Black Friday weekend in numbers

According to an article by Business Tech, online sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 exceeded figures for 2017.

BankservAfrica provided Business Tech with the following figures on one of the biggest shopping days of the year:

  • A total of 581 189 online transactions were processed over the weekend
  • 404 594 online transactions were recorded on Black Friday
  • The single most expensive transaction for Black Friday was over R6-million
  • The single most expensive transaction for Cyber Monday was R5-million
  • Black Friday shopping peaked between 08h00 and 09h00
  • Cyber Monday shopping peaked between 10h00 and 11h00
  • The average number of transactions per minute peaked at 695 on Black Friday
  • Transactions averaged at 281 per minute on Black Friday
  • The average number of transactions per minute peaked at 277 on Cyber Monday
  • Transactions averaged at 1251 per minute on Cyber Monday
  • Black Friday saw 55% year-on-year growth in online transactions
  • Cyber Monday transactions were up 36% year-on-year 

The United States, where the trend originated, also saw some big numbers:

  • Cyber Monday sales surged to a record $7.9-billion spent online
  • This is a year-on-year increase of 19.3%
  • Black Friday pulled in a record $6.22-billion in e-commerce sales
  • Transactions on mobile devices were up 55.6% on Cyber Monday, generating $2.2-billion in sales
  • Cyber Monday marked the biggest shopping day in Amazon’s history
  • Amazon Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined saw the purchase 18-million toys and more than 13-million fashion items

Record-breaking fuel price drop on the cards

By Tom Head for The South African

Has Santa Clause been listening to the South African public? A petrol price decrease of epic proportions is now certifiably on the cards for December, after the Central Energy Fund (CEF) released a new round of data.

Last week, we broke the news that the petrol price was likely to drop by more than R1.50 per litre. However, that figure may be nearer the R2 mark by the beginning of next month. Business Tech report that the rand’s gains against the dollar have propelled the costs into more affordable territory.

How much will the petrol price drop by?

All figures based on price per litre:

  • Petrol 95: R1.67
  • Petrol 93: R1.64
  • Diesel: R1.14
  • Illuminating Paraffin: R1.05

It’s been a hectic couple of months for the crude oil market, but one’s misfortune is another’s gain. The price for a barrel of oil has slumped to the $60 mark, compared with $85 in September. Donald Trump, this tweeter-in-chief, has even suggested oil prices could drop lower than this.

“The main driver of lower prices has been an accelerating decline in international oil prices, which have trended downwards since the beginning of this month,” said the Central Energy Fund in an official statement.

A perfect storm of positive factors for South Africa is leading us towards one of the most dramatic changes in monthly petrol prices ever seen in this country. It would be the ideal remedy to a year that has been infamous for soaring fuel costs, and October’s R1-per-litre increase.

It all makes for a pretty rosy picture heading into the end of 2018. Inland regions, such as Gauteng and Free State, will go from paying over R17 a litre to less than R15.50. Meanwhile, those near the coast will smash the R15 barrier altogether, as prices plummet even further.

What South Africans will pay for petrol in December 2018 – forecast:

  • Inland: R15.41
  • Coastal regions: R14.82

FNB offers “tap and PIN” ATM transactions

Source: The Citizen

FNB has become the first bank in South Africa to offer consumers an innovation that allows them to tap bank cards and enter a personal identification number (PIN) to perform a transaction without inserting the cards into automated teller machines (ATMs).

The bank estimates that the “Tap and PIN” function will reduce the time it takes to make a withdrawal by up to 20 seconds and protect its customers against card skimming devices. The functionality is currently available across 100 FNB ATMs and the bank said more would be upgraded during 2019.

The new product is a major step in the bank’s plans to continuously improve the convenience and safety of its banking ecosystem, said FNB Retail chief executive Raj Makanjee.

“In the last three years, consumers have processed approximately R1 billion worth of contactless payments from 5 million transactions on FNB issued credit and debit cards alone,” Makanjee said.

“The frequency of use by consumers has grown by between 100% and 300% on our credit and debit cards respectively, highlighting the confidence of our customers in adopting new and secure payment methods. Having started issuing contactless cards three years ago, we now have over 8.5 million contactless-enabled debit and credit cards in the hands of consumers.”

Makanjee said contactless payments offered substantial benefits in an era where consumers and retailers wanted to avoid long queues.

Written by Jason O’Brien for Training Journal 

The introduction of digital technologies into the workplace has brought with it a number of advantages. Businesses have solutions to improve productivity and reduce expenditure. Employees have greater flexibility and better tools to do their job.

However, the evidence suggests there are some downsides to the amount of technology we use in the workplace. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, sometimes limiting the amount of technology employees use can actually increase their productivity. Limits on tech can prevent fatigue and help staff avoid procrastination so they are worth taking a look at.

Tech affects our mental state

Technology may make our professional lives easier, but studies have been conducted that suggest it doesn’t make us healthier. Take this 2015 study of college students, published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. It shows the link between smartphone addiction and negative physiological and psychological symptoms including increased blood pressure and anxiety.

In 2012, the University of Gothenburg’s research into smartphone and computer usage found that excessive use is linked to stress, sleep disorders and depressive symptoms. If users undertake excessive use of both smartphones and computers, the risk of these symptoms is heightened.

Affecting everything from attention spans to creativity, use of technology affects our ability to get a good night’s sleep. This in turn affects a business’s bottom line.

Sleep is the real issue that underpins the negative aspects of technology use. Affecting everything from attention spans to creativity, use of technology affects our ability to get a good night’s sleep. This in turn affects a business’s bottom line.

A 2016 study from Hult International Business School showed that a lack of sleep costs organisations $2,280 a year for every sleep-deprived employee. Without enough rest, the ability of staff to communicate effectively and problem solve is lowered – costing businesses money.

Help employees reduce usage

To combat the detrimental effects technology brings to the workplace, organisations are adopting the ‘Digital Detox’, an initiative that looks to reduce the level of exposure employees have to technology both in and out of the office.

For office-based workers, a computer is a necessary part of the job, but it means employees can clock up 30-hours screen time a week just at work. To bring this down, you could implement some of these work policies:

In the office

Active lunchtimes

Given all the distractions the internet provides us, it’s all too easy for staff to stay seated at lunchtime and use their computer for entertainment. To encourage people to get a break from the computer screen, you could organise recreational lunchtime events, particularly around exercise.

Put on a yoga class or find a local gym that could offer discounted rates to your staff – anything that gets people engaged and active. Exercise has been demonstrated to improve our ability to shift and focus attention. An active mind will help staff return from lunch ready to refocus on the afternoon’s tasks.

Tech-free meetings

Communication tools and applications make it easy to chat to colleagues no matter your or their location – but as a result, face-to-face interaction has become a bit of a lost art. Meetings are a great opportunity to ditch digital communications and rediscover vocal interchanges.

Adopt a meeting or two each week that specifically sets out a no-tech policy.

Inadequate communication between employees reportedly costs large businesses $62.4m a year. Communicating over digital channels like email doesn’t allow for facial gestures and tone of voice, making misinterpretation common. Encourage personal, face-to-face communication to minimise these effects and grow your team’s interpersonal skills.

Out of the office

Encourage a ‘leave in the office’ policy

Given the impact technology has on our stress levels and sleep patterns, organisations should look to minimise the level at which employees take their work home with them. Some office cultures expect this of their employees despite evidence suggesting it’s likely to have a negative impact on productivity in the long-term.

You might not want to go as far as France, who have enshrined in law the right to avoid checking work email out of hours, but encourage staff not to engage in too much work activity in their own time. The blue light emitted from our smartphones and computers suppresses melatonin, the hormone that controls our sleep cycles.

Given the effect poor sleep patterns have on productivity, the more you allow your employees to switch off at home the more they will be able to focus when in the office.

Improve employee sleep to improve employee focus

A good night’s sleep is the key to having an engaged, focused and happy workforce. Too much exposure to technology makes it more difficult for us to achieve this – either through negative psychological symptoms like increased anxiety or stress or by suppressing the hormones we need for better sleep.

But organisations can help. Adopt a Digital Detox policy and help reduce the things that cost your employees valuable sleep. The result could see your company’s productivity increase.

Edcon may run out of money in 2019

According to a report by the Financial Mail, Edgars may “effectively run out capital towards the end of 2019”.

After Bain Capital paid R25-billion for the company, the retailer’s balance sheet saw debt of R17.3-billion – an amount that nearly sank the company as the 2008 financial crisis hit.

Since 2012, Edcon has lost an estimated 22% of its clothing and footwear market share where it once held more than 50% of the sector, according to Financial Mail.

Edcon still owes an estimated R7-billion to its lenders.

On a positive note, Stats SA reported that retail sales grew 2.5% for the year to August — almost twice the 1.4% annualised growth reported in July.

The problem is, says the Financial Mail, that Edcon is making a loss, and “someone has to fund the loss”. This falls to the shareholders and the problem under discussion is “how long will they fund these losses”?

Edcon’s most recent set of accounts, for the year to March 2018, saw sales down 4.8% to R24.1-billion. Trading losses ballooned to R1.36-billion from R373-million in 2017. Even though R20-billion in debt was written off in 2016, Edcon incurred R1.53-billion in “financing costs” to repay remaining debt. The three months to June were no better: sales were down 8.8%, and the quarter saw trading losses of R225-million.

The lack of customers are evident at even flagship Edgars stores. “At Melrose Arch, most of the initial space Edgars occupied is boarded up, reinforcing the impression of a gradually disintegrating department store,” reports Financial Mail.

As many as one in five South Africans used to shop at one of the 1 350 stores owned by Edcon. Despite the downward trend, Edgars has remained SA’s largest nonfood retailer, accounting for nearly a third of the clothing and footwear market.

The company employs more than 27 000 staff members, with an indirect effect on a further 100 000 people.

Source: Fin24

A landmark court ruling by the Constitutional Court that decriminalised the private and personal use of cannabis could leave employers in a pickle when it comes to health and safety in the workplace, experts have said.
This is because it may be difficult to determine for certain whether an employee is under the influence of cannabis or not when they come to work, which could have implications – particularly for employees performing potentially hazardous work.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act states that no person who is or appears to be intoxicated may enter or remain at a workplace. They may also not have in their possession, partake of, or offer any other person intoxicating liquor or drugs, it adds.

The exception is medicine, where the employer may only allow them to perform their duties if the side effects are not a threat to anybody’s health or safety.

Why it’s hard to test for cannabis
Gerhard Roets, Construction Health & Safety Manager at the Master Builders Association North, says the cannabis ruling left the construction industry scratching heads over how to ensure employee safety.
“In practical terms, the issue for employers is how to determine whether workers are under the influence of cannabis or not when they come to work.”

This is because the metabolism of cannabis is complex. Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive substance in cannabis that provides the “high”.

Hemp oils derived from cannabis seeds are used medicinally – the health benefits are associated with the non-psychoactive cannabidol (CBD). But hemp products may contain some THC, which could also show up in drug tests.
Furthermore, a standard urine test just screens for the metabolites of cannabis, which can show up long after the psychoactive effects have worn off.

All this means is that a positive test may not reveal anything that incriminates the employee.

“One needs to understand that the Court’s ruling only decriminalises the possession, consumption and private cultivation of cannabis for private use in a private space. This means that employers remain responsible for providing and maintaining a work environment that is safe for all,” says Roets.

The Master Builders Association believes the main issue is that there is not an effective, standardised testing method available that can be used across industries.

“Until the testing issue is resolved, and the state of being ‘under the influence of cannabis’ is medically defined, employers will have to tread carefully,” says Roets.

But do you need a test?
Labour lawyer Michael Bagraim, also a DA MP and the party’s spokesperson on labour, says regardless of grey areas around testing, employers will have to rely on good old-fashioned observation for now – and employees should be aware that they don’t need a positive test in order to risk dismissal.

“Just like alcohol, cannabis intoxication is not acceptable at the workplace,” he told Fin24.

“On many occasions, and there have been many cases to this effect, the dismissal takes place after physical interpretation of intoxication. For instance, with alcohol you would notice slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, erratic behaviour and even breath smelling of alcohol. On the strength of the witness who notices this, a disciplinary inquiry is held and the individual can be dismissed.”

He says it is “slightly more difficult” with cannabis, but “you can palpably see if someone is intoxicated or not”.

“An eye witness is often stronger than the outcome of a positive result in a test,” he explains. “On many occasions an employee refuses a test and you cannot force someone. Also, cannabis can be detected for over a month after its use. A person might not be intoxicated but will still fail the test. A much stronger argument is an individual noticed to be intoxicated, with erratic behaviour.”

Professor Halton Cheadle, partner at specialist labour law firm BCHC, told media earlier this month that companies may have to reconsider their policies that deal with substance abuse. It’s important to review policies to ensure employers are equipped to take care of their employees’ safety, Cheadle said.

Source: 702

On Black Friday, most shops opened very early to allow shoppers to start helping themselves to the deals.

EWN reporter Shamiela Fisher reported that Checkers in Goodwood had long queues before 6 am. According to the manager, the staff had to be collected as early as 2 am to ensure that everything is in order by the time shoppers arrive.

EWN reporter Refilwe Pitjeng was monitoring Mall of Africa, Sandton and Woodmead in Gauteng.

She says toilet paper was the most popular item and Mall of Africa was out of stock.

By Lisa Bowman for Metro
Image credit: Wrapt

Last year it was estimated that Brits would throw out 108-million rolls of Christmas wrapping paper. That’s a lot of waste.

Even the most well-intentioned of us may be unaware that the wrap we put in recycling isn’t actually recyclable, if it contains plastic, dye, foil, glitter or leftover sticky tape.

Most of us aren’t prepared to hand people unwrapped gifts – where’s the joy in that? – so thankfully there are eco-friendly wrapping routes we can take.

Most of them are so chic they’ll make it look like Pinterest threw up under your tree.

Recycled brown paper
Brown paper is one of your cheapest options, and yet has the most potential to look impressive – you just have to get crafty. You can get recycled brown paper at your local Post Office.
Limited budget/don’t have time to mess about with ribbons and foliage? Make it your own with wooden stamps.

Go DIY with old fabric
Got old Christmas tablecloths lying around the house? Christmas tea towels? Feel like making the most of the kitsch Christmas patterns in your local fabric shop? Wrap your presents in it!

Secure it by tying a knot as a bow, or by using eco twine or cut-up fabric as ribbon. Just ensure you get the fabric back to use again if the recipient doesn’t plan to use it.

Reusable fabric gift bags/bottle bags
Gift bags and bottle bags are such a waste – as soon as the gift’s been taken out, they’re usually chucked in the rubbish.
Did you know you can buy reusable fabric versions?
Sure, they’re expensive, but they’re made from 45% recycled fabric, and the maker promises that they’re durable enough to last a lifetime.
You just need to make sure you gift them to someone who’ll actualy re-use them.

Use magazines or newspaper
Chances are, you’ve got some old newspaper or magazines lying around the house – instead of chucking these straight in your recycling bin, why not give them a detour? A new life as gift wrap?

Obviously make sure the stories printed in the publication are, er, appropriate.

Regular wrap – make sure it’s recycled and recyclable
If you’re not into any of the above options, and simply want a more eco version of your usual minimal effort wrapping paper, then all is not lost.

All you have to do is make sure your gift wrap is recycled, and that it’s recyclable. Obviously this option is quite expensive and unless you’re made of money, they’re not likely to be an option for those who have a million kids’ presents to wrap.
So, if all else fails – at least make sure the wrap you use is fully recyclable, if it’s not made from recycled content itself.

Reuse old wrapping paper and gift bags
My mum used to laboriously pick off the sellotape from gifts and save the wrapping paper to use again. As a child, I thought she’d lost her mind but now, I see where she was coming from.
Keep a stash of old wrapping paper and gift/bottle bags, and save up ribbons and bows from gifts throughout the year.
They can cost a lot of money as well as the earth, so you may as well make the most of them!

Don’t forget your decorations
Shun the landfill fodder that is regular plastic ribbon – jazz it up with environmentally-friendly twine instead. Honestly, it looks super twee.
You can even make bows and ribbon out of old newspaper. Go full-on Pinterest by using cinnamon and foraged pine cones/foliage.
If you’re using brown paper, forget gift tags and simply write your message directly on the paper, or make gift
tags out of scrap card.
Plastic sticky tape can’t be recycled, so use an eco version like paper packing tape.
Happy gift wrapping!

It’s a odd-sounding word that’s often mistaken for something illegal or someone who likes books, but biophilia is simply humankind’s innate connection with nature. And it is a trend growing more popular in South Africa’s offices.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says biophilia helps explain why crackling fires and crashing waves captivate us, why a garden view can enhance our creativity and strolling through a park have restorative, even healing effects.

“Simply put, humans are programmed to feel good in nature. And nature has a powerfully positive effect on our well-being. Globally urban designers and office designers are incorporating the phenomenon into their work. They want to bring it to where we spend about a third of our lives: the office.”

Says Andrews: “Natural light, wood grain, living walls, plants and outdoor seating are just a few ways to bring elements of nature to the workplace. We are increasingly being asked to incorporate nature into the work we do across South Africa.

“In the workplace, it is therefore about tricking our brains to feel like we’re in a natural environment by triggering underlying patterns that we’re programmed to recognise and feel good in.”

With the emergence of the green building movement in the early 1990s, linkages were made between improved environmental quality and worker productivity in research by Browning & Room 1994. While the financial gains due to productivity improvements were considered significant, productivity was identified as a placeholder for health and well-being, which have even broader impact.

The healing power of a connection with nature was established by Roger Ulrich’s 1984 landmark study comparing recovery rates of patients with and without a view to nature. Environment psychologist Stephen Kaplan noted that people with a view of natural elements, such as trees, water or countryside, report greater levels of wellbeing than those looking over more urban settings.

Andrews noted the last decade has seen a steady growth in work around and the intersections of neuroscience and architecture, both in research and in practice and that even green building standards have begun to incorporate biophilia, mostly for its contribution to indoor environmental quality.

Andrews described a biophilic design in the office.

“Whether your preferred environment is the desert, forest or ocean, nuanced design can encourage recognisable connections to nature.”

Biophilia is also about different hues, textures and colours Andrews adds.

“People have this preconception that nature is green. But biophilia can also be inspired by say rich desert colours.

“If you design a space the right way, people will want to spend time there, engage more frequently with colleagues and then also be more engaged with their work,” Andrews concluded.

The term ‘biophilia’ was first coined by social psychologist Eric Fromm in 1964 and later popularised by biologist Edward Wilson (Biophilia, 1984). The denotations have evolved from within the fields of biology and psychology, and been adapted to the fields of neuroscience, endocrinology, architecture and beyond.

South Africa adopts Cybercrime Bill

Source: South Coast Sun

Parliament’s Justice Committee officially adopted the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill last week. The Bill is aimed at bringing South Africa in line with other countries’ cyber laws and the threat of cybercrime, and it has introduced new laws regarding ‘malicious’ electronic communication.

BusinessTech outlined these proposed new crimes below:

* Any person who contravenes one of the following provisions is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years, or to both a fine and imprisonment.

* A message which incites damage to property or violence.

* Any person who unlawfully makes available, broadcasts or distributes by means of a computer system, a data message to a person, group of persons or the general public with the intention to incite:
(a) the causing of any damage to property belonging to; or
(b) violence against, a person or a group of persons.

* A message which threatens persons with damage to property or violence. As an extension of the above, the Bill also makes it an offence to distribute messages which threatens a group of people with violence, or with damage to their property.

The Bill clarifies that ‘group of persons’ means characteristics that identify an individual as a member of a group. These characteristics include without limitation: Race; gender; sex; pregnancy; marital status; ethnic or social origin; colour; sexual orientation; age; disability; religion; conscience; belief; culture; language; birth and nationality.

* A message which unlawfully contains an intimate image.

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