Saturday, May 23, 2020

COVID-19: How to prepare for the reopening of your office

Once the Coronavirus lockdown is lifted and we are permitted to get back to work, each industry will face its own unique challenges. Owing to the lasting impact of the pandemic, these businesses, including real estate brokerages, will have to come up with effective solutions to stay relevant. Here’s a look at the changes that real estate brokers will have to implement, in their personal space management strategy, to grow their business in a post-Coronavirus world.

How to start planning to return to work?

While there may be suggestions aplenty, it is first important to ascertain what should not be done. “In absentia, the office has become a facility based on stasis. It is not just the buildings that are frozen in time but the very idea of the buildings too. That so much energy has been dedicated to the quick fix, to resume the life suddenly locked down, shows us that there is a considered desire to pretend that none of this lockdown malarkey ever happened,” says Neil Usher, a global workspace design and author of the book The Elemental Workplace, in his recent article titled The Office-In Search of its mojo.

Making arrangements to read the body temperature of each staff member at the entry point and creating seating arrangements that ensure appropriate and safe distance is maintained among the workers, would be a fair starting points and so would be the sneeze guard, desks with in-built hand sanitisers and plexiglass barriers. Companies worldwide are busy engaging with office interior experts, to get quick makeovers for their office spaces.

However, these measures alone cannot solve the various problems that business are now confronted with. Besides preparing the building to welcome the staff in the post-pandemic world, the more complicated task lies in preparing the staff.

How businesses can prepare to go back to the office

Communication with the employees

Convincing your staff to come back to the office, will be a major challenge, especially since previous research indicate that around 16% of flu transmission takes place in the office. Hence, a lot will depend on how effectively you communicate with them and prepare them to get back to work. Be mindful of the fact that in case of attrition, the average cost to hire new staff would be much higher than the price you might pay to rearrange your office.

Office rules in a post-lockdown era

While employees may have been used to a certain office conduct before the pandemic, many habits will need to change, now. One of your key responsibilities of employers, would be to make your staff conscious about these changes and to ensure that they adhere to the new social distancing protocols.

Sharing their lunch, is something your employees may have to stop. The same may be true of keeping their personal belongings at their workstations. With innumerable small and big changes that we all will have to make, to keep the workplace safe, the employer’s role as a communicator and moderator, will be crucial.

Allowing remote working practices

Contrary to what many may believe, remote working will not replace the traditional office. Your staff would be willing to come back to office, once they are assured that it is safe to step in. In this scheme of things, remote working practices will become crucial towards unlocking the potential of the office.

Adopting a policy of rotation / working in shifts

Another effective way to lower the chances of contamination, is to ensure rotational working shifts. However, this may be hard to achieve for the many offices in India that have followed strict and fixed working hours.

Changes in HR policies after COVID-19

Human resource policies can be adjusted such that sick employees are sent on paid leave, to reduce the chances of transmission.

Likely changes in office spaces after the Coronavirus

Practices that are likely to be discardedNew protocols that are likely to be adopted
Shared desksMasks
Elbow to elbow seatingSanitisers
Face-to-face seatingPlexiglass barrier
Frequent board room meetingsCubicles
Shared eating spacesHands-free faucets and dispensers

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Monday, May 18, 2020

9 natural DIY tips to cool your home this summer

“ACs and coolers are fine, but nothing evokes my memories of childhood summers like a ‘khus ki tatti’,” says Gurugram-based businessman, Avinash Arora. Confused? Arora spent his summer vacations in a little town named Tundla in UP. North Indian summers are infamous for their intense heat, which can even prove fatal. Very few things can help you survive such weather and a ‘khus ki tatti’ is one of them, the businessman maintains. A ‘khus ki tatti’ is a wholly natural blind/ curtain mat that is made of reeds and special grass, laid out neatly in a box and complete with water pipes for drip wetting. This mat is laid across open doorways and windows and helps lower the temperature indoors.

1. Use water to cool the home

Home hacks can work well. A simple trick involves using a bucket of water. Dip the bottom hems of your curtains into the bucket and leave the fan on. The water slowly seeps upwards through the fabric and the breeze will carry the coolness into the room

2. Keep the rooms dark

We all know how relaxing it is, to get away from the glare of a hot summer sun and into a cool space, under the shade. To achieve this, buy cotton curtains in the darkest colour possible. Ensure that the curtains have a thick lining, so that the sunlight doesn’t fade them. Dark green or brown are easy choices. Keep the curtains drawn shut, right from morning. If your room stays shielded from sunlight all day, it is bound to remain relatively cooler.

See also: Tips to get your home summer-ready

3. Leave the bathroom door open

Keep your bathroom door ajar, pour a few litres of water on the floor and let the breeze do its job again

4. Place plants near the window

Leafy plants, too, can work wonders. If you have some large decorative or potted plants around, move them closer to your windows. They will absorb most of the heat and create a cooling effect around them

5. Leave the fridge alone

You may be tempted to reach for cold water and ice-cubes frequently, but opening and shutting the refrigerator multiple times, increases the load and temperature on its motor. This, in turn, increases the ambient temperature in your house

6. Use cool lighting options

From LEDs to fluorescent lights, there are many cool lighting options available, so there’s no reason to continue using hot incandescent bulbs. Similarly, switch off all electrical appliances, especially the TV, when not in use. Even a mobile charger emits heat

7. Buy a dehumidifier

You will breathe much easier, once the intense humidity is reduced. You can check online sites for the best deals

8. Use cotton fabrics

Summer is no time for fancy satin or silk bedsheets, or for faux leather upholstery. Buy at least one set of crisp cotton bedsheets, in white or pastel shades. If your couch is upholstered in any fabric that’s not cotton or linen, buy some sofa covers or throws that are made of cotton

9. Open the windows at sunset

If you throw open your windows at the right time, you will get the benefit of the cool evening breeze. This will lower the temperature of your home and make it more comfortable for the night ahead. Also, open up every internal door in your house, including kitchen cabinets and bathroom, bedroom and closet doors. This will help, to dissipate the heat that is built up during the course of the day and reduce the overall temperature. Remember to close these doors as soon as the next day dawns and the sun is up again.

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Saturday, May 16, 2020

What does the expert Vaastu Consultant in India advice to have in homes?

Vaastus hastra originated thousands of years ago in ancient India. Earlier, people were dependent on the fundamentals of nature to fulfill all their basic requirements. Sun provided light & heat, wind gave cool breeze, rivers & rain were the main source of water, earth provided food & shelter and fire heat & protection. Thus the philosophies of the building discipline laid down during those days too were constructed only on the effect of foundations of nature.

Basic elements of vaastu

Vastu distinguishes five essentials of creation that, when honored, augment the flow of prana, universal life-force vigor, within a building. Worshipping nature is a blessed acknowledgement. The five elements
  • Earth
  • Air
  • Fire
  • Water, and
  • Space
These are energetically linked with particular directions. Earth is associated with the southwest; air, northwest; fire, southeast; and water the northeast.
Use optimistic sounds: Some sounds irritate you, and you simply ignore them like creaking sounds of doors and windows, sounds obtained from any kind of friction etc. These sounds generate negativity in your environment. Have a perfect solution to such irritating sounds. Sound of Ring balls and conch is considered appealing and good. As they help in killing the negative energies.
No clutter allowed: Avoid clutter in your house because in Vaastu it is called as a stuck up energy. So much clutter in a house make the inmates of that house restless. This is so bad if you are not relaxed in your own home. So avoid it. Get all the things systemized..
Light in each corner: If you use light only in those rooms which are working in the evening time, then it's not right. Vaastu recommends that every room and each corner must be lighted once, in the evening. Darkness is a symbol of destructive powers. Vaastu also recommends that northeast and last corner must be kept lighted every time.
Avoid smells: Smell directly affects mind as they form of negative energy. One should avoid it. Use incense and oils of flowers in your house. This will help you to kill the negative energy.
Don't keep dead things in your house: Broken wall clock and other electronic/mechanical things should be repaired before it affects your vaastu. You can give them away to someone who can make better use of those things. According to Vaastu consultants in India, such kind of dead things increases inactivity and negativity in the family members in the house.
Don't keep dead things in your house: Broken wall clock and other electronic/mechanical things should be repaired before it affects your vaastu. You can give them away to someone who can make better use of those things. According to Vaastu consultants in India, such kind of dead things increases inactivity and negativity in the family members in the house.

Qualities of Vaastu Consultant in India

The basic quality of the right Vastu Consultant is the insight vision, practical knowledge, intuitive and a sound state of mind. This is essential to assimilate, understand and interpret the observations, diagnose the deep rooted problem and give practical yet effective recommendations with relevance to modern times and expert Vaastu Consultants in India are blessed with all these qualities.

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Three ways to earn the trust of your potential client

  May 2020

In these uncertain times amid the Coronavirus pandemic, real estate marketers and agents are finding it hard, to earn the trust of their prospective clients. Here’s how you can make yourself a credible real estate brand, in three easy ways

As economic activities around the world come to a halt due to the Coronavirus pandemic, most of the countries are staring at a recession, with no possible solution in sight, at least till the lockdown is over. Amidst all this, home buying has become more challenging and a risky decision for many. Home buyers and investors are looking for trusted advisors and experts, who can guide them in these difficult times. As a realtor, this is an opportunity for you to get your prospective clients’ attention, by establishing your brand in a positive way. Here’s how you can earn the trust of your buyer, in three ways:

1. Create helpful and educational content

Create and share helpful articles with your potential clientele. You can also collate a property market report, where you can list out the benefits of investing and expected rental returns from specific localities/projects. Share useful news items on your social media profile, to keep your clients engaged. You can also experiment with video content for mass appeal. However, ensure that the look and feel of the content is professional and it is of optimum quality.

2. Improve your visibility

You have to be more visible than your competitors, to establish your credibility in the market. Aspire to become a thought leader and make your expert views known to others. For this, you can attend and participate in virtual summits or webinars and share the links on your business profile. Contribute articles to various online publications, to establish a positive online presence and share the link of your published articles and coverage on your social media feed. Connect your prospective clients to your social media network, so that they can see all this and know that you are a trusted advisor in the sector. People are more likely to believe you, if you have a frequent online presence and there could be no better way of creating an online reputation. This is the time for marketers to take the driving seat and with the right kind of content and useful resources, you can establish a long-term brand for yourself.

3. Be a thoughtful seller

Follow-up is one of the important parts of being a persistent seller. Be gentle but direct in your words. Usually, sellers shy away from asking directly about the purchase decision but if you stand firm in what you think, your client might share his concerns about buying right now more openly. You can also communicate that you are willing to customise your services, according to their needs. Always tell your client why they should invest with you and the value additions they can expect, if they have you as a trusted advisor. You can list reviews and testimonials from your previous clients, to showcase how you have treated your buyers in the past and how satisfied they are now.

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Monday, May 11, 2020

How to sell a home safely during the COVID-19 crisis?

Until the lockdown is over, there is little scope for buyers stepping out of their homes, for site visits or inspection. With many districts declared as containment zones and strict surveillance everywhere, social distancing is the only option. So, how do you sell a home in this scenario?

While most of the buyers and investors are keen on holding back their investment, at the same time builders are offering refundable booking deposits and other bargains. To lure these fence-sitters, sellers should have a complete plan and a list of steps to be taken, to ensure a hassle-free experience for the buyers.

Here’s News’ step-by-step guide for selling your inventory without hassle.

Prepare virtual tours

As the lockdown was announced without any prior notice, you may not have a ready Digi-tour of the unit. In this scenario, you can ask the builder to provide the necessary materials, including the brochure and images of the sample apartment if it is an under-construction project, or photos of the actual apartment if it is a ready project. You can also keep 3D floor plans handy, to explain the layout to your buyer.

If you are pitching a resale unit, the owner may have some pictures. You can also ask the owner to join the call and help the buyer to take a positive decision.

To do all this, ensure that you have a stable internet connection and a professional-looking background, to conduct the meetings.

Discuss about the location and neighbourhood

Another thing that you should keep handy, is information about the locality. To explain the nitty-gritties of the neighbourhood, you can also use Google Earth and Google Maps. This will help the buyer to understand the exact location of the project and what lies nearby.

You can also search for locality videos on the internet to justify how property prices may move, in the next few years. If you know anybody who lives in the same neighbourhood, you can ask them for help and get to know a few locational advantages. If you know an existing buyer, try getting a short video from them, explaining how they feel about investment in the project/locality.

Negotiation and final discussion over property price

As the buyer will be looking for discounts, you can include someone from the developer’s team and let them do the negotiation. While you moderate the discussion, ensure that the deal does not go awry, because of minor cost differences. Explain the benefits of investing right now and how prices may increase, once things get back to normal. With everyone looking for cost benefits, the buyer will look to you, for a beneficial deal.

Keep the sale agreement documents ready

While the physical verification of the documents is not possible right now, you can scan the essential documents and send it across to the buyer for scrutiny. You can also ask the buyer, if they want to involve a lawyer through video conferencing. Always include a representative from the developer’s company, so that any query raised regarding the legality of the project can be easily sorted out. Once this is done, you can have another meeting with the buyer, where you involve the home loan agent for processing their loan application. Meanwhile, you can also ask for the token money from the investor.

Once the token money is received and realised by the developer’s company, you can send a confirmation about the same to your investor, from your official ID and clearly mention the terms and conditions of any refund, if possible and other details you have discussed in the earlier stages.

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Friday, May 8, 2020

A guide to choosing lights for each room of your house

Lighting can make or mar the décor of a house. This is why home owners have to be extremely careful, when planning the lighting scheme in their homes.

Basics of home lighting

Lighting alone, cannot enhance the look of a house. It has to be used in combination with other elements in your home. No amount of lighting can uplift the atmosphere of a room that is painted with dull and dark hues. Similarly, artificial lighting can only have a limited impact, when natural light is completely blocked. Moreover, while lighting can be used to create a personal style statement at home, do be mindful that its functionality is equally important. For example, a large chandelier that you could not resist buying, may be too big for your living room and it may seem more like a distraction in the room.

The human eye is also extremely sensitive to lighting. Hence, acutely bright lights will cause discomfort, while dull lighting will result in anxiety. With these basic principles in mind, let us see how to light up each part of the house, in the best possible way.

Lighting for the entryway

For your home’s entryway, you can use mild track lights. Note here that excessive lighting could be blinding and spoil the ambience.

Lights for the living room

Your living room must have overhead lights, along with spotlights that highlight your artwork, furniture or other décor items, if any. You can opt for ambient lighting when you have guests at home, while task lights would suffice, if you just want to read alone in the living room.

The size and luminosity of your lighting elements, such as lamps and chandeliers, should be proportionate to the size of the room.

Workstation lights

Your workstation needs overhead, as well as accent lighting. In case of a table lamp, the bottom of the shade should be at your shoulder height. If it is placed higher, your vision may be blocked by the light.

Bedroom lights

Your bedroom should have a combination of ambient, accent and task lighting, to ensure you get the most out of the lighting arrangement, depending on your mood. While the ambient light (overhead light) would light up the entire room, you would strain your eyes in the absence of a lamp, in case you wish to do some light reading. The height of the lamp should not be more than the height of the night stand. For further illumination of specific spots and artwork, use accent lighting in the bedroom. Also known as spotlights, these can also be used as night lights.

Kitchen lights

Just like your bedroom, your kitchen must have a combination of ambient and task lights. Too many ambient lights will not serve the purpose, when you are performing specific tasks in the kitchen. In case of a kitchen island, the spotlight should be positioned in a manner that the overhead lighting does not cast shadows. Home owners can also install under-cabinet lighting, to illuminate the kitchen countertop. Several kitchen chimneys also come with pre-fitted lights.

Bathroom lights

Your bathroom is no different and requires a combination of lights – accent lights to perform specific tasks and overhead lights, for overall illumination. Again, an overhead light can cast shadows. So, choose a longer, horizontal fixture for better lighting.

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Tips to refurbish your home during COVID-19 at no cost

The ongoing Coronavirus lockdown has forced most of us to remain within our homes. However, one can also use this time, to upgrade one’s home and beat boredom, at the same time. News got in touch with architect and interior designer Rimpy Pillania, for tips on refurbishing the house at zero cost. Based on her responses, this is what you could do

Space adjustments

A couple of spacing adjustments can make a big difference. When rearranging, feel free to experiment with different layouts. Every room deserves a focal point. It can be an artwork, a TV unit, a window or a wall with photo frames. Arrange your furniture around this focal point. Arrange the furniture in a way that it fulfills the function of that particular area.

Swap and rearrange

You can merely swap a few things around, to give a makeover to your home. Do not randomly swap anything and everything. Instead, consider the interior style and colour theme/ palette and work towards that.

Sometimes refreshing your home is as simple as rearranging some furniture. The bigger furniture pieces can be rearranged but the smaller pieces like the side table can be swapped. The side tables from the living room could be swapped with those from the bedroom but keep the theme and style of the room in mind. You can also mix the sides tables of different rooms. Asymmetrical, matching sets of furniture can make a room look clean and sharp. However, there is no rule that furniture needs to match and varying a few elements can add contrast and texture to a room.

Do not be afraid to use a blend of different finishes. You can combine metal and wood or different wood finishes also. For a cluster table, try teaming a small round side table with a long, rectangular coffee table or an oval coffee table with a square table.

Swapping accessories

The easiest way to refresh your home is by mixing and swapping throw cushions. Look for throw cushions from different rooms, in different colours and patterns that will coordinate with the palette of the specific room. Combine multiple textures and vary cushions sizes.

You can split up a pair of table lamps and use them in different spots in the room. You can even swap or rearrange your artwork. Swap your bedroom artwork with the living room or combine a few pieces and make an illusion of a bigger artwork. You can also rearrange photo frames on a wall, to refresh the look of the room.

A rug can totally change the look of any room. If you are looking to pull a room together by only swapping out one item, then, the rug is an excellent place to start.

Clean and declutter

Narrow your space down to essentials. There are often accessories that really do not need to be in your house. Get rid of unwanted accessories, so that you have less items to organise. You can move around your home and enjoy the space, instead of moving around things that are in the way.

These simple decorating ideas and swaps can help you refresh and restyle your space with minimal effort on your part.

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