The Incredible Shrinking Office

Do you feel like the walls on creeping in on you at work?  Here’s a fact that will come as no surprise to the everyday office dweller.  Your workspace has shrunk – a lot.

Years of downsizing – both in headcount and real estate – led businesses to reduce the size of offices while challenging workers to produce more with less work area.  The square footage plunge over the past three years has been significant.  According to a CoreNet Global survey, U.S. businesses currently allocate roughly 176 square feet per employee, down from 225 square feet back in 2010.  And, the downward trend is expected to continue.  

Occupancy Costs

Second only to payroll, real estate is a firm’s next biggest expense.  Long-term leases on sprawling traditional office space have come under scrutiny as they often sit vacant at least 50 percent of the time.  Mobile technology is keeping employees away from their offices making it very plausible for them to work in a variety of locations – on the road, at home and, sometimes, in the office.  Work is now what someone does, not where they go.

The overpowering desks that stood tall down mahogany row and served as the anchor of an office are being tossed out in favor of more sleek designs aimed at striking the balance between privacy and collaboration.  Supersized furniture is out. Businesses at all stages of development – from Fortune 500s to start-ups are realigning their workspace need with their financial realities and are opting for less space.  In the process, they are not willing to sacrifice employee productivity.  Instead, they are looking to office design to help bolster teamwork and problem solving. The goal is to develop a flexible physical layout that enhances productivity and saves money. 

Changes in Work Styles

Modern work habits are changing workspace design.  Technology is one part of the equation. Organizing a meeting doesn’t mean walking down the hall to the conference room anymore.  While many meetings to take place face-to-face, Skype and videoconferencing makes it possible to bring together workers from around the world.  Stylistically, work has become informal, impromptu and more inclusive. This had led to more multi-purpose spaces and less private offices.  

Collaboration is a huge driver of change.  If all workers are in fully enclosed spaces, interaction diminishes.  In a constantly connected environment, where works are adjacent to each other collaboration amongst co-workers will more likely occur in these open spaces spontaneously and as needed.  The challenge for office designer is to provide a fluid mix of workspaces to meet the growing density of people and equipment that now take up less square footage.

Updated Look and Feel

From lighting to seating and from compact desks to open campuses, modular office design has emerged as the solution to balancing privacy and collaboration.

LED lighting has reduced the size of desk lamps.  Light sources can hone in on a particular space and can be easily controlled by its user.  Without the natural privacy afforded by four walls, designers have created furniture that offers visual barriers even in an open space.  Semi-enclosed seating such as one- and two-person stand-alone booths include sound-minimizing felt and tall panels offering a sense of privacy.   

Open floor plans with low barriers encourage side-by-side interaction, create a sense of defined space but allow for workers to share ideas.  Lots of glass, even in an enclosed office, creates a welcoming feel in an office environment.  Conference rooms tend to have glass walls but with a bonus feature.  The glass can be dimmed so that the meeting participants have some privacy.

The Upside

As businesses look to attract and retain employees, the image they project to their workers matters. A stodgy cubicle row isn’t going to foster innovation and won’t help individuals function better as a team.  Office design impacts creativity, productivity and corporate identity. While some companies are making the investment in renovating their spaces, others are giving their workers access to flexible workspace providers.

Flexible providers have the infrastructure in place that allows a mobile worker to drop-in and choose a work environment best suited for a particular task.  And, with more mobile workers in the workforce than ever before employers realize that flexibility has to be accessible no matter where there employee is.  

Conclusion

Businesses embarking on an office transformation need to understand that a certain population of their company is going to miss their fixed desk.  As the concept of the workplace evolves, it’s important to communicate the workplace strategy with staff so that they can more easily embrace these changes.  Reinvention is a good thing. The technology, new ways of working and change in business processes is helping dictate a new chapter in the workplace. 

Tips To Help Mothers Stay Productive and Do It All

 

This Sunday, mothers will be celebrated everywhere for all that they do. In recognition of this special day, we surveyed professionals to discover what it takes for working moms to overcome obstacles when balancing work life and caring for children. Resoundingly, the answer was flexibility.

Courtesy: steppingstonellc.com

 

(courtesy: steppingstonellc.com)

According to the recent survey, flexible work hours, the option to work closer to home (both 95%) and the option to choose video-conferencing over travel at times (86%) were top of the list in helping working moms do it all.

Often times, women want to scale back on their careers during preschool years and then go back full-time once children are school-aged (source: WorkingMother.com). Previous Regus research has revealed 56 per cent of businesses globally value part-time returning mothers because they offer skills and experience which is difficult to find in the current market. In addition, 72 per cent believe that companies who ignore part-time returning mothers are missing out on a significant and valuable part of the employment pool.

Here are some tips to help moms get back to the workforce while maintaining a comfortable balance between profession and childcare.

Provide flexible work hours – Working a regiment 9 to 5 schedule with the technology available today is becoming an old way of life. While it’s important to be in the office for face-to-face meetings or to create rapport, flexible hours should be an option to allow working moms to meet childcare scheduling i.e. to drop their kids off at school or pick them up, if necessary.

 

 Allow times to work from home or remotely – Recently, Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer faced criticism when she took away the ability for employees to work remotely. While it’s important to have employees in the office, there are times when working remotely or from home should be permitted. For example, letting moms work three days in the office and two days at home, or in a flexible workspace, can create an environment in where both a business’ and a mother’s needs are met.

Understand that there will be necessary time off – Children can get sick, especially when they are in day care. Without doubt, there will be times when moms need time off to care for their child. Employers who understand this and let moms stay home to care for their children, will discover they have professionals who are much less stressed about trying to manage both professional and personal needs and can be more productive when back in the office.

Look into flexible workplaces closer to their home – Working from home isn’t always the ideal option for moms. There can be many distractions and a mother’s home office may not be fully equipped to operate at full scale. That’s when a flexible workplace, like Regus’ ThinkPods or private offices, can provide great benefits to working moms while also decreasing long commute times. It’s easy to stop into a business centre located in residential areas to use flexible working spaces and still be close to home.o home.

Zipcar and Regus Team Up to Deliver Smart Sharing Solutions to Savvy Businesses

 

Zipcar, Inc., the world’s leading car sharing network, and Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workspaces, have teamed up to offer a new national program to help businesses of all sizes across the country save money by paying only for what they use.

Today’s consumers are sharing bikes, vacation homes, textbooks and couture, and smart businesses are jumping onto this trend of collaborative consumption to meet their needs efficiently. Through the new program offered by Zipcar and Regus, businesses can share resources they need to be successful – like workspace and vehicles – at a reduced cost, making doing business even more convenient and cost-effective.

 

“Collaborative consumption is a trend that makes sense for smart businesses, and Zipcar’s new program with Regus enables businesses to utilize their resources more efficiently to save money and  increase flexibility,” said Diane Systrom, Director, Zipcar for Business, North America.  “Regus gives their customers the ability to work when, where and how they want so they can focus on business without having to deal with the hassle of operating an office, while Zipcar for Business gives our members on-demand access to ‘wheels when they want them’ offering all of the benefits of car ownership without the costs. We see many parallels between our service offerings and look forward to helping businesses with our smart solutions.”

 

Through the new alliance, Regus customers can enjoy a special offer to join Zipcar for Business, a membership offering designed especially for companies and their employees.  Regus customers can visit www.zipcar.com/regusoffer to sign up for Zipcar for Business, and will receive:

·         A waived set up fee,

·         Discounted annual membership,

·         Low weekday driving rates, and

·         Driving credit for the first 10 members on a new business account.

 

In addition, as part of the program, Zipcar for Business members will receive a twelve month Regus Businessworld Preferred membership, which includes fifteen complimentary Business Lounge visits. Zipcar for Business members can visit www.regus.com/zipcar to sign up for a Regus membership, and upon activation will receive:

A voucher for a complimentary one time use of their first meeting room, video conference or day office booking,

Two free Business Lounge guest passes, and

One month free on a Full Time Office or any Virtual Office Program with a minimum term of twelve months. 

 

“This alliance between Regus and Zipcar speaks to the widespread benefits of being flexible,” said Regus’ Director of Partnerships, Michael Haas.  “Whether your needs include a car or place to do business for the day, on-demand services like ours represents a new way and better way to meet the diverse needs of our customers.”

5 Tips To Start A Business

 

March is National Start Your Business Month – the time of year where those with the “big idea” are encouraged to turn that plan into reality. While starting a small business sounds great in theory, the reality is, owning your own business is expensive, and cash flow is the number one concern for America’s small business owners (64%). 

However, there are ways to reduce the costs of starting a small business. As real estate is the second-largest expense for small businesses (behind payroll), changing the way you think about workspaces can save a startup unnecessary costs. Guillermo Rotman, CEO of Regus Americas, has some tips to cut workplace costs to start a business this March.

The right size for your business: Don’t start your business with a major expense like real estate if you don’t know how it will grow in the coming months or years. See if non-binding, flexible arrangements like drop-in lounges or short leases can suit your needs and avoid long-term fixed plans that may not apply to your company in six months’ time.

Go virtual: If you’re starting a business out of your home, consider a budget-friendly virtual office (VO). A VO allows you to work from home, but maintain a professional office address with a receptionist, mail services and options to work from an office when needed.

Think flexible: If you plan to hire employees, explore today’s many flexible working options such as coworking, working from home and staggered work hours to save on real estate costs, reduce stressful commuting, improve morale and boost productivity.

Skype, don’t Sky: Leverage technology in lieu of business travel when you can. Videoconferencing, Skype and online meetings can keep you in touch with colleagues and clients without the hassle of traveling.

Build a Network:  Try a coworking or shared space network with like-minded professionals.. Working near those with similar passions will not only fuel your business ideas, but may also lead to new customers, business partners and opportunities.