The Journal of Consumer Research published the results of five experiments into how the level of background noise can impact on performance when someone is working on creative tasks.
The results are interesting and in simple terms found that a moderate level of ambient noise is better for enhancing performance on creative tasks than both low levels and high levels of ambient noise.
Or put another way, people are more likely to be able to work creatively if there is a medium level of ambient noise compared to where there is silence or loud noise in the background.
So, what lessons can we learn from this if we’re studying?
Whilst the optimum situation and level of background noise is very much a personal preference the science behind it could indicate that we should head somewhere with a mid level background noise.
Now, where could we find such a place?
Well, the local pub around the corner has a great mid level background noise as far as I’m concerned but there are some liquid distractions that will harm studying.
What about a coffee shop or cafe? Again, there would be some great mid levels of background noise but you’ve got to get there and what happens if you don’t find a seat. All of this will dig into your valuable study time.
Well, up step the fantastic website coffitivity.com which enables you to play background coffeeshop noise on your computer whilst you’re studying.
You can’t order a Cafe Latte or Cappuccino but in my opinion it’s a great tool for those who like to study with a non intrusive background noise.
It’s also excellent for people who don’t have any friends to go to the coffee shop with.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Coffee-in-office.png460820Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2019-10-01 12:13:522019-09-30 20:42:07Does this help you concentrate?
Gone are the days when auditors were manually checking and ticking lots of pieces of paper. Today’s auditing techniques involve significant use of computers.
But how far can this computer use go? Will they be able to predict when accounting fraud is going to take place as opposed to tracking transactions that have already occurred?
The film Minority Report starring Tom Cruise was based around software that could predict when a crime was going to happen and the culprits would be arrested before they actually committed the crime. Although this film seemed well and truly within the realms of science fiction, two police forces in the UK have undertaken trials of a sophisticated computer software package which aims to predict where and when future crimes are likely to occur.
The software is known as Crush (Criminal Reduction Utilising Statistical History) and is used to identify potential crime hotspots based on a variety of data including crime reports, offender profiles and strangely enough even weather forecasts.
Once these upcoming crime hotspots have been identified then the police can allocate resources accordingly.
The system is produced by IBM and the UK tests are based on a successful roll out of the software in the US by the Memphis police force which resulted in a reduction of serious crime by 30%.
Back to auditing though and will the next step be predicting when a fraud is likely to occur using statistical analysis based on industry, profit movements, director’s personal life and spending habits (plus the weather of course)?
Given the reliability of some computers though, one thing for sure is that if you happen to live in a town called “Syntax Error” then you may have a surprise visit from a Tom Cruise lookalike with a briefcase and a calculator…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/robot-auditors.png9441678Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2019-09-14 08:49:392019-09-30 12:27:22Will auditors become more like Tom Cruise in the future?
Does your weight affect the amount of money you earn?
That’s an interesting question and researchers from the universities of Strathclyde in Glasgow and Potsdam in Germany have come up with a potential answer.
They analysed data from nearly 15,000 working men and found that men within that the recommended Body Mass Index (BMI) health range earnt more than those who were outside of the range.
Individuals who were underweight on the body mass index were found to earn 8% less than those who were in the top end of the healthy bracket. They found that the effect was more prominent in manual jobs where no doubt the extra strength of the guys in the healthy weight bracket helped increase their earnings.
What was perhaps surprising though was that there was also a difference in earnings in white-collar office jobs. They found that in the more middle-class occupations the rewards peaked at a BMI of around 21.
It wasn’t just men who were impacted though. The study also looked at the weight and earnings of 15,000 German women and found that the slimmest earnt the most and the obese the least.
Jonny Gifford, of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development was quoted in the press as saying “it is depressing that, in this day and age, looks are in any way a factor in how much people are paid”.
I have to agree with him as organisations should employ people on the basis of their abilities as opposed to how heavy they weigh.
Anyway, best dash as I’ve got a packet of biscuits to finish…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/office-fitness.jpg433770Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2019-08-12 18:08:122019-08-17 22:03:02Pass the biscuits…
How many CEOs of top global companies were replaced last year?
Well, the answer may surprise you and what also may surprise you is the reason they lost their job.
PwC have been keeping track of the movements of the CEOs of the largest 2,500 global publicly listed companies since 2000 and the most recent data for 2018 has been released and it shows some interesting things.
In 2018 the number of departures of CEOs reached a record level with nearly 18% being replaced (up from 12% in 2010).
It was the reason for their departure though which raised some eyebrows.
CEOs can leave their jobs for a variety of reason and PwC categorised the reasons as planned (e.g. they were due to retire), forced (e.g. they did something a bit “naughty”) or M&A (e.g. they were no longer needed due to a merger or acquisition).
The latest split showed the 18% of departures as:
Planned – 12.0%
Forced – 3.6%
M&A – 2.0%
Digging a bit deeper though into the forced departures shows some worrying reasons.
Historically the main reason CEOs were forced out was due to poor results but for the first time the largest group of CEOs forced out was due to integrity reasons.
In 2018, 39% of those forced out were due to integrity reasons. Ten years ago in 2008 the corresponding figure was only 10%.
These integrity issues could include scandals such as improper conduct, fraud, bribery, insider trading, environmental disasters, misleading CVs, and sexual indiscretions, according to PwC.
So, in summary more CEOs are being fired and the main reason is integrity issues.
It’s always best to keep up to date with your tax affairs. Although most people don’t enjoy paying their taxes, it’s the law and if you don’t pay there can be serious consequences.
Over in Germany reports have emerged that make it fairly clear that you don’t mess with the German authorities when it comes to taxes.
An unnamed lady was behind in paying her taxes.
The authorities sent a debt collector around to collect whatever assets the family had to settle the tax liability.
According to the lady in question, two valuable items were identified.
One was the wheelchair of her paraplegic husband. Now, before even getting into the rights and wrongs of taking a disabled person’s wheelchair to settle debts, luckily for the family it was not an issue as it turned out that it was owned by a local association and was not the property of the family so the debt collectors couldn’t take it.
The authorities though have denied they tried to take the wheelchair and a spokesman said “Mobility aids for the disabled are absolutely exempt from being seized as collateral.”
One item though which was not exempt from being seized was the family pet.
Alas for Edda, the family dog, she was taken by the debt collector.
Edda is a pug and they are a pretty fashionable dog breed at the moment and the debt collector took the dog as settlement for the debt.
Edda was then listed on eBay and was sold to Michaela Jordan, a local police officer for €750 (approx. £650).
There’s a twist in the “tail” though in that the new owner has now sued the local authorities who sold Edda as apparently, she was advertised as being a healthy dog but has required veterinary treatment costing approximately €1,800.
We wish Edda well.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Tax-collection.png9441678Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2019-06-27 19:59:172019-06-27 20:01:00Dog seized to pay tax bill…
I’m all for equal rights in the workplace. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female. It doesn’t matter what the colour of your skin is or your religious preferences. The only thing that does matter is whether or not you can do your job.
Not everyone shares the same view though and in Russia, aluminium manufacturing company Tatprof is offering a bonus to its female employees if they wear a skirt and makeup.
Oh, and to get the bonus they have to send a selfie of them showing their legs and make up to their (mostly male) bosses.
The bonus is 100 Russian Rubles (approx. £1.25) and it’s been reported that 60 people have so far sent in selfies to get the bonus.
Some may say that there are 2 sides to the argument.
The first, and probably most obvious, is that this is a step backwards in the workplace. A person should be judged by their ability to do their job rather than what their legs and make up look like. It’s 2019 for goodness sake and not the 1950s.
A counter argument though was put forward by Anasasia Kirillova, who works for the company’s department of corporate culture and internal communications who said that “Many women automatically put on trousers, so we hope that [the campaign] will increase our ladies’ awareness, allowing them to feel their femininity and charm when they make the choice of wearing a skirt or dress”.
It seems the message is coming from the top of the company.
According to Ms Kirillova, Tatprof’s male CEO Sergei Rachkov “really wants to maintain the female essence in every female employee of the company, so that young women do not have male haircuts, do not change into trousers, so that they engage themselves in handicraft, project all their warmth into raising children”.
Now, I’m personally not convinced by this counter argument but what about opening up the bonus option to everyone in the company?
What about offering the bonus to men as well as women who send a selfie of themselves wearing a skirt?
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/selfie-in-office.png9441678Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2019-06-20 08:37:352019-06-13 11:43:21Would you send a selfie of your legs for a bonus?
Most of you have probably had an interview. In fact, some of you may have had a number of interviews but a boss of one of the top companies in Australia has recently disclosed a pretty unusual way of deciding who not to offer a job to.
Trent Innes, who heads up Xero in Australia said that he will greet the person when he or she arrives for the interview and then take them to the kitchen to offer them a drink before heading to the meeting room with the drink. Even if they aren’t tea or coffee drinkers they will generally walk away with a glass of water.
He explained in the Venture Podcast with Lambros Photios that after taking the drink back for the interview “one of the things I’m always looking for at the end of the interview is, does the person doing the interview want to take that empty cup back to the kitchen?”
He explained that what “I was trying to find was what was the lowest level task I could find that regardless of what you did inside the organisation was still super important that would actually really drive a culture of ownership.”
He went on to say, “You can develop skills, you can gain knowledge and experience but it really does come down to attitude, and the attitude that we talk a lot about is the concept of ‘wash your own coffee cup’.”
That’s quite a smart move by Mr Innes as he said that attitude was the most important trait he looked for when hiring people.
He said that “Especially in a fast growth company or a start-up environment or scale up environment – you need people with a really strong growth mindset and that comes back to their attitude.”
So, how many interviewees do you think offered to take their cups back?
Perhaps surprisingly, the number of people who offered to take their cup back to the kitchen was pretty high. According to Mr Innes only 5 to 10 per cent of the interviewees didn’t offer to return their empty coffee cup back to the kitchen.
So there you go. If you’re attending an interview and you go to the kitchen with the boss to get a drink, it’s probably a good idea to offer to take the cup back.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/coffee-interview-1.png9441678Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2019-06-05 21:28:312019-06-05 21:28:32Best to take it back…
Anyone that has studied hard for their exams will almost certainly at one time or another utilised the services of a strong coffee.
Whilst desperately trying to cram that last bit of knowledge into your brain before the exams there is often a temptation to grab a strong coffee late in the night to keep your mind awake.
For years students around the world have been utilising the caffeine in coffee to help get that extra mark or two.
Coffee is said to originate from East Africa where legend has it that a 9th century Ethiopian goat herder by the name of Starbucks Kaldi noticed that after his goats had ate some coffee beans they started bouncing around like teenagers at the local disco.
This started the journey of coffee and associated caffeine hits so loved by students around the world.
Over in Thailand though a new type of coffee has just been put on sale which has, how can I put it, but a pretty unusual processing method.
The key staff involved in the processing function are also unusual as they have massive heads and bodies, weigh on average 4,000 kg and are grey in colour.
Yes, that’s right. The key team members involved in processing coffee are 20 Thai elephants.
The new brew of coffee is “processed” by getting the elephants to eat some coffee beans and then stepping back (in fact stepping way back) and letting the natural digestive juices in their stomachs do the job of “processing” the beans before they are deposited naturally on the ground a day later.
The beans are then handpicked out of the elephant dung by people who probably don’t bite their nails before being dried and then ground into coffee.
The finished coffee is said to have a slight pooey taste smooth flavour without the bitterness of normal coffee and is some of the most expensive coffee in the world selling for nearly £150 per kilo.
It’s certainly an unusual production technique but it’s also for a good cause as 8% of the sales revenue goes towards the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, a refuge for rescued elephants in Thailand.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ExP_coffee.jpg453806Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2019-05-24 14:15:202019-05-25 20:51:46Would you drink this coffee?
It’s a sign of the times that hackers are constantly on the
lookout for weaknesses in people’s computer security systems.
Individuals can go a long way to making things more
difficult for the hackers by ensuring they have up to date anti-virus software in
place and that their passwords are good passwords.
But what is a good password?
Before answering that, let’s look at some bad passwords.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has just released
a report on some of the most hacked passwords. They analysed hacked accounts
where details were being sold by hackers.
Last year an astonishing 23 million people around the world
with the password “123456” were hacked.
You should really hang your head in shame if your password
is 123456 as it’s very easy to hack into.
OK, what about the name of your favourite football team as
your password. Would that provide you with more protection?
Alas not as football team names are very common passwords.
Roughly 280,000 accounts were breached last year with the
“Chelsea” and “Man-Utd” passwords were breached 216,000 and
59,000 times respectively.
Using the names of your favourite music artist also isn’t a
The most popular passwords using the names of music artists
are “blink182” and “50cent” (these are probably popular as they satisfy the
need to have letters and numbers in a password).
If you’re a fan of superheroes then avoid Superman, which
was the most common superhero inspired password.
So, onto good passwords.
According to Ian Levy, the Technical Director of NCSC,
“Using hard to guess passwords is a strong first step and we recommend
combining three random but memorable words. Be creative and use words memorable
to you, so people can’t guess your password.”
There you go.
As easy as 123 or should that be, as easy as “123456”…
Do you work in an office? Do you sit down at your desk most of the working day?
If you do, then it may be a good idea to ensure you stand up and move around a bit during the day.
Recent research has estimated that 1 in 9 deaths can be blamed on sitting down for at least 6 hours a day.
Let’s pause for a moment as that’s a shocking figure!
In the UK alone that would equate to thousands of people dying every year due to lack of movement and the cost to the National Health Service is estimated at £700 million annually.
Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health estimated that 17% of diabetes, 5% of heart disease and 8% of lung cancer cases could be avoided with less sitting.
Leonie Heron from Queen’s University Belfast was the lead author of the study and said “You need to put your body under a little bit of stress to maintain a healthy heart and whole system”.
She went on to say that “It suggests that it is bad for our health how our working lives are structured for a lot of people. You can attenuate that risk by being more active in your leisure time, but it’s something employers can look at. Maybe they should be providing opportunities for employees to be active during the day, perhaps making sure people move every hour…or providing opportunities during lunch and coffee breaks.”
My guess is that a lot of you do sit down for at least 6 hours a day working at your computer. It’s probably a good idea therefore to remind yourself to get up and move a bit when you can as it will be good for your health.
Unless, that is of course, you’re getting up to walk out of the office to have a cigarette…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/health-problems-at-office.png281500Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2019-04-17 10:46:062019-04-21 18:05:11Would you stand for this?
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