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Home-working can increase productivity

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Working at home: Comes with its own distractions

THE KEY to productivity is being left alone, making sure your house is tidy and heating your work room to 20 degrees.

Not having to commute, being able to stay in your pyjamas all day and being exempt from tea rounds are among the biggest perks of working from home, according to a study released today by smart heating experts, Drayton.

Researchers polled 2,000 people who work from home and identified the benefits of doing so – including the avoidance of office politics and annoying colleagues.

However, it comes with distractions too – with the most common being daytime TV, social media and household chores, such as emptying the washing machine. Other common diversions include taking parcel deliveries, cleaning the house and internet shopping.

Commissioned by Drayton, makers of the brand new multi-zone smart heating system, WISER and part of Schneider Electric, the research also found those working from home are typically distracted six times a day.

A spokesman for Drayton said: “Our research aims to shine a light on what it’s like to work from home – and as it shows, there are plenty of benefits. Arguably the biggest challenge they face is staying focussed; there are plenty of potential distractions. However, analysis of our findings shows those who work from home feel they are as effective if not more so as those who work in traditional workplaces such as offices.”

Carried out through OnePoll.com, the research found 30 per cent find it easier to get work done when working from home – compared to working in their usual workplace. In addition, 54 per cent said they feel happier working from home than they do working in a traditional workplace such as an office – and around two thirds find it less stressful. In fact, on a typical day those polled will send 22 emails, make 13 phone calls – spending 2 hours and 23 minutes on the phone – and send 14 instant messages.

Further advantages to working from home include being able to have the radio on, flexible working hours and saving money on childcare.

The research also found the largest proportion of those surveyed – 36 per cent – do all their work from the living room and 26 per cent do it from the home office. However, 13 per cent work from the kitchen, around 1 in 10 work from bed – and some even work from the bathroom. Flexibility seems to aid productivity!

The key to being productive when working from home, according to 43 per cent of those polled, is being left alone. 34 per cent think having a dedicated workspace is important, for 35 per cent having a tidy house is vital, and 25 per cent like to have natural lighting – things workers often cannot individually control in an office environment. 1 in 5 say being in their own surroundings is the key to being effective, and 25 per cent like to have music on in the background.

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MP makes Budget case for support for self-employed and small businesses in Ceredigion

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BEN LAKE MP has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the government’s financial support package for businesses and self-employed workers in next week’s Budget as many struggle to stay afloat during continued lockdown restrictions. 

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak is to set out the UK Government’s budget on Wednesday 3 March, almost a year since the last Budget on 11 March 2020. 

To help businesses and our local high streets over coming months, the Ceredigion MP has called on the Chancellor to extend the lowered rate of VAT at 5% for hospitality and tourism for a year to March 2022 and to extend the business rates relief package. 

Mr Lake also called on the Chancellor to retain the furlough scheme for the duration of pandemic restrictions, as recent figures show more than 178,000* in Wales are still receiving government help from the CJRS. He also urged the Chancellor to expand the existing eligibility criteria for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme in order to offer some help to the many individuals who have not received a penny in Government support thus far. 

Ben Lake MP said: “For many businesses and self-employed workers, the financial support government has offered over the last 12 months has been a lifeline. Now, as we are finally starting to see light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, we cannot remove this lifeline prematurely. Extending this help for a little longer, and expanding the criteria to help those that have been excluded thus far, would offer small businesses the support they require to ‘bounce back’ from the pandemic.” 

Many businesses who are still not open due to lockdown measures are also now expected to start repaying their Bounce Back Loans. This is despite their situation largely remaining unchanged since they took out the loan, or in some unfortunate instances, worsened as they have not yet been able to trade.  

UKHospitality has estimated that the hospitality sector lost around £72 billion in sales in 2020 and faces, frankly, a debt mountain, including £4.2 billion in state-backed loans.  

Mr Lake said:  “It is important that businesses that took out bounce back loans and CBILS are required to pay only when they are in a position to do so – once they have ‘bounced back’ from the pandemic. Affording such a level of flexibility, and thus preventing avoidable business failures, would protect jobs, the taxpayer’s investment in the recovery, and the integrity of our financial system.

“We remain in the early stages of a vaccine-led recovery, and it is likely that we will have some form of restrictions for many months to come. Having done so much to protect the economy and the workforce, we must not withdraw support prematurely, as to do so would risk throwing away the investment taxpayers have made in the last year, and potentially our economic recovery.” 

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£3.8m to upgrade local gas network

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WALES & WEST UTILITIES says it is continuing its work to upgrade the gas pipes supplying homes and businesses across west Wales and has announced a £3.8 million investment programme for 2021.

The work, which will see 19km of gas pipe upgraded, not only keeps the gas flowing safely today, it also prepares the gas network to transport green gases like hydrogen and biomethane. Converting the existing safe and reliable gas network to run on green gas will help communities across Wales and south west England play their part in a green future and getting the UK to Net Zero.

Rob Long, Wales & West Utilities Chief Operating Officer, said: “While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across west Wales. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“Our investment in local communities is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.

“And it will make sure that we continue to support communities through Coronavirus, keeping the gas flowing so local people are safe and warm.”

Wales & West Utilities look after the pipes that keep the gas flowing to heat the homes and power businesses of 7.5m people across Wales and south west England. They operate the gas emergency service, connect new homes and businesses, and upgrade the gas network so it’s safe today and fit for a green future.

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Wales is moving in the right direction to ease coronavirus restrictions

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THE NUMBER of coronavirus patients being treated in Welsh hospitals is at the lowest for three months, Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething has revealed at a briefing today (Feb 8).

The R number is below one, it was confirmed – the most recent estimate from SAGE is that R is between 0.7 and 0.9 in Wales.

He also confirmed that the latest figures show the testing positivity rate has fallen in Wales below 10%, which means Wales could soon be moving is from alert level 4 to alert level 3.

Mr Gething said: “There are some encouraging signs that the number of people needing hospital treatment for coronavirus is starting to fall.

“The number of people with confirmed Covid in our hospitals is at the lowest since 8 November and we have also seen a reduction in the number of people with coronavirus needing intensive care.

“Overall, we are seeing cases of coronavirus fall. Monday’s figures show there are around 115 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people in Wales.

“But this varies widely across Wales.

In Wrexham, rates are above 220 cases per 100,000 people, although this is falling. In Ceredigion, the rate has risen over the last seven days to 56 cases per 100,000 people. “The positivity rate – this is the percentage of tests, which return a positive result every day – is also falling. It now stands at just below 10%.

“This is still high, but it’s a lot lower than the very high rates we were seeing before Christmas, when we had overall rates of more than 650 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of more than 25%.”

BAM communities hesitant to get vaccines

Concerns have been growing in recent weeks about an apparent hesitancy from some people in black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to have the Covid-19 vaccine. Which is why Mr Gething also told the briefing that work was being done to counter some of the misinformation about the vaccine, which is common among some groups and communities.

He said that Welsh Government was closely monitoring vaccine uptake to make sure there are no barriers to take-up.

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