Katherine Metcalfe, Partner and HSE law expert at Pinsent Masons

The Scottish Government’s cladding remediation programme continues to generate law reform with the announcement yesterday that the Single Building Assessment (SBS) programme will be expanded.

The pilot SBS scheme, designed to replace the EWS1 external wall assessment process in Scotland, came at a high cost in terms of time and demand, resulting in changes to the process.

The UK Government earlier agreed a scheme with major developers to fund the remediation of unsafe cladding in England – and Holyrood now also wants to take action to deal with the costs of remediation of existing buildings.

It has agreed with Homes for Scotland to develop a Scottish Safer Buildings Accord with their members and the broader sector, which replicates the English scheme.

The Scottish Government has indicated that it will use powers at its disposal to bring developers to the table if required, and will also take on the role of procuring surveys, with fire engineers conducting surveys and taking responsibility away from home owners and factors.

However, the English Building Safety Act 2022 will have other implications for cladding in Scotland. The Act establishes a new, UK-wide, construction products regulator with stronger powers to undertake market surveillance and testing, and to require the withdrawal of unsafe products from the market.

A new liability relating to construction products installed on residential buildings which result in homes being unfit for habitation will also apply in Scotland. This liability is targeted at manufacturers who make false or misleading statements about the suitability of their products for a particular purpose. However, the wide drafting could trip up others involved in the design and construction of buildings.

For new projects, construction firms in Scotland will also need to consider how changes to cladding regulations which come in to force next month could impact new and ongoing projects. Legislation has been introduced to ban the use of the highest risk cladding and combustible materials in buildings above 11 metres tall.

The reforms, which will come into force on 1 June, will also ban the highest risk metal composite cladding materials from any new building of any height – with replacement cladding also required to meet the new technical standards.
Firms have just over two weeks before the legislation is due to come into force and so will need to carefully consider how the changes impact their pipeline of projects to ensure they remain legally compliant.

New cladding systems on high rise blocks of flats are currently required to use non-combustible materials or pass a large-scale fire test called a BS 8414. If the cladding passes the test – even when it contains combustible materials – it can be used.

But the new building standards legislation removes the option of a BS 8414 test, completely banning combustible materials from use on domestic and other high-risk buildings above 11 metres. The combustible cladding ban will apply to all buildings with a storey 11 metres or more above the ground, as well as high risk buildings like hospitals, entertainment venues and residential care homes.

Implementing digital transformation into your business is essential for success. But with technological advancements dominating the business world, it’s important to assess the digital additions within your company to discover if they are making the expected improvements.

As a business leader, you may wonder where to start. Here, we explore five ways to improve digital experiences in the workplace.

Provide training on digital tools

There are plenty of ways digital additions will fit within your company, and there can be many purposes too. One benefit is that it can make your employees’ working processes quicker, whether it be through upgrading devices or even the installation of software. With technology constantly changing, workers often have to adapt to new tools. It can be tricky for employees to familiarise themselves with new concepts that they haven’t used before.

It’s important to provide regular training for employees. Not only will it make the transition easier for them, but tasks that require new technology will be completed at a quicker pace and to a high standard. Digital signage can be used to great effect in staff training, as it can not only provide valuable information but also offers a sense of belonging too.

Keep up to date with digital trends

The COVID-19 pandemic placed emphasis on the necessity for digital implementations in the workplace with many businesses making adaptations in a time of need. But the demand remains, with the digital transformation market expected to reach $490 billion in 2025 compared to $300 billion this year.

Therefore, the future holds many opportunities to incorporate technology into your business, so it’s essential to set time within your company to research current trends and the uses of new technology. Conducting research will allow you to gain insight into the benefits of various digital tools and assess which will be the right fit for you. And with many businesses also looking to improve digital experiences, keeping up to date with trends and new tools helps you stay competitive.

Avoid leaving your remote employees behind

Currently, one in five Brits work remotely. Despite this being the only solution for non-essential workers during the pandemic, working from home has remained even as lockdown restrictions eased. This has been possible due to technology being the saviour during lockdown, with remote work being incorporated into traditional working life and businesses finding a balance between the two.

Remote work offers businesses the opportunity to hire people who aren’t local. So in this instance, you may have just as many employees working from home as you do in the office. It’s key to regularly check in with these employees and ensure that their digital tools are up to scratch, as this is much more important to them than it is for employees working in the office. Ensuring that software and devices are up to date is a necessity so that they can continue to complete their work to a high standard. Planning regular video calls reassures them that they are appreciated in the company, and offers an opportunity to keep them connected.

Leave room for personalisation

Of course, digital additions will benefit everybody in the workplace. But it isn’t one size fits all, which is why an understanding of various technologies is beneficial for this.

Investing in one tool may offer a huge advantage to one specific role within your company, but it may be of no use to another – so plan ways to personalise digital tools for each role. Or if it’s something broad, such as artificial intelligence, it may be able to help many people within the workplace. But offering personalisation ensures that the digital implementations are improving your employees’ digital experience, as well as making your investments worth the time and money.

Measure the progress of your digital additions

Progress monitoring is a vital part of adding digital transformations. You may have integrated a new technology that is the perfect fit for your company, but it is key for you to monitor how successful it is within the workplace.

This can be done by comparing data of your new and improved process with your previous routine, or even through requesting customer reviews and feedback from employees. By gathering results frequently, you can measure the success of the digital experiences within your business and gain an insight into whether you need any extra technological tools or upgrades. Additionally, businesses that track their goals are twice as likely to hit all their goals within a year – so it’s a crucial step to improve digital experiences.

 

In recent years, we have learned to rely on technology. It’s a vital aspect of the business world and is transforming businesses to become more fast-paced and adaptable. It’s important to understand why you’re implementing different technologies and the benefits your employees or customers will see as a result. Deploying solutions such as IPTV distribution to remote users and employees working from home enables then to access live and on-demand IPTV content, which can help them in their working day. Equally, remote collaboration tools will help them to keep in touch with colleagues. Without a plan in place to improve the digital experience within your company, the additions that you provide can become somewhat useless. Understanding the ways to improve are essential to keep your business competitive.

 

Sources

https://www.toprightpartners.com/insights/7-ways-to-improve-digital-experience-for-employees/

https://nectarhr.com/blog/digital-employee-experience

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/how-covid-19-has-pushed-companies-over-the-technology-tipping-point-and-transformed-business-forever

https://jobdescription-library.com/remote-working-statistics-uk

https://www.liveplan.com/blog/tracking-metrics-makes-you-2x-more-likely-to-reach-your-goals/

MTD is an acronym for Making Tax Digital. It is a governmental initiative that requires businesses store their financial data as well as process and submit their taxes digitally. It affects VAT and income tax. Admittedly, it can be confusing and hard to understand for business owners exactly what their obligations will be under the new rules. However, the purpose of this governmental initiative is to streamline the process of processing and submitting tax returns, because not only that incorrectly filed taxes cost the government several billion pounds per year, but they cause businesses disruption, stress and possible fines.

VAT is an acronym for Value Added Tax, a type of tax that businesses whose annual turnover is greater than £85000 are required to collect from customers on behalf of HMRC. The standard rate of VAT is currently set at 20% of the price of an item. This means that if you want to get £100 for a product you wish to sell, and you are VAT registered, you will have to add VAT on amounting to £20 pounds. This further means that you will actually sell it to your customer for £120, then you will send £20 to HMRC and keep the £100.

With respect to MTD for VAT, it deployed in two stages. The first stage rolled out on 1 APR 2019, requiring all businesses whose turnover is above £85000, and are therefore VAT registered, to store digitally their financial records relating to VAT and to submit their VAT return online using HMRC-approved accounting software. The second stage will roll out on 1 APR 2022 and will require all VAT registered businesses regardless of their turnover (even those whose turnover is below the £85000 threshold) to comply with MTD (i.e. store their financial records relating to VAT digitally and to submit their VAT return online using HMRC-approved accounting software).
In brief, there are two essential elements to MTD:
• Businesses and organisations (which includes those with income from property) are required to maintain digital accounting records. Maintaining paper records ceases to meet the requirements of the tax legislation.
• Businesses and organisations are required to use a functional compatible software product to submit updates and returns to HMRC. The current HMRC online tax return services for the relevant tax are withdrawn when a business signs up to MTD.
How to become MTD compliant ? You will have to install and use an HMRC- approved accounting software to store your financial data and to calculate and submit your tax returns. Accountants must ensure that suitable software is in place before they sign a client up for the MTD service. Now might be the ideal time to engage the services of an accountant to do all the work for you and provide you with all the tax advice you need.

by Laura Sterian
LAS Accounting Ltd

For many of us, we spend almost a quarter of our week working so when we’re doing a job without any sense of purpose, it can impact on our wellbeing. When we feel like we’re undertaking monotonous and repetitive tasks day-in, day-out, it can drain us of our mental and physical energy.

But a sense of purpose can mean different things to different people, depending on what motivates us or what gives us that feeling of fulfilment. Maybe you have an interest in a certain field that you’re passionate about and you want to feel as though you’re making a positive contribution towards a bigger goal. It’s these kinds of passions or interests that can influence our career choices in the first place.

Why do we need a sense of purpose?

Although you’ve probably experienced an unfulfilling job at some point in your life and you’ve craved for something more meaningful, there are also scientific studies that have shown how a sense of purpose can motivate us and create a barrier against stress and anxiety.

Some ways that having a sense of purpose can affect our health include:

  • When there’s greater meaning behind the work we do it can minimise stress-related illnesses such as anxiety, stress, depression, and high blood pressure. In turn, this means that we are less likely to take sick days from work.
  • By feeling like we are directing our energy towards something meaningful or a greater goal, we are more motivated and happier in our work.
  • Having an interest in or a reason for the work we do, gives us a sense of pride and encourages us to aim higher and achieve more. This means that we are more likely to be committed to our job.
  • Time feels like it goes faster when we’re doing a job that we get enjoyment or satisfaction out of. When time drags it can make us feel resentful and anxious about going to work.

In The McKinsey Podcast, Naina Dhingra explains how through her studies, she has found that “about 70 per cent of people say they define their purpose through work. And, actually, millennials, even more so, are likely to see their work as their life calling. So what this means is that people are looking for opportunities in the work they do day-to-day to be actually contributing to what they believe their purpose is.”

From these findings it’s important that both employees and employers are clear about the purpose of the company and the staff roles within it. By ensuring there’s a clearer understanding of each role, employees will feel like they have a sense of purpose, and this will ultimately create confidence within individuals. Be clear about how each role contributes to the bigger picture of the company and its mission. This way all workers, regardless of how big or small they feel their role is in the workplace, will know that they are making an important contribution, and this will not only boost their wellbeing, but it can also significantly increase their motivation and levels of commitment.

If you have any questions or queries regarding our service or resources, please contact us on 0845-872-1780 or by email at info@firstpsychology-assistance.co.uk. Our team are available during normal working hours and we would be delighted to help you.

Having discussed their original business plan over a pint of beer, Steve Johnstone and Dan Hay are raising a glass to 10 successful years in charge of Alliance Creative.

From those early conversations in an Edinburgh bar a decade ago, the pair have established the firm as Scotland’s biggest creative collective and are looking to build an even stronger brand going forward.

From humble beginnings, the Alliance now has a core team covering print and digital design, web development and motion graphics all backed up by a dedicated project management team. The business boasts a further network of more than 100 specialists drawn from a wide range of creative disciplines, all based throughout Scotland.

From TV/video and artwork to copywriting and brand strategy, they provide creative services to a diverse UK-wide client base, including the likes of Virgin Money, Phoenix Group, VELUX, Macdonald Hotels, ZSL London Zoo, National Museums Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland and Edinburgh Napier University.

“We’re a completely different company to the one which started out in 2011, but that has been a gradual process,” said Dan. “We have had to change with the times and I’d like to think we have managed that quite successfully.

“Steve and I knew each other for over 20 years before setting this up. It was all about attracting people we trusted who had a really good name in our industry. We are very selective about the people we get involved with, meaning our clients know we only supply a high-calibre workforce.

“The reputation we have built up has really helped us expand our client base.”

Co-founder Steve admitted it took a ‘lightbulb’ moment a few years ago when the business model was changed to allow the Edinburgh-based company to grow and unleash its potential.

“At the outset we felt compelled to do everything ourselves, but about four years ago we had a massive ‘growing up’ period when we realised we had to change to take the business to the next level,” he said.

“We looked at our roles as directors and learned to step back and entrust our staff with more of the management of day-to-day operations. The staff know that their input is crucial to driving success, as well as shaping their own career paths, essentially making sure we are playing everyone to their strengths.

“We want to give greater ownership to the people who work in our business. In other agency cultures, the feeling of self-worth and inclusivity had often been eroded and we are proud to have bucked that trend. It’s not about Dan and I always calling the shots, we want to give people a voice in determining the direction in which the business is going, and also how they live their lives outwith work.”

It’s appropriate that the foundations for Alliance Creative were first discussed over a beer or two as the social aspect of business life continues to play an important role in the company’s progress.“It’s always been a key driver to foster a real community aspect to our business, by re-addressing things like paying everyone for every hour they work and paying them on time. These complaints were common in our industry and ones we felt we could put right,” said Steve.

“We are proud to have brought a bit of stability to the self-employed in our sector, making sure people’s rates remain appropriate and them not having to chase invoices either, even though we maybe as a business hadn’t been paid ourselves by our clients.

“We have managed to do that from very early on and it has been a big plus for us as a company. It helps enforce that element of trust, we can’t underplay how important that is. We also applied an overtime payment structure for any out-of-hours work they conduct, something that seems to be very rare these days, in our experience.

“Socially, we also realised the need for regular get-togethers. We have a focused event for just the Alliance folk, hosting a summer and Christmas party as a ‘thank you’ as well as a few other Friday ‘gatherings’. It’s hugely important to us, giving people a sense of belonging to an organisation rather than just being out there on their own.

“It’s something we have had a lot of positive feedback about and aim to continue.”

While delighted to celebrate 10 years of driving change in the industry, the pair are relieved to have coped with the challenges of Covid over the last 24 months or so, staffing levels having actually risen by 25% during the pandemic.

“We had to knuckle down and protect the core part of the business, which thankfully we managed to do,” said Dan. “Everyone pulled together when they needed to and were brilliant.

“The last couple of years have been tough but everyone has been so patient and understanding as we figured out the best way forward for the business. We had to furlough everyone at the start so it was just myself and Steve doing the work, but gradually we were able to bring them back as the workload increased again.

“We have an amazing team behind us and Covid showed just how well they get on and want to support each other. Securing jobs for our workforce has been a major highlight of the past couple of years. That experience, as tough as it was, has us in a good place to push on this year and we’re really looking forward to the future.”

So what does 2022 have in store for Alliance Creative?

“Big idea creative campaigns are one of the things we want more of in the new year, as is strategic planning – we are confident in our services, and have a lot to offer,” added Steve.

“We are the agency alternative. The depth and breadth of high-quality creatives you can tap into with the Alliance is unrivalled in Scotland, so we’re as good as any agency out there in terms of the level of experience on offer, we just want to put them all to good use.”

For anyone looking to market their business more effectively in 2022, it costs nothing to have a quick chat with the Alliance – maybe over something cold and refreshing!

PROFILE INSIGHTS WITH GEOFF PALMER – SHIPS AGENCY BRANCH MANAGER

  1. Where and when did you start in shipping? I started as a trainee agent on Monday 3rd February 1992 for SCOTMAR agencies (latterly OBC). I spent 8 years with OBC, then 16 years between two other large shipping agencies before making my best move to Cory Brothers where I have been since December 2016.
  2. How did you get into it? My mum spotted an advert in the local newspaper, said it would suit me and she applied to it for me! I’d just finished an IT course at college and was looking for a job at 19. I’ll always be very grateful to my Mum for getting me into this career.
  3. What do you like about it? It’s different! it’s more a way of life than a job, never mundane or overly repetitive
  4. What’s the best and worst parts? Sometimes there is just not enough hours in the day, and it can impact on the home / work life balance. Otherwise, the variety, the pace and the above all – the people.
  5. Where have you travelled for your job? Around the UK mostly Immingham – 6 week pipe laying project running pipes from Immingham to Guinevere oil field. Aberdeen – 6 months secondment before going off to Greenock for 18 months and then the beautiful Flotta (Orkneys) for a further 18-month secondment to source and open an office.
  6. What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in shipping? Communication. In the early days, there were no emails or mobile phones. All messages were relayed using a Cheetah telex machine and statement of facts (shipping specific requirements) were hand typed in triplicate using carbon paper. All vessels were physically attended upon arrival, then we as agents had to attend the local Customs office (24/7) to report the ship inwards and outwards clearance if required, using the vessels original certificates, which were treated like gold until returned to ship. A night shift really was a night shift!
  7. What things would you change about the shipping industry? Something I feel strongly about! The work an agent does is on the whole unrecognised or compensated sufficiently.
  8. What do you do unwind when not at work? My first love is ice hockey which I still play occasionally, but more recently I’ve taken up golf which I really enjoy. My wife Sharon and I have four teenage boys between us (who all live at home) so home life is never dull and I adore family time.
  9. This is Cory Brothers 180th anniversary – what is their recipe for longevity? Never standing still – literally! To survive and thrive in an ever-changing world for so long is incredible – to navigate through 180 years of feast, famine, war and more underlines our ability to plan, invest and adapt.
  10. What changes do you foresee for the ships agency sector over the next 5-10 years? Admin heavy! Agency was very much a presence based / ship side role but has and will going forward be much more of a virtual process and admin exercise. The human touch is diminishing in areas but will always be important in this vital sector.

FOOD LOVERS have been going wild for an Edinburgh chef’s arancini ball recipe, with more than 150kg’s worth of the classic Italian snack being produced over a six-month period.

Pedro Videira (22), Chef De Partie at Ten Hill Place Hotel which is managed by Surgeons Quarter, has made well over 3,000 of the fried risotto balls over a six-month period since the hotel launched its latest menu at the end of July.

Surgeons Quarter promotes, sells and manages the commercial activities held within the four venues of Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd).

The arancini starter has become the bestselling item on the menu with around 125 portions sold every week across the hospitality organisation’s hotel restaurant as well as its meeting and event spaces.

Pedro, who is originally from Portugal and now based in Edinburgh, said: “It’s hard to say why the arancini balls have been such a big hit, but it’s probably due to them being crispy on the outside with melting cheesy risotto on the inside. What’s not to like?

“I may be biased but I agree with our guests that it’s a brilliant way to start your meal and if I was dining at a Surgeons Quarter venue, I’d probably have it myself.

“The melting cheese and arrabbiata sauce is a match made in heaven.”

Originating in Sicily, Arancini are Italian rice balls that are stuffed, coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried, weighing roughly 50g per ball with three in each portion.

However, with the delicate panée process and depending on the volume required, Pedro can spend up to a few hours at a time in the kitchen.

Pedro has been with Surgeons Quarter for over five years and believes teamwork is the key the success of any item of the menu.

Pedro added: “Like everything in life, when you do something repeatedly it does become a bit tiring however I find making arancini balls a pretty fun process and making panée is rather relaxing.

“We have a running joke in the kitchen that I’ve made so many portions, I’d be able to whip up a batch in my sleep!”

Drinks & Dining, which is based within the hotel, launched a new menu in August with mouth-watering additions such as Seared Hand Dived Scallops, and 16oz Chateaubriand to Share featuring as new dining options.

Surgeons Quarter’s profits go towards the College’s charitable objectives of improving surgical standards and patient outcomes worldwide.

DIGITAL_WELLBEING_NOV21_2

‘Digital wellbeing’ is becoming a necessity. Receiving too much information, not getting enough messages and constantly checking our phone can make us feel exhausted and anxious. 

We are more dependent on technology than ever- App analytics company App Annie found that in April 2020 people spent around four hours and 18 minutes on their mobile devices, an increase of 20% compared to 2019.

We live in a digital world and there is not an instruction manual that we can learn from how to manage being connected 24/7 without saturating ourselves. The time we spend surfing the internet brings us many benefits, but also threats. Understanding our habits, the things that are good and bad for us, and the time we spend on them can help us find the perfect balance.

Here are three easy steps for a healthier relationship with technology:

Monitor the hours you spend on devices

How many emails do you receive per day, how many messages, how many hours do you spend on each TikTok or Instagram? Keeping track of screen time is important. Studies suggest that we tend to underestimate the time we spend browsing and swiping, monitoring will provide insight and give us an idea of the changes we can make. 

There are usually built in apps on Android and iOS that can help you monitor your activity on particular apps. This could be used to minimise your time spent on social media, for example.

Beware of your image and the information you put online

Have you checked what comes up when your name is typed into a search engine? How many times have you given information when registering on websites or apps? Does anyone read the terms and conditions? We all have WhatsApp, bank apps, Google Maps, our calendars, etc, and one can basically monitor our entire life through our phones. We need to assure our information is well protected,  with strong passwords and two factor authentication if possible. Not only to protect your identity and data online, but also to help you minimise anxiety about hacking and fraud.

Screen time sometimes also equals joy

Our devices can be a source of stress and worry, but also of joy. The things we enjoy doing with our devices are also important. Gaming, learning, connecting with friends and family, watching your favourite shows, helping you organise your day – these are all things our electronic devices help us with. If it’s something you enjoy, you need to factor screen-based activities into our daily schedule in the same way that we include sport or work.

We are going through a time of unbelievable technological advances – AI, Quantum Technology, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality… There is nothing wrong with spending some time on your favourite apps and activities, if it brings you joy, embrace it!

Conclusion

Sudden and radical changes in our technological behaviour risk making us feel even more isolated but there are many things we can do to improve our digital experience. Start small and try to answer the questions we posed and become more digitally aware:

  • How many different e-mails or social media accounts do I have?
  • What information appears when I search my name on Google?
  • What protection do I have so that no one can access my computer/smartphone?
  • Do I spend many hours online without knowing what I’m looking at, and then feel tired?

Wellbeing at CodeClan

Hundreds of hours or code-alongs, labs and homework require a healthy routine that works for you, with a foundation of self-care, the ability to focus and good energy levels.

On CodeClan immersive courses, we take wellbeing seriously and do our best to instil good habits through a series of workshops and talks.

Browse our courses

If the last couple of years has taught us anything, it’s that businesses need to expect the unexpected.

A period of massive political and economic change has meant trading has been extremely difficult, in particular for small- and medium-sized firms, who will have seen their cash flow significantly hit.

Some certainty in uncertain times

Recent times have been anything but straightforward for businesses and many are looking for ways to take control of their finances.   The good news is that getting a smart meter for your business is a small change that could make a big difference.

A smart meter allows businesses to wave goodbye to estimated billing by securely and automatically sending meter readings to your energy supplier.  That means that you receive accurate bills, rather than estimated bills, allowing you the certainly of paying for exactly what you are using.

Plus you can also wave goodbye to time spent submitting regular meter readings, allowing you to focus on bigger things.

Doing your bit for the environment

As Glasgow hosts COP26 this year it’s a good reminder of everyone’s responsibility to become more conscious of their environmental impact.  Regardless of whether your business has three employees, or three thousand, we all should be aware of how much energy we’re using, and a smart meter is a step in the right direction.  From the moment your smart meter is installed, you’re helping create a smart energy system which could ultimately help reduce all our carbon emissions.

A smart meter is a positive step in taking control of business outgoings and if your firm has 10 employees or less your business could be eligible.

To find out more please click here. You can also contact your energy supplier or broker.  It could be one of the best calls you make this week.

Circular Edinburgh supports local businesses across the city to help them understand the benefits of the Circular Economy and help them embed more circular economy practices. The team supports businesses from all sectors and all sizes.

Find out more about some of the businesses we have helped in this video.