Nokia’s relaunched 3310 mobile phone nearly 17 years after its debut


Nokia's 3310 phone has been relaunched nearly 17 years after its debut. Many consider the original handset iconic because of its popularity and sturdiness. More than 126 million were produced before it was phased out in 2005. The revamped version will be sold under licence by the Finnish start-up HMD Global, which also unveiled several Nokia-branded Android smartphones. One expert said it was a “fantastic way” to relaunch Nokia's phone brand.




Remote work and the challenges pose to small businesses


Nicolas Huk/

( via – – via Staples–Sat, 4 March, 2017) London, Uk – –

The acknowledgement of the need for flexible working has been largely welcomed but what challenges does this pose to small businesses?

By the end of this year, more than 50pc of businesses in the UK are likely to have flexible working policies in place, with the tipping point – when office and desk-based working becomes the exception rather than the rule – having been reached.

That is according to a Citrix-commissioned report by The Work Foundation at Lancaster University, published in February 2016, which also predicted that by 2020 some 70pc of organisations will have followed suit, thus banishing many working norms – such as the nine-to-five shift in the office – to the past.

But what does that mean for SME owners? What should you be thinking about to enable your staff to work at home, or on the move? And which productivity tools are best?

By the end of this year, more than 50pc of businesses in the UK are likely to have flexible working policies in place
Professor Geraint Johnes, director of research at The Work Foundation, says: “One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is to learn how to manage the activities of their staff who are mobile workers. Getting people together to collaborate requires making arrangements in advance and deciding on a software platform (Skype, for example) on which meetings can take place.

“This change in routine may be daunting, but the ability not to be restricted by space opens up all sorts of possibilities for collaboration – both with people inside the firm and those outside. While the flexibility is a plus, firms need to be aware of the drawbacks, and put arrangements in to compensate.”

Paul Dunne, UK and Ireland manager of Plantronics, an electronics company producing audio communications equipment for business and consumers, agrees and says: “Mobile working can allow SMEs to cut costs significantly by reducing the need for physical office space.

“Real estate costs a great deal of money and when combining that with the overheads of heating, managing phone lines and IT infrastructure, and maintaining the general office environment, the traditional work space becomes a significant strain on budgets.”

Choosing your own office

“With flexible working you could do away with the office altogether or, at the very least, reduce bricks and mortar considerably,” notes Mr Dunne. “From an employee’s point of view, they’re able to save time and money by reducing their commute, and they’re able to work from a comfortable environment with little or no distractions, increasing both productivity and morale.”

However, on team bonding Prof Johnes warns: “Water cooler conversations may decline, so opportunities for workers to meet together virtually, outside of the pressure cooker, need to be built into the timetable.”

Gary Turner, co-founder and UK managing director of Xero, a software company that develops cloud-based accounting software for SMEs, says: “The modern workforce is far less interested in a dedicated desk or chair set-up at the office, so as long as your employees are all invested, mobile working can transform a business.

“Home working enables you to fit your work life into your other responsibilities and can allow you to get a lot done in a short amount of time – but you must be clever with the tools you use and be wary of other distractions, particularly regarding family life.”

With flexible working you could do away with the office altogether or, at the very least, reduce bricks and mortar considerably
Regarding tips for tools, he adds: “Mobile apps can boost your business to get the most from employees wherever they are. Google Hangouts enables ad-hoc 1:1 video conversations and larger group meetings of up to 25 participants with chat-group features to provide backchannel for crowdsourcing quick answers.

“Also, project management tools such as Basecamp and smart inbox management can help you manage your tasks, and cloud software enables teams to collaborate remotely on shared documents via software such as Google Drive, saving valuable time.”

The home-working office is easily equipped without filling the room with clutter. Portable hard drives and USBs are handy backups to cloud services, and privacy filters will help the keep home working environment secure and private.

“Work is what you do and not where you go,” suggests Rami Houbby, managing director of internet telephony service provider NFON UK. “There are many productivity tools that can help workers get the most out of mobile working. Services such as cloud telephony can make them feel and work as if they were behind their desk. Added to that are features such as desktop sharing, presence and instant messaging, so they can communicate effectively and seamlessly.”

Getting to the heart of the matter, Mr Houbby adds: “While everyone is talking about video conferencing, which has become much more affordable, the main barrier to adoption is still perception: not all staff members are comfortable to be seen in their home clothing on the screen.”

By Oliver Pickup


Vodafone programme launch to help women on career breaks return to work

Vodafone is launching a new programme designed to provide people who have taken a career break, many of them likely to be women who have quit their jobs to raise a family, with a way of returning to work. 

Vodafone's "ReConnect" programme will be rolled out in 26 countries and give recruits the chance to return to work on a full-time or flexible basis. Employees on the programme with also be offered in-work training to "refresh and enhance skills".  The initiative will include "unconscious bias training" for hiring managers.

Of the 1,000 people expected to be hired by the telecoms firm through the programme over the next three years, 500 will be to management positions. This will represent roughly 10pc of all external hires for jobs at this level over the period. Around 7,500 of Vodafone's employees are senior managers or above. 

By Ben Wright

Uber CEO Kalanick apologised after Argument With Driver Over Falling Fares


The head of the online taxi service Uber has apologised after a video of him swearing at one of the company's drivers went viral. Travis Kalanick says he is ashamed of his behaviour after the driver complained his income was falling because of Uber's fare structure.

Snap to Price 200 Million Shares at $17 each


In a few hours, Snapchat's parent Snap will list on the NYSE under the ticker, “SNAP.” In preparation, the NYSE planned a practice sale of the much-anticipated Snap IPO hoping to avoid technical glitches ahead of the event and Snap priced 200 million shares at $17 each. The countdown begins.

Sir Philip Green paid £363m to settle BHS pension scheme


After the news that Sir Philip Green has paid £363m to settle the pension schemes of collapsed retailer BHS, Iain Wright and Frank Field, the Chairs of the BEIS and Work and Pensions Select Committees respectively, discuss whether this is a good outcome for the BHS pensioners.


Chancellor Philip Hammond hopes trade, investment will drive 2017 growth


( via — via Reuters -– Tue, 28 Feb, 2017) —

British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Tuesday that he hoped trade and investment would play a bigger role in driving British economic growth in 2017 after the unexpectedly strong consumer spending that followed last year's Brexit vote.

“Consumer borrowing and consumer spending have been an important component of the robustness of the economy over the last few months. What I hope to see over the course of 2017 is business investment and exports providing a greater share of growth,” he told parliament.

Next week Hammond will present updated growth and borrowing figures which economists expect will reflect better-than-expected economic growth over the last few months and show slightly less of a shortfall in the public finances then predicted.

Hammond also said he favoured standard government debt – rather than separate infrastructure bonds – to fund future public investment, though he remained happy to offer public guarantees to certain private-sector infrastructure finance.

By David Milliken

London Stock Exchange And Deutsche Boerse Merger in Doubt Due EU Regulators Demands


Deutsche Boerse AG's $13 billion bid for London Stock Exchange Group Plc looks to be in jeopardy as European Union regulators demanded the sale of one of the U.K. market operator's holdings. Bloomberg's Ruth David is joined by Rupert Harrison, chief macro strategist at BlackRock International, on “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

Buffett Expected To Release Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letter to Shareholders


Warren Buffett is widely considered one of the world's best investors and is likely to tout the merits of passive investing this weekend to readers of his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. The letter is slated for release around 8 a.m. EST on Saturday, and will probably focus on familiar themes for the 86-year-old Buffett, like reviewing Berkshire's businesses and managers, Wall Street, the economy and perhaps even politics. We'll have to wait and see what the famous investor has to say about Mr Trump.

RBS Losses More Than Treble To £6.96bn


Royal Bank of Scotland

( via – Fri, 24 Feb, 2017) London, Uk – –

Chief executive Ross McEwan predicts the state-backed lender will return to profit in 2018 after a fresh round of cost-cutting.

Royal Bank of Scotland has chalked up its ninth year in the red as annual losses more than trebled to £6.96bn.

Chief executive Ross McEwan insisted that the “remarkable journey” – which has seen losses of more than £58bn since the bank was rescued by taxpayers – was entering its final phase but acknowledged there was more pain to come.

The state-backed lender has remained mired in multi-billion pound costs linked to the financial crisis a decade ago when it careered out of control.

Now it faces a further period of change as Mr McEwan sets his sights on cost cutbacks of £2bn over the next four years, including £750m this year to help it return to profit.

He acknowledged this will mean more job losses.

RBS – which includes NatWest – has already axed thousands of roles through branch closures in recent years as more customers bank online.

The latest annual loss was more than three times the figure of £1.98bn for the year before.

The £58bn lost since the bailout dwarfs the annual gross domestic products of many small countries – including Luxembourg, which has a GDP of about £46bn.

Shares fell 2% following the news.

RBS remains 72% owned by the state, and the result leaves the bank looking some way from a return to the private sector after its £46bn bailout.

Mr McEwan said RBS was aiming to return to profit by 2018 – meaning it will have endured a full decade of losses under majority state ownership – as the impact of “legacy issues” finally begin to fade.

He said: “This is a bank that has been on a remarkable journey. We still have further to go.

“But the next three years will not be the same as the past three.

“Legacy issues will take up a decreasing amount of our time and focus.”

Instead the bank would focus on customers, costs and efforts to return to profit – which would represent “a significant step towards being able to start repaying UK taxpayers for their support”.

RBS' annual report disclosed that despite the large, and widening, losses for 2016, staff bonuses totalled £343m, down only 8% on the year before.

The chief executive was paid £3.5m, little changed from 2015. There was no annual bonus but he received a long-term incentive award up slightly to more than £1m.

The bonus total since the rescue now stands at £4.6bn – a tenth of the money poured into the bank by the state.

The bank's latest results saw it weighed down by litigation and conduct costs of £5.87bn.

That included a recently announced additional £3.11bn set aside over US allegations over the mis-selling of mortgage-backed financial products ahead of the financial crisis.

RBS also took a £2.11bn hit for the cost of restructuring, including £750m set aside for a plan to enable it to avoid having to sell off hundreds of branches under the Williams & Glyn brand.

Mr McEwan said: “The bottom line loss we have reported today is, of course, disappointing but given the scale of the legacy issues we worked through in 2016, it should not come as a surprise.

“These costs are a stark reminder of what happens to a bank when things go wrong and you lose focus on the customer, as this bank did before the financial crisis.”

He said the core RBS business, stripping out legacy issues and its toxic ‘bad bank' assets, generated profits of £4.2bn.

“This bank has great potential,” said Mr McEwan.

“We believe that by going further on cost reduction and faster on digital transformation we will deliver a simpler, safer and even more customer-focused bank.”

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

John Lewis to axe 387 jobs in plans to revamp its department store chain


Roberto Herrett/flickr

( via – – Fri, 24 Feb, 2017) London, Uk – –

John Lewis is to axe 387 staff jobs under plans to revamp its cafes and restaurants as well as its curtain and carpet fitting services.

The department store chain said that the plans were part of its strategy to “adapt to changing customer needs against a backdrop of structural changes in the retail industry”.

Around 387 jobs will be lost as part of a consultation process involving 773 employees, known as partners within the company. Around 386 new jobs will be created. A John Lewis spokesman said that the staffing changes would have no impact to customer service.

Within its home estimation and fitting division – which counts staff involved in curtains, blinds and carpet sales – the changes will mean that roving employees will be able to work from home and drive to customers' houses rather than having to check in with a store every day.

John Lewis said that the move would allow it to “broaden our service and increase our flexibility which will enable us to offer more appointments at times which better suit our customers”.

However, store staff involved in the administration of the estimation and fitting services will be at risk as the division will move to a single, central customer administration hub.

Within its catering business, John Lewis said that it will increase its use of food suppliers so kitchen staff will assemble food rather than having to make dishes from scratch.

The employee-owned group said that the move would enable its restaurants to change menus more regularly to keep up with trends, more easily meet the dietary requirements of customers and give a more consistent offering across all of its shops.

“The proposed new structure will allow us to harness partners’ knowledge and skills, giving them more scope to be in the right place at the right time to deliver great service to our customers when and where it’s needed,” said Dino Rocos, operations director at John Lewis.

“We understand that for some this will mean a period of change, and we are working with affected partners over the consultation period to give opportunities for redeployment in new roles wherever possible.”

Last month the John Lewis Partnership warned that it would cut its much celebrated bonus for the fourth year in a row to cover the cost of a weaker pound and ramp up investments in its online operations.

In 2016 the partnership lowered the bonus to 10pc of salary, while the bonus pool was lowered from £156.2m to £145m,working out as an average £1,585 for each of its 91,500 partners.

Last year John Lewis revealed that the cost of increasing salaries across the partnership following the introduction of the national living wage had led to a £33m jump in staff costs.

By Ashley Armstrong

UK economy expanded more than previously estimated in 2016 but Brexit effects loom

Britain's economy sped up at the end of last year expanding by more than previously estimated with improved manufacturing growth and stronger exports thanks to the weaker pound. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics confounded the predictions that the Brexit vote for the UK to leave the European Union would lead to a major slow down.