Categories
Office Space

What Is Flex Space and Is It Right for Your Business?

There has been common phrase circulating through business these days: flex space. But what is flex space, and is it a good option for your business?

 

The rise of the coworking space has heavily disrupted the commercial real estate industry, and woken many property owners up to the fact that many startups and small-to-medium enterprises are beginning to seek shorter, low-commitment leases rather than traditional several-year-long leases for office space and commercial purposes.

 

While this scares some commercial property owners, it’s been a boon to other office rental companies, which represent a fast-growing global sector of the commercial real estate market, with growth expected in every corner of the world as businesses continue to spring up and seek space to operate for a few weeks or months at a time.

 

Meanwhile the number of remote workers worldwide continues to expand, and many established businesses are beginning to turn to coworking spaces as an alternative to seeking out new office space in an area where they only need a temporary setup for a major deal or transaction.

 

Current Trends in Office Space

However, where do companies go once they’ve graduated past the needs of a coworking space, but aren’t ready to fully commit to a traditional office space of their own? What options do they have if they need both a managerial office and access to tons of industrial-level storage, as many startups do? Where should they go if they don’t want to move into an industrial lot far from the city center?

 

Enter the flex space, a commercial real estate solution that has provided many companies with a useful in-between for two decades.

 

What is a Flex Space? 

While you might think it is ‘flexible’ space, its name is something of a double-meaning, as it actually refers to the ability to ‘flex’ into different parts of a larger property – typically a large, industrial, warehouse-style commercial property with a built-to-spec office space, and a shorter lease than traditional offices (three months to a year, in many cases).

 

Flex spaces provide the space for companies to have both manufacturing and management in one area, while staying flexible enough to allow quick and cost-effective remodeling once a company moves on or moves out.

 

This allows owners to worry less about the potential issues caused by a shorter lease, while offering greater flexibility than traditional office spaces (which are much harder and much more expensive to remodel), all while giving companies the space to create their own look, feel, and culture, without the restrictions that typically apply in coworking spaces.

 

However, because flex spaces are generally barebones, they do have their fair share of disadvantages as well. They’re typically low on amenities, and are usually on the ground level, which may pose a security threat to some companies.

How are Flex Spaces Different from an Open Plan? 

Flex spaces offer different modular portions of a larger space. Rather than renting the entire office space with a long-term contract and a set floor plan that’s only minimally customizable (or would cost much to change around), they prioritize helping companies set up a workspace they can call their own for a shorter period of time, within a flexible amount of space within a larger, industrial-style building (a warehouse, usually).

 

This space can be divided into suites, and companies can choose how much of the space they need for how long. More than just a different office layout or floor plan, a flex space is an entirely different commercial real estate business model.

 

Who Uses This Type of Space?

Through a flex space, the company would be doing away with the established and the traditional, and providing a space that can regularly change and adapt to its various tenants, featuring space for basic amenities and functionality while keeping the work areas versatile and modular, with the option to remodel or change the space whenever needed.

 

Flex spaces are often a great fit for companies that need storage space to manage and house their production and distribution of goods. It can be setup to provide shared room for more than one company with similar setups, by providing shared manufacturing space for small-scale manufacturing companies, a setup that is growing and becoming more popular.

 

What’s the Difference Between Flex Space and Coworking?

Coworking spaces are traditionally successful for companies that don’t need that storage space to do their work to begin with, or for remote workers looking for a space to work in temporarily, or for large companies to utilize across the globe for smaller teams. Even more interesting is the prospect of the remote company – a company that exists almost entirely in digital space, composed 100 percent of remote workers.

Categories
Gig Economy

5 Challenges of Working Remotely (and How to Counter Them)

Far more than just a new management fad, teleworking has become a necessity, but with this new style of work comes new obstacles. Here are the five most common challenges of working remotely, and how to counter them.

 

As office space is becoming increasingly expensive, commutes are growing ever longer, and the needs of companies are ever-expanding, departments and startups are looking at telecommuting workers to fulfill their auxiliary and even primary needs while coordinating from somewhere else.

 

Remote working is also a product of continued globalization, as companies throughout the world are scouting countries everywhere for talent that they can hire and leverage without having an office in the area.

 

Are There Challenges of Working Remotely?

Remote work does not come without its own fair share of challenges, and many remote workers struggle with them on a daily basis.

 

Many of the challenges of working remotely revolve around isolation, differing time zones, and the blurred lines between life and work. We’re going to go over some of these challenges and how to counter them.

 

1. You’re Always Available

The Challenge:

When working from home, or anywhere else that isn’t your company’s office, it can get hard to tell when it’s time to start working and stop working.

 

Many remote workers and freelancers coordinate and work with customers and coworkers all over the planet, which can lead to teleconferences at 2am, deadlines at 3am, and a quick chat with a client around 5am. It’s easy to get lost in it all and find yourself pulling 12 hours shifts, quickly burning out.

 

Not only is this unhealthy, but it’s incredibly unproductive. The brain needs rest from work to really get the creative juices flowing – both in terms of sleep, and actual time away from the computer.

 

The Counter:

Set clearer boundaries. Timing yourself isn’t enough. It’s easy to work past 9pm and just tell yourself that you’ll only be on for another hour. Commit yourself to daily tasks that force you to prioritize your work and get it done by a specific hour mark, so you can be up and about at 5 or 6pm each day.

 

It might be a daily workout routine, a daily walk to get your steps in, or just a quick swim. If you can’t commit to an activity outside of your home, get a friend or partner to step in and ‘discipline’ you – tell them to check in and call or text at a set time each day, to remind you to be off from work by then.

 

2. You Must Rely on Self-Motivation

The Challenge:

One of the challenges of working remotely is that it can sometimes be hard to get anything done. There are tons of distractions (especially if you don’t live alone), you might not have a great way to block out noise surrounding you. Others might not necessarily respect your work boundaries and barge in on your during an important task, or you find yourself quickly losing three to four hours a day on Wikipedia articles and Reddit binges.

 

On top of that, you likely have several pressing deadlines pressuring you, and all that anxiety can build up and lead to the most devastating curse any remote worker could suffer from: chronic procrastination.

 

The Counter:

Join a coworking space. Many of these problems come from an inability to sit down and just work alone. That doesn’t mean you need to forego the benefits of remote working. If you struggle to motivate yourself to get things done in a timely manner and prioritize your work, you might just really miss the office environment that used to get you going.

 

Coworking spaces are a great compromise that provide a place for freelancers, remote workers, and small companies to work together on separate projects and tasks, while networking and sharing a single work environment.

3. It Feels Impossible to ‘Unplug’

The Challenge:

You might be off your computer, and you might have finished working on all of your projects for the day, but that likely isn’t stopping you from checking the team Slack, checking progress on Trello, refreshing your emails, or Skyping with the new client. You might even be in bed, trying to sleep, but still focused on that project you’re working on. While passion is great, staying ‘plugged in’ for far too long can burn you out quickly.

 

The Counter:

Go offline on the weekends, and at specific hours. If one of your clients is at their busiest in a time zone when you should really be getting some shuteye, either work things out with them that you’ll communicate nearly exclusively through email and coordinate projects with a few hours delay, or choose between working with a remote client for some extra money and your own sleep hygiene.

 

Again, you must set your own boundaries here. Have a certain time on the clock each day where you don’t work and forbid yourself from checking your messages or refreshing that Gmail account. Put your phone away by 10pm and try to get some much-needed sleep.

 

4. Time Management

The Challenge:

One of the biggest challenges of working remotely is a bout of procrastination. Procrastination is usually a sign of deeper problems than you might first realize, and if you’re stuck in a serious rut, you should consider asking yourself whether you’re just feeling a little lost and need an adjustment period, or whether you’re deeply unmotivated because you’re unhappy, and potentially need help.

 

If it’s the former, then one way to adjust to remote work is to start learning to play with timers, deadlines, and self-set expectations.

 

The Counter:

Productivity hacks and timers. A full day’s work can be a little intimidating at times, so start by breaking each task down into individual chunks. Create quick and simple daily to-do lists, or even better, create a morning to-do list and an afternoon to-do list. Then pick out a reliable playlist or radio station, set a timer, and start working on your daily tasks.

 

There are plenty of apps and devices that help you keep track of how you’re spending your working time. Just make sure to take breaks when you’re feeling spent, either to grab a little water, go for a quick little stretch, or just reward yourself with a little downtime if you were exceptionally productive.

 

5. Loneliness

The Challenge:

We’re social creatures, and we’re not really built to spend the majority of our time with just ourselves. Even when we’re interacting with our family at home, it’s very easy to go completely stir-crazy, especially if you’re often too busy to spend more than one or two hours a week out and about, meeting up with friends or strangers.

 

Even then, the odd hour or two a week definitely isn’t enough to make up for dozens of hours spent completely on your own. Isolation and loneliness are often the biggest challenges of working remotely, and it can completely shut you down over time.

 

The Counter:

Hangout with other workers. Coworking spaces are perfect for this, because they provide plenty of opportunities to interact with other workers, and help you strike the balance between a productive environment, and a social environment. In fact, if anything, coworking often helps workers be more productive, and far more cooperative.

 

Coworking is a godsend for many remote workers who want the coffee shop experience melded together with the feel of an actual office. It’s still a little different from plugging in at a dedicated office space, because you can come when you like, leave when you like, interact with workers from different industries and specialties, and develop far more interesting and diverse networks.

 

Conclusion

There are challenges of working remotely, but like everything in life, you can roll with the punches and adapt. The remote working life might not be a great fit for everyone, but if you’re someone who likes being flexible and typically experiences bursts of extreme productivity rather than a continuous stream of 9-5, then you can make remote working work for you.

 

Research shows that workers are happiest when they can choose to “work from anywhere” – whether that’s home, a café, a coworking space, or their cubicle. We all need a change of pace sometimes, and by expanding your options besides simply working from home, you can boost your productivity and happiness, lower your stress levels, and keep a minimal carbon footprint.

Categories
Business Trends

Becoming an Entrepreneur: 5 Steps to Success

Becoming an entrepreneur begins with a dream; a vision. But the next steps can be difficult. You can reduce your chance of failure with these 5 steps to successful entrepreneurship.

Despite its decline, entrepreneurialism is undoubtedly attractive – a daring, dangerous profession, filled with chances at glory and fortune through a successful ranch and the right network of buyers. Everybody dreams of being their own boss, of working on their own time, and of setting their own goals in business.

 

But few are ready to face the realities of being a lone entrepreneur. The life of a cowboy was equally harsh, filled thrice over with the risk of famine rather than a chance at a feast. While life for the cowboy revolved around completely different challenges, there were challenges nonetheless, and comfort or success are never guaranteed.

Steps for Success to Becoming an Entrepreneur

Much in the same way, you’ll have to be ready to face your fair share of difficulties and setbacks. You will face regulations, competing businesses, cost issues, and more. Here are five steps that are integral to immersing yourself in the role of the entrepreneur and finding success.

1. Prepare Yourself

This is a mental step. The life of an entrepreneur is about grit, grit, and grit. Sometimes, this means pushing past your own limits. If you don’t have the greatest tolerance for stress, this will by no means be impossible, but you are going to have a much harder time getting the results you want.

 

We humans aren’t exactly mentally prepared to work all the time – we need time off, we need to relax, we need to give ourselves the time to recover from the work we’ve done and shut down for a while. But if you’re dedicating yourself to entrepreneurship, you can say goodbye to all of those things for the next few months.

 

      • The early days of your business will all work, no pleasure, and little sleep.
      • You’ll be heading into bed late and waking up early, you’ll be talking to potential clients and landing buyers around the clock.
      • You’ll accommodate every and any time zone, and you’ll be out there selling and pushing your vision onto the world as often as you can afford to.

 

Strategizing First

Becoming an entreprenuer is a tough, tough job. It means you need to strategize, energize, and be efficient. That means:

 

      • Cutting out the negative influences in your life.
      • Minimizing waste. Spend a little extra money if it means saving time. You need every minute.
      • Getting into focus mode, 24/7. Remove all distractions. Set tight deadlines for yourself. Surround yourself with similarly competitive personalities, and don’t let anyone get ahead of you.
      • Eat clean food, drink more water than usual, and get quality hours of sleep. Consider herbal supplements to help with digestion and sleep. Seriously, sleep is critical. Good fuel and enough rest should be your primary physical priorities, because you’ll want to maintain a healthy and rested mind for as long as you can.

 

The big difference between a successful entrepreneur and someone who just doesn’t make it is the work. If you can put in the hours, show up, and follow the plan you set for yourself, you will see results. But it takes a lot of mental fortitude not to falter and give up, and to talk yourself out of those days where you’d like nothing more than to leave the world behind and just rest for 24 hours.

2. Believe in Your Idea

You cannot be successful if you aren’t your own first buyer. If your idea – if your passion – isn’t reflected in what you do to the degree that you’d be the first customer standing outside waiting to get in, then you need to keep working on your idea before you begin pursuing it.

 

Becoming an entrepreneur is not something you can do with just some effort. Do you fantasize about what your business will look like in 5 years? Do you believe that what you’re bringing to the world is important enough that you’d dedicate your life to it? Or are you just doing it to try and make a little extra money?

 

Financial independence and even wealth are fine goals, but your own passion for what you’re doing is ultimately going to be a massive factor in your early success. You have to sell yourself on your idea first, before you start selling others.

3. Build It and They’ll Come? 

One of the most problematic myths in the modern day is the idea that if you build it, they will come. Not only is this based on a misquote, but it’s also never been particularly great business advice – least of all today.

 

We live in a day and age where the average person processes more information in a single day than they might have in a week or month, just a few decades ago. We are being inundated with recommendations, advertisement, endorsements, and more – to the point that we begin to blend it out, mute it, and only pay attention when we intend to.

 

You cannot rely on your business to succeed solely on the basis of word-of-mouth, unless your focus is an incredibly niche clientele within a very local area. If you want success, you need to find your audience, and speak to them directly.

 

Targeted ad campaigns, careful keyword selection, daily or weekly web content, social media and reputation management; lots and lots of marketing. You can get started on that yourself or hire someone to take care of the job, but always know that, with the internet, competition is potentially stiffer than ever. On the other hand, the opportunity reach people all over the globe is uniquely attributable to this day and age.

4. Pick the Right Office

Yes, you will need an office. Depending on your business model and the size of your venture, you’ll want to pick an appropriate place to turn into the base of your operations. Nowadays, one of the best ways to save on costs and still reap the full benefits of a large and professional space is to find yourself a coworking space.

 

Coworking spaces are especially interesting for entrepreneurs because the opportunity to co-work alongside professionals from all walks of life will continue to inspire you, help you network, and discover cooperative opportunities in ways you might never have otherwise. Of course, traditional offices are always still available if that route is best for your business.

5. It’s Not Too Late 

Most successful entrepreneurs began their first business after over 6 years of experience working for someone else and typically had a spouse with at least one child. In other words, it isn’t a young person’s game. Don’t be afraid to start ‘late’.

 

Many of the wildest entrepreneurial successes were born from dedicated and committed founders who had a wealth of experience to draw upon. A good number of entrepreneurs are well-educated, highly knowledgeable, and are often the first in their respective families to launch their own business.

Final Thought

As long as you believe you have the drive, the means, and the right idea, consider becoming an entrepreneur and pursue the calling of a lifetime. And if things don’t work out the first time, don’t worry!

 

Most entrepreneurs are ‘serial’ entrepreneurs, and it often takes a few times for an idea to take off in the right way, at the right time, with the right clientele, and the right means to take advantage of all of these conditions.

Categories
Work Environment

5 Simple Workplace Wellness Ideas to Try This Year

As workplace stress and burnout is on the rise, it’s becoming increasingly important to encourage employees to care for their well-being; and now you can with these simple workplace wellness ideas.

It’s probably no secret that stress is a major killer, not only of people, but businesses. As stress is continuing to rise in offices throughout the country, causing sleepless nights, lowered productivity, poor turnover, and higher rates of stress-related illnesses, the government and businesses scramble to find ways to turn these numbers around.

 

Beyond stress, millions of Americans are suffering from conditions that are partly or largely caused by lifestyle choices, including:

 

      • Obesity
      • Cardiovascular disease
      • Hypertension
      • Stroke
      • Diabetes

 

Corporate workplace wellness initiatives have exploded in scope and popularity, with the apparent aim of improving worker health and productivity, while cutting down on immense healthcare costs. But surface-level methods like walking groups and a free gym membership likely aren’t cutting it, with research indicating that helping workers achieve wellness can be very difficult.

 

With both physical and mental health growing in relevance everywhere, there’s a greater understanding of what’s needed and what’s effective when trying to address employee concerns and reduce costs. More than ever, businesses are trying to improve workplace wellness to attract and keep their talent.

 

What Is Workplace Wellness?

Workplace wellness describes a number of different initiatives aimed at urging businesses to make contributions to their employees’ wellbeing, both to reduce total healthcare costs, and to help improve productivity and employee longevity. Some common workplace wellness initiatives include:

 

      • Fitness and weight trackers
      • Healthier snacks at the workplace
      • Subsidized gym memberships
      • Incentivized programs to get employees to become more physically active

 

It’s a massive multi-billion-dollar industry, with insurers offering great incentives to businesses to provide these benefits. However, it’s also an industry mired in some controversy, as certain businesses insist on tracking employees considerably, potentially violating their privacy, while others wonder if some of the measures taken under the name of worker wellness are truly voluntary.

 

Although research is limited in terms of both scope and time, preliminary results of the many initiatives companies have engaged in seem to suggest that the benefits of trying to help incentivize healthier living have been quite modest.

 

This doesn’t mean workplace wellness is a lost cause – in fact, some of the researchers argue that not enough is being done, and the focus is being put on specific physical metrics (like weight and activity) rather than the holistic picture of an employee’s wellness, which includes their social, emotional, and physical health.

 

Not everyone benefits from a walking club, a gym membership, or a step counter. Not everyone works better simply because they have lower blood pressure, and not everyone can be incentivized to drop bad habits and start working on themselves with simple financial incentives. This year, companies need a different, more comprehensive approach to workplace wellness if they want to help their employees improve.

 

 

A New Comprehensive Approach to Workplace Wellness

A holistic approach to workplace wellness demands that any changes made address not only a worker’s physical health, but their emotional health, social wellbeing, and intellectual needs.

 

Some potential changes include greater access to mental health resources, more insurance coverage for treatments for mental health conditions that are a problem among employees with poor health markers (like anxiety and depression), and time off for mental health problems.

 

Changes made to the office to help facilitate a more communal experience (while still providing space for focused work on the tasks at hand) can help with social wellbeing, especially if these communal spaces are built to emphasize collaboration and interaction. Coworking spaces often model this excellently, providing space for collaborative efforts and individual projects and meetings.

 

Intellectual needs improve through a workload that best takes advantage of a worker’s talents, and more opportunities to allow workers to train and learn tasks while on the job, allowing them to continue their education and work towards certain certifications or positions that interest them.

 

All of these changes need an individualized approach. With there being no one-size-fits-all, it helps to learn what each employee needs to perform better and take up healthier habits. This can be difficult across larger firms, but by breaking efforts up into individual departments, bigger companies can comprehensively gather data on what their employees’ needs are.

 

Through big data, companies can more intelligently select incentives that their employees are likely to respond to. Some other examples of workplace wellness in 2020 include:

 

1. Incorporate More Nature

The clean, structured design of an office can help facilitate focus, and it’s what we’re used to – but it’s far removed from how we once used to live. While it’s clear that industrialization comes with countless benefits, the eradication of nature can leave a serious impact on the psyche.

 

Making efforts to bring a little bit of nature back into the workplace can help improve physical and mental health. Certain changes, like adding more plants to the office, adding a simple indoor water fountain, or renovating to add more natural light to the office can help reduce markers of stress and anxiety.

 

Another idea is to incorporate team building activities in nature, to bring employees out into the wild every now and again.

 

2. Be Plant-Friendly 

Another way to bring a little extra nature into the workplace is to provide a room for employees to keep and care for their own plants, and nominally give them plants to care for. Plenty of succulents make for excellent beginner plants, including a wide variety of echeverias, haworthias, cacti, aloes, and sansevierias.

 

More than just providing a little color, caring for these plants can help in a similar way that caring for a pet does, without the myriad of potential issues associated with pet-friendly offices.

 

 

3. Work from a Coworking Space 

Whether through a work-from-anywhere policy, or as a way to save on office space, consider moving the business to a shared coworking space. 

 

Coworking spaces offer plenty of benefits in the way of productivity and collaboration, and the communal spirit of a coworking space can help reduce stress.

 

4. Keep the Kitchen Stocked

One way to keep your employees from snacking on junk food or going for a smoke break, especially if you’re incentivizing smoking cessation or healthier living, is to make sure that the kitchen is constantly stocked with various healthy food options, and that employees can feel free to use the company’s own cafeteria or kitchen for lunch.

 

No matter how healthy a snack is, it’s easy to have too much. Prioritize filling and nutrient-dense, calorie-low snacks, and serve protein-rich meals with plenty of fiber to discourage binge eating or excessive dieting. It’s not easy to live a healthy life and maintain a balanced diet these days. You can help employees by offering a discount on healthy meal delivery services.

 

5. Encourage Walking or Stretching Breaks 

One way to improve productivity is by helping employees make use of their time more effectively and fighting back against some of the side effects of leading mostly sedentary lives.

 

While sitting itself won’t cause chronic back pain, it can contribute to it, and it’s better to sit for shorter periods of time than a single long period. If your employees aren’t a fan of standing desks, instead encourage frequent stretching breaks, or quick walking breaks.

 

Final Thought

There’s a lot to consider when tackling a person’s wellbeing. Workplace wellness has to be more than just a few small policy changes, especially if we expect to revert habits that have lasted for decades and generations.