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Entries Tagged as 'Office Space'

Re-Imaging Your Office Space for the 21st Century Knowledge Worker

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We’ve been discussing the emerging trend of re-imaging office space to provide for better working conditions, use of advanced technology, and evolving work styles. You may be wondering how you could begin to re-image your own office space to join in this new trend. Of course, much of the answer depends on your business and type of office space, but any office space can be evolved to some extent. Here are some areas to begin reviewing for re-imaging:

Break Down Walls: If your company’s office space is divided into small cubicles with moveable wall partitions, this can be a great place to start re-imaging. Discuss with your employees what areas they would feel more comfortable with as open areas where those performing like types of work could have easier interaction. If you have a totally open office layout, would the workers prefer to have some areas partitioned so that there are “quiet areas” for working when deep concentration is needed.

Take it Outside: Place an outdoor table and chairs set or sets in an area where they will be safe. This can be a fenced in area or, if you do not have such an area, consider concrete tables and benches since they are not popular theft items. If you permit smoking during breaks, you very likely already have some similar area already established. When weather permits, hold meetings outdoors and permit other meeting facilitators to do the same. The feeling of freedom and pleasure of fresh air and sunshine can really change how people interact in meetings. This type of setting can open up ideas and brainstorming to improve outcomes of meetings. The added pleasure of the venue will bring smiles and openness to new ideas.

Consider Telecommuting: Depending on how much face time is required, you may find that you could offer employees the opportunity to work from home on an established schedule. Many companies, both large and tiny, have begun allowing workers to schedule one day per week to work from home and it has proven to be an excellent change that improves morale. However, there are some employees which simply do not like to work from home because of children’s’ interruptions or personal preference. Those employees should have the option not to participate in the telecommuting program.

Work in Comfort: You likely already have a break room or lounge for employees. You may have other areas in the office space that are more comfortable than a desk. Allow your workers to use this space for any work that can be performed on their laptop computer or for making business-related phone calls. The break from sitting at a desk can really motivate the employees to perform above average.

Think Tank: If you have the space available, consider creating a pleasant area with plants and perhaps a fish tank where workers can focus on free form thinking to create outside-the-box solutions to problems. If you don’t have space for such an area, allow workers to bring in plants, small water fountains, or other items that they find help them focus on creative thinking. Google, Microsoft, and many other companies have found the idea of an area for thinking to be very effective. 

Be Open to Employee Suggestions: Ask employees what other re-imaging ideas they feel would greatly improve comfort, job satisfaction, and creative thinking. Your employees know what they want in their office space and can help you with ideas to economically re-image the space in which they spend a large portion of their lives. Be open to ideas which are affordable and do not require extensive remodeling. One of the greatest job satisfactions to an employee is the feeling of being heard by the business owner and seeing the ideas submitted being implemented.

Changes do not have to be huge to re-image an office space and work style and most small businesses may not be able to implement huge changes, but even small changes in the way business is performed can bring big pay-offs in motivation, satisfaction, longevity, and productivity. If you will be seeking a new home for your business in the near future, keep the ideas of re-imaging in mind and search for a location which will facilitate the new ways of interacting in the workplace. Your bottom line will let you know how much these changes are appreciated by your employees.

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Keep Your Office Space Healthy

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One of the normal New Year's resolution everyone makes has to do with their health; lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more and a whole slew of others. How about one for making sure your office environment is healthy?

Making certain your office space is healthy is important to productivity and well being of everyone working in the space. If you are planning to move into a new office space, check for health hazards when selecting a location. Check your present office space to be certain it is a healthy work place.

If you notice a reduction in productivity and increased sickness without any clear explanation, this is a sure sign that you need to carefully check you office workspace for hazards that can be corrected, preventing continuing problems. Perhaps you notice that you seem to be getting “bug” more often than in the past. These are signals which require action to correct.

Here are a few of things to check to be sure your office space is healthy:

Lighting: An office space needs the correct lighting. If employees work in poor lighting, the eyestrain can cause chronic headaches as well as mistakes in work due to inability to read clearly. Lighting that causes eye stress can make you feel tired more quickly and reduce production.

Ergonomic Office Furnishings and Training: You and your colleagues may spend many hours sitting in desk chairs and working at desks. Choosing desk chairs and computer workstations that are ergonomically designed can prevent back problems, repetitive motion problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Working at a computer keyboard that is either too high or too low stresses the shoulder and upper back muscles which can, over a long period of time, cause damage to the body which can result in lifelong chronic pain or require surgery. Employees should attend a class or presentation that presents the best use of ergonomics such as sitting up straight, taking breaks periodically, adjusting chairs to best fit the body.

Clean Environment: Old buildings that have had poor maintenance have proven to develop sick building syndrome that causes frequent illness in humans. Air vents and ductwork should be professionally cleaned every few years to ensure there is no mold. Break rooms or kitchen areas should be kept clean to present illness transfer. Employees should be provided with antibacterial soap and hand wipes in the bathrooms and encourages the use of these items.

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Office Space , Office Space Design , Office Space Negotiations

Slow Recovery for US Office Space Market Beginning

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According to an recent article at Reuters.com, the US is approaching the turning point in the office space downturn and should start to see a slow recovery over the next couple of years.

"The U.S. office vacancy rate is expected to peak in the middle of next year at 16.8 percent, as it did in 2003, and is expected to fall very slowly to 16.4 percent by the end of 2011 and to 15.3 percent by the end of 2012, according to CBRE Econometric Advisors.

Real estate research firm REIS Inc also sees a slow office recovery. REIS sees the U.S. office vacancy rate peaking at 17.7 percent at the end of this year and then slipping to 17.4 percent by the end of next year.

"There's nothing in the job market that's pointing to a quick lease-up of space," said Victor Calanog, REIS director of real estate."

The good news is that the bottom appears to be near.  The bad news is that it will be a long slow recovery that will most likely parrallel the economic recovery of the US.

There are a few major markets that are already seeing good improvement. Both Manhattan and Washingtom DC has seen a lot of leasing activity. Ironically, they are the two most expensive markets in the US.

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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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Shadow Office Space to Affect Office Space Recovery

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A recent article on Bloomberg.com discussed the impact of "Shadow Space" on the recovery of the office space market. The officeFinder Blog discussed the affect of "Shadow Space" on the market back in April 2010. We defined it as "Shadow Office Space is office space that is currently under lease by a tenant, but which is not being used due to layoff of employees." Here is what the Bloomberg article had to say:

"The U.S. office sector will be the slowest to recover as companies absorb empty space and advances in technology reduce the need for square footage, said Kenneth Rosen, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Unoccupied “shadow inventory” accounts for 3 percent to 5 percent of total business leases, and that space will be filled before firms sign new rental agreements, Rosen, chairman of Berkeley’s Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, said at a conference in San Francisco. Cloud computing and other tech advances let employees work away from offices, further reducing space needs, he said.

“Every company has shadow space,” Rosen, who also runs Berkeley-based hedge fund Rosen Real Estate Securities LLC, said in an interview yesterday. Most U.S. cities face prolonged vacancies because of the surplus, excepting Washington, New York, San Francisco, Boston and parts of the Silicon Valley, where technology and venture capital spur leasing, he said."

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