Novus Blog

lady working from home


Here are our top tips to help remain healthy, happy, and productive whilst you are working from home. Like many businesses across the UK (and indeed globally), Novus closed their offices on Monday 23rd March in an effort to help halt the spread of coronavirus. As such, many office-based colleagues up and down the country are working from home (WFH). For some who work this way on a regular basis, this situation is almost "business as usual" but for many, this is somewhat unchartered waters that will take a period of adjustment. Good news! We are here to help with our 5 top tips: 1. Maintain regular hours of work Creating a healthy work life balance whilst working remotely can sometimes be hard, as the days can be (at least to begin with) a little unstructured; starting earlier and finishing later due to getting caught up in work tasks. However, it is important to still that you structure your day like you would in an office, give yourself a start time, lunch time, and finishing time. And, make sure you stick to them! 2. Schedule breaks Again, structure and routine are important when working from home. It is very easy to get caught up in your work, extending your working times, not taking any breaks, and even working through your lunch. Regular breaks are an ideal way of keeping your mind fresh and maintaining productivity levels. Therefore, we suggest you schedule breaks in the same way that you would when working in the office. Get up and make yourself a cup of tea/coffee every so often and do ensure that you take a proper lunch break - eat, re-hydrate, and stay away from your emails! Maybe you could sit in the garden (weather permitting) for half an hour for a change of scenery? 3. Have a dedicated workspace No, you don't have to sit at a chair and a desk, it could just be your kitchen table! But just because you aren't in the office doesn’t mean you can't bring the office to your home, just set up camp somewhere you feel comfortable, won't get too distracted and (preferably) a place with a decent amount of sunlight. Dedicating a specific space adds familiarity, structure, and a sense of routine to a potentially unfamiliar situation. Why not tweet us a picture of your working from home space? @_NovusSolutions 4. Plan your work list Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to plan what you will be working on the following day. We've found that this will helps us to prioritise your job list, hit the ground running, and really focus on your work tasks.  5. Stay connected Whilst working from home can initially help you focus on work in the short term, it can become quite lonely in the long term, with one of the main complaints from remote workers being the feeling of social isolation. For the benefit of your own mental health and the quality of your work output, it is important to stay connected with your colleagues. Make use of technologies that enable video conferencing and instant messaging to stay in touch with your peers and always remember that you are part of a team contributing to a bigger picture. Have some working from home tips of your own? We hope you have found these tips useful and thank you for your support during this time. If you would like to contribute your own ideas to these tips, please share them via our social media channels. We can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


As hospital refurbishment occupies a bigger proportion of the construction landscape, sensitive handling of works is of critical importance and strong, honest relationships between supplier and client are increasingly vital to successful completion of the works. From New-Build to Refurbishment In recent times, there has been a big shift in government strategy with regards to developing the healthcare estate in the UK. This movement has been focussed on moving away from new-build into more refurbishment based projects. Previously, largely PFI financed projects have seen a series of new hospitals and healthcare centres built throughout the UK however this has now given way to a much greater focus on improvement and extension works to existing assets. There has also been a shift in direction away from investing in centralised acute care facilities towards improving primary and community care buildings. These facilities include General Practitioners (GPs) and specialist care facilities such as those specifically catering for mental health. A Construction Perspective From a construction standpoint these shifts have had two major impacts. Firstly, works are more frequently undertaken within (or in close proximity to) live healthcare environments. Secondly, the activities commonly consist of smaller projects that are distributed over a large geographical area. As a result, construction workers are placed more closely to clinical staff and their patients than ever before. Sensitivity and trust in the relationships between client and contractor therefore have never been more crucial considerations in recent times. Concurrently, the more distributed nature of the work has caused a rise in longer term framework agreements rather than ad-hoc or project-by-project working. Hospital Refurbishment Can Be Complicated By their nature, hospital refurbishment projects can vary in terms of their scale and complexity. Broadly, the brief for these projects is usually to renovate an ageing building that was constructed in an era when the expectations of patients and staff were not as sophisticated as those of modern day. The objective therefore is to turn it into a facility that offers state-of-the-art standards of care. The end goal is to transform outdated facilities that are no longer fit for purpose into clean, bright and modern environments that make a significant contribution to the wellbeing of patients and hospital workers. For teams delivering these projects, the works involved may present a multifaceted and wide-ranging challenge, oftentimes more so than almost any other kind of building refurbishment project. They often demand not just aesthetic upgrades but also significant structural works to allow for the way spaces are used to be changed, to let in more natural light or to provide easier access for patients. Combined, these demands create the requirement for close collaborative working relationships between a wide range of teams and departments. Conditions are made even more challenging by the demands of carrying out the works in a functional, working, and busy hospital environment. Working in live environments When it comes to hospital refurbishment, upgrades need to be carried out when the facility remains open and in full use. The growing demands on the NHS means that it is impossible to close a hospital in order to complete these improvement works. One common approach to managing these complicated works effectively (negating the need to close off entire areas of the facility for a prolonged period), is to adopt a rolling programme of works. For example, the team might agree to work on just one ward within a wider unit at any given time, leaving the remaining wards live whenever work was being carried out. This approach to completing the projected out at a pace agreed with clinical staff means that patients can then gradually be re-located into the refurbished areas to allow work to continue in new areas. Planning a Hospital Refurbishment For a hospital refurbishment to be carried out seamlessly, it is key for the team delivering the project to work smoothly alongside clinical staff and other stakeholders throughout the programme with clear and honest dialogue. Involving contractors and senior hospital managers in the early stages of design meetings can allow any potential issues that may cause disruption to clinical operations to be identified and tackled. This information gathering stage should be considered critical to any hospital refurbishment project. In addition, the approach to communications with management and key staff members in the early going, sets the tone for a the project and informs the creation of a schema of work that everyone can get on board with. Of course, it is also vital that this remains fluid and adaptable, with built-in flexibility to accommodate the outcomes of further progress meetings as the project develops. The outcomes from these initial consultations must be followed throughout the project, with regular engagement to support and enforce communication. At every stage, consultation with all parties reduces the potential for frustrations and other barriers to arise. The Importance of Trust in Complex Refurbishment Projects As the health sector’s investment plans move towards refurbishment and as contractors working near patients and care givers becomes more commonplace, the trust between client and contractor has become more important than ever. When building trust, longer term agreements between clients and contractors can deliver significant benefits. Not only do they help establish mutual objectives but also enable smaller refurbishment projects that are spread over a wider geographical area to be delivered to a consistently high standard; a greater challenge when using a patchwork of suppliers. There are significant mutual benefits to this way of working, with individual project costs often being reduced as onboarding processes can be significantly more efficient. Contractor commitment is also strengthened by the greater forward visibility of revenue and long-term continuous improvement plans forged. Knowledge sharing additionally helps to improve processes across multiple future projects, driving efficiency. When carrying out this kind of project, Novus will frequently establish a temporary office on-site from which to co-ordinate the works on the ground. A senior manager is always available to liaise with any member of hospital staff, ensuring that the team is always visible and approachable and allowing any potential grievances to be nipped in the bud. Healthcare refurbishment is arguably the area of the construction industry where sensitive and considerate working practices are most important. Ultimately, with the right level of planning and communication – and a commitment to understanding and truly working with the needs of patients and staff – it is possible even in the most sensitive of healthcare environments to deliver outstanding refurbishments that will support excellent patient care for many years to come. More Information For more on how Novus can help with refurbishment projects of all kinds, contact us for more information today.


Households living in private rented properties have more than doubled since 2001 and analysis from PwC UK suggests that by 2025 there will be more people privately renting in the UK than owning property.  The growing agenda requires greater involvement of tenants. It is set to ensure that they will have access to information about any changes that will occur in the building they live in and must be notified when fire prevention systems are checked, as well as gas, electric and water structures. Tenants will be consulted and offered choice wherever possible. They must also be able to make comments or observations about the building, and report these efficiently.  The challenge  Digitalisation in the private renting sector means that tenants are beginning to expect more from social housing providers, but 57% of the landlords that Halton Housing surveyed last year said that less than half of their current customer transactions involve digital technology.  As a result, Britannic technologies found that nearly 80% of customers feel that there is a lack of omnichannel support from their provider, and 81% had not had a positive customer experience at all. There are some improvements to be made and it is time to tackle this challenge head-on.  The opportunity and the role of technology Social housing maintenance contracts are one of our primary sectors of operation at Novus. Effective customer communication and support is promised from the outset by our dedicated Customer Care Team, which will engage with your tenants to identify and accommodate their needs. We are looking to further improve and digitalise our methods of communication by implementing a variety of new media and technologies.  73% of landlords claim that “meeting customer needs” is their biggest driver to use modern technology in communications, while 79% agree that increasing efficiency through better use of resources is theirs.  Technology could be about to change the way landlords manage their properties and communicate with tenants, and if they implement new technologies they could see an increase in satisfaction and retention rates. Social housing companies should consider how they will adapt to the changes that modern technology has enabled, as falling behind is likely to cause complications in the future and impact the success of the business.  Putting technology into practice  Day-to-day communications can be vastly simplified and improved by implementing technology. Whether that is through a text to confirm an appointment or the ability to communicate with landlords via an online chat feature.  Richard Jacques, letting director at Purplebricks, finds that 60% of activity happens when traditional estate agents are closed, so the company has given landlords and tenants access to a secure portal which enables them to liaise with each other 24/7.  There are also opportunities to use artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) when it comes to social housing maintenance. Tenants can report repairs online using AI diagnostic tools, or see proposed changes to communal areas for themselves using AR or VR. Ana Nekhamkin, Managing Director at Inhabit, explains how technology provides the opportunity to enhance the resident experience and create operating efficiencies for landlords.  One way of deciding how to best utilise technology in your housing association is to consider a current problem or disruption and look for a technology solution to assist you.  Why should I consider this? Increasing the use of digital technology could be a great way to cut costs, drive efficiencies and above all, improve services for tenants. There are also benefits when it comes to safety and the environment, and the quality of products is likely to improve with the greater precision and reliability that technology offers.  Alongside all of this, implementing technology is likely to positively impact the health and wellbeing of your tenants. Simplifying processes and offering more choice will reduce the stresses that typically come hand-in-hand with some of the more traditional methods of correspondence.  Balancing act  For almost half of social housing landlords, the key driver to use modern technology is to reduce overall cost. However, some have been slow to adopt technologies that do not directly benefit them in the short-term, despite certain technologies increasing efficiencies for both landlords and tenants.  An efficient and timely customer experience has become a baseline expectation. In fact, 42% of consumers cited a quick resolution as the most important element within customer service.  Balancing tenant demand and leaseholder restrictions can be a challenge, but customer satisfaction is not the place to cut corners. Technologies that have been developed and applied in other fields are low risk, and could be a great place to start.  Ensure you are getting it right by conducting tenant consultations. This can help you to develop an understanding of how they currently use digital technology and how they would like to communicate with their landlord. Repeat consultations can also give tenants the opportunity to share feedback, and tell you how satisfied they are.   An ongoing process Changes will not be implemented overnight, but the sooner they do, the faster housing associations will start to see results. Here is how Novus can help with your social housing refurbishment.
Office refurbishment: open your doors to the opportunities


An office space when nurtured has the power to transform a business and the mind-set of those who work there. The health and wellbeing of employees should be prioritised in any business and when this is central to the workspace design, positivity and wellness will follow. So take a good look at your working environment. Does it reflect the aspirations of your business? A tired and uninspiring environment is likely to have a negative impact on the people who work there. Here are some considerations for your next office refurbishment and some reasons to choose Novus. Building Refurbishment One size does not fit all when it comes to workspace design. We know that your vision is unique and that a building refurbishment should reflect the business’ goals and aspirations. Through understanding your vision, we can create co-working spaces where you, your staff, your networks, business partners and ultimately your business can flourish. A shared vision We work closely with you to deliver a space that meets your specific requirements. At Novus, we have a proven track record of providing office construction and refurbishment expertise and experience, to help you achieve even the most ambitious of projects. All Novus projects begin with us meeting to discuss our client’s unique requirements. This initial stage is crucial in helping us gain a clear understanding of the office refurbishment requirements, and it also offers opportunity to flag any potential issues - from design issues to ways of working. We will work around a client’s schedule to minimise disruption to the business, if working in an occupied building. Health and safety One of the biggest concerns for our clients is often the safety of the employees who work in the building during the office refurbishment. Safety is our number one priority and risk assessments will be completed for all projects. We take extra care when moving around the office building, and we will introduce barriers to ensure the safety of employees. Why Choose Novus? "One of the core beliefs at Novus is that we believe the foundations of a project will ultimately determine the long-term success of a refurbishment." "Listening carefully to a client and discussing the possibilities lets us highlight potential opportunities they may not be aware of, while also letting us understand how their world operates.” Mick MacDonald, Novus Site Manager. Past clients have happily referred us due to the great work delivered, the flexibility provided and the bespoke, customised plans that worked for them. Find out more about some of the work we have done for Midland Heart and bet365.
Hannah O'Brien
Telephone: 07854 781631


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