Category Archives: Office Skills News

10 Ways To Make Your Office Environment Greener & Healthier

An increasing number of businesses around the world are beginning to change the way they work, placing a much bigger emphasis on the health and wellbeing of their employees. The general consensus is that a healthy employee is a happier employee, and therefore likely to be much more productive in the workplace; and the bigger picture is that this ultimately benefits the profit margins of the business.

Companies of all sizes are establishing health and wellbeing programmes for their staff, promoting everything from healthy eating and exercise, to mindfulness and meditation. However, one of the key ways in which a business can improve employee wellbeing is to make the working environment greener and more eco-friendly. Adopting a greener approach to business operations also helps the environment, and can even save the company money too, so it’s a no-brainer really!

In recent years there’s been a trend within the corporate world for investors to actively seek to be involved with greener companies; a company with a strong environmentally friendly policy is also a much more attractive option for many candidates when it comes to applying for roles.

Making greener changes within the working environment not only helps to reduce the carbon footprint of your company, it can also lower your overhead, thus increasing your profits. Going green in the workplace doesn’t have to cost employers a fortune; there are small, yet significant, changes that can be made over the course of time which all add up to a healthier working environment.

This infographic from Sovereign Planned Services Ltd details ten simple and effective ways that you can make your office environment a greener and better place to work. From simply turning off computer equipment and switching off lights when not in use, to setting up a carpooling scheme or allowing staff to telecommute, small changes can really make a difference.

The 5 Most In Demand Office Administration Jobs for 2017

Job opportunities in the Office and Administration Support occupations are expected to increase by 466,500 new jobs between 2014 and 2024.   According to the department of labor statistics, this is slower than the average for all occupations as technology is expected to substitute or supplant some functions that workers in office and administrative support occupations do. However, overall job opportunities should remain good because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation for a variety of reasons including changing careers, returning to school or retiring.

There are thirteen different occupations in the Office and Administration Cluster of careers all requiring slightly different levels of office skills and some of these professions are in more demand than others. If you’re thinking of starting a new career in the area of Office and Administration in 2017, you may wish to explore the occupations that are currently in the most demand.  Below are 5 of the most in-demand office administration jobs for 2017 according to bls.gov and current trends in the industry.

  1.  Medical secretaries are in demand in 2017Medical Secretaries –  The demand for medical secretaries is projected to grow 21 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. One of the reasons, according to bls.gov, is because the number of individuals who have access to health insurance is expected to continue to increase because of the federal health insurance reform. One other reason, the Occupational Handbook notes, is that aging baby boomers will demand more medical services as they become eligible for Social Security and Medicare. As a Medical secretary, you’ll need to be familiar with medical terminology and codes, medical records, hospital or laboratory procedures and billing and insurance processing.
  2. Customer Service Representatives – According to bls.gov, demand for customer service representatives is predicted to grow 10%  from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.  Telephone call centers, also known as customer contact centers, are expected to grow 39% and will add the most new jobs for customer service representatives. As a Customer service representative, you’ll  generally answer questions or requests from customers by telephone.  However, with the growing trend in customer service migrating to multiple channel support, you may also find yourself interacting with customers via face to face, email, live chat and social media.   This may require many different skill sets that include not only good telephone etiquette skills but also good writing and communication skills.  As many companies are providing online self-service tools for their customers, being familiar with your company website will be essential.
  3. Receptionists are in demandReceptionists – The demand for receptionists won’t go away any time soon and it is projected to grow 10% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations according to bls.gov.  One of the reasons is that Receptionists are employed in nearly every industry including technology, healthcare, physicians’ and dentists’ offices, law offices, veterinary offices, and hair salons just to name a few. Receptionists can be employed both full and part time and about 3 in 10 worked part time in 2014 according to bls.gov. As a receptionist, you’ll support management at all levels of the organization and generally greet the public and answer the company telephone. Establishing yourself as the face of the company requires excellent interpersonal skills, customer service skills, telephone etiquette and good communication skills. Good organizational skills and the ability to multi-task are also a must as Receptionists perform many duties including taking messages, scheduling appointments, and maintaining employee files.
  4. Medical Billing Financial Clerks – Financial clerks do administrative work for many types of organizations including keeping records, helping customers and carrying out financial transactions.  Those with experience in medical billing have been sought-after for several years already, and that demand is expected to continue for sometime. Employment of billing and posting clerks is projected to grow 13 percent and job growth is expected to be particularly strong for those in medical billing, notes bls.gov.
  5. Virtual AssistantVirtual Assistants – while the overall employment of secretaries and administrative assistants is projected to grow only 3 percent from 2014 to 2024 and even eventually decline, many industry experts expect the demand for virtual assistants to continue to grow. A virtual Assistant is an independent contractor who provides administrative and other support to individuals, consultants, entrepreneurs and small and medium sized businesses via the internet.  While most secretaries and administrative assistants work in an office setting, virtual assistants, typically work out of their own homes. As a Virtual Assistant, you determine which particular skills you possess that you may offer to your clients. These may range from traditional office skills such as calendar management, document and spreadsheet support to a variety of other specialized skills such as email marketing, social medial support and web design.  In addition to possessing the technical skills that are in demand in 2017, Virtual Assistants also need good business communication skills for dealing with their clients and an understanding of office procedures for organizing their clients forms, policies and procedures.  If the prospect of starting your own virtual office seems somewhat overwhelming at first, you may want to consider working for one of the already established virtual staffing agencies listed on our Virtual Assistant Resources page.

 

A Look at the Free Office Suite – LibreOffice 5.2

The Document Foundation recently announced LibreOffice 5.2, a free open source alternative to the Microsoft Suite.  LibreOffice 5.2 is one of the best free office suites currently on the market and this latest version comes with some advanced features that will be appreciated by the more advanced user, while still maintaining ease of use for the beginner.  According to their press release, some of the more advanced features include the ability to classify documents into categories (such as “Confidential”) according to TSCP standards as well as multiple digital signatures and descriptions along with import and export of signatures from OOXML files for improved security.

While LibreOffice still lacks the modern ribbon interface found in the Microsoft Office suite and the free Kingsoft Office Suite, it offers a stable, fully functional suite of office applications, including a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool, not to mention a database and drawing package.

Here are some of the highlights and new features for the main LibreOffice applications, Writer, the word processing tool, Calc, the spreadsheet tool and Impress, the presentation tool:

LibreOffice Writer

Existing users of LibreOffice will appreciate the new Standard Single Toolbar mode that has been added to Writer that includes the most commonly used functions, insert, and formatting operations as well as redesigned dialogs designed to help you to work more efficiently.   This saves some screen real estate as previously users had to use the default double toolbar arrangement.

In addition, you can now display and dock the Drawing Toolbar that was previously only available in LibreOffice Draw that gives you the ability to draw curves, freeform lines, polygons and a variety of filled shapes.  You can easily turn on and off the toolbars by going to View > Toolbars and selecting or deselecting the toolbars of your choice.  The Drawing Toolbar has not only been added to Writer, but to all LibreOffice applications.

drawing-toolbar

LibreOffice continues to improve the way users can create, save and print documents with the addition of some new features that include a new Print to File option in the list of printers, a Save as Template option on the Save toolbar button so you don’t have to go through the menus and two-factor authentication support for users of Google Drive for storage.  It’s also extremely easy to convert your existing Microsoft Word documents to Writers native ODF format by simply clicking the Save button on the Standard toolbar.  LibreOffice Writer will recognize that your are attempting to save a Word file and will prompt you with the option to save in the ODF Format.

Save Word files in LibreOffice Writer format

LibreOffice Impress

Creating a presentation has never been easier than it is with the latest update of Impress.  This impressive free presentation tool has a similar look and feel to PowerPoint except for the addition of a new Slide Background Properties Panel that lets you quickly change the layout, format, orientation and background image of a slide.

impress

Adding custom animations is extremely intuitive and can be accomplished easily by simply selecting the item that you want to apply custom animation to at which time you will be presented with the Custom Animation properties panel.  Here you can apply the same animation effects you’ll find in PowerPoint such as Fly In, Box, Checkerboard, etc.  The list of effects in the sidebar also now includes a description of the effect, along with the element name.

impress-animation

LibreOffice Calc

Calc, the spreadsheet tool is extremely intuitive and easy to learn offering a comprehensive range of advanced functions.  The latest version includes new functions (including tooltips that describe them), more view options in the status bar, quick-access operations to freeze columns and rows, and a single toolbar mode.  The new freeze columns feature is particularly useful to those who work on large spreadsheets and can be easily activated by selecting the column you want to freeze and choosing the View Menu > Freeze Cells and selecting from the available options.

Freeze Columns in LibreOffice Calc

While Calc saves spreadsheets in its native OpenDocument Format (.ods), it can also open and save files in Microsoft Excel format  and you can easily export to Portable Document Format (.pdf).   Calc can read .xlsx files created with Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows or Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac OS X.

LibreOffice 5.2 can be downloaded at the following link:http://www.libreoffice.org/download/.

How to Edit PDFs on iOS Devices

Guest post by Sandra Rodgers, Community Manager at Cometdocs.com

For about 15 years, Microsoft Office was pretty much the dominant software in use on office computers, and people needed it in order to perform the most basic tasks, such as typing an essay in MS Word, or for bookkeeping in MS Excel. Somewhere in the mid 2000’s, alternative office packs started appearing on the market, but those were still in early development with clunky user interfaces and MS Office was still the most popular without a doubt.

With the rise of smartphones and phone apps a few years later, Microsoft’s competitors got another chance to emerge, and this time they took that chance. However, those “early” apps were still inconvenient for use, ending up being nothing more than an icon on the screen rarely to be pressed.

MS Office mobile pack came in pretty late on the phone app market when compared to its competitors. That is why many people just recently started using their mobile apps. Despite arriving late in the game, Microsoft did what they do best and blew out their competitors once again with the best file editing apps on the market.

So we finally have good software for editing standard documents on our phones, but what happens when we receive a PDF? This is a very common format for people who work in journalism, sales, finance, schools, banking and many other professions. Editing and working with PDFs on a phone or tablet can be an extremely unpleasant experience. If you ever had to use several online tools or programs just to edit a couple of lines and words, you know what it’s like and you know it’s time to move on to newer and better apps.

Consvert PDFs to .docx Word files

Microsoft’s traditional .doc format got replaced with .docx with the release of MS Word 2007 and now is the default Word format. This is one of the most common types of editable formats that people use to convert their non-editable PDFs to. So, when found yourself with a PDF you need to convert to Word on your phone, try using PDF to Word for good conversion quality and easy access to your files.

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PDF to Word released its third version in May 2016

PDF to Word is one of the finest pieces of software among the apps of its class. The quickness of the conversion engine and simplicity of the user interface are the two main features when it comes to conversion apps such as this one. Here are some other things that make PDF to Word such a great app:

● You can convert both scanned and organic PDFs, which further shows the power of the app’s conversion engine and its OCR (optic character recognition) software
● There are no limits on the number of conversions, which means you can convert as long as you have enough battery to do so
● Since the conversion is done on our servers, your phone or tablet won’t drain your device’s battery quickly
● Converted documents are presented to you in .docx format with all the right formatting, and with images and text in the same place as they were in the PDF

These features might sound complicated, but the designers did such a good job at making the interface simple that you don’t need too much familiarity with technology in order to use the app. Take a look what PDF to Word looks like inside:

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On the main page you can see there are multiple importing options. Besides the standard phone memory, you can import PDFs from several integrated services: Gmail, Dropbox, Box and OneDrive. Each one of these integrated services requires you to have a profile and be logged on to the service. After selecting the file you wish to convert, your converted file will appear under the integrated service tab.  Get the iTunes PDF to Word app.

PDFs to .xlsx Excel files

If your job depends more on using Excel, spreadsheets, financial technicalities and numbers then you will be glad to know that PDF to Word has a sister app, PDF to Excel. PDF to Excel has all the qualities of its PDF to Word counterpart, however with one crucial advantage – the .xlsx file is optimized for instant viewing and immediate analysis.

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PDF to Excel has 3D Touch Quick Actions

PDF to Excel extracts data from PDF tables into editable Excel spreadsheets. Therefore, you don’t need to rewrite your report from scratch or make new tables, you can simply use data from other existing documents. Just download this free app, follow these instructions and get your work done more efficiently.

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As you can see, the user interface is basically the same as with PDF to Word, except for a couple of little details.

Whether you need to edit your business report, analyze data more carefully or write a completely new report, PDF to Excel is an app that will definitely save you time and increase productivity.  It’s a must-have app in your business toolkit.

Make sure you check out other apps and resources Cometdocs has to offer or get the iTunes PDF to Word app here.

Today is National Receptionists Day

receptionist-580

Receptionists greet customers, clients, and other visitors and are often considered the “face of the company”.

Today,  (May 11th, 2016),  is National Receptionists Day and it will be celebrated nationwide in recognition of more than one million receptionists according to a recent press release by nationalreceptionists.com.  National Receptionists Day was first created in 1991 by the National Receptionists Association who started it because they wanted to distinguish the role that a receptionist plays in business.   National Receptionists Day occurs during National Employee Week in May and is always held on the second Wednesday in May.   It is celebrated not only in the US,  but in other countries including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

According to the bureau of labor statistics, the demand for Receptionists is projected to grow 10% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Receptionists are employed in nearly every industry including technology, healthcare, physicians’ and dentists’ offices, law offices, veterinary offices, and hair salons. Receptionists can be employed both full and part time and about 3 in 10 worked part time in 2014 according to bls.gov.

A receptionist is a person who supports management at all levels of the organization and generally greets the public and answers the company telephone. Their role as the face of the company requires excellent interpersonal skills, customer service skills, telephone etiquette and good communication skills.  Good organizational skills and the ability to multi-task are also a must as Receptionists perform many duties including taking messages, scheduling appointments, and maintaining employee files.

According to bls.gov, some of the daily duties Receptionists perform are documented as follows:

  • Answering telephone calls and taking messages
  • Scheduling appointments including managing and maintaining electronic calendars
  • Greeting customers, clients, and other visitors
  • Responding to inquiries and generally representing the company
  • Check visitors in and direct or escort them to specific destinations
  • Inform other employees of visitors’ arrivals or cancellations
  • Enter customer data and send correspondence
  • Copy, file, and maintain paper or electronic documents
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail and email

If you’re interested in becoming a receptionist, you’ll usually be required to have a High school diploma or equivalent.  Basic computer skills including keyboarding, Microsoft word and good telephone etiquette skills are also desirable. Many companies will provide short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting a few days to a week. You can also take related courses at your local adult education school, college or online such as those offered on officeskills.org.

According to bls.gov, the overall job prospects for Receptionists should be very good, with the best job opportunities in the healthcare industries.  If you’re interested in exploring a receptionist related career in the medical field,  Explore a Career as an Administrative Medical Assistant with a course at ed2go.