12 articles Articles posted in Work

The Benefits of Co-Working

co-workingNow that both girls are at school, I’ve been thinking a lot about my working arrangements. I love being freelance because of the freedom and flexibility it gives me, but I do miss some of the elements of working in an office. I recently went to a Christmas party thrown by a friend I do some freelance work for and I remembered how much I used to love this time of year, when I worked. It sounds mad, but I always felt more festive when I worked with other people, so I’ve been thinking about looking into co-working spaces.

If you’re not aware, co-working is basically where you rent space in a flexible office where you get all the perks of working in a larger space (i.e. not one end of my living room couch…) without having to rent a whole building.

The benefits of co-working are innumerable – as well as having company during the day, with other professional, focused people, you also have networking opportunities around you, which I doubt you get at home. Many co-working spaces also have conference rooms which you’re allowed to use, making any business meetings you might want to take look SO much more professional.

Something that appeals to me is the fact that in a dedicated office space, I’d have far fewer distractions and would also be able to set proper office hours. If I turn up at nine and leave at five, like most normal working people, it would be a lot easier for me to focus during work hours and disconnect when it’s home time.

Many different co-working options exist, like in these offices to rent Liverpool – just a basic membership will offer free tea and coffee, cleaning, high speed internet, a postal service and the opportunity to use a prestigious business address, rather than your home address. I’ll be honest, the thought of high-speed internet access is enough to make it appeal to me!

I’ll be honest, as much as I like my own company and relish the opportunity to have me-time, I’m also a little bit prone to isolating myself and that’s not always a good thing. Sure, being able to come home after dropping the girls off and work in my slippers with Maureen the Pup next to me might sound great, but it makes it a lot harder to get into a professional mindset and isolation also isn’t great for me when I’m feeling down.

There are SO many benefits to co-working and it’s definitely something I’m going to look further into in the new year. Are you a co-working fan? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Freelancer? Find Out How to Add More Stability to Your Family Finances

If you are working freelance and don’t have a regular set amount of income, balancing the books might be challenging for you. There are some things that you can’t control each month, such as your income, but you can always shop around and wait for larger purchases to make sure that you can afford them without getting into debt. Below you will find a few tips on managing your freelance budget better with a family.

Image via Anete Lūsiņa@anete_lusina

Have Long Term Plans

Most people working as a freelancer tend to live from one month to the next. You will need to focus on your long term financial plans and change your attitude towards money. Whether you would like to save up for a family holiday, save up enough for a deposit or moving house, you have to create a bucket list of things to do with clear deadlines, so you can do things in your business that will help you achieve them.

Stay Flexible

One of the things you need when trying to manage your freelance family finances is flexibility. Not all the bills will be paid on time, and you might have to face delays when dealing with project work. This means that you need to have a flexible budget and allocate money for paying your bills first. If you have funds left over for a weekend away or a day out, you should plan this at the end of the month, but if there isn’t enough, save it up and add it to next month’s budget and plan something bigger,

Save for Holidays and Larger Purchases

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As a freelancer, you will need to make sure that you are not stretching too far, as your income for next month is not guaranteed. This means that you have to allocate excess money for larger purchases every month. Have a minimum saving plan to stick to, but if you have a particularly good month, put more toward the savings to have a rainy day fund.

Protect Your Finances

One of the things people forget when starting to work freelance is protecting their finances. It is crucial that you have an income protection for falling ill, as you are likely to lose your source of salary for a while. At the same time, you should ensure that the future of your family is safe, and get in touch with estate planning companies like Fielding Triggs to save money on wills and asset protection.  

Ensure You Get Paid

One of the uncertainties of working as a freelancer is when and whether or not you will get paid. You can eliminate the risks by consulting with a legal company and making your contracts legally unquestionable. Even if you are a freelancer, you will need to get paid for the work you do.

Managing your finances as a freelancer might be challenging. Make sure that you have a detailed financial plan and a rainy day fund, so you can look after your family and your financial future.

Starting Your Own Business as a Stay at Home Mum

Being a stay at home mum can seem like a full-time job. Sometimes, though, you want or need a paying job alongside minding your own children. Luckily, you don’t have to give up being a stay at home mum to have a job.

Instead, you could always try starting your own business as a stay at home mum. You’d be surprised how many options you have when you are trying to choose what business model is best for you. Here, we will look at just 7 options to help you get inspired.

1. Child Care Service

If you don’t mind watching more children than just your own during the day, you could always start a child care service. After all, you already have things that a child around the age of yours or younger would need such as toys or sippy cups so you won’t incur too many starting costs.

You can make a lot of money off of this idea because there are plenty of mums and dads that have to work during the day. With this business model, you aren’t dependent on people making purchases on a whim, you’re serving a necessity.

2. Etsy Store

For those mums who love to craft or sew, something like an Etsy store might be the best option for you. Here, you can sew clothes or craft anything you can think of and sell it to interested persons.

Running a shop is like a running a business. Therefore, branding your Etsy shop is important. Logo, header image, product photography, social media presence, SEO are all important parts of your Etsy marketing strategy. Moreover, when creating your handmade goods, you will want to make sure to add a tag with your own logo or classic printed ribbon to the items you make. This way, they are marked as uniquely yours. This also helps to cut down on someone buying your items to simply resell them as their own handmade items later.

3. Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is exactly the same as any other assistant. You would do things like handle phone calls, scheduling, or anything that a standard assistant would do. The major difference is that you do it from a distance. Instead of being at your client’s side all day, you would be in near constant contact with them via phone or the internet and you would take care of the tasks they set out for you.

4. Financial Planning

If you have a knack for numbers, you could also start a business in which you help others work a budget and live the best they can within their means. You’d be surprised at how many families would appreciate a little help planning their finances.

A great idea would be to learn to help others budget for college. After all, this is one of the biggest financial decisions a family has to make and they might see some help planning as a wise investment.

5. Teach Music

For those mums who are interested in music, you could always consider being a teacher for private lessons for the instrument of your choice. Not only is this a great way to make some extra money, you’ll probably get some enjoyment out of it too!

In addition, teaching music will help you to keep your own skills sharp. This is because you will be teaching the basics and the theory behind an instrument to someone else, forcing you to practice these rudimentary skills once again.

6. Pet Boarding

Much like child minding, if you love animals, you could always consider animal boarding as a stay at home business. With this business, you would take in other people’s pets and watch them while the owners are away.

You might want to have some restrictions on the animals you’ll take in, though. For instance, you could only take in trained pets. After all, you don’t want to accidentally allow an aggressive animal into your home when you have children around.

7. Freelance Writing

For those mums with writing as a passion, you could always write from home. This is a job with a lot of open opportunities. Whether you want to dedicate your time to writing novels or articles, there is a market for it.

It might take time with freelance writing, as with the other business ideas on this list, to build up a client base. If you’re patient, though, you will find these business ideas can become quite lucrative.

Working from Home – 5 Things I Love

Working from homeBeing freelance can be a really scary prospect at times; the irregular pay, people taking forever to pay your invoices, lack of sick pay or holiday pay and the isolation are all things which weigh heavily on most people who work for themselves. However, there are some amazing upsides to it all as well (otherwise there wouldn’t be so many people who do it!) so I thought I’d make a list of all of my favourite things about working from home:

Lack of Other People

There are times, usually around Christmas, when I quite miss working in an office because of the lack of Christmas do and general excitement, but then I remember how much I’ve disliked certain colleagues in the past! Having to say a forced “hello” every morning to people I don’t like is something that I really do not miss, nor do I miss that march past the smoking shelter where, despite being a non-smoker, you end up stinking of smoke before you get to your desk. Having said that, if they were all to switch to vaping and use the best e-liquids of 2017, I probably wouldn’t mind it so much!

Flexibility

During the holidays, our routine is usually that we get up, Husband and I spend the morning doing a bit of work, we spend the day with the girls and then we both do some more work in the evening once they’re asleep if we have anything left to do. It means that we get to really dedicate time to the girls during the holidays and still get to carry on earning money. We can also work in other places if we need to; I’ve been known to sit on a park bench uploading work in the past!

Cost

When I met Husband, I was working as a payroll clerk in the NHS, and there were times when it felt like I was spending more money that I earned. Between the travel, needing to buy lunch, the daily scone and coffee run by another staff member, the birthdays that everyone had to chip in for, the expenses really totted up. Working from home means no travel expenses, no temptation for mid-morning pastry and the only birthday I celebrate is my own!

Variety

One thing that I love about freelance writing is the variety in my work, and I think this is actually the main reason that I’ve stuck as it for so long. I’m definitely a “variety is the spice of life” kinda girl, and I do get bored with a strict routine or structure, so this aspect of my work is a massive bonus. One day I can be writing about private education, another about a local shopping centre and the next I’ll be writing about high-end beauty products. It keeps my brain ticking and stops me ever getting bored.

Weather

When I worked in an office, the weather always had an impact on my mood. If it was cold or wet, I dreaded the commute and spent all day wishing I was at home, and on sunny days I’d spend the days wistfully looking out of the window dreaming of being outdoors. These days, I don’t have to leave the house (other than school runs) if the weather is rubbish and on lovely days, I can work from the garden if I want to.

Do you work from home? Are there things you love about it that I haven’t listed here? Leave me a comment below.

How Office Layouts Can Affect Your Productivity

When it comes to being productive, I definitely need some help; working for myself whilst caring for a toddler (and an 8 year old…and a 37 year old Husband…!) means that my actual work space is pretty ad-hoc. I use a laptop and tend to use it wherever I can so that Burrito Baby can watch TV or play with her toys, which means that my “office” has been everything from our lounge, the car or even outside on the garden bench whilst the kids are on the trampoline!

What I didn’t know (or maybe just didn’t occur to me, as it makes total sense) is that office layout can affect your productivity and how you arrange a meeting room can also affect how meetings go (see this infographic from jason.l with recommended layouts for meeting rooms). I don’t currently have meetings at home but I do have the occasional Skype or Hangout meeting and having a proper space to conduct these in would be really useful.

The irony is, we DO actually have an office space in our house, I just never use it! Husband has his PC set up in there and our wardrobes and clothes storage are also in there, so it’s a kind of office/dressing room, but everything in there is pretty neutral so it would be ideal for vlogging/Skype. Burrito Baby is starting nursery in September and this will give me the chance to start working at a proper desk and keeping everything I need on one place, rather than searching for my laptop charger every time I get a low battery notification!

I’m looking forward to seeing how this will affect my own productivity. It’s literally been years since I worked at a proper desk with a pen pot and a coaster for my coffee and I’m almost worried that the change from working on a sofa will be TOO different and will actually distract me! I’m so used to all of my work being done with Paw Patrol or Bob’s Burgers playing the the background that working in silence might be too weird – it might be time to invest in a radio!

Do you have a dedicated working space set up at home? Do you actually use it or do you find yourself working on a laptop wherever you can? Have you put a lot of time and effeort into nsuring you have the perfect working space? I’d love to hear from you and see links to posts about your own office so please do leave me a comment below.

Work Rights All Women Need to Know

Protecting yourself at work is something that everyone needs to do. However, it can be even more important for parents because you have a family to support. You need to be aware of your legal rights at any time, but when you’re a parent, you often need to take certain factors into consideration. Parenting can require you to leave work suddenly or need to take time off, among other things. All mums and mums-to-be should be aware of their rights at work, and so should dads. Here are some of the rights you have that you should be familiar with.

Office Business Woman Entrepreneur Notepad Notes

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General Working Rights

There are plenty of working rights that apply to everyone, but that are especially relevant to women. Women are more likely to work on a “zero-hours contract” – 52% of people on zero-hours contracts are women. Women are also much more likely than men to work part-time – nearly three-quarters of part-time workers are women. Because some working rights are affected by the hours you work, such as statutory holiday time, it’s important to be aware of which rights you have. For example, for each day you work in a week, you are entitled to 5.6 days of paid holiday if you’re a permanent employee.

Discrimination

Anyone can be discriminated against in the workplace due to their gender, age, race or ethnicity, disability, religion, or marital status. The 2010 Equality Act is an important piece of legislation to be aware of if you want to know how to spot and combat discrimination at work. The law bans discrimination based on a number of factors in the workplace and during the recruitment process. Women should also be aware that discrimination due to pregnancy is illegal, and that potential employers can’t ask about pregnancy during interviews. Discrimination can be direct or indirect, as well as including harassment and victimisation.

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Maternity and Parental Rights

It’s also important to know about the law surrounding maternity and parenting. Maternity leave and maternity pay are both required under the law for employees counted as workers. This doesn’t include agency workers, casual workers, or anyone on a zero-hours contract. Your statutory maternity leave rights include up to a year’s leave. You must take at least two weeks off, or four if you work in a factory. If your average pay before tax is more than £113 a week, your employee must pay you maternity pay. You might get contractual maternity pay instead, or possibly maternity allowance if you can’t get maternity pay.

Flexible Working Rights

Flexible working is also a common choice for parents. It includes any changes to your normal working hours, including flexitime, working from home, or job sharing. Many mums choose flexible working because it makes parenting and working more manageable. You might be entitled to make a statutory request for flexible working, which must be negotiated using a certain process under the law. You need to be an employee who has worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks.

You should always be knowledgeable about your rights at work. Keep up to date with any changes so that you know what challenges you might face.

Juggling Your Busy Life: Top Tools and Strategies for Work at Home Mums

Work At Home MumWork at home mums must juggle it all; from child care and housework to cooking and working. To make life a little easier, Android have developed a number of apps for mums who are always on the go. Check out these ideas to help you manage your time and minimize your stress.

Keep up With the Weather

When you’re working with a tight schedule, it’s important to know what the weather’s going to be like, so you don’t get caught out in a storm when all you want is an hour in the park with the kids. This versatile app will give you a weather report at a glance, wherever you are in the world and an accurate 7-day forecast. As well as the temperature, it will also tell you air pressure and precipitation, wind speed and direction, sunrise and sunset times and weather radar. Learn more about this great app.

So you Don’t Forget

Little reminders help busy mums stay on top of things. Widget Notes Whiteboard is a great note taking app. Use it for shopping lists, things to do lists, reminders, and memos. It’s really easy to add notes to your home screen. The app has three board colors and three widget sizes.

Take Time Out

Busy mums need to take some time out to relax even if it’s only five minutes every day. The Buddhist Meditation Trainer is your personal trainer for meditation and relaxation. With ten levels of enlightenment and quotes to meditate on every level, you can begin straight away, with just 5 minutes per day. After ten days, you will gain a level of further enlightenment. You can set a daily reminder so you won’t forget to meditate.

Great Family Meals

Favorite Recipes is a great pocket cookbook with thousands of recipes, so you can easily plan your weekly meals. You can search recipes, save your favorites and submit your own recipes. Each meal has directions so cooking couldn’t be easier or more fun. You can also share recipes on Facebook or Twitter.

Keep Track of Bills

From the Creators of Quickbooks, Mint Bills is the easiest way to keep up with bills and have on-hand records of all your payments. You can also monitor your bank accounts and credit cards all in the same place. This is a great way to keep your budget in check so you never have to stress about missing a bill payment. Armed with the same encryption and security standards as your bank, the app is completely safe to use.

Stay Fit

Don’t have time to exercise? Try the 7 Minute Workout. Designed for busy mums like you, this app has a highintensity interval training workout that will get your heart pumping. It is comprised of 12 exercises and all you need to get in shape is a chair and a wall.

Using these apps will boost your productivity and save you time when you’re keeping up with you home office and your family.

Emily Rickard started her own business from home 2 years ago. She has 2 young kids and enjoys the freedom her own business allows her, even when it does get crazy busy!

4 Ways to Take Control of your Career

Workers

Whether you’re not quite satisfied with your current job or you’d like to strike out in a completely different direction work-wise, now’s the time for you to take control of your career. To help you along the way, here are four simple but effective suggestions that should make it easier for you to reach your goals.

  1. Seek ways to enhance your skills

There are lots of ways to improve on your current skill set, and this could prove vital if you’re to land the roles you want. For example, in your current job you might have access to a range of training and development opportunities. Companies are increasingly aware of the importance of providing their personnel with chances to enhance their abilities and many now offer effective support to help their employees do precisely this. They can use resources like BeMore by HR specialists Penna, which is an online portal that aims to motivate workers to become ‘activists’ and take charge of their careers. If you’d like to explore the development opportunities available within your firm, speak to your line manager. Doing this will show initiative and it could be your first step to a more fulfilling professional life.

There may also be courses you can take outside of work. Don’t be put off if you have a busy schedule. Many training programmes are now available online, meaning you can complete them at your own pace. Upskilling will require an investment of time and potentially money, but it will be worth it if it helps you progress.

  1. Use roles as stepping stones

Walking straight into your dream job might not be an option. This means it’s important to be receptive to the idea of using other roles as stepping stones. By taking jobs that help you expand your experience and skill set, you may be able to better position yourself to be able to take advantage of subsequent opportunities in the future. Always consider the transferrable skills that particular jobs will give you when you’re deciding whether or not they’re worth pursuing.

  1. Take advantage of networking opportunities

It’s hard to overstate the importance of building up a network of contacts when you’re looking to enhance your career. Knowing the right person can be the difference between getting the perfect job and not knowing it was even available. There are now a host of networking websites you can use. To take full advantage of these, make sure your profile is up to scratch and spend time reaching out to others via these platforms. You might also benefit from attending professional networking events in your local area.

  1. Keep a positive outlook  

It might not always be easy, but it’s crucial that you keep a positive outlook when you’re trying to take control of your career. Don’t expect miracles overnight; it takes perseverance to meet your targets. By staying upbeat, you should find it easier to maintain the energy and commitment you need to achieve your goals.

Top 5 Ways to Increase Your e-Commerce Sales

ecommerceInternet sales have change the ways people compare and purchase every type of consumer product. Easily increase sales with a few small, inexpensive improvements to your e-commerce site.

  1. E-mail Marketing

Direct marketing by e-mail is the most effective method to reach buyers and get them to interact with your website. As you increase the number of visitors to your site, conversions to sales also increase. Find a free and easy to use newsletter subscription program and install a pop-up on your website that asks people to sign up for your mailing list. Make it worth their while to do so by offering something valuable like online coupons for their participation. Connect your value offer to something important to your customers, like saving money online with exclusive coupons and discount offers.

  1. Establish Trust

Optimize your website and check out processes to build customer trust. People need to feel comfortable giving your site their credit card information to complete a sale. Simple things like using https: rather than http: on the check-out page and having a credibility logo from a company like Norton Security or the Better Business Bureau make a world of difference. Design your web site to incorporate easy to find search bars and logos. Use pictures of real people on the site, including professional photos of yourself on the “About Us” page. Keep the site simple, easy to navigate and free of extra ads and blocks of text.

  1. Use Social Media

Using social media sites like Google +, Facebook and Pinterest is a requirement for modern e-commerce. Tailor your social media marketing strategy to your company and your target demographic. Ensure you have the right pictures, videos and offers on your site to share with the social media world. Keep track of interactions on your social media sites, and make sure to interact with consumers every day. Answer questions and comments posted to your social sites promptly.

  1. Use Coupons and Discounts

Offer regular deals and special coupons and submit these offers to the major coupon sites like couponcodeday.com. Consumers are accustomed to searching the internet for discounts and deals before making purchases, so make sure your offers are easily accessible. You may want to target sales and deals to increase revenues at critical times like end-of-quarter, or you might focus on holiday offers. Some sites create special discount code offers for first time shoppers and frequent buyers. The most common discounts and coupons are for percentages off total shopping cart cost or for free shipping.

  1. Maintain a Consistent Brand Image

Brand your site by using consistent colors, themes and logos in the same places on every page of your site. Do your keyword research, and repeat the keywords throughout the site. Every page or category should also have unique keywords so search engines can send web traffic to pages that match their search strings. Use images that evoke your brand image, the lifestyle and demographics of your customers. Coupons, discounts and special offers can also be tailored to reflect your brand image and increase customer engagement with your website.

5 Awesome Questions to Ask at a Job Interview

job-interview-437026_640With hiring managers and recruiters such as Call Centre Jobs in Manchester looking for suitable candidates to fill a wide range of positions, there’s every possibility you could be headhunted for an interview – particularly if you have a LinkedIn profile or use other social media platforms for professional reasons. Sending your CV off to employers is also a great way to land a job but what happens when you come face-to-face with the big boss?

Well, many people are so nervous and focussed on coming across in a positive way that they forget to ask any questions at all about the job in hand. Being inquisitive will not only show your passion for work it’ll help you assess whether the position is right for you, so don’t be afraid to ask the following:

1. What will the job entail?

As the cost of living rises, employees often have no choice but to clock up long hours with nearly a third of all white-collar workers putting in more than 50 hours a week. This is a significant amount of time to spend away from home, so it’s essential to do something you love to avoid work becoming a chore. One of the best ways to see if a job will suit your wants and needs is to ask for a thorough job description during the interview process. That way you’ll get to know the ins and outs of the role and will be able to make an informed decision before signing a new contract.

2. What skills and experiences would make a great candidate?

Want to find out if you’ve the right skills for the job? Then this is a great question to ask. It will give the interviewer the opportunity to explain what they expect from the successful candidate and will act as a springboard for you to talk about your past experiences. If you’ve anything relevant to say that you didn’t cover in your CV or want to elaborate on a certain point, now’s your time to do it. Keep conversation professional, stick to facts and try not to waffle as you want to keep the person interviewing you interested.

3. Is there room for progression?

If you’re bored of your current job and looking for a new and exciting challenge, make sure you don’t go from one dead-end position to another. Find out if there’s room for progression and promotion within the company and ask how the job offered might develop over the coming year. While you don’t want to come across as a money-hungry, step-over-anyone-for-success kind of person, enquiring about the future will show ambition, enthusiasm and a drive to succeed – attributes which are often found in a promising applicant.

4. Will I be working as part of a team?

Teamwork is an important part of many companies, so check out who you’ll be working with and how many people you’ll be looking after if you’re applying for a managerial role. This will give you a better idea of company dynamics and help you to understand what will be expected from you on a daily basis. Often, companies invite people you’ll be working closely with into the interview room, so you might even meet the whole team on the spot. Don’t be shy to ask the people interviewing you about their career prospects and daily tasks as the more you talk, the more you’ll get an idea if the company is right for you.

5. What is your mission?

To achieve job satisfaction, it’s important to believe in what the company are trying to achieve. If you don’t agree with their goals or mission there’s a high chance you won’t give your all to the position, so always find out at the start what the business is all about.
Of course, you might not land your dream job straight away but if you can at least feel passionate about what you’re doing it will help you to feel happier on a daily basis.

Job interviews are as much for you to find a good role as they are for companies to find a good candidate, so keep your questions professional but ask exactly what you need to know.