Monthly Archives: March 2014

Workplace Strategy: Inside Or Outside the Box?

Should your plan for your office be a “cube farm”, or should you let your employees be “free range”? The answer depends on your workplace strategy and environment.

Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/29078044@N00/413465267/">archie4oz</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a> It’s a commonly held belief that cubicles of any height or space stifle productivity by isolating an employee from his or her coworkers. They are often seen as tiny, cramped cells with no room for the human spirit to attain greatness. Consider this, however; Albert Einstein’s desk was so crowded that there was barely room to jot down notes, and his blackboard was less than a third the size of the blackboards and/or whiteboards that so many of us grew up learning on. Such a lack of space did nothing to stifle his genius. In fact, it may have encouraged it thanks to its insulating qualities that kept him free of distractions while he was working.

Yet there are many who feel constrained by such walls. With a sense of claustrophobia looming all around an employee, the very things built to keep out distractions can become a distraction themselves. A yearning to get up and move nags into productivity and the work suffers as well as the employee.

So what is the middle ground? How can your office space design best promote employee engagement? The first thing you should look at is what sort of working environment you want to foster. Competitive and cooperative work environments have different needs.

Competitive

A competitive work environment would welcome walls and barriers that allow an employee to focus on his or her own goals and performance. By having no means of glancing over to see how the other guy is doing an employee is encouraged to do the best that they can, not just to do better than the next guy.

Cooperative

A cooperative work environment benefits from employee interaction. The free exchange of ideas and inspiration allows an entire team to meet and exceed challenges.

The Middle Ground

The fact is that no office space is entirely one way or the other. Even a highly competitive sales office needs to have mixture of private space and common space to keep your team from cutting each others’ throats.  As well, regardless of the work environment there are employees who may be more creative in their own space. There’s also a potential problem for a drop in productivity if employees feel encouraged to socialize too much at work.

To balance this, ask yourself if your business would benefit more from open employee interactions or from having your employees able to focus on their tasks with minimal distractions. Whichever one you choose, you’ll also want to provide either a small common work area where employees can coordinate their efforts or else small private areas where employees can concentrate without others imposing on them. By providing a little bit of both, you can allow your individual talent to shine where they can do best, whether with a group or on their own.

In selecting your office space, contact us to see how we can help you find the one that will best fit your workplace strategy.

By: James Osgood
OfficeFinder

Photo Credit: archie4oz via Compfight cc

Creating a Great Workplace: Accounting for the Different Generational Motivations

In creating a great workplace, where effective strategies are taken into account, the different generational motivations need to be taken into account. There is no “magic pill” when it comes to design or management strategy in answering this challenge. Each organization will have a unique blend of generations in the workplace to motivate. The question is how to keep them all engaged despite their differing motivations.

Management styles cannot be “one size fits all.”  Good managers know that showing preferential treatment to anyone for any reason is bad management and can result in litigation, yet managers want to create workplaces where all generations can work together with peace and harmony.

Never before in history have four generations worked in similar jobs in the office space or organization. Today there are four, and in some cases five, generations working side-by-side at the same level or in similar jobs. In the past, the older workers were managers, the middle age groups were valued team members and the youngest generations were part-time trainees or interns. Not so anymore. With the technology revolution this easy hierarchy has disappeared.

Meet the Generations in the Workforce

Veterans: those born between 1930 and 1946, are often remaining in jobs even at post-retirement age for financial reasons or to maintain insurance coverage for an ailing spouse. These employees tend to be pleasant workers, grateful to have avoided the mandatory retirement age.

Baby Boomers: those born from 1946 to 1964, are competitive and many believe younger workers should pay their dues before achieving the same respect, pay, and responsibilities as the Boomer age workers.

Gen X: is the term for those born from 1965 to 1977 and tend to be skeptics and independent minded, disliking too many rules and wanting to work in their own styles.

Gen Y and Millennials: were born after 1977 and these workers enjoy teamwork, feedback and cutting edge up-to-date technology and processes.

4 Workplace generations in the great workplace

The 4 Workplace generations FDU.edu (click to visit)

We are already seeing those born in the 1990s enter the workplace as part-time advanced education program interns and, as the 2000s continue, they will become part of the next generation in the business place, referred to currently as Generation Zers or Z’erz.

Managers in a great workplace realize they should respond to and address the differences in values and expectations of each generation and take advantage of those differences. In the past, managers tended to “blanket manage”, caring little customized for the generation a group of workers fell into.Today, effectiveness managers take into account, without prejudice, how each working style can benefit their company. This may significantly differ from company to company. Often today’s workspace results in a worker’s immediate supervising manager being younger, even many years younger, than the Senior Manager or Director and so on down the org chart. Keeping a mix of younger and older workers at various levels of responsibility most effectively uses the experience and skill sets of each employee.

Here are some helpful strategies and you can choose those which will best benefit your organization:

Educate Management: Provide in-house or off-site educational classes so management can learn to recognize differences between generations and more easily adapt to them. Managers must change rather than attempting to force staff members to change.

Encourage Mentoring: It is important for younger employees to learn from the experience of older workers. The older worker can learn new ways to look at things  from the younger worker.Unlike the past year, the mentor may well be the younger of the two employees, especially on areas of technology, process change, new work methods, third-place activities and other topics about changes on the cutting edge, yet the mentor is often the older member of the two when the subject is vendor requirements, processes, historic data storage methods and company communication style with client and customers or any of many other topics.

Allow for Adjustment Period: Many workers, primarily older team members, simply do not like change. The older worker may fear working off-site as an “easing out” of the workplace they believe may end up easing them out of the organization but with training and seeing others loving the off-site work capability, they may soon ask to be trained in how to make this method work for them. To build confidence, provide some basic training and perhaps a mentor that has experienced remote working in the past.

Allow for Different Learning / Training Styles: Even within a single generation, there are different learning styles but there is even a bigger difference between generational learning styles. Boomers tend to prefer traditional training such as slide presentations and handouts while younger workers may prefer interactive, technology based training, and mainly computer based training.

Allow for Different Work Styles: Each generation has different work / life goals that result in differing work styles. A great workplace realizes that is is about productivity. So long as your employees are productive and engaged, it does not really matter where or when they work. Keep up to date on current workplace strategies that address these differences.

Employee Engagement: Regular opportunities for growth and development through training and educational opportunities can help keep workers interested in their jobs. Establishing multi-generational task forces to address issues or problems can also help create a robust sense of engagement.

A great workplace will understand and embrace these generational differences.

Is Now A Good Time to Buy Office Space?

Do you think you may be ready to buy office space for your business? If you’re looking to acquire office space for your business, you will need determine your needs before signing on the dotted line. If you are considering buying office space to house your business, you will need to have a clear vision of your future office space needs and also to consider these factors to decide if now is a good time buy office space.

Lease or Buy Office Space?

When deciding to lease or buy office space, two important factors to consider are cost and interest rates. Leasing a 2,000-square-foot, $100,000 office for your small business would cost you in the ballpark of $1,000 a month with few additional costs, Microsoft Business reports. Contrarily, buying that same property would require a $10,000-plus down payment along with closing costs and building inspection fees. For a more detailed comparison on whether to lease or buy office space visit our our Lease vs. Buy Pros and Cons.

But buyers can’t ignore the low interest rates the U.S. has been experiencing over the past five years. And when you buy, you know exactly what your monthly payment will be every month; conversely, if your lease contains a clause providing for it, your rent could increase as the Consumer Price Index rises or other specified increase.

In addition, the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board and London’s International Accounting Standards Board recently enacted new regulations that frame leases as liabilities, as opposed to assets, on balance sheets. But push-back from analysts and business owners forced regulators to scale back their initiatives, at least temporarily, according to the Wall Street Journal. The final version of the new regulations is expected to be re-visited in March, when the two bodies hold another joint meeting. But if you can use your savings or liquidate future structured settlement payments to come up with a down payment, you should at least talk to a good commercial real estate agent to determine what kind of deal you can get.

Funding

The Small Business Administration offers two popular loan programs, the SBA 7a Loan and SBA 504 Loan. A number of nonprofit organizations, like Accion USA and Association for Enterprise Opportunity, offer direct loans to entrepreneurs who could not otherwise get bank financing.

If you would like to find out more about finding office space for sale and whether or not you to buy office space for your business, please contact us for a free, no obligation consultation with one of our OfficeFinder professionals. We will put you in contact with one of our top local specialist to help with your needs.

By: James Osgood

By: James Osgood

Why Commercial Real Estate Listing Web Sites Provide Poor Customer Service

Over the past week I have had lengthy talks with two owner/operators of well respected websites that list commercial real estate properties. No, Loopnet was not one of them, but they are both well recognized within the industry. I won’t name names. Both have lots of visitors and get lots of requests. Did you know that only about 50% of the web inquiries that come through commercial real estate listing sites get responses? A big part of that is a lack of follow through from the broker who receives the lead. Not a big surprise to any of us in the business. Unfortunately, if it not a big deal, many brokers don’t bother.

The other part of the problem is on the commercial real estate listing sites’ shortcomings. If the original broker does not pick up the lead, they have no backup. The visitor never hears back. In addition, the two listing sites I spoke with just “throw-away” smaller requests, under 1,500 square feet without any contact with the visitor. If it is not a big deal, their customers, the listing  brokers, are not interested. So why bother? Once again, the visitor never hears back. I do understand that listing websites are in the business to make money. In both cases, as in Costar/Loopnet’s case as well, they are subscription based and supported by the brokerage community. Unfortunately, this lack of good customer service hurts our industry. I am not sure what can be done, but as a professional I know it hurts our image. I remember a survey I saw when I first got into the business that placed commercial real estate agents just below used car salesmen with regards to respecting them. It did not sit well.

It is also the basis of how I organized OfficeFinder; to avoid this pitfall. One thing I can promise is that 99% of those making a requests for assistance do hear back from us.  Even if we can’t help, we will let them know and will direct them to other resources that might be able to help.

Certified OfficeFinder SpecialistOfficeFinder’s network of top local brokers are specifically trained as to the importance of a fast response. On average, we have worked together of over 10 years and I have a high level of confidence in them. We also add in an incentive. If they do not pick up a request on the same day it is received, we send it to another qualified local broker.  We do our best not to leave anyone hanging. I wish we had a 100% record, but there are always conditions beyond our control that prevent us from achieving that extra 1%. We do try our hardest to provide great customer service.

Let us know if we can help you find office space. You will hear back from us! I promise.

Founder and President
OfficeFinder, LLC

Creating a Great Workplace: It’s More Than Perks and Unique Designs

Great workplaces offer environments that consistently attract, retain, — and most importantly — inspire and engage the best and brightest.

Slide in Google HQ

Slide in Google HQ

Some large Silicon Valley type employers have created workplaces they feel are great workplaces based on unique architecture and quirky perks. They may provide on-site massages, Segways for building-to-building transportation, and other non-traditional perks that are non-traditional to office spaces and workplaces. Still others rely on liberal benefits packages to retain workers and become known as great workplaces.

While these attributes can be part of great workplaces, they are not what really creates a cohesive and agile organization that will retain the best, most innovative employees; a workplace that will engage employees and have the flexibility of adapting to meet fast changing business climates. All CEOs know they must pay a competitive wage and provide good benefits to retain employees, but there are several other keys to employee retention of top team members.

Some keys to creating a workplace, more important than quirky perks and unique architecture, where employees look forward to working include:

Trust Between Companies and Employees: Employees want to be able to trust the leaders of the company for which they work. Workers will not tolerate being lied to or having a “spin” put on the facts. Too often employers are tempted to avoid sharing negative news or to spin the negative to make it sound more positive. This practice breaks down trust and tends to make employees open to offers made by other companies seeking their skills and knowledge. The truth, whether positive or negative, builds a sense of trust between employee and employer that is required for employee retention.

Pride in Organization: Anyone who spends many hours each week laboring for a business wants to have a sense of pride in the organization that writes their paychecks. They want to work for companies that have strong ethics and morals, that stand behind their company mission and vision, and produce products or services that create a sense of importance to the well-being of the marketplace or the world.  Truly caring for the employee as a person as well as caring for the environment and acting responsibly in all business tasks are keys to creating pride in organization.

Pride in Task Assignment: Employees that are fulfilled and easy to retain have a sense of pride in the work they do on a daily basis. They want to understand how their role fits into the company as a whole and know that their tasks are important to achieving goals and earning profits, especially when those profits reflect in their own profit sharing programs or bonuses. In some positions, the importance of task assignment may be obvious to the employees, but in cases where a group of workers create a small part of a bigger whole, they should be educated as to where their part fits in and why the company can only succeed with their important tasks being completed correctly and effectively. Manufacturing companies need to place special focus on this area since many workers may be building “widgets” and asking themselves why they even come to work if this is their only task; if they know why the larger product can’t perform without their “widget” they can become proud of their tasks. And in all cases, the employees need to feel proud of the end product being produced to feel a sense of moral authority.

Remove Nonsense Rules and Reports: Every company must have some rules and regulations and required reports. Some meetings may have to be mandatory for the company to operate smoothly. But rules that do not make any sense or reports that create paper that nobody ever reads or uses make workers frustrated and resentful. Avoid creating unnecessary rules and streamline reporting. Allow workers flexibility within reason and it will reflect in increased retention of quality workers.

Work is Not a Place: It is an activity. Create an agile workplace that will allow as much flexibility on where and when employees work as possible. In today’s workplace it is not about where or when you work, but about productivity.

Define Clear Expectations and Measurements for Success: Treat employees like adults by allowing them to perform their work in their own style, but provide them with clear definitions of what success looks like or produces. Being recognized as successful should be based on performance, not personality, likeability, or other arbitrary factors.

Open Two-Way Communication: Too often most in-company communication consists of management speaking and employees listening. Yes, there are times where this is necessary and appropriate, but a time and method of allowing employees to communicate ideas, suggestions, and even feedback on management’s performance is important to building the company loyalty required for high retention of quality employees.

Provide Career-Long Growth Opportunities: Employees want to learn and develop. They want to grow and keep up with the latest technology and they want to prepare for higher level jobs within the company to prepare for future goals. Company-provided training can be important for achieving this component of being a great company to work for, but providing assistance for continuing job-associated formal university degree-focused or job-focused education also is very meaningful to employees. This doesn’t mean the company should help pay for Basket Weaving 101, but if the desired courses will help develop skills pertaining to current or potential future positions within the company, consider at least subsidizing some percentage educational expenses, or if possible fully funding the effort as long as an established level of acceptable grades are earned.

Accountability — Top to Bottom: Employees are held accountable for their task completion and job performance. This concept of accountability must extend to every level of the company to create a truly great workplace. Employees find it easier to trust employers that clearly hold every employee, all the way up to CEO, accountable for their ethics and performance.

A Great Workplace: Create a comfortable and flexible workspace but don’t expect that to be enough to keep the best workers over long periods of time. But, if a company applies some or all of these keys while treating employees with respect and regard and paying competitive salaries, they can build a workforce of top notch employees. If a company remains consistent in upholding these values as they have applied them to their organization, their quality workforce members are unlikely to be tempted to jump ship when a lateral or better offer from a competitor is presented.

Want to know more? We can help your workplace become more productive, improve employee engagement. Please Contact us and we will get you started in learning about creating an Agile Workplace and then show you how it might work for your company.

What Type of Office Space Will Be Right for Your Business?

As a business owner, you have plenty to worry about. The hiring process and employees, advertising and marketing, as well as the financial state of your company affairs are all major concerns for the typical business owner. One of the biggest problems you could run into is having an inadequate office space. Before you choose an office for your business, make sure you understand your officing options to decide what fits best with your company’s needs. Here are a few of the options you will want to take into account.

Office Building Classifications

The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) is the end-all authority on office space leasing and rental. This organization has separated office spaces into three classifications. These classifications do not have specific criteria so that they can be adjusted to different areas. The three general classes are as follows:

  • Class A: High quality space, best possible utilities, ideal location, accessible to employees, and excellent security.
  • Class B: Not as well maintained as a Class A building, still quality utilities, has functionality although not ideal, and decent location.
  • Class C: Less desirable, not a good area, difficult to lease, and mostly obtained for remodeling purposes.

Office Building Types

Once you have selected which building classification you want and can afford, you need to decide what type of building will work best for your business needs. Until you are searching for a potential office building, you may not realize how many different types are available.

  • Traditional: The most common office space. The leases can run for up to 15-20 years on these spaces. Typically they are over 1000 square feet in size, allowing for a high functionality and many employees.
  • Executive Suite: These suites are smaller than the traditional space and are under 1000 square feet. Although they offer more flexible leases, they do not allow the room for extra storage or employees. Executive suites work best for small businesses run by just a few experts. More
  • Coworking: This is a relatively new style of shared officing where the community is the focus. Their mission to enhance the 3 Cs of community, collaboration and cooperation. More
  • Virtual Office: A virtual office space is not necessarily the place in which your office is directly located. Instead, it is an office where you can have your company’s mail and faxes sent to, and a space to hold meetings as needed. If you want your business to be run out of your home or a similar location but still have a professional image, a virtual office lease is for you. Additionally, the leases are most flexible and are renewable on a shorter term basis. More

Aside from these common office types, there are a few others to consider. Will your business require a warehouse, and can it be run solely from the warehouse location? Are you interested in establishing other business relationships by moving to a business park? Will you have a small staff that could fit comfortably in a corner office?

Employee Needs

When choosing an office space, you should keep in mind not only what your business will require, but what will make your employees feel comfortable and prepared to work. After all, you want a space that will engage them in their work.

Consider if you want the work area to be open or closed. Will your employees work better when they are isolated or could an open and collaborative atmosphere be better?

Also consider what the office space provides in terms of break areas, recreation space, and office hierarchy. Your number of employees will also affect the storage area, IT infrastructure, and even utility costs. Remember that your employees are a vital part of your business so you need to accommodate to their needs while selecting your office rental.

Choosing the right office space is just as, if not more, important as choosing a new home. After all, your office will be your business’ home, possibly for several years to come. Choose a space that fits your functionality, your needs, and your price range so that you can focus on running your business in a comfortable environment.

Liaisons Business Center

Liaisons Business Center

Guest post by: Theo Schmidt who has an interest in computer science, business, and engineering, and he uses that interest to fuel his blogging. He is a blogger for Montreal’s Liaisons Business Center office rentals.

Commercial Leases for Small Space Account for 75% of REALTOR® Leased Properties

In a recent study by the National Association of Realtors with it’s members, the results show that small space leases of under 5,000 square feet accounted for 75% of the commercial real estate leases completed in the 4th quarter of 2013 and that leases under 2,500 square feet were at 43% of the total. They also found that lease terms were in the typical  3 to 5 year range.

As the market improves, landlords are finding it less necessary to provide rental concessions and the report identified that they declined by 4% on a quarterly basis.

What does this mean for the office market? Very simply that the small space office leasing is the driving the market. Many of the larger users of office space still have excess leased space that they are still working to fill, AKA Shadow space, after the recession. It is also the reasons that the vacancy rate is not declining at faster rates. It takes a lot of small tenants to fill up empty space.

Find office space for lease, rent or purchase

By: James Osgood

Workplace Productivity: 3 Simple Upgrades That Can Make A Big Difference

How do you achieve seamlessly integrated, highly functioning workplace productivity? From the bottom up. And we mean that literally. Here are 3 simple, often overlooked, office upgrades that can make a big difference in employee engagement as productivity.

  • Office Chairs

good office chairThink you’ve already got your office employees settled into the most comfortable chairs on the market? Efficiency is not the same for everybody. Just as some office employees sleep on marshmallowy beds and others sleep on beds as hard as a board, so does each bottom respond differently. Yes, you can get a short term economic boost by buying office chairs in bulk, but long term savings may potentially dwarf that budget-conscious decision by going the extra distance and giving each of your employees a stipend to be spent buying the office chair of their choice.

  • Eyestrain

The effects of eyestrain on office workers could is like a slowly leaking faucet. At some level you are aware of it happening, but you don’t see any immediate reason to invest time and effort stopping it. Overhead lighting, the glare of the sun, the size of computer monitors, the default settings for colors and fonts and other factors all contribute to a decline in vision that can impact your business over a lifetime or over the course of a day. A worker having trouble reading what’s on the computer screen can present a number obstacles to workplace productivity ranging from a lagging pace of work to misreading a decimal point that could literally cost you money, loyalty and trust. How to combat the effects of eyestrain? Consult with professionals about a more efficient lighting system. Upgrade your computer monitors if it’s been awhile. Even helping to cover some or all of the costs associated with getting new eyeglasses for a new prescription may ultimately save you money in long-term productivity.

  • Keyboard Placement

Something as ridiculously simple and cheap as changing the position of the keyboard in relation to the employee’s body can be insanely effective at increasing productivity. Once again, America’s misguided love affair with standardizing everything is the culprit. Even taking into account more ergonomic innovations during the transition, the typical office worker today will still be typing away at a computer keyboard in roughly the same position that office workers used to bang away at the keys of a typewriter. Experimenting with lowering and raising the position of the keyboard, different styles of keyboards and even the sounds that are artificially produced when a key is hit can all contribute to making computer users more efficient. Some workers–especially older employees raised on typewriters–are comforted by hearing the traditional “clicking” sound each time they hit a key while others find any sound not actually produced by fingers tapping on keys distracting.

The days of expecting maximum workplace productivity in an office by treating each employee as they were developed in some clone-producing factory is long over. Yes, of course, no business wants to spend money on personalizing the work experience when the cost of standardizing is so much more affordable.

Want to know more? We can help your workplace become more productive, improve employee engagement. Please Contact us and we will get you started in learning about creating an Agile Workplace and then show you how it might work for your company.

Why Use a Broker to Find Your New Office Space?

Any business-minded individual is looking for ways they can save money on their operational costs. Why give a cut to a commercial real estate broker when you know what you want?  You think it will cost you money for their services. You are mistaken. An experienced broker will get you many times the value of their commission back to you with the value of your new space.

Transactional Experience

While a business owner may go through a number of real estate closings over the years, an experienced broker has gone through exponentially more. It is their day-to-day business. Even the simplest commercial office space transaction can be a logistical struggle. A transaction that gets you smoothly into your ideal space requires extensive experience and knowledge that few possess. You need a knowledgeable broker to get you through the negotiations.

The Power of Information

Even after months of research, it would be impossible for a business owner to know the ins-and-outs of all the property that could suit them. Where will your business thrive in your city? Do you need “green” or LEED certified space? Can a space allow you to keep up with modern trends of workplace efficiency? Can you negotiate the best rate for the best space? These are questions you need to ask. The right broker will have the right answers.

The Time Cost

What is your time worth? Are you better off working on your business or searching for the right office space? The office leasing process can be very time consuming. Not only do you need to find the space you are interested in occupying, but then you need to gain an understanding of the market and landlords to negotiate a good deal.

Building Business Connections and Relationships

Any broker worth his salt welcomes a well-informed client. Instead of running into a middleman, you’ve gained a valuable new business connection. A driven agent stays in touch with his clients to ensure that their transition into their new space is what they hoped for and will continue to be what they hoped for.

If you’re ever looking to expand your business or want to make a good move the next time you’re relocating, you already have a valuable ally in your corner. They will be ready and enthusiastic to work with you on getting the highest level of success for your business.

Certified OfficeFinder SpecialistWhen looking for office space, it can be tempting to go it alone, but considering the costs, it would be a mistake. Contact us to make a connection With a Certified OfficeFinder Specialist and reach success.