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How will virtual reality impact the education sector?

November 27, 2018

As technology continues to advance, so too does the way we can learn. While the internet has enabled us to conduct research on any subject at ease, our learning spaces and facilities are also improving. Virtual reality is gradually becoming part of many industries and when it comes to schools and colleges, it’s no longer a case of simply sitting at a desk with your books. Here, we look at how VR is impacting the education sector.

Guided tours

Virtual reality allows you to get to know your learning space before you’ve even set foot on the property. An Ofsted report for Newcastle College praised the establishment’s world class facilities, and students are encouraged to take a tour of what’s on offer online.

By offering virtual reality tours,you are opening up your institution to prospective students away from the area as well as those on your doorstep. It can make your centre appear unique and special, helping you stand out from the crowd and is a lot more engaging than simply using photos to promote your space and courses.

Virtual classrooms

Not so long ago, the bulk of the learning experience came from teachers standing at the front of a classroom and students working through a text book. Of course, this still happens, but there are a host of other opportunities available too.

With Open University (OU) courses allowing students to study outside of a classroom, lesson plans can take you anywhere in the world. For example, recently the OU took students to the Great Barrier Reef via virtual reality. The Google Expeditions technology allowed students to go on a virtual field trip to a location which would be near impossible for them to actually visit.

Professor of Learning Technologies and Social Computing, Shailey Minocha, developed the field trips for the OU and said: “Our previous research has shown that the high degree of realism now achievable in virtual field trips complements the physical field trip experience and in imparting fieldwork skills. Virtual field trips also make it possible to experience activities and locations that may be impossible, or extremely difficult, to arrange in real life.”

Reports found that students benefit from class trips, with 72% gaining a better understanding of their subject and two thirds would do better in their exams if they went on excursions. With virtual reality this complex situation will be a lot easier to organise, meaning that virtual trips could become a frequent part of teaching.

Hands-on experience

Hands-on training is key to a student’s learning. Doctors and mechanics, for example, benefit from carrying out ‘on-the-job training’ in work experience and in-class modules. However, due to its complexity, virtual reality can help when it comes to time, cost and controlling the health and safety aspect of this experience. If apprentices or students can take part in surgeries or engine changes in a virtual environment, their learning period will be significantly accelerated. This allows them to learn a potentially dangerous task in a safe environment.

Not only this, but hands-on learning helps to increase learner engagement, helping to activate more parts of the brain, which in turn leads to information being stored for a longer period of time.

If education uses virtual reality wisely, we will see students hugely reap the rewards. Technological advances are providing the tools to change the way we learn and teach, and virtual reality can be a big player in this.  

Sources

https://blog.concept3d.com/top-5-reasons-use-virtual-tours-schools-website

https://www3.open.ac.uk/media/fullstory.aspx?id=30596

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/impact-virtual-reality-education-parag-diwan/

https://www.halsbury.com/useful-guides/benefits-of-school-trips/

https://demmelearning.com/learning-blog/hands-on-learning-benefits/

Business

How to improve productivity in the workplace

November 27, 2018

Procrastination can come at a great cost for businesses. According to research, procrastinating professionals can cost a company up to 36 working days each year, with texting, shopping and browsing social media during work time being top distractions.

So, what exactly can be done to help boost your workforce’s productivity levels. We take a look here with Cliverton, specialists in insurance for dog walkers.

Improve office conditions

Did you ever think that the temperature you set your office at can have an effect on how productive your employees are? The optimum temperature is between 20-21C. Anything outside of this bracket may lead to distractions in concentration, as employees will be more interested in reaching an acceptable body temperature. This could include getting up to put their coat on or playing with the air conditioning system.

Also, the colour you decorate your office can have a significant impact on both morale and productivity. While we may say we are feeling ‘blue’, this primary colour is said to put you at ease in the workplace. It’s said to be an ‘emotionally comfortable’ colour, meaning you’ll be happier if your décor is awash with blue. Green has a similar effect and is most suited to those who are looking for a creative environment. Then there is purple; a colour which can encourage teamwork and creativity. You’ll likely find this, alongside red, in design firms.

It can also be worthwhile introducing standing desks to your office space. Not only is this concept a good way to boost your staff’s productivity, but it also has health benefits. By allowing a colleague to choose or alternate their stance during the working day, you will be showing that you care about their well-being.

Set realistic goals and targets

Introduce SMART goal setting into your workplace. This means you should be specific in your goal, making sure it’s measurable and action-orientated. It should also be realistic and time-bound.

Setting your colleagues targets that are achievable is crucial. Research indicates that goal setting can improve work performance by up to 25%. However, if you introduce goals or targets that aren’t realistic, morale and productivity will nose dive. It’s important that you keep staff focused and on the same track. This can be provided by giving them clear directions and an end goal that is clearly reachable.

Office pet

Have you ever wondered why some workplaces, including Google and Amazon, have their very own pet? Well, research has found that nine out of 10 dog owners are happier in life because of their furry friend. This is because they can help reduce stress levels, and this can also transfer to the office.

Nestlé UK’s head of HR, Paul Steadman said: “Having a dog-friendly workplace encouraged interaction and socialisation between employees who may not have crossed paths otherwise.”

This is important, as a good relationship with co-workers has been found as a major player in job satisfaction. And, as they say: a happy worker is a good worker.

Promote healthy living

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, male workers who are a healthy weight take two days less off due to sickness compared to those who are overweight. Therefore, company benefits, such as the use of a company gym and free fruit, can go a long way to improving productivity. In Google’s New York office, it’s even rumoured that no colleague is ever more than 150 feet away from food because they believe nutrition will keep the productivity levels high.

Team building activities

A good way of increasing productivity in the workplace, is implementing team building activities throughout the year. A day out of office during a busy schedule might not sound like a good idea but in the long run, having a more engaged and happier workforce will be worthwhile to the business. Team development activities should definitely be considered when looking at ways to improve productivity.

Flexible shift patterns

The work/life balance is something that is extremely important, especially to millennials, who are now dominating the workforce. It’s been found that 70% of millennials believe a flexible work schedule is a priority when looking for a new job. Head of Brand and Content at Remote Year, Emily Moyer agrees, stating that “flexible work schedules make you happier”.  

Thanks to flexible shift patterns, a colleague will feel less stressed due to the fact they can easily plan their schedule around their life commitments.

As productivity is crucial to any company, following the above advice can help keep your workers happy. In turn, this will benefit your business and you will reap the rewards. After all, as Richard Branson says: “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

Sources

http://www.onrec.com/news/statistics-and-trends/procrastinating-professionals-costing-businesses-to-36-working-days-a

https://businesstown.com/8-ways-increase-productivity-workplace/

https://www.arnoldsofficefurniture.com/the-3-best-colors-for-office-productivity/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/standing-desks-boost-productivity-not-just-health-study-finds/2016/05/31/b7948390-2358-11e6-8690-f14ca9de2972_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.93f27d0e38cc

https://cmoe.com/blog/improve-productivity-with-goal-setting/

https://smallbusiness.co.uk/office-dog-boost-productivity-2540616/

https://www.boostability.com/how-to-boost-office-productivity

https://www.britishgas.co.uk/business/blog/how-healthy-eating-can-help-boost-your-workforces-productivity/

http://www.talk-business.co.uk/2017/06/09/why-9-5-is-no-longer-the-way-to-make-a-living-flexible-work/

https://www.digitalistmag.com/future-of-work/2017/06/16/remote-future-9-to-5-thing-of-past-05147028

Business

The Skills You Need To Land A Remote Working Job

November 26, 2018

Working remotely is very convenient because you can get your work done anywhere and save money on a daily commute. However, there are some basic skills you need to have if you plan on working remotely.

Here are some of the required skills for those who want to work remotely.

Self-Motivation

If you want to work remotely, you have to be able to motivate yourself. If you work in an office, you will have supervisors who make sure you get the job done by the required time, but when you work remotely, complacency can set it and if you can’t motivate yourself to get the job done, you will be out of work very quickly.

Strong Communication Skills

Working remotely means you will be doing a lot of work from your computer. If you have difficulty communicating through your writing, working remotely will be difficult to do because that will be your primary means of communication.

Reliable Equipment

One of the most important things to have when you work remotely is reliable equipment, which means you should have a good computer that won’t freeze or crash on you while you are working, and as fast and reliable internet connection. Your employer and customers expect efficiency from you and if you don’t have access to reliable internet connection or a computer that is up to the task, you will have to reconsider your plan to work remotely.

Comfortable Working Alone

Since you will be working remotely, you will have to be comfortable working on your own. People working in offices usually get to work with their colleagues and interact with them on a daily basis. As a remote worker, you won’t be able to interact with people on a regular basis, which is fine for some people but problematic for others.

If you need to be around other people to be more productive, working remotely might not be the best option for you. If you work better on your own and don’t need to be around people to be productive, you should give working remotely a try.

Tech Savvy

With most work being done digitally these days, being tech-savvy is a must. If you’re still grappling with using Microsoft office, you might want to stick with what you are already doing. If you are comfortable with computers, social media, and other new technology, you should be okay.

For those who need some help with the skills listed above, you can acquire these skills through training. If you’re interested in being trained, visit EssentialSkillz to learn some tips on how to work remotely.

Business

Choosing the Perfect Conference Venue

November 16, 2018

If you want to have a conference, the venue is very important regardless of if the conference is for your employees, customers, potential clients or a big launch. One of the reasons why the conference venue is important is the fact that you want to make a good impression. If you’re trying to woo potential clients and pick the wrong venue, chances are they will go with someone else.

Before you plan your next conference, here are some tips to help you pick the perfect venue.

Location

If you own a business, you understand the importance of being in the right location. You want your business to be in a safe area where there is plenty of traffic. The same thing goes for the location of your conference, you want it somewhere people can easily get to without getting lost in the wrong side of town.

If the conference will take a few days, have it in a place that has hotels, restaurants, museums, or even a shopping district so the attendees have something to do when they aren’t at the conference.

Venue

The venue of your conference should depend on how many people you are expecting to attend. You don’t want to rent a large hall when you have less than 30 people attending and you don’t want to rent a place with a seating capacity of 100 when you are expecting close to 500 people. Have an idea of the number of people attending and rent a venue that will fit everyone comfortably.

You can find a suitable venue for your next conference through www.partyhouses.co.uk. They offer small or large conference venues in the uk which are perfect to suit business needs.

Parking

This is a big deal for a lot of people attending conferences because most people do not enjoy having to walk long distances to their cars when they attend conferences or pay too much to park nearby. Pick a venue that either has its own parking lot or has one within a short distance. If you can’t find a venue with available parking lots, you can arrange for a shuttle to pick people up at another parking lot and drop them off at the end of the day.

Venue Fees

Unless you’re the CEO of a very successful business, the venue fee is something you have to consider when finding the perfect conference venue. You should have a budget before you begin your search and make sure the venue you rent fits into the budget.

Catering

If you’re going to have people sit around for hours listening to what you’re trying to sell, the least you can do is feed them. You can either hire an outside catering crew or use the in-house caterers. Some venues don’t allow outside caterers, which means you have to use their crew.

If you are thinking of having a conference, these tips should help you pick the perfect venue for the event.

Business

The importance of security for any business

October 15, 2018

If you run or manage any kind of business, then security is one of the main things to get right. It will not only help to protect your employees and sensitive business systems but also any customers on your premises. With this in mind, it is very important to consider all aspects of your organizations security set-up and if you have the necessary measures in place.

While much is rightly made of online security, you should also remember that physical security is still important. Being able to combine both security aspects into one overall plan will help your business remain secure and fulfill your responsibilities as an employer.

What makes security so vital for business?

To really get a sense of why security is such an essential element for any business, you have to dig into the fine details. Here are some good reasons why it is something you should pay attention to:

  • Firearm safety – gun detection is an increasingly serious issue in society. That is especially true for businesses where irate customers or thieves could suddenly arrive with a gun to threaten staff. Being able to provide the security to deal with that kind of threat is essential to keep employees safe and prevent gun crime. The latest security camera systems now use AI technology to spot a criminal wielding a gun and will alert the police automatically!
  • Keep staff safe – as well as CCTV systems to help secure your premises, having physical security is also essential for some businesses. The physical presence of security staff will protect employees from verbally or physically abusive customers and deter people from entering premises to commit crime. It will also give customers and staff members peace of mind that someone is around to keep them safe.
  • Protect business systems and data – cybersecurity is very important for all businesses now. This helps to keep your sensitive customer data safe from malicious hackers along with stopping competing businesses from stealing commercial secrets from you. A robust online security strategy is essential for keeping your business safe.
  • Prevent thefts – of course, a major reason that you need security for your business is when no-one is on the premises. Whether it is a CCTV system or employing security patrols to check for you, effective security will deter thieves from trying to break in and steal your stock. It will also help prevent vandals from causing damage to your work premises or property.
  • Evidence of crimes – although modern security systems cut down on the need to actually review footage or sit watching what is happening to detect crime, CCTV systems are still very useful for recording evidence of incidents. That can then be passed to the relevant authorities to help identify the offenders.

Do not neglect security for your business

To run a business that has happy, safe staff in an environment that customers also feel safe visiting, adequate security is vital.

Business

Unrecognisable brands which operate around the world

September 20, 2018

Thanks to marketing, everywhere we go we see familiar brands we love. However, some of these brands give their products different names around the world for a variety of reasons.

For example, people in the United States who enjoy Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies can find them easily in any grocery store across the country. However, if they were in South America or Europe, it won’t be as easy to find because they are known as Choco Krispis and Choco Krispies respectively.

In Australia, Burger Kings are known as Hungry Jack’s, and in Canada, KFC is known as PFK.

Online brand, Data Label, recently conducted research on why some brands have different names across the world and released a report explaining why this happens. They also designed an infographic showing the different names brands use for their products around the world.

One of the biggest reasons brands change the name of their products in different countries is language. Going back to the Kentucky Fried Chicken example, the restaurant is known as PFK in Quebec, a French-speaking region, because local laws required the restaurant to take the initials of the French translation, which is Poulet Frit Kentucky.

Another reason brands change names in different countries is because of existing trademarks and brands. When Burger King was expanding internationally, the company was able to use its name in most countries. However, when they expanded to Australia, they had to change the name of their restaurants to Hungry Jack’s because the name Burger King was already in use. The company decided to name the restaurants Hungry Jack’s after Jack Corwin, an Australian franchisee.

Brands also have to change product names around the world because of translation issues. American auto company Chevrolet had trouble selling the Chevy Nova in Latin America because the name didn’t translate well in Spanish.

In Spanish, “no va” translates to “doesn’t go,” which isn’t the best way to market a car you’re trying to sell. Due to the translation problem, the Chevy Nova did not sell well and had to be pulled from the market.

In some countries, brands change the name of their products because of different connotations. In the United States you will find Diet Coke in stores, but in Europe, it is called Coca-Cola Light because Europeans associate the word “light” with lower calories than they do the word “diet.”

Business

Reasons Why You Should Book a Caterer Instead of Doing it Yourself

September 17, 2018

Weddings are a magical celebration of love that brings all of your friends and family together for one amazing night. While you are destined to spend a lot of time planning the wedding, just as much time will be spent organizing the reception. One of the most important decisions concerning the wedding reception will be the food options. You may be interested in cooking the food yourself to save a little money, but this will turn out to be a horrible decision. These are the four reasons you must book a caterer for your wedding.

Reduce Your Stress

Planning the wedding is bound to be the most stressful part of your entire life, so there is no reason to add more stress to the entire experience. It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare a special meal for all of your friends and family. The cooking must also be done shortly before the wedding, which can create absolute chaos. Once you hire a wedding caterer, you will never have to worry about the food and drinks again. Stress-free wedding catering allows you to focus on more pressing matters instead of working in the kitchen.

Better Food Options

You may think that you are an excellent cook, but you likely will not be able to top the dishes created by a top-notch catering company. They will also offer an extremely versatile menu that ensures you will please everyone in attendance. Executing a big menu for a large number of guests is simply too hard of a task for a normal home to pull off, especially when you are about to get married. You will have plenty of time to cook for your new spouse, so let the professionals handle it on your wedding night.

No Clean Up Required

Cooking all of the food is hard enough, but there will also be a massive cleanup project required without a catering company. Since it would be uncouth to ask the wedding guests to help clean up after the reception, you will be forced to do all of the cleaning. You do no want to spend your wedding night cleaning dishes and throwing away trash when you should be enjoying some alone time with your new spouse. A professional catering company will handle all of the cleanup on your big day, which will let you get right to the honeymoon.

Create a Special Atmosphere

Your wedding is supposed to a be an extremely special moment, so you need to have the right atmosphere at the reception. It is impossible to achieve the right atmosphere if you are serving homemade dishes to your guests. The entire reception will feel like a cheap family get-together no matter how much work you put in the food. Make your wedding reception an eloquent party that everyone will fondly remember for the rest of their life. There is no better way to achieve this than by having a wait staff serve the food and drinks.

Business

How can uniform affect work productivity levels?

September 17, 2018

As you may have noticed, work place uniform policy isn’t as strict as it once was. It used to be the case that a typical nine-to-five worker would wear a smart suit and briefcase. But, as times have changed, so has our work attire. In fact, many companies are happy to let their employees dress in business casual attire or what they feel comfortable in. Is it affecting productivity, though?

The new generation

With a new generation beginning their working life, new opinions come to the workplace. And, it seems as though this age group is more protective over identity and style of dress and are opposed to being told what to wear.

It’s not uncommon for ‘business casual’ to be the dress code around the office. But how can it be defined? It’s a style that’s smart but not too formal. This might be a men’s suit without a tie, navy trousers and loafers. For women it could be a smart blouse with cropped, tailored trousers and flat shoes.

Dress code can influence employees’ work satisfaction. In fact, more than one in ten people aged 18-24 said that they had considered quitting their job due to a strict dress code. Older employees, however, do not share the same strong views. Only 7% of those aged 55 and over said that they would think about leaving their employment because of the dress code. Compare this to 17% of 18-24s and it’s clear to see a divide. It might depend on which sector you operate in as to how your staff feel about uniform. Those working in the energy sector (32%), science and pharma sector (31%) and IT sector (29%) are most likely to leave their role due to dress code requirements, one study discovered.

Considering these statistics, moving forward should company bosses scrap their dress code? Quite possibly. Employers are aware of how high staff turnover can have great cost and productivity implications. Costs incur during the recruitment process as the position is advertised and time is spent by employers interviewing and selecting candidates. Having a dress code may deter candidates too — 61% of people looking for a new job in 2017 said that they’d have a negative perception of any company that enforced a dress code. Productivity also takes a hit, as often a current employee has to spend time training the new starter or letting them shadow their day-to-day activities — this can prevent existing workers from working to their maximum capacity.

An increase in creative companies is also leading to more of a flexible uniform policy. In fact, between 2010 and 2016, the creative industries sub sectors (i.e advertising, film and TV) grew their economic contribution by 44.8%. Dress code is often less strict in these companies, as employees are encouraged to express their ‘creative flair’.

What about productivity?

What you choose to wear can influence the way you act and think.

During one experiment, subjects were presented with a white coat and told different things. The participants that were told it was a doctor’s coat, felt more confident in accomplishing tasks compared to those that were told they were wearing a painter’s coat. Other research shows that wearing more formal clothing can make people think more broadly.

Of course, as with most things, it depends on the person. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, wears the same casual clothes every day and runs a company worth billions of dollars. He says that dressing in this way gives him one less decision to make and allows him to focus on more important workplace decisions.

What effect does this have on productivity? The majority of UK workers said that they would feel more productive and put more effort into their appearance if there wasn’t a strict dress code — this is according to a study by Stormline. Moreover, 78% of respondents to one survey said that they would still make an effort to dress well and wouldn’t blur the line between ‘work clothes’ and ‘non-work clothes’ if there weren’t any rules on what to wear.

What do we recommend for businesses?

Taking on board what we’ve found out, it’s clear to see that it depends on the employee as to whether they should follow dress code.  Of course, it could depend on an individual’s role. First impressions still, and most likely will, always count. If employees are in a client-facing role, it’s important to look professional and approachable — they are effectively representing the business and should be making it look good.

One good tip would be for bosses to ask their employees how they feel about uniform policy. This could be the best indicator of whether a uniform is best for the business or not. As we’ve seen, uniforms can affect behaviour at work and it is down to the individuals as to whether they work best following, or not adhering to, a dress code.