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Entries Tagged as 'Flexible Workspace'

Re-Imaging Office Space for the 21st Century Employee

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For decades office space has pretty much remained the same. The top executives resided in enclosed offices with windows and doors while most of the staff members worked in cubicles. While the layout improved over the years with ergonomic advances, the basic layout and work style of offices remained more or less static.

Now that we are in the 21st Century, office space is being re-imaged completely by many businesses and the re-invention of the office is proving to be more productive. Office work styles are changing radically, driving some of these changes.
 
The last few decades have also experienced workers who remained with a business for a few years, then moving into other positions of higher levels in competing companies. Many businesses accepted this style of employment because few employees remained long enough to earn a pension and the associated costs. However, the cost of locating and training quality employees was very high and the experience factor that was lost began to cost many companies in the long run. This, too, drives the re-imaging of office space.

Silicon Valley was the first area in which non-traditional office spaces began to emerge. Google is a prime example of one of the first businesses to re-image their office space. Instead of a bullpen full of cubicles, workers have desks and equipment in

communities where those who work on similar projects can easily brainstorm at any time. If someone needs a few minutes to think in a quiet area, there are plenty of unique locations to do so, such as a large bathtub full of pillows facing a wall of aquariums. While some meetings are held around a table with chairs, employees have options to meet in comfortable lounges with comfortable furnishings or outdoors.  Areas for recreation are provided; including video game stations, a top of the line cafeteria and the entire area has data access so anyone can use their laptops anywhere they wish. If someone needs to go to the far side of the Googleplex, as it is known, they can jump on one of the readily available bicycles which can be used in the wide hallways or outdoors.

It may seem as if the re-invention of an office into this new style would cut productivity. The reverse has proven true, as the huge profits generated by the employees of Google has proven. Employee satisfaction is extremely high, making team members want to produce. Benefits and freedom to work in whatever style is preferred by the team members generates strong employee loyalty, reducing turnover so that training and experience is maximized.
 
This re-invention of office space looks and feels very radical at first, but when you think of how people really work and where their ideas are generated, it makes perfect sense. Seldom do cutting edge ideas emerge from a single person. Usually they occur when people are interfaces, chatting over a cup of coffee, or brainstorming together. Why should they be forced relegated to cubicles where they face barriers to communication and contact with others?

Google’s solution to what an office space should be and how it should functions has let other corporations, both large and small, to adopt changes which improve human contact and happiness. It has long been known that happy employees are loyal, trustworthy, and extremely productive. While unhappy employees may produce, many ideas that could earn millions in profit never come to light. The confinement inherent to traditional office space layouts is radically changing and your business may find that re-inventing all or part of your office space may increase productivity and employee satisfaction.

Having looked at one office re-invention, our next post on this topic will delve deeper into the drivers of office space re-invention. Then we will look at ways to apply these concepts to your own workspace.

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Flexible Workspace , Office Space Design , Silicon Valley Office Space

Alternative Office Space for Small Business

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Operating a small business can be both exciting and lucrative. More and more people are leaving the traditional workplace to open their own ventures and becoming quite successful. Many startups begin with only the owner working in the business which makes leasing or renting office space the largest overhead expense. There are practical ways to cut this big overhead item by thinking creatively. There’s no reason that every business needs a walk-up storefront in order to succeed.

Share an Office: If you have friends or colleagues who are also starting businesses that don’t require storefronts, consider leasing a spacious one or two room office and split the expenses equally. This reduces the costs for electricity, internet, janitorial, and other equipment leases. Instead of each office partner procuring a copier, fax, and other equipment that both parties use, only one item is needed, significantly cutting the cost. Compatible services work well in shared office spaces. One example that has proven to work great in shared spaces might be a software development company and a computer technology company. There are many other compatible combinations; just be sure there won’t be a conflict of interest or direct competition. Instead, seek an office mate that will be synergistic to your business so you can help each other grow and thrive.

Executive Suite: These are shared office with services run by a management company. They provide not only office space but furniture, phones, Internet, office equipment and administrative service. They are typically a full floor of a prestigious office building and you will have lots of other small businesses around for networking.

Co-Working: Much like office sharing, co-working is a concept originated in 1999 where entrepreneurs and small business owners who share the same values ban together to form a community of business people. Co-working usually begins when networking partners find they enjoy the social aspects of working in the same space and may often help either other’s business in various ways. The partners then lease an office space, sharing all expenses. Each of the co-working partners conducts their own business in their own workspace in the shared office and the co-workers may share support staff such as receptionists or clerical staff in order to keep overhead costs low while providing everyone effective support for their small businesses. This concept is growing into a great solution for hundreds of like-minded small business owners.

Virtual Office: Today, you really don’t need a specific location for an office with walls. With mobile wireless internet services, hot spots available in most metro locations and even urban areas, multiple personal data devices, and smart phones that do almost everything a computer does, it is possible to work anywhere at anytime. You can operate your business from your living room sofa, poolside, in your vehicle (please stop your vehicle in a safe location before texting or computing for safety), in a coffee shop, at McDonald’s, and right at your client’s desk. By using online services such as GoogleDocs, your information can be safely stored online for presenting to your client easily. With outsourcing of many tasks, you can take your laptop and smart phone and conduct business in any location you desire. If you do have a need for an office, Executive Suites also offer a virtual office service that allows you to use an office or conference room on an as needed basis.

Lease a Desk in a Business that Buys Your Services: Often, a small business begins because on business requires the services that will be offered. For example, an insurance company may regularly require the services of a licenses investigator. If your small business is complimentary to a local business, check into leasing a desk in an unused area of the office. In tough economic times, many offices are willing to lease a desk space to a small business that is not in conflict with their own business.

Home Office: The vast majority of small business startups begin in a home office. This allows the entrepreneur to begin conducting business without making a huge commitment to overhead expenses. Also, many owners of small startups begin their venture while working a traditional career, making certain their business will succeed before giving up the regular paycheck. Some of these small businesses never move out of the home office, even after hiring an employee or two. Of course, if the operation grows large enough or requires a great deal of inventory, the time will come to move from the home, but many virtual service businesses never leave the home office. Home Office Blog Posts

Warehouse Rental: Storage warehouses of various sizes are zoned commercial and in most areas can be used as a business location. These warehouse locations are great for the small startup business that manufactures a product, purchases and adds quality to an existing product before sale, and service companies that provide auto repair, computer repair, and similar services. If your business is the type that does not really benefit from a “flashy” storefront, this can be a great solution for keeping your startup costs very low. Traditionally, people seeking auto repair, auto body work, auto paint, motorcycle accessories or repairs, and similar services tend to believe that if the storefront is too fancy, they will be overcharged. These types of business can actually benefit from the casual office space offered by leasing a storage warehouse. Just make sure the type of business you are starting meets the zoning regulations and the landlord’s lease restrictions.

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Executive Suites , Flexible Workspace , Office Rental , Office Space , Virtual Office Space

Home Office Pros and Cons

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More and more entrepreneurs today are operating small but profitable businesses from the comfort and convenience of their own homes. Most home-based businesses start small and provide a second income to a person that works in a traditional workplace. As the business grows and thrives, many are choosing to grow their home businesses and give up the traditional job.

There are some very clear advantages to being able to work from a home office; there are also some drawbacks to consider. Here are a few of the points to consider if a home-based business is in your future:

Pros:

Freedom: When working from home, you can often set the hours you want to work and maintain better flexibility when time is needed for children, doctors appointments, and other things you’ve longed to be able to fit into your schedule. This can be a huge advantage for self-motivated people because lots of productive work can be accomplished after the kids are in bed or very early in the morning.

No Commuting Hassles: No one really enjoys commuting to work, whether they drive, carpool, or take mass transit. Commuting eats into your free time when working in a traditional office. With a home-based business, your commute is only the distance from your bedroom to the room you have set aside for your workspace.

Time Savings: Without the commute, you will save many hours a week that you would be normally in your car..

Tax Benefits: Home businesses often qualify for a wealth of business dedications when income tax times rolls around. Of course, you’ll need to speak with your tax professional but you’ll likely be surprised at how much you can deducted for your home office and operating expenses, significantly reducing your tax burden.

Low Startup and Operating Costs: There is little overhead with an office space in your home. After all, the room was already there, you just hadn’t defined it as your office previously. You may need to update your computer or add an extra phone line for faxing, but the costs of start-up will be minimal compared with a traditional office. Also, there’s no rental or lease to worry about. You don’t have to own nearly as large a collection of professional clothing when working from home.

Cons:

Discipline: Working from home requires a great deal of self-discipline. It’s very easy to become motivated at first, but over time it is also easy to allow yourself to see all sorts of things that need done around the home and begin procrastinating about business tasks.

Business and Family Overlaps: It’s also very easy to allow your family to interrupt your business time. Just as easy, many people end up spending time working that should have been quality family time. Making a set of clear boundaries is necessary but difficult.

Boundary Issues: It is very easy to “go to work” since it is just around the corner, but it can lead to family problems of another kind.  There is no boundary between home and work and it can become a problem, or a very delicate balance, for the very highly motivated entrepreneur.

Stagnation: Lack of social contact is an issue for some outgoing people who decide to try working from home. It’s also very easy to lose contact with your professional network, making it much more difficult to remain on the cutting edge of progress.

Pressure and Stress: While working from home is flexible, it is also easy to work yourself into stressful, pressured situations. You want to please all your clients and generate constant leads, but many people become overwhelmed by trying to do too much. Some set unrealistic goals and attempt to achieve them while others simply take on too many clients or fail to outsource when necessary.

Image: Depending on your client and customer contact, your company’s image could come into question. Setting up a client meeting at home or Starbuck’s can be less than impressive. There are alternatives such as a virtual office. They are pay-as-you-go subscriptions for office space. You have an official business address with an executive suite operator and can use their facilities on a “as needed” basis.

 

Executive Suites , Flexible Workspace , Home Office , Virtual Office Space

Could an Executive Suite be in Your Future?

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Many office users are unfamiliar with the potential and flexibility an Executive Suite location can offer.

Executive suite business centers are an excellent option for samall companies or branches with up to 10 employees or companies that need flexible lease lengths. Many firms, large and small, choose to operate their business or satellite offices from an Executive Suite. Executive suites are essentially shared offices with services provided by a management firm. They are a great way for small or growing companies to get off to a fast and low risk start and a great way for a fast growing company to have the flexibility for rapid growth.

You'll find many Executive Suites feature the following:

Private offices with utilities and janitorial included
Part time or full time "image" plans (Virtual Offices)
Reception area with receptionist
Conference rooms with visual aids
Personalized telephone answering
Incoming and outgoing mail handling
Coffee and food service on-site.

For an additional charge, many also offer:

Furniture and equipment rental
Secretarial / word processing services
Computer related services and equipment
Administrative and accounting services
Postal meter and scales, UPS / Federal Express
Mailing services
Photocopy equipment
Fax/Telex sending and receiving
High speed Internet access
Reciprocal agreements with other locations you can use
Law Libraries, health clubs, and many more

In an Executive Suite office, your efforts can be dedicated entirely to your business, while the Suite is responsible for typical office management. You will enjoy professional reception, secretarial and administrative support personnel without the headaches of hiring, training and employee benefits; state-of-the-art business equipment without purchasing and maintenance problems, and; a staff attentive to both you and your client's needs.

Executive Suites give you the added flexibility of short term or long term obligations - both from a planning and a financial statement point of view. Other benefits include:

Convenience

A small office near home or the people you do business with every day. One office (120-130 square feet) and corporate suites of several offices (up to 1,000 square feet) are often available.

Cost

Attractive, professional office accommodations at roughly 30-50% of the cost of equipping and staffing conventional office space.

Flexibility

Full or part time accommodations are generally available (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, annually). Corporate business identity programs are also popular providing you with a professional address, telephone secretary and conference room by appointment. Rental agreements are usually short term and expansion or contraction to meet your needs is much easier than with conventional space.

No capital investment

There is no need to buy or lease office equipment or furniture. Private offices can be completely furnished as well.

Control of operating costs.

Executive Suites usually offer state-of-the-art business support services which are billed to clients.

Higher productivity

By leaving the operation of your office to a staff of trained professionals, your company personnel can concentrate on managing and marketing your business.

Enhanced technology and services

Most Executive Suites provide enhanced Internet technology and first-class concierge handling of business needs. Some examples of enhanced services available from suite to suite are full service travel arrangements, video-conferencing, competitive long distance rates, calling cards, mobile messaging and paging, desktop publishing and project design, telemarketing, catering, law libraries and paralegal, computer networking, consulting, training, and more. You have to ask to find the right suite for your business needs!

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Executive Suites , Flexible Workspace , Office Rental , Office Space , Virtual Office Space

The New Big Business Office Space?

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There has been talk for many years about the changing workforce and how to best provide office space to the emerging knowledge workers. Office space is usually the second biggest line item expense for businesses after salaries.  It is a big deal if a company can reduce their office space needs. Many small business are using a variety of options top cut their costs.  Theses include co-working space, virtual office space and executive suites on as as needed basis. Larger businesses are starting to get into the concept with hot desking or desk by reservation systems that allow workers to reserve a desk in an office on an as needed basis.

One of those companies doing so is IBM. They realized that on any given day the traditional office was anywhere from 40% - 60% empty with employees out doing business.

So IBM took a drastic step. With a desk-sharing scheme, and by allowing employees to work remotely, they reduced their downtown Toronto office space by 40 per cent ­ consolidating three offices into two in a pilot program over the past few years. The company has even devised a reservation system that employees use to book desks from the office or online, and soon from their BlackBerrys.

IBM is now a workspace “evangelist,” leading other companies on office tours.

“Now people are enabled to work three days a week instead of five days,” says Brodie, who works from his Uxbridge home and goes to his Markham office only for meetings. The Markham office, IBM's Canadian headquarters, houses software development, services professionals, sales and corporate marketing, and the bulk of the employee base.

“Young talent expects to work this way. Older folks want to ‘retire' to the cottage and work from there.”


It is trend that is starting to gain momentum. Businesses end up with  happy employees and reduced overhead for office space.  What's not to like.

Resource: TheStar.com

For more information on the future of the workplace see The 21st Century Office Space

Flexible Workspace , Office Space , Office Space Design