How to Set Your Employees Up for Success in Your New Offices

It’s no secret that office space is a significant business expense. Signing that rental agreement is an exciting new stage for your company, but it’s also a big commitment.

Think of your new office like an investment. It should increase your revenue by making your team more productive, giving you a place to meet with clients, and allowing you to expand your operations.

But in order to protect that investment, you have to do everything you can to ensure a good return. That means setting you and your employees up for success in your new environment.

What does success mean? For one, you want your team to like their jobs.

The University of Warwick found that happy employees are 12% more productive. The research team said: “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”

There’s plenty more science behind that, too. Shawn Achor, a Harvard psychologist, found that our brains actually work better when we’re generally happy. Happiness, he asserts, isn’t innate. It can be managed. “It’s a cultural myth that we cannot change our happiness.”

Furthermore, productivity can be influenced outside of happiness, as well. A few changes to work schedules, environment, and even lighting can fan the flames of productivity without pushing workers like a slave driver.

Here are some ways you can make your team successful in the new office.

Haven’t rented space yet? Ask your team these questions beforehand to make everyone successful.

1. Give them whatever information they need

give-employees-information

Make your employees’ transition comfortable by supplying them with information about your new office environment.

Pick up some maps or whatever literature the town/city provides on public transportation. They’ll need bus routes, subway stations, train stations, pricing, etc. If there are any nearby parking lots or garages, pick up flyers with their rates and hours.

(Extra tip: Look into negotiated parking or public transit rates for your business. Some places offer reduced rates if you’re buying bulk. Your team might appreciate the savings.)

You should also grab menus from local restaurants or take out places. Yes, your team can easily Google for location food spots, but this will make them feel like you care about easing their transition.

Furthermore, make them aware of any company policies that change or come into effect because of the new office. For instance, you might implement a dress code or more structured working hours. Put all of these changes in writing for later reference.

2. Be flexible with their schedules

Give your team a little leeway with their work schedules once you move into your new office. If this is your first office, they’ll be adjusting to office life after a period of time working from home. If this isn’t your first office, they’ll be adjusting to the new commute. They’ll be learning the new route, traffic patterns, and when to leave the house.

If possible, use the transition as a time to experiment with not worrying about work hours at all or getting rid of the eight hour work day. See if you can depend on your team to work a fair day, even if it’s not exactly nine to five. You might be surprised that people appreciate the latitude and try not to overstep.

Depending on how much you trust your team, you might also give them total access to the unit. Give everyone a key so they can come and go as they please. If someone wants to work late and start late the next morning, give them that option. If you treat people like professionals, they’ll usually respond in kind.

3. Schedule uninterrupted work time

If your employees are used to working in a home environment, they had all the peace and quiet they would ever need. They could turn down their phone, ignore their emails, and log out of Slack chat any time they needed to get something finished.

In an office, we lose that luxury. There’s ambient noise, other people typing, and it’s easy to interrupt each other.

Designate a portion of the day for uninterrupted, solitary work. This is called time-blocking. Usually this is best for early hours when the work day starts. That’s when creativity and productivity are at their highest.

Time blocking is an excellent way to focus on a task without becoming distracted. When we’re interrupted for other things, we have to reorient ourselves back to the project at hand. This constant reorientation costs time and erodes the quality of the work. It’s also stressful.

Gary Keller, author of The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, blocks off time each day to address his top priority for the year. You could encourage your team to do this by identifying the one thing you want them to do best and giving them uninterrupted time each day to work on it.

During this blocked off time period, team members have the right to work quietly without being interrupted. It doesn’t mean they have to, however. If two people decide to work together or don’t need the quiet block that day, they can work as they please. The key is to give everyone the opportunity so they can really push their own productivity.

4. Make the environment pleasant

You may have worked amidst an untidy mess in your spare bedroom, but that won’t work in a proper office.

Your employees expect a professional environment. They don’t want to be crowded by excess furniture, squint their eyes all day due to poor light, or pinch their noses against odors. It’s your job to create an office environment that’s comfortable and encourages productivity.

Working in a pleasant environment can have a tremendous impact on workers’ performance. A relaxing atmosphere with a few extra amenities may not seem cost-effective, but they can go a long way to influence the attitude of your team.

Lighting is extremely important. Poor lighting can cause eyestrain, fatigue, headaches, and overall poor productivity. Natural lighting is best, but if that’s not an option use lights with adjustable filters.

Finally, give your employees options in regards to their furniture. In turnkey spaces, you’re usually renting the space with basic furniture, but customize whatever you can for comfort and ergonomics. Give your team their preferred chairs, computer monitors, and other tools (wherever possible).

5. Ask your employees what they want

Image: David Wall/FlickrM
Image: David Wall/FlickrM

The best way to learn how you can support your employees is to ask them directly. Find out what they need, what they like, and what would make them more successful on the job. Do they need a special tool or software? Noise-canceling headphones? Flexibility with a certain policy?

Getting honest feedback isn’t easy, though. No one wants to complain to the boss and disrupt the work environment.

Skip the “anonymous” suggestion boxes. If you have a small team, it’s pretty clear who’s making the suggestions. Plus they foster an office culture where suggestions can only be made anonymously due to fear of retribution.

Instead, encourage your team to have honest conversations with you about how the business environment can be made better. Don’t expect your employees to come to you with complaints or new ideas; ask insightful questions regularly.

To rent the perfect office space, survey your team with this list of questions.

Final thoughts

Any time you make a substantial change, there will be an adjustment period. Don’t expect you and your team to become perfectly comfortable in your new office environment right away. Change takes time.

For instance, if your employees are late every day for the first two weeks, chalk it up new routes and traffic, not sudden laziness. Over time, everyone will settle into their new environment, and happiness and productivity will soar.

If you haven’t found your new office yet, start your search today.

When To Take A Break At Work

Many of us are spending more and more of our workdays sitting in front of a desk managing tasks virtually.

In fact, the recently coined phrase “actively sedentary” refers to a new category of office workers who attempt to compensate for sitting 8-10 hrs a day by engaging in at least 60 minutes of daily exercise. While the effort is valiant, recent studies have shown that this amount of exercise is not nearly enough to offset the negative effects caused from sitting all day. Is there anything else that we, as the “actively sedentary” workforce, can do to make up for the long periods of time we remain stationary at our desks? Believe it or not, the answer may be as simple as taking more breaks.

Taking mid-day breaks is something most of us do of course. The questions is whether we are taking enough of them. Many recent studies have shown that for every hour that someone sits in a chair typing away, or immersing themselves in product software, or whatever their job might entail, they should be getting 5-10 minutes of activity (walking, stretching etc). That means in an average 8-hour workday we should be getting anywhere from 40 to 80 minutes of activity.

Now of course some bosses are more lenient then others when it comes to allowing employees out for a quick walk around the block every hour. However if you manage your time well throughout the day and exhibit proper “break etiquette”, most everyone can achieve this goal and stay healthy even while sitting all day.

In order to develop a proper daily break routine at the office, you must first and foremost know when to NOT take breaks. For me this falls under three categories: When you’re “in the zone”, when it’s inappropriate to do so, and when you are under immediate time constraints. The first category deals with breaking your concentration. We all have periods of time during the day when we are more productive then others. If you find yourself “in the zone”, working quickly and efficient and knocking off you’re daily to-dos rapid-fire, don’t stop what you are doing to get up, stretch and go out to grab a coffee for you and a colleague just because it’s break time. This can completely disrupt your concentration and inhibit those productive moments. Remember, we are trying to convince the boss that short, semi-frequent breaks actually enhance overall productivity, not hinder it.

It’s also prudent to refrain from taking breaks when it would be inappropriate to do so. For example, if you just got back from lunch 5 minutes ago, or your boss asks you to do something for him or her right away, it’s probably not the best time to go out for some fresh air. Similarly, if there is a task that requires your immediate attention, or if there is an approaching deadline for that day, it can be inappropriate to take breaks.

The key is to develop an adaptable routine where you are regularly getting up to stretch or get some air, or to go for a quick walk, without it affecting your productivity and without causing too much fanfare in the office. 5-minute breaks are great for not attracting too much attention and give you enough time to stretch your legs, use the restroom, get some water etc. The 10 and especially 15-minute breaks should often be reserved for later in the day, where even the bosses start becoming a little jaded. It may be likely that you’ll go less noticed from, say 4:00-4:15pm then you will from 9:45-10:00am. Therefore, pick your times wisely and do your best to get a minimum of 40 minutes of activity every day.

The Best Jobs for Fresh College Graduates

Youth. Workforce. Unemployment: three words that don’t sound that great together.

But in this current economic climate, new college graduates have to face the facts, that landing your dream job is a challenging feat for this generation. The overall unemployment rate in the US is 6.3%. In NYC it’s 7.4%, San Francisco 4.4%, Los Angeles 7.6%, and Chicago a whopping 8.4%. So, what’s an ambitious, young go-getter supposed to do? Fear not, budding careerist, we at Turnkey Office Space have some guiding points:

Software Developer (Applications or Systems Software). Technology comprises every miniscule detail of daily life, and thus, its developers are in constant high demand. From computers to automobiles, consumer electronics to Smartphones – behind every device or screen is a developer wiz kid. Software is an easy field to break into, especially if your major was math, engineering or computer science, and many pro coders are self-taught. The salary isn’t too shabby either and can start as high as $100,000.

Analyst (Marketing and Data). According to UC Davis’ Career Report, “market research analyst positions have exploded throughout every sector of the economy with the rise of widespread data-gathering through transactional databases, consumer preference and loyalty programs, the Internet and social media, and customer relationship management systems.” As technology grows, so does the research behind it. With so much competition between software and apps, the analyst’s role is critical to forecasting and trends and pricing between competitors. Luckily the field attracts psychology, sociology, and communications majors as well as math, statistics and computer science graduates. The mean salary for an analyst is around $67,000.

Elementary School Teacher. There are more employed schoolteachers than any other profession. Although many states require a master’s or credential, there are also some that only require a bachelor’s. It’s tough yet rewarding work to command a group of 20-30 young people five days a week, but luckily there are school vacation weeks and a couple of months in summer that provide ample relaxation time. The mean annual salary for a teacher in the US is around $56,000.

Public Relations Specialist. If you’re a people person and care about corporate, media or non-profit consumerism, consider a job in PR. They essentially hold the reigns to a company’s reputation. The job is not nearly as glamorous as Kim Cattrall’s character portrays it as in Sex in the City. As an entry-level employee, you’ll be writing press releases, producing publicity materials and website content.

Freshly graduated AND employed? Looks like all you’re missing is a grade-a office space! Take a look around at our unique selection of office space for rent and we’ll take care of the rest!

The Cafeteria: The Heart of the Office

It’s lunchtime. Will you be getting take-out?

Digging into your brown paper bag? Going around the block to the sandwich shop? Or hitting up the cafeteria? Every office has its own specific lunch culture. And in the age of the start up, it seems that more and more businesses are taking meals very seriously.

Many small and up-and-coming businesses have figured out that leaving the office, scouting the neighborhood for a restaurant, and sitting down to order and wait takes up valuable work time. As a way to boost employee moral, encourage worker camaraderie and save time, CEOs and managers are hiring regular lunch catering services to come in every day or a few times a week to feed their employees. Places like Cater2me, Fooda and ZeroCater connect with healthy and local restaurants that create and provide versatile meal options to offices. Fooda has a “rotating cast of restaurant options” and never recruits establishments that are in walking distance of the office. This way, employees are genuinely looking forward to lunch and can expect new and exciting flavors each day.

The cafeteria is the most critical organ of the office. The National Grid Café on the 1st floor of MetroTech knows this. Particularly a hang out for police officers waiting to testify at nearby courts, the café attracts Brooklyn professionals of all walks of life. The Café is mainly considered a secret lunchtime sanctuary. Most of its patrons discovered it through word-of-mouth. “It reminds me of a college cafeteria,” said Erin Barnes, 28, for The New York Times. “No one bothers you. They aren’t going to kick you out, and you feel safe because there are so many cops around.”

At Square, the concept of the cafeteria has been completely revolutionized. They provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for only $1 each meal. “There’s lots of variety. The food is healthy and they provide options for various dietary needs. It’s the sunny, social place in the office that staff are excited to go to,” says Jessica, an employee. Other booming start-ups boast generous staff meal programs. At LinkedIn, there’s an alleged “magic whiteboard” where staff are encouraged to write down what they’d like to see on the lunch menu and days later it appears. Other places like Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor and Dreamworks also provide their staff with multiple daily meals a day, with guaranteed unique flavor every time.

Workers Move Into Their Office and Love It

Menlo Park, CA—Last week data quantifying company, Energtech unveiled its new headquarters on Middlefield St.

The business took over the the entire building of the old children’s hospital which closed in 1991 and had been empty until now. The building is fourteen stories high and 80,000 square feet. Energtech’s staff is just over 250 and actual office space only occupies the first four floors. “Working at Energtech is more of a way of life than a career,” said CEO Joseph Mulligan. The tech group’s new office features a gym with a half-Olympic sized pool, meditation center, three cafeterias, a greenhouse, a performance stage, seven kitchens, a brewery and a holistic health center on floors 5 through 10. Floors 11 through 14 have been turned into “bungalow suites”, which are dormitory-style living quarters. “We are empowering employees by supplying them with every necessity possible. To ensure prime productivity, we’ve provided free on-location housing,” said Mulligan. The dorms are divided into 50 semi-private rooms, each include two bunk beds with queen size mattresses and a small bathroom with shower. The design of the bungalow suites mimics the open-floor plan of the office space on the lower levels. The short cubicle-like partitions divide the rooms and a fly-strip is in place of a traditional hallway.

The average Energtech employee is between the ages of 22 and 31, 92% are single, 73% are paying back student loans, 67% embody a treacherous fear of living alone, and 84% feel there’s not a lot going on in Menlo Park anyway so, don’t think they’re missing out on much by never leaving the building. The vast majority of employees work fifteen-hour days, seven days a week. “Working long hours as Energtech doesn’t seem as big of a deal as it would working long hours at any other company,” said 24 year-old software engineer, Sam Cortez, who hasn’t left the building in over a month. “The commute is just thirty-seconds in the elevator, the perks are awesome and it’s the kind of atmosphere where you can sense people are really thriving by working round-the-clock and taking no breaks.”

Mulligan wants to see how this All Work and No Play style of office culture fares at the Menlo Park campus before expanding the concept to Energtech’s Chicago, Dublin, and Mumbai offices. However, Mulligan is excited about the new building, “My staff is literally living the dream here. I hope that we’re providing the new model for future corporate and tech work-life.”

The Plight of The New Working Parent

Lately, the internet has been abuzz with chatter over what it means to be a parent in the work place.

Much of it was ignited by AOL CEO, Tim Armstrong’s comment last month regarding two AOL employees who each gave birth to pre-term high-risk babies that allegedly cost the company $1 million dollars each. Armstrong originally stated that in lieu of the babies’ costly hospital stays and the induction of the Affordable Care Act – he was going to cut back on the matching amount of his employees’ 410K packages. Fortunately, after a lot of backlash and protesting, he retracted his decision and AOL’s benefits now remain as they were before.

With our country in the midst of a health care revolution, it’s crucial to consider the security and stability of employee maternity and paternity leave benefits. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was passed in 1978, states that companies with 15 or more people must ensure every pregnant woman is entitled to the same health benefits as all other employees and will be assured her job upon return. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which was passed in 1993, went beyond these conditions, and ensures that if you’re an employee at a company with 50 or more people and have been working there for at least a year, you’re guaranteed 12 job-protected unpaid weeks of maternity leave. The tragic thing is that only 60% of the US’s businesses are legally required to distribute benefits under the FMLA. An even more daunting figure is that only 35% of women are employed at companies that even pledge paid maternity leave.

This is all barely comforting information. How is a woman supposed to support herself and a new child if she’s not working? The average parents spend $12,000 on their baby’s first year of life. Imagine what that year is like if you have no income and no health insurance.

In scope of world statistics, the US’s parental leave rights pale in comparison to policies in many European and Asian countries. South Korea gives both parents partial paid leave for up to a year. Japan grants each parent job security for a year of unpaid leave. New Zealand will pay 100% of a new parent’s salary for 14 weeks and allows 38 weeks of unpaid leave. Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and Romania all give 18 weeks of leave that pay 85-100% of their working salary. In Sweden, both parents receive 480 days of leave and 390 of those are paid at 80% of their salary.

In the last ten years, there have been only three states to pass paid family leave laws: California, New Jersey and Washington. Both California and New Jersey laws require employees receive 6 weeks of partially paid parental leave, California will pay new parents 55% of their regular salary and New Jersey will pay 66%. Due to lack of funds, Washington’s law probably won’t go into effect until 2015 but their workers will receive $250 a week for five weeks.

Some people are taking pregnancy budgeting to the test. Meaghan O’Connell, the co-editor at the finance blog, The Billfold, recently wrote a distressing but funny list of purchases during her first three months of pregnancy that total up to $4,113.94. Her spending isn’t superfluous ($395 for four weeks of birthing classes) but she isn’t being frugal either ($32 for a pregnancy pillow) – and why should she? Having a baby is the most critical time to be generous and considerate towards your body for the sake of the future well being of your family.

There are some high-flying tech companies that are strengthening their health benefits policies, intending to make the transition into parenthood a very easy one. Google allows new mothers to take up to 22 weeks of paid maternity leave and non-birthing parents are given seven paid weeks. They’ll also give new parents $500 in “baby cash”, priority parking spots and office high chairs. Facebook ensures four months of paid leave for both parents and $4,000 in “baby cash”. Yahoo CEO, Marissa Meyer, who ironically only took two weeks off after giving birth, extended the company’s parental leave policy to eight paid weeks for either parent along with $500 in “baby cash”.

It’s not just tech companies that are prioritizing new parents’ needs. Clif Bar and Genentech realized not so long ago that providing onsite childcare facilities boosts company moral and increases productivity and reduces turnover. Clif has a 6,700 square foot childcare center called the Clif Base Camp which hosts children from six months to six years. Parents are given the piece of mind and convenience of their children being nearby. Clif also provides seminars and workshops for new parents facilitated by published and esteemed parenting experts. Genentech has one the country’s largest on-site childcare centers – over 20,000 square feet and boasting 13 classrooms and private nursing rooms. Most onsite care centers are partially subsidized by employees. On average workers are encouraged to pay anywhere from $125-225 a year for childcare services – whether they’re parents or not.

Office Superfoods: Lunch Foods to Keep You Going Throughout the Workday

The mid-afternoon slump is definitely not a myth.

It is a real problem that many office workers suffer from shortly after returning from their lunch break. There are many reasons why we tend to experience a slump in the middle of the afternoon. Some are grounded in the science of our body’s internal clock. The other reasons have a lot to do with our daily routine. If you are not getting enough sleep, it is fairly obvious that you would wind up feeling sluggish before the workday is over. What many people don’t realize is that our diet can have a lot do with our energy levels.
A good well-balanced lunch is absolutely key to beating that afternoon slump. Here are several foods that will keep your energy up throughout the afternoon.

Drink Water –

Water may not be a food or even have any calories whatsoever, but it should still be an essential component of your lunch. A nice glass of cold water can be the perfect way to wake you up when your energy is lacking, and proper hydration is key to keeping your energy levels up. Our bodies can easily confuse our thirst for hunger. If you are feeling hungry and sluggish around the middle of the afternoon, you might just be dehydrated. Make sure you are drinking the recommended minimum of eight glasses a day, and drink at least one glass of water with your lunch.

The Right Carbs –

Whole grains are an excellent way to boost your energy levels since it takes your body longer to process them. You should choose foods like whole-wheat pasta, granola, and whole grain bread instead of white breads or sugary foods. The latter are made of unrefined carbohydrates that will cause you to experience a peak in blood sugar levels. However, that effect will die off quickly and cause you to feel tired. So, avoid hitting your commercial office space’s vending machines for lunch, no matter how tempting it may be.

Proteins –

The body digests proteins slowly, so meat is a good source of steady energy that will last the entire afternoon. You don’t necessarily need a plate full of meat for lunch, but you should make sure your lunch has at least one serving of protein. If you aren’t a big meat eater, nuts and beans are great sources of protein.

Vitamin, Mineral and Antioxidant Rich Foods –

A well-balanced lunch should be your number one priority, so you should make sure that you are eating foods from each of the major food groups. Fruits and vegetables are essential to an energy-rich lunch, especially if they are rich in antioxidants, like strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. Make sure you pack at least one serving of fruits and vegetables in your lunch or as part of a healthy mid-afternoon snack.

Avoid Caffeine –

Caffeine may be a great way to get a quick energy boost, but you should avoid it at lunchtime. The effect will wear off long before the workday is over, leaving you even more tired than before. You might be thinking that the soda or coffee will help you prevent a mid-afternoon slump, but it might actually be one of the factors causing it. Besides, most office spaces don’t have very good coffee anyway. It will definitely take a while to adjust to a diet with less caffeine, but your energy levels will be far more consistent if you can limit yourself to just a cup or two of coffee per day.