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Only Half Of SMEs Have A Website November 21, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Business, Flexible working, Media, Merit, News, Services, Technology, World Wide Web.
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Today, the BBC is asking the question ‘do small firms really need a website’?

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, only about half SMEs have an online presence.

The article goes on to point out that having a website is not always appropriate, depending on the business concerned. However, it also makes the point that an effective site allows people beyond your usual catchment area to find out about you and potentially become your customers.

Even without online sales functionality, a website can be a great asset as a marketing tool or as an online portfolio, listing your goods, services or past projects. This can give interested parties a sense of who you are and what you do, thus creating an element of trust and confidence in you before they even get in touch.

Obviously there are many different levels of web sites available. From all singing, all dancing e-commerce sites to simple brochure sites, the choice is yours. It doesn’t even have to cost a lot. You could have a company blog (like the one you’re reading now) up and running in an afternoon, and all for free. We use WordPress, but there are lots of simple, low cost solutions out there.

Liverpool Chamber is a firm believer in using technology to boost business. If you need any help or advice on how ICT can help you, please contact us or our good friends at Merit.

MERIT’s Next Free Event – Mobilise Your Workforce September 10, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Business, Events, Flexible working, Merit, Technology.
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MERIT are holding their next free business seminar, Mobilise your Workforce, The Mobile Phone has Changed on Wednesday 26 September.

The advent of new mobile data solutions has changed the way we work. Being able to access Email on the move is now a necessity for businesses. New technologies make accessing your office applications whilst out in the field a reality and provide a valuable service. Software and devices are constantly being developed to increase the remote users productivity. But what is right for your business?

At this FREE presentation, Antony Morse of O2 will look at the current mobile services, the challenges in accessing office systems in the field and introduce some new services designed to assist with other aspects of out of the office communications. Antony will be on hand to offer advice and support on how to guide your business through the steps of mobilising your office. The presentation will take a closer look at the range of services currently available:

  • Field force automation – Workflow
  • Digital Pens
  • Satellite Navigation
  • Fleet Management, Tracking, Full and Basic
  • Sales Force Automation – Client Data Bases
  • Basic Workflow – Email job allocation
  • Converged Devices – Multiple applications
  • Email

Guest Speaker: Antony Morse of O2

Registration 11:00 – 11:30
Presentation 11:30 – 12:30
Lunch & Networking 12:30 – 2:00

Book your free place online now.

ICDC Liverpool Digital
2nd Floor
Babbage House entrance
Edge Lane
L7 9NW

Find MERIT with Google Maps. 

Local Business Split On Flexible Working August 16, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Flexible working, News, Policy, Surveys.
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Liverpool Chamber’s last ‘quick poll’ on our homepage asked ‘does your business offer flexible working’?

Over 400 people responded, revealing an apparently even split in the city. 50.37% said they did have access to flexible working, while 49.63% did not.

We’ve posted about flexible working several times on the Chamber blog. The Equal Opportunities Commission recently found that companies who introduce flexible working patterns report that they see increased productivity, improved staff engagement, and are better placed to deal with customer needs.

Check out our other posts on the subject to learn more about the benefits of flexible working.

Or visit the Chamber’s main site to take part in our latest quick poll. In the light of today’s A-level results, we’re asking if today’s school-leavers are equipped academically for employment.

Portable Apps – Take Your Computer With You August 15, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Flexible working, Technology, World Wide Web.
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memory stickUSB memory sticks. Loads of us have them, and quite right too. They are an ideal way to easily move data around. But did you know they can also be used to take your favourite software programs and even operating systems with you?

The Portable Apps website provides specially created versions of popular and useful programs  to go on your memory stick. Simply download them to your stick and you can take your favourite browser (as long as it’s Firefox) and settings to any computer. You can also carry with you useful tools like the Gimp graphics package, Open Office and various media players. See the full list of applications here.

Such tools are ideal for anyone who works from home or away from the office regularly. No matter where you may be working, just plug your memory stick in and be assured of your usual tools, favourites and settings. And best of all, they’re all free.

See more options for your USB in these AskMetafilter threads – thread 1, thread 2.

Study Reveals Lack Of Flexible Working In UK June 14, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Business, Flexible working, Legislation, News, Policy.
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The BBC today reports on findings by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) on the state of flexible working in British business.

The EOC has found that companies who introduce flexible working patterns report that they see increased productivity, improved staff engagement, and are better placed to deal with customer needs.

However, despite the growth in flexible working, the UK is lagging behind its European competitors. Only 20% of UK employers offer telworking, one of the most popular and cost-effective forms of flexible working, compared to around 40% in Germany, Sweden and Denmark. And while flexi-time is available in around 90% of German and Swedish companies, just 48% of UK companies offer it.

Read the full EOC’s press release on this issue.

Read the EOC’s ‘Transformation of Work’ reports.

Read other stories about flexible working from the Chamber blog.

True Extent of Flexible Working Unveiled in Groundbreaking Survey April 27, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in British Chambers of Commerce, Business, Flexible working, Legislation, News, Policy.
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The extent to which flexible working is provided by employers in the UK has been unveiled in a groundbreaking new report by the British Chambers of Commerce.

‘Work and Life: How business is striking the right balance’ provides the first overview of what British businesses are actually doing to meet the work life balance needs of their employees. There is an assumption amongst politicians from across the political spectrum that business has to be forced to be flexible through regulation yet this research turns perceived wisdom on its head.

Amongst the key findings are:

·     89 per cent of the businesses surveyed provide their employees with some form of flexible working.

·     72 per cent offer part time working; 69 per cent offer variable working hours; 38 per cent offer working from home.

·     71 per cent of employers believe that there has been either some or a significant improvement in employee relations as a result of offering flexible working

·    60 per cent of employers reported some or a significant improvement in staff retention

·    58 per cent of employers reported some or a significant improvement in productivity

Interestingly, the reason why politicians may seem so keen to regulate is the fact that businesses are poor at celebrating their own achievements. As many as  84 per cent of respondents do not have a formal written ‘work-life balance’ policy, helping to explain the perception gap that exists between what employers are actually doing and what politicians assume they are doing.

The reason that employers gave for not offering flexible working shows the folly of trying to impose a one-size fits all approach on business:

·     56 per cent highlighted the difficulty in achieving business growth with a reorganised workload and resources.

·    32 per cent cited a desire to be fair to all employees

·   21 per cent cited the administrative burden of new policies as being a barrier to providing flexible working

Instead of legislating it is clear that businesses need practical guidance about how they can work more flexibly at low cost.  Without the HR support that large firms have, SME’s need business support schemes tailored specifically to their needs.

Sally Low, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“This report clearly shows how disconnected politicians are from the reality of the UK’s workplaces.

“Business is well ahead of the current debate. The overwhelming majority of respondents to our survey are embracing flexibility because they understand clearly the benefits of providing flexible working to their employees, reporting improvements in employee relations, staff retention and productivity.

“The debate now needs to shift away from what employers are not doing to focus on what they are and try to identify the real barriers to greater flexibility. Those who aren’t providing flexibility for their staff lack the management confidence to restructure the way they manage their staff, only advice and support will rectify this while further regulation will impose a needless and onerous burden”.

Flexibility in the Workplace is Good for the UK March 30, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in British Chambers of Commerce, Flexible working.
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Flexibility in the workplace is good for the UK

In response to the PM’s speech this morning outlining his vision for “flexi-Britain”. David Frost Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce commented:

“The Prime Minister has outlined a positive vision for Britain’s economy.

“As business squares up to the global competitive challenge posed by the emerging economies of India and China the ability to respond quickly to change is vital.

“There are two sides to flexibility; one is ensuring that regulatory conditions are such that they allow employers to be lean and agile and the other is for employees to manage their work in a manner that suits their circumstances.

“New research conducted by the BCC amongst small and medium size businesses suggests that employers are enthusiastically adopting a flexible approach to the way they manage their staff. The Government needs to continue to work with business to deliver those regulatory and economic conditions which will help our business sector to thrive globally.”

Read more about Tony Blair’s ‘flexi Britain’ speech at the Guardian. 

95% Support Flexible Working March 8, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Flexible working, News.
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In this week’s quick poll on the Chamber’s homepage, over 95% of voters have said ‘YES’ that ‘flexible working is good for business’.

Of 438 votes cast, 95.89% said yes, to 4.11% voting no.

Flexible working is increasingly becoming more important. It offers staff greater control over their working lives, improves both efficiency and productivity, encourages staff retention and helps improve the all-important work/life balance.

By allowing staff to work more flexible hours or the option to work from home, even just one day a week, employers can see a range of benefits. It’s even better for the environment, cutting down on travel emissions (and expenses).

Find out more about homeworking at Enterprise Nation

Visit the Telework Association website.

Read about the launch of the NW Flexible Working Group at the GMDDA website.

Brush up on the current flexible working laws.

Is Flexible Working Good For Business? March 1, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Flexible working, Surveys.

That’s the question we’re asking in the quick poll on Liverpool Chamber’s main site.

This is a topic we’ve mentioned before here on the Chamber blog. We’d really like to find out what employers AND employees think of increased flexibility in working hours and conditions. Is flexitime a real boon? Does working from home really boost your productivity? And what about the work/life balance? Is yours off kilter?

Let us know, by leaving comments or taking the home page poll.