Endless deliveries cut by consolidation

The rise in internet shopping has created a huge increase in the number of deliveries being made by an equally increasing number of delivery companies and independent couriers.

These deliveries are not always made to the customers home address. The problem of having to wait in for a delivery has been eliminated by the increasing number of employers that allow employees to receive their shopping at work.

In some areas of central London as many as 78% of employers have given employees the opportunity to take deliveries at work.

It all adds up to a lot of vehicles on the roads and probably worse parked half on the pavement and half on the road.

Add to that the health issues of the extra pollution that extra vehicles create especially when they are left unattended with their engine running, and you have a convenience for shoppers that results in a lot of inconvenience for every one else.

The problems are not limited to road users and from an employers perspective it also creates extra workload for reception and security teams as they sign for the deliveries.

The solution may be at hand with the launch of a new service in London that allows companies to consolidate all their numerous deliveries into one delivery a day.

It is a similar concept to the centralised distribution centres that are used by the major retailers and which I was involved in introducing when I worked at ASDA.

The supermarkets wanted to reduce the number of lorries arriving at their stores, because each delivery cost money. So they got suppliers to deliver to a central warehouse. In the warehouse the deliveries from different suppliers where consolidated into one lorry load that would be delivered to the store.

It is such a simple solution I wonder why it has taken so long for it to be applied to other types of deliveries.

Perhaps it is the fact that the new service in London, Bee London is supported by both Transport for London and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan that has created the change.

Now if you work in one of 320 businesses in the area around Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles Daily you can receive both business and by the end of February 2017 your staff will be able to receive personal deliveries via the new service.

It works in exactly the same way as the supermarket model. You arrange for your deliveries to be sent to a central address and then they all arrive at your premises at one time.

You essentially take control of deliveries to your premises.

No more deliveries when important clients are arriving, no more meetings interrupted by someone being called to sign for a parcel, it’s cheaper, it’s greener so the benefits seem multiple.

I am hoping that Bee London Chief Executive Tass Mavrogordato, will expand the service to other parts of the congested cities, but at the moment the mission is to find practical solutions to the everyday problems our businesses face in this midtown area of London.

Looking at the big picture  David McNeill, Director of Public Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement of TfL, says that BeeLondon and TfL have worked together to support businesses in Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles to receive deliveries in a green and efficient way that works for them. This helps business to reduce costs and improve their trading environment – both important factors in maintaining this growing district’s competitiveness, improve air quality and a reduction in congestion. ”

I think it’s great!

Posted in Employee Engagement, Environment | Leave a comment

Real Time traffic data aids daily commute

There is nothing quite like the removal of a transport service to highlight just how much we need it, but don’t actually really value it.

Today’s rail strike in London seems to be one of those such events.

BBC Radio Two’s Breakfast Show presenter Chris Evans was late for the start of his show because of the extra road traffic that the strike created as commuters started their daily journeys to work early.

Over half a million London commuters seem to be working together by using the app WAZE to share information about traffic conditions and ease the strain of each others trip to work.

Waze works to provide peace of mind for commuters by suggesting the fastest and most optimal route possible to any destination, by tracking real-time traffic and road conditions from drivers’ phones – thus saving other local drivers time and fuel.

At the peak-time 8.05am show that 24% of traffic was bumper to bumper – effectively standstill. For comparison, at this time on a normal day it’s usually around 12%. There was also 34% heavy traffic, so nearly 60% of total traffic at crawling or worse. Trips took on average 1hr 12 mins longer than usual to get from Uxbridge to East Acton when approaching city from the West.

The worst routes included Temple to Trafalgar Square; Brecknock Road, Kentish Town; M4 near ChiswickFinlay Clark, UK head of Waze, says the worst routes include:

Temple to Trafalgar Square (1 mile): 40 mins (34 mins more than usual)

N.B this should take 13 mins to walk

Brecknock Road , Kentish Town – 1mph speed, taking 33 mins longer than usual to go from Breckock Rd to Junction Rd in North London.

M4 near Chiswick still jammed, will add 25 mins to your drive

Lots of runs in central london are running at 20-35 mins added time to travel under 2 miles

Other bad routes are being highlighted here:

It all seems like a valuable tool that could be used every day by any traveller, but certainly one that every employer should think of providing for their employees  who have to use the roads as part of doing their job.

You can download the free app and join the Waze community today by downloading the free Waze app for iOs or Android here.

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Attraction of Rebellion can Create Desired Behaviours

One of the things I remember about light entertainer Cliff Richard is his claim to be the only Rock’n’Roll rebel. His logic is simple, most other performers of his era like The Who or the Rolling Stones are fulfilling the stereotype of a rock star lifestyle, whereas he with his Christian faith is not, and not fulfilling the stereotype makes him the one that is the rebel.

There is some sense to this, but I doubt if many of Sir Cliff’s fans see him in the same light.

What is likely though is that standing out from the crowd, not following the herd, whether it is taking drugs, boys dressing like girls or girls behaving like lads (ladette), does have some appeal for teenagers the main consumers of popular music.

It is the need for rebellion that many teenagers experience that Christopher Bryan at the University of Chicago and David Yeager at the University of Texas at Austin to investigate in relation to diet; simply could making a healthy diet appear to be an act of rebellion make eating healthily more attractive to teenagers?

The unhealthy food part of the food industry is worth billions. What for previous generations would have been a treat is now a stable part of the British diet, and the food of first choice for many.

No one would suggest that these fatty sugary foods do not have an adverse affect on the health of the people who eat them, but celebrity endorsed advertising campaigns have tended to foster the belief that it is possible to exercise the negative affects of a poor diet away. The reality is different, it is not possible to run off the negative impact of a bad diet.

Obesity is probably one of the most difficult lifestyle illnesses to treat.

Prevention is far better than cure.

Education at an early age does have an impact on younger children, but this impact is often lost when children reach adolescence and have their own income and decision making powers.

A study published by the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) looked at how adolescent values could be harnessed to motivate healthier eating has suggested that it might just work.

The research was led by Christopher Bryan at the University of Chicago and David Yeager at the University of Texas at Austin. They suggest that the failure of past efforts to promote healthier diets amongst teenagers was probably because they focused on the prevention of future health problems.

Teenagers often have a ‘too fast too live, too young to die’ approach to life and live for today, giving little thought to what the future may hold.

Bryan and Yeager suggest that a different approach, one that focuses on manipulating an adolescents need to be rebellious, while seeking social justice and make their own decisions would have more effect.

Over 500 teenagers aged 13 to 14; they were the entire eighth grade at a suburban middle school in Texas were recruited. They were then randomly assigned one of three public health education programmes:

  1. traditional public health appeal,
  2. no-treatment control,
  3. teen focused intervention.

The third group were given an article to read which exposed the manipulative and deceptive strategies that junk food manufacturers use to make their products

  1. more addictive and
  2. promote their products as healthy
  3. appeal to very young people
  4. appear to be a good choice for poor people

The article included pictures of people who control the big food manufacturers describing them as controlling, and hypocritical adult. The aim was that these corporate people would make the teenagers see selecting a healthy diet as an act that

  1. could contribute to improved social justice
  2. damage the corporate food manufacturing machine and
  3. by not accepting the marketing messages be seen as an act of d these autonomy and independent decision making

Teenagers in the third group also read a fictitious survey of older adolescents who wanted to fight back against the companies by buying and eating less processed food. They were then asked to write an article of their own which explained why they thought people were angry about the actions of the food industry and why people wanted to rebel against the messages it promotes. This was a simple way of ensuring that the justification for rebelling came from the teenagers rather than an instruction from an adult.

After the study members of the third group in the study associated healthy eating with autonomy and social justice, and more appealing, a view that was not shared by members of the other two groups.

The behaviour of the third group also changed. A day after the study all the participants were offered a reward for their participation, a choice of snacks and drinks. Participants in the third group selected healthy drinks and snacks like water and fruit more often than the participants from the other groups.

This meant that participants from the third group consumed an average 3.6g less sugar than participants from the control groups. This is almost one teaspoon more than 10 per cent of the daily recommended intake.

Two days later, participants from the third group were still more annoyed by advertisements for sugary drinks and less likely to select a fizzy drink.

Tradiotional approaches to changing adolescent diet have struggled to have any impact, but this rather straight-forward classroom experiment did demonstrate an impact which lasted beyond the test environment.

It seems obvious but the secret of creating a change is understanding what motivates the people you want to change.

We can get very excited about what appear to be dramatice results but we must not forget that the experiment relied on the honesty of the teenagers to self report about their attitudes and behaviours, things which might change when they are with their peer group.

More research is required to verify these findings, but there are lessons for every one who wants to create a change in behaviour.

Focus on what motivates the people that you want to change and deliver something that helps them to fulfil these motivations

Posted in Fit For My Age | Leave a comment

Solution for Parental Leave

There is something about parental leave that is slightly perplexing. Many parents, partcularly fathers don’t take advantage of the opportunity that it offers to be more involved in the lives of their children. Of course employers, especially smaller employers are quiet happy about this. After all it costs quite a bit of money to pay for someone to cover for an employee who takes parental leave.

So it is even more perplexing that more than half of small UK businesses do not have a plan for how to deal with parental leave.

But what is most perplexing is that the financial services sector have not done something to address this potential opportunity!

Oh! I spoke too soon. HSBC have just announced that from 9th January 2017 they will be offering organisations with less than five employees, and a turnover below £1million a package of support that they claim will help small UK businesses overcome the financial challenges of parental leave.

This will include interest-free overdrafts, repayment support for small business loans and capital repayment holidays.

The package will apply to employees of either gender going on parental leave, covering maternity, shared parental leave, adoption and surrogacy. The three key elements include:

  • No interest charged or arrangement fees paid on new or existing business overdrafts up to £5,000 for 12 months1
  • Repayment support for customers with an existing Small Business Loan through an additional interest free limit on business overdrafts
  • A capital repayment holiday for existing Variable Rate Flexible Business Loans or Commercial Mortgages for up to 12 months

The support package aims to address a major concern among small businesses, which was highlighted by a survey of 500 senior decision makers conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Bank. Smaller employers want more support managing the processes of an employee taking parental leave, and with managing the costs that are associated with the absence.

There are far reaching strategic implications of parental leave. Business plans would be altered by 41 per cent of companies including delaying or canceling their business investment plans, and 58 per cent believe that parental leave has a negative impact on cash flow.

It all seems like a good idea, but I suspect that uptake of the package may be slow, primarily because neither employers or employees really understand parental leave, or how to manage it from either of their perspectives.


Posted in Flexible Working, Parental Leave | Leave a comment

In Pursuit of Silence

The film In Pursuit of Silence tells the story of our relationship with silence, sound and the impact of noise on our lives – and what we can do about it.

The film has the potential to raise public awareness about the importance of unwanted sound and what can be done about it. Although made in the USA, the film has lots of UK content, especially a statement from the headteacher of a primary school under the flight path of Heathrow airport, which it was announced today is to have a third runway.

The film will be screened in cinemas in October and November 2016 and will also be available to be shown at community screenings.

Dartmouth Films UK have made and distributed many films which aim to influence public attitudes and the policy and practice of government and companies. They have found that a cinema release of a film is an important part in raising the debate and changing the public conversation – the film is written about and reviewed more in the media than a TV programme and it has a much longer public life than that of one TV transmission.

In Pursuit of Silence will be shown on what is known as a “rolling release” around the country. It starts with a premiere in London on 21 October 2016, after that it will be shown in cinemas throughout the UK, with at least 20 screenings on 1 November 2016.

The period of the cinema release will be about three months and during this time community groups, companies and, indeed, anyone can book the film for a screening. Dartford Films UK aim is to get over 100 screenings of the film in this period.

Posted in Film | Leave a comment