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Entries Tagged as 'Agile Workplace'

Six Factors That Can Help Turn Your Office Space Into a Great Workplace

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Everyone wants a workplace that is wonderful but why is one workplace great while another is lacking? Is it the leased office space that makes a particular firm productive and profitable? Could it be the specific office furniture or location? None of these things alone make any workplace truly great.

A great workplace is not about the brand of computers, the prestige of the building’s address. Here are six factors that can work together to allow business owners to create an organization that excites employees, resulting in the reputation of being a great workplace.

Replace Policies with Company Mission: Hiring, motivating and retaining top notch employees if not about policies; those are simply rules. Create a company mission and vision that the team believes in and supports. With passion for a mission based on the CEO’s vision, rather than a bunch of policy statements, cultivates a real team capable of leaping forward with ideas and innovations as well as loyalty and hard work.

Nurture Collaboration: Never stifle team members’ desires to work together, carrying ideas from one area of the business into others. Create a workplace where each group or department is allowed to freely convey ideas to other organizational groups. The pay-off in productivity, amazing leaps forward and trained staff retention is incredible.

Cultivate Agile Workspaces: Today’s office space is not the traditional cubicle or corner office. An office hoteling software application allows easy utilization of much smaller workspaces and allows each member of an organization to work in the style that is best for them. Technology allows the telecommuting or third place team members to only be physically in-office as needed. Work areas that provide desks or standing work counters allow team members to avoid the strain of sitting at a computer immobile for hours at a time. Staying in close contact does not have to mean being in the same conference room any longer. The office space of today is any area where business can conveniently and productively be conducted.

Replace Ownership with Membership: Everyone employee is accountable to their customers and managers but in the past processes were “owned” by an employee, generating office stress and politics as power plays were often used to try to win the ownership role. Instead, remove the territorial nature of office spaces and encourage the concept of being privileged to be a member of a team or teams that create revenue and find ways for the company to save money. It becomes everyone’s process and fosters a sense of belonging and identity in the work environment.

Create a Quality Experience for Employees: It is little surprise that employee retention is low in those workspaces that are dull and uninspiring. Create an office space that team members what to enter into and do work. Strive for a vibrant, magnetic space that draws people in during their in-office work time. This engages employees and they will look forward to the connected, exhilarated feeling obtained when they need to hotel an office space for an hour or a day.

Stay on the Cutting Edge: Today’s fast paced, constantly changing economy allows those companies built on flexible office spaces with strong company values and loyalty to survive when others around them fall. As work methods, technological capabilities and mobile computing power speed along, use best practices to stay on the cutting edge. Remember that it’s the people who create value in a knowledge based company; an office is just a space that houses technology where people can come perform productive tasks. .

These are some of the keys that can turn your office space into a great workplace for your employees, making them happier and more productive at the same time.

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By: James Osgood

Agile Workplace , Flexible Workspace , Office Hoteling , Office Space , Office Space Design

How the GSA Saved Millions on its Office Space Requirements

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The right size for government has long been a topic for debate and not one we will delve into today. One fact, however, that is agreed-upon by just about every pundit is that government costs too much money and savings need to help citizens their individual and business reduce tax burdens. The GSA is one government agency that is acting to save millions of dollars each year by implementing agile workspace concepts such as cloud-based computing and data storage, office hoteling and similar techniques.

A few of the high points in the GSA’s successful initiatives include:

  • Implementation of office hoteling as the norm rather than a rarity, reducing overhead by as much as 40% in office leasing expenses and associated overhead such as utilities and services for the larger office spaces,
  • Increased telecommuting and use of third spaces to accomplish tasks,
  • Cloud-based IT solutions to provide data workspaces and data storage locations at vastly reduced costs when compared with traditional hardware and software methods,
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from employee transportation in both commuting and face-to-face meetings that can be handled by video conferencing.

Some GSA office locations were able to consolidate by condensing their square footage requirements by giving up an entire floor of leased office space. In other cases the reduction of entire floor of space was not practical but every office GSA investigated was able to achieve significant real estate footprint reductions.

One of the functions of the GSA is storage of data and documentation. All phases of business and government are moving toward paperless systems but even electronic data costs money to store for long periods of time. Today more and more data needs are being met by cloud-based storage repositories. Scanned documents allow even those pieces of paper that legally must be kept to be placed into data storage, at least after the initial legal requirement for maintaining the document have been kept. While today all except the most data-intensive storage by private individuals can find cloud-based storage of data at no cost, business and government reporting demands far too much storage space to expect free data storage. However, compared to storing actually hardware filled with data to be kept, cloud storage makes economic and logistic sense.

During the 2013 storm Hurricane Sandy, businesses and government agencies seem more prepared than ever to accept agile workspaces. When electric and internet provider services were unavailable due to storm damage, employees already having work from home capability including login access to the correct business data repositories, many businesses were able to continue as employers, providing services and products to their clients long before the businesses’ storefront operations could reopen their doors. Not only were the offices not operable from the standpoint of utilities, many could not be reached because of street damage and dangers posed from receding waters. Many, hopefully eventually all, those businesses that were unprepared with a disaster plan have since or are in the process of developing a viable plan of action.

There are far too many points in the GSA initiatives to cover in detail here,  are well documented on GSA’s web-published studies. The GSA studies and statistics will almost certainly filter into other areas of US government. Emulating the success of enjoyed by the GSA will hopefully provide the impetus needed for further change in diverse areas governing as well into as the plethora of vendors and supporting businesses interacting with the GSA and other agencies.

Your business can certainly benefit by learning from the GSA example. As even more effective techniques of adding office hoteling and other agile concepts to the workplace, more businesses will implement the methods that have been time proven and a percentage of businesses will become innovators by trying new techniques. Perhaps one of the next business models we will see emerging is that of “Agility Consulting”, a business that would help other businesses implement these types of innovative cost saving ways to continue level of service without increasing the cost of doing business.

We can help. Contact us so we can get you started finding out about creating an Agile Workplace and how it might work for your company.

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By: James Osgood

Agile Workplace , Flexible Workspace , Office Hoteling , Office Rental , Office Space , Office Space Design

Solving Management’s Top Concerns About Moving to Remote / Flexible Workforces

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Perhaps the business world would have long ago have embraced the concept for flexible workforces and work styles in the office if management could have overcome their top concerns. Perhaps, in part, it is the convergence of improved technology combined with overcoming these concerns that today is moving organizations worldwide toward accepting alternative workplaces and varying ways of accomplishing profitable work tasks. Today we will investigate some of these concerns and their solutions.

Concern: People simply will not work the prescribed number of hours for which I am paying them.

Solution: In the flexible workplace, compensation must migrate toward goals accomplished equaling pay. Many jobs carry a base salary above which performance increases pay earned, including commission jobs like sales. Only management positions are expected to remain solely salary based in the future as more and more jobs will require performance to generate significant payroll.

By tying goals to pay, knowledge-based positions can be fairly compensated. One means of doing so is to establish a pay scale where percentage of sales is equal to actual compensation payment. Real estate sales have long been based on exactly this payment method: if a real estate agent sells a house or leases an office space for a client for $XX, some predefined portion of that client’s payment goes to create the sales agent’s income and that income may be paid from the buyer or seller’s payments, depending on the contract verbiage agreed upon. A method of logging into a computer system to signify starting work and signing out at day’s end may also make sense in some arenas where employee coverage is important.

To develop this type of pay structure, it is critical for management to understand the tasks they manage. This is easy if that manager who came up through the ranks of the industry managed but is much harder if there are no clear subtasks involved.

Also, what is the employee expected to pay for out of that compensation? Is a benefits package paid for by the employer? If so, that expense does not have to come out of the pocket of the employee and compensation can take this into consideration. If the employees must supply their own retirement plans, insurance, vacation down-time and other items frequently included in benefits packages, the compensation must be relatively higher. No employee in today’s professional market is going to be willing to pay for benefits out of pocket for traditional benefits; plus, today there is a penalty for failing to have basic insurance plans in some industries. Consider all aspects of the job critically such as who provides and pays for transportation, technology upgrades, internet and cell phone services and who benefits from these requirements. Then lay out a reasonable compensation package that keeps the staff on their toes to continually improve income levels.

Employers who have already transitioned to pay for performance find that the hours worked actually increase rather than become reduced just because management isn’t there to “manage by walking around”.

Concern: Employees won’t accept change readily.

Solution: Show employees what they are gaining as well as what they are giving up. Sure, there won’t be a window office with their name on the door any longer at the end of the tunnel, but the benefit of having more time with family in lieu of the commute hours is worth much more to many team members.  Give the team some time to come to grips with the pros and cons before making the transition. Let as many employees are possible provide feedback and take their input into strange consideration when establishing policy.

Concern: The change will lead to massive confusion and arguments over compensation.

Solution: This is one area where the employer is totally in control. If the design, documentation and deployment of the new compensation plan is clear, then these types of problems will not arise. You can expect some complaints from those non-performers that were overly compensated for too little goal achievement in the previous plan, but the rest of the staff will almost certain welcome the chance to shine.

Concern: Salaried staff members will rebel.

Solution: There should be few if any salaried or hourly staff members left on your team after full deployment of the new flexible workforce. Only the team members that provide support functions such as receptionists, secretaries, file clerks, and some management that make no sense to transition will remain at a flat rate of compensation.  The only managers that should remain are those that do not produce direct results and those should be truly few and far between. Give a little and provide some type of incentive pay for those team members that remain as part of the static workforce. Perhaps give a bonus for attendance or tie some portion of their work to pay in whatever way makes good sense.

Concern: I will no longer be in true control of my enterprise.

Solution: Invent some creative method of reporting and tracking metrics. You can’t manage what you can’t measure; that has long been known. Now, think of what you truly need to measure the work accomplished by your team in order to compensate them fairly. What goals can be accomplished as subprocesses to achieving a major goal? If your goal is closing a sale, does generate of a unique lead qualify as a major step in the process? You can’t tell unless you know what percentage of sales leads generate closed sales, now can you? Look into logical and concise measurements that define how much to pay each team member for each goal or subgoal accomplished. In some cases the entire assignment of a team member may be achievement of a subgoal. For example, some organizations employ staff members that have the sole goal of generating a new, uniquely qualified lead. If that is your case, then pay those people based on the unique leads they generate. If the sale closes, you might consider paying not only the closing salesperson but the lead generator as bonus since this proved to be a special lead. But that depends on your situation and business model. Choose wisely and your staff will be happy people who strive hard to make profits for the company -- and themselves as a result.

We can help. Contact us so we can get you started finding out about creating an Agile Workplace and how it might work for your company.

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By: James Osgood

Agile Workplace , Flexible Workspace , Office Hoteling , Office Space , Office Space Design

Of Aetna's 35,000 employees, 14,500 do not have a desk

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I just read a blog post about a study that Regus has recently done. Interesting fact:

"US health insurer Aetna, a thought leader in the field, has added training courses to the mix so remote workers and their managers can be brought up to speed on effective flexible working methods. Of Aetna's 35,000 employees, 14,500 do not have a desk."

The move towards the Agile Workplace is steadily moving forward. We are starting to see more and more companies embrace remote working. What does this mean to the office space industry? Good question. It can only mean that in the future, assuming this trend continues, less office space will be needed. It does not necessarily mean that we won't see new construction. There is almost always a demand for new product. What I think it may mean is that older buildings will suffer high vacancies and need to find other uses. Only time will tell.

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By: James Osgood

Agile Workplace , Executive Suites , Flexible Workspace , Office Hoteling , Office Rental , Office Space

Finding an Office Space for Lease: Maybe You Should Go For A Short Term Office Rental Instead

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When you find the right office space for lease, it is tempting to negotiate a long-term lease. Yet is this really in your best interest? Critics of short-term leases have claimed as long ago as 2009 that this practice was on its way out the door. The New York Observer ran a piece that spoke of a “looming obsolescence,” which observers attributed to business owners’ willingness to once again think long-term.

Asserting that short-tem leasing was a clear sign of a clouded vision, the experts celebrated the companies that decided to commit to a decade-long stay at a variety of prominent office buildings. Fast forward to 2013, and – to paraphrase Mark Twain – it becomes clear that rumors of short-term leasing’s demise have indeed been greatly exaggerated.

In fact, business insiders now recognize that thinking short-term can actually cut costs and position your business for future growth.

  • Be flexible. Are you in expansion talks? A short-term office lease lets you be as nimble as you need if a quick physical relocation or shifts of your business’s emphasis are in your future. Rather than committing to a long-term office lease, you have the option of renewing the lease at some point in the near future or walking away to grow your company. If you are locked in a long-term lease, this move could be so costly that it might make it impossible to turn your plans into reality.
  • Test-drive the size. Do 1,200 square feet meet your needs? Do 2,300 square feet sound like a lot today but maybe meet your needs perfectly in a month or two? When you choose an office space for lease with an eye on trying out the size and the amenities, you have the option of upgrading or downsizing to meet your realistic needs and budget limitations. If you made a mistake in your initial estimate, you can fix it in a few short months.
  • Analyze the expenses. There are a number of short-term office lease buildings that feature a concierge and on-site business services. These costs are usually rolled into the leasing price. Taking advantage of these amenities has the potential of saving you money in the long run, particularly if you are paying staff members or contractors to provide these services.

Of course, there are also plenty of other reasons to consider renting an office space with a short-term lease in mind. If you are currently experiencing funding restrictions, are going through a bout of down-sizing or are in a recovery after a major shakeup of your industry or company, a short-term lease gives you the chance to get settled and plan for your business’s future. On the other side, if rental rates are on the up-swing, going short term will cost you more in the long run. At OfficeFinder, LLC, our office tenant reps make it their business to ensure that your company finds the perfect office space and leasing terms. Contact us today to discuss your business’s needs.

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By: James Osgood

Agile Workplace , Lease Negotiations , Office Leasing Tips , Office Rental , Office Space