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Business Trends Office Space

6 Ways to Best Utilize a Coworking Space for Business Expansion

Prioritizing business expansion is a key part of owning a business. But utilizing a coworking space can surely help with that! Read more details below.

 

Coworking spaces have time and time again proven themselves as the ideal solution for both established enterprises and startup businesses looking for a turnkey alternative to a normal office space.

 

Coworking spaces set themselves apart significantly through much shorter term leases and lower monthly costs, a complete office set up with all the amenities and features needed to get started on day one without hefty investments in office infrastructure and equipment, and access to invaluable networking opportunities and collaborative experiences that are invaluable to young companies and entrepreneurs looking to forge partnerships, develop new products, or expand in different markets.

 

If you have never considered using a coworking space for your business, here are six simple ways coworking can help business expansion and scale realistically, and across vast distances.

 

1. As An Office Alternative

 

The first and most obvious way coworking can help a business expand is by drastically cutting the costs of maintaining an office, allowing more working capital to flow towards product development, marketing, and sales. In other words, less money spent on an annual lease and hefty down payment means more money to spend elsewhere, from new hires to better dev tools or the acquisition of new clients.

 

Aside from lower costs, coworking spaces demand a much lower commitment, as most are designed to work around flexible monthly leases rather than long-term commercial real estate leases, and coworking spaces live and thrive on the quality of their amenities and the local reputation of their administrators, meaning the work of setting up a brand-new office is done for you.

 

There are obvious challenges to a coworking space that a young company might not have in an office of their own. For one, there is the fact that you cannot dictate how a coworking space embraces its design philosophy and overall work culture, and you typically cannot impose too much of your company’s own culture without alienating other tenants, and potentially getting into trouble with management. To that effect, it’d be hard to announce an office party without first clearing it with the coworking company’s management staff, neither could you swap out art or change furniture (aside from making certain requests).

 

Outside of what you cannot control, there are also risks associated with coworking spaces that some businesses might not want to take. While coworking spaces generally have to guarantee a safe environment, both in terms of professional atmosphere and data security, some companies specializing in sensitive information might not feel comfortable accessing and working on it through the coworking space’s network.

 

That being said, most security concerns aren’t in the offices of companies working on their data through the cloud, but in the data centers that actually host the information. Furthermore, coworking spaces today recognize that their clients might be highly interested in ensuring that any information they process while at work can’t be snatched by a third party.

 

If your coworking space is your only or primary office, you might be able to enjoy the same freedoms you would if you had a space of your own, instead. But any company with a space of its own eventually needs more space.

 

2. As A Satellite Office

 

Where coworking spaces truly excel for larger companies and multinational enterprises is as an ideal way to set up satellite offices with minimal costs. Satellite offices are secondary and tertiary workplaces set up by larger companies that need a physical presence in another city, region, or country.

 

For example, your company might have headquarters in New York, but you’d still like an office on the West Coast, as well as offices in Europe for your emerging European clients, or because of the European launch of your product. Coworking spaces enable you to get a satellite office up and running in just a few days while ensuring that your team will have access to absolutely everything they need to work at full capacity.

 

3. As A Team Location

 

Sometimes, you don’t need an additional office because you want to capitalize on the location and the chance of meeting clients face-to-face through your company’s own representatives, but you need an additional office because a large portion of your development team is working from home in the same city or region, and you feel they might work more effectively and efficiently if they had a workspace they could physically collaborate in.

 

This might be in another state, or all the way across the planet’s surface, in Singapore or Johannesburg. Coworking spaces allow you to help a local team get set up right away.

 

4. As An Onboarding Facility

 

Even if your business operates largely remotely, whether due to ongoing or voluntary COVID restrictions, or because you have decided to embrace a remote or hybrid model, nothing beats a face-to-face onboarding process.

 

When onboarding a new hire, doing so physically allows you to introduce them to members of the team in-person, while giving them a feel for the company culture they’re joining, and giving them the opportunity to be much more direct and communicative during the first few days spent working together.

 

Hires onboarded strictly via screensharing, and video calling might have trouble asserting themselves when they’re confused or have a problem with a certain task or step, and they may feel left out or distant from the company without any real face-to-face interaction.

 

5. As A Virtual Office

 

Virtual offices are real addresses that serve as corporate headquarters, but rarely or never serve as an actual office for work. They may include a skeleton crew tasked with receiving and relaying packages, correspondence, and communication, or to serve as a location to occasionally receive clients. Virtual offices are not PO boxes – these are real offices, usually shared by multiple companies, with a reception and meeting rooms.

 

Sound familiar? Coworking spaces serve as excellent virtual offices, allowing you to maintain a small space of your own while most of your team works from home, or any location of your choosing. By choosing a coworking space in a high-end business park or commercial sector of the city, you help your business exude class without paying the same exorbitant rental fees expected of a company with that address.

 

6. As A Meeting Hall

 

Coworking spaces are also an excellent way for remote teams to organize a meetup and talk about business without having to do so at a coffee shop, or out in a park in the middle of winter.

 

Some coworking spaces allow you to specifically lease meeting rooms and utilize these to conduct conferences, or to meet with clients, plan projects, troubleshoot major issues that aren’t easily resolved while remote, and more.

 

Conclusion

 

Ultimately, there is no end to the possibilities of what you can leverage a coworking space for. We’ve made little to no mention of the benefits of working alongside other companies and professionals in a coworking space, or of the fact that coworking spaces tend to foster productivity, innovation, and help employees feel happier and more upbeat than traditional office spaces.

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Business Trends Office Space

The Advantages of Using a Virtual Business Address

What’s a virtual business address and how is it beneficial to the growth of your company? These are important questions to ask, especially during a time when remote work is happening more than ever.

 

In this day and age, many businesses don’t need physical locations to exist, operate, and thrive – and with the pandemic, more businesses than ever are embracing a hybrid or fully remote organizational structure. For many service-based startups, from SEO and content to software development, there are very few things speaking against this kind of setup – especially in terms of cost. However, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. People are more likely to trust a business with an existing address – and oftentimes, they want to know that their product or service is being handled by real humans, in a real location.

 

Sadly, it’s getting harder and harder to afford quality commercial real estate, especially when you’re in an industry that doesn’t require physical manufacturing or a dedicated office setup. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of a real business address.

 

You can lead a fully or mostly remote business, and still have a set professional business address to share with clients, customers, and potential business partners. This is where the virtual business address enters the picture.

 

What is a Virtual Business Address?

 

Virtual business addresses are real-life addresses in a coworking space or office space managed and leased out to companies as mostly virtual fronts, designed to interact with clients and customers, redirect mail and communications, and even host meetings when need be.

 

These spaces are real, and do exist, and are usually set up in business parks and commercial or corporate districts. However, all you are paying for is the nominal use of the address, rather than the entire space or office. Because the terms are much more minimal, they are also much more flexible.

 

Virtual business addresses are usually leased monthly, can be canceled at any time, and allow you to legitimize your business through a physical location (rather than a simple P.O. box) without anywhere near the same costs. Below are some of the advantages of working with a virtual business address rather than your own home office address.

 

In short, a virtual business address allows you to put a real-life address to your business, without the associated costs of leasing an office space in an expensive commercial district. Why bother? Because having a professional business address comes with a suite of benefits.

 

The Legitimacy of an Established Business

 

There is more to being successful on the Internet than a pretty façade. The advent of reputation-based marketing, customer reviews, and social media has drastically changed the way companies need to present themselves when vying for clients and keeping customers. Yet despite that, first impressions still matter.

 

Customers are more likely to take you seriously when knowing that your company has a location and address behind its name, one that isn’t tied to your personal home.

 

While it is becoming more and more normal for certain industries to feature 100 percent remote start-ups, and home-based freelancers or contractors, there is a certain reassurance behind knowing that the people you’re talking to are human beings working together in an office, rather than a group of strangers interacting online.

 

True, the latter is a completely misleading take on how remote companies function – but with the information age also comes the overly-cautious customer, warier than ever of scams and schemes. Legitimacy, even if it comes in the form of a virtual address rather than one you own the keys to, can go a long way towards convincing leads that you are every bit as authentic as any other ambitious business on the market.

 

Privacy for Your Home

 

With a virtual address comes an added benefit of not having to name your own address instead. There are still processes for which a business needs an address, such as registering as an LLC, entering a limited liability partnership, or seeking financing.

 

Most of the time, these processes do not accept simple PO boxes as addresses. And for everything else, you should still hesitate to place your home address as the base of operations for your business.

 

Not only will you be eliminating yet another crucial separator between work and life, but you are putting yourself at risk of going through lengths to address the problem of address discrepancies whenever you need to move.

 

Clients who decide to look your business up would also know exactly where you live, which can be more than just an uncomfortable fact – it can be a security risk.

 

Local SEO Benefits

 

While so much of our life has been supplanted or changed by the creation of internet services and social media, we’re still ultimately people living in towns, cities, regions, and countries – and that fact isn’t lost on search engines.

 

Most search engines (especially Google and Bing) place a great premium on location and are more likely to recommend services that are close by. In order to take advantage of that fact and ensure that you’re the biggest fish in your pond, you need Google to know where exactly you do business – and where your company can be found.

 

Even if you specialize in a good or service that never requires a customer to come anywhere near your main office, taking advantage of local SEO can greatly boost your traffic, which translates into relevant leads, and better sales.

 

Choosing a Virtual Business Address

 

Virtual business addresses are usually one part of a larger package, which can include virtual assistant services, receptionist services, email and phone redirection, package receiving and forwarding, and much more.

 

But when you take advantage of something like a coworking space as your virtual business address, you’re paying for more than just an expanded P.O. box and receptionist’s desk – you get an actual space for your company, one you can use from time to time to host important clients, schedule monthly or annual team meetings, and make use of as an onboarding space for new local talent.

 

By taking advantage of the full benefits of a coworking space, you’re not just getting a business address for your company in a prime location, but you’re getting an office space too – for a fraction of the cost and hassle.

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Office Space

How Will Coworking Help Build Corporate Sustainability?

Coworking spaces provide many benefits, but did you know it can help build corporate sustainability as well? Read more below for helpful details and information you’ll need to know for business growth.

 

The definition of corporate sustainability has altered contemporaneously to the coronavirus. A sustainable business must not only live in harmony with its environment, reduce its impact on climate, and ensure a balance between increasing stakeholder value and upholding critical social, cultural, and ethical standards, but also find a way to minimize the risks associated with continuing to do business during an ongoing pandemic. We are in uncharted waters, facing a challenge with no parallel in living memory.

 

The impact of this virus is not to be understated. Not only have lockdown measures harshly affected the economy, but the virus itself has impacted millions of lives through death, illness, grief, and hardship.

 

For every death, there are dozens of survivors whose lives have been made more difficult by COVID. No ethical nor responsible company would seek to illegitimatize the threat the virus continues to pose.

 

How the Corporate World is Coping

 

Nevertheless, we must find ways to continue to function and provide for one another. And many have, especially by way of remote solutions. Work-from-home policies have been changed overnight because of this pandemic. More Americans are working from home than in any other period in modern history. This unprecedented change has not come without its fair share of challenges and struggles. In addition, the many lessons learned from an imperfect and sudden transition.

 

With time, we have also come to see the limits of remote work. We realize that many of the productivity gains made during the early weeks of the pandemic were at the cost of sanity and work-life balance, with terrible aftereffects. We are social creatures, and remote work solutions made possible only through forced and continued isolation breed burnouts and anxiety.

 

People need to come back to work – but they need to do so slowly, sensibly, safely, and without endangering themselves and others. Careful hygiene protocols, strict social distancing measures, dedensification through coworking, and a progressive blend of remote and face-to-face solutions will all play their part in making this return possible.

 

COVID-19 Has Ushered in a Remote World

 

There’s no denying that the impact of the coronavirus on how we approach and involve remote work in our businesses will far outlast the virus itself. Some companies have vowed to continue implementing remote work policies for over a year, while others are switching to remote work “forever.”

 

Others yet will likely relax their rules on the concept of work-from-home, especially as collaborative and communications tools continue to improve in terms of usefulness and ubiquity.

 

This brave new remote world isn’t without its drawbacks. The sudden and unceremonious shift towards remote work has negatively impacted thousands of people, paving the way for issues related to isolation, constant home-related interruptions, and connectivity issues.

 

Make no mistake – there are many people who feel far more comfortable conducting most of their work from home, while remaining productive and feeling far more in-charge of their lives.

 

But there are far more people who haven’t made the most graceful transition, and who dearly miss working in an office environment where they can seamlessly communicate and collaborate with coworkers, and save themselves the hurdles of online communication.

 

 

A Remote World is Not Sustainable

 

There is no perfect replacement for face-to-face coworking – even when everything goes right, and connectivity issues or user-related errors aren’t leading to missed meetings or wasted hours. There’s still a lot that goes lost when relying on virtual tools to collaborate and communicate.

 

It’s much easier to onboard a new hire in the office than over Zoom. And it’s still much better to leave a lasting impression on a client during a physical meeting than over the phone.

 

When working together, there’s no replacement to a well-maintained and productive office environment. Some have turned to large-scale “work gym” Zoom calls to get the feeling of being in a room with other people.

 

Of course, the challenge there is obvious – how can we return to the office in any meaningful capacity without risking a violation of social distancing rules?

 

Keeping one’s distance is still the most effective way to minimize the spread of the virus. In addition to frequent handwashing, masks, keeping surfaces sanitized, and practicing good sneezing and coughing etiquette.

 

Any company that wants to bring at least some of its workforce back into the office must ensure that there’s never more than a few people in any given room at once.

 

However, there is a way to ensure a de-densified office without buying more office space. That is by leveraging coworking spaces.

 

The Role of Coworking in a New Normal

 

The coworking industry was slated to grow extensively in the next few years before the pandemic hit. Yet, COVID has forced many coworking spaces to shift gears and focus on making their spaces safer for companies looking for short-term leases, flexibility, and a well-maintained office. This includes offering private rooms and regular cleaning crews.

 

Coworking spaces are emerging as an important partner to both small and large enterprises looking to get more people back into the office.

 

Rather than crowd a company’s headquarters, companies can elect to work with nearby coworking spaces to reserve space for a few of their workers in key areas around the country. This includes setting up a hub-and-spoke network of satellite teams working independently, yet in coordination with one another, helping workers come back into an office environment without endangering them.

 

Furthermore, coworking spaces enable workers to avoid excessive commutes by choosing coworking spaces that are located closer to where they live. So even workers without a car of their own can reasonably and safely walk or pedal to where they need to be, without having to work solely from home.

 

Those who feel most comfortable remaining remote can choose to do so. While those that thrive best in an office environment can now opt to work in one via coworking.

 

The Ethos of Flexibility

 

Coworking spaces will play a role in a “new normal” dominated by choice – where employees are demanding more choices than ever, so they can ultimately work from wherever they’re most comfortable and productive.

 

Coworking spaces also allow companies to reap the benefits of bringing workers back into the office without endangering them or breaking social distancing rules. Meanwhile, those that continue to feel most comfortable working at home can continue to do so.

 

As we’re continuing to head towards an uncertain future, flexibility will continue to be the key to staying afloat and remaining successful.

 

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satellite offices

Businesses Turn to the Hub and Spoke Model Due to the Pandemic

The pandemic is changing the working world more and more these days, including businesses turning to the hub and spoke model. So what does this mean exactly? Read further.

 

With the onset of COVID earlier this year came the need for a rapid shift towards dedensification and remote work for many – a shift that most companies were unprepared for. As it has become clear that the pandemic is here to stay for the foreseeable future, it has become a top priority for businesses all around the world to adapt to current conditions, and turn temporary workarounds into more permanent solutions.

 

This year has, above and beyond all else, hammered in the importance of flexibility and adaptability. And with that lesson comes the need for a brand-new design approach for companies looking to optimize the workplace for both productivity and safety.

 

While it’s clear that working from home brings along the least risk of exposure, it isn’t a permanent solution. And bringing everyone back to HQ without a long list of precautions and considerations may even border on negligence.

 

There are drawbacks to working from home permanently, including a greater risk of burnout. People need boundaries between work and life to function in the long-term, and any solution needs to address both the risks of COVID and the importance of defining some sort of workplace.

 

As a result, one of the more popular approaches has been the hub-and-spoke model, fashioned after similar concepts in logistics, transport, and healthcare. The hub, in this case, is company HQ. And the spokes are the various satellite offices and remote workplaces. The scope of the hub and spoke model is flexible, because of the nature of the internet – it’s a concept that scales to towns, cities, countries, and continents.

 

The Hub and Spoke Model

 

The hub and spoke model effectively swaps remote work for a work-from-anywhere policy, wherein the original headquarters of a business is made leaner and kept occupied by a (potentially rotating) skeleton crew of employees, while other workers operate from office spaces at home and in satellite offices all around the area.

 

Cost is a huge concern, especially in this market – but the hub-and-spoke model doesn’t presuppose that companies try and take out half a dozen leases. Instead, it operates on the assumption that companies repurpose their existing office space to act as a central hub, while utilizing coworking spaces and homes as safe and low-cost extensions of the workplace.

 

The entire network relies on different telecommunication and collaboration tools to function. Employees touch base with HQ, then report back after every major task.

 

The main reason for switching to a hub and spoke model over simply returning to the office is that it gives companies a way to utilize and populate their existing office space with a smaller number of employees and managers, while leveraging the growing and competitive coworking market (which has rapidly adapted to COVID workplace safety requirements).

 

The Benefit of Scattered Workplaces

 

These workplaces generally scale to single areas – for example, a city – where employees can have the option of staying at home, or biking/driving to a nearby satellite office while remaining in touch with the company’s central office.

 

The coworking market has emerged as a strong backbone to the hub and spoke model and scattered workplaces because it allows companies to subsidize the costs and stress of retrofitting offices to enable proper ventilation, cleaning, and social distancing protocols, while remaining entirely flexible by offering short-term leases and monthly or quarterly contracts, instead of long-term commitments.

 

We are still currently in a place where both the economy and the virus itself are volatile. Flexibility is important not only in the workplace, but as a general attitude towards the present and future.

 

There is currently no way of knowing what tomorrow brings. Staggered changes, such as a slow return to the office via the hub and spoke model, help improve morale and productivity and avoid burnouts without endangering workers and placing all of the burden on employees to stay safe in the office.

 

 

Defining the Hub

 

Dedensification is key in defining the hub. Headquarters should remain sparsely occupied during the pandemic, with employees maintaining large distances, cleaning as they go, and avoiding colliding foot traffic.

 

Staircases should be designated as one-way, additional cleaning crews should disinfect surfaces and critical areas such as doors and chairs several times a day, and offices are populated by one or two key employees each.

 

The hub acts as the central command for the company, coordinating with smaller teams and individual workers throughout the city, whether they’re at home or in another office.

 

A good metric is to cut the number of employees at HQ down to about half of what they were in pre-pandemic days, or less – while giving the rest the option to work from a place of their choosing, or a designated coworking location.

 

Defining the Spokes

 

Spokes are “everywhere else”, including additional offices (whether leased as commercial space solely for the company’s benefit, or more likely, a coworking space).

 

These don’t have to be in the city – some companies are looking at coworking locations in the suburbs, trying as best as possible to choose potential office space that minimizes the commute, and keeps their employees away from crowds.

 

When picking coworking spaces to expand your hub and spoke model, think about what lengths your workers would have to go through to get to work and back. Some workers who simply can’t make it to any office safely would likely have to continue to work from home until the situation develops in a different direction, but the majority will be able to benefit from a safe return to the office.

 

Working in a Pandemic World

 

Hub and spoke models are inherently adaptable, as they’re designed with short-term leases and commitments in mind, allowing companies to rapidly shift and pivot in response to new rules and regulations, changes in quarantine, outbreaks, and more.

 

While we still don’t know what role remote work will play in the long-term, it’s clear that more flexible workplace arrangements are not just a boon, but a necessity going forward.


Read More:

4 Reasons COVID-19 Made Coworking Spaces Important

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Business Trends

How Organizational Intelligence Shapes Business for Success

If you’re always searching for new ways to grow your business for success, then organizational intelligence is definitely something you should learn more about! Read all the details below.

 

Ever since we’ve moved into the information age, researchers and analysts have been looking for a better model for management thinking and business survival in the 21st century, especially with regards to modern technology and developments in communication and automation.

 

The most enduring idea to emerge from the combination of human intelligence and improved technology is organizational intelligence. This is a new way of measuring the potential for growth and survival in a business based on a more holistic approach to the business’ human assets. In addition,  its computational assets, its leadership, its data acquisition and management, and how well it puts that data to use.

 

What is Organizational Intelligence? 

 

Just as we measure human intelligence via an intelligence quotient, so do some analysts argue that it might be possible to measure a business’ or an organization’s intelligence by how the organization as a whole adopts and adjusts to new information. Of course, no tests for such a quotient exist.

 

Instead, organizational intelligence is determined in relation to the event or timeframe in which it is analyzed. Perhaps in relation to a business’ competitors or past performance, or simply to rate whether something was a success or a failure as a result of a business’ organizational intelligence, or outside factors.

 

Organizational intelligence can best be described as an organization’s capacity to leverage the individual performance and intelligence of each working part. This includes each branch, each employee, each system, each department, each project, and each team to adapt, survive, and thrive as a whole.

 

To measure an organization’s intelligence, an analyst would look towards:

 

      • The organization’s capacity to adapt to complex situations.
      • The organization’s ability to pick up on emerging trends and events, and act accordingly, ideally preempting another trend (i.e. trendsetting).
      • The organization’s ability to gather, manage, analyze, and act upon relevant data as collected from clients, users, and other legal sources.
      • The organization’s ability to reflect on past successes and failures, and replicate successes while avoiding similar pitfalls (i.e. avoiding the same mistakes).

 

Organizational intelligence also shifts away from the idea of the executive arm of a business as being its sole decision-making body. Instead, the model of organizational intelligence allows a business to not only consider the capacity for data management and analysis in the business, but in each individual part of the business. This means in each team, group, and department. It encourages individual employees to collect information and improve their work on the basis of that information.

 

It encourages them to think ahead, to notice trends, to speak on the future of the company or the product, and to act independently to some degree – while the executive arm retains oversight.

 

Communication is Key

 

As such, communication plays a critically important role in determining a business’ organizational intelligence. The capacity for a business to relay and act on information internally, communicate and collaborate between teams and departments, utilize technologies to kick start and continue projects across distances, and interact with other business partners.

 

This lets a business remain lean even as it grows in size. It places greater importance on how intelligent a system (in this case, the business) becomes the greater its scope. On a smaller, individual level, our intelligence is limited by individual quirks and weaknesses. In teams, we can make up for these weaknesses and we aim to hire and train people who allow a team to become whole.

 

 

In turn, as teams form departments and the departments form the company, it becomes plain to see how every asset plays a role in developing a business’ potential for growth and survival, based on their ability to gather and act on information.

 

After every major step, it’s important to reflect on an episode in a business’ history and determine whether anything could have been done to adjust how information was gathered and acted upon.

 

Could the trend have been identified sooner? Was it identified but rejected? And why? If there was a failure to act sooner or if a misstep was made, where did it occur? Was there a problem with the information? Or management? Was there a failure in communication and follow up? Were changes poorly coordinated?

 

These are just some of the questions that must be asked and help determine a business’ organizational intelligence.

 

Organizational Intelligence and Operational Intelligence

 

Organizational intelligence is not to be confused with operational intelligence. The two are very similar and play a critical role in the development of a forward-thinking and adaptable business.

 

Organizational intelligence is a measure of a business’ capacity to gather information and act on it as a whole, In addition, an analysis of a business’ organization and communication, as well as the relationships that play into how a business functions. Operational intelligence describes the actual process by which a group makes decisions based on real-time data. One is nothing without the other.

 

Operational intelligence focuses on real-time data collection and analysis, whereas organizational intelligence measures a business’ ability to act on that information by way of its employee workflow and collaborative communications. Its ability to interact between departments and power structures, across different physical locations and divisions, and between internal organizations and partners outside.

 

A Business’ Capacity to Adapt Belies Its Success

 

A business that can properly leverage communication channels, data collection and analysis, and lean decision-making will possess the necessary organizational intelligence to adapt to turbulent times, pivot whenever necessary, and react accordingly.

 

It will also gain the ability to set trends and learn from patterns of success and failure and turn a large collection of people with individual strengths and weaknesses into an organization that channel’s everyone’s talents.

 

Technologies and workplace policies are key to building a culture of high organizational intelligence.

Building a business that works efficiently and communicates effectively on a skeleton crew, or by having a substantial portion of the company remaining remote or working through coworking spaces is one such example of how to improve on organizational intelligence. This way, teams learn to collaborate more effectively, and leverage talent from all around the world with less overhead and greater productivity.

 

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Business Trends

The Rise of Solopreneurship: Is it Right for You?

As business trends evolve, we’ve come to hear terms like solopreneurship. But what does it mean exactly and is it possibly a new career path for you? Find out below!

 

While the technical opportunities to become an entrepreneur have grown rapidly in the digital age, entrepreneurialism is arguably less attractive than it has ever been. The United States has been in a startup decline for the last few decades. Millennials are more risk-averse and less ambitious than Baby Boomers, after years of economic decline and crisis after crisis. They face much greater debt, bigger living costs, and lower wages. An aging population and slowed population growth also affect the supply and demand of entrepreneurialism.

 

Meanwhile, larger firms have grown at a much faster pace domestically and internationally, soaking up talent and taking ownership of young companies and potential startup ideas. Venture capitalists and investors are favoring mature and proven businesses more so than innovators, and the rapid growth in tech is crowding out competitors, rather than calling on a rising tide to lift all boats.

 

With a pandemic snapping at our heels, it’s understandable to be frightened of failure and the risks associated with taking the plunge towards a business of your own.

 

However, it’s also important not to be consumed entirely by this bleak outlook. Just because fewer people are starting businesses doesn’t mean it’s gotten any harder – it’s actually gotten easier.

 

The Internet remains the great enabler, and it doesn’t take much capital to start a brand-new business. This is especially true for solopreneurs, who are taking advantage of the way the Internet has enabled many to begin a venture of their own without the need for a team to produce and market their idea, product, or service.

 

Furthermore, while startup businesses have certainly become less common, “side gigs” and “hustle culture” definitely haven’t. Younger people in general are picking up more jobs and ventures, from flipping furniture to making jewelry on Etsy, as a source of extra income. But solopreneurship takes it to another level, taking the “hustle” and turning it into a one-person business.

 

What’s a Solopreneur? 

 

A solopreneur is an entrepreneur working independently as the sole human element in his or her venture. Solopreneurs may network with others, socialize with potential business partners for separate ventures, and seek funding, but they ostensibly create and are entirely responsible for every aspect of their business, assuming all the risk and all of the rewards without employing anyone else.

 

Solopreneurs differ from entrepreneurs in that they don’t hire others to work for them – but they will still work with them, outsourcing jobs they can’t do effectively on their own or commissioning work that requires extra hands. A solopreneur may eventually expand into an entrepreneurial venture, but solopreneurs start their business with the intention of being the only one involved.

 

It’s arguably easier to be a solopreneur, especially if you know what you’re good at and know how to market it. You’re limited entirely by your own work capacity and talent but can make up for it by forming the right alliances to score lucrative opportunities and develop and expand your customer base. But it’s still hard work. If you think you’re ready to be a solopreneur, read on.

 

 

It’s Not Just You vs. The World 

 

Being a solopreneur is lonely, even more lonely than it already is to be an entrepreneur. But that doesn’t mean the life of a solopreneur is one of total isolation. Solopreneurs crash and burn when working entirely alone, as do we all.

 

While it is a solopreneur’s goal to set up a business they can run on their own, businesses never exist within a vacuum. The success of a startup is entirely reliant on correctly identifying an existing or unseen demand. Businesses also exist in competition with one another, improving and innovating often based on those around them. And finally, many businesses exist only because of the cooperation between multiple ambitious minds working together on separate yet related problems.

 

One of the most important elements of “making it” as a solopreneur is recognizing how you can best work with those around you to survive, and eventually thrive. You come to see those around you as valuable contacts and friends and connect with customers on a personal level as well. Authenticity is the key to longevity in the startup world.

 

Networking and Coworking as a Solopreneur

 

Many solopreneurs work from home, especially given the ongoing public health crisis. But working from home for too long can be very isolating, not just in a mental sense, but also from a business perspective. You need to interact with others to get a better understanding of the local startup scene, and to identify potential partners and competitors.

 

Coworking spaces are a natural fit for solopreneurs, providing them with accessible and affordable space to be productive outside of your own home, free from domestic distractions, and in the middle of an environment filled with networking opportunities and professionals eager to exchange ideas or seek out work relationships.

 

Coworking spaces eliminate the need to worry about technical difficulties, unreliable internet service, needless distractions, and the crushing feeling of being stuck within the same four walls for weeks on end. And all without the costs and hassle of setting up an office of your own, and with the benefit of working within a melting pot of local talent, including independent contractors and other solopreneurs.

 

Is Solopreneurship Right for You?

 

Just like being an entrepreneur, solopreneurship offers you the opportunity to be your own boss. And given the technical opportunities around us today, it’s easier than ever to get started.

 

Competition is stiff, there are no guarantees, you’ll be working hard for most of the day every day, and it’s something you have to be in for the long haul if you expect to make any money back. You may have to borrow money to get started, you may go into debt if your idea fails, and many entrepreneurs talk about the emotional hardships that come with being at the helm of your own business venture.

 

But ultimately, it’s worth it when you do succeed. You get to be proud of every step you’re taking in the name of something you believe in and are 100% responsible for.

 

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
Office Space

5 Modern Office Design Trends to Improve Employee Morale

Why have offices changed? Among other things, modern office design is setting itself apart from the traditional cubicle office because it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the old model has become ineffective, and a hindrance to productivity – particularly for today’s workforce.

 

But why? And why do modern concepts like collaborative spaces and flexible offices matter more today than before?

 

The answer is complex, but two factors that should be heavily considered are:

 

      • The internet
      • Economic instability

 

Both give us clues as to how to improve worker morale and boost productivity – and why these modern office design trends are integral in achieving this.

 

Why Flexibility is Key in Modern Office Design

 

A considerable chunk of today and tomorrow’s workforce grew up in a time when the most important technology of the century was making annual leaps in terms of connectivity and possibility.

 

Concepts like e-commerce and telecommunication existed mostly on paper only a few decades ago – today, they’re commonplace and virtually irreplaceable. We’ve gone from clunky and immovable workstations with barely more than a few megabytes of memory to thousands of times the same processing power within the palm of our hand.

 

Our idea of the modern office must adjust accordingly. There is no need to keep workers chained to inefficient cubicles and maintain a stifling work environment.

 

A design based around the same principles as the internet can not only improve productivity, but boost morale – people expect the following:

 

      • To be connected 24/7
      • The ability for collaborating and withdrawing to individual corners in a matter of seconds
      • Having the flexibility to work from anywhere in a varied and refreshing office space, rather than spending eight hours at a single desk

 

Today’s Workers are Worried and Stressed

 

The second factor also translates immediately into why a comforting design philosophy, high morale, and appropriately employee-centric company vision plays such a critical role in productivity.

 

The idea of the stable, safe job with benefits and a clear future is dead to many. Adults who are entering the workforce today vividly remember the lasting effects of the great recession and are aware of how the rise in a gig-based economy has led to an increased focus on providing transitory spaces and an emphasis on outsourced talent rather than investing heavily in in-house talent.

 

Many workers are paranoid that they simply won’t be with any one company for very long, and they are often uniquely aware of their own expendability, working hard to prune and perfect an ever-growing virtual portfolio and social presence, mixing their work life with their personal life online, and marketing a personal brand.

 

They understand the importance of the bottom line and have little faith in a company to prioritize their wellbeing. This is just one major factor that makes it hard for many to genuinely give a company their all – they don’t feel valued, and experience has taught them to expect little.

 

Why You Need to Care About Employee Morale

 

Happy workers are effective workers.

 

But to be happy, workers need to be positively motivated, and in a good mood. It doesn’t help to create an atmosphere of terror at the workplace, one where everyone is out to compete against one another. A productive workplace must provide collaborative opportunities for its workers, and it must motivate them through a potential long-term career.

 

There’s little value for workers in free training and experience when it is plain as day to them that they don’t have a future at any given firm. For startups, companies that give workers little control or insight over the future of the company gives them little reason to care about the work they do, and how it affects the business.

 

Most people say they care about money, but most people really care about more than just money. They yearn to be a part of something greater, and see their input translate directly into tangible results, not just in the form of a great paycheck, but something they can be proud of.

 

Design plays a critical role in motivating people to be more productive; it helps make them feel like they are a part of something important. Here are a few simple yet critical modern office design trends that cater to this shift.

 

 

1. Create Flexible Spaces

 

It’s clear that cubicles do much more harm than good. It’s simply not productive to stay stuck to a single spot for hours at a time for days, weeks, and months on end. Flexible office spaces eliminate static desks and workspaces, instead replacing them with common areas and shared spaces.

 

Need time alone to work on a project?

      • Go into a soundproof room or a meeting room and get to work.

Out of ideas?

      • Head to the break room for a while.

Just want to engage others and maybe work on a new project?

      • Find one of several different collaborative spaces and just listen in and engage.

 

Coworking or flexible spaces allow people to work on their own stations, or on their laptops, or their phones – alongside others, or alone, on a sofa, or by a window. It is the most popular modern office design trend that we are seeing.

 

2. Utilize Collaborative Furniture

 

Collaborative furniture is the exact opposite of a cubicle, tearing down the four gray walls and replacing them with scattered coffee tables, larger collaborative meeting tables, and sofas instead of single office chairs. Comfort over formality, and community over strict individuality.

 

Some key features to collaborative furniture include sockets and lightning options, adjustable heights, large interactive monitors to easily launch and present quick pitches and ideas, or just a whiteboard/blackboard and a few comfortable couches or bean bag chairs.

 

3. Make the Break Room Fun

 

Break rooms should be more than just a simple kitchen with a semi-functioning coffee machine. Rather than picking a boring stereotype, build a break room you and your employees would genuinely enjoy – one you can drop by in for a quick five-minute refresher, or a somewhat longer recharge.

 

It shouldn’t be a total game room – a workplace is ultimately still for work, and if an employee is having a day when just nothing is getting done, it might be more productive for them to take the day off and have a break at home – but the break room should still be something tailored specifically to your company.

 

4. Implement Biophilic Design

 

Less to do with flexibility, collaboration, and individual creativity, biophilic design simply aims to make the most of the aspects of the natural world that enhance our creativity and make us feel more at ease.

 

The calming effects of forests and other nature-filled spaces have been recorded in the past. Now, biophilic modern office design tries to incorporate this through more:

 

      • Natural light
      • Certain colors
      • Decors, materials, and furniture

 

The result is an interesting blend of modernity and nature. One that is meant to improve productivity by reducing unneeded stress.

 

5. It’s More Than Aesthetics 

 

Designing an office space is understanding that our environments shape us, both actively and passively. It’s not just surface-level stuff, with empty platitudes and color schemes pulled straight off a pop psych magazine.

 

An effective modern office design ultimately strives to get at the root of what makes employees and workers anxious. It then aims to eliminate these factors. From there, they can focus on doing what fulfills them and makes them proud of their hard work.

 

 

Common Questions About Modern Office Design

Why Have “Traditional Offices” Changed?

Modern office design sets itself apart as we see the traditional model has become ineffective. It is a hindrance to productivity, and lessens employee morale.

Why Is Employee Morale Important?

Happy workers are effective workers. Producing an office design that continually inspires, allows for collaboration, and motivates people leads to more productivity and success.

How Can You Improve Employee Morale with Office Design?

You can improve morale through design by: implementing flexible offices, utilizing collaborative furniture, creating a fun and creative break room, using biophilic design, and reducing worker anxiety through design.

 

Conclusion

 

Offices should aim to help workers feel comfortable in their downtime and motivated in their working time. They should be sterile or staid, but they shouldn’t simply be playful for no reason.

Implementing these modern office design trends properly means understanding what your workers need and working with professionals to fulfill those needs.

 


Read More:

7 Ways to Avoid Creating a Toxic Workplace Environment
Categories
Gig Economy

How the Gig Economy Is Changing Work as We Know It

The gig economy is changing the way that we work, whether we like it or not. Here’s what it means for your company and the offices of the future.

 

While the institution of the ‘job’ and the history of the 40-hour work week make it seem like what work is and can be is set in stone, the reality is that our understanding of work has never been consistent, and there’s always been a constant shift in how we classify, divide, and make use of labor, especially as technology and constant innovation brings about faster and faster change.

 

Yet while the changes in our understanding of work are constant, there’s one major shift that has had everyone talking for the entirety of the 2010s – the shift towards a gig-based economy.

 

Over the course of the last decade, that shift has not been fully realized. The truth is that the gig economy still only accounts for a fraction of the nation’s workers. Yet hidden beneath that data is another, far more important fact:

 

While few people rely on gigs to survive and fund their daily bread, an ever-increasing number of people are taking side-jobs, doing gigs on top of traditional work.

 

It’s impossible to argue that the gig economy has not changed work as we know it – but it’s important to figure out what that change means.

 

What is the Gig Economy? 

 

The gig economy is a phenomenon largely based on the ever-growing success of the freelancer lifestyle as made possible through leaps of progress in personal computing and the social integration of the internet into both daily life, and the marketplace.

 

The rise of tech startups  and countless other businesses has given way to a completely new form of work characterized by a lack of proper employee-status, but a much wider range of freedoms. These include:

 

  • TaskRabbit
  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • DoorDash
  • Deliveroo
  • Airbnb

 

Rather than entering into long-term contracts with monthly salaries, gig workers enter into short-term contracts or simply earn money on a task-per-task basis, with the ability to opt in and out of work at nearly a moment’s notice.

 

Using the analogy of a bundle sticks which determine the factors that make up the relationship between an employee and an employer, a gig worker is someone who holds more sticks than their employer (having more freedoms in matters of choosing when and where to work, what to charge, and so on).

 

The gig economy does not exist solely on the basis of tech firms and phone apps, but also exists in the form of countless contractors and self-branded freelancers who work independently with various companies for short periods of time.

 

In some cases, the gig economy has even led to the full formation of fully-fledged professional teams composed of individual freelancing professionals: ephemeral pseudo-companies set up to complete a massive and complex project before disbanding, much like film crews.

 

A New Way Forward

This new way of working represents a much more fluid interpretation of what it means to work and calls for a completely new understanding of the relationship between a company and the people it employs, and the subsequent rules of engagement.

 

The benefits are clear:

 

  • With more freedom, workers have the ability to prosper and compete on an entirely new level
  • They can take advantage of the many opportunities afforded to them through social networks and various networking platforms to carefully curate and manage a personal brand, on a level never before possible. 

 

But it’s not gone off entirely without a hitch, either, as many are concerned about how the prevalence of gig-based work might affect the social safety net that several generations of Americans worked hard to create in most forms of traditional labor across the country. Because it’s a nascent economy, there’s very little set in stone, and much can still happen.

 

Coworking in the Gig Economy

 

Greater freedom in the relationship between companies and workers contributes to new ways of working, particularly fueling the growth coworking spaces. These ‘shared offices’ have been growing throughout the world since the turn of the century, and they have been taking off more so now than ever.

 

There are several reasons coworking meshes so well with the growing gig economy, and why one feeds directly into the other. While the gig economy is fueled by an increased need for flexibility and self-determination in a post-recession market, built by a generation that has experienced a volatile economy and strives for greater independence from companies and employers, coworking represents the continued human need for a community.

 

There’s no denying that telecommunications have paved the way for a completely new way to work together. Teams are forming across oceans, and projects are coordinating between continents. Yet there are still benefits of physically working side-by-side with professionals you trust and admire. This is beneficial even if they aren’t working in the same field, or in the same company.

 

Coworking has paved the way for a completely new arrangement in the workplace where employees from different companies and freelancers working by themselves can come together to work independently, collaborate by choice, or simply share in an atmosphere driven by the will to be productive and work towards an interesting and exciting future.

 

The Offices of the Future

 

While coworking is scheduled to continue growing massively throughout the world, particularly as a way for freelancers and independent contractors to continue to benefit from having a place to focus on their work and be away from home, and as a way for companies both big and small to massively reduce overhead, the traditional private office is still here to stay.

 

But it won’t be completely unscathed. Coworking has a lot it can teach other office spaces, particularly about productivity and learning to accommodate workers in different ways to help them individually maximize how best they work. Some people work better collaboratively, while others prefer competition.

 

Some need total silence and a space to call their own, while others like the white noise and work well alongside others. As we move away from standard offices, unhealthy cubicles, and setups that are increasingly leading to worker illness, burnout, lifestyle issues and early deaths, the offices of the future must focus on improving the efficiency of the individual by better catering to their needs.

 

Common Questions About This New Trend

What is the Gig Economy?

The gig economy is a phenomenon largely based on the ever-growing success of the freelancer lifestyle. Rather than entering into long-term contracts with monthly salaries, gig workers enter into short-term contracts or simply earn money on a task-per-task basis,

What are the Benefits of a Gig Economy?

Workers have the ability to prosper and compete on an entirely new level, and they can take advantage of the many opportunities afforded to them through social networks and various networking platforms to carefully curate and manage a personal brand.

How Does the Gig Economy Affect Office Space?

Greater freedom in the relationship between companies and workers contributes to new ways of working, particularly fueling the growth coworking spaces