Category Archives: Blog

Season of Goodwill

As I write this it seems that we may well be seeing the beginning of another nationwide Covid lockdown, with Wales just about to go into a 17-day ‘firebreak’ and much of the North-West of England already experiencing tougher measures under Tier Three rules. Wales has the highest R rate of the four UK nations and without taking drastic action now there are genuine fears that the Welsh NHS won’t be able to cope. In addition, the First Minister for Wales Vaughan Gething has stated that it’s a bid to ‘save Christmas’, an important time for families and the already beleaguered retail sector.  

As we move very notably into Autumn and our family look forward (with some trepidation admittedly) to the Christmas period, I started to think whether the ‘Season of Goodwill’ is one that won’t begin in December as normal, because it’s actually been happening since March.

When the virus firmly took hold across much of Europe and America in the early months what we witnessed in the UK – and similarly across the world – was a coming together of people – albeit in a socially-distanced way! From the ‘Clapping for Carers’ Thursday evening phenomena, to neighbours socialising outdoors, and volunteers cooking and delivering free meals to those in need, as the sun shone in the late Spring and Summer the ‘Blitz spirit’ was very evident up and down the country.

Back in March the removals industry came to a virtual standstill and like many others, Timon and I wondered how we might make good use of our time and, also help others in need due to the pandemic and lockdown. One thing we did manage to do was to finish and launch our new website. That same month we were also granted the opportunity to ‘do our bit’ when we heard about a student nurse Faye who needed some help. She was living at home with her mother and sister when the pandemic began, whilst finishing her training at the nearby Conquest Hospital in Saint Leonards-on-sea. Like many other hospitals, Conquest was beginning to admit Covid infected patients. Unfortunately, Faye’s sister was on the vulnerable list as she has a severe lung condition, so Faye had to find somewhere else to live, and quickly. We recognise just how fortunate we are having been able to work in an industry we love and, reap the rewards of the success of that. Part of this a small holiday cottage that we rent out to guests or have friends and family stay at. Because of the virus we made the decision not to have anyone stay in it which meant it was available, so we contacted the hospital and offered the use of the cottage for as long as they needed it and they introduced us to Faye. She accepted our offer and moved in almost immediately, but there was one further problem to overcome; transport, as the hospital is some distance from our home and the hospital, and not well served with public transport. A quick call to our company insurers Reason Global and we were able to add our little run-around car to our fleet insurance and Faye was able to use the car whenever she needed it! At the end of June her sister had moved out of the family home so Faye moved back.

Not only did she keep the cottage in great condition but she did us a favour by keeping it aired and lived in. We were sad to see her go but were thankful that we were able to help someone in need, not least so that she could help others in need.

Things will I’m sure continue to be difficult for many people in the coming months so if you get a chance to make a difference or show some kindness, I would highly recommend it.


Working from the Office versus Working at Home

“Go back to work”, “Eat out to help out”, “Tier three from tonight”, “Rule of six”, “work from home if you can”. As the Covid-19 pandemic ebbs and flows the advice and the law changes almost daily across the UK to try and keep pace.

The impact of the virus has been – and continues to be – devastating and, will be felt for many years to come, not least for the 33 million that were employed at the beginning of 2020.  

The world of work has changed and many of us are dealing with the day-to-day reality of working remotely from home or in a very different way at our places of work. But how does this affect us personally? Are we better off at home or in the office? 

There are articles all over the media telling us what we should think and do, and at JTS we’ve been collating them from the start of March, and have put together a list of pros and cons so that you can make up your own mind.

Productivity

Pros

• Flexibility – The flexibility of working at home means that you can often work hours which suit you. You could monitor your productivity and see what times of day you’re more focussed.

• More focus – Sometimes working at home can create less distractions, as a quieter space than a busy office environment. You could feel more relaxed which could increase your focus.

• Increase productivity – If your focus is better early in the mornings, with no commute, you can start work earlier at home. Also, you don’t have the, sometimes annoying, distraction of listening to colleagues chatting or making phone calls, pulling your mind away from your work.  

Cons

• Interruptions – If you have children at home, they can be a constant source of interruption. Also, you may have a partner who has to work from home alongside you.

• Less focus – Missing the adrenaline of the office environment and lacking the self-discipline to work from home can lead to a lack of focus and lowered productivity.

• Doing too much – With no delineation between office and home, it’s easy to work over your paid hours. It may be difficult to know when to stop.

• Lack of human interaction – It’s easier to ask for help if you’re sitting in the same room as someone else or they are physically nearby, and there’s less opportunity for forming work relationships which can lead to productive discussions or collaborations when you are working from home.

Practicalities

Pros

• No more commuting – You can save time and money by losing the daily commute.

Cons

• Lack of Space – Your house may not have space for a home office which could leave you feeling uncomfortable, working on the sofa or in the bedroom.

• Body health – Your home may not be the right environment for long periods of working. Are you able to sit correctly? Do you have the right kind of chairs, or desks, lights etc.?

• Lack of equipment – Do you have a good enough computer or wi-fi connection? You may be having to share your wi-fi with other family members which could slow you down.

• Expensive bills – You may be looking at higher bills for lighting and heating in the winter when you would have been at work, or you may have to pay for a more efficient wi-fi connection.

• Child Management – You’ll need to find a way to manage your children to keep them supervised and occupied if you are all at home together.

Mental Health

Pros

• No daily commute – Less stress from commuting to work, keeping your blood pressure lower. Long commutes can cause you high levels of stress and anxiety. A study by the Office of National Statistics showed that those with a long commute were 33% more likely to suffer from depression.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/long-commutes-work-employee-depression-obesity-productivity-workers-research-travel-a7749206.html

• Less financial stress – Commuting can be an expensive business, adding to your daily load of stress.

• A quieter atmosphere – Some of us aren’t suited to a loud and busy office environment, so working at home can have a positive effect on our mental wellbeing.

• Family time – Increased family time can have a beneficial effect on our mental health.

• Work/life balance – A better work/life balance can make us feel happier and healthier. Being at home can sometimes give you the chance to arrange work around your family life. 

Cons

• Work/life balance – It’s easy for work/home lines to get blurred when you don’t physically leave the house. Difficulties with streamlining your days can lead to overworking or frustrating interruptions from other members of your family. Juggling your work with your responsibilities in the home can lead to feelings of failure and anxiety, as both a professional and a parent.

• Isolation – It’s easy to feel isolated if you’re working from home, especially if you live alone. Losing the sociability of the office environment can lead to loneliness and depression.

• Losing motivation – If you’re not used to working from home it can be psychologically difficult to keep your momentum going and stay energised and enthusiastic. 

Knock on Effect

Pros

• Wages go further – You could have more money available as you’ll be spending less on petrol, public transport, that daily Frappuccino etc.

• Saving money – If you are self-employed you could save money on office space, rent, bills etc. working from home.

Cons

• Ghost towns – With the presence of office workers dwindling, other businesses that rely on their day-to-day custom will begin to fail. 

Satyam Patel, who has run the Corner Shop in Bow Lane for 35 years, said he now saw 50 customers a day compared with 800 before lockdown.

“Trade’s down 90%, it’s very demoralising,” he said. “You’re just wondering what’s going to happen and where you’re going to end up. You don’t see regular customers anymore. There are so many customers you don’t see and you wonder where they are and how they are.”

Coronavirus: Working from home ‘costs central London £2.3bn’ By Nicky Ford. BBC News. Published 24 September

• Loss of team – It’s more difficult to nurture workplace relationships and camaraderie remotely which can lead to dissatisfaction and a lack of teamwork.

• Inhibited communication – If managers aren’t proactive in connecting remote workers there can be less spontaneous cross fertilisation of ideas. 

• The end of the office romance? – Kindling new relationships could be more challenging in the future, as a reduction of interaction with colleagues could lead to less office romances. In 2018 researchers who polled 2000 adults discovered that 1 in 5 of them had met their partners at work. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/valentines-day-love-life-meeting-social-gatherings-dates-work-romance-a8206271.html

• Being yourself  Some people have an entirely different persona at work, perhaps being much more assertive than they are at home. The cross-over of work/home personas could cause tension with your children or partner.

Environment

Pros

• Reducing pollution  Less cars on the road leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions creating a healthier, cleaner environment for everybody. Research by O2 revealed that if UK workers (who could work remotely) did so 2 days a week, the UK would see a decrease in travel equivalent to more than the total emissions for Northern Ireland! https://news.o2.co.uk/press-release/commute-cautious-brits-want-to-keep-working-from-home-despite-calls-to-return-to-the-office/

• Diminishing stress  Less commuting means less frustration and consequently less stress.

• Gaining time  No more wasted time sitting in traffic jams or waiting for trains or buses that are late or don’t turn up!

Cons

• Reducing pollution – There is an argument that an office utilises energy more efficiently than each worker using the energy in their own homes.

So, if you do decide to, or have to, work from home here are our top tips:

Always get dressed

This will improve your productivity and make you feel like you are a professional!

Have an office space at home

Make a workspace that’s a functional and comfortable ‘home office’ if you can.  See if your company will pay for your extra wi-fi usage or appropriate furniture or equipment that you lack. We’ve helped several companies reduce the amount of desking and seating in their offices and operate a ‘re-use first’ commitment as part of our recycling policy. So, if you or your employer need to source some suitable homeworking furniture give us a call.

Make a schedule and stick to it!

It’s easy to lose track of time or to keep up the self-discipline needed for working days at home. Make a schedule or stick to the same routine every day. Work out when you are most productive during the day and design your schedule around that.

Plan and keep track of what you’re doing

Make plans and lists of what you need to do and what you’ve completed. A plan is crucial to maintain productivity and a to-do list is motivational!

Confidentiality

If you are making any confidential business calls, make sure that you are away from any voice-controlled gaming equipment and switch off your Alexa! https://www.zdnet.com/article/working-from-home-switch-off-amazons-alexa-say-lawyers/

Take breaks

Breaks can boost your performance and it’s important to move around. If your family is at home spend some time with them, have a cup of tea, do some exercise or maybe have a short power nap! Don’t overdo it! Be careful to only look at social media at specific times and mute your alerts to prevent distraction.

Teamwork

If you work with a team, check in with them so that you don’t lose contact. Ask your manager to organise video-chat coffee breaks for you and your colleagues during the working day. Video calls are more personal and engaging than texts or emails and staying in contact with your colleagues can help you to stay happy and motivated. 

Create a healthy work/life balance

Establish a set time frame for the beginning and end of your working day and don’t work on weekends unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. 

Working remotely could become the new ‘normal’ in the future. There are always pros and cons for everything, but if you have to work from home, creating the right environment and staying connected with other people can make it work for you. Maybe, one day there’ll be a flexible balance between home and office, maintaining the best of both worlds.

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Fleet-free, eco-friendly remover

According to National Geographic atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are currently at a record high, and in 2018 government figures stated that the majority of Britain’s greenhouse gas output (an estimated 33 per cent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions) came from the transport sector. Reducing carbon emissions in order to prevent global warming is crucial to the survival of our planet and the UK recognises the part it needs to play. London – one of the C40 global group of cities – has pledged to reduce emissions by 60% by 2025, Birmingham has also pledged a 60% reduction (by 2027) whilst both Nottingham and Bristol intend to become entirely carbon neutral by 2028 and 2030 respectively.

Moving with the times

With the need to move household possessions and the relocation of organisations, transport is understandably a key requirement for removal companies, some of whom have large vehicle fleets to perform their duties. Everyone within the industry is responsible for reducing their emission, and great strides have been taken in the design and build of the vans including making them more efficient, less polluting – including engines meeting the Euro 6 standards for emissions – and improving their aerodynamics, whilst improved driving skills also helps reduce emissions.

At JT & Sons Relocations we’ve gone a step further and are proud to say that we own no removal vehicles at all. We are dedicated to minimising unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions and, in order to reduce our carbon footprint rather than buying and owning removal vans we source reliable low-emission transport as close to each job as possible. This means our crews don’t need to travel long distances in large vehicles from the fixed position of a single depot. Instead where it’s feasible our crews use public transport or a shared minibus to reach jobs, thus reducing UK road traffic which has increased by almost 90% since 1990. Furthermore, all our drivers are trained to minimise fuel consumption by driving fuel efficiently. In a world which is attempting to head towards zero output, we feel we’re already ahead of the game by demonstrating our commitment to both the planet and the future of removals.

JT & Sons Director Jenny Thorncroft explains “We discussed our vehicle policy prior to forming the company in 2008. Even then we were aware that the transport industry was a significant contributor to the harmful greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and, rather than adding to it we wanted to operate in a far more sustainable and eco-friendly way. There were no electric HGV options available to us at the time and, with the ever-increasing cost of buying and maintaining vehicles plus the likely need to upgrade them to adhere to increasing regulations we made the decision to go fleet-free.”  

“The nature of commercial removals is such that our crews might be required to work just about anywhere in the UK and, though the electric and hybrid options are improving there are still logistical and supply chain issues So the environmental impact of us driving our own petrol or diesel removal vans to the client location and back could be huge. By hiring vehicles and crates nearer the job site we not only reduce our carbon footprint, we also contribute to the client’s local economy. All our drivers are fully trained and hold all their required licences so they use as little fuel as possible when they are behind the wheel. It’s a win-win as far as we’re concerned.”   

Why the transport sector is so critical to tackling climate change

Despite a 2.6 reduction from the year before, in 2018 transport was the largest emitting sector in the UK accounting for a third (33 per cent) of all carbon dioxide emissions. And the large majority of emissions from transport are from road transport.

Driven by continual growth in road travel, transport carbon dioxide grew to a peak in 2007, 8.5 per cent higher than in 1990. Since then emissions from this sector have fallen back to around 1990 levels, driven mainly by improvements in new car fuel efficiency, as well lower traffic growth than in previous years as a result of a dip following the 2008/2009 recession. But more still needs to be done to meet the Government’s ambitious targets

How we can all cut fuel consumption and emissions

When your engine works less it burns less fuel and so your CO2 emissions are reduced. ‘Smarter’ driving can result in a 15 per cent reduction in these emissions – the equivalent to an annual fuel saving of up to one month per year. In addition to having regular services, the following tips should be followed:

Before you set off:

  • Check your tyres are at the correct pressure
  • Remove any unnecessary weight, including roof racks/boxes
  • Plan your route to avoid stop/start traffic conditions

While driving:

  • Drive away immediately when starting from cold – idling wastes fuel and cause engine wear
  • Drive at an appropriate speed
  • Speed up and slow down smoothly
  • Change gears at lower revs
  • Avoid leaving your engine running
  • Don’t use air conditioning unless you really need it

Sources:

*https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/790626/2018-provisional-emissions-statistics-report.pdf

**https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/roadtransportandairemissions/2019-09-16