What Does the Modern Work Space Consist Of?

There was once a time where the office was a somewhat sterile and bland affair. The premises would be often be furnished with standard furnishings and the whole setup could be seen as a little claustrophobic. However, like many aspects of the 21st century, how we layout our office has gone through something of a transformation, but does it make any difference when it comes to productivity?

Office design trends can be easily dismissed as a millennial’s pipe dream, but the truth is that there are many innovations that have become the norm in the way we work today. The best comparison that can be made is the introduction of smartphones. Before we had access to what is essentially a mini-computer, we would have to make do with limited functionality. Sure, we made do with what was available, but it’s only when the smartphone dominated the marketplace that many of us wondered how we managed without them.

The same can be said for modern office space. It can be seen as a little off-the-wall and gimmicky, but once the benefits start kicking in, people soon have a different outlook overall. But what severe changes in the way we work has such a positive impact, especially when it comes to some of the most recognised tech companies in Silicon Valley.

Breaking the Mould

When it comes to changing the pace of how we work, credit must be given to the millennials. Not that there was anything wrong with plans installed by both the baby boomer and generation x era, but it’s only of late where the more conventional office design outlay has been turned on its head.

While there was a time when privacy was the most important aspect of a working environment, today’s working arena evokes a more collaborative environment. This means that a more spacious office space is desired, with less constricting cubicles. This is often done with the clever use of glass, which while still allowing for moments of privacy, ensures that the atmosphere is less claustrophobic.

It’s not only the outlay of an office that has been given a makeover, but also the colours used within the décor. Gone and the cold and isolated colours of yesteryear and instead are more bold and inspiring colours that look to boost productivity and boost our mood making for a more proactive workplace, Facebook is one of the many technology companies that makes use of modern office outlays, and its last quarterly report for 2017 shows a $9.3 billion profit, a testament that confirms changes isn’t always a bad thing.

Furnishing the Future

To be able to work, we simply need a desk and chair, right? Well yes, but there is so much more to a work area. More and more companies have realised that offering employees a more tailored workspace that reflects their personality is able to offer more positive results. Even freelancers have jumped on the furnishing bandwagon, making their workplace something they look forward to visiting.

In hindsight, the changes make sense. Many of us spend a vast amount of time at our desk, probably longer than we spend at home, so working at a desk that does little to carry our identity can be counter-productive.

There is so much traction when it comes to mirroring our personality in the workplace that there have been companies created that look to offer that dream work environment. Perch is a company that showcases office furniture and furnishing to give customers a truly bespoke office that conforms to their personality.

Even the way we use a desk has changed. While a standing desk can’t be used by everyone, there have already yielded several benefits when it comes to productivity, as well as having a series of health benefits to boot.

Technology Isn’t a Distraction

For many years, technology has been assumed to be an evasive force within the workplace. Many companies have been worried that the introduction of the Internet makes for more procrastination, and giving employees access to their smartphones and tablets is just asking for trouble.

However, the perks of technology have slowly risen to the surface, and more and more and companies are welcoming multitudes of technology with open arms with many companies using all the latest hardware and software such as Microsoft office for Mac. Working hasn’t become any easier, in fact many of us are working harder than we ever done, but thanks to modern technology, we can at least make a large chunk of our work more manageable and professional.

There’s also the fact that many of us work in different locations to that of our peers. Working on a project would have often involved a lot of phone calls and emails, but it’s a different story in the modern age. There is a slew of software that makes conversing in different locations a real-time event. This means that there is very little hesitation when it comes to making developments, which in turns makes more use of the time modern wokplace

It’s not all work and no play either. Having downtime is important for even the most hardworking, as we simply burn out, but a cup of vending machine coffee in an empty room no longer cuts the ice. As such, more companies are realising the benefits of introducing technology into the break room, so it’s not uncommon for someone to unleash frustrations on Call of Duty before returning to pitch some more brilliant ideas.

The modern office can be hard to stomach if you’re used to something a little more conventional, but there’s no denying that it can yield several benefits, for both the employee and the business.

What Start-ups Should Think About When Designing Their First Office

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When your start-up is in the early stages of development you’ll be understandably excited and happy but you’ll also be a little anxiousness as well. But when it comes to putting your office together things become a little more real don’t they? Location is key, whether a modern steel buildings or a renovated Gothic church!

It’s easy to get carried away designing your dream office space with modern computer systems, plush carpeting, luxurious desks and chairs and games room for your employees. That all sounds well and good but that should be the end goal, an all too common mistake people make with their start-up office is overdoing it.

The majority of start-up businesses will be on limited budgets, which means you shouldn’t just spend money on designing a luxurious office. And even if you do have the funds there are better things you could spend the money on when it comes to your business.

So, what should a start-up think about and focus on when it comes to designing their first office? Well, there are lots of things you need to think about and we can help you ensure your office is designed correctly.

Your Office Checklist

Think of your first office as a blank canvas, your office is a representation of your business and there are lots of ways you can ensure the office suits the work culture you have in mind. Let’s take a look at some main areas you need to consider.

The Layout

Getting the right layout for your office is paramount and thankfully for a start-up office getting the right layout is usually much simpler. You’ll be dealing with fewer people (in the majority of cases) which is good news because it means building a flexible and more open layout will be easier.

Flexibility and openness are very in vogue right now when it comes to office design and for good reason, they create a more friendly and co-operative atmosphere. An open office also allows people to more easily converse and work together on joint projects.

While an open-office is probably the best choice for the majority of start-up businesses it’s important that you don’t forget the need for privacy as well. So, make sure you have a separate space for a meeting room.

You also need to remember to not just focus on your office space, you need to ensure things like toilets, cleaning cupboards, store rooms and staff rooms are all close by so employees have easy access to them. No employee is going to feel especially motivated if it takes 10 minutes to get to the staff room, are they?

The Furniture

The furniture is always a tricky part when it comes to designing your office, there are plenty of options but knowing exactly what is best is not always easy. Start-up businesses change rapidly and grow very quickly so flexible furniture is a must.

You should also avoid furniture that is too bulky to ensure there’s more space to move around and the budget is also a big issue. Luxurious furniture might be very tempting but it’s not really needed in the early days of your business.

You should also be wary of going to cheap as well because it will likely mean the furniture won’t last as long. Instead look for the middle ground, find furniture that is high-quality and practical even if it’s not particularly lavish.

The Colour and Light

Colour plays a very important part when it comes to design work of any kind, all colours represent something and invoke certain moods. So, you need to choose your colours carefully an office decorated in hues of blue might look nice but could start to feel cold.

Whereas greys and browns might just feel dull and zap people’s energy, so don’t be afraid to add colourful touches and be vibrant. You should also be sure to add some artwork to the walls to add a splash of colour around the place.

Light is another part of your office design and one that is all too often ignored, natural light has been shown to have a number of psychological benefits and it will almost certainly make your employees feel more relaxed and productive.

How Do I Get My Dream Office With My Budget?

So, now that we’ve looked at the main design areas you need to focus on you’re probably wondering how you can go about getting your dream office aren’t you? Well, you can’t, so get the idea out of your head. Your start-up business will still be in the early stages of development when you get your first office so you shouldn’t be thinking about anything extreme.

Your big, bold and luxurious head office is something you can work towards in the future, for now, you just need to set-up a productive and open setting where you and your employees can work. Your office should still be a comfortable environment but it’s also one that will have to be in the budget.

Building a Business Website from Scratch

For many, the starting of a business can be a busy time. So busy in fact, that the building of a website can often take a back seat when it comes to priorities. However, the presence of a business online can be one of its most important factors, as it had the potential to be one of the main sales funnels for a business.

Knowing we need a website is one thing, but how do we go about creating one? Like many things in life, there are a plethora of options available, so we need to make some considerations.

Designing the Website

The design of your website will depend on the nature of your business. If your business offers goods via mail order then it’s likely you will need some form of storefront. Those offering videography services will often look at a website design that is able to promote their portfolio and testimonials. 

Having an idea of what kind of design you want for your website beforehand means that the whole design process is a more straightforward affair. If you’re having some difficulty in deciding on a layout, then why not look at some other websites within your niche? However, you should only use such websites for inspiration, as outright copying could cause some legal issues.

Once you have a design in mind, there are many options available to you. You may want to build the website yourself, and this is certainly possible thanks to the many DIY tools online. What’s more, these tools offer an easy-to-use interface that can help you design professional-looking websites within minutes, However, some may find that DIY software is a little limited for their needs.

Another option is to use a content management system such as WordPress to create your website. Not only are you able to update content with a few clicks, but you also have access to a multitude of templates. What’s more, if a certain template needs some aesthetic or layout changes, you can normally find someone to make the amendments for a small fee.

Then there’s the option of employing the services of a web designer, which can be beneficial for many. However, it’s important that we don’t use the fee charged as a guide alone. There are many different solutions available, and it’s about finding the best value as opposed to the best price. As such, it can be advisable to read some reviews and ask to see some example of work carried out in the past. IT stands to reason that the more work you need, the more expensive it will be.

Registering a Domain Name

There can be many rules associated with domain name registration depending on who you speak to. Some will say choose a domain that contains keywords, whereas others swear by used domains. Such advice is often based on old SEO techniques that don’t really hold much weight anymore. The only thing you should be trying to do is ensuring your domain name is the same as that of your business.

In some instances, a business will look at what domain names are available before deciding what to call their business. Ensuring the domain name is the same as your business name makes for a more uniformed online presence, and ensures there’s no confusion caused to potential customers.

Choose Your Own Web Hosting

There are several services online that give you free web space, mostly in the form of a blog, but this comes with its own limitations. Opting for the services of a web hosting provider ensures that we have a more reliable website that’s not prone to going offline. If you want to find one of the best providers then check out this list hostauthority.org/top

Options are often quite cost-effective, depending on your options. For example, if you’re willing to share bandwidth with other websites, then you’ll be paying less than you would if you decided to opt for your own server.

What’s more, you will normally have a point-of-contact should there be any issues with your hosting, which is vital if you’re hosting a business online.

With so many hosting providers it can be difficult to decide which one to go with, however these guys did a good job ranking the best hosts.

Structuring the Content

One of the most important aspects of any website is the content. You can have the best-looking website in the world, but it would gain much traction if it doesn’t have the right kind of content to support it.

While you should look to include keywords within your content, you shouldn’t do it so much so they looked forced. This can be a red flag to search engines who could assume that you’re looking to manipulate the algorithm.

What kind of tone the content should take really depends on the business itself. Those offering legal services would probably want to aim for something professional, whereas those in the fashion industry can adopt a more laid back approach.

If the content fits in with the context of the keywords used, and looks to offer visitors value, there’s no reason as to why you should receive any adverse rankings due to your content.

Promoting the Website 

The are many ways of promoting your website, depending on how quickly you’re looking for results. If you’re looking to get visits straight away, then you will need to invest in some form of advertising. One of the most popular methods of marketing is a pay-per-click campaign, where you pay for each visit you get from an ad placed within a search engine. You can tailor your ad to reach the targeted demographic, so it can be very rewarding. However, you need to ensure that your site has a clear call-to-action and can be navigated easily, otherwise your marketing budget could be going to waste.

If you’re happy to let your site grow organically, then you can ensure that you are carrying out the right kind of search engine optimisation. This includes well-written content, clear contact details and an optimised site that can be viewed on different devices. While there are no shortcuts when it comes to SEO, carrying out the task in the right way will allows your site to mature and develop and before long, you’ll find that your website is being ranked as one with authority.

A website can make all the difference as to whether our business is a success or not. A website in the modern age can essentially be an extension of the business, so if things aren’t up to scratch, consumers could assume that the business isn’t either. That’s not to say that things never go wrong, but rectifying these mistakes sooner rather than later means less repercussions in relation to turnover and maintaining an active online audience.

Finding the right insurance for your startup company

As is true in most aspects of life – running a startup business comes with some risks. There are some risks that no insurance company will cover, particularly those that relate to business decisions – however, there are plenty of risks that go well beyond an impact that’s just felt in yours and shareholder’s pockets.

Whether it’s injury to a third party on your premises, legal claims from customers or even the implications of tax investigations – there are insurance products to cover you. We’ll give an overview of some of the most popular products and options…

Public liability insurance

If a member of the public is injured – or has some of their property damaged and you or one of your employees is at fault, then public liability insurance would protect you against having to settle with the injured party.

Although people tend to assume public liability only covers people who are visiting your own premises, it actually covers a lot of different situations. For example:

  • A customer in your shop knocks over some cleaning equipment that is not being stored correctly, ruining their clothing and causing a minor injury.
  • A client visiting your offices trips on some unsecured wiring and falls, injuring themselves.
  • A technical consultant from your company damages some of your client’s computer equipment while on a service visit, the bill runs to thousands of pounds.
  • An apprentice in your plumbing company causes a water leak that damages the walls of the company premises you’re working on – and that of the business below it.

The potential impact of each of these events differs – but could very well include legal costs, the claimant’s legal costs (if you are found to be at fault), loss of earnings (both current and future) and also any damages deemed necessary.

Do you need it?

It is not a legal requirement that you have public liability insurance – but considering the scope of potential claims that could be brought against you – it’s certainly likely to be a good idea. While it’s important to get professional financial advice – as a first step it’s worth considering what situations you and your staff are likely to find yourselves in.

It’s also worth noting that some landlords require you to have public liability insurance to comply with the terms of rental agreements – so check carefully.

Employer’s liability insurance

Should something untoward happen to an employee while they’re working for you, an employer’s liability insurance policy is what would cover the cost of any claim against you or your business.

Most commonly this type of cover would protect against minor injury and cases of where there is dispute over employment law – however, it can and does also protect against more serious instances, such as employee death. 

It’s a legal requirement that you have this type of cover in place – although the nature of the cover means there are some instances where exceptions are made:

  • Limited companies who have only a sole employee do not need employer’s liability insurance – assuming that person owns at least half the company shares.
  • People who are registered as being self-employed and employ only themselves or family members also do not need employer’s liability insurance. 

Do you need it?

Be sure to check with the health and safety executive if you think either of the above situations apply to you – if they don’t, then the answer is a resounding yes!

The health and safety executive enforce the requirement for employer’s liability insurance – taking the task very seriously and levying large fines on companies who attempt to duck out of the responsibility. Without it, you’re leaving your company open to these fines, the costs of legal proceedings (both yours and the claimants) – plus any damages and/or compensation.

Professional indemnity insurance

This kind of policy covers you against claims that a brought relating to the professional service you provide – essentially if it is inadequate, or has led to your client losing money. Here are some examples of how PI insurance works:

  • A plastics company agrees to create a number of components for a car manufacturer. The products are delivered on time but have been incorrectly moulded, meaning the manufacture of the cars is delayed and customer order times extended – in turn leading to cancelled orders and reputation damage.
  • A print company delivers banners intended to decorate a large new-build housing estate. After a few days of poor weather, it becomes apparent that the banners are tearing and the print is running, leaving the client stuck with poor quality banners – or the cost of having them removed and replaced.
  • An IT company sign a service level agreement with a client – but fail to honour that agreement, leaving systems without backup. When the client’s main storage server fails, customer data is inaccessible, causing major service disruption.

Do you need it?

A lot of professional accreditations, regardless of your field, will require you to have professional indemnity insurance as part of their requirements – if you’re not sure, check with them directly. Even if your profession doesn’t require it, without it you could face enormous legal fees and compensation payments – think about it carefully and consult with an accredited insurance advisor about your particular circumstances.

Other types of insurance policy

Although we’ve listed the main three types of business insurance – there are others you might want to seek advice around:

Property and contents insurance – covering building and contents owned by your company – sometimes a prerequisite if you’re renting furnished office space.

Tax investigation insurance – If HMRC ever investigate your company finances this type of cover can pay for expenses, miscalculations and even tax shortfalls – depending on the cover you choose.

Directors insurance – Applying to your directors and managers, this type of policy will cover costs arising from compensation claims relating to alleged wrongful acts, including breaches of duty and trust, professional error and neglect and other business-related acts.

Company vehicle insurance – motor policies that cover the use to company owned or leased vehicles when being used by employees.

There’s no substitute for professional advice

This guide is intended to inform you about the types of products that exist and the types of companies that might use them. To be certain whether your company requires any of the cover noted above, you should contact a regulated insurance advisor and discuss your company’s unique circumstances.

Managing the Finances of Your Startup in 2017

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Regardless of the type of business you run, there will always be a requirement to keep track of company finances. While in the initial period this can be as straightforward as income and expenditure, but as the business develops you will find that there are more avenues to contend this could anything from loans from companies such as oinkmoney.com to other funding and capital that you have received.

It’s easy to be come overwhelmed with the financial commitments of a company, but if we deal each step accordingly, it all soon fits into place.

Review All Aspects of Incomings and Outgoings

Although a basic overview of the company finances can help paint a picture of where money is being sent, a startup should ensure that all financial aspects of the business are recorded. These can include what is being spent on payroll, petty cash and the services the businesses we use.

Should you take your eye off the ball in relation to one segment of the business, it can mean that other segments have ramifications as a result.

Stay Organised Throughout the Financial Year

Many of us can view accounts as something we review on an annual basis, but this means that we have less time to contend with anything that doesn’t seem right.

Staying on top of your finances from the off means that you’re able to better manage the business as a whole, and any inconsistencies can be dealt with instantly.

Of course, it can be understood that some aspects of the financial world are hard to navigate. However, knowing what these are means that you’re in a better position to seek expert advice where it’s needed, thus allowing you to find a cost-effective solution.

Makes Plans for Major Expenses

While many expenses within the business will be the same throughout the year, there will be occasions where you have to spend a little more. What these expenses depend on the nature of your business, but an example can be the update of operating systems to ensure that your data remains safe.

To ensure that the business has enough capital to content with such expenses, you should ensure that you diaries any upcoming events, and look to put a plan in place that ensures that these costs are met.

It will also allow you some breathing space to find the right kind of service provider. If we have to rush when it comes to large expenditure within the business, we will often pay more for the service as a result.

Have a Clear Invoicing System in Place

Sending an invoice is a pretty straightforward endeavour, but if a business isn’t able to deal with invoices in the right way, then it will suffer some cash flow problems as a result.

Having a clear invoicing system in place ensures that you’re paid on time, thus ensuring that there are no financial hiccups in the business moving forward.

The terms and conditions of the invoice should be made clear to the customer. This includes detailing when the invoices should be paid by, as well as any fees that arise for late payment.

It can also be a good idea to keep details of an inventory sent or services provided should there ever be a query in relation to the invoice.

Having a time period in which the invoice has to be paid allows you to chase up later payments more effectively.

Don’t Dismiss the Use of Software

When dealing with company finances, there are many who will try to contend with the task alone in order to keep costs down. However, there are many open-source solutions available to use for your accountancy, regardless of the operating system you use. The following is a snapshot of what kind of software is freely available online.

GNUCash

GNUCash is geared towards small and medium businesses that allow business to keep track of income and expenditure with ease. It’s written in PHP and MySQL and can be used on Windows, Linux and Mac.

Ledger SMB

Written in PL/SQL and Perl, Ledger SMB is another piece of software that is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses and can even be used through regular web browsers such as FireFox and Chrome.

Openmiracle

Openmiracle is an adaptable piece of open-source software that relies heavily on accounting principles. What this means to the end-user is that they’re able to create reports that are accurate, thus ensuring the finances of the company are heading to the right direction.

Setup Your Payroll in the Right Way

Payroll is one of the most important aspects of any business, as failure to maintain payments could lower morale within the business.

However, there can be a number of obstacles in place when it comes to ensuring that all factors are considered. The following is merely an overview of some of the considerations that need to be made.

  • Ensure your business is registered as an employer on the HMRC database.
  • Decide who will deal with PAYE for your company. This could be you, or a third-party depending on how many people your business employs.
  • Check that the data you hold for your employees is correct and up-to-date.
  • You are able to calculate bonus pay and overtime.

While it can be more cost-effective to simply work out everything yourself, this can be detrimental if you’re not fully versed in PAYE or payroll as a whole.

You should also ensure that you have a date in place for when employees need to hand in any correspondence, such as timesheets or overtime forms.

However, there can be software that can be used, or you could seek the services of a professional.