guest Articles

Social Media: Work-Place Distraction or Productivity Tool?

May 9, 20140 Comments
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Whether staff should be able to use social media in the workplace is a topic for discussion from board room to staff room in many contemporary work places. As a result, many companies, from small businesses to large corporations, find themselves needing to implement a social media policy in the workplace just so that the parameters and role of social media during working hours can be clearly defined and, just as importantly, understood by all concerned. So what are the arguments?

Social Media: Work-Place Distraction or Productivity Tool?

A Work-Place Tool:

In terms of contemporary workplaces and today’s high-tech working environments, it seems that there are plenty of reasons why allowing staff to access social media might be a positive thing:

  • Not banning (or disabling as some companies have been known to do) Facebook and the like during working hours shows trust in employees and can therefore boost morale.
  • Keeping social media available and not banned demonstrates respect that employees have their own time during breaks and lunch. This also gives employees a chance to show responsibility for their own actions and in managing their own work schedules, including those mini-breaks social-networking!
  • Employees’ social media accounts are generally personal and disassociated with the company or business: therefore interactions there don’t reflect on the business. The exception to this may be LinkedIn … which is one form of social media which many companies particularly object to during working hours.
  • A company allowing the use of social media reflects a business which recognises that different generations have different needs and skills. Allowing social media interactions during breaks is the action of a forward-thinking, pro-active company where technology, as well as employee management is concerned.
  • Using social media can also be an asset to internal interactions, adding to the hub and speed of conference and query between colleagues, for instance through Twitter’s private messaging system.
  • Use of social media could be used as a privilege and benefit for employees.
  • For industries such as marketing, design and the Arts, use of the internet and visual social media sites such as You Tube, Stumble Upon and Pinterest can provide great inspiration and can be a useful tool for productivity.
  • Similarly, for businesses which pride themselves on being up to date within their industry or within popular trends generally, allowing staff to frequently access news-feeds and trending topics can not only boost productivity, but inspire company-relative responses and on-trend initiatives.
  • Social media can also be a vital tool for promotional purposes and communication.

It’s also interesting to note that an Australian study from the University of Melbourne (2009) showed that using social media during work breaks resulted in a 9% increase in total productivity.

“We’re now seeing technology playing a vital part pre and post event with skilled social media marketers creating an event buzz and facilitating greater interaction and networking between attendees/participants.”

Rob Spaul of Team Tactics, a corporate events company based in London

Finally, allowing the use of social media offers the opportunity for businesses to create in-house experts who can help you to market your company and products online without the aid of expensive external consultants; team building days including sharing know-how across a range of social media sites can be empowering, enjoyable and motivating for your employees and productive and inexpensive for companies.

A Work-Place Distraction:

Popular arguments against the use of social media in the work place include:

  • Social media’s addictive element. This “time suck” effect, as it’s known in the US, can lead to staff spending longer breaks than they are allowed or becoming distracted from their work through obsessive checking for messages, both of which result in a loss of productivity.
  • The absence of social media in the work place helps to establish a balance between work and social activities: for some companies, social media has the word social included in the title for a reason and therefore it has no place in the work place!
  • Social media is, for some, a popular place to vent frustrations and therefore allowing easy access to it when all’s not well in the work place may not seem ideal!
  • Network security issues can be a very real issue for many companies. Passing on links in the “have you seen this …?” vein is a popular part of social messaging and whilst many companies don’t object per-se to their employees accessing social media in their break-times, they find they need to draw the line on the possibility of this happening via company hardware, which may then be compromised by link- sharing facilitated malware and viruses.

The Fine Line

Of course, where there are black-and-white arguments, there will also be shades of grey. Some social media, such as LinkedIn, has a greater business, entrepreneurial and job searching profile and whilst it could benefit your company to allow employees to access it during working hours, you might never be quite sure if they are networking on your behalf … or their own!

Even if social media is being used appropriately and within company guidelines, many companies may still be concerned that by allowing or actively encouraging social media use across the working day, they are failing in helping employees to build up those important face to face communication skills and interactions. This lies in direct conflict with the fact that social media is a vital tool in helping to build “virtual” relationships which can be key when networking, with international colleagues, for example. All of which can be a real conflict for some companies in deciding on their social media policy.

Additionally, it’s almost impossible to implement a blanket ban on social media during the working day as many workers will still be able to use their own personal devices in their breaks.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that the current trend across all kinds of business is “transparency”. By having a fully embedded social media policy which recognises the role of social media in the work place both for business and social purposes presents your business as transparently pro-active in supporting your employees and encouraging both employee and customer loyalty at the same time.

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Top Tech Tools for Up and Coming Entrepreneurs

May 7, 20140 Comments
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Many entrepreneurs began their careers in business as specialists with certain areas of expertise but have, as is often the nature of entrepreneurialism, gradually drifted towards becoming more of a generalist with their fingers in multiple pies.

This calls for tech tools that empower entrepreneurs to bridge gaps in experience, knowledge and specialisation and there are many excellent tech tools that can help them do just that.

A cartoon of people collaborating

What tech tools do you need for your business?

Organisational tech tools

Organisational finesse is essential to successful entrepreneurialism but if you
weren’t a business manager in your previous incarnation, organising yourself and others can be tough going at times.

Of the many aspects of organisation that entrepreneurs need to take note of, keeping track of their finances and tax obligations are two of many and the tech tools to keep organised here are bookkeeping tools like Xero, paperwork organisational tools like File This and travel management tools like TripIt.

Collaboration software

Entrepreneurs frequently collaborate and work with others and some also work on hi-tech projects where they’ve assembled a team of ‘boffins’ and need to oversee their progress.

Mendix is a good choice as a free collaborative tool for entrepreneurs working on technical projects, as is Podio for customer and lead management and Moxtra, which is seemingly great for everything an entrepreneur could collaborate with others on.

Video conferencing tools

Whilst savvy entrepreneurs realise that nothing can take the place of the face-to-face meeting, they’ll generally need to be able to videoconference in the office and on the move.

The easy-to-use Skype platform is still one of the best free videoconferencing tools available to entrepreneurs – they can upgrade to a paid version if they want to conduct videoconferences with more than one person – and Google+ is also increasingly popular as a free videoconferencing tool.

Enterprise solutions

Many entrepreneurs have an aversion to traditional payment methods because they’re somewhat restrictive and stifling.

Fortunately there are some excellent tech tools available that enable entrepreneurs to accept cost effective and safe payments, most notably the increasing number of mobile payment apps that empower entrepreneurs to accept payments with a credit card reader and their smartphone.

Phone Swipe is a popular one – it’s currently only available in the US – as is the better known and more accessible Square and the more versatile and cost effective Intuit GoPayment.

These solutions enable entrepreneurs to increase their payment acceptance options and save them time and money.

Cloud services

There are likely to be countless instances in which entrepreneurs need to collaborate or share information with others and one of the most outstanding tech tools now available to them are cloud services.

Cloud services used by savvy entrepreneurs are often as simple as the free Google Drive, OneBox and Dropbox, all of which are excellent tools for storing and sharing information so that entrepreneurs can access important information when away from their professional serviced office space and share it with others.

Event management tools

Whether an entrepreneur has many events to attend or an event to organise and promote, event management tools can help them manage and navigate their event related needs.

Flavorus is an excellent tool for managing RSVPs and also boasts payment processing options that are both secure and cost effective. Eventbase is another excellent event organisation app entrepreneurs can use to provide smartphone event maps and schedules for attendees.

Achieving any degree of success as an entrepreneur is often, in the increasingly digitalised world in which we live and work, dependent upon utilising technology effectively – these tech tools are just a taste of the technology accessible to entrepreneurs that can empower them to achieve great things.

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Is Your Company Moving Premises? Here’s How to Manage It

February 26, 20140 Comments
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As your business grows and expands, you may well find that you outgrow the premises that you currently inhabit. Sooner or later it will be time to start thinking about either expanding your existing premises or relocating to a bigger site. Relocation is the best decision for your business if you need more space and it will help you make more money and be even more efficient in the long run. However, relocation is also chaotic and disruptive and it needs to be managed very carefully in order to make sure that it has minimal impact on your long term success. In this article we are going to tell you how to go about your relocation in the best possible way – read on to find out more.

Find the Premises

Your first job is to find your new premises, and this means making a list of all of the things that you simply cannot compromise on. Have a separate list for things that you would like if at all possible and bear all of these things in mind when viewing new premises. Organize site visits of any premises that look appealing and take a couple of your senior management with you to get a clear idea of whether it could be right for you. Take plenty of pictures and make notes along the way, and then organize a meeting with your management afterwards to discuss the pros and cons of each one. When you have found one that you are all happy with then it is time to instruct your solicitors and get the ball moving.

 

 

Your Old Premises

It may be that you are keeping your old premises on in order to have two bases, but if not then you will need to think about what to do with the old premises. Most of the time the site is leased so it is just a matter of terminating the contract, but this can come with complications so it’s best to speak to your legal team about how best to do this.

 

Plan the Move

The move itself will take careful planning if you want it to cause the minimum amount of disruption to your business. Have a task team that are in charge of plotting every detail, and employ the services of a removals company and also a machinery moving service so that you have all the professionals booked a long time before the move itself. Make sure that the business can still operate in the interim by relocating the office first – that way the paperwork and legalities can still be worked on as the bigger items are being moved.

Moving to bigger premises is a very exciting step in your business’s progress and it is vital that it is managed in the best possible way. It will feel slightly chaotic for a while but once you are settled you will find that productivity and staff morale go through the roof. Then it’s time to start thinking about the next big step that you want to take!

 

Author Bio

This post is authored by Jenny Wadlow, who is a freelance writer and works with a host of clients from various industries. She is currently working with Halbert Brothers Inc. and is helping them reach out to online audiences via blogging.

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The Benefits Of Blogging

February 5, 20140 Comments
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If you’re in any doubts about the benefits of blogging then check out these stats:

The Benefits Of Blogging

These stats are a very convincing argument that if you’re not blogging, then you should be, and if you are blogging, then you should probably be blogging even more! This is the case whether your business is “business to customer” orientated or “business to business”.

Every time that you write a blog post, you are adding another “asset” to your inventory of marketing content. The search engines will then add that page to their index which will increase your chances of having your website appear in the top search engine listings when someone is searching for the services and products that you provide.

The full article about the benefits of blogging and the above infographic come from Don Crowther’s article: The Benefits Of Blogging – Hard Number Evidence He is a widely respected social media marketing and online marketing expert, helping companies ranging from Fortune-500-level giants to entrepreneurs make more money online using proven social media and search marketing techniques. Use the link above to read the full article.

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How To Stay On Top Of The Latest Interest Rates With Social Media

December 4, 20130 Comments
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Interest rates affect our lives in many ways. They determine how much money we earn when we put our money into a savings accounts or a Certificate of Deposit. They also tell us how much more money we will owe on our credit card bills if we do not pay them off in time. And interest rates also determine how comfortable we will be with our monthly payments on large purchases, especially houses and vehicles. But because interest rates are constantly changing, it can definitely be difficult to keep up with where the rates are going and determine whether it is the best time to make purchases or sell property.

Putting Social Media to Work for You

Thankfully, though, you can use the same social media pages that you spend the majority of your time on to find the latest news on interest rates, as well as other important information on what the biggest financial institutions and lenders are up to. Below are a few tips to help you get started so that you can begin following the right social media pages to always stay on top of what is happening in the world of banking and finance.

Follow Your Favourite Banks

If there are certain banks that you trust more than others, try to find their pages on your favourite social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. You will be surprised by how many of them are taking advantage of these sites in order to stay in touch with their current customers, entice old customers to come back, and lure in new customers all at the same time. Even small, local bank branches can be found on social media. Many times, these banks will offer helpful tips and advice and will also make it a point to let you know about the best interest rates they offer so that you can invest your money with them and they can continue to be successful.

Find Reputable Mortgage Lenders to Follow

Another great way to stay on top of the latest interest rates, no matter where you live, is by following the social media pages of reputable mortgage lenders and other lending groups. These individuals work hard every day to provide individuals and businesses with the finances they need to continue to thrive and succeed in the competitive workplace, so they are often discussing interest rates, as well as the impact that changing rates will have on buyers and sellers.

Discuss Important Financial Topics with Like-Minded Individuals

Finally, you can use social media to simply connect with like-minded individuals who can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to making the best financial decisions for your family. Seek out pages that are run by famous financial advisors to get the clearest information and advice.

When it comes to staying on top of interest rates, especially if you are in the market for a new home, use social media to help you. In addition to getting the latest news, if you follow the right pages, you can also gain valuable insight and tips.

Featured images:

Nancy Baker, the author of this post, is a freelance blogger. She loves providing social media tips. You can follow her on Twitter @Nancy_Baker_.

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How To Make Those Pesky Employer Background Checks Work In Your Favor

December 4, 20130 Comments
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Employers these days have access to way more information about us, as candidates, than they ever have had before. While not every company will be effectively stalking you online before your interview as if you are their ex girlfriend, some will, and others will run more official checks on things like your credit history and your driving records. This can seem terrifying if you are unemployed and seeking work, but you can actually make it really work in your favor if you are smart about it. Here are some tips if you suspect a potential employer is going to be looking you up:

Have a LinkedIn Account

LinkedIn is the most acceptable social network for employers to have a peek at because it relates only to your professional life – the area they should be most interested in. If you have a LinkedIn account where you can be seen to have a work history that matches what you told them, and you are connected to other people in the industry, this can satisfy a lot of their curiosity. You can go even further to impress them by posting things on LinkedIn that show you keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening in the industry you want to work in, like news stories and relevant blog posts you have found. This shows you are professional and interested in what you do.

Use Twitter Professionally

If you currently have a Twitter account you use just for fun which maybe has some stuff on its timeline you don’t want employers to see, change the name so it can’t be identified as you (you can do this easily without losing any followers or disabling your account). You can go further by creating a new account in your own name where you tweet about professional stuff and post links, again, to interesting industry related web content. This means if they look you up they will see the one you want them to see rather than the one where you are talking to your friends or talking mostly about what you are watching on TV.

Be a Safe Driver – And Be Honest If You Haven’t Been

It is possible for employers to check your drivers license online and see if you have been involved in any incidents or have points for things like speeding, or any DUIs. Of course, the best way to get around this hurdle is to be a safe driver, however obviously you can’t turn back the clock, so if you have negative things in your driving history it is better to declare them at the first opportunity and explain that they were in the past, you’ve learnt from them, and you have been a better driver ever since. People will normally forgive things that have happened a while ago if you demonstrate that you know you were at fault and that you have bettered yourself since – but only if you are honest and upfront about them. An employer may mention that they often do these sorts of checks, and this would be a good time to say ‘yes, I had a speeding ticket when I was 22, but I have been good ever since!’. Chances are they will admire your candor.

Featured images:

Samantha Brave, the author of this article, is part of the team with, 4SafeDrivers.com, leading providers of employee driving records. She is passionate about art and culture and enjoys visiting new places in her spare time.

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I Want To Guest Post On A HUGE Site… How Do I Best Approach It?

October 28, 20130 Comments
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I Want To Guest Post On A HUGE Site… How Do I Best Approach It?

Every blogger dreams of their site hitting the big time. Thousands of dedicated viewers a day, cross posts with some of the biggest names on the web, a place among the technorati…you know you have thought about the same thing. It is just what you hope for when you get started, and every move made on a site is an attempt at carving out even a little bit of success.

When you are a writer who guest blogs, your dream may be a little different. You aren’t so concerned with your own site hitting mega status. You just want the chance to get on the ones that already have. You want to right for the big guys, and you are slowly crawling your way up in hopes of doing it. All it takes it that one big break, and it can change your entire career.

But how do you realistically work toward such a goal? How do you approach the situation, and the sites themselves? Here are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.

HUGE Is Relative

There are blogs out there that aren’t really blogs any longer. They are dedicated media sources, similar to any newspaper or magazine. For example, Wired is not a traditional blog that you can easily come to work for. The path there is closer to that of an actual journalist. However, there are many sites that are large with a good, regular readership that can give you some amazing opportunities. Aim for those, first. Then see about moving further up the chain.

You Need Visibility

If you are not a writer that has a real online presence, your chances of making it onto these bigger sites is minimal, at best. You need to build a reputation, and make sure you are well known in your industry. Establish yourself as an expert by taking every guest posting blog that will gain any kind of traffic. It looks good for your portfolio.

You Need A Reputation On The Sites

The first time I applied as a guest blogger for a large site, I had been there posting as a popular commenter for almost a year. I had become well known for my input and advice, and had been awarded the Top Commenter position many times. So when I went to apply, I was already known by the writers and editors alike. This is, I think, what put me ahead of other applicants and got me the spot.

Don’t Give Up!

This process can be a little frustrating and daunting, and you might feel like throwing in the towel after a few rejections. But don’t give up. Every writer, no matter what the medium, is going to face more no’s than yeses, it is just a part of the journey. Keep trying, and you will get there.

Do you have any tips for getting on with the big sites as a guest blogger? Let us know in the comments.

Please download the free blogging eBook to find out more about achieving success with proper guest blogging methods!

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How Should You Choose The Right CRM Consultant For Your Job

October 9, 20130 Comments
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A Cultural Resources Management (CRM) consultant will only bring benefits to your project. They can stop you from getting into trouble with the law. They’ll ensure any major renovation work won’t inadvertently damage any cultural treasures. The success of your project depends entirely on employing the right consultant, though. Here are a few tips for choosing the right consultant.

What’s Your Job?

The first tip doesn’t involve looking at the consultant. You need to know about your project. Carefully map it out and determine what skills you’re going to need. Consultants can specialize in specific projects or offer general services. You need to decide which option is right for you.

Having this sort of documentation to hand will also help you later during your consultation. You might need to employ another consultant to help you compile your project plan.

What about the Qualifications?

There are no standard qualifications every single contractor must have in this industry. As a general rule of thumb, the more qualifications a company have the better. You want to see a constant commitment to education. It’s a sign they really care about the level of quality they have in their company.

You should always make sure they’re registered with the Register of Professional Archaeologists. Other certifications include the Hazwopper certification.

Here’s another tip. Make sure the companies they’re affiliated with carry the same qualifications.

Your Consultation

Never give work to anyone unless you’ve met them first. Ideally, you should meet them at the project site. It will allow them to get a better idea for the environment and the sort of quotes they can give. The consultation is a matter of feeling out your potential contractor. Usually, they’ll charge a small amount for this. They won’t charge you for a brief conversation online, though.

During your consultation, ask them a few questions about the process. These strategic questions should act as a test. Ask them how they would go about planning for the project and how they would confront certain issues. Do they give political answers or real, useful answers?

If you feel like this person knows what he’s talking about, this is a bonus. Looking at a business online can only tell you so much. Judge for yourself how professional this person is and go from here.

The Quote

The consultant may well have no problems giving you a rough quote during your consultation. Whether they can or they can’t has no bearing on how professional they are. This depends on the scope of the project.

You should get a few quotes from around your local area. Get a feel for the sort of prices being charged. Any prices which appear to be too low or too high should act as warning signals. Excessively low prices could indicate the sign of bad quality work, whereas high prices are simply overpriced.

Your gut feeling can tell you a lot. Listen to it. Take some extra time to think about your choice of contractor. You shouldn’t feel pressured to make a decision. This is where mistakes tend to happen.

This article is submitted by Patrick Jones, a business consultant, a tech expert and a professional blogger. He feels that the fields of historic preservation services are doing a great job and are progressing rapidly.

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Steps To Take If Your Work Computer Crashes

September 29, 20130 Comments
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People rely on their computers for many things today, from surfing the Internet for research and fun to saving all of their favorite photos and videos throughout the years. And those who use their computers for work in addition to pleasure need to take extra precautions in order to ensure that they will be able to recover after an unexpected computer crash.

A computer crash can definitely be extremely devastating. Knowing what to do when your computer crashes, though, can reduce the level of panic that you go through and help you take the necessary steps, listed below, that will allow you to get back to work sooner rather than later. Continue reading to learn more.

Try to Identify the Reason Your Computer Froze

Many times, a computer will freeze if there is not enough airflow running through it. If this is the case, all you need to do is install an extra fan or put your computer in an area that receives adequate amounts of ventilation. If your computer freezes and gives you an error message, try to decipher what it means. You may need to copy the error message into your Internet browser and perform a search if you are really at a loss as to what could have gone wrong. These are important steps that are necessary to identify the problem that is causing your computer to freeze and crash. By figuring out the problem, you can prevent further damage to the hardware of your computer and keep it running by making repairs.

Back Up Your Data Right Away

If your computer starts to act strangely, you need to back up your data immediately. Whether you use an external hard drive, a RAID system, or a cloud server, back up the data as soon as possible so that you do not risk losing it the next time your computer fails to function smoothly. Although an initial crash may not result in a fried motherboard and loss of vital information, another one might, so you definitely do not want to take your chances.

Run a Full System Virus Scan

Run a full system scan as soon as your computer reboots. This will allow your anti-virus software to check for any malicious programs that may have been installed on your system unbeknownst to you and are now causing problems. Removing any spyware, malware, or viruses can fix the problem. Just be sure your anti-virus software is up to date before running the scan.

Try a System Restore

Opting for a system restore is another step you can take to bring your computer back to a time when it was running smoothly. Access the system restore option by restarting the computer in safe mode. Choose to restore the system to a date before it started freezing and crashing on you.

Backing up your data is an important step that will help you remain calm whenever your computer suddenly freezes and crashes. Once you know your data is safe, you can identify the problem and fix it.

Featured images:
  • License: Creative Commons image source
  • License: Creative Commons image source
  • License: Creative Commons image source
  • License: Creative Commons image source
  • License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://pixabay.com/en/error-www-internet-calculator-101408/

Today’s guest author, Jane Jacobs, is an I.T. professional working for Storage Guardian, a company offering backup data protection services.
Her hobbies include painting and surfing. Visit storageguardian.com/ to know more about her work.

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The Key To Great Marketing Of Cosmetics Is About 99% Packaging!

September 19, 20130 Comments
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If you are in the business of making and selling cosmetics, then you don’t need us to tell you how essential your packaging is. Trends are always changing, and you have to be right up to the minute on what customers are looking for. With a million and one products on the market, how do you manage to catch your customers’ eyes, and convince them that your product is the one that they need? Careful thought needs to go into your packaging, as people tend to buy with their eyes.

Perfumes and Aftershaves

Some perfumes and aftershaves are an extension of a whole brand, which means that the packaging has got to be consistent with the other products on the market. This restricts you when it comes to logo, colour scheme and design, but you can still stand out from the crowd by making the box a different shape, or give it stand-out features. If your fragrance is a one-off product and you are not tied to using a brand, then you will need to speak to a graphic designer and between you, come up with a striking design before discussing what sort of packaging would best suit it.

Makeup

Possibly the most difficult thing to package is makeup, because there are so many different varieties. Items such as mascara, nail varnish and lipstick all have special needs for their packaging. However, you can still be creative within this remit – think about bold colours and stand-out design. Above all, makeup has to be packaged so that it stays where it should – there’s no point having amazing packaging if the product is just going to explode over somebody’s bag. Make sure the clasps close properly and that any loose parts are properly contained. Quality is everything here – so be prepared to pay for the best.

Skin Care Products

Bottles of cleanser and toner need to look beautiful and also be functional. Moisturiser comes in many formats but usually tubs, bottles or sprays. You need to think carefully about the unique aspects of the product you are selling in order to get the packaging absolutely spot on. Research the different types of bottles there are on the market – you’ll find plenty of choice. It’s always good to go for recyclable materials if you can.

Face Wipes

Face wipes are big business now and they need to come in a packet which ensures they are easy to get out one by one. Functionality is key here – make sure there is a proper lid on top rather than a cellophane sealer – this will just dry the wipes out as soon as they are open.

The cosmetics business is a fickle one, and customers will switch from brand to brand very easily. They are looking for a great product, but they will also be seduced by beautiful packaging that looks great on their dressing table or in their bathroom. If you have a great product, then you owe it a great packet too so that you gain the sales figures you are looking for.

Featured images:

Today’s guest post is written by Larry Jagers; who is a workaholic. He works at SoOPAK, a packaging manufacturing facility. In his free time, he enjoys reading and watching movies. Visit http://www.soopak.com/ for the latest ideas and information on packaging.

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