Business Ideas

How to Create a Pleasant and Attractive Office Environment

Savvy business owners know that the working environment of their employees can have a huge impact on productivity and efficiency. No matter how big or small your business is, it’s essential that your office building is designed and maintained in a way that supports its staff and clients effectively. It is well known that a happy and healthy workforce gets more done and can be retained for longer, so why not start making positive changes to ensure that this occurs for your business?

The Outside of Your Office Building

In order to project a professional appearance to clients and trading partners, the outside of your office building should be pleasant and well-maintained. Tidy shrubs, gravel borders and a litter-free car park are all necessities. A commercial property that appears to be properly cared for will be a less attractive target for vandals and thieves. Natural wood effect cladding can make the outside of an office building look both professional and inviting, and is available from a range of retailers including Dura Cladding. The pale, natural colour of the waterproof cladding will both brighten the outside of the building and give it a smart, contemporary appearance.

Office Furniture and Equipment

Every employee should have their own tools, in order to complete tasks simply and effectively. This may seem obvious, but many offices require staff to walk to other sections to achieve day-to-day duties. Make sure that each person has their own computer, desk, chair and reading lamp. Printers can be shared, particularly if you’re keen to reduce paper and ink usage in the office. Ergonomic furniture should be offered to those who suffer from joint and back pain. There should be plenty of different seating options in the office in accordance with the kind of tasks that employees are carrying out.

Food and Drink

Hunger and dehydration can be major barriers to productivity, so you should ensure that employees are able to eat and drink throughout the day. There should be plenty of office water coolers and a kitchen where staff can make their own tea and coffee. You could establish a ‘bring your own mug’ policy to cut down on the use of paper cups. Also, for those who are tired of changing the bottle on the water cooler, you can also try a bottleless water cooler for your office. Instead of offering biscuits, sweets or chocolate bars, it’s better to have a selection of healthy snacks in the office. Employees will perform better if the eat slow-release foods such as nuts, dried fruit or granola bars, as these snacks won’t cause a spike in blood sugar.


General Business

How Social Media Can Give You the Job Seeking Edge

The number of young people applying for jobs is going up and up. Many of your rival candidates will have similar qualifications and experiences to you, so how do you gain an advantage over them? It’s a dog eat dog world out there, but you may not realise that your social media profiles can help you grab that juicy bone.
Many people don’t appreciate that potential employees will look at their social media profiles as well as their CVs and application forms. It’s not unusual, in fact it’s a widespread practise that’s becoming ever more common. Here’s how you can make your social media profile work to your advantage.
19% of HR departments said that a person’s social media profile made them decide to offer that person a job. They want to see that you have a broad range of interests, and before you ask – drinking doesn’t count as an interest. They’ll also check that you’ve listed the same qualifications and work experience on Facebook as you have in your application. Make sure that your avatar is professional, and that your profile as a whole is free from spelling and grammatical errors. This infographic contains further tips.


Use Social Media To Improve Your Job Search
Use Social Media To Improve Your Job Search is an infographic that was produced by Gumtree

Business Problems

The Drug-Free Workplace


Maintaining a drug-free workplace is imperative to your business’ well being. Not only does it provide peace of mind, but it also provides the foundation of a solid and ethical framework at the heart of your business. There are many benefits to a drug-free workplace, not the least of which is an increased bottom-line stemming from employee productivity and reduced operating costs. If you are not already running a drug-free workplace, implementing one might seem challenging, but it certainly is not too late. For starters, here are a few easy steps you can follow.

Make the decision

If you aren’t sure about whether or not to implement a drug-free workplace policy, research the reasons why. From a safety perspective, knowing that your employees are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on the job means that negligence is less likely to occur. From a business perspective, workers’ compensation suits will be reduced and the overall productivity of your labor force will increase. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, substance abusers file three to five times as many workers’ compensation claims. Also, you will certainly see a reduction in employee absenteeism; substance abusers are two and a half times more likely to be absent eight or more times a year. Finally, substance abusers also incur 300% higher medical costs than non-abusers. These reasons alone should amount to more than enough justification for any business owner to make the switch.

Educate your employees

It is important to let your employees know why you seek to foster and promote a drug-free environment. Assure them that you are not out to get them. In fact, it should be quite the opposite. A drug-free workplace is a safe workplace, one that employees should feel more comfortable coming to every day. Because drug use can increase negligence, it may lead to dangerous situations that no employee should want to be around. Remember, you are not invading their privacy by testing them. Rather, you’re looking out for their safety.

Find a drug-testing lab

After making the decision to drug-test your employees, you’ll need to find a company that provides lab analysis for the detection of drugs and alcohol. It’s possible to do this locally, or you can send your samples away for analysis. Deciding testing provider to use will of course vary depending on your exact needs, but every business should research their options. The most important thing is that whichever testing company you choose, it should provide a reliable service that you can trust.

Spell out your policy

Spend some time writing out exactly what your drug-free workplace policy will entail. You might want to think about getting a lawyer to look over your documents. When writing the policy, think about what you want to gain from the policy and how it will affect the employees. Then, hold a meeting and educate your employees. Make sure everyone understands what they are agreeing to, and how it will change the workplace in positive ways. You may want to get feedback from your employees and then decide how to make certain changes.

General Business

Make Your Home Office a Practical and Productive Place Now

According to recent data, anywhere from 30 to 45 percent of employees have the option to work from a home office, either as contractors or long-term freelancers. If you’re not working from home now, there’s a good chance you might be doing so in the future. Keep reading to learn a few ideas about how to make your home office a place where you can get more done in less time, and maybe save money while you’re at it. 

home office

Keep an Open Layout

You’re more likely to feel ready to work if the environment is very airy and welcoming. Try to eliminate clutter and focus on creating an open floor plan. That also includes thinking carefully about the ways in which you generally move around the office, and eliminating things that make that harder to do. For example, if you often find yourself scooting from the computer to the phone in your office chair, avoid putting a large potted plant in that path. It’ll just potentially cause problems later.

Decorate With Things That Bring You Happiness

One of the greatest advantages of working from home is you’ll likely have much more freedom in terms of how you decorate. You’ll be the best judge of what could keep your mind calm when things start to get overwhelming. Whether that means hanging a framed picture of your trip to Paris or papering the walls with motivational quotes, feel free to unleash your creativity. Doing so could mean you’re able to enjoy a more consistent level of well being, even when pressures are mounting.

Think About Buying Refurbished Items

If money’s tight or you’re just interested in being as frugal as possible so there’s more money left for other things, don’t overlook buying things for your line of work that have been refurbished. Even public service professionals like firefighters have the option of buying used vehicles from places like, and if that alternative exists for them, it’s worthwhile for you to consider buying used items too. That may not mean buying a vehicle, but it’s still possible to save significant amounts of money by purchasing items like computers or copiers that have been carefully restored to like-new condition.

Make Sure to Install Enough Electrical Outlets

No matter what sort of work you do, chances are it’ll be much easier to get done if you have access to electricity. There’s nothing more inconvenient than trying to do something in your home office only to eventually realize your laptop cord is just a few inches too short to reach the nearest outlet. Whether you’ve been in your home office for several months already or are still laying the groundwork, it’s never too late to install more electrical outlets. Productivity is closely related to convenience, and when you can easily access the things you need most, you’ll probably be amazed at how much more you can get done without feeling limited.


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Invest in Your Future by Saving for Your Retirement

Recent statistics show that half of all workers have saved less than $10,000 for their retirement, while more than a third have less than $1,000 saved. These figures are rather alarming because it shows that many people haven’t saved nearly enough for their retirement expenses. This could mean that many retirees will be forced to continue working in order to make ends meet in their golden years when they will be expecting a well deserved rest after numerous years of hard work.


Only 18 percent of Americans feel very confident that the amount of money that they have saved for their retirement will allow them to live comfortably, while slightly more than half of Americans say that they feel somewhat confident about their savings. Nevin Adams, a director at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, states that the recent recession and its slow recovery has undermined the public’s confidence. Over the past five years economic recovery has been on the rise, which has given many people more confidence about their retirement possibilities. This is because it has allowed more people to begin saving for their retirement or investing in stocks. The problem is that this new confidence only extends to those with higher incomes of more than $75,000 a year. People that are in a lower income bracket don’t feel this confidence because they don’t have the funds to purchase stocks or save as much money if any towards their retirement as those in a higher income bracket can.


Many lower income individuals are saved by investment policies offered by their employers. Instead of having to make a conscious decision about what they can or can’t afford to save, they can choose to let their employer take a set amount or percentage from each pay check to put towards an employee savings plan. This has its drawbacks as well because it is not something that is offered by all employers, and some people still choose not to participate. Even so, over recent years more employers have begun to offer this as an option for their employees, often signing them up automatically in the company’s employee savings program or placing the money in a retirement account for the employee. If an employer does offer a program of this type, it is in the employee’s best interest to take part in it if it is not automatically set up for them in order to ensure that they will have something put away for their retirement.


About the Author:



Blair Thomas is an electronic payment expert, who loves all things finance and planning. He is also the co-founder of, the #1 adult merchant account company in the country. If you would like to see what he’s up to, add him to your Google+ circle.


General Business

Why Outsourcing can be Good for Small Businesses

A common mistake made by many start-up businesses is that they try to handle everything in-house. On the surface, this may seem to save costs, but the reality is often that mundane tasks end up occupying too much of your time, which would be better spent completing more crucial work.

Outsourcing can be a surprising ally to small and even large business owners alike. By outsourcing some of the work that needs to be done within your company, you ultimately free up resources, which allows for more important and business-critical objectives to be fulfilled.


Outsourcing work within a small business is all about practicality. There are many kinds of tasks that can be outsourced which could save you a significant amount of money. Instead of hiring more employees and paying them full-time wages to do a job which can be completed by an external company, why not outsource the work instead? A good example of this would be record keeping and document scanning. These jobs can be extremely tedious and often take up a significant amount of time. There are companies, however, such as that provide services such as this for a low cost. You save more money because you no longer have to hire another full-time employee just to do the job.

office 2


Another important reason to outsource some of your work is efficiency. Some tasks are better off outsourced to professional companies instead of having them done in-house. The accounting of your small business, for example, is best left to the professionals. While you can attempt to do it yourself, there are a lot of regulatory guidelines and rules that must be followed. The additional time learning about this area of expertise could end up costing you more money than if you had got an accountant to do it in the first place. Plus, if you outsource to a professional, you have some come back if there is an issue further down the line.


Sometimes outsourcing your work can become a necessary. If this happens, it is important that you keep an open-mind and avoid trying to take on too much work yourself. When your company or business does not have sufficient resources and/or manpower to do a certain job, then you should definitely consider outsourcing.

Outsourcing some of your company’s work does not make you less capable as a business. In fact, choosing to outsource the works proves that you are a smart and efficient company which would rather outsource allowing for more focus on important tasks.

If you have decided to outsource some of your work, you should carefully choose the tasks and rate each of them on its own merit. Weigh up the cost of completing the task in-house against outsourcing it and then factor in the quality factor. Your goal is to be as efficient and practical as possible without compromising on customer’s needs or product/service quality. That’s why often the best jobs to outsource are the tedious and menial jobs you do not need to do yourself.

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