How to Help Your Employees Start Their Day Right

Look after your employees and they will look after your customers, your business and, of course, you. Being a boss is a hefty responsibility, but it doesn’t need to be as hard as you might think it is. Keeping employees happy is simply a matter of giving them a comfortable, happy, interesting working environment, and offering that perfect work/life balance that everyone craves. If you can get that right, you’ve got it made.

 

To begin with, your office needs to be somewhere that people want to go to; you want them to get out of bed in the morning and look forward to getting into work. It’s the first step to happy employees, so how can you help your employees start their day right?

 

Breakfast

Even though we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, around half of the British population skip it. The reasons behind missing out and getting to work hungry are numerous, ranging from lack of time to not finding an appetite until later on. Getting into the office and ploughing straight on with work without having any food is a bad idea – productivity will be lower, and people will need to take a break sooner due to hunger and fatigue.

 

So why not provide a breakfast for your employees? It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but laying out a selection of cereals and pastries that they can help themselves to means better concentration levels and happier employees. If people are health conscious, then provide an array of milk (full-fat, semi-skimmed, coconut, almond, etc.) and have a large bag of porridge oats they can heat up in the kitchen microwave.

 

Coffee

Having a quality coffee machine in your office is something that employees will really appreciate. Make sure you include good coffee grounds too, so your staff can pour themselves a cup of delicious coffee whenever they feel the need. Free coffee is incredibly important, and is a great way for your employees to take a break while replenishing their mugs. There are even specific online shops such as office-coffee.co.uk that can help you work out exactly which machine is best.

 

Positivity

Teaching your employees positivity is an excellent idea. It’s about visualising how you want your day to go, and allowing that day to happen. It may sound a little ‘out there’, but it sets the tone for the day and puts everyone in a good mood, so it certainly won’t hurt. You could even do it in the form of a morning pep talk, letting your employees know that you’re proud of their work and that you expect good things from them. It’s amazing what a bit of positive thinking and praise can do.

 

Exercise

Exercising before work is a good thing to do. It wakes the body and mind, and it gets the ideas flowing ready for a productive day. The only problem is, who has time to go to the gym before the working day starts? Not many people, that’s for sure! So why not bring the gym to the office? Incentivise your staff to come in a little early (or allow for a more flexible working schedule) and arrange an exercise class first thing, if space permits it. It could be anything from boxercise to yoga. Even losing 45 minutes or so of the working day to exercising can actually mean that your employees’ productivity increases, so in the end, they get more work done in less time. Alternatively, if you don’t want exercise to eat into your working hours, then offering flexi-time so employees can come in earlier (or work later) and schedule work around exercise. By doing so, you can make a huge difference to your employee’s spirits and productivity.

I’ve been threatened with legal action!

It came as a bit of surprise to me, a bolt out of the blue in fact. There I was simply minding my own business, reading my book and listening to some music when the sudden threat of immediate punishing legal action hit me.

 

BAM!

The five year old wasn’t happy that he had to have a bath, and wasn’t going to have any truck with my attempts to get him in to it:

“I’m calling my lawyer, you’re going to prison! You’ll regret making me have a bath!”

Stone me, I never thought it would come to this. Goodness knows where he’s got that from either, we’re not a litigious household. We once contacted a lawyer over a constructive dismissal case but were told that the employer would just stretch it out until the claim (which we had good grounds to win) was exceeded by the legal costs, so we didn’t bother. Other than that, it’s been house moves and wills and nothing else.

I managed to talk him down by promising to read his bed time story but it was a close thing. I need to be more careful next time!

Review: Colt Express

So I’m three games in to my Board Game Club membership and I’ve had three distinctly different games so far. CodeNames was fun, a sort of Guess Who/card game hybrid and Ticket to Ride Europe, which was great fun once we worked out what was going on. The third, Colt Express, is different again. As someone who’s spent 30+ years playing Risk, Monopoly and Scrabble, I’m a bit gobsmacked by the variety on offer!

The closest analogy I can think of for Colt Express is a turn based strategy video game like the famous Civilisation- I never thought I’d come across a board game that used the same mechanism. Okay, Risk is turned based but it’s not as complicated or nuanced as Colt Express because it’s basically about moving troops and invading places, Colt Express actually has a different game mechanic thanks to the 3D board. View Full Post

Not going out is the new battleground

We went out the other day as a family. This is unremarkable for most families but it’s becoming an increasing rarity for us. The battle lines have been drawn. We were lucky enough to go to a press screening of Paddington 2 the other week but one child sulked all the way through because he wanted to stay at home instead of being dragged in to London for a cinema outing that would have cost us around 80 quid had we paid for it (and the snacks we had).

It came to a head on fireworks night where only one child actually wanted to come and see the fireworks. We’d been out most of the afternoon at a Playstation Event, playing games and stuffing ourselves with food. It wasn’t as if there was even a game or code for one in the goody bag Sony kindly provided, so there wasn’t really an excuse for wanting to sit around but the kids put there foot down. I know from bitter experience there is little or no point fighting this as our lives will be made a simple misery.

The next challenge is to work out how to stop this happening in the first place I suppose.

Review: Scalextric BTCC Touring Car Battle Racing Set

When I was offered a Scalextric set to put in front of the kids, my first thought was wow! I used to have a lot of Scalextric back in the 1980s; some of it inherited from my cousins from the 60s. We had some of the old cigar shaped F1 cars from the 60s but my favourite was probably the Ford Mirage we were given.

In the intervening 30 odd years Scalextric has changed in some ways and not in others. The tracks are still a bit fiddly to get together but thankfully the connections are much better, so when we used the Scalextric BTCC Touring Car Battle Racing Set there wasn’t a repeat of my dad at my age cursing softly under his breath as he ran a bit of wire wool over the track to ensure it completed a circuit. The pick ups that make contact either side of the slot are exactly as I remember them from my youth but thankfully they are much easier to replace. View Full Post

Nozstock The Hidden Valley hits the Awards season

In 2018 Nozstock The Hidden Valley will reach its 20th anniversary, entering a small group of festivals who have reached two decades of creating magic each summer. Starting from very humble beginnings, that founding ethos remains part of the festival to the present, with Nozstock not only a genuine weekend of escapism and far from the madding crowds, but also one which has kept the same flourishing spirit; it’s a festival with abundant charm, lots of integrity and authenticity at every turn, as well as amazing fun across the beautiful site set on a working farm in Bromyard, attracting one of the country’s most wonderfully diverse audiences whether newbies coming for the very first time, or seasoned festival goers.

Reaching such an illustrious age really is an incredible feat in itself, and Nozstock’s efforts have again been rewarded this autumn with nominations in several key awards categories:

  • A Greener Festival Award at UK Festival Awards
  • Best Small Festival, Best Family Festival and Best Grass Roots Festival at UK Festival Awards
  • Mind Blowing Spectacle at the AIF Independent Festivals Awards for Nozstock’s closing festival fire show
  • Festival Kidz Awards

 

Ella Nosworthy, one of Nozstock’s founders, explains: “It’s pretty crazy for us all at the festival to contemplate our 20th anniversary next summer. We are not sure where the time has gone! My dad and all of the team here are really excited. Everyone is really hyped for the coming summer and we are making lots of plans now. We are of course really thrilled to be nominated for so many awards after this year – it’s lovely to be recognised by so many people. It’s also really spurring us on to make 2018 even better than this year, creating our finest year ever! It would of course be wonderful to win an award, and we are very humbled to have been nominated in these categories too.”

Set on a beautiful working farm in the heart of the Herefordshire countryside, the reassuringly welcoming and independent event has evolved from 50 friends gathered at the inaugural gathering and flourished into an intimate musical odyssey which now looks forward to its 20th anniversary. Joining the dots between pop, ska, folk, funk, soul, hip hop, indie, drum and bass, psytrance, house and a whole lot more, plus with interactive adventure and performance for big and small kids of all ages, Nozstock is a playground for everyone, from seasoned festival goers to newbies setting out for their very first time. The festival features a huge range of entertainment, activities and inspiration for families and kids, with games, pop-up performances, and workshops at every turn, and will be celebrating in fine style in July 2018.

Review: Super Lucky Tales on Xbox One/Xbox One X

Coinciding with the launch of the Xbox One X this week, MS Studios have a new 3D platformer out called Super Lucky Tales. Super Lucky Tales sees you controlling a cute fox, navigating a lush colourful 3D world putting gollums back together and collecting 4 leafed clovers (there are 99 to collect in total and I’m well in to double figures now!).

The game is described as follows by Microsoft:

“Super Lucky’s Tale” is a delightful, playground platformer for all ages that follows Lucky, the ever-optimistic, energetic and lovable hero, on his quest to find his inner strength and help his sister rescue the Book of Ages from Jinx. Jinx is the scheming and mysterious villain trying to reshape the world, but for what reason?

Along the way, encounter a hilarious supporting cast of friends and adversaries. Lucky must confront the nefarious Kitty Litter, Jinx’s mischievous kids – self-taught villains who might not be getting Jinx’s plans quite right. Lucky meets friends and allies along the way too. He meets misplaced Yetis, Kooky Spookies, a village of farming worms and other colourful friends inhabiting of Ages.”

I played Super Lucky Tales at the Xbox Loft the other week and found the two level demo great fun. It looked lovely in 4K on the Xbox One X, but since I don’t have one of those (yet!), I played the review copy Microsoft kindly provided me with on my Xbox One S. The game still looks lovely, although obviously not as lovely as it does in 4K! View Full Post

PlayStation family showcase

As we begin the wind up towards Christmas, one of the things that has struck me this year, with our kids being that bit older, is how what they’d like for Christmas has switched.

We’ve bemoaned the fact that it increasingly seems that toys are being designed to look good in adverts rather than to actually be particularly playable with. The kids tend to ask for a load of plastic tat at Christmas that remains in a box from mid January onwards (until it eventually makes it’s way to the charity shop). It’s frustrating as it’s i) expensive and ii) fills the house up with tat.

This year it’s looking like it will be a bit different though. Last Saturday we headed off to the Playstation Family 2017 event in a trendy part of London. In amongst the multi platform games like FIFA 18 and LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 (my most eagerly awaited game of the year!), they had a swathe of Playstation exclusive titles that the kids were glued to.

Yes, this year I think the kids might get some video games for Christmas. View Full Post

Five Ways to Take Your Travel Videos to the Next Level

Travelling is perfect for everyone, because it helps them understand and empathize more. As a bonus, you also get to see the most stunning and gorgeous sights that this world has to offer. Who wouldn’t want to experience all that they can? You can only live for so long, and we have advanced and changed the face of the earth beyond recognition. Travel the world now because when you visit it next, it will likely be something entirely different.

 

Millennials especially know this, which is why their method of travel differs greatly than that of their parents’. Most millennials travel for the experiences that they can have, not the party or the shopping opportunities. One of the biggest differences is how millennials travel, however, is by creating multi-media memories. Many do this not so that they can create a better Facebook album for their friends, but instead so that they can market their travels and become an influencer in their field.

 

Social media influencers make money, and the biggest social media stars are from the millennial and younger generations. They turn their videos and photos into a marketable commodity that fans follow. Businesses then make partnerships with these influencers, who will then receive free items, accommodation, experiences, and even a paycheck. To take your videos to the next level, so that you, too, can become a travel influencer, follow these quick suggestions:

 

 

  • Film B Roll

 

Videos aren’t just about the key moments of your trip, they also need to be buffered out with much needed “B Roll”. This is the footage that acts as establishing shots for place and time, and filming both your main footage and B Roll will help you create better videos.

 

 

  • Find Your Editing Style

 

Just as photographers and other artists have their style, so too do videographers and editors. To truly stand out among your competition, you need to find your personal style in both shooting and editing your footage. The more unique, the better.

 

 

  • Amp Up Your YouTube Account

 

Make your account look professional, and you’ll be well on your way to increasing the views on your channel. Increase those views further by using a video thumbnail maker to entice more people to click on your videos.

 

 

  • Create an Online Persona

 

Your travel brand should have its own website, Instagram account, Twitter account, and Facebook page. This is how you’ll attract more fans, and how you’ll create a solid brand that people, and businesses, can trust.

 

 

  • Be Consistent

 

Put out content consistently, respond and engage with your community, and build your following organically. You want to be consistent in your behavior so that your followers and brands alike can expect and follow you.

 

Starting a travel brand is easy, but maintaining a consistent schedule and growing a fan base isn’t – which is why so few people are able to make money from it. Once you do make it, however, you have a world of opportunities awaiting you, and they all allow you to travel and visit more of the world than ever before.

 

Xbox One X launching on 7 November!

7th of November is a date to remember. And not for gunpowder, treason and plot either, that’s two days earlier. The 7th of November sees Microsoft’s new Xbox One X console launched and it’s a bit of a doozy.

Earlier on this week Xbox invited me to their Xbox Loft, a swanky penthouse in central London, to play some games and have a chat about the Xbox One X.

The Xbox One X is unique in console launches. It’s a very powerful piece of kit, but it’s also completely compatible with all the existing Xbox One games. This means the usual launch process, which sees the machine launched with maybe five to ten games, and then a steady drip drip of titles, isn’t going to happen this time. Now, you can buy the new Microsoft console and have access to all your existing Xbox One games, and all the Xbox 360 games that already work via backwards compatibility. Oh, and if you’re dead old like me, there are even some original Xbox games available too!

Why would I want to play my existing games on my shiny new console I hear you cry. Well, a lot (there will be around 100 shortly after release) of the existing games are getting enhanced versions/updates for free if you own the original game. This means that some great looking Xbox One games will suddenly get a bump in resolution, framerate and special effects if you play them on your new Xbox One X. It also gives you both choice in what to play and some affordable slightly older games that will still get a makeover. View Full Post