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Gardening leave: why are offices turning into botanical spaces?

Amazon has built treehouses in its offices and Microsoft employees work in the woods. Companies reveal why they are using plants to boost productivity Most offices have a few plants dotted around the place. Some companies, however, like to take things to extremes. Amazon has treehouses inside its offices, Microsoft employees work in treehouses in the woods; while Timberland’s headquarters has gardens with orchards. The benefits of bringing plants in workspaces are well documented. Researchers have found that as well as brightening up the office environment, plants can reduce sick days and stress. Danica-Lea Larcombe from Australia’s Edith Cowan University wrote in the online publication The Conversation that indoor plants can “scrub” the air of bacteria; remove harmful chemical compounds released by cleaning products; and improve people’s moods. Continue reading…

Nice threads: the waste-based fibres cleaning up fashion

New textiles, made from discarded orange peel, milk or algae, are reducing the environmental impact of the world’s second-most polluting industry Orange peel is the unlikely by-product behind a new textile that’s being incorporated into collections by designer Salvatore Ferragamo. Back in 2013, Adriana Santanocito, a fashion student in Milan, and her friend and colleague Enrica Arena looked into whether anything useful could be done with the vast amounts of orange peel left behind by juicing machines. Continue reading…

Journey to work a daily grind? How to make your commute more productive

Nearly four million of us spend two hours a day travelling to and from the office. Here’s a guide to making that time well spent Despite advances in remote working, Britain’s love-hate relationship with commuting continues. Workers in London are battling an 81-minute commute, the longest in the country and equivalent to 38 working days a year. Meanwhile nearly 3.7m of us spend two hours a day travelling to and from work. So if commuting can’t be avoided, how do you make the most of it? Continue reading…

What makes you a disruptor? ‘Not knowing the rules’

The founders of Brompton Bikes, WAH Nails, Unruly, Inkpact and Doddle reveal how to shake up an industry Founders of businesses that shake up an industry are seen as future gazers, innovators, one step ahead of everyone else. But for many, being a disruptor is an accident; a by-product of following an idea or chasing a dream. For Sarah Wood, co-founder of video ad-tech company Unruly, the name of her business is enough to mark it out as disruptive, but that was never the aim. “In fact we just didn’t know how things were done,” she says. “I think with disruptors you often have that. They can appear to be disruptive not because they set out to be, but because they don’t know the rules.” Continue reading…

‘A strong brand will get you through a crisis’: Meet the Mentors with Cobra beer’s founder

In the final podcast of the series, Lord Karan Bilimoria advises the founders of tech startup Zipabout on everything from marketing to investment Subscribe and review on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud and Mixcloud, and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter. Lord Karan Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra beer, shares his tips for success in the final episode in our podcast series for budding entrepreneurs. Continue reading…

How can my small business prepare for Brexit?

Experts discuss how SMEs can navigate unpredictable times, and futureproof their companies against Brexit uncertainty For small businesses, uncertainty is often one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. And it doesn’t get much more uncertain than Brexit. With tariffs, taxes and immigration all yet to be decided, companies are faced with little surety around their staff, supply chain and finances. But while the UK finds itself in a unique situation, there have been uncertain times before, and there are practical steps businesses can take to protect themselves, according to experts speaking at the solving the solvable seminar for small businesses. Continue reading…

Rapha founder: ‘Cycling now is a bit dull … there’s all this doping stuff’

Simon Mottram, who recently sold his British bike wear brand to the Walmart heirs for £200m, bemoans the state of the sport he loves It was the classic case of a frustrated customer who is so foolish they think they can do it better. I travelled the world consulting, I’m a bike rider and love the sport, so I would visit shops and meet cyclists. I realised there were enough people like me who wanted better quality. Then it was endless nights at the kitchen table and every conversation was about this idea. A friend of mine gave me a book of photographs of old racing and I saw an aesthetic I liked. It was all about human beings and not technology. Continue reading…

Bringing trousers back to Trouser Town: the small businesses reviving heritage industries

Meet the entrepreneurs resurrecting long-lost local products in regions round the country, from denim manufacturing in Cardigan to soap making in Portsmouth Drinking a pint of Trouser Town beer in the pub, Brant Richards and Ed Oxley found themselves debating the origins of the name. Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire made up to 1m pairs of trousers a year in its heyday, until production was moved offshore in the 1970s and 1980s. But that heritage sparked an idea. Continue reading…

Crystals, potions and tarot cards: the mystical rise of new age businesses

Consumer appetite for spiritualism has sparked a rise in companies offering everything from AI-powered astrology apps to subscription boxes for white witches Harmony Nice is a 20-year old vlogger from Norwich. While she covers beauty on her YouTube channel, and her goth-inspired look is a hit on Instagram, it’s her potions, crystals and tarot cards that set her apart from your average YouTuber. Nice has been practising the Wicca religion for about four years and has been sharing her beliefs with her 300,000-plus subscribers for just over a year. “Wicca is a nature- and pagan-based religion, with elements of witchcraft in it,” she says. Continue reading…

Pounds to shed: the rise of the luxury workout

The health and fitness market in the UK is booming and an increasing number of people with money and energy to burn are signing up for boutique gyms There’s one new year’s resolution that always seems to top the list: get fit. New exercise gear is purchased, fitness regimes carved out, and diets started (however temporary they may be). But while people have tended to sign up to the bigger gym chains at this time of year, a rising number now choose a more high-end workout. Boutique studios, like cult indoor cycling chains SoulCycle in the US and Psycle in London, are becoming more popular. Smaller than your typical gym, they often specialise in one type of exercise and allow you to work out in more salubrious surroundings. What makes these gyms unique is their price: while the big chains might cost £50 to £100 a month for unlimited access, studios can charge £20 a workout. Continue reading…

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