Party Like It’s 2021!

It’s late October and the monthly management meeting is just coming to an end. Ninety minutes on a Monday morning in the boardroom, the one day that everyone is in the office; apart from Sue and Thomas who are on the big screen dialling in from home via Zoom.
“Thank you everyone, now, any other business?” asked the MD, shuffling his papers hoping for no response.
“What about the Christmas Party this year?”
And so began another 45 minutes of debate. It is a question being asked by hundreds of companies up and down the country that are just getting used to adapting to what is being called the new normal; and then along comes the curve ball about whether to encourage a social gathering and, bluntly, what can be afforded after 18 months in survival mode.
Back on the big screen Sue is looking horrified. Ever since the first lockdown she has flatly refused to return to the office. When Boris Johnson said work from home, she worked from home. And with a bedroom converted into an office and all the tools she needs to hit her target she sees no reason to change that and has had many a run in with HR on the subject. The thought of mixing with everyone in a social environment at a Christmas party is not one that appeals.
“I think it will be great to get everyone together again and let our hair down to celebrate the fact that we have made it through, and start bonding again.” It was Helen that had now perked up, pushing hard for a big party. “We missed out completely last year and those that only joined the company in February or March 2020 have no idea how great our parties are!”
Helen is the office party animal. At only 25 she was one of the last to be vaccinated but was also the one going out the most throughout the pandemic often ignoring the advice to wear a mask and socially distance. At the last Christmas party there was an unsavoury incident when Sue walked past the stationery cupboard and saw Helen in an awkward position with Paul from Accounts, a pack of Post-it Notes and some Sellotape. Sue never did reveal exactly what she saw, but the relationship between Sue and Helen had been strained ever since.
“I have to say, I don’t mind coming into the office on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday as agreed, knowing that we have the screens up between desks still and it is easy to keep our distance, but I’m a little uncomfortable with the idea of a full-on party at the moment.” Now it was the turn of Paul, the Senior Consultant. At 58 years of age Paul had been in the “vulnerable” category throughout the pandemic following a minor heart attack two years ago. A real shock to the system and one that brought an end to his heavy drinking and partying days.
“Couldn’t we just do the same as last year” he continued “let everyone have Christmas Eve off and send them a choice of a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates.” His suggestion was met by a series of jeers from the end of the boardroom table.
“Bah-humbug to you!” shouted Jane.
The MD immediately knew that he had a difficult decision on his hands and wished he had been more prepared for the question going into the meeting. Two years ago, the office party was the highlight of the year. The majority of the 100 strong staff would attend, mostly with their partners, at a hired hotel suite or at the function room of the local football club and everyone would have a fantastic evening before heading home and coming in the following morning, some with more sore heads than others, to laugh and joke about the stories that came out the previous night.
Things have changed now though. Over the past 18 months there had only been 30 members of staff working the whole time, another 30 had just returned from furlough at the end of September and were just getting back into the routine of working; 15 had left and found other jobs and another 25 were going through the “at risk of redundancy” process. The MD himself was in no mood for a party, he knew that a maximum of 8 would come through the process with a job. Yet, on the other hand, he owed it to his staff to give them a Christmas Party, to thank them for their loyalty and re-build the company morale that had been decimated by the pandemic.
After 45 minutes of differing opinions the MD finally banged his pad on the table, declared the meeting closed and concluded, “Let’s all go away and think about our options, and we can discuss it at the next meeting.”
The Christmas Party can had been well and truly kicked down the road; but it will be back, just like it will in management meetings throughout the globe in the next chapter of The New Normal Way of Working in 2021.

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Data protection for the home office with Dahle Shredders

How to make your home office GDPR-compliant
Since the arrival of covid-19, companies have begun to embrace the home office concept. More and more businesses are choosing to allow their staff to work from home even after the crisis. This goes hand in hand with an increased awareness regarding GDPR-compliant working: as soon as the work involves personal data, certain regulations must be observed. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can change how you handle personal data. So, data protection is also relevant in your home office, and that brings responsibilities.

Personal data – what are they?
Personal data is all data that is or can be assigned to a living natural person. Anyone who stores and/or processes such data is obligated to protect them.

Spatial design is crucial to data protection in your home office
GDPR requires that third parties have no access to personal data or technical equipment. If you live in a shared flat, with a partner or your family, you must take measures to ensure that other members of your household have no access to your work data:
• Use a separate, lockable room for work.
• In addition, you should store any documents or data carriers in a lockable cabinet.
• Do not leave documents with personal data on the kitchen table.
• Do not make work-related phone calls on the patio in the presence of family members or friends if it is evident from the conversation who you are talking to about whom.
• Agree “do not disturb” times so that no one can accidentally peek at your screen.
• Visualise your daily schedule, e.g. on a white- or cork board.
• Use Dahle MEGA magnets and self-adhesive magnetic tape to indicate your availability to family members on the door frame (e.g. a cross for “Do not disturb”, a circle for “Available”).

Compliant thanks to technical equipment
Alongside company-owned devices, you can also use personal end devices for work. That can be handy (you know how the devices work and don’t have to get used to or learn to use new ones), but it’s not without its problems: using your personal devices for work creates security risks and data protection issues in your home office.
Aside from the blurring line between professional and personal life, you should prevent risks as follows:
• Encrypt your end device in a GDPR-compliant manner using software your employer provides, or only access corporate data via a web interface. Additionally install up-to-date protection software from your company on your end device, or store the data in a separate, specifically encrypted area; this will prevent them from being stolen from your end device.
• To avoid vulnerabilities, only use current operating systems approved by your company. One possible alternative are virtual operating systems provided by your employer.
• Only use end devices your employer has approved and ensure that the end device recognises that it is you who is using the corporate operating system – for example through a fingerprint scan or a secure password. Important: Family members must not have access to the corporate operating system. So, sticking the password to your desk or the family pinboard is not a good idea.
• Create a secure start-up password and do not store corporate data on external data carriers that have not been approved and encrypted by your employer.
• Follow the rules and procedures specified by your company’s IT department. These may be data backup mechanisms, a request for remote data deletion if your device is lost or stolen, rules for logging a device in and out of a BYOD environment, required actions if your personal device has to be repaired or replaced, or information on installing new (security) software.
• Only use secure connections for internet access – ideally via the company’s own VPN (Virtual Private Network). Other data transfer options are less secure.
If you cannot set up your end devices accordingly, you should only use devices for work that your employer has made available specifically for this purpose.

Destruction concept
As much as we wish they were, work processes usually aren’t entirely digital. Printed documents, which may also contain personal data, can be kept under lock and key, but at some point, they must be destroyed. This requires a concept: data protection compliant destruction differs from simply throwing the documents away. Before they end up in the paper recycling bin, they should be shredded.

Easy to use – secure document shredding
The PaperSAFE® document shredder, the compact document shredder for small and home offices, is a convenient solution. Its handy automatic start and stop function ensures fast and secure use; it’s easy to empty thanks to a detachable top part; and it’s safe to handle because the motor automatically shuts off when the device is opened. Its particle size of 4 x 30 mm corresponds to security level P-4 and is perfect for meeting normal protection requirements for confidential and personal data in a company.

Any questions on the GDPR?
Here’s a quick summary of our tips for observing the GDPR in your home office:
• Work in a separate, lockable room.
• Set up your personal end devices for work use, or use end devices provided by your employer.
• Ensure secure access to employer systems e.g. via VPN.
• Have a concept for storing and destroying printed documents.
These tips do not replace proper legal advice. They are based on online research on websites about data protection measures.

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What’s your workplace satisfaction?

Leading office solution supplier, Fellowes Brands, recently announced the results of its survey of over 6,000 employees across Europe, 1,000 of which are from the UK, revealing 9 in 10 (91%) of all European employees and 89% of UK employees say satisfaction is important to them in their workspace, regardless of whether working location is at the corporate office or the home office. Moreover, 88% of UK employees say satisfaction improves their productivity by more than 25%.
By helping to uncover attitudes of European and British employees towards workspace satisfaction and productivity, the survey findings help inform employers how best to navigate the new ‘hybrid’ model of working, where a portion of time is spent working within the corporate office, and a portion working from a home office.
Following a period where many Britons spent a year working almost exclusively from home, Fellowes Brands’ survey reveals that 36% of UK employees who work from home say they feel more productive in the office, and 29% say they feel more productive when working in the new ‘hybrid’ working environment.
In addition to uncovering British attitudes about the modern workspace, the survey also revealed interesting commonalities between employees across Europe — in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain, as well as the UK. In comparing results from all of the European countries, the data painted a picture of four ‘core elements’ that make up workspace satisfaction.
As identified by the Fellowes Brands survey results, the Four Core Elements of Workspace Satisfaction are:

  1. Clean Environment
  2. Healthy Workspace
  3. Secure Environment
  4. Tidiness & Organisation

Here’s what European and UK employees have to say about each of the four core elements:

Clean Environment
• 77% of UK employees say it is important for an employer to invest in clean, healthy air (e.g., using air purifiers) to facilitate productivity in their workspace.
• 54% of all European employees surveyed said that a well-ventilated space is the top ‘smell’ that gives them satisfaction in their workspace.
• A third (33%) of UK employees say they find breathing cleaner, healthier air satisfying at work.

Healthy Workspace
• 83% of all European employees (and 81% of UK employees) say having a good ergonomic environment, including a suitable desk, chair, and monitor at eye level is important to their productivity.
• 80% of UK employees say it is important to their productivity that their employer invests in ergonomics.

Secure Environment
• Two thirds (66%) of all European employees agree that being able to dispose of confidential or sensitive documents securely gives them satisfaction.
• 74% of UK employees say it is important that an employer invests in equipment to shred sensitive documents.
Tidiness & Organisation
• 81% of UK employees say having a clean, healthy workspace is important to their productivity.
• 77% of UK employees say it is important that an employer invests in effective storage and organisation solutions they need to be productive at the office.
• 79% of UK employees say having access to the equipment they need, such as an extra monitor to view large documents, is important to their productivity.
• 73% of UK employees and 69% of all European employees say it is important that an employer invests in equipment to produce high quality presentations and documents, including laminators and binders, they need to be productive at the office.

A theme running throughout the four core elements also points to the need for employers ensuring the correct equipment in the hybrid workspace:
• 50% of all European employees said that it positively impacts their productivity when satisfied with their working set-up.
• More than 8 in 10 (83%) of all European employees say that having an excellent ergonomic environment, including a suitable desk, chair, monitor at eye level, is essential to their productivity.
• 36% of all European employees prefer to have a hybrid working option; versus 24% who prefer to work solely from home.

Fellowes Brands commissioned Censuswide, a market research and survey consultancy, to conduct an online survey between 8th – 18th June 2021 with a sample of 6,212 office workers in the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Poland.

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Rewild Carbon: Putting Nature at the Heart of Carbo Offsetting

We have all assumed that nature would always be here for us and our children. However, our unsustainable use of nature is threatening our future. The crisis faced by the natural world is now at a tipping point.

Healing the harm
Carbon offsetting is one means of repairing the damage we have caused to nature.
At Durrell our mission as a charity is to save species from extinction, but in order to save species, you also need to save their habitat. Our work to restore and protect some of the most threatened habitats on the planet over the last 60 years, also captures and sequesters carbon.
We are very proud to be launching Rewild Carbon this year, our carbon offsetting programme that not only reduces carbon, but also revives ecosystems, recovers species, and rebuilds livelihoods. Nature is at the very heart of the programme.

What is carbon offsetting?
A carbon offset is a ‘credit’ for greenhouse gas reductions achieved by one organisation that can be bought and used to offset the emissions of another organisation or person, or an activity like a flight or a corporate event, so that they are considered ‘carbon neutral’. Before we offset, individuals and organisations should first look to reduce their emissions wherever possible. Increasingly, individuals and organisations are choosing to become ‘climate positive’, meaning you give back more to nature than you take. Carbon offsetting can not only reduce your emissions, but can also increase brand loyalty and positioning, and attract and retain employees and partners.

Impactful offsetting

Here is why offsetting through Rewild Carbon is hugely beneficial for nature:

  • Our ecosystems are highly threatened with many endangered species living amongst the last fragments. Species-rich forests can sequester up to 40 times more carbon than monocultures
  • 95% of the money you invest in Rewild Carbon will go straight to nature
  • We will translate tonnes of carbon into wild commodities like the number of species moving through your trees
  • Our projects are designed with local communities and benefit sustainable livelihoods
  • We work with local partners that we have long-standing relationships with. Together we can better understand the wildlife, the land and the threats they face
  • Our approach is transparent and science-driven.

The Atlantic Forest
We are launching the first Rewild Carbon project in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil alongside our local partner Instituto de Pesquisas Ecologicas (IPE), with whom we have collaborated for 20 years. This extraordinarily lush forest in Brazil, is one of the richest, most biodiverse and threatened habitats on the planet. Sadly, only 6% of it remains today, in isolated fragments, replaced by pastures and intensive farmland.
The project aims to restore 4,500 hectares of vital forest corridors by 2030, linking these isolated fragments, and thereby creating lifelines for the wildlife including highly threatened populations of black lion tamarins, jaguars, tapirs and giant anteaters. These corridors are established by planting 100 different species of native trees, which will sequester nearly 2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent over the trees lifetime.
Native people are at the heart of this project. The areas to be planted are designed together with locals, the trees are grown and planted by local people. The project also involves agroforestry, thereby providing sustainable livelihoods for the true guardians of this rich landscape.

How to get involved
Our Rewild Carbon programme is being launched to businesses this year, and will be available to individuals in 2021. If you’d like the opportunity to give back to nature, we’d love to hear from you.

Contact: Rachel Hughes

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Hot desking in the post-pandemic workplace

From open workspaces to closed offices and everything in between, there are dozens of office designs in vogue in today’s workspaces. But as companies explore new workplace strategies as they weigh up how best to bring employees back to the office after Covid-19, many are exploring reconfiguring their workspaces to meet changing employee demands.

As businesses adjust to a post-lockdown world, many are contending with what the implications of continuing remote policies will be on office occupancy rates, in addition to employee needs in the workplace. Recent surveys have shown that employees want to go back to the office for three main reasons: to collaborate with colleagues, to attend in-person meetings and to have a quiet place for individual work.

This has led to some companies taking a fresh look at hot desking, which is a popular workplace practice among co-working providers and serviced offices, for their own dedicated and private offices.

Hot desking explained

Hot desking is a workplace strategy that started in the 1990s that does away with assigned seating for employees and instead offers them the ability to choose where, and how, they work within a given office environment. There’s no ‘fixed seat’ for a person and workers are free to work at any open seat, desk, table or workstation, which offers the flexibility and autonomy to select a dedicated workspace based on the work they’re doing.

Hot desking offers companies one way to reconfigure their workspaces with a focus on collaborative spaces while offering unassigned individual workstations. Businesses can also invest in designing a variety of unique workspaces that range from private rooms to open workstations, social spaces and meeting areas. So an employee who needs a place for focused, individual work can choose to work in a private room or at a desk. Conversely, an employee who needs to collaborate with colleagues can use a meeting room or communal area.

Pros of hot desks

Hot desking enables employees to choose where and how they work across the office, granting them a level of flexibility and autonomy that doesn’t exist in traditional office settings. It prioritises employee choice whilst at the same time enables companies to make more efficient use of their space offering enough workstations to meet average demand in the office and shed excess working spaces, if the need arises.

The role of the office needs to evolve to favour teamwork over individual work, and hot desking can increase collaboration and productivity. By its very nature, hot desking forces employees to walk around the office to find a workplace, and often ensures they interact with people they might not otherwise connect with. It encourages a creative environment where people get to interact, collaborate and socialise with other teams.

Cons of hot desks

Hot desking works on a first-come, first-served basis which means if you like a particular space then you have to come early to take that seat, or else it might not be available. If improperly implemented, it can lead to employees spending too much time looking for a workspace instead of actually working. Employees could therefore be likely to face difficulties in working well with one another. If the workspaces offered aren’t well designed, lack of privacy can also then become an issue as people don’t get their personal space with lots of activity around them which causes unnecessary distractions and hampers productivity.

Security, or lack thereof, is another challenge businesses encounter with hot desking. Due to the transient design of hot desking, poor implementations can make it hard for individual employees to securely store their personal belongings. But in the age of Covid-19, security goes beyond personal belongings and private workspaces. It also extends to health. Under a hot desking model, employees can choose where they sit, and swap desks as needed. This inherently causes health-related complications and social distancing issues in the coronavirus pandemic.

Stay safe and secure

At Dams, we provide secure storage areas perfect for our hot desking and co-working environments, and it’s advisable for companies who adopt these work practises to offer similar storage areas for their employees, too. Our range of wooden and steel storage lockers cover a variety of storage solutions that cater for storing employees personal effects, clothing and possessions in all office and workplace environments. Lockers are the perfect storage solution for hot desking spaces to keep business premises not only functional but also clutter free.

With employees not having a fixed desk, this can actually lead to a cleaner, more organised, and professional-looking workspace that can help inspire productivity, focus, and engagement. Workers can finish their tasks for the day, leave the work area with their laptop and phone, collect their personal belongings from a locker and no clutter is left behind, ready for the next working day.

In addition to enhancing workplace security, lockers can also be used around pillars and posts in workplaces to help create zones in the office environment, by using the locker units as a dividing wall and a visual barrier between departments and working groups, perfect for the modern, hot desking workplace. And why not add a counter top to the standing height units for a casual standing meeting area, or even add an over-sized planter on to the top filled with greenery to complete the biophilic, natural workplace look.

Furthermore, companies adopting the hot desking model should also implement a number of health-related measures to ensure workplace safety. These include increased cleaning schedules, social distancing signage, hand sanitising stations, limited capacity in meeting rooms and place mats that indicate what workspaces are clean and available to use.

Plan for the future

The work environment is changing – both in design and purpose. Employees are re-evaluating how they would like to work – at home, in a coffee shop, in the office, hot desking, or a hybrid working model. In return, many businesses are considering what the impact will be of continued remote-work policies on office occupancy rates. More simply, as people continue to spend at least part of the week working remotely, many companies will suddenly find themselves with excess or unused office space.

Hot desking is emerging as a practical solution that provides employees with flexibility and agility in the office, and helps companies save money by making more efficient use of their office space. Like any new concept tested within a business, there are pros and cons inherent to this workplace strategy. But if it’s properly implemented, hot desking can also improve company culture by encouraging people from different teams to interact and breaking down barriers across the business.

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Meeting Tips

Meetings… everyone’s favourite office pastime! Whilst meetings can sometimes get bad press; being seen as an insufficient use of time; dragging on for too long and being somewhat repetitive – these bad experiences don’t have to become habit! Many businesses struggle with inadequate internal communications and meetings can play a major role in improving this.
So here are few tips to make meetings more productive.
Purpose / agenda
Be clear upfront about the objective of the meeting and what needs to be achieved. For meetings with high attendance or that is longer than an hour, set out an agenda; it’s easier to keep the meeting on topic and on time. It also allows for people to manage their own time, they may not be needed for the entire meeting and can drop out early to focus on other work.
If you happen to have external attendees or staff from a different division,
name badges can help to keep the conversation personal and make everyone
feel included.
Do you really need an hour?
It might be the default setting on your calendar, but consider if you really need an hour to discuss the topic at hand? If you are clear on what the purpose of the meeting is, it’s often easier to keep the meeting shorter.
Here’s another tip, try starting a meeting at quarter past the hour, it’ll cut the chit chat time!
Who needs to attend?
Frustrated by people constantly checking their phones or catching up on their laptops? Chances are they don’t need to be in the meeting. Try implementing the Elon Musk meeting rule, of no more than 4 to 6 attendees unless absolutely necessary.
Would you be ok with people leaving a meeting or dropping off a call early? Better than them wasting their time and dragging the meeting mood down.
For clarity on such project meetings, consider using the RACI matrix (responsible, accountable, consulted, informed) – this will further help to ascertain who needs to be in the meeting and who should maybe just be cc’d in on the minutes.
Be present
Everyone has other work to be doing as well – so engage, leave your other projects at the door and put those devices down!

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