30 August 2017

Deskercise- Improve focus, productivity and wellbeing

Author :

We office professionals often spend our days tethered to our desks with little more exercise than an hourly stroll to the kitchen to refill your coffee cup. Couple this with the mindless snacking we tend to do even when not hungry and you have a recipe for weight gain, higher blood pressure and poor circulation. 
Don’t fall into the inactive rut- you can keep your health in check while sitting at your desk. Greatist has a fantastic list of deskercises but here are a few of my favourites which you can do without anyone knowing.

1.       The Seated Leg Raiser

While seated at your desk hold one leg (or both if you’re on the fitter side) straight in front of you and hold for five or more seconds. Lower the leg/s back to the ground and repeat for 15 reps. You should feel the burn in your abdominal muscles.

1.       The Office Genie

Sit with your legs crossed in your chair like you did during assembly in primary school. With one hand on each armrest, push down to raise yourself off the chair. Remain floating for 15-20 seconds, lower and repeat several times. This targets your upper body- flex those guns.

2.       The Pencil Pinch

Roll your shoulders back and pinch your shoulder blades together to engage your traps. Pretend you’re holding a pencil between your scapulas. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, release and repeat for 15 reps.

3.       The Desk Chair Swivel

Swivel chairs are a lot of fun but they’re a great fitness tool as well. Sitting upright and with your feet hovering just over the floor, hold the edge of your desk and swivel the chair from side to side. This is another ab burner. Swish side to side 15 times and repeat 3 times.

4.       The Silent Seat Squeeze

No deskercise routine would be complete without some butt clenches. To tone your posterior, simply squeeze your glutes under the desk, hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 15 times. 

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler is a Senior Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

24 August 2017

The NDIS Rollout – where are we now?

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The National Disability Insurance Scheme means big change in the way people with a disability are cared for in Australia.

It’s a critical time for disability service providers, who must be ready to adapt their service delivery models to accommodate and overcome new pressures. As the scheme transitions to full roll-out across Australia, strategic business planning is more essential than ever and sustainability must be assessed.

However, as with any major large-scale reform like the NDIS, the scheme has had its successes and shortfalls.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter has recently stated that the number of participants receiving support has reached the 100,000 mark.

“One year into the national rollout of the NDIS we have 100,000 people with disability living more independent lives, ­accessing the services and equipment they need, participating in their communities, entering the workforce and contributing to the economy,” he said. 

However, the $22 billion scheme is not without its shortfalls.

Even as the 100,000 person milestone is passed, the NDIS rollout is still behind schedule one year down the line. The scheme has been fraught with issues, including shortage of support workers, faulty web portal, and low pay rates to care service providers.

Though the NDIA say improvements are being made to address cost pressures, individual package costs continue to increase above inflation.

Some of these pressures are an inevitable consequence of large-scale change, but some is avoidable. The scheme is at risk of a cost blow-out because more children than expected are signing up to the scheme.

At the Improving NDIS Service Delivery Outcomes event, we’re bringing industry experts together to discuss the best approaches to tackling these issues. Looking to the future of the NDIS, how can we ensure the success of this scheme? 

Written by: Beth Hampton

Beth came to Australia in late 2016. Having spent some time travelling through Southeast Asia and briefly living in Singapore – she was ready to embrace the lifestyle of a working Sydneysider!

Beth grew up in London, and completed her degree in Psychology at the University of York. She always dreamed of landing a job in the police, but figured it was worth swapping the handcuffs and late shifts for an exciting new city and a job full of fun and opportunity in a fantastic company like Akolade!

Beth loves cooking, playing the piano, terrible British soap operas, an ice-cold G&T and exploring new places.

22 August 2017

Tech Companies Use Workforce Management Rostering – Does Yours?

Author :

How do you handle your schedules? If you still use pen and paper, you’re behind the times. Which, in the fast-moving tech industry, is a critical mistake. There are modern solutions available that can handle your scheduling. These solutions are already being used by millions of companies across the globe. But, with the economic growth that we’re seeing, especially in the tech sector, it’s important for businesses to start thinking about their scheduling. Just look at some of the largest tech companies. Microsoft, Google, and Apple all use their own innovative solutions for managing their workforce. The same applies to major businesses in other sectors. The need to find an efficient solution for creating schedules increases as the number of employees grows. Below, you’ll find a few of the main reasons why tech companies and other businesses should think about using workforce management rostering software.

1.       Workforce Management Rostering is Flexible
These systems are highly flexible. They include a variety of features to handle the demands of any industry, including the tech industry. The rostering software available includes several modules designed to make scheduling easier. This includes: Automated roster building, Employee availability, Pre-set rule definitions and Individual employee profiles. At the base of this system is the automated roster building. Using pre-set rule definitions and individual employee profiles, scheduling is a quick and simple process. Supervisors can quickly pull up a menu and assign employees to different shifts or individual projects. It all depends on your specific needs. The individual employee profiles include details related to their skill set. This lets companies assign shifts based on skills. You can assign employees based on their position, skill set, pay rate, and availability. It’s this ability to consider availability that helps make rostering software such an effective solution for modern businesses.

2.       Rostering Software Can Help with Recruitment
With the tech industry expected to continue growing in 2017, you can expect businesses to increase their recruitment practices. The top young talent will flock to the tech businesses in search for successful careers. In the modern world, recruitment can be a competitive process. Multiple businesses can be vying for the same group of potential employees. It’s then up to the prospective employees to decide which business best fits their needs. To the current generation that’s now entering the workforce, flexible scheduling is one of the factors that matter most – along with pay rate and the specific job duties. If a business can’t offer flexible scheduling, a prospect could go to another company. Rostering software makes it easier to meet this need. Workforce management rostering systems include the option to allow employees to enter their own availability. They can submit their scheduling needs. When a supervisor attempts to schedule an employee outside of their set availability, a notification is given. This ensures that availability needs are met.

3.       Rostering Software Can Handle a Large Workforce
Another reason to consider using this software is the scalability that it provides. It’s suitable for small organisations, along with businesses with thousands of employees. Again, you can look at the major tech businesses with offices in Ireland. Some of these companies’ employ thousands of workers in a single building. Even though they might have multiple departments, the scheduling challenges remain. The use of advanced rostering solutions helps ensure that every department adheres to the company scheduling policy. There’s consistency that cannot be provided with manual schedule planning.

4.       Workforce Management is Suitable for Start-ups
Along with offering a suitable solution for major organisations, these same systems can be used by tech start-ups and small businesses. There are major advantages to implementing a superior system while your business is still young. It’s easier to deploy a new system when you’ve got a smaller workforce. While you may not think that you need help scheduling a dozen employees, it’s never too early to start planning. You’ll even find that these systems can help reduce the amount of time spent managing your small workforce. But, as your business grows, you’ll be ready to handle the increased challenges. You’ll be prepared to schedule your growing workforce.

5.       Rostering Software Helps Reduce Administrative Costs
The time saved by using rostering software helps reduce administrative costs. The bottom dollar is important to businesses of any size. Any option that can cut costs without reducing the quality of your products or services should be considered – this includes the use of the rostering software. Businesses spend less time on admin tasks when they use software. Manual options always have the potential for errors, which can be costly when these errors are related to schedules and pay.

The decision to invest in workforce management rostering software is a wise one. Even small to medium businesses (SMBs) are increasingly turning to workforce management software to gain better control over their business operations, communications, scheduling, and more. But with so many workforce management software solutions on the market, how do you know what solutions are best suited for your business? There are many things to consider before making a decision, such as scalability, whether you’re spending too much for too little functionality, whether you’re buying more software than you need, and how your new workforce management software solution will be implemented, among many others.

Akolade’s Australian Rostering andScheduling Summit, being held in Sydney from 28 – 30 November 2017 will bring together some of the most exciting and innovative case studies with keynote presentations and panel discussions from leading workforce planning, rostering, scheduling and fatigue management stakeholders. They will address the most significant challenges they are facing today and what is needed in terms of knowledges, strategies, innovation and technology to maximise workforce performance and wellbeing.

Written by: Nicolas Verbeeck

Nicolas was born in Belgium and became an expert in consuming excellent beers, chocolate and waffles. During the winter period you can find him on a hockey pitch and in summer he loves to go for a swim or a surf. In 2013 Nicolas was wondering what the beers, chocolate and waffles would taste like in Australia and never came back. One reason… the weather. Nicolas obtained a masters in International Politics and tries to use this background to produce excellent conferences at Akolade.

18 August 2017

D-Day for GovDC- are we there yet?

Author :
It’s August 2017- the deadline NSW Government set for its data consolidation project, which began in 2013.

Metronode, the data centre operator for the GovDC data centres at Silverwater and Unanderra, detailed its plans to expand the facilities earlier this year.

“The aim of the program is to reduce the environmental footprint of government ICT, deliver savings in a number of areas, boost technical and operational standards and deliver greater resilience,” as summarised on Computerworld.

Worth more than $130 million, the key benefits of the data centres according to GovDC will be:
  •   known and transparent costs into the future
  •   improved technical and operational standards
  •   modern, certified facilities improving ICT reliability
  •   reduced data centre electricity usage, reducing environmental impact and costs
However the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation have not confirmed whether all agencies have completed their migration to the facilities or if they have been unable to meet the August deadline.

Metronode’s expansion announcement suggests it may be increasing capacity to allow the remaining departments to complete migration.

CEO David Yuile has proudly said the company “is currently the fastest data centre provider in Australia in terms of the construction time for new sites.” The Unanderra expansion project was projected to take just 10 months, with completion scheduled for this November.

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler is a Senior Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

15 August 2017

Recruiting the right educators- it’s not child’s play

Author :
Australia’s early education and child care industry is booming, driven by factors such as the movement of women back to the workplace after giving birth. The opportunity, this has presented to child care services did not go unnoticed.

ABC Development Learning Centres buckling in 2008 opened the market for new providers.

In 2010 there were around 5900 long day care centres nationally. There are now well over 6800, according to the Melbourne City Institute of Education.

However, providing quality early education services is not playing around, as many centres are discovering.

On average only around 62.7% of child care providers across Australia are meeting the national quality standards. South Australia sits well below the average at only 47.9%.

In order to provide high quality services it is crucial, centres recruit and retain exceptional educators and carers. 

There are ways your child care facility can ensure you have the right people for the job:
  •   Develop a recruitment policy
This should clearly articulate a service’s staffing needs and stipulate your selection criteria clearly.
  •   Communicate the position requirements
Working in early education is a lot more than liking children and being able to change nappies. Being responsible for a human’s early development is a demanding profession and the required beliefs and knowledge to succeed in the field need to be explained and identified in the applicant.
  •   Hone your advertising strategy
Take advantage of all advertising channels at your disposal. Whilst paid opportunities are often worthwhile (child care publications, newsletters and newspapers) often the most effective methods are through community circles or mother’s groups where the interaction is immediately personal.
  •    Hand-pick your staff
Consider how the applicant will uphold your service’s current philosophy. Will they be a brand ambassador?
  •    Conduct induction thoroughly
Establish an induction procedure which includes the introduction to children and families, the service’s practices and routines and the service’s progress to meeting national standards.

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler is a Senior Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

11 August 2017

Tackling the staff shortage in aged care

Author :

Looking after older generations should be priority. They are the ones who’ve served the country, raised the younger generations.

According to the 2016 census, Australia’s population is getting older and living longer. As a result, the Productivity Commission estimates that the aged care workforce will need to have grown to around 980,000 workers by 2050.

Sadly, working in aged care is seldom a lucrative job and companies in the sector often lack adequate staff.  Not only is it difficult to attract staff into the sector, but organisations also struggle to retain employees.

As Australia is a multicultural country containing many nationalities, there’s great demand to reflect this within the workforce to ensure staff are able to meet the consumers’ cultural and language needs.

It appears especially important that staff can speak the birth language of the consumers, as many older migrants revert back to their mother language as they age.

But as Australia’s aged care sector are struggling to attract staff, many organisations are looking into how they can support staff through engagement strategies and providing professional development opportunities.

Looking after our older generations should be made a priority, and the job, one that’s sought after and lucrative for its development possibilities. 

Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

07 August 2017

Pushing IIoT predictive maintenance forward: two challenges to overcome

Author :

There’s no doubt the Internet of Things (IoT) is moving quickly to the front lines of industrial maintenance reliability and asset management. Communication between machines and human technicians, enabled by wireless technology and connected devices, is fueling a shift from preventative to predictive maintenance. But while the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) groundwork has been laid, and it’s projected to be a $151 billion market by 2020, the revolution is still young.

Gartner’s special report, “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies,” points out that all new trends follow a similar growth pattern, and IIoT is no exception. While there’s a lot of excitement about the potential to apply data-driven algorithms to large data streams from industrial assets, IIoT is heading into the trough of disillusionment. Two major challenges must be overcome to push IIoT predictive maintenance technologies up the slope of enlightenment and spark mainstream adoption and success.

Challenge 1: 
Poor Data Quality
Big data went through its own hype cycle, but is now more firmly grounded in the realization that merely collecting large amounts of data is insufficient to achieve meaningful insights. For IIoT predictive maintenance, the data challenges are twofold. Firstly, it’s difficult to obtain high quality, labeled data from industrial machines to begin with. Secondly, it’s even more challenging to then apply that data to provide human engineers and technicians with relevant and actionable condition-based maintenance insights.

Gathering large volumes of raw, unlabeled data is relatively easy, but when attempting to build learning algorithms for IIoT predictive maintenance platforms, the algorithm is only as good as the quality of data labeling (i.e., assigning each piece of data a useful tag or label that makes it somehow informative and useful). Building databases of high quality, labeled data is a much more technologically challenging and time-consuming endeavor.

Challenge 2:
Fragmented Technologies and Human Operations
Because industrial maintenance software platforms, sensors and operations are currently highly fragmented, it’s a challenge to fuse sensor data (e.g., signals based on vibration, temperature, power consumption, etc.) with actual events or maintenance activities that humans carry out on machines.
Many existing condition-based maintenance solutions, such as vibration analysis via a handheld device, require sampling and diagnostics by human technicians going from machine to machine. These contact-based methods can fall victim to producing biased, one-sided results depending on the location of the sensor and the experience of the technician, and aren’t constantly monitoring and sending alerts in real time. Other non-handheld sensors with “smart” monitoring capabilities require complex integrations, training and retrofitting of old industrial assets.

The challenge is to bridge the gap between human maintenance engineers, sensors and enterprise resource planning and monitoring software. IIoT is helping to change this, but so far in the hype phase, IIoT predictive maintenance solutions have mainly consisted of software to analyze data collected from sensors designed and manufactured by third parties. In many cases, users and implementers of such software solutions don’t control the sensors or the data origins. Therefore, they are very exposed to garbage in, garbage out scenarios where false-positive alerts rule and maintenance teams eventually ignore valuable alerts as they are trained to distrust the outputs of such systems. Industrial machine data will only be as good as its worst sensor and it’s impossible to identify which sensors are good and which are bad if they are not properly controlled, installed, or built in tandem with the software that’s processing the data inputs.

Much of the data quality challenges will be addressed by new, deep learning algorithms that mimic the learning faculties of the human brain and can be used to build more accurate predictive models. These deep learning models will be able to apply insights from previously labeled data to new, unlabeled data so both predictive and prescriptive analyses will become even more accurate over time. It’s only with optimal predictive models that any array of connected hardware devices can provide maximum return on investment (ROI) and benefit for decreasing human errors, reducing downtime and increasing average production.

To overcome the challenge of fragmented technologies and operations, maintenance engineers and technicians will need to start relying on classic signal outputs, such as vibration, temperature, power consumption, etc., as well as new smart sensors, such as deep learning, powered, airborne acoustics. Such sensor inputs will increasingly play a larger role in IIoT predictive maintenance. Engineers and technicians have, of course, always diagnosed machine problems simply by listening to them. However, humans can’t be physically next to every machine at all times during operation and also have a hard time filtering out other noise interference present in harsh industrial environments.

The Future
Today, there’s a rising global demand for industrial automation systems as companies work to optimise operational efficiencies. As industrial manufacturing and production become more automated, there will be an increased need in the future for predictive maintenance technology – both hardware and software – that helps keep equipment running at optimal performance and identifies problems in real time before machine failure interrupts production and causes costly unplanned downtime and replacement of damaged parts.

IIoT and deep learning will play a big role in the advancement of predictive analytics and overcoming these two major challenges of data quality and the gap between humans and machines. IIoT and deep learning also will be critical to help get passed the upcoming phase of disillusionment and create more mainstream adoption of IIoT predictive maintenance solutions.

Akolade's Industrial IoT Summit being held on the 20-22 September in Melbourne, will further examine the current challenges facing Industrial IoT.

Written by: Nicolas Verbeeck

Nicolas was born in Belgium and became an expert in consuming excellent beers, chocolate and waffles. During the winter period you can find him on a hockey pitch and in summer he loves to go for a swim or a surf. In 2013 Nicolas was wondering what the beers, chocolate and waffles would taste like in Australia and never came back. One reason… the weather. Nicolas obtained a masters in International Politics and tries to use this background to produce excellent conferences at Akolade.