Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce has been recognised for Excellence in International Trade, becoming finalists at the 2018 Chamber Business Awards.

With a combined 60+ years’ experience, the export team has been supporting Hertfordshire’s businesses to fulfil their overseas ventures.
Whether a business is planning to export for the first time, or is expanding on existing export activity, or has Brexit concerns, the dedicated Export team can offer practical advice and assistance, documentation services, international marketing and business information to help make sure that businesses are fully prepared for trading overseas.

Herts Chamber recently bolstered the export team, welcoming John Woodruffe, International Trade Advisor. Bringing a wealth of experience, including 32 years at the Foreign Office and DIT, this addition enables the Chamber to deal with more export enquiries and provide consistent export advice.

Neville Reyner, CBE DL Hon.Dlitt, Chairman, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce said “During a time of uncertainty, it is vital that businesses ensure they are ready for anything Brexit throws at them. The export team has done an amazing job at helping Hertfordshire’s businesses with all their export needs and concerns. With the addition to the team, we are now more than ever best positioned to assist Hertfordshire’s businesses. We are greatly pleased to be a finalist in the BCC national awards (BCC represents some 75,000 businesses, several million employees through 53 accredited Chambers of Commerce.)”

Frances Harris, Export Manager at Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce added “We are delighted to be shortlisted as finalists for this award. It is especially pleasing to be recognised for all the hard work and commitment our export team puts in to make sure Hertfordshire’s businesses are in a prime position for export activity.”
The winners of the Excellence in International Trade award will be announced at the 2018 British Chambers of Commerce Business Awards Gala Dinner taking place on Thursday 29 November.

Hertfordshire Chamber’s Breakfast Presentation on Nov 6th 2018

Presentation by Claire Williams, Strategic Business Development Director from OCEE Design Manufacturers and Julian Sheldrake, Director from Q Office Furniture.

Making your workplace more productive
The business world is changing. Ways to improve workplace productivity are set to soar over the next few years.
There is more to improving productivity and being successful than buying the latest office furniture.
Innovation in businesses is key to success. In order to attract and keep creative, innovative people, you need to build the right work environment.
The workplace has changed beyond all recognition. Static personal desks, PCs and landlines have been replaced with organic open-plan spaces, laptops and mobile phones.  Growth in office technology has and will continue to change the way we work.

Do open-plan offices work?
Open-plan working is here to stay, says Claire. There is much written about open-plan, good and bad. Capstone 3 open-plan research produces statements like "While it is open and collaborative, the lack of privacy makes it difficult to focus and overall decreases my productivity".
So Claire asked us to consider, are we designing the modern workplace to be more productive?
Claire quotes a report from The Leesman, “The Next 250K”, which found that 46% of UK workers say their workplace does not allow them to work productively. What’s more, when employers moved or refurbished offices only 7% saw an increase in productivity.  

Put people at the heart of the design
Many visually stunning offices that are professionally designed fail to produce the expected productivity increase.
There are stories of run down offices with ‘broken windows’ with better productivity than the designer styled ‘fully loaded’ office next door.
So what is going on? How do you make the modern workplace work for you?
The answer is to put people at the heart of the workplace design.
Using Activity Based Working (ABW) strategies will help create a working environment that’s flexible and efficient and where staff can flourish.
Office design must take account of human factors. While building on the Maslow hierarchical needs, we must consider air quality, lighting, thermal comforts and noise, but most important of all is space.
Techniques like Proxemics aim to cut anxiety levels caused when people are too close at work. For example, people crammed into call centres develop burn out very quickly and must move on. The right amount of personal space and spaces to relax or concentrate are essential for the modern office.
Workplace mental health is a growing challenge. UKGOV, ACAS and MIND all say work is the biggest cause of stress in people's lives, more so than debt or financial problems. 
We need to design compassionate work spaces where people can get away when they need to.
Most businesses cannot afford the amazing staff-based facilities supplied by modern high-tech giants such as Google and Sky. However, there is a lot that can be achieved with good planning and product selection.

OCEE Design is a Q Office Furniture manufacturing partner. For a free office design service, contact Julian Sheldrake at julians@qofficefurniture.co.uk or call 01992 463358.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

What can joining the Herts Chamber do for you? Part One


One of the biggest perks of becoming a member of the Chamber is gaining access to all of our amazing networking opportunities. From monthly Chamber Lunches, to Members Masterclasses or Black Tie Dinners, we host a variety of events in which our members (and any non-members who wish to attend) can meet and mingle with each other.

The Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce has been supporting and working with businesses in the county since 1924. We sit at the heart of the community, working with businesses of all sizes and representing all sectors.
We are the largest independent business support organisation within Hertfordshire and we are an accredited member of the national British Chamber of Commerce network.
Our excellent International Trade Programme is well placed to help you develop your business both at home and abroad.
Our expertise in organisational development, training, marketing and sales combined with our business experience and established events programme will enable you to foster strategic partnerships, connect with other members and provide you and your staff with the knowledge and confidence to grow and sustain your business.
There are several ways for your organisation to gain competitive advantage by being part of the Hertfordshire Chamber:
  • With an average attendance of 40 delegates, our regular business networking events across the county provide an opportunity to meet with other decision makers.
  • Our Advisory Groups are ideal forums for voicing your opinions, network with other businesses, share ideas and best practice and to develop collaborative partnerships.
  • Promoting your organisation across our extensive media will provide a strong presence for your business.
Contact us on 01707 502180 or email enquiries@hertschamber.com to find out more about our range of products and services and how we can help your business.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

HMP The Mount - Helping to rehabilitate prisoners to lead law abiding lives

Case Study Overview:
HMP The Mount is a category C, adult male prison that looks after up to 1028 convicted men. It is a training and resettlement prison which means that the staff and volunteers assist in the men’s rehabilitation through various different interventions. Additionally, as they come to the end of their sentence, the establishment assists with their resettlement back into the community.
The Challenge
Helping to rehabilitate prisoners to lead law abiding lives and resettle prisoners back into the community is important for everyone. Firstly, it helps ensure the communities in which we all live are as safe as possible for everyone and secondly, it helps those who have worked hard to address their issues and behaviour, get back on their feet to live law-abiding and productive lives once released.
Here at HMP The Mount we work to achieve this through numerous interventions. We help prisoners to develop their academic abilities from learning to read and write to support those undertaking Undergraduate courses to help them get the skills they need to turn their lives around. Furthermore, we address their behavioural problems through courses such as anger management or substance abuse. We also have workshops in which the men can learn practical skills which include woodwork, bike repairs, printing, picking and packing (warehouse work) and farms and gardens. Hence, HMP The Mount is a community which helps to induce positive change through various provisions. Now, we are looking to take this to the next step by reaching out to local and national employers to help secure prisoners work on their release, which would help to give them the second chance they have so diligently worked towards.
However, this isn’t an easy task and understandably who would think to recruit from their local establishment when a job vacancy becomes available? And yet there are many reason why the can be among the most valuable members of the workforce…..
The Solution
As the Business and Community Engagement Manager at HMP The Mount, I liaise with employers and encourage them to be more open minded about the pool of over 1,000 men who could become such an asset to their businesses. My role involves showing potential business around the establishment, to show them all the positive work of the HMPPS and the positive engagement of the prisoners in our facilities and resources. It also involves presenting employers with the benefits of employing ex-offenders, at as many events as the community will allow me to attend (!) It’s also about discussing and creating opportunities, such as developing Employer’s Fairs at the establishment so that men in the last six months of their sentence can meet potential employers and talk about vacancies, their skillset and eventually hold interviews.
So what are the benefits of employer an ex-offender? You may be pleasantly surprised to discover there are many. For example;
  • Statistics show that if ex-offenders are able to secure employment on release, the chance of re-offending decreases. This helps to reduce the crime rates and the associated costs to the taxpayer. Furthermore, it helps to make our communities a safer place for everyone.
  • Ex-offenders are often very hardworking, loyal, valuable and committed, often going that extra mile to prove themselves – because a job provides them with a second chance. In fact, over 60% of employers found that they worked as hard as, or harder than, those with no convictions.
  • It allows your business to unlock opportunity and tap into a new pool of talented, highly motivated people who you might not have considered before.
  • Employers such as Marks & Spencer demonstrate that employees recruited from disadvantaged groups have lower turnover rates.
  • It eradicates recruitment costs.
  • It makes good business sense, as according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), over half of employers struggle to fill vacancies due to skill shortages.
  • The Justice Secretary is looking to incentivise businesses if they employ ex-offenders under ambitious new plans being unveiled, where employers may be offered a National Insurance Contributions holiday if they hire people from this group.
  • Breaking down barriers by help to changing beliefs – show ex-offenders they can do it, they are valuable and there are more beneficial and rewarding options than crime.

The Results
So as an establishment we encourage employers to get involved in the Employer’s Fairs and come and see all the good work that goes on behind the walls – who knows what positive opportunities it could offer you and your organisation. And such events work! They are already happening throughout the country in other establishments with some really positive results. For example, over 90% of respondents from over 120 business stated that employment events have encouraged them to further explore working with prisons in order to employ ex-offenders. Furthermore, 92% of inclusive employers say it has enhanced their reputation – often helping them win new contracts.

If you’d like to discuss the opportunity of employing ex-offenders and the employers events further, please contact Sarah Barrett, Business and Community Engagement Manager at sarah.barrett@hmps.gsi.gov.uk or on 01442 836 498.

Action to protect businesses from cyber-crime

20 November 2018 in Chamber News

A new strategy to prevent small and medium-sized businesses falling victim to cyber-crime has been launched today by Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and Hertfordshire County Council.
The joint strategy, the first in the country to focus on preventing cyber-crime rather than just responding to it, will bring together stakeholders from across the county to help SMEs protect themselves.
It’s estimated that cyber-crime costs the UK economy £11bn a year, with over two million people falling victim, but most small businesses are either unaware of the risk or don’t consider it serious. Even among those businesses that do, many feel there’s nothing they can do or don’t know where to start.
As well as raising awareness of the risks, the two year strategy will promote a support service for businesses that are worried about cyber-crime or have fallen victim
David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, said: “Over ninety percent of Hertfordshire’s sixty thousand SMEs are ‘Micro’ businesses - meaning they have fewer than ten employees - and these are some of the most vulnerable to cyber risk.  These businesses do not have teams of IT staff to support them, and many believe either they are not at risk or that it is too difficult to do anything about it.
“Our message to them is that you are a target for cybercriminals and you need to take action to protect your business. That’s why I’m launching a £25,000 Cyber Protection for Businesses Voucher Scheme that will let micro businesses get a free external assessment of their IT security and information management systems. This Cyber Basics Review will help business owners understand where they are currently vulnerable and how they can better protect their systems.”
Terry Hone, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “Small and medium businesses are more at risk from cyber-criminals that they realise and many are worryingly unprepared. We want to make sure that business owners know that their business is a target and that they need to take the threat seriously. The programme set out in this strategy will help businesses understand the risk and what action they need to take to keep their business safe from cyber-crime.”
Professor Andy Jones, Director of the Cyber Security Centre at the University of Hertfordshire said: “We have worked with Hertfordshire Police since the Centre was created and welcome the opportunity to be a part of the launch of the new strategy to continue our work preventing cyber-criminals targeting local businesses and retailers. 
“At the University of Hertfordshire we have developed the infrastructure to support the local business community in information security through research into security issues, through the provision of a range of security services, through outreach to local groups and through the education and training of future employees.  Our School of Computer Science is one of the largest and most established departments in the UK and is focused on working with students to develop tools and techniques capable of detecting and responding to a variety of cyber based attacks, including the collection of digital forensic evidence.”
Detective Inspector Marcus Bromley from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit said: “Cybercrime is one of the fastest growing issues that police forces across the country are currently dealing with. It costs the local economy and businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds every year and in many cases, simple crime prevention advice can help to prevent most cyber-attacks on business networks. This is a great initiative, which aims to deliver specialist cybercrime advice and relevant preventative measures businesses can take to protect their systems, which will benefit the businesses themselves and their customers and employees.”

Friday, 16 November 2018


Nov 16, 2018
For another year, CS Recycling are sponsoring the Inspiring Hertfordshire Awards. We are sponsoring the Green Award, a great award that will recognise businesses that have worked on projects towards the environment, community and people.
Last year, we had a lot of great entrants and a very deserved winner, Green Building Design. It was amazing to see the level of interest in the environment, so many businesses had. Very much looking forward to seeing the caliber of entrants for 2019!
Why enter?
  • The Green Award is perfect for a company that has green values
  • It gives you the platform to shout about your successes in environmental projects
  • A great way to showcase the work you have done, and tell your customers about what you have been working on as a company
Enquire with CS Recycling to see if we can help you hit your environmental recycling targets here.

Our guest speaker Julie New; Relationship and Life Gardener, who at the November Women in Leadership lunch gave a riveting and inspiring talk about how we should keep ‘watering ourselves’ has posted on her blog about the event! It was a delight to have you Julie and you have given us all a lot to think about, thank you!

I received this picture shortly after a talk I gave to a woman in business lunch being run by the Herts Chamber of Commerce in the UK and it has set me thinking.

As many of you know I go on about the importance of ‘Watering YOU’ and I often get people jokingly saying, ‘does that include wine’? My answer is always ‘YES’!

Interestingly, when we are overwhelmed, or things are becoming challenging in our lives we will often reach for things that comfort us and this can lead to drinking alcohol to excess; eating too much food (or too little) and maybe reaching for recreational illegal drugs.
They help for a moment to avoid the pain; avoid the mess on the ‘garden path’ that faces us but of course we then end up with an even bigger problem with maybe a reactive addiction or disorder.
When I spoke last week, I mentioned that the work I do is a kind of reverse psychology. By teaching people to understand what they NEED physically; mentally; emotionally and spiritually they are more able to retain balance even when the most terrible things happen in life.
EXAMPLE: The talk on November 8th coincided with the anniversary of my beloved husband Rob’s death. I didn’t mention this for impact or for people to feel sorry for me I mentioned it because even before; during and after his death I made sure I was well ‘watered’. This included continuing with weekly counselling through the dialysis unit at the hospital; taking actual time off work; beginning to exercise again. I basically ensured I took good care of ME and the testament to this was that I was able to stand strong in front of them and do the job I love. It would have been so easy to stay rooted under my duvet and drink myself into oblivion to blot out the agony of watching my husband slowly die.
Of course, sometimes I have reached for more than one bottle of wine or eaten way too many kettle chips, but I always come back to the knowledge that by giving my body what it needs my mind, emotions and spirit remain strong and the journey is a much happier one.
Rob always bought me pink roses and I gave each of the 54 people listening to my talk a pink rose to take home. My way of giving them a lasting memory of the importance of my overriding message: ‘What waters YOU’?

So, are YOU eating or drinking a bit too much? What do YOU need to remain strong and get the balance back into YOUR life?

Julie x

Our next Women in Leadership lunch is with Julie Newlan, Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Hertfordshire, on 7th February 2019. We hope to see you there!