By Anne Quito for Quartzy

Patented in the US over a century ago as a manuscript binding solution, the humble plastic and metal fold-over fastener (a.k.a. banker’s clip) has been extolled as one of the world’s best design objects in the compendium Phaidon Design Classics. Writers, office workers and neatniks of all shades cherish the binder clip’s versatility. There’s even a popular life hack video highlighting its many uses. As celebrated designer Naoto Fukasawa told Quartz, the office supplies favorite is fine as it is.

But the original binder clip’s iconic status hasn’t deterred the stationery-obsessed Japanese from improving the original. A new binder clip model that requires half the strength to use has been named among the top products at this year’s International Stationery & Office Products Fair in Tokyo. Developed by office supplies company Plus Corporation, the so-called “Air Karu Airy Light Touch Binder Clip” features a longer, flatter finger lever and repositions the fulcrum higher up the triangular spring.

These small engineering tweaks make the clip easier to use and reduces finger pain, as its name suggests.

If Plus’s efforts to retool a perfectly fine apparatus seems frivolous, consider its effect on the billions of binder clips used each day. Air Karu’s designers estimate that a worker conserves as much as 50% energy (or “labor saving rate”) when using the largest of the three available new sizes.

Reviews on Amazon have been positive, with many saying how surprised they were with the clip’s efficiency and ease of use.

“If you frequently use double [large] clips, you know that double clips of this size are too much for women,” writes one five star reviewer. “The double clip seems to be patented in 1910…it is surprising that products that have been invented for more than 100 years now will come up with such ingenuity. Once a patent is registered, a new one page will be added to the patent application textbook.”

Another satisfied customer points out how the new design could benefit Japan’s aging population. “I think that elderly people can use it without inconvenience because of the easy-to-hold lever.” And one customer who sampled the largest Air Karu 32 mm model even had a philosophical take: “it’s a gem when you realize that evolution of technology makes life more convenient.”

Creating successful digital content is based on the design team addressing several basic pointers.

Conduct market research
Whilst a news broadcast may be interesting for some patrons in a restaurant, it may illicit groans from others. Market research needs to be conducted in order to understand what content will perk the customer’s interest whilst sitting, relaxing and enjoying a meal, or what will drive the irritated customer mad and straight out the door.
For example, if people on the road enjoy listening to music, a petrol station’s digital display could play top music videos. And if the petrol station is located on a national highway to the coast, various coastal regions could be featured, thus enhancing the holiday maker’ s trip.

What screen will the content be displayed on?
When digital content is created, the screen that it will be displayed on needs to be considered and the following questions asked: – Where is the screen located? Who will be looking at it? What will they be doing while they look at it?

What type of content should be displayed where?

  • Text heavy content generally takes more than a few seconds to read and is best reserved for waiting areas or long queues
  • Shorter content should be used in areas where customers come and go quickly
  • Content for displays that are placed near a point of sale, such as a cash register or reception desk, create tempting impulse buys
  • Storefront digital signage that attracts customers to a store, should consist of advertising and promotional content
  • Call to action content should take the form of a video. Content may be king, but when it comes to digital signage, so is context

Be a stickler for text design
With numerous fonts, sizes, and colours to select, it seems as if text design is the part of digital signage content that lends itself most to creativity. However, depending on the application, poor font choice can derail an entire project. Fonts should always be simple and legible, especially from a reasonable distance, and too many fonts will muddy the message and may lose viewers.

Choose colour wisely
Too many colours or the wrong colours together, can be a distraction or even worse, convey the incorrect emotion. In addition, combining certain colours may be a hit in the retail marketing arena, but garish colour combinations, used in an airport or train station, may be disconcerting for the traveller who is seeking basic information such as schedules.

Use motion selectively
Often silhouettes and animation may interfere with readability or comprehension. As viewers should be given enough time to read text, movement should not be too abrupt.

Alliteration and rhyme
For quicker viewer retention and memorization, rhyme and alliteration could be considered. Most viewers remember up to three items at any given time. By keeping the message clear and concise, and holding the screen views long enough, the message can be read and absorbed effectively.

A place for humour
There are times when a playful injection of humour can transform digital signage content from ordinary to eye-catching and attention-grabbing. Once a viewer’s attention is caught, a conversation can be started with excellent content to follow. For many marketers, getting a customer ‘in the door’ is the first step to converting them into a sale.

Keep it fresh
One major element separating digital signage from traditional signage is its ability to display dynamic content. If only static content is being displayed on the screen, the question remains, why even use digital signage? Dynamic content captures an individual’s attention, keeps the viewer interested and remains top of mind.
Customers and employees are 10 times more likely to observe dynamic digital signage content than static messages. Examples of dynamic digital signage content are videos, animations, social media feeds or RSS feeds. The latter two are the most likely to keep the content as fresh and exciting as possible, and they’re low maintenance. However, if a company’s social media account is being displayed, it’s essential that it is kept updated!

Keep it simple
At first glance, simplicity may seem contradictory to producing amazing content, however good visual communication should always be concise, easy to understand and memorable. Establish whether your content is interactive or not and then focus on delivering one key message, as too much information can overload and distract the viewer.

Place a call to action on every screen
Start a call to action with a verb, keep the verb and subject close together, and embed it in each screen being used (e.g. “Get Yours Today,” “Get Started Now,” “Try it for Free.)

Make it useful, not only colourful
When content is being designed, make sure it enhances the experience, not detracts from it. For example, many menu boards will use a dedicated attract screen for this type of animated content, such as McDonald’s where the content flows well and the actual menu is not affected. All content elements must work together and not compete against one another.

Offer value, not technology
Often companies engage in technology, whilst not fully understanding how it will add value to the customer experience. The key question needs to be asked, “What will the customer gain if they pay attention to my content?” Will they be entertained or more likely to make a purchase, or both? Does it offer them some sort of discount?

Customers may not pay attention to your digital signage if the design contains the following issues:

  • Lack of relevance – certain digital signage software solutions are available that allow you to examine how long your customers will look at a display, whether they engage with it and what their emotional reaction is. This information can be used to your advantage when you know your customer’s profile and needs, so that suitable and relevant content can be created.
  • Uninspiring content – even if your content is relevant, that doesn’t mean it’s a winner. Sometimes digital displays simply advertise a product’s price, and nothing else. It’s not useless, as it may drive a few sales, however it’s only revealing a fraction of the message. A key element to inspiring content is that it doesn’t just deliver sales, it also boosts brand awareness and value. So, with all your content, you need to ask, “how will this improve my brand?”
  • Lack of engagement – some displays fail to engage the audience in a conversation with the product, brand or service. Digital signage offers many tools one of which includes social media integration. You can integrate a social media newsfeed from your brand and encourage your audience to like or follow your pages. Or you can integrate a camera in your display, so users can take selfies against backdrops or augmented reality elements, such as a virtual sports jersey. However, having said that you don’t need to turn your display into an interactive marvel, but you do need to discover a way for your audience to care about and communicate with your brand. Neglecting engagement to advance sales is a recipe for disaster.

By Mario Valdivieso for PSFK 

The gender pay gap, which sees women making less than men for the same work, is a problem all over the world.

New Zealand design company 485 design wanted to bring attention to it by inserting it into a line of Office Stationery for Women.

The stationary designs were made with the intention of conveying basic facts that surround gender inequality in the workplace.

The set includes a 13-hour clock to signify the uneven amount money a woman will make in the same amount of time compared to a man. The set also has stationery cards with facts on the issue, and a diary containing 13 months instead of 12. The design was even done in a “soft pink” to represent stereotypical female gender roles and ignorance of this particular problem.

By suggesting women work longer hours to receive equal pay, Office Stationery for Women hopes the absurdity of its solution will point out how little sense it makes for women to be paid less than men in the first place.

By Kristen Stephenson for Guinness World Records 

Julian Martinez was told by his own art class that crafting a mural using just pencils was impossible – but he’s proved them wrong by creating the largest pencil drawn mural.

While no one seemed to have confidence in his abilities, the 24-year-old never failed to believe in himself.

It was this doubt that motivated the Colombian artist to spread his talent across 84.86 m² (913 ft² 61 in²) of wall to earni his Guinness World Records title.

Julian wasn’t always interested in art, so this ambition was quite the mission to take on.

The teacher had previously been studying agriculture production, but realised after several years he had a passion for the arts and sought out to become a tattoo artist.

Thus, he began a 48-day project titled La Realidad Absoluta, which translates to Absolute Reality.

The idea behind his image is show that although others may be different from one another, we can adjust the human perspective to see eye to eye.

Although Julian began the illustration alone, his students and others in the community of Roldanillo came out to help him finish the massive piece upon seeing his intense commitment.

After going through 1 200 pencils, and sketching despite blisters and intense heat, the team of artists now have a detailed canvas exemplifying their hard work.

By Deena M. Amato-McCoy for ChainStoreAge 

The online giant had sales just shy of $3-billion across the office supplies segment, and these sales are growing at over 30% year-over-year.

Printers performed very well for Amazon in 2017, generating over $300-million in estimated sales last year. These sales also boosted high growth in ink, toner and paper (74%, 51%, and 56%, respectively). When researching the performance of ink and toner, the two largest office products categories, there was higher growth in sales of inkjet as compared to laser printers (26% and 15%, respectively), which correlated to higher growth in ink compared to toner, the study reported.

Office organisation is a broad category which includes file folders, binders, labellers and labelling tape, among other things. It is also the next largest category after ink and toner (both valued at an estimated $390 million in 2017 sales), with an estimated $330 million in sales, and a steady growth of 24%.

Bulk buying of consumables is also driving growth for a couple of Amazon’s office categories. Exceeding the high growth rates of ink and toner were casepack cut sheet paper (90% year-over-year growth) and glue and adhesives (76% growth annually), led by the brands Georgia-Pacific and Elmer’s, respectively.

Amazon also has a high-performing private label offering in the office supplies category. AmazonBasics is the category leader for shredders, with eight out of 10 bestsellers — and two of them rank in the top 20 office products of 2017. The top competitor, Fellowes, markets high-end shredders and holds the remaining two top 10 items, both of which sell for over $450 each.

By marketing a low-cost alternative (the top model sells for $30), AmazonBasics has become the largest shredder brand on its namesake platform, and earned more than 40% of the total category sales in 2017, the study explained.

“While leading retail chains struggle to stay afloat, Amazon is seeing strong growth across the board in sales of office appliances, like printers, scanners and shredders, as well as consumables and office accessories,” says Nathan Rigby, VP sales and marketing, One Click Retail.

“Amazon’s latest efforts in this area, including their upcoming credit card for small business owners, reveals the company’s commitment to finding the same success as a B2B marketplace as they have as a B2C retailer,” he added. “With more and more of the Office Product market moving away from brick-and- mortar in favor of Amazon, there’s no better time for brands to embrace it as their primary sales channel.”

You’ve probably seen a few of these smart paper or smart pen things over the years — write in this special notebook and it gets saved to an app, that sort of thing. A new entrant to this niche space is the Everlast notebook, which obviates the necessity of restocking proprietary paper in that its pages can be wiped clean with a damp towel.

No, to answer your first question, it’s not a tiny whiteboard. The Kickstarter page is very clear on that:

The 36 pages (or 32 on the large-format version) are a “waterproof synthetic poly blend,” which when written on with a pen from the Pilot Frixion line can be wiped off over and over again, but only with a wet towel — normal rubbing won’t do it. It’s important to use the Frixions because they use an erasable ink that comes off the page completely (you can also just use the eraser for quick edits).

When you’ve written on the Everlast, you can then capture images of the pages quickly with the Rocketbook app. The Rocketbook, by the way, was the notebook the company funded earlier this year, which you erased by putting it in the microwave with a glass of water for a while and then vacuuming up the ink. Yes, really.

Your notes and sketches aren’t stuck in this random app, though: it’s just for scanning. When you snap pictures, it crops and processes the image and then sends it to the cloud services of your choice.

The clever bit is that you don’t even need to fiddle with the app to do that. You select the services each page should go to by marking them at the bottom. The symbols look more like Lucky Charms marshmallows, but you’ll get used to it. You can send stuff to Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, Box, Slack, or to an email address.

A couple minor caveats: the creators are honest about the fact that if you’re left handed and tend to drag your hand along what you’re writing, you’ll probably smudge it, since the Frixion ink takes several seconds to bond to the “paper.” And if you leave the ink on the page for more than 2 months, they say, it’ll leave a faint trace.

The Everlast isn’t going to change the world, and it isn’t for everybody, but this is a cool way to do the analog-digital thing these other notebooks do, for cheap ($34 for early birds) and without actually using any paper.

By Devin Coldewey for TechCrunch

Bic lowers full-year growth forecast

French company Bic, known for its disposable lighters, ball-point pens and razor blades, has seen its sales stagnate over the past six months. The board has immediately lowered its full-year growth forecast.

1.063 billion euro turnover
Bic achieved a 1.063 billion euro six-month turnover (+ 0.3 % compared last year’s first semester), thanks to the Stationary division that grew 3.3 % and is the company’s largest division with a 428-million euro turnover. Distributors responded well to Bic’s novelties for the upcoming schoolyear, the Clichy-based company said.

Bic’s disposable lighters also continue to sell well and contribute 356.9 million euro, up 0.8 %. Its razor blade division did not do as well, as its turnover slumped 4.3 % to 236.4 million euro, mainly because of weaker sales in the United States. By comparison, Europe and the growth markets did display growth for the razor blade division.

Even though its second quarter turnover outperformed the first quarter, the board still dialed back its full-year growth forecast. “As markets remain volatile for the balance of the year, coupled with recent signs of lower consumption in Brazil, we now expect to trend between 3% to 4% Full Year Organic Net Sales growth”, Bic said. Only three months ago, it targeted a 5 % increase, but analysts had already stated that number was far too optimistic. The French group published a 2.026 billion euro turnover and a 249.7 million euro net profit.

By Karin Bosteels for www.retaildetail.eu

Most of the small businesses are going to run on really low budgets. When an office is needed we often see that the company struggles to create it. That is mainly because of the fact that the small budget is spent on items that are not at all necessary. It is really important to be sure that you are going to get the essentials.

Obviously, the basic office supplies that are needed for one company may be completely different than those needed for another small business. For instance, in the event you run a business that often prints documents for clients, you will surely need a good supply of printer ink before you open your doors. However, if your business is mainly connected to the online world, printer ink will not be that needed.

What you need to do is to assess the specific basic needs the office has when the business is launched. Besides that, you will need basic office supplies. They are almost always needed to make operations professional and smooth. The appropriate supplies are always going to be needed when home based businesses are operated. In this case you want to separate the business and the home for tax, business and practical reasons so office basics will be even more important.

1. Office Essentials
The small business has some pretty simple office essentials that have to be taken into account. This includes comfortable office chairs that are ergonomically correct and desks. Then, you most likely need proper task lighting and file cabinets that can be locked. Larger whiteboards or an erasable calendar can be added so that scheduling becomes simpler while adding to planning projects and deadline tracking.

2. Office Equipment
Since this is 2017, there is a huge possibility you will have to invest in a laptop computer or a desktop computer for every single employee. If you need paperwork, pairing everything with printer access will be necessary. You will most likely need internet access and business email accounts should be set up to make everything as professional as possible. Besides the office equipment, you will need common supplies. This does include ink cartridges, printer paper, heavyweight stationary (you may want to print it with a letterhead and business name) and sometimes you will also need a larger scale printer or a copier, based on business scope.

3. A Communication System
For starters, you will need to set up a phone system. As customers call you, a professional and prompt response has to come in. The phone system that has some individual extensions and at least voice mail is something that is seen as a basic. When there is no receptionist, remote phone management is an opportunity. The alternative to the regular phone system that is now gaining popularity is using VoIP based phone systems. They take advantage of the internet to handle phone calls, similarly to what Skype is used for at home. Using Skype is not professional because of quality concerns. However, other options are going to be available through VoIP. These systems offer many interesting advantages that will only make the business better at prices that are much lower than what you initially expect. Cloud based solutions help you to save even more and offer professional services, which is exactly what customers expect.

4. Business Forms
In order to appropriately track and budget expenses, to manage billing, formalise contractual agreements, account receivables and more, it is important to have business documents. That includes invoices, agreement letters and business contracts. Such materials are important as they will help you to run the business in a more fluid way, especially from the financial standpoint. At the same time, the business forms help the company to properly manage budgets, keep records and prepare the taxes. When vendor disputes appear, as an example, the forms help to set things straight.

5. Marketing Materials
Many small businesses invest the budget they have in office equipment and forget about marketing material. Nobody should do this if success is desired. A part of your startup budget should be added to marketing materials. Promotion will always be necessary so you want to produce business cards and even flyers or brochures when launching a local business. When it is possible, create a website that offers a company overview, products descriptions, services descriptions and testimonials as soon as they appear.

Conclusions
As you can easily see, there are many things that have to be taken into account when you set up any office for a small business. We talked about the essentials that are almost always needed but you should use your due diligence, of course. In some cases you can get rid of some of the essentials mentioned but you should be careful. In so many situations a launch without the office essentials will lead to business operations that are not as effective as they should be.
By Ady Wilson for www.businesscomputingworld.co.uk

EduWeek is bigger and better

Originally pegged for the 4th and 5th July 2017, EduWeek has been moved to accommodate the huge growth that it has experienced and will leave Hall 5 at Gallagher to take up larger space in Gallagher’s prestigious Halls 2 & 3. This move of date and venue for EduWeek provides the best possible environment to launch new big features to the event and space for exhibitors and visitors to network and interface, which is what EduWeek is all about.

EduWeek has also moved on from its partnership with SABC and is now partnering with Mindset Learn Channel.

The EduWeek African Trade Exchange takes place on the 11 July in Sandton and EduWeek takes place on 12 and 13 July from 09:30 – 18:00 and 09:30 – 17:30 respectively in Halls 2 & 3 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.

Event Director, Tanya Jackman says “We are pioneering a new breed of education events which addresses the broader role of education as well as the practical every day components. In turn this will provide more opportunities for businesses in education to be exposed to new verticals of growth, including health and energy, whilst creating greater exposure in core sectors such as science & technology.”

EduWeek, a firm supporter of the United Nation’s 17 SDG’s and South Africa’s NDP’s, is a two-day exhibition and conference which will host over 180 local and international product & service providers, seven dedicated EduTheatre/conference tracks and 5,500 visitors.

Those who will attend EduWeek include:

  • Global Organisations & NGOs
  • African Ministries
  • South African Provincial Government
  • CEOs, CIOs, COOs & Directors
  • Institution Leaders
  • Educators, Lecturers & Heads of Departments
  • Education Specialists

Event director, Tanya Jackman says “As an attendee you will be exposed to a full itinerary of networking, knowledge sharing, practical seminars and hands-on interaction with breakthrough technologies & products in a truly innovative environment for an unbeatable experience”

Multiple segments of the sector will converge at EduWeek to discuss the advancement of education including Vocational & Higher Education, Early Childhood Development, Basic Education, Inclusive, Sports & Recreation, Technology, Health and Finance.

The exhibition has grown to host over 10 major product areas including Fitness & Nutrition which is a new addition for the upcoming event:

  • Technology
  •  Maths & Science Equipment
  • Publishing
  • Educational Toys
  • School Supplies
  • Stationery
  • Inclusive Education
  • Services for Educational Institutions (Financial services, training services etc.)
  • Safety & Security

Another highlight of the EduWeek calendar is the EduWeek Awards which take place on the evening of the 12th July. The EduWeek Awards recognise excellence across the African education ecosystem. From the inception of the most innovative and life-changing products and/or services to our local heroes who go above and beyond to assist their communities and the lives of our precious learners.

Contact
To enter the EduWeek Awards or nominate a worthy recipient, visit: http://www.educationweek.co.za/awards/

Should you wish to sign-up to EduWeek’s monthly newsletter, the Educ8tor, please go to wwe.eduweek.co.za and register your details.

 

 

Investec Property and workplace specialists Giant Leap have launched FutureSpace – a first of its kind, high-end office on demand at 61 Katherine Street in the heart of Sandton, Johannesburg.

Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says the new 2 000 square metre office could be thought of a mix between “a five star business class lounge and on-demand, sharing economy services like Uber and Airbnb.

“FutureSpace is fully fledged office with absolutely everything a business requires from high speed fibre WiFi, concierge and support staff to meeting rooms, video conferencing, a gym in the building and 24 hour electronic security. And of course barista coffee and food.”

Trim noted that the shift in social attitudes from “ownership to access” and the growing sharing economy was now beginning to impact the global perspective of the workplace and FutureSpace was in direct response to this.

Robin Magid, executive director of Investec Property, says that the FutureSpace office in Sandton was an “office of the future”.

“We plan to role out many more offices in the business centres in South Africa – as well as creating an international presence starting in London. All will be in high end locations and close to good transport links.

“The FutureSpace competitive advantage is the synergy of our core property locations and the design expertise of Giant Leap. No one else offers that.”

FutureSpace offers a luxury hotel type of experience that offers restaurants and hotel bookings, luggage storage services and advice on the local area.

“With no leasing commitments and only paying for what you use, FutureSpace offers entrepreneurs, start ups, freelancers and even existing businesses easy access to fully equipped established offices. It is also appealing to multinationals that can quickly establish an office in SA,” says Trim.

Trim says that a local start up tech company and an international company taking its first steps into South Africa had already rented space.

Trim added: ”It can take months to find suitable offices space and just as long again to install IT services, furniture and interior design. With FutureSpace you simply book and pay for your office online – or simply walk in – and you can start working straight away. The front desk will be expecting you.”

Instant bookings can be made online through an online portal. It will also allow clients to book and pay for all extra services they need.

The FutureSpace offices are designed to meet different office needs with monthly pricing ranging from R3 500 to R25 000.

There are executive office spaces designed for longer term leases, a monthly membership that can be purchased for the visitor area for drop in visitors as well as co-working spaces that are specially tailored to entrepreneurs and those who need to work closely together.

All users of FutureSpace can also gain access to hi-tech boardrooms, training rooms and lounges.

The offices are equipped with ergonomically designed furniture including award winning seating. Any furniture can also be changed to the users’ exact preferences.

Businesses can also just hire meeting facilities only for the likes of strategic meetings and brainstorming sessions.

More details and bookings are available at www.futurespaceoffice.co.za.

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