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Smart Storage Solutions After COVID-19

How smart lockers can help your business tackle COVID-19 challenges.

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is important to adapt your storage solutions now and going forward – this is where smart lockers can help. Smart lockers are secure storage systems with built in state of the art technology that allow for remote management and other clever functions.

Social distancing

With social distancing guidelines being one of the simplest and most important rules in our fight against Coronavirus, it is crucial that the 2-metre distance is obliged by. Smart lockers can help with this and be set to enforce social distancing rules. For example, if a gym goer arrives at the gym changing room wanting to gain access to a new locker, a smart system will only offer lockers at least 2-metres from another active locker; this will limit contact between gym patrons and control the spread of the virus.

Capture and utilise data

Smart lockers use the best and latest technology to capture important information to help save companies’ time, money, resources – and help safely handle the pandemic too.

The system will record how often lockers are being used, which locations are receiving high traffic and manage accordingly; it may be necessary to re-distribute locker locations, set rules and allocate lockers more efficiently.

Remote management

Smart locker systems are usually managed from a dedicated remote location. This allows operators to open, block and delegate all lockers across multiple locations without having to move through the building; limiting contact with others and reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Provide assistance with ‘Track and Trace’

The Government’s ‘Track and Trace’ system is important in keeping all of us safe. Smart lockers can help with this; the clever technology can see who has visited what locker when and who they may have had contact with. If the unfortunate incident of a positive Coronavirus case does occur this system could be utilised to quickly control the outbreak within the workplace and the rest of society.

Antibacterial finishes

It is possible to add another element of safeguarding to smart lockers by using antibacterial finishes. During the manufacturing process an additive is combined with the materials, which creates a coating on the outside of the locker’s decorative board. These finishes, such as Biocote and Sanitized, have been scientifically proven to provide anti-fungal and anti-virus protection reducing harmful bacteria by 99.9%. This simple addition is a worthwhile investment in providing protection to all those using the lockers.

 

Smart lockers, with their user-friendly and intuitive functions, are a clever investment for your business as we move into the future and adapt to our “new normal”.

What to Look for when Purchasing a Property in Romford

What to look out for before stepping on the Romford property ladder

Romford, just 14 miles from London’s city centre, provides the ease of London living with the suburban feel of residing in Essex. Its location is the perfect balance of access to the bustle, shops and bars of a city and of proximity to green spaces and the coast.

As London city centre property prices continue to soar, buyers are looking East to Romford when purchasing property – especially those new to the housing market. We talk you through what to look for when purchasing property in Romford

Type of house

A great selling point for Romford is the variety of property types on offer depending on your budget and requirements.

Many of the houses available are semi-detached and terraced and were often built in the 1930s. More recently, there has been a boom in developed flats and new builds and this is set to continue due to Crossrail and the rising popularity of the area. You will also find bungalows, so whatever you’re looking for your estate agent should be able to help you.

Transport

Known as a ‘commuter town’, Romford provides fantastic links into London and beyond – you can get to London Liverpool Street within 30 minutes. The new Crossrail/ Elizabeth Line project, rescheduled to launch in 2021, will provide even greater connections between Romford and the city with quick commute times. If you’re going to be utilising the rail travel options then consider your proximity to Romford Station, which will also see a major upgrade as part of the Crossrail project.

Romford also boasts excellent road links, strong public transport services and sits within reasonable distance of to two airports; Southend and Heathrow.

Schools

Many of the schools surrounding Romford have fantastic reputations and have received great Ofsted inspection results. Do some research on local schools before buying to ensure a potential property is in the catchment area for the school you’d be interested in.

What’s on offer in the area

Romford offers a variety of accessible amenities and leisure facilities. For green spaces, there is Lodge Farm Park and Raphael Park – and a nature reserve at Bedfords Park.

You will still find their traditional weekly market full of local, small businesses selling their wares. For more shopping, Romford has multiple malls including The Mercury Shopping Centre and The Brewery. You will also be able to access a wide range of restaurants, including the fast food chains, and leisure facilities such as a cinema and an ice rink.

 

Romford will continue to remain an attractive option for buyers and those wanting to take their first step onto the property ladder, due to its house prices and its convenient location that balances city and rural living – is it the right place for you?

Fake Covid-19 Marshals Targeting Elderly and Vulnerable

Local Authority Imposters Gain Access To Homes

Bogus Covid-19 marshals are pretending to carry out spot checks of homes, then steal cash and valuables during their fake inspections.

The government has introduced Covid-19 secure marshals as a way to boost local law enforcement teams. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has confirmed that these marshals won’t be given any formal powers as part of new legislation. However, they will be charged with encouraging members of the public to follow social distancing regulations. Some of their duties will be to manage queues, remind people to wear face coverings and assist with cleaning. Whilst the announcement of these Covid-19 marshals has been widely criticised, unfortunately a further barrier is that some criminals have been exploiting the role in order to break into homes.

Covid-19 Scams

Since the pandemic began, there have been numerous reports of scams on vulnerable households. Initially, bogus healthcare workers pretended to offer doorstep Covid-19 tests and used this as a way to gain access to homes and steal cash and other valuables. As the pandemic has progressed, so too have the nature of these scams to match the changes reported in the news.

Imposter Covid-19 Marshals

Since the government announced that Covid-19 marshals could be deployed by local councils, savvy criminals have made use of this guise as another way to intrude. By going door to door, these fake marshals pretend that they are checking for any sign of rule breaks to request entry to the home. Where homeowners don’t initially open the door, the marshals use intimidation including the threat of fines for those who fail to comply with their demands. Once inside, the criminals will steal whatever they can whilst conducting a fake inspection of the home before fleeing the scene.

Chartered Trading Standards Institute

Unfortunately, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute has been inundated with reports of imposter Covid-19 marshals as well as bogus healthcare professionals trying to con elderly or vulnerable residents within their homes. They remind us that Covid-19 marshals will never turn up unannounced at your property, in fact, their role isn’t to visit homes but to support social distancing in public places. Equally, marshals don’t have any right to enforce law or dish out fines. Unfortunately, as we approach flu season and there is an additional demand for flu jabs this year, residents must be on their guard against phoney healthcare professionals pretending to offer at-home injections.

Protection Against Covid-19 Scammers

If you’re concerned about the wellbeing of a elderly or vulnerable individual who might be susceptible to this type of targeted crime, the first step is to have a conversation with them so they’re fully equipped with the knowledge of what scammers may attempt. In terms of securing your property, CCTV installers London products can provide 24/7 surveillance so you can keep an eye on anyone who appears to be scoping out the home. Footage of any doorstep conversations will also be invaluable evidence to give to the police in the event that anyone tries to gain access to the home. However, often just the visible presence of CCTV cameras is enough to send most criminals on their way. Finally, having a chain and a door viewer are both important features of your door security setup as they allow the occupant to converse with anyone without giving them the opportunity to physically barge their way in.

Whilst public authorities are being encouraged to update safeguarding messages to ensure that future scamming attempts are unsuccessful, it’s important to be vigilant as the pandemic changes shape over the winter period.

How Might Negative Interest Rates Affect Your Mortgage?

Bank of England Could Charge Lenders To Hoard Their Money

Commercial banks could be motivated to lend more cash out to fuel the economy and the property market. How does negative interest work?

Fuelling growth in the economy is one of the primary concerns of the government during the pandemic, due to the losses experienced from lockdown and other imposed restrictions. As a result, the Bank of England is now considering following in the footsteps of several other countries such as Japan and Sweden, by offering a negative bank rate, effectively meaning that commercial banks would be charged for keeping their money there.

The Concept of Negative Interest

During the pandemic and previous recessions, banks have notoriously tightened their belts and been unable to lend to consumers as freely as during better times. This has a knock-on effect where individual earners and households are unable to pump as much of their hard-earned money into the economy, and crucially this can bring the property market to a grinding halt. To prevent this scenario from repeating, the Bank of England is exploring the concept of negative interest rates. Commercial banks are required to keep a certain amount of funds in the Bank of England for safety reasons. However, any funds deposited beyond this threshold would have a negative interest rate applied to them, meaning that commercial banks would be charged a fee for storing their money there. The aim of the negative interest strategy is ultimately to encourage banks to lend their money out generously, motivating consumers to spend within the economy.

Great News For First-Time Buyers

A Stock estate agency explains that first-time buyers have been hit hard this year, as the number of mortgage products available to them with 5% or even 10% deposits have simply vanished into thin air. The effect of the government’s stamp duty holiday has been to inflate property prices further, which has been excellent news for vendors, but terrible for first-timers who are seeing their dreams of becoming property owners move further away. The potential introduction of negative interest rates would be excellent news for first-time buyers, as banks would be encouraged to lend out again. This makes it more likely that those former LTV products would reappear and be snapped up by buyers with their deposits ready.

Existing Property Owners

For property owners with existing mortgages, you might be wondering how the proposed negative interest rates will affect your own loan. This largely depends on the type of mortgage product you hold. For example, if you’ve taken out a fixed rate mortgage so you can guarantee the cost of your monthly repayments, then unfortunately any change to the bank rate won’t change your outgoing payments. Of course, once your fixed term comes to an end, you may look to remortgage to a different product and could make considerable savings if a negative interest rate is applied at this time. Homeowners on tracker rate mortgages are most likely to take advantage of the situation and it’s possible that you’d see your monthly repayments fall substantially depending on the balance left on your mortgage. In countries such as Denmark, mortgage products exist with a negative interest rate deal of -0.5%. Instead of receiving a cheque for the amount of money owed to a borrower, instead the calculated debt is simply knocked off the outstanding mortgage balance each year. A £100,000 mortgage would have an additional £500 per year wiped off it on a -0.5% rate deal.

As yet, it’s unclear if this a path that the Bank of England will definitely take. However, Deputy Governor, Sam Woods has approached the heads of UK financial institutions and asked them to prepare for such a scenario.

Easy Ways To Revamp Your Caravan

Add Cosmetic Appeal To Your Static Home

Is your caravan décor looking a little tired and dated? Follow these tips to provide a fresh facelift.

If you’re hoping to spend a little more time in your caravan this coming season, then you’ll want to be sure that it’s looking top-notch for your staycation. If your static home was pre-styled before you moved in, especially if you bought second-hand, then make sure that you have the opportunity to add your own personality to your home. The great news is that it’s really easy to modernise your caravan with these simple touches.

Updating Your Kitchen

Depending on the age of your caravan, your kitchen may be beginning to look a little tired. You may wish to entirely overhaul your kitchen by ripping it all out and starting again. This is a great solution if you’re planning to remain in your static home for years to come. As a more affordable alternative, you can make some simple cosmetic updates such as installing new countertops and cupboard doors whilst leaving the carcasses intact. This will cost you a fraction of the price of a new kitchen, and will add plenty of cosmetic appeal. If you’re hoping to market your home on a sell my static caravan site, then a kitchen upgrade will also add value to your resell price.

Add Custom-Made Blinds

Tired of the net-curtain-twitching look to your static caravan? Curtains in a caravan can look incredibly dated, especially if they come with a patterned or floral print. Provide your caravan with a more contemporary image by switching to blinds instead. These needn’t be expensive, you can simply purchase some made-to-measure options online and then fit them into place with ease.

Replace Your Flooring

Is your current caravan flooring looking a little worn? In older static homes, this is one of the first things that starts to look dated. If you’ve got carpeted flooring, it’s relatively simple to switch these out for some more modern laminate or vinyl floor tile options. Remember that the cost of replacing flooring is dependent on the square footage required, so with the average size of a static home, this shouldn’t be an expensive project.

Insulate The Exterior

Caravans can take a bit of a beating during the winter season and after several years of visiting your static home, you’ll start to notice the difference in its aesthetic appeal as you approach each time. By covering your caravan in vinyl cladding, you can protect against the elements whilst also providing extra insulation for your home. If you’ve noticed any draughts appearing, then this will also help enormously.

Retiling Your Bathroom

You don’t need an entirely new bathroom suite to provide a facelift. Instead of the expense of a new installation, you’ll be amazed at the difference that a simple tiling project can make. Combine fresh new tiles with a lick of paint and it’ll feel like an entirely different bathroom.

Now you have an idea of which areas of your caravan to target, you’ll be wondering when to tackle them. You can either carry out these maintenance tasks over a few weekends before your official visit, and really enjoy spending time in your glam new home. Alternatively, you can make your next trip a working holiday, and take your time getting the jobs done whilst relaxing plenty inbetween.

How Can Your Business Benefit From Using Power Apps?

Create Business Solutions At Speed

Top benefits of using Microsoft Power Apps for your next business apps development cycle.

Power Apps provide a fantastic route into the creation of business solution apps for your company. Microsoft has provided the Power Apps interface to be used by professionals, as a way to speed up their development cycles. However, the tool can also be used by inexperienced developers as very little coding is required to create a high-functioning app. Power Apps will enhance the productivity of your workflow by offering a wealth of benefits.

Speed

Top of the list is the speed at which your business apps can be created using Power Apps. Microsoft has designed the software with agile deployment in mind, meaning that you can launch your apps promptly and ensure that they constantly evolve by adding value with each update. Drag and drop features simplify the complex processes required to develop an app – this enables you to quickly build user interfaces or create links from form fields to code for example. These drag and drop elements allow you to rapidly produce a prototype for your app, often making changes on the spot whilst responding to requests from your sales team. This makes the Power Apps tool a truly streamlined and collaborative business solution.

Mobile Ready

Producing an interface that is compatible with your laptop or desktop is one thing, but what about when your teams are out on the road? That same app will need to fit well within the screen of your mobile and offer the same benefits from all remote devices and connections. Power Apps provide simple interface and common connectors which are incredibly easy to use. These ensure that your app uses the same data to create both an impressive desktop version as well as a mobile friendly version, making your app useful for all of your team members and in any environment.

Using Data

Useful data is at the heart of any successful app development, and Power Apps is no exception. Microsoft includes automated features within the software, allowing AI to provide powerful insights for users to leverage. By just pointing and clicking, your app will return business intelligence which will enhance productivity for your organisation. Need to extract data from the app? Not a problem when you can integrate Power Apps with Office 365, Microsoft Flow or Microsoft BI.

Role-Based Security

Security isn’t compromised when you empower your team members to work with Power Apps. By taking advantage of role-based security for sharing purposes, this enables you to assign user privileges to the types of actions that may be performed within an app. Each person who uses the app will be set up with predefined or custom roles. This allows you to limit the way in which certain team members can interact with the app depending on their job role, or whether they’re accessing the app remotely. Compliance regulations are easy to achieve when you rely on Microsoft Power Apps for your business tool development.

If you’re looking for an affordable, convenient and super speedy way to launch an app to enhance productivity within your organisation, then Power Apps is the way to go. If you already have an Office 365 licence, then it’s straightforward to add Power Apps to your stack – why not get started today?

Why Now Is The Perfect Time to Invest in Resource Management Software

How it Can Help You to Re-Launch Your Business

Resource management software is becoming more and more popular with businesses all over the UK right now. Here’s why.

Now many not seem like the natural time to make changes to your business, but some small investments here and there will really help you to succeed in the approaching months. Here’s why resource manager software is so important in these unprecedented times.

The economy is slowly re-starting

The lockdown measures the Government imposed in March were largely successful in halting the spread of COVID-19 across the UK. However, even now as they are being eased there’s a lot of adjusting for businesses to do in order to recover and grow. One way you can do so is by investing in resource management software. Here’s why it’s so useful:

Furloughed staff

If a member of your resource management team has been furloughed, then you can’t ask them to come in and work. As you start to resume some of your normal operations, this can leave you with a dilemma. You aren’t yet in a position where you can pay their wages, but your resource management is suffering. That’s where software comes in. It’s easy to run, so anyone can use it. It’s also a lot cheaper than someone’s wages.

Perfect for smaller teams

These have been incredibly trying times for businesses, and many company owners have found themselves having to make tough decisions and let members of staff go. Even if you are able to keep everyone on, you may not be able to have them all in the office at the same time. Resource management software doesn’t need many staff to operate it, so you can run efficiently with less manpower.

Keep your new projects running smoothly

If your business is beginning to ramp up operations again, then you will have projects that you need to take care of. At such a crucial time for your business, you don’t want to make any unnecessary errors. Investing in great resource management software largely eliminates human error, and will give you all the information that you need to deliver projects on time, every time.

Helps to rebuild confidence

If people have been out of the office for quite some time, it’s only natural that their confidence will have taken a bit of knock. Having software that they can count on will do wonders for their self esteem and performance in their role. They’ll be able to meet deadlines and deal with any unexpected issues so much quicker, making them feel in control once again.

Find a great provider

If you are going to invest in resource management software, then it’s important that you work with a great provider. Innate Management have been the resource management software provider of choice for a large number of UK businesses for some time now. Their software is easy to run and operate, and you will be given all the support you need as you get to grips with it.

What are you waiting for?

Now that you can see just how much of a difference resource manager software makes in a variety of circumstances, why not see if it could be the perfect fir for you and your company? Now you know where to find the very best the UK has to offer, there’s no excuse.

Is There Still a Place For Team Building in a Post-Coronavirus Workplace?

How It Can Continue to Help Your Business

Team building can still be a part of your company culture – you just need to do it a little differently, is all.

The COVID-19 outbreak has dramatically changed how we work, and activities we used to take part in just aren’t possible anymore. However, remote team building can still play a part in your company’s path to success.

Working from home

In terms of how we work, the difference between now and the start of the year is stark. Gone are the days of freely socialising with your colleagues, or even sitting down for a cup of tea together on your break. Work has become much less social, thanks to the physical distance that needs to be kept and the fact that so many people are now working from home. It’s easy to assume that team building has become redundant now – but that isn’t the case.

Remote team building

During the rush to set up remote working and adjusting to a new way of life, team building didn’t really sit high on many people’s list of priorities. However, for some companies. It’s been part of their ethos ever since their team members began to work from home. Remote team building (aka an event carried out over a video conferencing platform) has become hugely popular, and it can be just as effective as an event carried out in person.

Making the new normal sustainable

Home working needs to be sustainable, and for that you need to maintain strong relationships between all members of staff. Just because they aren’t all working as physically close as they used to doesn’t mean that they can’t continue to connect. Remote team building allows your team members to work together, flex their creative muscles, and see how easy it can be for them to collaborate with their colleagues while they work from home.

Reaffirming your company values

Remote team building also gives you the chance to reaffirm your company’s values. It can be easy to lose sight of these while working at home, and it standards can slip. Nipping this in the bud as soon as you notice it will help you to deliver the same great products or services. People don’t realise just how effective team building can be for this, but you really will be amazed at just how much of a difference it can make. It’s so much more than just a little bit of fun!

Find a great provider

If you want to get the most out of remote team building, then it’s important to find the best specialists in the field. Zing Events have developed a range of really exciting, immersive events that can be held remotely. If you have never taken part in an event like this before, there is no need to worry. You’ll be given the guidance and support that you need, and the software used to hold the event is safe and secure for you to use.

What are you waiting for?

It’s clear to see that team building does still have a place in the post coronavirus workplace. Yes, it may look and feel a little different, but it still makes a really positive impact. If you haven’t organised a remote team building event yet, you know what to do next!

Bald Men More At Risk of Severe Coronavirus Symptoms

High Androgen Levels Increase Threat of Covid

Bald men are more likely to experience strong coronavirus symptoms following diagnosis. Learn why this is and what can be done.

New evidence suggests that bald men may have a higher risk of developing severe coronavirus symptoms. Male pattern baldness is a common condition which can begin at any age. Typically, it takes men 15-20 years to lose all of their hair completely, with about two thirds of men either bald or experiencing a balding pattern by the age of 60. Real hair wigs can be worn by both men and women who suffer from balding, and some will also use drug treatments to combat the condition. However, the risk of developing severe Covid-19 symptoms is not something that can be overcome as easily.

The Gabrin Sign

Dr Frank Gabrin, who was bald, was the first US physician to die of Covid-19. The research between baldness and Covid-19 is thought to be so significant, that the risk factor is now known as the ‘Gabrin sign’. In the UK, Public Health England have revealed that men who are of working age, are more than twice as likely to die in comparison to women, if they are diagnosed with Covid-19.

Male Sex Hormones

Scientists have been scrabbling to determine exactly why men are more at risk, and have previously cited lifestyle and smoking habits as well as immune system differences between the sexes. However, the latest research suggests that androgens, or male sex hormones, could have a large part to play in the severity of symptoms. Whereas large quantities of androgens can be responsible for the loss of hair, they also seem to be linked to the capacity of Covid-19 in attacking the cells. The good news here is androgens can be suppressed, as they are in both hair loss therapy as well as in treating conditions such as prostate cancer.

Research Trials

Professor Wambier of Brown University has been carrying out small research studies in Spain to prove that an unusually high number of bald men were admitted to hospital after testing positive for Covid-19. Across three hospitals in Madrid, 79% of Covid patients were bald. To compare, a study of similarly aged, but healthy men to those found in the hospital found that only around 31-53% were bald. A similar trend could be found when looking at female pattern baldness and coronavirus hospital admission rates.

Treatment Options

An Italian piece of research which examined the prospects of 9,280 prostate cancer patients, also found that those using androgen-deprivation therapy were significantly less likely to contract coronavirus in comparison to those who were using other treatments. By using drugs which reduce their testosterone levels, cells are protected from the effect of Covid-19. To cause the infection, coronaviruses rely on a spike protein which attaches to the cell’s membrane – this is then activated by an enzyme which is thought to be TMPRSS2. Scientists are now tasked with exploring whether the enzyme reacts similarly in the lungs, where the coronavirus thrives, as it does in the prostate. A variety of clinical studies are now being started to investigate the possible treatment options.

Preparing Your Business For Life After Lockdown

Everything You Need to Know

Whether your business is big or small, you’re going to have to make some adjustments for life after lockdown.

Times have never been tougher for businesses in the UK thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and businesses in some sectors are being given the green light to open up again. If you are feeling worried about resuming operations after lockdown, then read on for some invaluable tips that will see you through those challenging days that lie ahead.

Businesses are reopening

As the UK gets on top of the coronavirus, many businesses will begin to reopen. Just recently we have seen lots of fast food outlets open their doors again, albeit offering a limited service. Garden centres and construction sites have begun to operate again, all well as businesses in a number of other sectors. So places are slowly starting to offer their products and services again – but while having to work around a number of obstacles.

Invest in resource management

If you don’t already have an effective resource management strategy in place, now is the time to address that. Keeping on top of your resources, whether they are human or otherwise, will allow you to effectively work to deadlines, keep on top of costs, and make sure that all of your projects are equipped to run smoothly. Innate Management are the providers of the resource management software many UK businesses trust, and could be the perfect fit for your business.

Health and safety

Before you open for business again, it’s important to think about your health and safety measures. Even companies with the strictest regulations will have to make adjustments in the time of COVID-19, so you’re certainly not alone. You’ll need to see how you can implement social distancing in your workplace, and your hygiene practices will need to be overhauled too. Have these plans in place early on, so you’re ready to reopen when you can.

Keep an open mind

It’s really important to be open minded right now. The future has never felt more uncertain, and it’s impossible what’s going to happen in the months, weeks, and even days ahead. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or the members of your team, and really plan effectively for any eventuality. Your resource management software will help you to do this – and remember that there is help from the UK government for businesses too.

Connect with your staff

Last but not least, don’t forget to check in with your staff. Everyone is feeling a little anxious and afraid of what the future holds right now, so do take the time to ask your colleagues how they are feeling. It may not be possible to get together for after-work drinks or even share a hug right now, but just lending a friendly ear and offering your staff a greater deal of flexibility in their roles will make the world of difference in these trying times.

Get ahead and start planning today

As you can see, there are a number of ways you can make opening up for business after lockdown a much smoother process. Whether it’s with digital tools such as resource management software or with some rearranging of your work space, there’s so many possibilities. So why not start planning today?

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