Tips to Improve Posture and Reduce Lower Back Pain at Work

the correct posture for sitting

Office jobs come with their risks and hazards too as sitting all day exposes you to a myriad of health and wellness problems. Coupled with bad posture, sitting all day threatens your emotions, self-esteem, and even appearance.

Fortunately, you can escape this fix and balance your work and health by assuming the correct sitting posture and doing light exercises. Here are some tips to get you started from the team at Living Chiropractic in Sydney.

1. Get a Lumbar Pillow

Slouching is a bad habit that many people do unconsciously and hence find it difficult to avoid. As such, you should consider getting a lumbar pillow to get you started. The pillow will be a constant reminder for you to stop slouching as it will occupy some space behind you. Additionally, it will support your spine and make you healthier, more energetic, and give you focus to concentrate on your job.

2. Put that Foot Down

Crossing your legs may feel comfortable, but it is a potential health and fitness hazard. For wellness purposes, it is recommended to sit with both feet flat on the ground. The legs should be at a 90 degree position, so avoid stretching them out for long periods.

Like most people, you may find it difficult to adopt this sitting style. To get you started, consider using makeshift props for supporting your feet.

a lumbar support

A lumbar support pillow

3. Align Your Shoulders and Ears

You may often find yourself leaning too far forward or backward for prolonged periods. This not only leaves you tired but also makes your back ache. An easy way to beat this bad habit is to align your ears to your shoulders whenever you are seated. This will ensure that both your back and neck are always in an upright position as they should be.

4. Draw Your Shoulder Blades

Bad sitting postures will do a number on your appearance too as they result in rounded shoulders. To avoid this, practice pulling your shoulder blades back whenever seated. This will bring your chest out, align your spine and neck, and help you retain that firm and fit appearance that inspires self-confidence and self-esteem.

5. Move Around

Assuming the correct sitting posture is not enough. It is important to exercise the muscles and joints by moving around often. There are numerous excuses for you to get up every hour or so and move around: making coffee, visiting the bathroom, or just taking in some air.

Additionally, make sure that you make the most of your walks by moving substantial distances and performing strenuous activities such as climbing the stairs.

6. Exercise Your Chests and Shoulders

Light exercises offer great relief to fatigue and back pain, and they are so simple that they can be performed in the office without drawing attention. Perhaps the simplest of them all is shoulder shrugging, which entails just lifting and lowering your shoulders up and down.

The Wall-Angle is also effective and more engaging. It involves standing with your back flat on the wall, legs apart, and arms held up against the wall at a 90-degree angle. While in this position, all you have to do is move your arms up and down for at least 15 times.

desk yoga

Why not try your hand at some extreme desk yoga?

7. Embrace Desk Exercises

Desk exercises are more effective, diverse, and easy to perform. Some effective desk exercises include:

  • Desk yoga, which lasts only six minutes.
  • Stretch each foot out and moving toes upward and forward repeatedly.
  • Cross your left leg over your right left, place your right arm over the left leg and then twist slightly to look behind your left shoulder. Repeat this with the left leg and right shoulder.
  • Sitting upright, lift your arms upwards with your elbows straight and interlace your fingers. Proceed to bend slowly to your left and right sides for several times.


You do not have to condemn yourself to bad health for working in an office. Try out these tips and tricks to develop a healthy upright sitting position and keep your muscles and bones exercised throughout the day. Also remember to exercise occasionally during your free time to reverse the damage already done.

Uses For Old Coffee Beans You’ve Probably Never Thought Of

8 uses for old coffee

Although brewing coffee at home is an excellent idea, it’s  impossible to utilize every single coffee bean. Whether the beans go out-of-date or you just don’t like their taste any more, there are always some beans left behind.

No one knows this better than the team at Alternative Brewing, who go out of their way to keep their coffee fresh and tasting delicious by testing out hundreds of coffee accessories to provide to their loyal fan base.

This healthy caffeine addiction means there is always used pour over grounds or burnt beans around that need to be disposed of. Here are some of their best tips to help you use old coffee beans in a fun and effective way; from stopping creepy crawlies to creating an inspiring work of coffee bean art!

Ground Coffee Beans

coffee works as ant repellant

Keep the Ants Away

One of the best ways of keeping the ant colonies from invading your precious home is to randomly throw some old coffee grounds around the house. Keep your garden, kitchen, and family safe from those troublesome little insects. learn more about natural DIY pest control remedies in our previous post.

Save your Pets from Fleas

Relieving your pets from fleas can be a tiresome task. Rubbing old coffee grounds on the pet’s fur will not only keep these irritating pests away but it will also absorb the odour from the animal. Just don’t let your dog eat them!

Get Rid of Unwanted Odours

Coffee grounds operate exceptionally well when it comes to absorbing stank. You can place the grounds in an open container and put it in an area that stinks. After a couple of hours, the area will be free of the unwanted smell.

Spruce Up your Kitchen

Not everyone knows this but old ground beans are rich with acids and abrasives that are helpful when trying to scrub stains and spots. You can mix the coffee grounds with water and soap and clean your kitchen to perfection.

Whole Coffee Beans

chocolate coffee beans

Make Home-made Chocolate Covered Beans

Buying espresso beans covered in chocolate from stores can turn out to be extremely costly. With countless recipes available online, you can easily turn those stale and unwanted old coffee beans into a consumable and scrumptious dessert. Maybe you can even sell them at the local markets! check out our guide to making it big at your weekend markets.

Redecorate your Candles

You can acquire a number of ideas from the internet and create coffee and candle combinations that can bring a sense of luxury and extravagance to any room.

diy coffee candle

Enhance your Coffee Brewing Skills

Any old coffee beans are best utilized by trying out new methods of brewing at home. Although the actual indicator of a good brew is its taste, it’ fun and intuitive to play around with old coffee beans.

Some alternative brewing methods are a bit tricky to get right the first few times, so if you want to ‘go through the motions’ so to speak, then there’s no harm in using old coffee.Our number one suggestion however is to use them to test your coffee grinder!

coffee grinder for hario v60

Our primary use for old beans at Alternative Brewing is testing coffee grinders. With some automatic grinders like the Baratza range boasting more than 40 grind settings, it can be a waste to use fresh coffee to see the difference in coarseness for every grind. This way you can set your coarseness, test the effectiveness of the grind when bloomed and you can always taste it anyway to train your palette on different acidity levels.

Create your Very Own Masterpiece

Just like the coffee bean mural in Moscow, you can create an exquisite piece of art with the help of old coffee beans. Get your artist skills on and cover the sides of a canvas with unwanted old beans.

largest coffee bean mural in the world

10 Chair Exercises That You Can Easily Fit Into Your Day

The Benefits of Chair Exercises

In the busy world that we live in, it can be tough to find the time to exercise. If you are looking for some quick and easy exercises that can be done at work or home, then you’re in luck! This post is all about getting you moving from the comfort of your desk or lounge. Combined with the correct posture at your workspace, these exercises will go a long way to help prevent pains and injury.

To lose weight and be healthy, you don’t need a gym subscription and you don’t have to spend an hour or more working out every session. Brendan McCann, Exercise physiologist at Live Well Rehab Brisbane told us that exercise in small bursts has actually been proven to give the same results and it’s more maintainable for most of us, especially for anyone suffering from musculoskeletal disorders, or undergoing pulmonary or cardiac rehabilitation.

Brendan was also kind enough to provide us with his 10 favourite chair workouts. While aimed at burning calories and toning your body where you need it most, many of these exercises can be done as low impact exercise for anyone recovering from injury or undergoing injury rehabilitation. Many of these don’t even require you to get off your butt so you can do them while working at your desk, or even when watching TV! If you’re seeing a physical therapist, you may recognise some of these modified exercises from your exercise physiology program.

Seated Jacks

Seated Jacks how to toJumping jacks are a popular exercise to get the heart pumping but the ‘seated jacks’ are a nice alternative and mean that you can stay sitting down.

– Sit up tall towards the end of your chair, with your knees bent and brought together in front of you. Your toes should be pointed and just touching the ground. You should also bend your arms and have them our at your sides with your palms facing forwards.

– Quickly open your legs out to the side, flexing your feet and putting your arms overhead like you would with a regular jumping jack. Return to the starting position and do 20 repetitions in a row (the quicker, the better!)

Skater Switch

How to do Skater switch exerciseThe sitting skater move will burn calories in addition to targeting your core, arms and inner thighs! This is definitely the exercise for you, especially if beach season is fast approaching.

– Again, you need to be sitting on the edge of your chair for this move.

– Bend your right knee out to the side and extend your left leg to the other side, straight with your toes pointed.

– Extend your arms and quickly move forward, as you do so – reach your left arm down to your right foot. As you do this, raise your right arm up behind you and twist your torso.

– Switch sides and repeat 20 times or so.

Hinge & Cross

Hinge and cross exerciseThis toning move focuses on your abs, I bet you never thought that you could get a six pack while watching your favourite TV show but you can by doing the hinge & cross regularly.

– Sit down towards the end of the chair with your knees bent and your toes pointed just touching the floor in front of you.

– Put your hands behind your head, engage your core and lean back on the chair.

– Bring your body forward and cross your right elbow to the outside of your left knee.

– Don’t forget to do this on both sides and for 25 reps each.

The Magic Carpet

abs hold chair exerciseThis exercise tests your strength and is different to most chair workouts that you would find.

– Sit in the chair with your legs crossed and your hands on the armrests.

– Take a deep breath and raise yourself above the seat using your core and arms.

– Hold for 20 seconds before lowering. Rest and repeat a few more times.

Abs Hold

Another great one for the abs and quite an easy move, once you get the hang of it.

– Sit up straight on the edge of your chair, placing your hands either side of you for support.

– engage your core and stretch out your legs while lifting your butt off the chair so your body straightens to plank position

– Hold for around 10 seconds before lowering. Rest and repeat a few more times.

Chair Running

chair running exerciseMaybe you aren’t REALLY running with this chair workout, but it still gives your body a metabolism boost, burn calories and helps to tone.

– Sit down towards the end of your chair with your legs extended and your arms bent to your sides.

– Lean backwards until your shoulder blades touch the back of the chair.

– Lift your legs slightly and bring your right knee into your chest, turning your left shoulder in towards that knee and pulling your right elbow back.

– Repeat around 30 times, ensuring that you alternate sides.

Chair Twists

chair twists This movement burns calories and also helps to give the abs and obliques definition over time.

– Sit up straight on the edge of your chair, placing your feet on the floor shoulder width apart and your arms out to the side, parallel to the ground.

– Move your arms and body to the left side in a gentle twist movement, before doing the same on the other side for around 20 reps each.

Oblique Bends

If you suffer with the dreaded love handles and could rather do with out them, these oblique twists are perfect for banishing them once and for all.

– Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet hip width apart and your hands behind your head.

– Ensure that your back stays straight, use your core to lower your right elbow towards your right hip.

– Return your body to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Leg Contractions

Working on your lower body is also important and this exercise does just that. It is also good as a general stretching exercise which is important if you are on a chair for a large portion of the day.

– Sit on the edge of your chair with a straight back.

– Flex your core and bring your legs towards your chest, as you lean back slightly. Your body should pretty much be making a “V” shape.

– Take your current position a step further, by pulling your knees in towards your chest and holding.

Buns and Guns

buns and guns exerciseAlthough just a small exercise, this will tone your inner thighs in addition to your triceps and glutes.

– Sit on the edge of your chair, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your hands should be rested on the chair, just outside your shoulders with your elbows slightly bent.

– Squeeze your knees and your butt together, push down with your hands and extend your elbows.

– Release and do 30 super fast reps of this move for the best results.

Big thanks goes to Brendan for sharing his exercise knowledge with the Ideas for Good team . If you need an exercise physiologist in Brisbane pop in and see him and his wonderful team, or follow Live Well Rehab on Facebook for more health tips!

Quality Affordable Furniture – Your IKEA Alternatives

a designer apartment interiorFitting out your home with your dream furniture designs can be a huge financial investment. You’ve already spent money on the purchase of your home, pest control, plumbing, and moving costs, but of course you want the place to look great too.

Just because you’re short of cash doesn’t mean you can’t own elegant and beautiful furniture that gives you house a more homely feel. Instead of settling for cheap IKEA products there are plenty of options available which will give you a better look at an often much better price.

From thrift shops to furniture warehouses to, there are plenty of options available for the savvy interior designer looking for a bargain. If you are on the hunt for some stunning antique furniture, you just need to look in the right places and you’ll be able to outfit your home for a fraction of what people will think you paid.

Similarly, you can get that high-end interior designer look by purchasing replica designs from discount online furniture warehouses.

New and Improved

Replica furniture is becoming cheaper and better quality. The craftsmanship of the makers is so detailed that you will often not be able to identify an authentic piece from a replica.

Reputable manufacturers have perfected the art of creating wonderful pieces of furniture built with sturdy materials that are more tolerant to everyday wear and tear. Many new replicas are not as fragile as they look and will completely overhaul the look and feel of your home or office.

replica chair

Online Search

Many antique fanatics spend years searching for beautiful traditional furniture pieces that are still in good condition. For those who are eager for instant gratification, buying replicas is a great way to go. A simple online search for a specific furniture style, preferred era or designer of choice will provide you with some leads to follow up on.

If you’re looking for genuine antiques, second-hand markets can be a goldmine. Take a look in local classifieds, on eBay, and through your local newspaper to find out about local garage sales. You might have to do some searching but that time spent is well worth it when you snag yourself a genuine antique piece for a fraction of what it’s actually worth!

Price Tag

You may have in mind a classic designer furniture piece that you want but are hesitant to purchase because of its high price. With replica furniture, you can have it for less and experience the real thing.

A lower price does not mean low quality either. Designers almost always add on a premium for their original design, but in purchasing a replica you do not get taxed that often considerable extra money so your money stays in your pocket.

Furniture is an investment that can last for a lifetime. Quality pieces may even be passed on to future generations. While you can purchase low cost, lower quality pieces from places such as Ikea, that furniture will only last a few years before it needs to be replaced, so getting quality is a much better, and more affordable, long term solution.

second hand furniture store

Second Hand Stores

You can visit some second hand good stores in your area. These which may be selling new and used furnishings, appliances, clothing and more. Often you will find older but sometimes great quality, furniture pieces at bargain prices. Often a professional clean on one of these items will bring them to looking as new again, and you’ll save yourself thousands.

Thrift Store Chains and Charities

Some thrift stores have old and slightly used furniture being sold at low cost. You can find a basic bookshelf for a price of a movie ticket. Community-based thrift stores may also provide you higher-quality furnishings but you’ll need to check back regularly as the nicer pieces will get snapped up quickly.

Getting to know the staff at your local stores and let them know what you’re looking for so they can get in touch when something suitable comes in.

Garage Sales

As mentioned earlier, visiting garage sales can snag you some great furniture at bargain prices. Purchasing from the original owners also allows you to ask about the history of the furniture pieces and given the lower number of people who attend sales like this it is often easier to find rare and valuable items that would have been snapped up earlier were they sold anywhere else.

Your Grandparents’ Furniture

Antique couch at your grandparents houseAnother great way to collect some stunning antique designs if through your family and extended family. Often grandparents will have older style – but well maintained –  furniture that they may be happy to hand over to you.

Auties and Uncles may also have some great furniture they no longer need that they might be willing to part with. Ask around and see if anyone can help, often your family will give you unwanted items very cheaply or even for free. So this can be a great cost saver.

Social Media

Why not ask around on social media to find out if anyone in your network is interested in selling some furniture to you. With all your Facebook friends and Twitter followers you’ll be sure to find somebody in your area who is moving house and needs to sell some furniture or is cleaning out unused tables, chairs or lounge suites.

Post online about what you’re after and see who gets in touch, you never know, you might find the perfect item for your house from one of your close contacts.


5 of The Best Free Health Apps

apps on an apple watch

Almost every aspect of life nowadays has an application to suit. From mobile phone banking to sleep cycle tracking, you can rest assured that there is an app (or ten) our there to make your life easier.

The biggest problem we face now when it comes to app selection, is which ones will best suit our needs. Sure you can read reviews on the iPhone App Store or Google Play, but we all know these can be faked, and we certainly don’t want to be spending money buying them when we’re not sure we’ll even use them.

Thankfully thought the team at Sold My Device, a cell phone buyback company have put together a list of some of their favourite free health apps for us to share. Have a read below and see if you think any these apps might be of use to you.

1. MSN Health & Fitness: The iPhone and Android App for a Healthier You

The MSN Health & Fitness App has numerous tools which can help its user maintain a healthy lifestyle. Among its more notable features include a GPS tracker, steptracker (pedometer), diet tracker, cardio tracker, workout and yoga archives, health and fitness articles, and symptom checker.

2. Power Nap

Never belittle the benefits of a power nap. Countless studies have shown and advocated the numerous benefits of a quick sleep during the day. So how can you make the most of this knowledge? By downloading the powerAPP! This app will help you track your nap schedule/pattern, provide soothing background music, napping tips and a unique alarm system.

3. Period Tracker

This is one for our women readers only. The Period Tracker accurately tracks your menstrual cycle and provides a reliable calendar showcasing your next expected period, ovulation period and fertile stage. All these data are shown in a visually appealing yet clear and organized interface, so you can make sure you’re body is running on schedule.

cell phone apps for health


4. First Aid Guide

Accidents happen, and we’d be lucky if there were people around us who would be able to administer the proper medical aid or attention to help solve the problem. For those of us who aren’t nurses or doctors, having this first aid guide app would definitely come in handy. The interface is simple and easy to use. The top most search box directly link you to the solution for any problem (that which can be helped with first aid). The instructions are all simple to understand and easy to administer.

5. Relax Melodies

The hustle and bustle of everyday life can often prove to be incredibly taxing. Sometimes there are be days when you just want to tune everything out and get away from it all. Simply download this app, and have everything you’ll need to attain the peace and quite that you are looking for.

Do you think you could benefit from any of the above? If so you’d better get your cell phone now and start downloading, while they’re still free!

Developementally Appropriate Toys

There are always a plethora of exciting gadgets and playthings on sale at any children’s toy store. It’s always tempting to buy the latest, in-fashion products with the newest technology or attention grabbing features. In some instances however, “more” doesn’t necessarily mean “better”. When buying toys for a baby or young child, it is important to first identify if the toy caters to the learning abilities that they need at that particular stage of their growth and development.

baby skill developement toyThe easiest way to do this is to base it on their age. If the child is a typical learner, then their mental age will be the same as their biological age. Children that are gifted or those with special needs will have a different mental age to their biological age, and toy purchases should be made accordingly. Once you have an idea of the child’s mental abilities it will be easier to pick an appropriate toy for them.

As babies, the developmental areas or skills that every parent should focus on are their gross and fine motor skills. This is especially true for the newborn children who are transitioning towards toddler stage. For babies, gross motor skills include the crawling, rolling, raising of the head, and tilting it from side-to-side. Rolling is the first skill that is learned, followed by crawling, walking and then running.

Children usually learn rolling and crawling by themselves, however, if a child shows signs of difficulty in performing these tasks, colorful mats from tummy time can be useful. They are visually appealing to the child and encourage them to flip over in a comfortable setting. Placing a plastic mirror in front of the child can also help promote their receptive and social skills. Numerous health benefits have also been given that encourage parents to engage their children in tummy time activities.
Fine motor skills can also be improved through the use of tummy time mats that have their own arch/gym. These will encourage the baby to touch the dangling items and reach out and grab the toys. These toys usually light up or shake which engages the child in the learning experience.

Djeco Doll House for Girls

A Doll House from Djeco

Other items that are perfect for fine motor skill development are rattles and soft books. If you want to inspire creative play for your baby, soft toys like some of these from Colette Bream are perfect. For slightly older children more advanced and complex toys such as the range of doll houses and accessories from Djeco are a good option. If you have a boy, some wooden toys might be more appropriate, take a look at the range of wooden toy cars here from Automoblox.

Having the right toys is just one part of the learning process. The most important aspect of any toy would be how it facilitates interaction between parent and child. It is always more fun and meaningful when the parent or caregiver plays with the baby. Match the sounds made by the object by identifying what object or animal usually makes that sound. Use hand-over-hand prompts to help the child manipulate the object properly. All of these seemingly small actions are the parts which really help the child grow and learn. No toy can every replace genuine guidance.

Switch to Tea, and Reap the Benefits!

There’s nothing like a hot cup of tea to soothe your senses especially on a cold winter’s morning. This warm, tasty, caffeine-free pick-me-up also has a lot of wonderful benefits for your health and wellness. Teas and the herbs in herbal varieties have a number of great healing powers, from soothing a troubled stomach to easing insomnia and providing relief from anxiety.

Drinking a well-steeped herbal tea regularly is also a great source of vitamins and minerals as we get all the benefits from the plants in a form that is easily digestible.

a cup of herbal teaThere’s also an element of aromatherapy in drinking herbal tea and you can drink it with other people. This way you can be social while at the same time also getting a great health boost. Keep in mind however that the tea should always be steeped in an enclosed container so you can maximize the medicinal properties that the drink has to offer.

When choosing the perfect tea for its health benefits, it’s important to avoid purchasing those that have additives such as artificial flavouring, so you can really maximize the full benefits of the plant. There are so many kinds of tea for you to try. Here are a few of the most common and most delicious ones:

Chamomile Tea

Soothe your senses with this calming and therapeutic tea made from flowers. Chamomile tea can be helpful for those experiencing insomnia or restlessness. It’s a good to drink after a meal for smooth digestion and is also recommended for cases of cough and bronchitis, or colds and fever. Another benefit is you can also use it for gargling to relieve inflammation in your throat. Don’t forget to steep it thoroughly to get all its medicinal benefits.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint tea is the easiest herb to grow. You can make a fresh cup straight from your garden. It’s great for relieving abdominal pains and bloating. It can also relieve muscle spasms and is good for nausea without the vomiting. It also helps heat up the body to release sweat. But if you have indigestion or heartburn problems, doctors recommend avoiding peppermint in general.

Ginger Tea

Ginger tea is another great aid for digestion, and can be used to prevent nausea and vomiting due to motion sickness. You can make fresh ginger tea by simmering a small piece of ginger root on the stove for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you have a cold, you can add fresh lemon juice and honey to add a zest of protection for your immune system. Powdered ginger is also good for making tea to ward off a potential cold.

Rosehip Tea

Rosehips are the fruit of the rose plant and are one of the best sources of Vitamin C from plants. Vitamin C is very essential to the immune system, skin and tissue health, and for adrenal function. Be sure to try rosehip tea whenever you need a health boost.

Milk Thistle and Dandelion Tea

Milk thistle and dandelion, when made into tea, can be gentle liver cleansers because they can help the liver to regenerate and function at a higher capacity. It can also help with our digestive process.

While these above teas all have their own benefits, there are thousands of teas, both herbal and non-herbal that all offer different benefits. Look online for a range of organic teas, and try a few to find out which ones you like the best.

How to Prevent Home Drainage Clogs

It’s easier to prevent blocked drains rather than to clear them. In addition, prevention of clogs is less demanding and does not consume a lot of time. Here are some expert plumbing repair tips from the professionals at Drain Cleaning Brisbane to help you prevent drainage issues in your home.

Clean After Use

Immediately after you finish washing your dinner or lunch dishes, pour hot water down the kitchen sink. Do this every day to prevent buildup of gunk that might cause a blockage. The hot water prevents grease, hard water and other oily substances from solidifying in the drain. You can also pour some baking soda or vinegar down with the hot water to help remove any stuck debris.

debris in a drain pipeRegular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is always a good preventative measure. Make a consultation with a plumbing contractors to regularly inspect your drains. Frequent inspections may uncover drainage problems before they cause further damage. You can also check your home sewer line yourself using a snake drain, however, for major home drains you will need to hire a plumber to conduct a thorough inspection.

Avoid Disposing Materials down the Sink

Keep in mind how you manage your waste disposals. Products like grease, butter, cooking oil and margarine should not find their way into your drains in any way whatsoever. Avoid pouring these materials down the sink because they are a primary causes of clogged up drains. Instead, allow the fatty substances to cool and then dispose of them in the trash. Clogged drains that result from fat buildups are some of the most difficult materials to clear.

Install Filters

Another common drain nuisance is the building up of hair, food particles, soap pieces or other materials. To prevent this, install filters to catch and keep such materials from entering the drains. Since the filters collect particles of substances and hair, remember to clean them regularly to avoid buildup of dirt and grime.

Use the Right Chemicals

In some cases, chemical are used to clean drains. Before putting them to use, read carefully the instructions on how to use them. Be on the lookout for harsh chemicals that may corrode pipes and avoid using them. The corrosion may cause further blocking up of drains later in the future. Ensure you run ample water down your drain to wash away the chemical after use, as per the instructions on the bottle.

Follow these simple, basic tips to reduce your plumbing repair expenses. In the event of a major blockage be sure to consult a professional plumber immediately. A blocked drain can end up costing you a lot of money if it is left clogged and water backs up and overflows from all the surrounding drains.

Installing Your Grease Trap to Comply with Local Laws

While it’s not the most interesting topic, grease trap installation is necessary for many new business owners. If you are considering starting a restaurant or a business that prepares or serves food, and has any form of oily discharge that leaves from the kitchen or dishwasher etc. you must have a correctly installed grease trap to comply with local laws.

Grease traps, often also called grease interceptors or misspelled as a single word to be greasetraps, are necessary to stop the flow of oils, fats and other greases into the sewer collection lines where they can cause blockages. If these systems were not put in place there would be constant problems with clogged up wastewater piping which would end up being extremely costly and problematic over the long run.

Many people believe that warm or hot grease can be poured down a drain without any issues, however once the fats or oils cool they harden which can cause major blockage issues. Large, solid clumps of oil or fat can also cause problems at treatment plants when wastewater is being treated.

Depending on the amount of fat, oil and other grease you expect to be discharged through your system will depend on the size of the trap you need installed. A licensed, local grease trap installer will be able to give you more information specific to the size of your establishment and the laws in your area. We recommend speaking with several installers to get quotes before going ahead with any work, to make sure not only you have been given the right information, but also that you are getting the best price for the job.

Grease trap complianceFor smaller commercial establishments with minimal wastewater runoff, an under the counter trap may suffice, but larger restaurants will require an outdoor interceptor. Take a look at the image above to see the preferable drainage layout for a grease trap in compliance with the Plumbing Code of Australia, 2012.

While there are many plumbing companies that install grease interceptors, it is always best to use one that specializes in their particular area to make sure your trap is set up and installed properly the first time. Should your grease trap be improperly installed it may cost you a fine from your local council, or even worse, you may need to pay to completely redo the job, which can be extremely expensive for a new business.

If you are in Brisbane and are looking for more information on grease traps, take a look at Grease Trap Sales, for a quick run down on what is involved with a new install, or speak with a few local installers to get more information and a quote on setting up your new trap.


Could Outsourcing to Remote Offshore Staff Help Your Business?

Staff in the Philippines

Outsourcing, offshoring or remote staffing; call it what you will but up until recently is has had a shaky reputation. You don’t know who you’re working with, how reliable they are or if they’re actually capable of doing the work assigned to them. Stories of unsatisfied customers or staff that have disappeared half way through jobs are quite easy to find.

New companies outsourcing to the Philippines aim to change all of that, by putting the ‘service’ part back into remote staffing services. The service provided by outsourcing company Stafflister isn’t just the service of the offshore staff you hire, but also comes from Stafflister itself.

“Companies that hire through outsourcing firms are often just left on their own with their new staff” says Toby Gospodarczyk, founder of the offshoring company. “We don’t really agree with that method. A lot of Australian business hire these outsourced staff without any training or knowledge on how to remotely manage them. It’s a different skill to managing onshore staff. We’ve decided to help mediate the process a lot more than other companies and always have a constant daily presence to make sure things are running smoothly”.

Toby says they are able to achieve this due to the fact that Stafflister has been built from the ground up with efficiency in mind. Many processes that would normally need manual action are streamlined, and the latest in online technology has been used as an integral part of their business structure. “This leaves us with a lot more time for customer service and really taking care of client needs”, says Toby.

designapprovalsThis constant mediation process is possible because Stafflister provides easy to use online collaboration tools for client and their Filipino staff to work together on. “It looks a bit like Facebook, so people will already be familiar with how to use it. But it’s actually also very versatile and able to adapt to different types of work being done. For example if we have a graphic designer working with a client, we’re able to add a design approval application that allows staff to drag and drop a design for the client to see and the client will then approve or disapprove of the design, with comments and reasons as to why”.

Stafflister is also a little different in the fact that it also provides Project based staff, along with part time and full time staff. Traditionally, outsourcing companies will only offer full time or part time staff.

Where do these staff come from?

Stafflister head hunts its Filipino staff individually, one by one. “This takes time, and negotiation. The truly skilled workers rarely apply for jobs and are not found on the boards that many outsourcing companies use. They also expect to be compensated accordingly” says Toby. “We’re able to compensate our staff in the Philippines well, because we take less overhead and as previously mentioned, a lot of manual process have been streamlined so we can afford to do so. We feel there’s no point in saying ‘we have 10,000 staff on hand’ as in this industry we think the quality of staff is hugely important. We have staff that have worked with SEGA, EA, DISNEY and other big name companies. That is the level of quality we’re offering.”

Some of the most popular outsourced skills are reportedly graphic design, payroll, accounting, article writing, and data entry. This is a change from past years where most skills outsourced were of a more technical nature such as C++ programming, python, java development and so forth.
This change has been brought about as more companies and in particular the smaller ones realize that almost all skills can be outsourced, even your typical data entry services.

With this realization, these companies are able to outsource these skills to the Philippines at around $8 and hour as opposed to the $25 or so an hour they would be paying onshore staff. This frees up their budget for further advertising, marketing, or hiring onshore staff within a different area.

“It’s all about balance, and what you want to do with your budget. I love having the opportunity to help up and coming companies grow, and often have discussions with them about their experiences within their business. I learn a lot from it.” adds Toby.

Is Stafflister’s pricing any different to its competitors?

Despite all of the apparent benefits to working with Stafflister, its pricing remains on the lower end of the industry scale. We might see more of these types of business models in the future that rely the latest technology to deliver something special and cost effective, but for now it’s a slow shift. Invoicing and payment is also easy, along with being able to view the amount of hours your staff have worked at any time.


A more human approach, and a different philosophy on outsourcing

Toby maintains that his staff are treated exceptionally well, and sticks with the theory that “happy staff are productive staff”.
“With the amount of initial negotiating, collaborating with them in work, and daily chat, we get to know our staff very well. We make sure that everything is great on the staff end too, not just on the client side. That’s important.” Says Toby, when asked about his take on staff management.

I then asked what stops clients from working directly with clients and cutting Stafflister out of the equation. He responded “I’m very familiar with the struggles that gaming, music, and movie companies have with piracy and have followed the industry news in regards to this for a long time. It was at the forefront of my mind when creating this business, and decided to follow the model that online gaming company Steam uses. Steam’s founder says ‘Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem.’ I love this way of thinking and I’ve applied this to outsourcing. We provide a service that’s worth paying for and once you experience it, you wouldn’t really think about doing things the old way. The amount you would save by going direct is minimal and the benefits of working with us are huge.”
This really seems to challenge the model of other freelancer sites that offer purely direct to staff services.

Stafflister has an interesting business model and may very well be the solution you’ve been looking for if you’ve been a bit cautious in trying outsourcing in the past. They look forward to further growth throughout 2015 and helping Australian business grow.

Australia is currently one of the largest users of outsourcing, with per capita spent almost double that of the USA.

If you’d like to know more about Stafflister, take a look at their Facebook page or give them a call on 02 8091 3131.