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Blog Archive For July

Change Your Office Space, Stay Stress-Free!

Businesses are operating differently on many levels in the aftermath of the 2008 Great Recession. From simple cost-cutting measures to shifts in target demographics and marketing strategies, things have changed recently. One notable trend stands out—dramatic shifts in the ways businesses design and utilize their office space. Both out of a desire to stay competitive and to ensure efficient use of space and employee time, companies are shaking things up.

But change can create uncertainty and discomfort in the eyes of some employees, and there is an art to redesigning an office in a way that keeps your whole office content! As for individual employees—there are plenty of things you can do on your own behalf to keep focused and content at work! Here are some pointers, some of them via Forbes:

-Add personal touches. Having family photos, favorite works of art, books, or a special decoration by your desk can bridge the gap between an office that feels like work and a desk that feels like home!

-Keep your workspace tidy and organized. Even if you don’t see yourself as an obsessive neat freak, it’s much easier for us to focus when our desk or other workspace is free of clutter! When items are easier to find, and files are organized in a neat and aesthetically pleasing fashion, you’ll find it much easier to focus on your work.

-Learn to ignore or otherwise cope with interruptions. We all work best when uninterrupted, but interruptions happen, and we all need to deal with them! Self-control goes a long way, but keeping some form of noise protection between offices and avoiding placing cubicles near elevators and other loud machinery can go a long way!

-Add plants to your work area. This may sound abstract, but studies have suggested that the presence of plants can make many workers feel more comfortable at their desks. Some researchers have even suggested that plants in work spaces can lower the blood pressure and increase the positive feelings of workers. But you’ve surely heard enough to put one at your desk, right? Right.

-Keep some form of structured relaxation in your work routine. Maybe play calming music at intervals of your workday, or go for a walk on your lunch break. Whatever it takes to make work feel more like a regular life activity and not a grueling day in a stuffy office, it’s worth the effort!


Opening Your Office to the Public

As seems to be increasingly the case for government, businesses continually have to deal with demands to be transparent. In our Age of Information Overload, that can mean everything from posting how much the company’s employees make per year to going into detail about business costs and their effect on product markups.

The Transparency Kick has gotten so strong that some companies have even set aside periods of time when members of the public can enter the work space for practically any reason at all.

According to one marketing company profiled by Entrepreneur magazine, the idea is to give people the chance to ask questions, seek out advice or just chit-chat for a spell. There doesn’t have to be a so-called right reason to drop by the offices of Maryland-based Sisarina.

In fact, says the company’s Chief Inspiration Officer, a lot of people first ask why Sisarina would open its offices for an hour every Wednesday to a group that almost certainly will contain a perfect stranger. However, in the more than two years of the open-office meetings, the CIO maintains that the practice is worth it.

“I’m really keen on making sure people go offline to build relationships,” she says, adding that the face-to-face approach is far more preferred to interactions on social media. Plus, she notes, “I don’t feel like I have to go to every networking event in the world because people are coming to us.”

For dPop, an interior design studio, opening up the office for an entire day each month is the way to go. Visitors can bring along their laptops and access the studio’s WiFi. And the purpose of the monthly invitation goes beyond any hope of securing new clients, says the studio’s CEO. Instead, it’s all about tapping into whatever creative energies decide to wander through the door and stay for a while.

“If you’re in your own space, in your own head, and someone who isn’t so involved asks you a question,” she says, “It gets you thinking: Why haven’t we done this? Or tried that?”

So far, neither company has reported any security concerns, though occasionally a talker or two will show up and hold forth for a while.

Sisarina’s CIO sums up the open-door policy this way: “You generate word-of-mouth and you can control your brand a little better because people are coming to you and getting to know you in your home environment.”


Lower Manhattan Office Leases Surging

With all the talk about the concept of the centralized office becoming extinct as more and more people telecommute, you’d think that office buildings in major cities would be experiencing vacancy rates of epic proportions.

While office space leases might be experiencing decline in some areas of the country, a recent report indicates that in one area of America’s most massive metropolis – New York City – office leases are being signed right and left as tenants seek to capitalize on some of Manhattan’s lowest commercial rents in quite a while.

In fact, says the Cushman & Wakefield brokerage, lease agreements covering some 3.7 million square feet of office space in lower Manhattan (sometimes referred to as the city’s financial district) were signed in the first half of 2014 – more than a 30% increase over the same period in 2013. The vacancy rate for offices dropped from over 12% to just 10% by the end of December 2013, partly because a couple of corporate giants – Time Inc. and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. – each leased out over a million square feet of workspace in Brookfield Place.

Some of the migration to lower Manhattan appears to have been at least partially motivated by rising prices in the midtown south market, regarded as between 30th and Canal Streets, as technology and media organizations looked to find less expensive alternatives to classic buildings in the area. Landlords were asking about $63 per square foot for office spaces in vintage midtown south structures, while similar properties downtown were asking just $40 per square foot. When considering whether to lease a million square feet, those numbers add up pretty quickly.

Another reason for the move south, says Cushman & Wakefield’s chairman of global brokerage, is that corporations were eager “to lock up deals before we see another rent spike.”

The initial part of that spike may have already shot upward to a degree that would make it impossible for some companies to take advantage of lower rents, as rents across Manhattan have risen 5% over the last dozen months, with rents in lower downtown now nearing $50 per square foot.

As a result, says another Cushman & Wakefield exec, “The $30 deal downtown is dead.”

So much for the premature prediction that offices aren’t necessary anymore. On the contrary, it’s more important than ever to make the best use of every available square foot of work space.



Making Your Filing System Work for You

Eventually, it happens to everyone, everywhere. Even in today’s age of electronic document storage. Your hard-copy filing system, still needed for keeping irreplaceable items like original signatures, becomes overloaded to the point that filing anything – much less finding anything – becomes nearly impossible. Here are a few tips for making your hard-copy filing system Read the full article…

Customizing Your Cubicle

The open office concept may be the latest, greatest trend in office organization, but the trusty cubicle looks as though it’ll still be around for a while, as it has for the last half-century. It’s just too convenient a way to provide certain teams of workers with spaces that afford a modicum of privacy while Read the full article…

Renting Office Space by the Hour

With more workers on the go nowadays than ever before, it’s inevitable that an executive will find himself or herself in an unfamiliar city and needing to rendezvous with a new or potential client within the next couple of hours. The exec wants to find a decent, though not exorbitantly priced, space to hold the Read the full article…

Brooklyn Now an Unlikely Office Space Haven

New York City is the business capital of the United States, and Manhattan has traditionally been the hub of all things big about New York. Big companies, big stars, big restaurants, big dreams. But Manhattan may be facing some intra-city competition for control of the region’s business sector. More and more New York-based businesses are Read the full article…