Look for These Warning Signs Before You Rent an Office

You don’t want to end up in a frustrating or toxic office environment. Protect yourself by looking out for these warning signs during your viewings.

As a business owner, there’s nothing more stressful than a poor relationship with your landlord. You can fire bad employees and clients whenever you want, but you can’t separate yourself as easily from the person who owns your workspace.

It’s critical, therefore, that you take every precaution you can to avoid getting into toxic rental situations. While you can’t see the future and some problems are inevitable, you can mitigate the risk by looking out for these warning signs. If any of these become apparent during your viewings or conversations with property owners/managers, you should find a new work environment.

(Related: 4 Things to Look for When Viewing Potential Office Space)

Free download: Critical Questions to Ask the Property Owner Before Renting Office Space

The exterior and common areas look neglected

office-building-exterior

Even if the interior of your unit looks immaculate, you should look at the exterior of the building and any common areas, such as hallways, break rooms, bathrooms, lobbies, stairwells, etc.

A property manager or building owner may spruce up the interior because that’s what most people care about. But maintaining the exterior of the building is often costly and time consuming.

Even if your unit looks fine, you have to assume the lowest form of maintenance is what you’ll end up with. So if the lawn is unkempt, the parking lot is littered, and the lobby is a mess, assume your unit will end up in that condition one day and the owner won’t do anything about it.

This is a bigger problem if your business intends to bring clients to the office. Your clients will judge everything they see, even if it’s not technically your problem. A dirty bathroom will make your clients wonder what else you aren’t managing, even if that bathroom is community space.

“I’ll show you a similar unit”

Sometimes less-than-honest landlords will offer to show you a unit that “looks exactly like the one you’ll be renting.” They offer all types of excuses. They might say that it’s occupied and the tenant doesn’t give him permission to enter (which is nonsense because every landlord writes a walkthrough provision into the lease) or it’s under construction (again this is nonsense because it doesn’t prevent you from seeing it).

Never sign a rental agreement unless you have physically stood in the unit mentioned on the lease. We always tell our clients to arrange a full viewing of the unit and property they’ll be renting. If the landlord says he/she can’t show you something that you’ll be paying for, run away.

The owner doesn’t want to sign an agreement

People make a lot of mistakes regarding rental agreements. The biggest one you could make is not having one.

Property owners sometimes want to avoid leases for different reasons. Some want to avoid paying taxes on the income. In some cases, the space isn’t zoned for commercial use or the owner doesn’t have the right paperwork/licenses/certifications in place. In the worst cases, the owner is actively looking to take advantage of you.

Truthfully, this happens more often in residential renting than commercial office space, but it does happen. Even if the property owner offers you an attractive arrangement in exchange for untraceable cash payments, it’s still in your best interest to have an agreement.

Here are a few problems you could experience if you don’t have a rental agreement.

1. You could be evicted early.

Since there’s no official agreement, the property owner can have you removed at any time. In some states you can prove occupancy without a lease, but that takes time, stress, and money to fight. Experts at Real Estate Lawyers agree. They also suggest a common way un-leased renters can be evicted:

“It is better to rent commercial property with a lease agreement, given the possible liability associated with renting. For example, if someone does not have a lease and their property owner decides to sell the property where the business is located, there is no lease to prevent the new owners from giving notice that they would like you to vacate the property. Without a lease, the new owners would be able to tell you to find a new location for your business.”

2. You could lose any money you put into the unit.

Small businesses don’t usually incur a lot of expenses when moving into a unit, but there are some. For instance, you might buy office furniture that fits the space or maybe a yearly parking pass in a nearby garage. If you are suddenly evicted, you could lose those investments.

3. Your rent could suddenly increase.

If you don’t have a lease, there’s technically no legal rental price. The property owner can demand a bigger rent at any time and your only recourse is to move. Sometimes unscrupulous landlords will bait-and-switch you by letting you in without a lease and then requiring you to sign one at a higher rent.

4. The owner might not perform maintenance or repairs.

Lack of a rental agreement means the landlord isn’t legally liable for basic repairs (excluding repairs relating to health and safety, which they would have to handle even if the unit was empty). You’ll have to pay out of your pocket even for the simplest things, like new lightbulbs or worn carpeting.

Remember: A rental agreement should be in place as much to protect you as the property owner. If the landlord refuses, so should you.

The owner won’t answer questions

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Naturally, you’ll have questions for the property owner or manager. Who will handle repairs? Who do you call if the building is locked? Who do you call if someone is parked in your spot? How are conflicts resolved between tenants?

In turnkey spaces, the tenant relies on the property owner for more services than they would in a traditional lease. The owner might pay for high-speed Internet, phone lines, a shared receptionist, or a hundred other things. As a potential tenant, you would have questions about all of this.

But if the landlord doesn’t have answers to your questions, they either aren’t taking the arrangement seriously, don’t know what they’re doing, or don’t intend to abide by any of the promises they’re making. Either scenario is bad for you.

A good landlord that wants to provide a quality space and build a long term relationship with you should be happy to answer your questions. It’s in their best interest. If you get vague responses or “don’t worry about it,” look elsewhere.

The owner is difficult to deal with

Even if there’s nothing wrong with the unit, you can get an impression of what renting will be like by having a simple conversation with the property owner (or whomever is your point-of-contact). Assess this person carefully. Are they pleased to have a new tenant? Are they proud of their building and business? Are they protective of their other tenants?

People are usually on their best behavior when they’re on first dates and job interviews. If the property owner is distant, distracted, dismissive, or doesn’t seem to have time for you, chances are that won’t change once you’ve signed an agreement. Don’t waste your time trying to work with someone who isn’t willing to invest into the relationship.

Download this free list of questions you should ask at any office space viewing.

Whatever you do, don’t settle

There are likely more available office units available than you know. Most are off the main road without signage. You don’t have to settle on the first property you see. The property owner/manager might try to influence your decision with something like “There isn’t much else available in the area,” but that probably isn’t true.

Make sure you find the right space for your business. The success of your business and your team depends on it. We insist that our customers schedule multiple viewings so they can get a feel for what’s available and what they need. Find your next office today.

Must-Know Productivity Techniques for You and Your Team

Getting the most out of your team doesn’t mean working them to death. But with a few productivity optimizations, you can improve your team’s performance.

When you’re building a business, you don’t have the resources for extra people. Maybe someday you’ll have a generous budget, but today you need to get as much work out of your current team as possible.

Getting the most out of your team doesn’t mean working them to death. If you overwork your employees and cause them stress, you’ll struggle retaining talent. Plus you’ll build a reputation as an employer who doesn’t care about employee happiness, which can make hiring problematic.

However, you can make a few optimizations to your workflow, office space, and process to squeeze out a bit more productivity.

Free resource: The 5 Best Productivity Models in the World

1. Schedule Everything

Most of us use a calendar to keep track of our lives, but we don’t use it for everything. You probably mark down important meetings, phone calls or deadlines, but you don’t schedule 15 minutes for household chores or 3 hours to have dinner and watch a movie with your spouse.

Scheduling everything is a critical way to make sure everything gets done, including your personal responsibilities and a bit of healthy entertainment. You want your team to have balanced lives so they can give you their focus at work.

2. The (10+2)*5 Formula

Taking breaks is critical to working productively, but those breaks have to be timed properly. If your breaks interrupt key moments of thinking (like when you’re interrupted by someone else), they can actually inhibit your overall productivity. This is because it takes time for your mind to orient itself to a problem, even an old one.

The (10+2)*5 formula is simple: Work for ten minutes and break for two minutes. Do this five times consecutively before taking any longer breaks (like lunch or quitting for the day). You’ll find that the reward of a two minute break keeps you on track during those 10 minutes.

3. Productivity Colors

We’ve known for a while that colors impact our brain’s performance and motivation. A study by Science Daily discovered that red and blue impact productivity.

Red increases attention to detail and focus. It’s great for reviewing documents, editing materials, or studying proposals. Blue ignites creativity and inspirational thought. Use it when you’re trying to solve problems or write messaging or software code.

4. Look for Shortcuts

Working more productively doesn’t always mean working harder. In most cases it means finding ways to automate tasks. Do you find yourself completing a regular task that doesn’t take much brainpower? Find a way to automate it. It’s not worth your time.

Most importantly, encourage your team to do the same. Tell them openly that you would rather them spend time on creative problem solving, not paper-pushing. If you don’t already, consider investing in licensed software designed to solve your specific administrative problems.

You should also look for tasks that can eliminated from your workload. You should only be working on projects that provide value to the business. If you find yourself doing low-value work… just stop doing it.

5. Assign a Task Master

This is a lesson taken from software developers who use a system called Scrum to organize team activities. A Scrum team has a leader who organizes a task board. The task board has columns for “upcoming,” “in progress,” “ready for review,” and “complete.” Post-it notes are used for each task and moved through the columns.

The Task Master’s job is to prioritize the tasks, assign them to team members, and manage the task board. This is a useful technique when you have a lot of work to do that can be completed by anyone, or are working under a tight deadline.

6. Ban Gadgets from Desks

A study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers found that the average person checks his/her phone 150 times per day. We don’t think that checking out notifications takes long, but it quickly adds up. Leaving the phone on the desk makes the device almost irresistible, but it’s easy to forget about when it’s put into a drawer.

You can eliminate the distraction by creating a policy that requires phones or tablets to be put away during work hours. This could be a challenging policy to enforce and you might actually struggle retaining talent if you come across as a micromanager, so you’ll have to decide if this is right for your company.

7. Quick Morning Workouts

A few minutes of exercise is proven to boost productivity throughout the entire day. Some companies even direct their employees in a bit of morning calisthenics.

You don’t have to suffer through an hour at the gym early in the morning, but you should implement a daily 10-minute workout. Take a brisk walk or a bike ride, or do some of these quick, no-equipment exercises.

8. 15-Minute Meetings

Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. This means that if you schedule something for 30 minutes, it will take 30 minutes. If you schedule it for an hour, it will take an hour. This happens often in meetings because people feel compelled to stay to the end, even if the meeting functionally ended early.

“Make meetings more productive or don’t have them,” says productivity coach Ciara Conlon. “Meetings waste an enormous amount of money each year for organizations. Too many people are in attendance that don’t have to be there, and most of them are replying to emails and focusing on something other than the meeting.”

If you find yourself sitting bored in meetings it’s because you don’t need to be there. Our brains can only focus on a single topic for 10 to 15 minutes anyway. After that, you’ll start doodling and looking at your phone. Give meetings a short duration. If you meet its objective early, disband the group.

9. Batch Your Tasks

Batching is a form of time management where you dedicate blocks of time to certain task (or tasks that relate to a theme). It allows you to maximize concentration, creativity, and of course, productivity. It also suppresses fatigue and stress.

You see, we struggle to switch between tasks. “Multi-tasking” is nonsense. We can be more effective if we combine similar tasks that require similar resources so our minds can operate in one state at a time.

“Batching tasks works because you’re maintaining the same frame of mind for all the tasks involved,” says self-improvement expert Steve Scott.

Many people like the Pomodoro Technique, but it doesn’t allow for much variation. Instead of sticking to a hard rule, just plan your day to group similar tasks together. Do all of your financial work at one, all of your software coding at another, all of your phone calls at yet another.

10. Turn One Task into Many

Sometimes a big project can be overwhelming. Instead of trying to keep everything sorted in your head, break down large tasks into manageable pieces. Don’t be afraid to drill deeply. For instance, instead of putting “Complete financial report” on your to-do list, add the following:

  • Gather sales data from Tim
  • Gather retention data from Janice
  • Pull online purchase data from dashboard
  • Find report from last month
  • Format financial report
  • Get sales team comments on report
  • Send report to Mike

Listing projects like this may seem like more tasks, but they’re far simpler because each item is pretty basic. There’s little thinking required. Plus, you have a high level view of the project so you can get multiple pieces moving, like requests for more information (which may take time).

Optimize your productivity by using one of these productivity models.

Optimizing Your Team

Productivity is a fickle thing. What one person does to stay productive might distract another person. People are different, so it’s your job as a manager to uncover what makes your team productive and steer them in that direction.

Furthermore, you can’t be productive working out of someone’s basement or meeting in coffee shops. You need office space that’s easy to set up and move into. Search for offices today.

Coworking Spaces: The Way of the Future

Coworking is becoming a popular office environment all over the country. What is it, and is it right for you?

If you’re a remote worker, working out of your spare bedroom or basement can be isolating. Even small teams who meet in someone’s dining room or at the coffee shop can feel separated from the rest of the workforce. Over time, isolation can lead to fatigue and poor productivity.

Furthermore, working in environments that aren’t made for work can be distracting. You’re exposed to stimuli that isn’t conducive to productivity. People in the coffee shop are loud. There aren’t any seats at the library. Or maybe your spouse wonders why you couldn’t do a load of laundry since “you’re home all day.”

If you’re one of those people who struggle working from home or in public places, you aren’t alone. Lifestyles are changing, and many people are now capable of working away from the traditional office setting (especially the millennial generation).

Make sure your coworking space has everything you need with this checklist!

What is coworking?

Image: Zona Coworking / Flickr
Image: Zona Coworking / Flickr

Coworking is based on the idea that working alone doesn’t mean you have to be alone. You can still work in an environment designed for work. “Coworking is still an emerging industry and, while many people are now familiar with the term, it’s sometimes hard to explain,” says Diana McLaren of New Worker Magazine.

A coworking space is an office environment with all of the basic work amenities. There are desks, chairs, proper lighting, and access to Wi-Fi and power. In the best coworking spaces, you’ll find tables for small and large groups, quiet spaces for concentration, free snacks and coffee, and a clean, trendy design that clients can respect.

The most luxurious coworking spaces (and the most expensive) offer some incredible features that might be worth the money. Green Desk offers bike storage and a mail service. CoCo has a room filled with game consoles, dart boards and a foosball table. Hera Hub gives you access to paid staff who will work for you.

You’ll find all sorts of people using coworking spaces. Freelancers and solopreneurs are the most common type, but there are plenty of teams who enjoy the simplicity and flexibility. It’s common for solo workers to meet one another, collaborate, and even do business together in a coworking space. For some people, it’s a fantastic networking tactic.

Typically, coworking spaces charge by the seat. You can buy access on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Permanent desk spaces (where you have an assigned spot and can leave your stuff each day) cost about $387/month on average. Flexible spaces (where you find your own seat wherever you can) cost about $195/month on average. If a coworking space has a large conference room for use, there may be a reservation fee. Most spaces offer special rates for teams.

While there’s nothing preventing large teams from using coworking space, at a certain point (usually around six or seven full time team members), it may be smarter to rent a dedicated office space. In some coworking spaces, seats and desks are first-come-first-serve. If a large team is using a popular coworking space, finding enough adjacent seating can be difficult, which makes collaboration tough.

You can rent adjacent desks in a permanent-desk coworking space, but those cost more. Fortunately, bigger teams can get the same flexibility in a turnkey office space.

What’s the future of coworking?

Deskmag’s 2016 Coworking Forecast found the coworking trend will continue. They discovered that 62% of coworking space owners want to expand their spaces, and one out of three are looking to open another. 80% of coworking space members plan to stay where they are for another year and that overall satisfaction with the model is rising.

According to the Small Business Administration, there are 28 million small businesses in the United States, which account for 54% of all sales. A majority of people work for small businesses. Even though “corporate America” has been downsizing and outsourcing outside the country for years, the small business market has been growing. The number of startups have increased and their failure rate has declined.

This type of environment is perfect for the shared work model, which is why it’s becoming a permanent part of the American workstyle. Coworking spaces are popping up everywhere. Some are big players, like WeWork, which is valued at $16 billion.

“Coworking represents less than 1 percent of the world’s office space. But that tiny percentage, which represents nearly 11,000 shared workspaces exist around the globe, is certain to grow, according to many experts,” says Patrick Sisson on Curbed.

As workers divide into smaller, more flexible companies, they’ll need amenities that allow them to enjoy the benefits of a large business (having a trendy, comfortable work environment) without the cost.

Why work in a coworking space?

benefits-coworking

The benefits of coworking spaces extend beyond costs. There’s a good chance a coworking environment is right for you and your team.

1. Coworking exposes you to more people

Unlike traditional offices, coworkers work for a range of companies in different industries. There’s no direct competition between them. There are no internal office politics to deal with. Don’t like someone? Stop talking to them. There’s no pressure to behave a certain way.

You’ll also work near people with varying skillsets. There’s likely a programmer, a writer, and an executive somewhere in the room. Over time, you’ll learn about how your “coworkers” are adding value to the world, and you’ll be able to lean on each other for help.

2. Coworkers have more autonomy

Coworking spaces are usually available outside normal businesses hours. Early birds and night owls can work in a professional setting at their preferred time. They can choose to work in quiet spaces for focus, or communal spaces for collaboration and interaction. Coworkers are the type of people who prefer autonomous lifestyles, so a working environment that supports that is useful.

3. Coworking adds structure to liquid schedules

Autonomy is beneficial to the modern worker, but so is a little bit of structure. Coworking puts you in an environment where work is expected. Even though comforts are available, it’s still a working space that keeps you motivated.

A coworking office is a far more productive environment than a living room couch or a coffee shop. Plus there’s a community of people to silently judge you if you decide to blow off the day and play video games at your desk.

4. Coworking creates a community

Even though the members of a coworking space aren’t employed together, there is still a sense of community. For the most part, coworkers have a lot in common: They work for small or solo businesses, they are successful enough to afford rent, and they’re driven to work in a professional environment that limits distractions and spurs productivity. Socializing isn’t forced, but it’s available.

Furthermore, each coworking space has its own vibe and feel. Some are trendy, designed for young, tech-savvy and creative people. Some are modern and stark, designed for corporate folk. Others are prim and classic, designed for lawyers and other professionals. They come in all shapes and sizes.

Download this free checklist: Does Coworking Space Have Everything You Need?

So is coworking right for you?

Unfortunately, I can’t answer that for you. If you have a large team, then probably not. You need a dedicated space so everyone can be together. But if you’re alone or working with two or three other people, coworking might be a good arrangement.

If you’d like to look into coworking spaces for yourself and/or your team, contact us.

Designing a Productive Office Environment

Every business cares about productivity, especially growing ones. Learn how to design an office layout that helps your team work better and faster.

Your office is more than the place you do business. It’s the heart of your company. If the heart doesn’t pump energy to the rest of the body (you and your team), your work will suffer.

Productivity is on everyone’s mind these days. How do we get more done in less time? How do you improve the quality of your work without disrupting the balance of your lives?

You don’t need to hire an expensive office designer to create a productive work space. Nor do you need pricey office perks like ping-pong tables, nap pods, or beer fridges. For small, growing businesses, those aren’t options anyway.

In a turnkey office space, you don’t have the luxury of redesigning your space. Want to blow down that wall? A generous property owner may give you that freedom, but don’t count on it. They typically want to preserve the space so it’s easy to rent in the future.

But that doesn’t mean you can neglect office design. There’s overwhelming evidence that a carefully designed office can increase employee well-being, happiness, and productivity. You just need to make some basic changes.

Use this easy checklist to create your own productive office space.

Comfortable lighting

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Lighting is an often overlooked office feature. Poor or painful lighting can cause fatigue, headaches, and eyestrain. Working in poor lighting conditions over long periods of time can actually cause depression.

According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, consistent light exposure during the day makes workers sleep longer and better at night, feel inclined to participate in physical activities, and report a better quality of life.

Dr. Ivy Cheung, co-author of that study, told CNN that “light is the most important synchronizing agent for the brain and body.” It improves mood, communication, focus, and even regulates physiological functions, like blood pressure and heart rate.

It’s a simple formula: Healthy light = healthy people = better work.

Natural light is the best lighting for work, so for best results, open the blinds or use daylight color balanced CFL bulbs. They’re naturally energizing. Moods and productivity will improve.

Ergonomics and appearance

A person can’t be productive if their back hurts, their chair is too low, or if any of their equipment creates discomfort. Just using a computer can be painful, says OrthoInfo: “Under certain circumstances and for vulnerable individuals, frequent computer use that involves awkward postures, repetition, and forceful exertions may be related to nerve, muscle, tendon, and ligament damage.”

Supply your team with equipment that facilitates comfort for your specific working environment. For example, if your team spends hours sitting idly, you need ergonomic chairs for maximum comfort and monitors positioned parallel to the worker’s neck. But if your team is frequently moving, opt for standing desks (or desks that convert to different positions) for easy access and less body strain.

Encourage your team to take opportunities to adjust their bodies depending on their own needs. Let them stretch their legs with a short walk. If it’s all the same, consider taking a walk during meetings. Or, provide alternate types of seating based on their preferences.

Appearance is important if you regularly bring clients into your office. For instance, attorney clients expect large, heavy desks and shelves with legal books. Even if these objects aren’t necessary for a modern team, they build a perception your clients expect.

The right technology

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It doesn’t matter how positive you are, how talented of a leader you are, or how diligently your team works if you don’t have the right tools. Technology is key to building a competitive business.

This infographic from Intuit explains how much of an impact technology has on productivity.

  • Dual monitors can increase productivity from 9% to 50%.
  • Laptops instead of desktops improve productivity by 100 hours/year.
  • 69% of IT professionals say cloud computing improved their productivity.

I can’t tell you what the “right technology” means for your business. That would depend on what you do. But I recommend using newer devices, modern tools (like shared Google Docs over Word), and a strong Internet connection.

De-clutter-ize

According to Princeton University, “Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that clutter in your workspace negatively affects your ability to process information and stay focused.

The best way to reduce clutter is to digitize everything. Maintain all records electronically – just make sure to regularly back up your drives. Even calendars and notes should be replaced by apps so they aren’t lost, damaged, or misplaced, and can be shared.

Create a standard file naming convention across your company so anyone can find files on anyone’s computer or shared folders.

Anything paper that must remain should be clearly labeled and filed in a drawer or cabinet so it’s out of the way. Anything that doesn’t have immediate use or anticipated use should be archived.
Insist on a clean desk policy. Some employees may resist, but the increase in productivity will soon be apparent.

Spatial arrangement

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Often, offices are furnished quickly without much thought to the actual space. The movers drop a table against a wall and it stays there. You can enhance the productivity of your team by positioning items and equipment where they make sense.

For example, it doesn’t make sense to position Joe and Sue’s desk away from one another when they have to collaborate throughout the day. Every time they need to speak, they have to swivel around. It may take only a second, but over the day (and year), those wasted moments add up. Every unnecessary action costs something. Plus, they’ll be less inclined to speak to one another because it means repositioning and breaking from their current task. Over time, this handicaps your teams overall productivity. And that’s just one example of a tiny flaw that can do damage to your business.

And what about Eric the receptionist? He uses the copier several times an hour, but it’s on the other end of the office. Each time he needs it, he intrudes on other people’s workspace. It would make more sense to put it right near his desk.

Even if you have a simple turnkey space, you don’t have to stick to the original arrangement. Get creative with the furniture. Should everyone face each other? Should desk space be sacrificed for a conference table? Who should be near the door? There are countless permutations.

Temperature

A study by Careerbuilder found that working in an office that’s too hot or too cold affects productivity. Workers are easily distracted, prone to mistakes, and more concerned about alleviating discomfort than producing quality work.

What’s the right temperature? Software Advice conducted a study of office workers. They found that 50% of people are dissatisfied with the temperature in their workspace. Medium temperature preferences for men are about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas women prefer 72 degrees.

However, the correct temperature is the one your employees prefer. The only way to find out what they like is to ask them. Just make sure to match your required office attire to the temperature so employees can be dressed properly.

Setup a productive office environment of your own with our free checklist!

Productivity and simplicity

The single best way to be productive with life and business is to simplify what’s on your plate. Remove any tasks that aren’t necessary to burn through your to-do list.

The biggest advantage of a turnkey office space is how hands-off you can be. Instead of wasting your time dealing with contract negotiations, facilities maintenance, billing, and construction, you can write your rent check on the first of the month and let someone else worry about the details.

If you’re ready to find your next office, start your search here.

How Physical Office Space Can Grow Your Business

Physical office space isn’t just a sign that your business is growing. It can actually help you grow in several ways.

The mark of a business owner and entrepreneur is hours spent every day obsessing over the growth of your business.

There are plenty of ways to do that. More sales, obviously. Reduce costs, for sure. You might change your marketing message to attract new customers, move into a new vertical to capture a certain type of business, or develop a strategic partnership with another company. Hey, you might even pivot to a completely new industry! Those are all great, measurable tactics.

But it’s important to consider the unmeasurables: the little improvements to your business that can’t be quantified, but have an undeniable effect on your productivity and success.

Many businesses categorize office space as an expense. Well, as far as your accountant is concerned, an office is an expense, but you shouldn’t look at it that way from a strategic point of view.

Consider office space an investment. It’s not just a sign of growth. It can also be a cause.

Download our free resource: Why You Need a Physical Place for Your Clients and Customers to Visit

Interaction and Collaboration are Easier in Person

office-space-collaboration

We live in a world where communication is easy. You probably rely on tools like email, Slack, Skype or Trello to work with your team. There’s no doubt they give businesses plenty of flexibility. You can hire talent in another country and stay productive during travel or inclement weather.

But online tools aren’t perfect. There’s always something missing: The human element.
Collaborating with your team is far easier when everyone is in the same room. A majority of information is lost when we are forced to communicate through text or voice-only.

In 1971, psychologist Albert Mehrabian concluded that a significant component of all communication is nonverbal – especially pertaining to emotions. Mehrabian estimated that verbal communication only accounts for 7% of the information we’re trying to share when we communicate our feelings. Trying to pass emotion through your Slack channel is virtually impossible, no matter how adept you are with emojis. 🙂

“The beauty of communication is found in the nuance that’s only felt in face-to-face conversations,” says Mina Chang, CEO of humanitarian group Linking the World International. A lack of in-person communication can be damaging, she says, as team members “miss out on the reasoning behind decisions, making them less likely to engage. What’s more, it’s easier for them to feel less accountable. When making any kind of request, the probability of getting your desired answer is greater when you have a face-to-face meeting.”

According to a Cisco report, business leaders believe that in-person collaboration resolves conflicts (work and personal) and generates relationships for long-term success. Executives say that face-to-face meetings are important for project kick-offs, strategy sessions, coaching, crisis management, and contract agreements. (Check out this information for more on the study: The Power of In-Person.)

There’s no argument that the most effective teams are made of people who know each other well; people who spend a lot of time with one another. You and your team need to be emotionally invested in your company’s mission. That type of dedication requires solid relationships that just won’t form on Skype or Google Hangouts.

Plus, in-person communication is faster. Email and chat isn’t truly instant, and they’re both easy to ignore. A question across the table or check-in at the watercooler will keep your business moving.

Office Space Makes You Seem “Bigger”

office-makes-company-bigger

Perception is everything, right? Your clients and customers want to partner with a business, not one guy working out of his spare bedroom or a remote team that only meets monthly at a Starbucks.

Every business tells a few white lies to make the company seem bigger than it really is. You probably referred to your company as “we” and “the team” when you were still a solo founder. Or maybe you excused yourself for “a big meeting” when there was no such item on your schedule. A lot of small companies even pay for a post office box just so mail isn’t sent to someone’s home address.

There is a percentage of customers who are comforted by the perception of size. Their anxiety is alleviated by the success of their partners. They want somewhere to visit. They want to see your name on something – a sign, a door, anything!

B2B strategy and marketing consultant Lisa Shepherd says, “Risk-averse buyers regard size and an established market presence as bywords for credibility and reliability.”

An office makes your clients feel stable, like they have put their trust in the right place. A business who has gone through the trouble of setting up their own place in the world is less likely to run away with their money. You could have millions of dollars in the bank and a library of intellectual property, but some people just won’t do business with you unless you have an office.

Furthermore, office space improves your employees’ perception of the company. An office is grounded. It makes the business tangible. They can say “Here is where I work.” When they step into their new office space for the first time, they’ll have a real understanding of how well the business is growing and a desire to keep themselves a part of it.

If you’re looking for more ways to make your small business seem bigger, check out Secret Entourage’s list: 50 Tips To Make Your Small Business Look Bigger.

Networking is No Joke

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Have you ever wondered why similar businesses group together? Why is Silicon Valley a tech haven? Why do financial firms clamor for space on Wall Street?

It’s because we prefer to do business with people we know. We’ll even pay a premium to give business to our friends or someone proven.

John Swanciger, CEO of Manta (a small business advocate organization), says “New and aspiring business owners need to network to gather as much information about prospects, competitors and the industries they are targeting in order to make the strategic decisions that will set them up for success.”

Conferences and trade shows only take you so far. If you want to really meet the right people, you need to plant yourself in the midst of complementary businesses.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying you should move to the hotspot in your industry. That might be many states away and unfeasible. However, many parts of the country have business districts where you’ll find like-minded entrepreneurs who also want to grow their business.

You may not be within driving distance of your industry’s titans, but maybe the accountant down the hall will trade advice for lunch. Maybe you’ll hire the marketing agency upstairs, or merge with the development firm across the street. Introduce yourself in the area, make friends, and always steer the conversation towards what you do.

The possibilities are endless, you just need to meet people. You can’t do that from your home office.

Oh, but make sure you investigate the area well when you view potential office environments. Find out who works nearby and how they might help you in the future.

Download our free resource to learn why you need a physical location for your clients and customers.

Over to You

Like I said before, office space boosts the unmeasurables. You can’t drop them into an equation, but an office makes your business credible, reliable and successful. Those feelings will resonate with other people (even subconsciously) to empower your business.

So what’s holding you back? Start your office space search today.

Using the Olympics to Create Team Spirit

As the 2016 Olympic games are underway in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, viewers around the world will be tuning in to watch their favorite teams compete for pinnacle prize of gold.  It might just strike you to know that around an estimated 3.6 billion people will be glued to the Television rooting their teams on, that includes the 72% of business professionals.

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Summer tends to see a decline in productivity, with more workers taking off during the prime months of July and August than other months throughout the year.  Throw the spectacle of the Olympic Games into the mix and–let’s just say there’s plenty to distract a workforce this season.

So rather than reprimand employees, employers can set a new standard by encouraging employees to celebrate the games and creating opportunities to foster strong culture within the office.  Capturing the joy and celebration that comes along with the Olympic games there are ways to welcome the Olympic spirit into your workplace and boost employee engagement.

Host in-office olympic viewing parties. By soliciting employee input on the events streamed in office, you not only show them that you care about their opinions, but also create windows of opportunities for team bonding. Employees may uncover common sports interests with their colleagues.  They may even carry those shared interest forward even after the Olympics end further cementing team bonding within the office.

Companies can also host healthy competitions amongst the co-workers and generate teamwork with a focus on building relationships with one another, workers can simply inspire each other to achieve goals together, then translate that same focus and collaboration into their daily work routine.  One may even suggest starting a company sports team, there is no better opportune time to start a company sports team.  Distribute surveys to your employees on what sports they enjoy playing the most, and what days of the week they’d enjoy participating on a team.

By encouraging team sports you help employees get the routine exercise they need – which in turn has been proven to decrease stress, increase productivity and reduce employee absenteeism.  It also produces an environment where they feel supported leading to a more success company.  These Olympic games only take place every so often, why not embrace these rare moments and celebrate the opportunity to bring strength and unity to the workplace.

Is Telecommuting Good?

Working from home. A dream for some people, a time management nightmare for others.

It takes a kind of resilience and penchant for solitude to work from home. It can require a great deal of self-motivation, strong emailing skills, and of course a steady internet connection. Avoiding traffic, or the bus or train can be a virtue, yet the freedom to brainstorm and socialize with your coworkers without a screen is a difficult benefit to match.

The concept of telecommuting is relatively new. In the early 1970s, Jack Niles, a rocket scientist for NASA first coined the term when a colleague asked, “If you can put a man on the moon how come you can’t do something about traffic?” Niles’ first foray into telecommuting was with an insurance company in 1973. Since the personal computer still hadn’t come into existence yet, Niles worked from one of the satellite offices the company had set up.

The statistics of people who opt for the home desk rather than the office suite are rather surprising. According the think tank, Global Work Place Analytics, the average commuter is breaching middle aged, has a college degree, works for a company with 100 or more employees, and earns around $58,0000 a year. They estimate that about 50% of the U.S.’s full-time work force holds a position that allows for flexible at-home work.

The environmental benefits of telecommuting are unprecedented. Global Work Place Analytics says that if all U.S. full-time workers spent half the week working from home, their business would save $11,000 per person per year, workers would save between $2,000 and $7,000 a year, and “greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the road.”

However, it’s difficult to replicate the kind of creativity and productivity that an office produces by working at home alone. “I love being in an office and bouncing ideas off of my coworkers. Working in-house promotes a stronger sense of camaraderie within my team.” Says Alfred, who has been working for a San Francisco-based start up the last three years. Without the physical presence of an employee, it’s difficult to determine the caliber of their work, is the most common argument against telecommuting.

Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic, a company which permits more than half of its employees totelecommute has a different theory. “It’s easier to slack off in that office than if you’re working remotely. If you come into an office and are well-dressed and on time, you assume people are working because they look busy. At home, all you have is your output — did you commit the code, did you write the post, did you make the proposal? There’s no theater of physical proximity.”

Avoiding The Commuting Plague in Chicago

“My commute is killing me!” Words we have uttered far too often.

For the vast population of people who live in the suburbs and drive to the city, there is only one adjective to describe sitting in traffic: misery. According to Robert Putnam, Harvard political scientist and author of Bowling Alone, over the last 20 years the average commuting trip grew 37% longer. He also noted that each additional ten minutes spent in daily commuting interferes with family and social activity by 10%, you know, the sort of things that make us happy. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that 40% of workers who spend 90 or more minutes commuting one-way “experienced worry for much of the previous day,” compared to the 28% who commute less than 10 minutes one-way.

The epidemic of the commute has especially affected residents of Chicago suburbs who work in the city. According to the Census Bureau, 14% of Chicago’s workers have an hour-long commute, the highest rate in the Midwest. Texas A&M Transportation Institute ranked Chicago as having “one of the nation’s most unpredictable commutes.”

So, what’s a Chicago-area suburbanite to do? Chicago is still one of the most affordable major cities in the country to both live and work. Workers with families are attracted to the picket-fence life for obvious reasons. A big house with a driveway, guest room and fireplace provide a kind of comfort that no apartment can. A sprawling living room is a great place for family gatherings and nothing beats a backyard BBQ, yet the question begs, are these surplus amenities worth it? Economists at the University of Zurich reported in their study “Stress That Doesn’t Pay: The Commuting Paradox” that “for an extra hour of commuting time, you would need to be compensated with a massive 40 percent increase in salary to make it worthwhile.”

Making things easier is the fact there is an abundance of office spaces dedicated to small and medium-sized businesses available in the surrounding Chicago suburbs. In South Barrington, there are co-working spaces that start as low as $350 per month. In Lincolnshire, executive suites come with full amenities such as secretarial support, internet, and conferences rooms and start at $750 per month. There’s ample availability at the Orrington Plaza Business Center in Evanston. In Schaumburg, there is a wide variety of office space on East Golf Road that starts at $600 per month and includes internet, conference rooms and a full kitchen.

How To Siphon Productivity From Food

It’s 2pm. You woke up this morning riveting with energy and zeal for whatever the day might bring.

Now you’re tired, cranky and worst of all, unmotivated. Why do our batteries drain so quickly? Despite the obvious reasons: stress, fatigue and sitting for long hours – ultimately there’s not a whole lot we can do to change our mid-day energy slumps. Juicing, fasting, 6am yoga… all legitimate efforts but in the end there needs to be an easier solution that doesn’t require lengthy exercise or starvation. We at Turnkey Office Space have curated a ‘Productivity Menu’ of sorts, with a wide range of food groups to keep you wide-eyed and working hard!

Hard-Boiled Egg. Eggs are cheap, fast to boil and easy to store and keep fresh. Boil half a dozen on Sunday and you’re all set for a daily mid-day snack the rest of the week. An 11:30am egg is the perfect food to take the edge off your hunger and it’ll prevent you from overeating during lunch. Eggs contain a high amount of choline, a nutrient that aids with memory and mood balance. It also helps prevent brain inflammation. However, dieters beware, choline is only found in the yolk!

Karen Ansel, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends a surprising combo of chickpeas and green tea. She says, “Chickpeas are the ultimate food for brain function because they combine protein to keep you alert along with complex carbohydrates to fuel your brain. Because the carbs are digested slowly they give you a sustained energy release that keeps you energized and focused. Adding a little balsamic vinegar is the icing on the cake because it slows down carbohydrate digestion even more, prolonging that energy release. I’d then wash the whole thing down with a tall glass of iced green tea. Green tea contains the perfect combination of L-theanine, an amino acid shown to improve concentration and focus, as well as a small kick of caffeine, so it’s the ideal drink if you need to concentrate but don’t want the jitters of a cup of coffee.”

On a budget but want your daily dosage of vitamins and minerals? Look no further than Soylent, the latest hacker food to sweep the tech industry. Soylent is incredibly cheap drink to make, and all of the ingredients are available in bulk at your local health food store. Too busy to make it yourself? Pre-made one-month supply packages range from $255-300, which comes out to only $3 a meal!

The Business Friendship: Success Stories

Some of the world’s most established and prosperous businesses were the brainchildren of true blue friendships.

Two close friends come together with a similar vision and drive… and boom! History is made. Is it always a good idea to go into business with a pal, maybe not? But we at Turnkey Office Space are optimistic people, and have churned out a list of some of the country’s best and brightest duos-turned-high-flying-entrepreneurs.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. The two both grew up in Long Island and were best friends from middle school. They idea of an ice cream business was conceived during gym class. After college and a series of random jobs, the two decided to take their adolescent dreams by the reigns and open up shop. In 1978, they took an ice cream making course by mail, put down a $12,000 deposit on a renovated gas station in Burlington, VT, and opened up ‘Ben & Jerry’s Home Made’. Who would’ve predicted that churning milk by hand could eventually lead to entrepreneurial stardom?

Evan Williams and Biz Stone of Twitter. Stone grew up in the middle-class suburbs of Wellesley, Massachusetts. He dropped out of college twice, then started a popular blog which eventually landed him a job at Google. It was there that he met future Twitter co-founder, Evan Williams. Williams comes from similar roots, specifically Clarks, Nebraska a tiny farm town. He also dropped out of college, taught himself how to code and took a development job in Silicon Valley. Along with Jack Dorsey, the three conjured up the fastest marketing and social tool the global interwebs have ever seen: Twitter.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple. The tried and true tale of two friends running the world, we know it’s an obvious one but had to include it our list. Wozniak and Jobs first met while Wozniak was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley and Jobs was in high school. The two bonded over their mutual fascination for “electronics and pranks”. Wozniak was the designer and engineer, devising the hardware, circuit board and operating system for Apple I. Jobs was the marketing and development wizard, brainstorming the business vision and pioneering the brand. Although the two made a spectacular team, in the end, they didn’t remain close.