Look Up And Leave Your Smartphone Alone

It's been doing the rounds for a few months now but just in case you haven't seen it - I only came across it recently.

Pause for thought ...

Technology is great but it has it's place and real human interactions shouldn't be forgotten or ignored.

Get in touch if technology is taking over your life.

Bartering Your Services

Drawings illustrative of Captain Cook's First ...
Be wary of requests to trade or barter your services.  While it can seem like a good way to get goods or services without spending cash - think carefully.

- Is it really something you want or is useful for you and your business?

- Would you be prepared to pay for it anyway?  There's no point in trading for a product or service you'll never use or don't want.

- Make sure it's a like for like trade and of equal value.

- Be very clear about exactly what they're getting.

People take liberties when they think they're getting something for 'free' and will often push for more.

Make it clear this is a one-off or only applies to this transaction.  Any further work is a separate transaction and requires full payment.  If you've already given away or traded your services once - they may well expect a discount for anything else.

Does the person offering the trade actually value what you do or are they just after a freebie?  If they can't afford you normally, they won't value what you do and are more likely to end up being difficult to work with, quibble over price and ask for more.

One of the businesses I'm working with recently fell foul of this.  They agreed to a trade of equal value.

  • What they got wasn't actually worth it for their business.
  • What they offered was accepted and agreed. But the additional work they took on was changed several times and last minute changes and additions were even made on the day.

Needless to say a discount was also 'assumed' and they were left chasing payment.  Fortunately they've now been paid for most of the work but are still waiting for payment for the additional work completed on the day.

P.S. Be aware of the tax implications of bartering your services.

'Maori bartering a crayfish' (Photo credit: The British Library)

The Right To Flexible Working

flexible storage

From June this year all employees in the UK (who've been employed for 6 months) can now request flexible working.

Just because they can, doesn't mean they will or that it will suit every employee or business.  Don't panic - this could be great for your business.

Flexible working allows people to work in a different way:

  • reduced working hours - either permanently or temporarily
  • compressed hours - contracted hours in fewer (longer) days
  • park time working
  • overtime - to cover peaks in demand
  • working from home - full-time, part-time, occasional
  • job-share
  • different start/end times (flexitime)

You can attract the right people for your business - not everyone wants to work a standard 9-5, five days a week or your business might not need full-time staff.

You'll have a more productive, motivated and loyal workforce if people are able to work hours that fit around their lifestyle or other commitments - childcare, carer, life changes, study etc.

Saves time for travel and commuting which can be quite significant for many people.

Having a flexible working environment in your business could enable you to extend your business hours outside a standard working day by having staff who start early or finish later in the day.  Good for businesses with overseas customers or providers, as they can cover a broader timezone.

Reduces overtime and overhead costs, potentially freeing up office space or reducing the need for expansion.

You build a level of trust with your employees.  Once you've got over the idea they'll be sitting around watching daytime TV, they'll actually get a lot more done if they're working flexibly from home, away from the everyday distractions and interruptions in the office.

What you need to consider:

  • additional costs involved
  • reorganise, managing the existing workload
  • recruiting temporary or agency staff
  • skills and potential within the business
  • impact on quality and performance

Consider the needs of the business and your staff member before making a decision on whether flexible working is appropriate.

Useful resources:

The Right To Request Flexible Working (ACAS Guide)
Code of Practice (ACAS Guide)
Liberating or isolating - working from home
The benefits of flexible working

flexible (Photo credit: darkmatter)