What to do with the money from the office “change jar”

Many offices have a system in place where certain words or behaviours are restricted from being said or done in the office. And should an employee go against these “rules”, they are to place a pre-approved amount of money in the change jar. Over time, one can imagine how quickly these spare change jars fill up and how much has actually accumulated.

And we say jars (plural) because it’s popular to have one per department so that the entire office can take part and hold each other accountable. Not to mention having multiple jars for different occasions such as an “I forgot to put my phone on silent” jar or an “I can’t” jar. The jars could be relevant to the behavioural problems of each department.

There are many things people could do with all that change and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Cook for the office

The department who’s jar is full first is responsible for heading down to the local grocery store and buying ingredients to make some food for the rest of the office. Either that or they are responsible for stocking up on office supplies and ingredients that can be used in the future for when there’s enough of everything to cook a large meal. Maybe for something like the end of the month get together?   

Find easy recipes that can quickly be thrown together to create something delicious for the entire office. A few ideas include:

  • Breakfast muffins: These are quick and easy to make and just require a bit of preparation before throwing it all together and placing it in the oven. You can use whatever ingredients you like, but most breakfast muffins include bacon, mushrooms, cheese and, of course, egg. The egg is what will hold it together when you put the mixture into the muffin tray holder and the result will be an omelette-tasting “muffin”.
  • Regular muffins: Then there’s also the option of baking treats for everyone and buying premixes for chocolate, vanilla and maybe some bran for the healthier employees.
  • Burgers: If you have enough money to make a proper meal, the team could come together and prepare burgers for the office. Buy some beef patties, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese slices, tomato sauce and anything else you’d like to add to the burger. Don’t forget some Maggi seasoning cubes to boost the flavour of the patties as you cook them. It makes it effortlessly delicious and is definitely one of those ingredients for the office to stock up on.

Save it for the next birthday

If the office is always “too busy” to spend a few minutes in the kitchen, the change jar money could be saved up and used for the next employees birthday. It can go towards balloons, a card, a cake and possibly a little gift as well (depending on how naughty or nice the office has been leading up to the birthday).

This is a great way to make their birthday a special and it guarantees everyone will at least get something from the office on their birthday.

Start an “office party fund”

As an alternative to birthday celebrations, you could save up the money in the change jars throughout the year and use what has been raised to organise a memorable year-end function. It will essentially be an office party fund to keep employees motivated and excited to do well and push on to the end of the year.

Another option would be to start an office entertainment fund and save towards fun gadgets, goodies and games to bring into the office. Think along the lines of a foosball table, table tennis or some really cool bean bags to set up a chill zone for the much-needed relief breaks.

Donate to a charity

The point of a change jar is to change bad or irritating habits in the office, so it’s only appropriate to use the change to make a change outside of the office as well. Use the money from the change jar to donate to a charity or a charitable cause. If, for example, there is someone in the office who is struggling financially or has undergone a traumatic experience, that money could be used towards helping them out.

The money could also, as was said, be donated to a charity of the offices choice. It could even be used to host a charitable event such as a soup kitchen, street store or blanket drive. Depending on the amount of money raised, it could possibly be used to sponsor an event or an underprivileged school.

There are so many benefits to donating resources to charities and, in any case, your company has a social responsibility to its community. And this is a great way of getting everyone involved. The problem comes in when people insist on getting away with inappropriate behaviour by justifying that “it’s for a good cause”. Employers might want to monitor that.

Things to consider before buying a new laptop

When it comes to laptops, there is such a vast range to choose from.

A few of the most common and influential factors when purchasing electronics are size, space and brand.  Of course, the type of product you buy is determined by its use, but ultimately, it just needs to suit your needs. The first thing you should consider before splurging on a new laptop is your budget.

These items can range from R5000 to R50 000, so if you’re not sure on what your needs are, and the different features you require, it can quickly become an expensive affair. For example, do you plan on using your new laptop for work in a PowerPoint presentation or on the weekends for gaming? These (amongst others) are the types of questions you’re going to need to ask yourself.

Luckily, the latest technological advancements have ensured that each and every laptop produced is equally good-looking, so even if you can only afford something cheaper, it will still look sleek and modern. Here are a few tips to help you wrap your head around your laptop needs:

Size: When you think of a laptop’s size, you usually refer to its actual shell. If the ‘size’ of your laptop is the main concern, you should consider a notebook that is either light in weight or has a small screen. There are various sizes to choose from, and smaller or thinner laptops don’t always mean that it’s slow and offers little space. For future, the thinnest and lightest systems are 11- to 12-inch screens which weigh an average of 1.5 kilograms. The bigger the screen, the more the machine will weigh.

Screen quality: When you decide to purchase a new laptop, you also need to consider your health. You cannot simply buy something cheap because you can’t afford more. This will affect your eyes. Most people who use a laptop will be in front of it for many hours in a day, so you need to make sure that the screen’s resolution is good to look at and comfortable on your eyes. A glossy screen will lead to a reflection, so refrain from buying a laptop which has a touchscreen incorporated into it. Newer technology offers different viewing angles, so experience a collection before you make your pick.

Keyboard quality: Having a notebook is ideal for quick typing sessions, for example, sending off an email here and there. If your job or hobby requires you to spend hours typing away, you will need to have a high-quality keyboard which can withstand all the typing you’re going to be doing. Your keyboard should also be responsive in touch when you type and let the keys go, and the entire board should offer backlighting to help you see the keys better in poorly lighted areas.

Processor and graphics: Now, a little more technical. The processing unit and the graphics card your computer possesses will contribute to its efficiency. Again, if you’re going to be using your laptop to play games or watch movies, you’re going to need to purchase a laptop which is more powerful. (Many laptops come with already built-in graphics cards.) While these two elements are important for visual usage, RAM and storage are more important for the average laptop user who simply wants to store large files and not have to deal with a laptop that freezes every now and then.

RAM and storage: If you’re using your laptop for work purposes to store plenty of files, you might need to consider more storage space in the years to come. However, if you store most of your information on online platforms such as Google Drive or the Cloud, you won’t need to create new storage space. With RAM, on the other hand, the faster your laptop is, the better. These upgrades will come with time.

Battery life: Having a laptop with a reliable battery life is essential. It’s important to know that you can rely on your laptop when you’re travelling around, without having to send it in for repairs after a few months because it’s been overworked. When you research the laptop you are interested in, be sure to find out about the battery life and how much a spare battery would cost down the line.

Conclusion:

As you can see, gone are the days where you simply buy any kind of electronics straight off the bat. Make a checklist of all the features you need, and keep looking out for any laptop deals which could meet your requirements. Try and find something brand new before you delve into second-hand goods, as new laptops for sale will offer the warranty you need.  

How to control a security control room

Many businesses have a security control room, either on their premises or at another remote location. The benefit of having a security control room overlooking your business security is that it brings a sense of, well, security and safety to all those who work there or have invested in the company.

Other benefits besides peace of mind include monitoring and recording suspect activity in order to carry out the appropriate security procedure and to provide evidence in the event of a theft or liability claim. Security control rooms secure all the business assets from products to people and even the building itself. This level of security is incredibly valuable as long as you know how to properly implement and control it.

Here’s what you need to know about security control room requirements. Make sure your company’s control room is adequately equipped and ready to do the job.

The right design

Security control room design is an important aspect of the functioning of the room. First of all, you need to make sure that the control room space is large enough for all the equipment and for the comfort of the console operators. In the next section, we’ll be talking about all the equipment needed in the control room and that will prove to you why size matters.

The next design aspect has to do with lighting. Without the correct lighting, you run the risk of over-working control room operators’ eyes. There should be a controllable amount of natural light in the room and dimmable LED lights. You need to think about the light reflecting on the monitors and the visual comfort of the operator. There also needs to be insulation to block out some of the outside noise if the surrounding environment to the room is loud.

Next, we come to the design layout of the equipment itself and how there should always be a clear line of sight from desks to monitors, regardless of the operator’s location in the room. The video wall or bulk monitors need to be able to be seen from almost all angles without any obvious obstructions. And while we’re talking about the desks and workspace, it needs to be organised and free from clutter as far as possible. There will be plenty of wires, keyboards and controllers that need to be organised to free up the workspace and encourage a productive environment.

And then there are the few décor rules that need to be addressed. Lighting is one of them, which we’ve already discussed, and wall colour is another. There are certain colours that encourage alertness and aren’t a distraction from the task at hand. Neutral grey and cream colours are the better options and won’t add to the visual strain already set by the monitors.

The right equipment

Now, it’s not possible to have a security control room without the necessary control room equipment. You need to make sure that your console and its software are suited to your company and its security needs.

You need to consider whether you will have height adjustable consoles and workstations for your operators so they can alternate between sitting and standing throughout their, generally, 12-hour shift. The chairs and desks need to be ergonomically designed along with the setup of the keyboards and monitors.

The right equipment for a security control room won’t really be effective if ergonomics aren’t considered. Ergonomics is important in any workspace environment, which includes the control room. If not more so, considering the long shifts operators have to work and the fact that their job mainly consists of staring at and working with multiple monitors.

The right staff

 

Hiring for your security control room should be taken seriously. You’ll find that many security control room companies offer control room operator staff as part of the package. Or they will be able to recommend training qualifications which your security staff would need to complete.

It can be more than just looking at a screen all day and it’s a job that comes with a whole lot of responsibility. You need the right staff for your fully equipped and efficiently-designed security control room. People who will be able to handle the shift schedule (which should also be designed with productivity in mind), who are able to handle and control a security situation and who are capable of documenting necessary data.

A security control room is exactly what your company needs in order to be efficient and effective. Knowing that there are security measures in place and people (literally) watching over you is comforting and frees your mind from fear to let you focus on work.

If you already have one, make sure it’s got everything it needs. And if you don’t have one yet, well, it’s about time to start investing in one. You now have all the necessary information to ensure both quality and success in controlling your security control room, after all.

Vital leadership skills every small business owner needs

Being a small business owner means that, other than entrepreneurial spirit, you will need to have leadership skills to succeed. You will need to be able to lead your team with ease and have an understanding of all aspects of your business, including financial accounting and marketing. If you are not sure what, exactly, being a leader entails, below are just some of the vital leadership skills you will need as a small business owner.

Organisation

Arguably one of the most important leadership skills you will need is organisational skills, and this pertains to every aspect of your business. Keeping your workspace neat and tidy will help to calm your mind, and keeping your business data in order will help to make your work more streamlined.

Keeping everything organised will help you to quickly access information and make quicker business decisions. You will need to be able to organise your contact information, tasks, sales information, and all the other moving pieces involved in bringing in new business, as well as understand your financial situation. This can be done by taking a diploma in financial accounting. An organised business is one that performs well and provides customers with outstanding service and experience.

Effective communication skills

Being able to communicate with your employees and your customers is essential to the smooth running of any small business. Communication is equal parts talking and listening, with listening being vital for meeting with employees and clients.

As a business owner, you can build your success by being able to communicate your goals clearly to your team so that they are able to implement them. Listening to the opinions of the people on your team will also enable you to become a better boss, and it can improve your business operations. Without the ability to communicate your value to potential clients, you are unable

Confidence

Confidence is more of a personal attribute than a skill, but it is important nonetheless. Without confidence, you are unable to inspire trust and respect in your employees and customers. Leaders need confidence in order to make decisions and stick to them.

Self-confidence is important for small business owners as you will need to convince clients to use your skills and buy your products. If you are not confident in your business and in yourself, this will shine through in your business and will increase your profits. Confidence is an attribute that is inherent in entrepreneurs and can be built on with courses and conferences.

Strategic thinking

Thinking strategically is important to  the success of any business. This means that not only do you have a vision for your business but the ability and drive to move forward with this vision. You are able to think on your feet and use all the information available to come up with a plan of action to reach your goals.

Strategic thinking is a leadership skill that can be applied to your entire business, such as marketing and finances. Strategic marketing means that you will look at what is trending in the media and use this to your advantage in your campaign. Using strategic thinking financially could mean that you take financial accounting courses in order to better understand your bookkeeping process.

Emotional intelligence

Being emotionally intelligent means that you are able to understand and control your emotions. It will help you to understand yourself and those around you, namely your employees and your clients. It also means that you are able to act diplomatically rather than simply following a whim or an emotional reaction.

Having empathy is a part of having emotional intelligence, and empathy is what drives a small business that wants to connect with customers and give them the best customer experience possible. You should be able to effectively demonstrate emotional intelligence and use it to form connections with your employees and clients. Emotional intelligence also means that you are better able to make smart business decisions with your head rather than your heart.

The ability to adapt

Having the ability to adapt to difficult situations is vital for any small business owner. Change in the economic environment is constant, and being unable to adapt to these changes is highly detrimental to your business success. The ability to adapt also means you need to have the ability to embrace change, too.

Leaders are also able to implement changes easily and efficiently in their business. You should be able to do this without disturbing the organisation’s balances and should provide your staff with help as they strive to adapt to these changes too. Adaptability is highly important in this digital world we live in, especially for small business owners.

6 effective tips for managing your time at work

Sitting at your desk and watching the time tick on is one of the most common, shared frustrations amongst employees. While there are certainly days when you’re extremely productive and ready to take on the day like a champion, there are other days when you can’t think about anything worse.

Well, there are various reasons why you cannot concentrate, for example, you’re tired, emotional, hungry or simply don’t have the drive to move forward on that particular day. It’s perfectly normal to experience these symptoms every once in a while, however, when it becomes a frequent thing, it’s a problem.

In order to get rid of those ‘where did the time go’ moments, and not in a good way, here are a few tips and tricks to improve the productivity of your working day and your life as a whole.

  • Organise your life

We’re all aware of the term ‘time management’ which might, in fact, be a myth, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to how organised you are. There are only 24 hours in a day, so if you have responsibilities and requirements beyond work, make sure you wake up early and kickstart your day on the right foot. It’s important to remember that your time is your own. You are in control of what you’re able to get done in a day, so once you learn to prioritise your time, you won’t be able to blame anyone.

  • Find out where you’re wasting time

Often times people leave work thinking ‘where did the time go’ when you know you’ve worked hard with little interruptions but you still can’t seem to get your work done. In these cases, you need to take a step back and reevaluate your activities. Perhaps you’re wasting precious time doing things that are absolutely unnecessary? Or you’re spending too much time doing admin or research which is stealing good, valuable time. Now, both these tasks might play an important role in your job, but if they’re causing you to slack in other areas then you certainly need to take a step back and start time tracking your tasks.

  • Align your surroundings with your goals

The old school to-do list is one of the best ways to manage your time and set goals. The first goal you set should be organising and cleaning your desk. Once you declutter your space, you will be able to sort out your priorities and plan accordingly. If you want a clock at your desk, there are many modern wall clocks in South Africa that you could order online to spruce up your desk space. The same goes for any other space in the office. Take the kitchen, for example. Small things such as kitchen accessories and, again, modern wall clocks in South Africa are a few of the essential items you need to make a difference to yours’ and your colleagues’ space. After all, you spend the majority of your life at the office, so you need to purchase any kitchen utensils for sale and office accessories that will give your working space a revamp.

Another tip with work goals is filtering out any negativity in your personal life. At the end of the day, you spend most of your time in front of your computer or speaking to clients, so if you’re struggling with personal challenges, you’re going to need to focus on them before you can eliminate them. Personal behaviour always has a way of interfering with your work life, so clear your head before you set goals.

  • Use time management tools

Some companies make use of computer time tracking tools where employees are required to track their every task. As far as organisational tools go, make use of digital calendars and event scheduling to remind you about particular tasks. You will also be able to manage project success online as you ensure that whatever process you use works best for what your daily tasks are. It should also be trackable, so that you can be fully aware of your performance, and what you should be doing better.

  • Prioritise your days

Each morning, you need to prioritise your tasks for the day. Be realistic with your pace and with how many tasks you think you’re going to get to. Within saying this, you need to prioritise properly. Learn how to allocate your time according to urgent and least urgent so that you can make a concerted effort to work on tasks that play a bigger role. At the end of the day, having an organised and structured approach to your day will make you feel more focused on achieving your goals.

  • Learn to delegate

People who enjoy being independent and doing everything themselves will understand how difficult it is to delegate their work to other members of the team. If this sounds like you, you need to make an effort to pick up this skill and learn to be okay with passing work on to others for your own personal state of mind. It’s not always ideal having to delegate your work, especially when you want to finish something yourself, but if everyone has to rely on you all the time you’re going to have a breakdown. The problem with doing everything yourself is that one day an issue is going to arise which is going to set you back, so rather accept assistance and focus on completing what you can to the best of your ability.

Final words

As a result, there are so many different ways to be more productive in the workplace. As they say, time is money, and it’s important to take control of your time and maximise your days to their full potential. Once you’ve set your mind to something, it’s up to you to achieve it.