Reputation Management: Where You Work Can Be Just As Important As How

As every successful executive knows, building your professional reputation takes time, patience and a significant investment, from schooling to long work days to becoming a networking master. But in these days of remote work and mobile offices, it’s important to remember that where you work can become just as important of a statement of success as how.

Like many successful professionals, you have likely earned the right to choose where you work and can opt for corporate headquarters, home or the local coffee shop. And while creative and free workspaces might be inviting, conducting meetings and phone calls in loud public environments or with the distractions of home may not speak to the professional image you have worked so hard to cultivate. Not to mention, holding an in-person meeting at home or in a cafe is stressful at best, and conversations that should be private are easily overheard when in public, leaving your clients and colleagues to question the confidentiality of their information.

Fortunately, finding a professional workplace that meets corporate standards has never been easier with the development of upscale coworking locations, perfectly fitted to the needs of today’s demanding entrepreneurs and executives. And the benefits are much broader than just just unlimited coffee, outlets and printing. Today’s coworking spaces can provide peace of mind to anyone looking for a productive space outside their corporate office.

Heightened Security
Of course, easily accessible and casual coffee shops are hard to resist, but there are many security risks that come along with logging onto open networks. A dedicated co-working space can remove that risk, while still providing a visually appealing, creative and comfortable space. Private meeting rooms and private phone rooms also provide a layer of important security for your verbal interaction and information. These dedicated spaces have everything you need to maintain a professional reputation without distraction, and everything is in place to pass the scrutiny of your IT and compliance teams.

Networking Opportunities
Today’s premium coworking spaces are filled with successful, driven individuals, which provides ample opportunities for serendipitous encounters with other members that can grow your networking pool. Whether getting coffee or attending after hours events, these chances to connect with other individuals who may be able to lend insight into your industry or have somebody in their personal network that can help you are invaluable. You could even find your next client while sitting in the lounge area or sharing a high-top table.

Convenience

Tired of commuting to the crowded city? Wanting to move? Traveling for business? Increasingly, workplaces are opening in suburban and urban markets, so you can find one that is convenient for you even when you’re on the road, while not putting your company’s data or your own personal comfort or safety at risk. Imagine it’s similar to having a mobile office, one that travels with you and is always available to you.

In addition to the benefits above, it’s also useful to note that companies are consolidating satellite offices to reduce their real estate footprint because traditional leases no longer make sense; making free options seem immediately appealing. But remember, where you work says a lot about your brand. Consider a coworking location that will meet all your company’s needs and will work to support your business as you grow. Most importantly, find a workplace that you can be proud of and that will help you take your reputation to the next level.

As featured in Worldwide 101

Say Adios to the Office: Are Office Assets Going the Way of Retail?

Why Shifting Workforce Needs Demand New Investment Strategies

The term Retail Apocalypse would have seemed like hype just a few years ago, but a mere 5% shift in consumer buying behavior to online purchases since 2013 has taken revered retailers to their knees or worse, including 9 prominent bankruptcies, all during a period of economic expansion. This spring, Credit Suisse Research predicted that 25% of existing US Malls will close within the next 5 years. US Consumers have turned conventional retail asset investment and management strategies to dust as they decided to change where and when and how to shop.

Office Apocalypse?
Feeling safe as a commercial office investor? Not so fast. First, consider that companies are reinventing their workplace to support a more mobile and digitally connected workforce. These newly empowered workplace consumers are demanding ‘workplace experiences,’ not just space. To compete for top talent, tenants are seeking more amenity-rich buildings that include shared work lounges, coworking, event space and high walkability scores. At the same time, companies are seeking more lease flexibility and shorter terms to match their shorter product cycles. To many, signing 10 year leases is a costly and unnatural mismatch during most of the term of the lease providing little or no business resilience.

A January 2017 Morning Star Research report on underwriting office assets, “Sharing the Experience-As Co-working Grows, the Office Isn’t Necessarily the Office Anymore” predicts that a shift in worker demand for flexibility will leave traditional workspaces in the minority by 2030. The report goes on to say that coworking will present new underwriting and valuation standards as the coworking business evolves. With coworking taking just under 1% of all office space today, it may seem too early to adjust office asset investment strategies. However, coworking is projected to double to 2% of all office space in two years according to Emergent Research, and at the current 41% annual growth rate, coworking market share could reach 5% of all office space within the next 5 years. That’s equivalent to 600 million square feet of coworking leases. This 4% change in workplace consumer demand for office space approaches the same magnitude as the change in consumer behavior that has redefined retail investment.

Satisfying Tenant Demand and Investor Returns
Asset managers, developers and operators of commercial office buildings are taking steps to serve the changing nature of office demand while improving investment returns. Offering coworking and shared tenant amenities in collaboration with a leading shared workspace company can allow owners to participate in additional rent streams, while maintaining competitiveness of the asset. This can take several forms, including entering into a management contract, a joint venture or a participating lease with an established coworking company. An established provider can operate the shared workplace and offer access to all building tenants as an amenity and make the building a more vibrant destination, adding to financial performance of the entire building. In the management scenario, the landlord designs and delivers the facility and hires an operator to activate and run the location for a fee or a share of the revenue from the operation. A joint venture approach involves setting up a partnership with a coworking company. The partnership entity serves as tenant and signs a lease, with both parties investing capital for the opening and operation of the location. Profits are then distributed according to ownership interest. Another approach is to sign a lease with the coworking operator that includes a profit participation for the landlord or a revenue share as additional rent. This is similar to the approach commonly used when attracting restaurants and other retail tenants to office projects.

The ongoing shift in office demand from tenants, and newly empowered consumers of workplace call for new office investment strategies. Delivering competitive office product will require more than it used to. Collaborating on new strategies with the coworking industry can be an important part of ensuring office asset investment returns.

Great Expectations: A personal perspective on safety and security in the era of coworking

As a woman, I have certain expectations for what a safe workplace should be, and most may not differ greatly from those of my male coworkers.

I want to be confident that if I step away from my belongings, they will still be there when I get back. I should be able to have a confidential conversation in a private setting. When I’m focusing on my work, I would prefer not to be fending off unwanted pitches, of any kind. And I want to be very sure that the workplace enforces policies against unprofessional and inappropriate behavior, including un-welcomed advances.

But with a workforce that has been liberated from corporate cubicles and is increasingly choosing to work in coworking facilities, how can personal privacy and safety be ensured?

I learned a lot about the value of a safe and welcoming workplace in my first job, where I had a colleague who often felt it necessary to remark on my looks. While at first flattering, the overtures progressed quickly to more aggressive propositions which continued even after I expressed my discomfort. I was forced to channel my inner Greta Garbo uttering “I want to be alone,” before ultimately escalating to HR – who I knew would have my back.

Of course, I don’t really want to work alone. I want to be around others and feel part of a community, as do 84% of coworkers based on a recent survey. I value my privacy and security, and I should not be expected to lower my expectations because I choose to work in a coworking facility.

Vinay Kantak, VP of Platform Services for Serendipity Labs Coworking, who is responsible for both online and on-premise security, recently penned a blog, Don’t Play Games When It Comes to Your Safety and Security for this The Inspired Worklife series. In it he notes the questions you should be asking your future or current coworking facility to determine what safety and security practices are in place. Below, I’ve added a few of my own, now that my expectations have been raised by working at Serendipity Labs. Adding these to Vinay’s list might help you determine which coworking community is right for you:

  • Are the desks made in a way that, regardless of your choice of outfit, protects you from feeling exposed?
  • Are privacy features designed into offices and meeting rooms, or will you be in a glass fishbowl where you feel like you are on display?
  • Are there a variety of seating options, so you don’t need to struggle to hop onto a tall chair or feel like a child forced to sit cross-legged on a beanbag?
  • If the ambient music, daytime communal events, or general noise level become distracting, will anyone address your concerns and are they willing to make a change to accommodate you?
  • If you are feeling harassed – either by an aggressive coworker peddling their wares, or worse, sexually – are there rules and a process in place to step in and protect you?

From that first job until now, I’ve never shied away from opportunities to do something new, because I have been fortunate to work with experienced professionals whom I trusted to support me when I needed it. As business leaders, we have succeeded by often being willing to take similar leaps of faith. For coworkers, that leap is choosing a provider who is willing to ensure their safety and security. And isn’t it nice to know someone has your back, just in case you need it?

Paula Gomprecht is the Vice President of Marketing with Serendipity Labs.

Don’t Play Games When it Comes to Your Safety and Security

Our list of the top 5 things you should ask your coworking provider about your personal safety and data security.

With upwards of 30% of the US workforce now able to choose where and when they work (at least part of the time), it’s more important than ever to choose a workplace wisely. While many creative class coworking providers emphasize an exciting social environment with free-flowing beer, foosball, and ping pong, a growing segment of professional coworkers can’t play games when it comes to safety and security – personal and digital.

Here’s our list of the top 5 questions you should ask before signing up for a coworking membership.

1. How secure is the coworking facility, including safeguarding me and my belongings?

Does the coworking provider greet and check-in all visitors and guests including deliveries? Does the location lock-down automatically after hours providing card access only to members? Does the coworking provider have security cameras in place and do they screen members for criminal history before allowing 24/7 membership access? Does the coworking facility institute and enforce policies to ensure a safe work environment, to avoid unwelcome advances, sexual harassment, or other inappropriate behavior? Is the parking garage well-lit and safe?

Although you may not be dealing with state secrets, if unauthorized people can walk through the coworking location unattended, you might be putting your valuables and yourself at risk.

2. How safe is my personal information and credit card data?

Does the coworking provider manage and store your credit card information in compliance with Industry Standards? Are their employees trained in how to handle and process credit card information? If not, they could be putting your information at risk.

And what about your personal information? Do they have control over who has access to your usage data? Does the provider have a right to share (or worse, sell) your information with third parties who have an interest in acquiring customers just like you?

3. How safe is my data? Is there encrypted Wi-Fi and secure printing?

Access to free Wi-Fi in a public setting is fraught with real security risks. Therefore, if you’re paying for a coworking membership you should expect more security than an open public network. Ask if your coworking provider offers encrypted, secure Wi-Fi connections with intrusion protection.

Whether your access to the internet is by Wi-Fi or hard-wired, you should ask what cyber threat counter-measures are in place, from firewalls to threat monitoring, starting with a simple question: How secure is the IT room?

And how about printing? How secure are your print jobs that are sent to a common printer? A coworking facility equipped with the latest secure-print technology will enable you to release and pick up your print jobs with your Member ID card, lowering the risk of having your confidential documents seen or picked up by others.

4. Are there enough private places to take phone calls or have a confidential meeting?

Are there enough quiet rooms for a call or meetup? While a great coworking facility has plenty of airy and open spaces, privacy often demands access to comfortable phone rooms at a moment’s notice. Such rooms should provide auditory and visual privacy, so your confidential presentation on the monitor and your notes on the white board won’t become public information.

5. How will the staff recognize me, and how will I recognize them?

Don’t we all feel more secure and cared for when we are recognized and greeted by name? Top-flight coworking companies alert their staff with basic information and the photo of each member at check-in, so the staff can identify and greet them. Great hospitality brands are all about service, so ask how you will recognize and reach staff members when you need to reach them. Familiarity between the staff and members not only promotes a great member experience but also facilitates safety and security. There are good reasons why great hotel brands require their staff to be distinctly presentable and recognizable, down to a name tag.

Now you that you know what to ask when choosing a coworking space, to ensure your own personal safety and security, imagine what your company will want to know about security, compliance and reporting. But, that’s for another blog.

Vinay Kantak is the Vice President of Platform Services with Serendipity Labs. Kantak has evaluated, designed, developed, and implemented the enterprise level technology and member services to ensure delivery of inspirational and safe member experiences at each of our Labs.

What Uber Can Tell Us About the Future Workplace

It was only a few years ago that people had to call a cab in advance — sometimes an hour in anticipation of when they would want to be picked up to ensure they’d get a ride.

Then Uber came along and changed things for good. By offering cab service whenever and wherever customers needed, they created a new standard: businesses would have to cater to the schedules of consumers, rather than the other way around.

This is the defining characteristic of the new economy. We’ve seen it with Netflix and movies, with Hulu and TV. And the next major industry to follow this trend in the coming years, we think, is the workplace — with coworking spaces at the center of the shift.

The demand is already there: Freelancers comprised 34% of the workforce in 2014 and are expected to rise to 50% by 2020, and more companies experimenting with alternative workplace arrangements. And the expectations of employers and workers have changed: In 2014, a four-hour response time to emails was deemed good (the point at which about 80% of people were happy). By 2015, this had moved up to about one hour. In 2014, only 4% of people said they expected a response within 15 minutes; by 2015, 14.5% expected that.

Especially as technology makes the brick-and-mortar office and the idea of office hours superfluous, people are adapting to the idea that they do not need to shape their lives around them.

And it continues to make more sense on the employer end, too. Leasing office space is a major risk for companies — especially new ones. Coworking offers a solution, through lower rent and short-term leasing. As more large corporations start to experiment with coworking, office location becomes less centralized overall.

A decentralized office space could allow small companies to grow, and for large companies to meet their need for on-demand service without going overseas. It also means people can benefit from office spaces, like ours, that operate on the outskirts of cities rather than strictly within them.

As the corporate climate continues to move in this direction, there are still a lot of question marks — likely to be filled in by the next generation of Ubers in the world. But one thing seems fairly certain: Employers will have to cater to the 24/7 demands of today’s consumers in order to stay competitive and relevant. And in an economy where everyone expects everything on demand, we can expect the strengthening and widespread use of coworking spaces to ultimately change how we work, and how we live.

What does hospitality mean in coworking?

“Hospitality” — what does that word mean to you when you’re looking for somewhere to work or to establish your place of business?

The word conjures up the feeling you get at your favorite upscale hotel, where you can expect a friendly greeting, an offer to take your bags, a clean lobby, and a helpful staff.

Let’s translate that to business, your business. If you’re an entrepreneur, you need access to professional workplaces from Day One, when you are planning to sway potential investors or build business-to-business relationships. If you’re a corporate executive, your mobile employees need workplaces away from their homes that are safe and secure. And if you’re a freelancer or on-demand contractor, you need a professional space to work with partners and meet clients.

Hospitality needs to be at the core of what these workplaces must offer. It starts with staff that cares and goes out of its way to make everything seamless; a staff that can get you up and running – fast – and take your mind off things like wondering if your bag is safe if you get up. A staff that welcomes your client properly and pays attention to every detail – from greeting you by name to providing little touches such as infused water or fresh flowers.

Lastly, consumers count on hotel chains to have consistency wherever they travel so that they can be confident with their choice. Businesses also need to have consistency in all locations where they plan to work and see clients. When thinking about choosing your business location, it’s important to know that you can expand or travel to cities across the country and access workplaces that offer a consistently high level of hospitality.

Hospitality industry veteran Paula Gomprecht comes to Serendipity Labs after over a decade in the upper upscale hotel industry. She understands that driving loyalty comes from going beyond expectations.

Switching your Location Will Make You Better at Your Job

Humans are supremely adaptable, but there’s no escaping that we’re products of our environment. It’s why we put so much effort into finding and decorating the right home, push our kids to get into the right schools, or spend months picking a wedding venue.

The same is true of work. We work differently if we’re locked up in offices hidden behind cubicle walls or roaming around an open office; or if furniture is styled differently, different materials make up the walls, and so forth.

Indeed, some experts take this thinking a step further and believe that frequently switching to new surroundings — a practice facilitated by coworking spaces — can itself make you better (and more creative) at your job.

The intuition is easy to follow.

In a world where it’s already becoming commonplace for employees to work among multiple offices, having such choices allows workers to pick the environment that allows them to be most productive.

For some, it might be a bustling coworking space that keeps them motivated. For others, it could be a quiet place that allows them to stay fixed firmly on the work they’re trying to complete. It could mean sharing the same office as your coworkers to collaborate on projects, or it could mean sharing an office with mostly strangers, from whom you’re able to learn skills and techniques outside your industry.

Whatever the setting, the mere fact of being in new surroundings triggers creativity — no matter what form it may come in. Even simply explaining your work to a stranger is one of the best ways to remind yourself of your motivations for doing it.

 

Coworking Takes Hold with Corporate Occupiers: Disrupts Real Estate

The rise of the coworking movement is not just changing the way that startups work, it’s disrupting the entire commercial real estate industry as companies of all sizes are now demanding more flexibility-  instead of traditional long term lease commitments.  Office occupancy costs make up the second largest expense for most companies, so limiting long term commitments to office space provides companies with valuable agility and resilience.

As mobile technologies and the gig economy make the 9-to-5 workday and traditional office culture increasingly obsolete,  coworking enables a powerful new strategy for companies that want to attract and retain top talent by supporting worker mobility and workplace flexibility- while reducing real estate costs.

It’s not hard to see why.   In the same way that companies learned to shrink or grow their workforce on-demand with independent contractors and contingent workers, they are now applying the same approach to real estate, by opting for pay-as-you-go workplace models like coworking.  Workplace-as-a-Service offerings like coworking are causing a permanent disruption in the commercial real estate industry because companies are never going back to paying for staff or office space that they don’t need.

A white paper published last week by Jones Lang LaSalle’s workplace strategy group entitled “The New Coworking Era” puts it this way:  “Coworking is no longer perceived as a new age workplace practice, suitable only for start-ups. More and more companies of different sizes and from different industries are exploring the benefits”.

CBRE: 46% of corporate occupiers are using or looking to use coworking

According to a CBRE survey of 200 corporate real estate decision makers, 46% have now included coworking or are considering adding it to their workplace strategy.  The reports from JLL and CBRE indicate the potential for a massive shift in workspace demand away from traditional leases and toward coworking.

It appears that the commercial real estate industry is listening to its tenants, and is reinventing itself to accommodate the need for flexibility. Commercial real estate owners and investors are including coworking, shared tenant worklounges, event space and pre-built suites to attract tenants with greater flexibility and vibrancy. The trend is not limited to office buildings, and includes even residential towers, and retail real estate. Witness even Staples serving the mobile workforce by including a coworking offering inside its stores.

Commercial real estate investors are also partnering with coworking providers in order to participate in the economics as well as to ensure that tenants benefit from an integrated workplace amenity offering.

The commercial real estate  model is changing rapidly to adjust to a new marketplace reality.  With almost 50% of corporate occupiers looking to shift some long term leases to coworking, it is fair to expect that flexible workplace-as-a-service offerings like coworking will exceed 10% of all office space within the next 5 years.  That would be 1.2 billion (yes billion) square feet in the US alone, or 50 times the current inventory of coworking.  Now that’s disruption.

 

Greater Happiness Leads to Greater Productivity, Study Finds

Modern attention toward a work environment that keeps employees happy is more than just feel-good fluff; a new study shows clearer links than ever before between worker happiness and productivity.

 

Researchers from the Social Market Foundation at the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy showed that productivity increased by an average of 12 percent — and up to 20 percent — when test subjects were given what the researchers termed, “happiness shocks.” (For instance, they were shown a 10-minute comedy clip or were provided with snacks and drinks.)

 

In addition to the 700-person randomized controlled trial, they also looked at long-term worker productivity data and found that the effect was even more pronounced for unhappy employees, by showing that unplanned, unhappy events in workers’ lives led to decreased productivity for about two years.

 

The findings strengthen the case for employers who are shifting away from the traditional workplace — something that we’ve talked about and has been in the news for years in response to the out-of-the-box workplace practices at companies like Google.

 

Yet we can’t help but wonder: If the happy and unhappy events that affected productivity came from external factors, could there be even greater benefits if employers also sought to make people happier with the way work fits into their personal lives.

 

A shorter commute, for instance — no one starts the workday in a good mood after spending an hour in traffic (long shown to have deleterious effects on people). Perhaps providing a balance between structure and freedom in where and when employees are “at work” could reduce stress and improve overall happiness. The same goes with stifling workspaces. Providing opportunities for workers to learn, not just produce; and creating an environment that is stimulating but not draining, could also have a profound effect on employee happiness and, ultimately, productivity.

 

If people come into the office happier, lighter — feeling as if it was someplace they enjoy being rather than where they are obligated to be, think of how much more productive, more inspired the workplace could be.

 

Here’s What We’re Most Excited About in Coworking this Year

As coworking moves from startup trend to mainstream business model — with everyone from big corporations to freelancers jumping on board — here are three coworking trends that we think are setting a new office standard.

1. Bespoke coworking

With coworking spaces cropping up across major cities and suburbs, it’s no longer difficult to find a place to work. Clients just have to decide which workplace best suits their needs.

Knowing this, spaces are stepping up their game and showing off unique offerings to set themselves apart. For us, it’s letting our members test drive a new sportscar and hosting art exhibits; for others, it’s Thursday night kegs and hackathons. There are spaces with art studios; there are spaces you can ski to; one space even announced it plans to build an indoor lake.

Today, when you’re seeking the ideal workplace, the only limit is your imagination.

2. Coworking spaces become self-sustained networks

At Serendipity Labs, like many coworking spaces, we encourage members to expand their networks; we do this by hosting professional events and designing a workspace that promotes collaboration and communication. As a result, the coworking space has become a hub for learning and growth: large companies hire small startups and help them thrive; individuals attend workshops to advance their professional skills and networks.

The more that membership grows, the more diversity among members. Eventually, a successful, diversely populated coworking space could largely do business solely amongst those who belong there.

3. Sleeping where you work

Recently, there’s been a lot of buzz about co-living spaces, in which people are not only working but also living alongside each other. These spaces — which are taking off in San Francisco and coming soon to Los Angeles — might be an extreme version of the coworking movement.

But then again, maybe they’re not so extreme.  Our Miami location is nestled in two floors of a new high rise residential tower with a rooftop pool deck.

And from our experience, companies need employees to travel for business, but the quality of a person’s work decreases when they work from a hotel room. Most business travelers could benefit from having access to coworking spaces while on the road.

We plan to extend the hotel business center or lobby to an adjacent coworking space. Give business travelers a workplace they can rely on — one with ergonomic workstations, natural light, a secure network connection, and those same opportunities for professional development, while still being a few steps away from where they sleep.

Excited? So are we.