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A Virtual Workforce Can Provide a Competitive Edge

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Virtual workforces are becoming larger than ever and even office-based workers use virtual tools on a daily basis. The right talent may not live in the city where the business needing their skills exists and the high cost of relocating can be very impractical. It can be difficult to sell a home in one location to purchase another in today’s economy. Perhaps a spouse is comfortable in a professional career in which he or she has invested years and pressure to move to another city may cause the loss of a very capable and affordable employee. These situations and others like them are helping drive the increase in the virtual workforce. 

Brandman Univresity commissioned Forrester Consulting to perform a study to research whether or not companies can gain a competitive edge by embracing the virtual workforce. The study, entitled “Virtual Work Environment in a Post-Recession Era” included top leaders and hiring managers in companies employing 5,000 employees or more that are hiring new employees. The results indicated embracement of virtual teams, defined as people working as a team on a project. Survey respondents said that 40% or more of their company’s employees work in virtual teams and more than half are expected to work virtually in the next few years.

Companies that work in virtual teams develop a camaraderie using digital tools for celebrations and “virtual high fives”. While not every person finds remote work to be their forte, it works very well for many talented workers.  Many companies today allow employees to work remotely either part-time or full-time.  

WorkSimple released an infographic about remote or virtual work, revealing some interesting facts. Over 60% of companies believe more telecommuting will be allowed during the next three years and 56% think that employees are more productive if allowed to telecommute. the median age of the telecommuting employee is 40, negating the assumption that most of the virtual workforce are younger people entering careers. More men than women work remotely, a rather surprising fact since many people think that “home working moms” is the bulk of the virtual workforce. Most virtual employees have a college education. 

The benefits of embracing virtual workforces are clear. Workers can live where they wish and still report to an office on the other side of the globe using virtual tools. Even office-based workers use virtual teaming tools daily such as instant messaging, text messages and teleconferencing. To stay on the competitive edge, study how moving into the world of the virtual workforce and help your company earn more profit and keep happier employees. 

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Flexible Workspace , Virtual Office Space

Is There Better Coworking Space in A Business Center?

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I was in Manhattan week before last and attended the Workspace Association of NY’s (WANY) monthly members meeting and made a short presentation on workspace trends for 2012. If you take a look, you will notice that many of my recent Blog posts are related to how business is using office space as workspace and the associated trends. It was great to meet many of the people I have been doing business with "virtually" for many years.

The day after the meeting I went on a tour of 4 Manhattan Coworking spaces. It was a real education for me to see firsthand how some of the most successful NYC Coworking spaces are operating and to learn more about this trend that has caught fire.

Ray Lindenberg, of Select Office Suites in the Flatiron district of NYC orchestrated the tour. What I found out surprised me. It turns out that the most community oriented Coworking space I saw is actually a Business Center AKA Executive Suite; Ray’s business center. Here are his thoughts on the trip.

As you saw during the tours, one may actually be more apt to find spontaneous, energetic, interactive CO-working interfaces at a truly "serviced" Serviced Office Business Center (BC) than at a CO-working Space, and for good reason.

The 3 Essential COs of CO-working (the 3 big features that make CO-working so deliciously appealing to today's work generations), which are: COoperation, COllaboration and COmmunity (spirit, form and structure) can often be more easily delivered, and less interruptive, when applied in a places that include enclosed offices alongside social, common areas, and that go out of their way to encourage the 3 Essential COs -- like they do at Serviced Office BCs.

 You simply don't need to be in an open, wall-less environment to be a good CO-working community provider. Some businesspeople like the open desk plan; some don't; and some can't be in non-private spaces because of how they go about their work, their heavy phone activity, or because of security/confidentiality issues.

Office as a service, relationship and community (as opposed to office as a static location to do work...with "location, location, location" being the prime real estate consideration where one choses to work) is at the core of the whole workspacism movement -- and that includes modern-day CO-working as well as the community-based Serviced Office BC movement that started in the early 90s.

For more background on the advent and distinction of the Serviced Office BC movement that grew out of the Executive Suite BC movement, check out today's Winning Workspaces column on the Business Leader Post. All BCs are not Regus, although roughly 90% share their same category of Executive Suite BCs. The other 10% of the BC world are either Serviced Office BCs or CO-BC hybrids/Workspace Emporiums.

CO-working spaces need to provide an open yet, paradoxically, a relatively quiet environment, sometimes limiting phone activity or volume, as a courtesy to all other attending members (many resembling college libraries)...while at the same time encouraging members to plop-down, brainstorm and collaborate... and that range of open yet reserved interfacing is a compelling, key feature.

At Serviced Office BCs, you can enjoy the privacy of an enclosed office (which gives you the freedom and ability to schedule quiet or loud time -- or face-to-face networking -- if that's what you want). You're also apt to engage in spontaneous, common-area colaborations at a Serviced Office BC, since most people are working behind closed doors, which is what you saw when you visited here, Jim. 

This newfangled simultaneous open & closed CO-working model has actually been getting a lot of play by the CO-working Operators these days, as more of them turn to adding fully enclosed offices into their offerings, with the highly popular and respected Coast-to-Coast Operator WeWork going almost exclusively with fully-glass-enclosed offices as their CO-working winning formula.

As for scheduled networking events, Lunch 'N Learns and other business development activities -- they occur just as frequently in Serviced Office BCs as they do in CO-working Spaces. I know I've recently been averaging over 200 per year in my CO-BC hybrid, and have been offering networking events at my spaces for over 20 years.

Open CO-working spaces are more hip and appealing to the more recent work generations, as they offer a different CO-working experience than a truly "serviced" Serviced Office BC. The 3 Essential COs of CO-working take on a different, yet valuable social form at a CO-BC hybrid, Workspace Emporium or Serviced Office BC. 

Both forms are great. Both may not agree with everyone's taste. It really depends on how much privacy, or more exactly, the ability to spontaneously pivot from full-concentration space to social/interactive/community activity, and back...and for that, Serviced Office BCs are actually a pretty good option.

Posted on the OfficeFinder LinkedIn Discussion Group on Coworking Space

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Coworking office space , Executive Suites , Flexible Workspace , Office Space Design , Serviced Office Space

The Trend Toward Flexible Workplaces - How Will it Affect Your Office Space?

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Trends toward flexible workplaces has replaced the “doing business as usual”. In fact, the term “doing business as usual” has almost no meaning today if we want to complete in today’s economy and the changing marketplace. We have three, and in some cases, even four generations colliding in the workforce today and each has its own values, life styles and work styles. These all have to be accommodated in order to turn a profit.

The flexible workplace trend -- that of providing each generation of worker the environment in which they can be most productive -- has been driven by pure dollars and cents (read “sense” here). Even within each generation in the workplace, there are those employees that simply by their very natures work best and are more productive in differing environments.

A truly flexible workplace provides an office space where some workers, especially the most traditional employees such as the veteran and baby boomer generations, report to a desk and perform their tasks from there daily. This category of employee needs the direction of a schedule of 9-5 or similar, reporting five days per week on a more or less fixed schedule. These can be key players in the business and shouldn’t be shunned just because of their old fashioned work style. They need the networking, idea generating, and stability of getting away from home to work. They may have small children that make working from home less than productive, or they have the need for IT support for computer issues. Don’t discount this talent in any way. Their ideas will make money, just as in past decades, but if you only have this type of employee, you will miss out on a world of talent. We all know: talent is everything in staying on the edge of the market today. In order to keep good talent, provide for their needs.

Another wealth of talent is available through the virtual world. From simple, mundane tasks such as data base input to highly creative tasks such as design and graphic arts, people often work best from home. Moms that might not be on the job market due to child care issues can be highly productive while the children are in school and after the kid’s bedtime. People who have the talent but don’t live in your city are also key players in this group of the flexible workplace. There is no good reason why some tasks must be performed between 9 and 5, five days per week. As long as the job is done within budget and schedule, the hours in which it is performed should not be an issue with the virtual employee, rather productivity should be the primary measure. This is one form of outsource, but outsourcing to the highly skilled talent that prefer to skip the commute and use that time to log in, do the job, and log out. It’s a huge trend today with more and more work being doing from home and the employee only appearing for face-to-face meetings or networking when necessary – or never. The employee may be across the country or even across the world from the home office and still produce valuable input. With online meeting tools, you may choose to hold meetings including this type of employee or simply work through assignment, price quote, product delivery, payment. It’s working well today for many businesses.

Depending on your market and what you market, you may need employees that visit clients and customers frequently. This portion of the flexible workplace will provide computer time in the office as needed but  some, or even most, of the job may be performed “on the run”, using personal data devices such as iPhones and laptops and third spaces to get the job done in between client visits. Why have someone drive across town to use a computer with secure networking from just about anywhere. A Starbucks or other Coworking space may be the best workspace to update contacts, send email, update the boss, get the latest info from the office, and pick up the office news via email. This type of employee wants the flexible workspace of choosing a parked auto, a café, their home, or the office to get their jobs done.

If you want to keep happy talent and cut costs, encourage flexible workspaces to stay on the leading  edge and attract the most talented employees. With technology moving forward, and the more traditional type of employee retiring or becoming much scarcer, you may find yourself working from home to operate the entire business in years to come. 

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Coworking office space , Flexible Workspace , Office Relocation , Office Rental , Office Space Design

What Does it Mean to be an Office Tenant in an Improving Market?

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After some really bad times, the office market in US finally began a slow but steady recovery in 2011. Ryan Severino, senior economist for REIS said, “During 2011, the office vacancy rate declined by around 30 points when compared to 2010.” The result of this decline is that rental rates rose by about 1.6 percent, the first increase sine 2008. While this is not a huge increase, the recovery trend is expected to continue on a steady basis.

Office tenants in this market experience fear and doubts about where the economy is going. According to Ken Ashley, senior director of Cushman & Wakefield’s Atlanta office tenants are focusing on using floor space more efficiently, resulting in a trend for office tenants to seek out offices with less square footage, a trend called “density with dignity”.

So what does this mean to office tenants seeking to lease an office?

  • Increasing Office Rents: As noted above, the rental rates are rising slowly but steadily, so negotiating a new lease or moving to a different office space may well mean paying more per square foot than just a few months ago. Since this trend is expected to continue, if you are considering moving your office, it is better to act quickly than wait; if you delay, you will only pay more.

  • Reduced Incentives: Recently, it was an office renter’s market and renters were able to shop for incentives that appealed to their situation. For example, some landlords offered tenant improvement allowances while others offered special rates to long term renters. These incentives are very soon to be greatly reduced as the vacancy rate continues to decline and spaces fill up. Once the rental market turns a corner, the incentives will vanish completely. Again, making it the best time for tenants to make any changes being considered for the near-term future.

  • Fewer Office Space Alternatives: With changes to the rental market, the choice afforded the potential renter will be reduced. Today, many renters are seeking to move to more flexible floor plans and smaller spaces. This may well leave a wealth of larger offices at increased cost per square footage available, but this may well be exactly what you want to change for your own office. Those seeking the perfect spaces for flexible office spaces and non-traditional spaces, such as serviced office space, may find themselves at a loss for locating the space that would have readily been available only a short time ago. A matter of weeks can change the market in this area and business people take advantage of their last days of incentives and broad selections.

As with any period of recovery, whether in the commercial office market or the general economy, it is difficult to see into the future. But trends today give us the best insight into where you may find your business rental needs in the near-term future. Today is the best time to make a move and only a few months from now may be entirely too late to reap the benefits remaining

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By: James Osgood

Office Leasing Tips , Office Rental , Office Space Negotiations , Office Vacancy Rate

Office Space Planning Process Part Two

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This is part II of the planning process blog for commercial office space space design.

Space Plan Options Presentation – Once theoffice space plan options are completed, they are presented to the tenant for review and comments.  Based on review comments from the tenant the space plan is revised and resubmitted to the tenant for final review. 

Finish Specifications and Renderings – Once all revisions are completed, finish specification options are selected for all aspects of the office for review and comment by the tenant.  Once finishes are finalized, computer renderings are completed for various parts of the office.  Upon approval of renderings bid documents are prepared for the build-out of the space.

Blog written by the designers at officespaceplanners.com, providing space planning throughout the USA since 1988.

 

Office Space Planning Process Part One

What is Space Planning?

Office Space Design