All posts by Saibal

Five Tips on Finding the Best Coworking Space for You

Joining a Coworking Space can be a great way to have a professional work space without all of the overhead costs. Instead of working from home, from a coffee shop or investing in your own brick and mortar office, try a KC Coworking Space first. Here are some things to look for when you’re shopping for a Coworking Space.

  • Location – consider a location that will be convenient. Keeping your commute short gives you more time to build your business.
  • Tour and Trial Day – the best way to see if a space is a fit for you is to try it out; most KC Coworking Alliance members offer a free trial day.
  • Resources – do you need specific resources to help grow your business? Maybe you need a shared kitchen space for your food-focused business or maybe you need to be around other tech startups. Ask about the other members of the space and determine how you might fit in that community. What type of resources, amenities and event programming does the space have that could support your business?
  • Space – What does the actual physical space offer? Is there a place to make a private phone call? Meeting rooms? Dedicated desks? 24/7 access? Is it close to coffee shops, restaurants, transportation?
  • Costs – How are the memberships broken down? Do you pay one price for all-inclusive membership? Are meeting rooms or events/programming extra?

 

Deciding on a coworking space is an important decision. With a little bit of research, you can find the perfect fit for you and your business.

 

Act Now and Grow

 

What Makes Coworking at WorkSocial a Successful Business Decision

What Makes Coworking at WorkSocial a Successful Business Decision

By the year 2020, experts estimate that 40% of the workforce in the U.S. will be freelancers, temps, or independent contractors.

The draw of creating your own schedule has led many Americans to look for employment outside of traditional offices.

Instead, they are finding freedom elsewhere. Some are choosing to start their own businesses. Others are opting for freelance work that can be done remotely. Still more choose to work for a single company, but by telecommuting full or even part time.

But just because you don’t have to report to an office doesn’t mean that you won’t want to.

After months or even days of working on your own, it’s not uncommon to feel unmotivated and isolated. Choosing to join a great coworking space can fix that.

A coworking space is a location that allows freelancers, remote employees, or the self-employed to have their own desk space. But rather than having that desk at home, it exists within a shared office environment.

Surrounded by other hard-working individuals, you’ll get a major boost of motivation. You can even brainstorm with others in the space, bounce ideas off of them, or share resources.

But not all coworking spaces are created equal. To help you find the space that’s right for you, we’re breaking down what it takes to make coworking spaces a success.

The Perfect Location

Before you can start building a successful coworking space, you need to choose a location for it.

If you already have a group that you plan to share the space with, you and your coworkers could choose any space.

But if you don’t, you’ll want a location in a city or metropolitan area. That way, there are sure to be plenty of freelance, remote, or self-employed workers in the area to share the space.

Creating your own coworking office requires finding a location. It also requires paying rent, furnishing the space, and more.

If you’re an individual looking to take your work to the next level with a coworking space, it’s better to join an existing one rather. You’ll avoid the hassle and costs of starting your own. And there will already be people in the space, ready to help you get started.

A Comfortable Environment

The ability to work from the comfort of home is one thing that draws people to self-employment. So if you choose to try a coworking space, the last thing you want to do is work in an uncomfortable cubicle.

A successful coworking office features an open floor plan that promotes collaboration. It’s bright and modern, to get your creativity flowing. It’s comfortable enough for you to put in long hours building your business.

Your chosen coworking space should also offer resources to help you work more efficiently.

Printers, large monitors for sharing your work with others, and basic office supplies will save you from having to cart gear to the space each day.

Cohesive Branding

If you’re used to working in a digital environment, you know that clean, modern design is the norm for websites and online content.

That’s the style that you’ll be emulating in your work. So choosing a coworking space that reflects that can be a great way to stay inspired.

Coworking spaces that look like they were thrown together with old office furniture scavenged off the curb or with sterile decorations straight from a doctor’s office, won’t lend much inspiration to your work.

When choosing a shared space, pay attention to the branding of the office and how the style makes you feel. That’ll give you a better idea of whether you’ll be successful in that particular space.

Having Set Policies in Place

Successful coworking spaces promote collaboration among other using that space.

This is important because collaboration is key. In one study of individuals who used a coworking space, 91% reported that they interacted better with others after coworking.

But not all interactions will go smoothly. Clashing personalities or freelancers not great at social interaction can lead to a toxic environment.

That’s why it’s important to have policies in place to regulate what goes on in the office. Rules about using desk space or other supplies, cleaning up the space, and noise levels can all help keep the space running smoothly.

It also allows other members who use the space to confront anyone who is in violation of the policies to prevent future interruptions.

Community, Community, Community

What do all of these traits that make the best coworking spaces successful have in common? They help to create a community among workers in the space!

A healthy community within a shared space can help you stay motivated. It will get your creativity flowing like never before, which can lead to increased profits and success.

Another part of what makes a successful community within a coworking office is great people. While you may not be able to do much about who is working within a space, you can choose the space that’ll you’ll work in based on who else is already there.

Before committing to an office space, try interacting with others who work there.

Talk to them about their work and their goals, and pay attention to their attitudes and philosophies about the workplace.

Gauging whether you think that you’ll work well with others who are already using the space is key to finding a community that will help you succeed.

Choosing the Right Coworking Space for You

If you’re ready to see how coworking spaces can help you grow, use these tips to find the perfect shared office for your wants and needs.

Take your time and research each potential space. A community that inspires and motivates you will help you get more done and improve your work.

Our coworking spaces offer a comfortable, modern work environment with the resources that you’ll need to succeed. To see whether one of our spaces is the right choice for you, request a tour of one of our offices or contact us for more information today!

 

6 Ways WorkSocial Coworking Spaces Will Transform Your Business in 2018

How WorkSocial Coworking Spaces Will Transform Business

Coworking Spaces for Rent
New startups are showing up all across Jersey City. On top of that, the freelance workforce is growing like never before. Because of this, office spaces are taking on a new form called coworking.

We’ve all heard of multi-billion dollar businesses that grew their roots in garages or college dorms. However, a lot of small business owners and freelancers want a space that’s somewhere between a garage and an expensive office downtown.

Welcome to coworking spaces.

They allow several businesses to work out of a central location. There are many benefits to this, which we’ll cover in the next few minutes.

Once you see how awesome this idea is, WorkSocial coworking spaces have you covered in Jersey City.

Now, let’s have a look.

1. Lower Your Office Costs

This is a huge benefit of sharing office space. Renting office space on your own can cost several thousand dollars a month.

In contrast, shared spaces can cost only a few hundred dollars per month.

When your business is comprised of only you or a handful of employees, it doesn’t make sense to rent an entire office.

Coworking is the way to go.

2. Work Without Distraction

Working on a living room couch with children around is full of constant distractions. For a lot of small business owners or freelancers, it just doesn’t work.

A busy environment at home is distracting and keeps you from getting business done.

When you want to work in peace, you need a dedicated coworking space where you can collaborate with employees without life getting in the way.

3. Peer Pressure That Drives You

Peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing. It can be good when it lights your competitive spirit and makes you aim for success.

In shared workspaces, you’ll feel a certain pressure pretty much every day.

When you look across the room and spot a rising technology company, you’ll be inspired by their success and want to emulate it.

4. Networking Opportunites

Renting from WorkSocial gives you ample opportunities to network.

The neighbor sitting across from you might hand you your next huge client.

Say you need a web designer for a complete website re-vamp. She might be sitting a few desks from you and fit perfectly into your budget.

5. Coworking is Good for Work Life Balance

Have you ever worked a 12 hour day from home and at 10 pm had your next big project staring you directly in the face?

No fun.

When you keep work out of your home, you’ll live a more fulfilling home life away from work stresses.

Leave your work back at the office and enjoy time with friends or family.

6. Find the Next Big Thing

Healthy competition is great when you share a workspace. But you could even find your next big venture.

Sometimes you’ll see a company working on a great idea but not executing it properly. You may have the skills and experience to get it done right.

Of course, sharing a workspace is not a license to steal other people’s ideas. But you never know what you might see and hear that could lead you to the next big thing.

WorkSocial Coworking in Jersey City

When you don’t want to work from home anymore but you’re ready for your own office space, WorkSocial is an amazing solution.

Get in touch with us today and find out what a shared workspace can do for your business.

We look forward to talking!

Coworking Spaces Inspire Innovation and Collaboration | WorkSocial

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

Shared Office Space, Office Space for Rent, CoWorking

Editor’s Note: In the new podcast Masters of Scale, LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman explores his philosophy on how to scale a business — and at Entrepreneur.com, entrepreneurs are responding with their own ideas and experiences on our hub. This week, we’re discussing Hoffman’s theory: the smartest companies don’t tell their employees how to innovate, they manage the chaos. Listen to this week’s episode here

When your business is very small and getting started, it is easy to find yourself “breathing your own exhaust.” As Lisa Gansky, the creator of Ofoto Photo Sharing wrote, “When you create something, you can fall in love with it and aren’t able to see or hear anything contrary. Whatever comes out of your mouth is all you’re inhaling . . .” If you work alone, or with only a select group, you may be limiting yourself and your company. More interaction, ideas, concepts and thinking often lead to more innovation, creativity and a more profitable business. Environments that convey this kind of positive energy are a key reason that coworking is growing at a dizzying pace.

Coworking isn’t a new notion. In 15th-century Florence, painters, sculptors, architects, engineers and scientists worked together in the Renaissance “bottega.” Bottega workshops brought together different types of talent to compete, collaborate, learn and improve, most often under a master teacher. These bottegas created environments that increased the level of discussion among diverse groups and helped these individuals to turn their ideas into actions. The interactions led to higher levels of innovation for all.

Overcome the 5 Pitfalls of the Virtual Office

Related: Google’s 20 Percent Rule Actually Helps Employees Fight Back Against Unreasonable Managers

The philosophy of personal interaction leading to higher levels of output and innovation is illustrated by W. L. Gore and Associates, the makers of Gore-Tex and other products. The company’s unique business model includes keeping its manufacturing facilities to between 100 and 250 employees. Gore believes that “the cost savings from large plants is canceled out by the loss of efficiency and productivity that comes from employees not knowing each other well.”

People haven’t changed. We still gain new ideas from interacting, collaborating and competing with others. A setting that brings different groups together and encourages interaction is exactly the type of environment that spurs entrepreneurial growth. Just over three years ago, we opened Gather, the premier coworking space in our hometown of Richmond, Va. With our second location, opened in 2016, we currently create a community for more than 250 entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners. Like the Renaissance model, Gather offers expert guidance through our business partners in the areas of law, business, finance, accounting, real estate and others. Like Gore, we restrict Gather offices to no more than 250 coworkers to allow people to get to know each other well. These connections are also encouraged through the open common spaces and social and educational events.

There are dozens of examples of coworkers collaborating, innovating and working together. However, we find that most of them fall into one of these four categories:

Shared Office Space, Office Space for Rent, CoWorking

Learning and advice

TJ Rinoski, a young graphic designer, talked to us about learning from others with more experience. He said that he often asks the more seasoned designers who work in Gather, technical questions when he gets stuck or needs some guidance. Likewise, Stinson Munday, of Linden Legal Strategies and Gather’s legal business partner, spoke about the ease of both giving and getting advice from others who are “next door.” She offers office hours each week, where coworkers can pop in to receive some quick legal advice. Stinson explained that she also relies on other professionals at Gather to answer questions outside of her expertise. She said, “It is like having an office without all the office politics.”

Related: 6 Benefits of Coworking With Strangers

Recruiting and employment

When PJ Wallin needed to hire an employee for his growing financial planning company, WorkSocial, he looked no further than his fellow coworker, Darla Keefer. Because of their many interactions, PJ felt he knew Darla’s character, skills and work ethic. It was an easy hire. Similarly, Kate Ayers with ReEstablish Richmond, a non-profit that connects refugees to services and aids in their transition, has referred several of her clients to Andrew Crotts with Volatia, a company that supplies interpreters in more than 280 languages. As Kate said, “Our clients need jobs. This is a win for our clients and both organizations.”

Networking and clients

Members of Gather often look to each other when buying services and products. As Brian Cannon, executive director of OneVA2021, explained, “We are a small nonprofit, and coworking has enabled us to cross-pollinate with smart, creative people regularly on a ton of projects. One of the biggest was our work with Charles Merritt, whose social media targeting and analytics, plus a natural knack for strategy, enabled us to execute a crowdfunding campaign with $50,000 from 1,000 donors all over the country. We cowork because informal access to such talent can’t be found in a regular office environment.”

The networking that occurs naturally in a coworking environment can also lead to referrals. Jessica Zullo with Hickok Cole, an architecture firm, referred Barbara Bliley and Nick Toce of Helm & Hue, a branding and marketing company with a knack for printing, to create decals for Jackson & James, one of her client’s new stores. Nick said, “The opportunities we have received have been integral to our growth and expansion. Our access to new clients, collaborative resources and referral partners have opened doors that would otherwise have been unreachable at this stage in our development.”

Innovating and collaboration

Jeff Kelley is a commercial journalist whose company Kelley provides content, media and digital communication services. To do this, he uses a select group of freelancers and small companies to add to his skill set. When several of Jeff’s clients started asking for graphic design, Jeff called on Caitlin Hathaway, a freelance graphic designer and web developer. Jeff said, “For six months, we met maybe once and did most of our work via email. But, when we each moved into our own space in a coworking community, we were able to work like a true agency — but without the overhead. Today we remain individual but can shout across the hall and get face-to-face time that we could not before. Work is done more efficiently, and we’ve been able to get more work because of the proximity.”

Related: 5 Ways Business Leaders Unintentionally Kill Collaboration and Creativity

When Caio Bailoni overheard AJ Mojaddidi talking at the next table about cybersecurity, a partnership was born. AJ, of Key Cyber Solutions, a successful cybersecurity consultant, teamed up with Caio, an analyst with Cloud Automation Solutions, to extend the services of both. Together, the companies have been able to bid on several large projects that they would not have been able to approach before the collaboration. Caio said, “This is just the beginning of our work together.” He sees this partnership growing in the future as they find more ways to create together.

Most cities and even smaller localities offer coworking. If you have a business that could benefit from discussion, collaboration, networking and learning opportunities, we encourage you to look at the options located in your area. The benefits are many, and like the bottegas of Florence, the environment they create inspires innovation and more.

Happy International Coworking Day from WorkSocial

Shared Office Space, CoWorking Space
Shared Office Space Image Credit: Share Desk

From all of us at WorkSocia, happy International Coworking Day! We’re thrilled to be a part of this incredible movement, and to celebrate another incredible year of being a part of evolving the way people work. It’s humbling to believe that something which started as a fringe movement by a few forward thinkers has exploded into a true worldwide phenomenon, but the evidence is undeniable–coworking is here to stay. In fact according to the annual DeskMag survey, nearly 1.2 million people will have worked in a coworking space by the end of the year. And what’s more? About 14,000 coworking spaces will be in operation by December, too.

 

6 Keys to a Smooth Search for a Business Location | WorkSocial

 by: Brandon Carter

Defining and deciding the right rental space for your company is rarely a unilateral decision. It requires input and consideration from multiple stakeholders along the way, including fellow executives, employees and your broker. A true team effort.

And as much time as finding suitable space can take, the smallest gaps in communication between parties can cost you precious time as well. It can be the difference between landing the ideal space and just barely missing out.

Here are six suggestions for facilitating the smoothest possible path to finding your next rental space.

Get feedback internally

You may have a firm understanding of what your company needs in its next office space, but involving other members of your team in the discussion can yield major benefits later in the process.

For one, it helps establish common priorities among the staff, which in turn establishes positive sentiment toward the search and the eventual destination you choose as your next address.

Are people most worried about the commute? Proximity to clients and partners? More meeting space?  Of course it’s impossible to satisfy every opinion, but the more inclusive you make the process, the more pride and ownership your team will take in the new office. Plus, they may have some invaluable suggestions.

Your criteria and preferences can (and likely will) change once you hit the market, but the more accurate criteria you can give your broker to start, the more efficient the process.

Appoint a lead to maintain continuity

Appoint someone you trust to spearhead your office search. If you are the only person matching that description, just be mindful of the time commitment you’re taking on, in addition to your already extensive list of commitments. Consider delegating it to an established right-hand resource.

This person should attend all the office tours, handle communications with the broker, and facilitate all the feedback from internal stakeholders.

If on occasion the point person can’t meet these commitments, they should in turn appoint someone else to substitute and provide a crystal-clear update on the status of the search and priorities.

What you don’t want is several different people looking at several different spaces and reporting back with their own take on the front-runners for rental space. That’s a recipe for a confused, prolonged search.

Come to commercial lease terms

Decide early how long you want to rent your next space. This decision will influence the rest of your search. In a commercial real estate market like New York, a standard lease term is 3-5 years, but for many, such a long-term commitment is impractical for their business.

Spaces available for shorter or more flexible terms are certainly available, but your options are a bit more limited.

If you’re looking for rental space on 2-year terms or shorter, you should consider space on the sublet market.

Keep your real estate broker(s) in the loop

Looking for rental space with multiple brokers is quite common. In fact, it can be hard to avoid when looking online and making multiple inquiries.

It’s also understandable that you might feel protective over the information you share between brokers.

Don’t. The more a given broker knows about your requirements, the current stage of your search, and what kinds of spaces you’ve already seen, the faster she can pinpoint the most helpful next step in the process.

Use collaborative tools

Touring is one of the most time-consuming steps in the rental process. It demands time. patience and faith that it’ll uncover the right space for your business. Furthermore, it yields a ton of information difficult to keep straight, let on alone share accurately with other stakeholders.

Thankfully, technology is starting to change that. SquareFoot, for example, has developed a free collaborative tool that organizes tours, lets tenants take notes on each space and easily share those notes with other people in the org. SquareFoot brokers also use this tool so you can screen listings together and get updates on available spaces.

But technology on its own doesn’t make touring rental space more efficient. That begins with clearly defined office criteria and close communication with your broker, one who is willing to thoroughly vet spaces before taking you to see them.

Debrief after touring rental space

After the information overload that can occur with touring space, taking time with your broker afterward, even for just a few minutes, can help you process immediate feedback, ask timely questions and decide on appropriate next steps.

A common thread between all these steps? Taking a collaborative, transparent approach to your office space search.

A willingness to delegate, communicate and organize your efforts internally before hitting the market can make finding your next office that much more enjoyable.

10 Lessons Every Entrepreneur Must Learn

As entrepreneurs, we all follow our own path. For some, the rise to financial success is a long, slow, painful process. For others, things just seem to magically fall into place. I believe that the latter isn’t a result of magic, however, but is the sure sign of an entrepreneur who understands the importance of learning from, adapting to and growing with their business.

The following are 10 lessons every entrepreneur must learn in order to build a long-term, healthy and sustainable business.

1. The customer is not always right. From day one, we’re told that “the customer is always right.” We’re expected to bend over backwards to please every single customer, even when they’re clearly and painfully wrong. This maxim, however, can do a serious disservice to ourselves, our employees and our customers. Give your customers the benefit of the doubt, but not at the expense of your (or your employees’) dignity.

Related: What I Learned in My First 365 Days as an Entrepreneur

2. Time is money. Money, customers, ideas: all resources you can potentially gain more of. Time, however, is the one commodity you’ll always have a finite amount of. One way to ensure you make the most of your time is to assign an hourly dollar amount to your tasks.

Ask yourself: What would be a fair wage for the tasks I perform? If someone else can competently accomplish these tasks for less money, let them do it so you can focus on higher level, revenue-generating tasks. As a business owner, you should only do the tasks that only you can do.

 3. Not all money is good money. This is a lesson many entrepreneurs struggle with early in their career. When you’re getting your business off the ground, it’s easy to fall into the trap of taking money from anyone who offers it. The problem is, not all customers or clients are worth it.

Avoid clients who take up too much of your time, who consistently have unrealistic expectations or who you just generally dread working with. It’s just not worth it!

4. There are no cheap shortcuts in marketing. I often speak to business owners who want marketing advice, but who then shun my recommendations as being “too expensive.” The truth is, cheap marketing can make your brand look cheap.

Low-quality content, cheap ads and “budget” SEO may save you money in the short term, but the damage they do to your brand’s reputation can last far longer. For insight on how to market the right way, see my ebook.

5. Outsource as much as possible. If you don’t have in-house staff to share the workload, consider outsourcing. Many entrepreneurs find that hiring an overseas virtual assistant significantly reduces the time they need to spend on routine tasks, freeing them up to work on revenue-generating tasks.

6. Build your personal brand as well as your company brand. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of focusing on building their company brand to the exclusion of building their personal brand. However, your personal brand will differentiate you from your competitors, give you authority and credibility in your field, and stick with you in the event your company ultimately experiences failure.

 For some practical tips, see my article, How to Grow Your Personal Brand with Your Content Strategy.

And while there’s been a lot of talk over the years about work-life separation or work-life balance, our whole thing is about work-life integration. Because it’s just life — and the ideal would be if you can be the same person at home as you are in the office and vice versa. — Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com

Related: Simple Yet Powerful Business Lessons From a Broke Entrepreneur Turned Multi-Millionaire

7. Work is life, and life’s too short to hate your work. Work-life balance is something many entrepreneurs struggle with, which is why I’m such a huge fan of Tony Hsieh’s approach. When you’re passionate about what you do, and when you focus on happiness (both your own and that of your employees’), work isn’t just something you do to fund your “real life.” It becomes infinitely more enjoyable and meaningful, and significantly reduces your chances of experiencing burnout.

My philosophy is to always find the smartest people you can. Hire people smarter than you. — Donny Deutsch

8. Hire people who are smarter than you. Face it: There will always be people who are smarter than you. If you’re lucky enough to find these people, hire them. Focus on the things that you’re best at, and give them the freedom to do the same.

9. Best practices may not be best for your customers. Particularly when you’re just starting a business, it’s easy to get caught up in doing what others tell you is the “best way” to do something. Problem is, “they” don’t know your customers or clients. Use best practices as a starting point, but adapt them to meet the unique needs of your business and customers.

10. Just do it. Planning, strategizing and weighing options all have important roles within a business. But there comes a point in time when you just have to do it. You know the quote: “Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.

Analysis paralysis or simply the lack of ability to execute a plan will stifle growth, innovation and progress in any business. Even if the payoff for work done now won’t come for years. Successful people do the work anyway because they know how to delay gratification, and this ability is what separates successful people from unsuccessful people, according to renowned physicist and author Michio Kaku.

There you have it: 10 lessons every entrepreneur must learn in order to build a profitable and sustainable business. Not easy lessons, to be sure, but ones that ensure the best possible chance of long-term success.

What would you add to the list? Share in the comments section below!

10 Reasons Coworking Space Can Drive Growth for You

10 Reasons Coworking Space Can Drive Growth for You

Coworking spaces help you thrive.

They provide you with personal, professional, and communal opportunities.

Whether you work at home and you are looking for a new space, or you are considering moving your company to coworking environments, there are a few compelling reasons to do so.

10 Reasons Coworking Spaces Help You Thrive

1. People Naturally Enjoy Coworking Spaces

People typically enjoy a sense of community. You do not have to be a social person to get the public benefits either. In fact, just being surrounded by others can improve your social outlook and give you that sense of support; regardless of how often you chat up the neighbors.

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2. Coworking Spaces Offer Natural Networking Opportunities

Look around you, and you will quickly see the networking opportunities in a coworking environment.

You have people from different backgrounds, and some may have companies that benefit you in supply, reference, or another aspect.

3. Collaboration is Surrounding You

You have like-minded entrepreneurs nearby that you can bounce ideas off, get help, and even form professional relationships.

Rental office Space
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4. You are in a Nurturing Environment

When renting a coworking space, you are in a supportive environment because there are other entrepreneurs just like you going through the same hurdles.

5. You Have Opportunities to Learn Something New

You are surrounded by people that know something and can share that knowledge with you. Many coworking environments also have events, which teach you something new.

6. Less Overhead, More Shared Costs, Increased Profits for You

Renting coworking spaces (even temporarily) means less overhead than a long-term leased office space. When you share costs and lower overhead, you boost your profit margins.

7. A Better Work-Life Balance

Finding a work-life balance is hard when your work and life are in the same spot. Coworking helps separate home life from work life.

8. Boosted Productivity

Working from home means working through the distractions. Coworking spaces provide you with a work environment outside of the home, but you are also surrounded by others who are staying on task, encouraging you to do the same.

9. A Better Work Mindset

Surrounding yourself with people that inspire you helps you grow professionally and personally. Communal office spaces foster success because like-minded entrepreneurs surround you ready to succeed.

10. Your Work Becomes Meaningful

You want to enjoy your job, because enjoying what you do naturally improves your outlook. Per the Harvard Business Review, people working in coworking spaces rate their satisfaction at work at a six out of a seven-point scale.

 

How to Plan a Team Offsite That Actually Works

Reference: Harvard Business Review

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When this German Company’s Marketing Team Wanted to plan a Product Offsite WorkSocial Stepped up.

What is a Team Offsite

Teams large and small need to get out to a new location, step away from their day-to-day , and build team spirit and solve a business problem.  This meeting is called a team offsite. According to the Harvard Business Review “Unfortunately, many team building offsites turn out to be ineffective, or worse. Sometimes, it’s because the sense of unity and cohesion that gets created when everyone is together having “fun” outside of the office doesn’t last long once everyone gets back to work. Other times, “team building activities” have the unintended consequence of bringing out competition and hostility between individuals instead of enhancing commitment and cohesion within the team.”

So when our client reached out to us to plan their offsite we took this lesson to heart and kept a clear delineation between fun and  work.  For us to create an awesome team-building day with a “play within a play,” wherein the leader and the team use the stage to rehearse the new dynamics and norms that they want to perform back at the office or take on the road. It’s important to be mindful in scripting your team’s offsite that the same challenges and opportunities that you and your team are facing in general will come to the surface. For example, if the goal of the offsite is to encourage all team members to be more participative, it’s helpful for everyone to provide input into the structure and agenda for the meeting, and then to participate at the actual meeting. If the goal is to clarify roles and responsibilities, it’s useful to be very clear about everyone’s roles and responsibilities in preparing for the meeting, as well as during the meeting itself.

The paradox and the challenge of offsite meetings for leaders and their teams is that to raise the likelihood that the offsite will have a successful and lasting outcome, changes need to be made before the offsite even occurs. This kind of preparation makes progress much more likely. But getting all of this interdependent sequencing right is neither simple nor easy.

Some best practices can help. Here are some suggested “Don’ts and Do’s” for planning your next team offsite:

Don’ts:

Don’t let the team’s old dynamics constrain the new dynamics that you’re trying to create. For example, if members of your team are reluctant to speak up and challenge one another inside the office, don’t assume that they’ll magically feel more comfortable doing so just because they’ve gathered together at an offsite location. Consider randomly assigning people to argue opposing points of view, and encourage them to discuss and debate alternative perspectives or strategies.

Don’t focus too much on the strengths, development needs, or personalities of individual members of the team. Too often, offsite meetings involve each member of the team taking a personality assessment such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and then sharing their results with each other. While it is tempting to attribute team dynamics to the personalities and styles of individual members, it’s almost always the case that team interactions go beyond individual personalities and are impacted by factors such as stakeholder demands, the clarity of goals, roles and priorities, available resources, etc. How to collectively respond to the team’s overall challenges and opportunities should be a higher priority topic for discussion than how team members’ personalities may influence individual interactions. Focusing on individuals can be helpful at times, but comes at the cost of focusing on the team as a whole.

YOU AND YOUR TEAM

Don’t abdicate your authority, or send mixed messages about your role. If you are the leader of the team, you will also be expected to exercise at least some leadership or decision-making in the “play within a play” at the offsite. Pretending that you are simply an equal member of the team during the offsite will not be credible or helpful to anyone, In order to empower your team, it’s best to be mindful of the leadership role you have, which enables you to delegate authority both at the offsite and thereafter.

Don’t have people dress up in military garb and hunt each other down in the forest, in the jungle, or anywhere else for that matter. Also, don’t get into go-karts and try to run each other off the track. And don’t do anything else that causes the team to engage in dysfunctional conflict or competition among individuals. Doing so will create dynamics that are “all against all” instead of the desired “all for one and one for all.”

Don’t force anyone to sing, or even to have to listen to, karaoke. “Trust falls” and singing Kumbaya are also best avoided, since trust falls can end badly, and very few people really want to sing Kumbaya. These kinds of activities can create the perfect storm of irony and cynicism among participants. Also, you and your HR business partner don’t want any embarrassing footage showing up on YouTube, do you?

Do’s:  

Do be clear about goals for the offsite, and create an agenda that reflects and reinforces those goals. For example, in looking at its work, the team may want to do the following: 1) Engage in reflections about past performance to consider what the team has done well and what it could have done better; 2) Discuss and debate current opportunities and challenges; and 3) Create strategic plans for the future. The team may also want to set goals for how to do each of the above in a way that improves interactions at the meeting, e.g. to look at the past, present and future in a more open, constructive, participative, and forward-looking manner.

Do set ground rules. Make sure that everyone knows that the offsite should be a safe space where people can speak up and constructively challenge one another, and you, without any fear of reprisal. It’s also helpful to pledge confidentiality, meaning that the content of what is said at the offsite is for you and your team alone, and will not get shared with others back at the office — unless the team reaches a consensus about authorizing any specific messages or information that will be communicated.

Do gather anonymous input and suggestions. When a team has a given pattern of interactions, it may be difficult for team members to suggest how to change this pattern without implicitly or explicitly challenging one another, or you as the leader of the team. Soliciting anonymous suggestions about what should or should not be on the agenda can yield better choices for you and the team. Hiring an outside facilitator can also be helpful in this regard, as he or she can interview team members and gather their feedback and suggestions for both the structure and the content of the planned offsite.

Do plan activities that actually build the team. One activity that I’ve found genuinely builds a sense of interdependence and collaboration is cooking a meal together, and then eating it together as a group. At some primitive level, people that we hunt or gather with, cook with and then eat with become our allies rather than our adversaries. Public service and volunteer projects, such as fixing up a school or playground, or building housing for the needy, can also build team spirit while giving back to the community.

Do build in process reflection time. Towards the end of the meeting, ask yourself and your team “Have we achieved our goals during this offsite, in terms of tasks and interactions, processes and outcomes? Did we create a new, more effective pattern of communication and collaboration, or of discussion and debate? Did I effectively lead the meeting? Did we together successfully create a “play within a play” that sets a positive precedent for new ways of interacting going forward?”

Do schedule follow-up. The most common complaint about team building offsites is that there is no follow-up, or insufficient follow-up, that any progress that has been made turns out to be temporary, and that any goals that have been set fall by the wayside. Scheduling a follow-up offsite, or at least a check-in meeting, three months, six months or a year after the initial offsite can help ensure that the team stays focused on making progress and sustaining positive change.

A successful team building offsite can provide an opportunity for the team to change old patterns and create and sustain new ways of communicating and collaborating, thereby changing the team’s dynamics for the better. That is to say, with the right inputs, preparation, process and follow-up, the temporary microcosm of the “play within a play” at the offsite location can have enduring benefits in the team’s overall interactions once everyone is back in the office.

 

4 Things Successful People Do to Have Great Relationships

Edited from Lifestorming by Marshall Goldsmith and Alan Weiss

Relationships fuel our journey. Some are constant sources of power, some are present for certain intervals and provide guidance and help. There are others, however, which should be avoided, ended, or minimized because they represent unwanted detours, excess weight, or distraction.

First let’s review different types of relationships.

Some are permanent; examples can include our families, life partners, close friends, and professional colleagues. These are the lifelong bonds we have with some people. These venerable relationships endure not necessarily because of frequency of contact, but because of the nature of the relationship.

Some relationships are transient. Some friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and colleagues enter and leave our lives. Parting can be voluntary or involuntary. Such relationships can be highly valuable and rewarding, even if only for the short term.

Finally, many some relationships are virtual. By virtual relationships, we’re talking about the nature of the relationship itself. These are connections we have (note that they’re called “followers” or “friends” or, literally, “connections”) with electronic representations of people. Virtual friends may be transient or permanent—and, many permanent and transient relationships are enhanced by the use of social media. However, there is a difference between the use of social media as a communications tool for face-to-face relationships versus a source for developing new relationships.

With these distinctions in mind, let’s now focus on sustaining your journey through relationships, whether permanent or temporary or virtual, with these four goals in mind:

  1. We have to give to get. For relationships to be fulfilling we have to invest in them; we can’t simply be takers. What we offer needn’t be tangible (although it can be); it can be listening, support, feedback, or empathy. Relationships are two-way streets. You can’t hog the road.
  2. Relationships are based on trust. Trust is the belief that the other person has your best interests in mind and that you have his/her best interests in mind. Honest feedback and advice, even when painful, are part of caring for the other person.
  3. Relationships are not a zero-sum game. For me to win, you don’t have to lose. For you to win, I don’t have to lose. We can both win (or lose). I am not diminished by your victories. We rejoice in success and bemoan loss for either party.
  4. Relationships need to be appropriate. If you’re promoted, your former colleagues are now subordinates, and your former superiors are now peers. You can reach a level of familiarity and ease in a personal relationship that may not be right for a professional relationship. Similarly, social relationships have their own unspoken rules. You probably wouldn’t act the same way your college friends as you would with your prospective mother-in-law.

One of the things that makes successful people so successful is that they have great relationships. Practice living the four goals above and you will have them too!

When is NOW the Time to make schedule your next all hands meeting?

All Hands Meeting What It Is and Why You (May) Want One

Maybe you’re a company of two; maybe you’re a company of thousands. Regardless of the size, All Hands meetings yield several immediate benefits for any organization that holds them.

I once called into Zappos.com, I got a voicemail message rather than the usual cheerful Zapponian. It was because once a quarter, all of Zappos shuts down and every employee meets off-site for an quarterly All Hands meeting.

Just the act of booking an All Hands meeting sends a powerful message: It says that it is important enough for everyone to attend, and for everyone to step away from work for a few hours to do so. All Hands meetings create a unique space for companies to accomplish many different things.

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Contact WorkSocial for your next All Hands

  1. Alihttp://worksocial.works/training-roomgn to department goals: What is the corporate plan and things that need to get done to meet goals
  2. Clarity and Transparency into results: Use this time to provide more depth and detail about support into results.
  3. Good Old Engagement: Engagement is essential to keep a company growing and reaching for its vision. When employees aren’t recognized, they lose track of their purpose. But in contrast, when wins are celebrated, employees want to win more.
  4. Celebrate Wins and Lessons Learned: When your team experiences a success.  Use the all hands call to recognize these wins.  Take a moment to recognize the wins before you direct the teams toward the next goal.  Do you share a quick “congratulations” or “good job” and then head back into your office?All hands call at meeting space at worksocial
  5. Get people engaged to plan something other than work: Use the day to announce planned initiatives. 

 

What’s the Future of Coworking Spaces?

For our parents, the goal was to find a job they liked and move up the ladder until they could retire. On the other hand, people today (and not just the millennials) tend to last less than 5 years at a job and if you ask around, most people would rather work at home or in coworking spaces of their choosing than in a cramped office.

 

Picture of Space for 9 People

Thanks to the cloud, video calling, and the internet of things, coworkers really don’t need to cohabitate during the day. A virtual office specifically makes it a lot easier to stomach when your office space boss says, “Oh, oh, and I almost forgot. Ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too…“ You may be at work, but at least you’re still in your PJs.

Every year we see companies in all industries make the switch to a shared or virtual office space and as technology improves you can only expect that trend to increase. For more on that and the future of coworking we asked a group of industry experts…

Kristin Hull

“The future of co-working will include building trusted community of like-minded peers, partners, and supporters to exchange thoughts and collaborate on projects within creative spaces designed to accelerate learning. Co-working spaces will introduce great thought leaders, connect entrepreneurs with new collaborators, all in service of creating solutions-focused businesses and building a better world we know is possible.”

 

Matt Poepsel

“Coworking spaces will continue to increase in popularity not only because of economic and technological reasons but also due to innate sociological and psychological factors. While modern workers increasingly will be drawn to the flexibility of a free agent workstyle, many will find themselves anxious or de-energized by the prospect of spending hours in isolation at a home office. Many people are hardwired with a drive to interact with others. For these natural extroverts, coworking spaces will offer an outlet for social connection among peers. Recognizing this benefit, the most successful coworking spaces will offer common areas that allow tenants to interact intermittently throughout the workday as a form of connection, solidarity, and rejuvenation. Advances in technology and workplace trends will always run up against our immutable human nature.”