CAN WORKING FROM HOME BE A GOOD THING?

For many working from home has become the norm, but with many companies now challenging workers to return to the office, is working from home whilst the sun shines outside a good thing, or a potential productivity risk?

One of the most notable advantages of homeworking in the summer is the flexibility. At home you have the freedom to choose your work hours and location (within reason and depending on the type of job), allowing you to take advantage of the beautiful weather and longer days. In some instances this flexibility enables you to work outdoors, whether it’s on a patio or in a garden, providing a refreshing change of scenery and boosting productivity.

Another popular advantage is the elimination of the daily commute. Commuting during the summer can be particularly challenging due to increased traffic and higher temperatures. By working from home, you can save both time and money that would have been spent on transportation costs. You can also avoid the stress and frustration associated with commuting, contributing to a better work-life balance and improved well-being.

Furthermore, home workers can take advantage of a more relaxed dress code during the summer months. Instead of adhering to a strict office dress policy, you can dress comfortably in lighter and more casual attire, allowing you to stay cool and comfortable while working. This relaxed approach can contribute to a more enjoyable work environment and enhance overall job satisfaction.

On the flip side, there are also some challenges that home workers face during the summer. One notable disadvantage is the potential for distractions. With children on summer break, outdoor activities, and the lure of sunny weather, it can be challenging to maintain focus and productivity. You may need to establish clear boundaries and implement effective time management strategies to minimize distractions and maintain your work performance.

Another potential downside is the lack of social interaction. While working from home provides autonomy and independence, it can also lead to feelings of isolation, particularly during the summer when others may be out enjoying social gatherings and vacations. Home workers may need to make a conscious effort to stay connected with colleagues through virtual meetings or social platforms to foster a sense of belonging and prevent feelings of isolation.

Additionally, the summer season may bring about increased energy costs for home workers. With higher temperatures, you may rely more heavily on air-conditioning, fans, or other cooling systems to maintain a comfortable working environment. This can lead to higher electricity bills, which may offset some of the financial benefits of working from home.

Is working from home a good thing?
The debate rumbles on.

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WHAT IS HAND LETTERING, ANYWAY?

Hand lettering is the creation of artistic lettering. It’s more to do with drawing or painting letters than with traditional handwriting. Every letter is formed from different repeating shapes, requiring a great deal of patience, precision and creativity. From different variations of block letters to cursive script to advanced lettering techniques such as faux calligraphy, bounce lettering and brush lettering, there is a wide variety of alphabet and hand lettering styles. Different hand lettering styles can be combined with each other, embellished, supplemented with decorative features and assembled to form complete phrases. This means there are no limits to your creativity with hand lettering, as long as you stick to a couple of basic rules. Here, we tell you everything you need to know: what materials you will require as a beginner, what to consider when you’re hand lettering and how to learn the different lettering alphabets. We‘ve collected together all the hand lettering guides and practice sheets for you to download, to help you work step by step towards becoming a hand lettering pro.

What should I consider when I’m hand lettering?

In principle, when you’re hand lettering you can do pretty much anything that helps you create artistic designs with letters. But to make sure you get beautiful results, it‘s important to observe a few specific rules. It’s practice that makes perfect and lettering is all about practice, especially when you’re just starting out. That’s why we’re giving you a few tips for beginners – rules you should follow right from the start:

•     The right environment: make sure that you always have enough space and light! A well-lit and tidy desk will get your creative juices flowing and help you practise for longer.

•     Posture: since you’ll be needing to do a lot of practice, particularly at the start, it’s important that you cultivate a good posture right from the beginning. Sitting up straight not only prevents unnecessary back pain, it will also help you maintain the right distance from your paper and ensure you have an overview of your hand lettering.

•     How you hold your pen or pencil: get used straight away to holding your pen or pencil between your thumb and forefinger, and to keeping the point at some distance (about a finger’s width) between the point and your fingers. This way you will prevent your fingers from cramping too quickly and ensure you have enough control.

•     Take your time: approach every letter with lots of patience. Hand lettering stands or falls by the precision and symmetry of the image created by your letters. With regular practice, you’ll soon see improvements!

What do I need for hand lettering?

It’s crucial to have the right materials if you want to be successful with hand lettering. If you use the wrong paper or an unsuitable pen, you won’t enjoy practising and you’ll end up with disappointing results. That’s why we’ve listed here all the hand lettering materials you’ll need as a hand lettering newbie, to enable you to practise different styles and design great phrases.

Basic equipment for creating phrases

•     Coated paper: your hand lettering pencils, fineliners and markers will always perform best on coated paper. A smooth surface allows your pencil to glide fluidly and makes it easier to draw straight and precise lines. We recommend that you use coated paper for printing, even when you’re printing out practice sheets from our downloads section.

•     Geometry set square and ruler (Mars geometry set square 568 36 / Aluminium ruler 30cm 563 30): a geometry set square and/or ruler will help you draw in guide lines and grids, to ensure that your phrase looks straight and symmetrical.

•     Pencil (Mars Lumograph 100 HB pencil for drawing and sketching): an HB pencil is the right hardness grade sketching your phrase. Take care not to press too hard when you’re sketching, so that you don’t leave unsightly pressure marks behind when you rub out your sketch lines.

•     Eraser (Mars plastic eraser 526 50): an eraser allows you to rub out your sketched lines, grids and letters once you’ve finished your piece. Only do this when the ink from your coloured lettering pens is completely dry, so as to avoid creating ugly streaks.

Article source: Lea – Rosy & Grey
www.staedtler.com

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The Evolution of Meetings

Five years ago, calling a meeting meant booking a meeting room and gathering the team in the same place at the same time. If you were lucky, everyone would show up early to allow the meeting to start at the designated time but this wasn’t always true. In person, it is easier for the conversation to go astray, resulting in meetings that weren’t as productive as they could have been. But when these meetings went well, they were the result of the team bouncing ideas off one another collaboratively, reacting to one another’s non-verbal cues, and being able to brainstorm together.

Three years ago, meetings looked a lot different as we were thrust into a new normal out of necessity when the pandemic lockdowns required a new modus operandi. Instead of a designated meeting room, we met virtually in whatever rooms of our individual homes had the best broadband connection. Rather than sharing a table, we shared our screens.  Conversations were peppered with phrases like “You’re on mute,” and “Let’s pick this up offline.” It was not uncommon for interruptions from pets or frozen webcams.  While it was a bit more difficult to read non-verbal cues through our computer screens, these meetings tended to cut right to the chase and make the most of the time allotted. 

Both iterations of the meeting had their pros and cons, but here we are in 2023 having to navigate another new normal that asks us to blend the best of both to maximise productivity and efficiency. Research from Embryo found that 30% of full-time UK employees are working a hybrid working schedule, which means that at any given time, one third of a business’s workforce might be remote. Just as we adapted our working styles to suit hybrid models, the meeting too must change. But what might that look like?

The Future of In-Person Meetings

The lockdowns made staff much choosier about how they spend their time, especially during their in-office days. Rather than wasting time in formal and stuffy meetings, staff are leaning towards more informal, relaxed sessions with their teammates. As a result, we are seeing businesses reworking their office spaces to support this with more casual collaborative spaces rather than formal meeting rooms. They’re introducing new furniture and tools such as the Nobo Move and Meet range of mobile whiteboards and noticeboards that can be wheeled anywhere in the office to create a meeting space wherever inspiration strikes. In-person meetings are much more organic and much less structured, giving way for more creativity and collaboration.

The Future of Virtual

During the lockdowns, we were much more understanding about little interruptions, technical difficulties, and other video call quirks. We were all finding our footing and making it work under challenging circumstances. Now, there is less excuse for bad quality video meetings now that we have had plenty of time to adjust. Some businesses have provided stipends to their staff to upgrade their home working setups and levelling up one’s video conferencing kit will certainly be a part of that. Kensington, one of the most trusted names in workplace and computer accessories, have leaned into this trend by offering end users a range of advanced audio and visual equipment for better video conferencing. The range was developed with the hybrid worker in mind and to work seamlessly with platforms like Zoom and Teams. It includes high-definition webcams that capture video in 1080p, ring lights for studio-like lighting, and flexible mounting systems to ensure you always have the best angle. For audio, the range includes noise cancelling headsets and an innovative 3-in-1 audio headset switch to solve the “You’re on mute” issue quickly.

Blending Both Formats

Of course, in the hybrid world of work, teams are unlikely to exclusively meet one way or the other. It is more likely that their working lives will involve a blend of both in-person and virtual meetings moving forward. At times, the two formats may intersect. As mentioned, on any given day it is likely that one third of the team may be remote depending on the organisation’s hybrid schedule. Therefore, businesses and their people are having to bridge the gap between locations by ensuring they have the right tools for the task wherever they may be. This will require upgrades to audio and visual technology to ensure a seamless connection that enables remote staff to feel just as present and involved as their in-office colleagues. Audio and visual tools that are compact, lightweight, and portable will be especially attractive to the hybrid worker, enabling them to join a meeting from home, the office, or even a café. In-person and virtual staff will have a much easier time collaborating effectively without annoying and time-wasting technical difficulties.

To learn more about Kensington’s range of video conferencing solutions contact us today.

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We offer a contract cleaning service

In accordance with Government guidelines, we strongly recommend an increased level of daily cleaning and sanitisation throughout your building and in particular on high risk touch points and communal areas.

Working with our cleaning partners we have developed three distinct service offerings to minimise the ongoing risk of infection and to support your business in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus.

PREVENT

Highly visible, sanitisation cleaning to frequently disinfect all touch points and communal areas.

Reduces the risk of virus and bacteria transfer.

Enhanced daily option using market leading virucidal applicating equipment – 10 x faster than manual methods. All treatments fully effective within 60 seconds.

Fully compliant solution providing reassurance to customers and employees.

PROTECT

Up to 30-day protection from coronavirus for all your surfaces using an antimicrobial protective coating.

Fast and effective application using market leading equipment (often referred to as fogging/misting).

Experienced technicians to guarantee effective treatment.

Environmentally safe, non-corrosive and IT friendly.

Scientifically proven solution.

No disruption to staff and customers.

REACT

Deep decontamination treatment in reaction to suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Delivered by experienced technicians with full PPE.

Fast and effective application using market leading equipment.

Virucidal disinfectant is proven to be effective against 99.99% of all known bacterial, viral & fungal pathogens including the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Chemicals meet all necessary standards including EN1276:1997. (Bacterial) and EN14476 (Virucidal).

Treatments effective within 60 seconds and once completed, areas are ready for use.

Option to add the Protect service.

Want to find out more? Contact us today.

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HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SPEND YOUR KEEP IT LOCAL WEEK? 15-21ST MAY

Get Organised MONDAY Post-it Notes

Being properly organized is one of the foundations of life. Being organized goes beyond knowing where and when things are, it’s good for the soul. Not only does it offer health benefits by cultivating a healthier lifestyle with better sleep and stress relief, but it also helps you make the most of every day and be more productive during working hours. Our range of Post-it® Products can help you to get organised, which will lead to a more enjoyable, more manageable, and a more productive workday. But more importantly, a happier you.

One of the best ways to maximize your time and get the most of your day is to properly organize it. Do you have a busy week coming up? An easy thing to do is to monitor a big day’s small successes by harnessing the power of writing things down. Try writing each item onto a Post-it® Super Sticky Note, and then removing them as your day progresses. This will help give you a sense of accomplishment.

By writing out your daily agenda or project tasks on individual Post-it® Super Sticky Notes and moving them from “To-Do, In-Progress, Complete” you can be sure you’re giving attention to the most important things on your list while managing your time and tasks easily and effectively.

Meet-up TUESDAY

For many office workers, after a day of organising, Tuesday is one of the most popular days for arranging meetings with clients. Now that does not always mean jumping in the car and travelling for hours, more of us are taking advantage of the ability to hold meetings from just about anywhere using Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Zoom…The Cambridge Dictionary now features the noun Zoom: “a brand name for computer software that allows a group of two or more people to see and talk to each other over the internet using their computers, tablets, or smartphones.” Who would have believed that pre-pandemic?

Video conferencing has transformed the way we meet, but there is nothing more frustrating than a camera that doesn’t come on or a poor-quality picture when you are trying to portray a professional image. Fortunately with the Kensington Professional Video Conferencing ecosystem we can supply you with a powerfully cohesive range of cameras, plug & play software and accessories to ensure you look and sound your very best.

Ask today about our current offer of a FREE bicolour ring light (produces optimum office lighting) when you buy a Kensington Pro VC web camera and a Pro VC Mount.

Work comfortably WEDNESDAY

After starting the week with the best intentions, by the middle of the week for many office workers best practice goes out of the window – the ‘sit/stand’ desk spends most of its time on ‘sit’, the straight back posture is replaced by a slump and the ergonomically designed wrist rest has become buried beneath a pile of papers. Stop! You are only halfway through the week, let’s get this right. Incorporate the Fellowes Four Zone Approach into your workspace today, to help mitigate health problems and improve employee wellbeing.

Zone 1: The Back

To boost back support and help maintain a good sitting position, provide lumbar support cushions. These attach easily to any office chair. When used alongside a foot support, they can greatly improve posture and help ease back pain

Zone 2: The Wrists

To help reset the way we work at our computers, wrist rests can help reduce the strain. A wrist rest’s job is to align your wrists and redistribute pressure points to alleviate pain.

Zone 3: Neck, shoulders and eyes

It’s essential to have your screen set at the correct height to avoid hunching or constant twisting. Fellowes stocks a comprehensive range of lifting products to raise laptops, PCs and documents for maximum comfort and productivity.

Zone 4: Reduce Inactivity

Sit-stand desks give you the option to vary your working position. Standing up to work at least part of the day or at different points of the day, boosts circulation, adds movement while the act of standing burns more calories.

Take a break THURSDAY

Thursday is a notorious teaser of a day for the Monday to Friday worker – you are past the midway point and on the downward slope towards the weekend, but there is still a long way to go! Many find Thursday the most difficult day to get motivated which is why we are. Dedicating this day to our favourite coffee ranges – providing that boost to get you through the remainder of the week.

Whether you like yours simply black or flamboyantly flavoured, piping hot or ice cold, or indulging yourself with added cream or a splash of whisky, there’s a NESCAFÉ coffee to suit whatever mood you’re in. For those that like their coffee crafted with care, we are currently running a promotion offering a free pack of KitKats when you buy two tins of Nescafe Gold Blend (for connoisseurs that appreciate a well-rounded taste and rich aroma). – contact us today for details.

Did you know that you can find the origins of your NESCAFÉ GOLD BLEND by entering the batch code into the website at https://www.nescafe.com/gb/carbon-reduction/ and this will tell you where your coffee originated from and how it was made? Now there’s a way to spend five minutes on a Thursday.

Fix It FRIDAY

It’s the end of the week. It’s not the best time to start a new project and you have all your filing up to date. The only thing left is to carry out those repair jobs around the workplace that you have been putting off all week!

You might not be surprised to learn that since more people have started to work from home, the demand for our range of super glues from Loctite have skyrocketed! It’s not for us to debate what is a legitimate business expense and what is for home use, we are just pleased that more people are going to the effort to repair items rather than throw them in the bin. Possibly a sign of the economic times we live in, but we like to think that our customers are becoming more environmentally aware of the benefit of fixing rather than throwing.

Everyone can make a difference by giving old and broken objects a 2nd life: especially YOU as a fixer, doer or maker. And every saved object counts because it means one less item in a landfill. So, what are you waiting for? All it takes is just one drop of Loctite Superglue. If you need help choosing the right glue for the job, contact us today.

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Why Investing in Mental Wellbeing Support is Vital for Your Business

Did you know that around 1 in 4 of us experiences a mental health problem each year, with stress, anxiety, and depression being the most common ones? These issues can have a far-reaching impact beyond the individual, affecting the workplace with raised levels of absenteeism, reduced productivity, and increased staff turnover.

But here’s the good news: employers can take a proactive approach to support their employees’ mental health and wellbeing, and many do. Whether it’s through mental wellbeing courses for all or training for those who wish to offer assistance in the role of a ‘Mental Wellbeing First Aider,’ employers can demonstrate their commitment to employee wellbeing and create a more supportive and compassionate workplace culture that enables individuals to thrive.

By offering mental wellbeing courses, employers can help all employees develop an understanding of how to manage their mental health and wellbeing more effectively and gain awareness of how to recognise early signs of decline in themselves and others. This can promote a more

open and supportive corporate culture and help to reduce the stigma or silence around mental health in the workplace – a significant barrier to individuals seeking help.

So why not take a proactive approach to support your employees’ mental health and wellbeing? By doing so, you can create a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce.

As a responsible business leader, you wouldn’t operate your business without physical first aiders. So why would you fail to train Wellbeing First Aiders when you have a duty of care to the mental wellbeing of employees?

These individuals can offer invaluable support to colleagues who may be experiencing a decline in their mental health or emotional distress, perhaps even reaching a crisis point. Mental Health First Aiders are not therapists or counsellors, but they can listen empathically, signpost avenues of support, and suggest practical, real-life ways to help.

They may become a vital part of the individual’s support system, helping prevent the escalation of a mental health problem and empowering them to find a way forward that feels right for them, allowing them to function more productively.

The provision of Mental Wellbeing First Aiders can provide a safe and trusted point of contact for employees struggling with their mental health, breaking down barriers that may prevent them from seeking help. It sends a clear message to employees that their mental health and wellbeing is a priority, which can have a positive impact on employee morale and engagement.

Investing in mental health support for employees is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense. By creating a workplace culture that prioritises mental health and wellbeing, you enable employees to thrive, which benefits the organisation by reducing absenteeism, improving productivity and staff retention, and promoting a positive working environment.

The two-day Mental Wellbeing First Aider course:

•             Equips delegates with confidence and competence to offer support to colleagues experiencing mental health issues.

•             Workshop-style course: Provides opportunities for discussion, practice, and questions.

•             No prior mental health training or knowledge required.

•             Delivered in person (for groups of 12-16) or online (in mixed cohorts)

•             Aligned with Health and Safety Executive guidance and best practice.

•             No formal assessment: The focuses is on practical learning outcomes.

•             Delegates are awarded a certificate, valid for 3 years, recognising them as a Mental Wellbeing First Aider (certified by SkillBase First Aid)

We are delighted to partner with Prima Voca Ltd, a company specialising in training Mental Wellbeing First Aiders for the workplace to deliver these courses. Their facilitators are qualified and experienced educators and mental health professionals whose delivery is inclusive, personal and engaging.

In the modern workplace, wellbeing is essential for efficiency, productivity and staff morale. Being a caring company enhances your brand reputation and makes you more appealing when recruiting or retaining talent.

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