How Agile Working Can Improve Productivity

Give Workers More Freedom For Increased Efficiency

Agile working is changing the world of business. Is it time for your organisation to be more flexible?

86% of people would be willing to change jobs if an agile working environment is promised. Additionally, some would happily relinquish a percentage of their salary in order to accommodate such a move according to the findings of a Jobsite survey. Agile working moves away from the idea of the traditional workplace and provides employees with much more control over how they work. By designing a physical layout equipped with the right furniture and tech to assist agile working, companies must also adopt a more flexible workplace culture to give employees an increased sense of freedom. Employers who are willing to adjust their mindset and business model will be rewarded with increased productivity from their staff.

Understanding Agile Working

Flexible working has moved far beyond the promise of allowing employees to simply ‘work from home’. In some cases, employees can feel isolated when they’re stuck in their home office without the ability to liaise with the rest of the team. Agile working goes a step further and provides employees with the freedom to work when, where and how best it suits them. Allowing this ability to base themselves at home, in the office or anywhere else, thanks to innovations in technology and a company mindset that embraces this agile way of life, has many benefits for the employer.

Benefits for the Employer

A recent poll of 1,500 workers found that not only are they more productive as agile workers, but they also take less leave than their office-based counterparts who are working fixed hours. Employers are starting to realise that it doesn’t matter so much when or where the work gets done, the focus is that it gets done and to the best of the employee’s ability. As agile working is proven to boost levels of productivity, there’s every reason for employers to look into how this greater flexibility could work in their organisation. Overheads will also be radically reduced as organisations can work from smaller premises and rely on hotdesking.

Getting It Right

Of course, for employers to become fully invested in agile working, it’s important not to just ‘leave them to it’. Successfully agile environments are created when the employer has taken the time to make flexibility a priority.

Furniture selection and your office layout should be a key focus. Your choices in design should reflect the need for each task to be carried out efficiently in the office, with an understanding that each task is different. Your design should accommodate sociable seating areas for collaboration with colleagues when needed, as well as quieter rooms for meetings or for taking a conference call.

In terms of technology, utilising the right type of software is important to ease communication and avoid excessive chains of emails or longwinded meetings. Smart storage for offices provides convenience for employees who can hold personal and valuable items such as laptops, tablets and a change of work clothes in a locker that can be operated from a smartphone. These are ideal for hotdesking environments where agile workers don’t need to be based at a fixed desk.

Agile working is the future of business. If you want to have lower overheads and greater staff retention and productivity, then it’s time to think flexibly and provide your employees with everything they need to do a great job!

How to choose the right property in Romford for you

The historic market town of Romford in the London Borough of Havering forms part of ‘outer London’ and borders Essex. This unique location provides the perfect combination of town living with the added benefits of easy access to the bright lights of the city.

About Romford

With a lot of people priced-out of central London, properties in towns such as Romford are much sought after and new developments are constantly underway creating opportunities for more affordable homes close to the city.

Transport Links

  • Trains

With the development of the much anticipated £15 billion Crossrail that will see the East-West railway taking over the existing Shenfield to Liverpool street line and extending through central London – Romford is one of the ‘hot spots’ that will benefit significantly from this development. Once complete commuters will be able to travel from Romford station through central London without having to change which makes for quicker journeys and less hassle.

Current train times take around 20-30 minutes from Romford to Liverpool Street as well as good links for some great Essex locations such as the city of Chelmsford which is a great shopping destination.

  • Airports

With Romford you’re spoilt for choice with easy access to some great airports such as London City, just 37 minutes away by train. Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are all less than 1.5 hours away by train for fast, affordable travel.

  • Road

Located close to the A12 Romford provides easy car travel to Essex, London and Suffolk.

  • Buses

 There are plenty of regular buses that not only take you into Romford town centre but there are also easy routes for going into Essex and London City.

Be sure to take into consideration your travel or commuting needs when looking at potential properties. You might pay slightly more for a place close to the train station but if it makes a big difference to your commute then it could be well worth considering.

Families

For young families or those hoping to settle down in what will be their future family home it is important that the place they live has plenty to offer them and their children.

School catchment will definitely be worth factoring into your property search to avoid disappointment later for being out of area or having a long and difficult school run for the next 10+ years!

There are a number of great primary and secondary schools to choose from in Romford with almost all of them rated Good by OFSTED and several rated outstanding. There is a choice of both state and private schools as well as comprehensive and further education to help plan for your children’s future.

For those looking to make the most of sunny days, walk the dog, go out for a jog or take the kids to the park – there is plenty of green space in Romford to do so. With some beautiful locations such as Raphael Park, Cottons Park and Havering Country Park offering open space, forests to explore, lakes, cafes, playgrounds and skate parks there’s never a shortage of things to do.

Shopping and things to do

Being close to the city you’ll never be short of things to do but closer to home Romford itself has a wide range of activities and entertainment for people of all ages.

Romford’s greyhound stadium is very popular and one of the very few remaining greyhound tracks left – great for an evening out with friends. Ice Skating in Rom Valley Way and cinemas at both the Brewery Shopping Centre and Mercury Mall are great all weather entertainment for adults and children.

You’ll never be short of places to shop with several shopping centres including the largest and most popular one – The Liberty Shopping Centre which is home to a number of great high street brands.

For dining out or fast food you’ll have plenty of choice with Nando’s, Pizza Express, KFC, Zizzi’s, Pizza Hut, Toby Carvery, McDonalds and a number of local eateries and quality gastro pubs.

During your property search in Romford be sure to have a clear idea of what is most important to you. We all know that house hunting comes with compromises but forget the desire for a garage or en suite and focus on the things that will matter most in the long run. Visit potential areas of interest, walk around, get to know the neighbourhoods and see what areas fit best with your requirements.

If you would like some guidance or advice from professional estate agents Romford then contact Keystones Property and we can help you choose the right property for you in Romford.

Top tips for selling your home this winter

Winter can be a more difficult time to sell your home, without the attractive allure of natural light filling the rooms and the surrounding trees and flowers in full bloom. But winter can also be beneficial to sellers. With less homes on the market there is less competition and the likeliness is that people searching this time of year are serious about moving which helps reduce the potential for time wasters or uncertain buyers.

We spoke to an expert Chelmsford estate agent to find out some top tips for preparing your home and increasing its appeal to buyers this winter;

Warm welcome

The worst thing you could do in the winter is invite people round for a viewing only for them to be greeted by a cold, chilly house. Potential buyers want to feel warmth when they step inside and know that the central heating system is effective, so make sure you allow plenty of time to heat every room sufficiently.

If you have a working fireplace, then use it! Fire it up and show off the cosy warm atmosphere that it creates which will have buyers to imagine themselves living there and around the fire on cold nights.

First impressions

This is not the easiest time of year for the gardens but you must try to make the most of what your property has to offer. The front of the house needs to have curb appeal so be sure to rake leaves, keep paths and driveways clear, mow the grass and trim hedges to have everything looking as neat and tidy as possible.

There are some lovely plants such as heather which are suitable for winter so why not brighten up the exterior with a few near the front door or along the path in coloured pots.

If your front door or fence are looking a little tired, then why not make an effort on a dry day to give them a quick coat of paint? A cheap and effective way to guarantee the front of your home is neat and appealing to potential buyers.

Light it up

If a viewing is in the late afternoon or even during the day, typical winter weather will often mean dull, drab and dreary natural lighting that won’t highlight your home to its full potential.

You don’t need to switch on every light in the house but be clever and try out different variations in each room to see what works best. Use spot lights, lamps, candles and wall lights to create a bright and welcoming ambience.  

If you are taking viewings when it is dark remember to put the porch light on to greet your guests!

Be Festive

If it’s coming up to Christmas then take full advantage and use your tree, sparkling lights and decorations to maximise the appeal of your home and have viewers saying ‘this is where I want to be living next Christmas’.

However, don’t be squeezing your tree into a tiny space and make the room feel smaller or overcrowded. Even if it means moving a piece or 2 of furniture out into the shed or garage temporarily to make sure that you don’t lose valuable space when adding your festive decorations.

Garden

The same applies here as the front garden – keep grass, plants, trees, hedges and path areas trimmed, clean and clear. Put away all kids toys and cover garden furniture that is unused to ensure it is protected and secure for blustery days.

Keep a close eye on your guttering and have them cleaned out if needed. Eagle eyed buyers will spot an overflowing or blocked gutter straight away which can be off putting and give the impression that the house is not well maintained.

Other things to think consider

Here’s a few other things to consider when selling your home in winter;

  • Have a thorough clear out before you take viewings. Pack away unused items and remove bulky, outdated or unnecessary furniture and objects that can make rooms feel smaller. Clutter free is the way to be when it comes to staging a home for potential buyers!
  • Be aware of how your house smells – especially if you have pets as damp dog is not an appealing scent. Cooking smells and the like don’t disperse as quickly in winter as people don’t tend to open their windows, so be sure to use nice smelling candles, odour eliminators, sprays and diffusers to have your home smelling fresh.
  • Cobwebs, dust and dirt is more visible in low lights so remember to give your home a thorough clean and go round with a duster before viewings.
  • Make the most of the winter and really emphasise the cosiness of your warm home with cushions, throws, lanterns, spiced citrus scents and rugs on hardwood floors.

How to get your home clutter free for Christmas

How to get your home clutter free for Christmas

Christmas is on its way and although you might already have plenty to do – having a thorough clear out of key areas of your home is a great way to get ready and make room for the trees, gifts, decorations and extra items that will be taking up space.

All I want for Christmas… is a clutter free home

Here are some of the best areas to focus on for your Pre-Christmas de clutter;

  • Spare Rooms

If you have relatives coming to stay over the festive season, then you might have a spare room that needs a bit of a clear out. Spare rooms are often the ‘go to’ dumping ground for all the extra and random items that we don’t have a place for. Go through all drawers, wardrobes, storage and units – getting rid of unwanted items and for those you want to keep that aren’t regularly used consider moving to a better storage space such as the garage or loft.

With a clear, clean spare room you’ll be able to warmly welcome your guests without that last minute panic.

  • Children’s Toys

Toys can very easily take over the house so whether it’s their bedrooms, playroom or other areas where toys are stored be sure to go through it all. It can be best to do this when children aren’t there as otherwise they tend to insist that the headless Barbie doll is suddenly their favourite toy and stop you from getting rid of anything.

This is also a great way to take stock of what your children have ahead of time which makes present buying and gift ideas easier and prevents doubling up or ending up with yet another set of playdough.

  • Kitchen

Your kitchen will likely be used a lot over Christmas with social get-togethers, family meals and of course Christmas day itself. By giving your kitchen a good clear out you can make sure it’s clean and clutter free for more relaxed Christmas cooking.

Have a think about what needs doing but food cupboards, fridge, freezer, junk drawers, pantry’s and utility rooms are all a great idea to prioritise. This will help make space for all the extra Christmas food and drink that you will need to find a place for.

  • Clothing

Chances are as the colder months draw in you have already moved out your summer clothes and grabbed last year’s scarves and jumpers from their hiding place without much thought. Use this time to go through yours and your family’s drawers and wardrobes to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit or is no longer worn.

This is a helpful way to make space but also get a sense for any items your family might want or need for Christmas. Maybe your partner’s slippers are looking a bit tired or your son’s favourite hoodie is getting too small? Get ahead of the game and put them on your shopping list to surprise them with on Christmas day.

What do I do with everything?

So you’ve been ruthless, the house is organised, tidy and free from unnecessary clutter and unwanted items – but what do you do with all the stuff you need to get rid of?

Selling – Make yourself a little extra Christmas cash and sell unwanted items on the likes of EBay and Facebook Sales.

Charity – There are so many great causes that are happy to take anything from clothes, toys and accessories to furniture so do your bit for a good cause and donate.

Dispose – Items that are unable to be sold or given to charity will need to be disposed of responsibly. Why not take the hassle out of clearing your house with skip hire in Brentwood and avoid the heavy lifting and tip runs in the rain. Simple, straight forward and affordable skip hire is a great way to clear out your home so you can fully enjoy the festive season.

Remortgaging Your Home To Fund An Extension

What Is The Best Way To Fund Your Home Renovation?

You may be able to use a credit card or small loan to fund your project, but other homeowners have an array of mortgage options available to them.

If you find yourself in the situation where you’ve outgrown your existing home, then you’ve got two options. You can either move to a different property, or you can look into building an extension. This can be a tough decision and finance may be a key factor in determining the solution. Recent data from TSB Bank suggests that two out of five homeowners would rather commit to building an extension in their existing property, rather than opt to move house and budget for the various fees that go hand in hand with a move. If you favour the idea of staying put and adding space to your home, then the next question you’ll have will be related to funding.

Credit Options For Smaller Conversions

If your proposed project is relatively low cost, perhaps a garage or loft conversion worth beneath £25,000, then you might be able to fund the renovations with your own savings, or potentially by taking out a small loan or using a credit card. Remember that some cards have 0% interest deals or can achieve this by completing a balance transfer, so this could be an option worth looking into.

Remortgaging For More Substantial Projects

Many people won’t have access to enough credit to fund an entire conversion project, particularly if the costs are expected to be more substantial and priced above £25,000. The best options for homeowners in this scenario are either to ask for further money from your existing mortgage lender, or else remortgage. The route you choose to go down will likely depend on how much time you have left on your current mortgage deal. Interest rates are extremely low at the moment with the Bank of England base rate held at 0.75% and the lowest tracker deals available at 0.98%. A remortgage brokers Wirral based firm explains that if you’re coming to the end of your current mortgage deal, then now would be a great time to remortgage which would allow you to release some equity for your extension project, whilst taking advantage of these historically low interest rates on your next mortgage product.

Alternatives Including Second Charge Products

Alternatively, if you’re already on a low tracker deal for example then there may not be much benefit to remortgaging, particularly if you’re locked in for a year or two and would need to pay charges to change or exit the deal. In this situation, you could either wait until your mortgage term is up and then switch to a different product, or else you could speak to your lender and ask them to advance you more funds. Another option is to take out a second charge mortgage. This type of product is typically taken out for home improvements such as extensions or other renovation works. It enables you to use the equity you have in your home as security, and then this sits alongside your current mortgage, essentially as a second mortgage on your home. If you opt for a second charge, then this is usually taken out from a different lender, and as such the mortgage rates can be somewhat higher than typical market rates. You might expect to pay almost 4% interest on a second charge mortgage in the current market.

If you need to build an extension to create extra space in your home, take your time in deciding how to pay for it, and always speak to a professional mortgage advisor who will determine the best method of funding depending on your personal situation.