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How to use technology to make your business more flexible in 2018

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Alex Tebbs

Alex Tebbs, co-founder of unified communications specialist VIA.

It’s no secret that flexible working in 2018 is now a norm for businesses and entrepreneurs alike. ‘Digital era’ employees are working more flexibly than ever before which has proven to increase productivity levels, whether staff are inside or outside of an office.

Alex Tebbs, co-founder of unified communications specialist VIA.

Alex Tebbs, co-founder of unified communications specialist VIA.

It is critical that businesses make sure their technology is up-to-date to facilitate this environment, to ensure that they are embracing flexibility in the most efficient way possible. Similarly, those starting businesses from home, working freelance or beginner entrepreneurs, need to make sure that they’re investing in the latest technologies so that they’re prepared for this changing landscape.

Why update business technologies?

Flexible working solutions shouldn’t be dependant on the size of the business. From entrepreneurs to well established global organisations, using flexible technology and systems can benefit everyone.

The advantages of being flexible today are widely agreed upon. Generally, it enables a practical work/life balance which increases the well-being of employees, strengthening collaboration and sense of community amongst colleagues. This has also been proven to increase staff retention and a more empowered and motivated workforce.

Flexible technology options

Technology enables business operations to be a lot more flexible, as it provides the ability for colleagues to instantly communicate and collaborate with each other via different systems. For example, screen sharing capabilities allow meetings to go ahead remotely as if the entire team is present around one computer. Many screen-sharing applications are now readily available online including Google Chrome remote desktop, Join.me and Skype.

Video conference calling often allows more efficiency than actual meetings because it does not require a large amount of office preparation, in fact travel expenses with clients can be saved by clearing up any issues through video calls. There are multiple systems available with different benefits and costs depending on your requirements, such as Skype, ezTalks and Google Hangouts.

Many companies offer innovative unified packages that make business management processes almost effortless. Cloud-based solutions, such as Via, offer a consolidated managed portal to ease business communications in today’s multi-channel, multi-device world. 

Online document sharing

Cloud-based drive systems allow employees to effectively collaborate with colleagues to increase productivity within teams, large and small. By using online document sharing, such as Google Drive, employees have transparency between clients and staff, with the ability to restrict access to certain files if needed. In turn, having business documents available within the cloud adds a sense of security that is hard to ensure with physical copies.

Project management systems

Project management systems are able to plan, schedule, organise and allocate resources across teams. These also often include instant messaging communication tools for use amongst both employees and clients. With many systems to choose from such as Basecamp, Teamwork Projects or Scoro, many freelancers and smaller entrepreneurs today are opting for the one that suits their needs – and their budget – best.

Instant messaging and communication tools

In addition to project management systems, the industry has seen a rise of instant messaging platforms. This allows both flexible and office workers to provide fast updates on projects across the organisation. This builds the community within an organisation, and allows remote freelancers to feel more included.

In order to keep up with the fast paced flexible working environment, entrepreneurs and small businesses alike will have to begin investing in these technologies. It’s important to keep in mind that despite the advancements of technology, face to face interaction is still an important factor of relationship building and business. Successful entrepreneurs will integrate a mix of both advanced cloud-based systems and traditional communication into their workflow.

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Sunak to raise business tax to pay for COVID-19 support – The Sunday Times

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Sunak to raise business tax to pay for COVID-19 support - The Sunday Times 1

(Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak is set to increase a tax on business to pay for an extension to COVID-19 support schemes in the budget next month, The Sunday Times reported https://bit.ly/3ujaBcU.

Sunak, in his speech on March 3, will announce he is increasing corporation tax from 19 pence in the pound and will outline a pathway where it rises to 23 pence in the pound by the time of the next general election, the report said. The move will raise an expected 12 billion pounds ($16.8 billion) a year, the report added.

According to the report, at least 1 pence is set to be added to the bill for business from this autumn, at a cost to business of 3 billion pounds, with further rises in subsequent years.

Allies of Sunak clarified he would not increase corporation tax higher than 23%.

These measures will be helpful in paying for an extension to the furlough scheme, VAT cuts and business support loans until at least August.

Unlike the 2010 Conservative-led government, which pursued spending cuts to rebalance the economy after the global financial crisis, Sunak is expected to defer most of the toughest decisions about how to pay for that support in his budget speech.

“The corporation tax hike will be higher than expected and the extension of the support schemes will be longer than most people expect,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

Insiders indicated the stamp duty holiday on property purchases would also be extended in line with the other coronavirus support measures, the report said.

Britain’s economy had its biggest slump in 300 years in 2020, when it contracted by 10%, and will shrink by 4% in the first three months of 2021, the Bank of England predicts.

($1 = 0.7136 pounds)

 

(Reporting by Vishal Vivek in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

 

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Foxconn chairman says expects “limited impact” from chip shortage on clients

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Foxconn chairman says expects "limited impact" from chip shortage on clients 2

TAIPEI (Reuters) – The chairman of Apple Inc supplier Foxconn said on Saturday he expects his company and its clients will face only “limited impact” from a chip shortage that has rattled the global automotive and semiconductor industries.

“Since most of the customers we serve are large customers, they all have proper precautionary planning,” said Liu Young-way, chairman of the manufacturing conglomerate formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd

“Therefore, the impact on these large customers is there, but limited,” he told reporters.

Liu said he expected the company to do well in the first half of 2021, “especially as the pandemic is easing and demand is still being sustained.”

The global spread of COVID-19 has increased demand for laptops, gaming consoles, and other electronics. This caused chip manufacturers to reallocate capacity away from the automotive sector, which was expecting a steep downturn.

Now, car manufacturers such as Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co have cut output as chip capacity has shrunk.

Counterpoint Research says the shortage has extended to the smartphone sector, with application processors, display driver chips, and power management chips all facing a crunch.

However, the research firm predicts Apple will face a minimal impact, due to its large size and its suppliers’ tendency to prioritise it. Apple is Foxconn’s largest customer.

Foxconn is looking at other areas for growth, including in electric vehicles (EVs), and Liu said their EV development platform MIH now had 736 partner companies participating.

He expected it would have two or three models to show by the fourth quarter, though did not expect EVs to make an obvious contribution to company earnings until 2023.

Liu also said the company was still looking for semiconductor fab purchase opportunities in Southeast Asia after not winning a bid to take over a stake in Malaysia-based 8-inch foundry house Silterra.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Jeanny Kao; Writing by Josh Horwitz; Editing by William Mallard and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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EU seeks alliance with U.S. on climate change, tech rules

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EU seeks alliance with U.S. on climate change, tech rules 3

By Sabine Siebold and Kate Abnett

BERLIN (Reuters) – Europe and the United States should join forces in the fight against climate change and agree on a new framework for the digital market, limiting the power of big tech companies, European Union chief executive Ursula von der Leyen said.

“I am sure: A shared transatlantic commitment to a net-zero emissions pathway by 2050 would make climate neutrality a new global benchmark,” the president of the European Commission said in a speech at the virtual Munich Security Conference on Friday.

“Together, we could create a digital economy rulebook that is valid worldwide: a set of rules based on our values, human rights and pluralism, inclusion and the protection of privacy.”

The EU has pledged to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, while President Joe Biden has committed the United States to become a “net zero economy” by 2050.

Scientists say the world must reach net zero emissions by 2050 to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times and avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

The hope is that a transatlantic alliance could help persuade large emitters who have yet to commit to this timeline – including China, which is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2060, and India.

“The United States is our natural partner for global leadership on climate change,” von der Leyen said.

She called the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol a turning point for the discussion on the impact social media has on democracies.

“Of course, imposing democratic limits on the uncontrolled power of big tech companies alone will not stop political violence,” von der Leyen said. “But it is an important step.”

She was referring to a draft set of rules unveiled in December which aims to rein in tech companies that control troves of data and online platforms relied on by thousands of companies and millions of Europeans for work and social interactions.

They show the European Commission’s frustration with its antitrust cases against the tech giants, notably Alphabet Inc’s Google, which critics say have not addressed the problem.

But they also risk inflaming tensions with Washington, already irked by Brussels’ attempts to tax U.S. tech firms more.

Von der Leyen said Facebook’s decision on a news blackout on Thursday in response to a forthcoming Australian law requiring it and Google to share revenue from news underscored the importance of a global approach to dealing with tech giants.

(Additional reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Robin Emmott and Nick Macfie; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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