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Management

How Do I Check My Businesses Compliance Requirements?

Keeping your business legal and up to code is crucial for the owner of any company. If your business is not compliant with different rules and regulations, you won’t be able to legally operate on the market. You can also run into issues with lawsuits that can cost your business thousands in damages. But how do you make sure that your business is legally compliant? Well, the first step is to make sure you know and understand the legal requirements of your company. There are quite a few to take into consideration here. There are both internal and external regulations that businesses must abide by.

Internal Company Regulations

Internal regulations cover requirements within the company such as forming a board to manage and update bylaws. To ensure that internal regulations are abided by, it is important that businesses keep accurate and up to date records of any proceedings in the company. This is the easiest way to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Business owners can use compliance kits containing internal agreements and examples of bylaws to ensure that everyone follows the set rules.

Internal regulations are designed to ensure that everything within the business is kept up to a certain code of ethics. With internal regulations in place, businesses are able to avoid issues with corruption and embezzlement. However, it is important to realize that businesses are held by government regulations as well.

External Regulations

External requirements can vary depending on the state your business is operating in. For this reason, business owners who aim to remain compliant must look up local laws and regulations. Or, hire a legal advisor. They will be able to help guarantee that your business is always compliant, even if regulations change as they often do.

Typically, external regulations can include franchise tax. A franchise tax is charged as a fee for operating, and the amount can vary based on a number of factors including the number of shares a company holds.

Beyond regulations like this, you need to understand the responsibilities you have as a business owner. Particularly, how you can be held accountable when running your workplace. For instance, you do need to protect the health and safety of your workers, as dictated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

OSHA

OSHA ensures that the rights of workers to operate in a safe environment are protected. It covers a broad range of responsibilities for the employer. For instance, employers must provide a work environment free of serious health hazards as recognized under the OSH Act. One example of a serious hazard would be poor air quality. If the air in the environment where employees operate is filled with dangerous pollutants, businesses are legally accountable for any injuries sustained.

OSH law is also in place to ensure that employees are using the right tools to complete certain jobs in the workplace safely. For instance, workers in the industrial industry should be provided with safety gear such as harnesses.

According to OSH law, business owners should also make sure that they are training business employees about potential hazards. They should have a plan in place to prevent potential injuries and ensure that workers are provided with all the information they need to stay safe.

These are just some of the responsibilities an employer has under OSH law. There are many more, and they are all designed to protect the rights of American workers with regards to health and safety.

If you are concerned about an issue with OSH law, it is possible to arrange a consultation. OSHA provides free on-site consultation services to all business owners. As such, you will be able to check that your business is legally compliant and go beyond what is expected of you.

Of course, in some cases ensuring you are legally compliant is about taking the right steps to protect yourself. This is the case with PCI DSS compliance.

PCI DSS

PCI DSS is another example of a legal area where your business must remain compliant with specific regulations. It stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Essentially, this is about keeping sensitive data safe by merchants, no matter how big the business might be. To do this, there are a number of set rules that you must follow.

Many business owners find checking business compliance in this area is incredibly difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Some of the requirements include managing security, software usage, and network development. There are 12 requirements in total, but the main aim is to show that you are abiding by PCI DSS standards.

To prove that you are compliant and check that your business is up to code in this area, you can fill in a self-assessment. The questions on this assessment will vary depending on the type of business you are operating. For instance, an online company accepting credit card purchases will be held by different regulations compared with another business that only offers direct forms of payment. There are tools available online that can help you become and remain compliant in this area for your business.

Read more about PCI DSS compliance here.

Industry Specific Compliances

You may find that compliancy laws can differ depending on the industry your business is operating in. An example of this would be businesses operating in regulatory environments. Most businesses these days are using some form of cloud-based software. The benefits of a cloud server are too expansive to explain here, however security levels can differ. Businesses operating in regulatory environments may find that the server they are using does not provide the level of security to ensure their company is legally compliant. This is why businesses must always check specific industry legal requirements and ensure they are keeping their company up to code.

To close, there are a number of business compliance requirements that companies must abide by. Some are tied to certain circumstances such as hiring your first members of staff. Others will be industry specific, and many more are universal for any business. While there are tools online and plenty of resources for information on legal requirements, the best way to stay up to code is to consult a lawyer. You should also be checking for changes regularly. Regulations and legal requirements are constantly altered so you must stay up to date.

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Management

Is Work-Life Balance Making Us Less Productive and Lazy?

smartphone

Striking the right ‘work-life’ balance is still the talk of the town among workers of all ages and experience.

Job seekers, are no longer afraid to mention they have a home life, and that they won’t be married to the job.

Also there’s the realities of harmful stress on health and relationships, it has been a reality check for many of us over the years and now we value more freedom and flexibility often more than our pay packet.

Businesses have been slow on the uptake however that is changing albeit not through altruism  but from it’s huge cost savings in operations including less office space and technology required.

Startups can engage staff where they reside not necessarily where the business is located.   Still there remains  some doubt as to it’s real value to economy.

Are we losing overall productivity?   Is flexi-time, more holidays and remote working making us lazy?  If you don’t have to go into the office why would you and is this affecting team relationships and the sharing of information?

There are so many questions and no right or wrong answer.

Work-life Conflict

Why is it still a thing some 40 years on?  To find out we need to look at some of it’s drivers; namely technology and women.  The work-life conflict was first mentioned by workers in the UK in late 1970s and a few years later in the US and here we are today nearly 40 years later still flying it’s flag, women probably more so than men.

Women

Positive female role models and more women in the workforce, has kept the movement alive and well and some might argue it has been the driving influence of better employment terms, and pay. Only recently it was reported Canadian women are investing almost as much as men in the market now and that’s due to the shrinking wage gap, and lower unemployment, among other factors.

Technology

The use of systems that allow workers to be monitored while working remotely, has given the power back to the Business. Not only can they keep tabs on their workers and their productivity via software like online chat they can grab the huge savings less office space and services allows.

Hot desks are now the norm in corporate offices. Plus companies can also get away with providing less technology too. Hardware like desktops are less in demand now as workers can use their own computers.

BYODs

Workers in many industries are now encouraged to use their own hardware and software. This means some may use Apple while others use Microsoft and then there’s also the array of smart devices in use too.

BYODs (bring your own devices) can be secure in the workplace with firewalls and other security systems. They access company systems and software as well as their own personal assets. This technology leap is a big win-win for both the user and the business.

Final thoughts

The way we work is forever evolving and technology means we are more connected now than ever before.

Reading emails and texts in the evening or first thing in the morning and on weekends suggests we are probably working more, and we’re more productive with our time now than previously.

What we do know is nothing stands still. Change is inevitable, especially in business, and with technology. Soon everything will be using AI, so you can be sure there’s a lot more transformation in the way we work and where we do it just around the corner.

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Management

Work Times Are Changing For The Better

phone

Leaders in business have always had more leeway with their working hours.  They have never been restrained by the standard business hours most of us are contracted to do every week. You know what I’m referring to, most ‘wage-slaves’ i.e. employees, need to work Monday to Friday between 8am and 6 pm, for 40 hours a week.

Flexi time for workers has crept in, in many industries, over the years, particularly with startups and more forward-thinking organisations keen to get the work-life balance right. Remote working has been popular with these businesses, but any change to the norm has been slow progress particularly with the mainstream majority. Let’s take a quick look at the adoption curve which explains uptake trends.

Adoption Curve

The early and late majority is the big peak in the ‘rate of adoption’ curve aka diffusions of innovation.   This curve presents the way innovation (particularly in technology) is adopted by us – human kind and the curve is an illustration we can view and instantly comprehend.

Work times are changing but arguably it’s yet to become the norm with the ‘majority’, (the peak in the curve). There is some way to go before we see real change the times we work and for it to be part of our employment agreements.

Slow on the uptake

Business owners and their management have not been quick off the mark with remote working or flex time and there’s a perfectly valid reason for their reluctance.

Trust and accountability

A lack of trust and the ability to keep a watchful eye on staff, when they’re not in the office, is the main reason for the slow uptake of more flexible working hours and working away from the office.

Leaders are inherently naturally driven and motivated to put in the hours due to their status within the business, therefore working from their home or holiday is not a constant distraction. Their staff are likely to take more liberty with their new work environment and a lack of personal oversight has deterred many businesses to the leap of faith until now.

Technology

Technology is the game changer and it is empowering businesses, like never before. There are many tools like chat Apps, readily available to assist both staff and management’s trust issues.

Chat App

Staff can be hired in different locations and remote workers can be part of team meetings via conference calls.  Plus there’s the use chat bot software so the power and control is there for the business to watch over their staff.

More Flexibility

The natural progression of work is more flexible work times, as jobs also change.  The earlier risers can get their work done when they’re most productive, in much the same way as the night owls among us can log on and be equally as productive during the dark hours of the day. Rising early though has gotten a lot of attention lately.

Just look at the rising times of some well known Entrepreneurs.  BBC has recently done a story on the unorthodox waking hours of successful business owners, celebrities and famous people and questioned if rising early meant more success.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is up at 03.45am and Actor, Entrepreneur, Mark Wahlberg really uses the 24 hours in day to work for him.  Rising at 02.30am and going to bed at 7.30 pm.

No longer does it need to be daylight before we rise and get to work and it’s likely this way of living where we elect when we work during 24 hours of the day, will extend to the rest of us non super stars, as evidence suggests, when productivity goes up so to does the revenue and profit.

So as for the early bird does get the worm idiom, yes it’s real but for everyone and that’s why work times are changing as businesses need to be more competitive.  The desire to make more money will keep pushing the envelope in all areas of business and with the enabler of technology to track and measure us, it won’t be long before there’s no such thing as standard work times.

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Management

Giving Your Travel Business An Edge Through A Call Handling Service

people, calls

It is clear that the telephone plays a vital role in the day-to-day running of businesses, especially for a travel agency. With the development of digital technology, the telephone can now be carried by anyone in the form of a small hand-held device wherein you can call, chat or video chat with someone located on the other side of the world in real time, and seek and find information on just about anything through the internet, all at the touch of a button or a click of the mouse. This technological breakthrough has made being connected not only easy and convenient but also a must. But what happens when the calls continue to come even after work hours and even during holidays?

If you take a close look at a business such as a travel agency, this is exactly the type of organisation that can really benefit from a call handling service.

Taking Bookings

The primary role of a travel agency is to make airline ticket bookings, which is a role that a virtual receptionist can carry out from a remote location. Remote bookings are now made easier because of the Internet. The digital platform provided by the Internet makes it possible for a professional receptionist who is remotely located to book flights for clients. Because all travel businesses have to use a cloud-based online booking system, the call centre can easily access this, allowing the receptionist to have up-to-date information on bookings.

By having someone to answer phones for the travel business round-the-clock, none of its clients are left ignored. With just a call at any time of night or day, clients will be confident that a travel business personnel will always be around to book their flights once they decide on the schedule.

When you’re running your business remotely a virtual receptionist service can made a fundamental difference to your customer service.

Providing Information

A virtual receptionist would be able to answer queries about flight availability or enquiries on working out a connection to somewhere on the other side of the world, just as anyone would if they were actually in the travel agency office. This is a skilled job for anyone, yet it does not mean that the person must be located within the premises. In fact, many travel agents use call handling services as this is the most cost-effective way to offer a professional service to their clients.

Booking Holidays

While some travellers like to book their flight and accommodation separately, there are many who take advantage of the package tours on offer and by using a virtual receptionist who is fully-briefed on all available packages, they can make bookings on your behalf and the customer would assume the receptionist is located at the agency premises.

Busy Periods

Holiday season and other festivals are definitely busy periods for travel agencies and if your receptionist is stretched at this time, why not let a call handling provider deal with any extra calls? We all want to get away in the winter months and during the peak holiday season, you can use a call handling service and when things get quiet down again, you can put a hold on the service.

Holiday Cover

Even people who work in the holiday industry need a holiday sometimes and losing your receptionist for a couple of weeks could really put a spanner in the works. With an established call handling company at your beck and call, you are always assured that your customers will be greeted professionally and your business will not suffer.

Customer Satisfaction

If your main goal is to ensure that questions and requests by clients are paid enough attention, then hiring a virtual receptionist will be beneficial for you. A virtual receptionist is trained to handle calls courteously and professionally, so you are rest assured your clients are talking with well-trained people round-the-clock.

Profit Increases

With the top-notch quality of service virtual receptionists are giving your clients, you can increase your profit while saving on labour costs. Satisfied clients can bring in new clients through word of mouth. Plus, calls by those who are only available after work hours are also paid attention to.

Unlike in-house receptionists, virtual receptionists are paid only with the service they provide and once they provide it. They can answer large volumes of calls with unwavering amount of attention to every call.

If you run a travel agency, talk to an established call handling provider and they are sure to have a package that is ideal for your business, and if used as a back up to your directly employed staff, this service is an essential requirement for all businesses.

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