Post-Pandemic Planning: Return to the Traditional Workspace
5 June

Post-Pandemic Planning: Return to the Traditional Workspace

With the world slowly beginning to open back up after pandemic social distancing for weeks, employers and employees may be wondering what to expect upon their return to the office. After an extended period away from the traditional workspace structures, many find themselves wondering how to smoothly transition back to work in lieu of health and safety concerns, schedule changes, and newly adjusted household routines. So how do you plan for all of the post-pandemic dynamics and seamlessly return to the traditional workspace while remaining healthy and primed to move forward?

Returning to the Traditional Workspace

Being in particularly uncharted territory, many employers are finding themselves struggling to meet both the needs of their employees as well as the needs of their businesses in terms of finding the best path for returning to pre-pandemic operations. The fact is, however, things will likely never return to the same dynamics experienced prior to COVID-19.

The new norm is one that will now include a more hybrid version combining, at the very least, the traditional office workspaces with a more hyper-vigilant health and wellness routine. In many cases, this will also involve being mindful of the changed family and household dynamics of employees and including these with newly adapted in-space and distance working conditions. The point is, no one specific plan will fit the needs of every workforce returning to careers outside their homes.

Primed to Move Forward

Many employers are finding themselves wondering how to safely and effectively get their workforce operations back on track with minimal obstacles in order to kickstart the bottom line and get productivity back on track. As with any approach in business, the key to remember as things begin opening back up and returning to more traditional operations, is to remain flexible and open to change. Understanding that this pandemic has placed an enormous strain on both employers and employees and being receptive to new ideas as well as considerate of the needs of your team and your business, are at the center of a successful return.

Preparing for the Return to Work

Accepting that no single plan will work for every workforce, there are a few basic steps employers should consider when preparing for the return to work. By having some general policies in place, it will allow for the needed structure to guide employees upon their return as well as ease any concerns over health and safety.

It’s also important, however, to include flexibility in this plan in order to accommodate team members who have adapted to a new norm derived from social distancing. The fact is, remote working has proven to have a pivotal role in changing the traditional dynamics of the workforce and for many, continuing at least a small portion of this role moving forward can be monumental for future successes.

Setting a Plan

The key to simplifying the transition process as we come out of distancing measures, is to remain mindful of the needs of our team members and provide a certain level of structure and security simultaneously. What this means for your team specifically, will likely vary from others in your area, but the basic concepts remain the same. Here are some of the most important aspects to keep in mind when formulating the successful return to work plan:

1 – Create Necessary Safety Measures

First and foremost, the safety of your team members needs to be at the head of your plans. Carefully research and review any required and recommended health and safety guidelines as outlined by local, state, and federal professionals to ensure your return plan lies squarely within regulations. Whether this means designating an infectious disease team to serve as an in-house resource for your team going forward, or documenting the plan specifics for reference as needed, it’s imperative that your employees know what to expect upon their return.

2 -Outlining Protocol and Health Guidelines

Continuing on the legalities associated with a safe return, employers need to be certain their employees are amply informed of the measures being taken to keep them safe as well as what’s expected of them as they come back to the office. There should be thorough communications explaining any and all new sanitization efforts (cleaning efforts, new equipment, location of disinfectant materials, etc.), as well as any new policies regarding the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other cleaning routines that will be required. You will also need to ensure your team is well aware of who they can turn to with any health and safety questions or concerns in the workspace.

3 – Preparing the Workspace

Once you have a plan in place for the health and safety of your workspace environment, it’s crucial to begin practices to prepare for the return. Make sure you have all of the necessary precautions and sanitization efforts in place in order to provide the safest possible environment for your team members and clients. Whether this means stocking up on cleaning products, hand sanitizers and PPE items, or hiring a regular professional cleaning service to do scheduled disinfectant practices on site, you need to make sure your space follows the guidelines you have outlined in your documented return policies.

4 – Take Stock of Old and New Routines

One of the most important things to remember when planning the return from social distancing is to avoid outdated thinking that may be limiting your team potential. In other words, take stock of what aspects of your pre-pandemic routines that had proven success as well as consider the advantages discovered from the newer distance working routines. Chances are, your overall productivity and business success will benefit enormously by finding some form of hybrid between the two scenarios going forward.

5 – Be Flexible and Listen to the Needs of Your Team

With so many demands being made on families and individuals in this unprecedented time, the last thing you want to do as an employer is add to the strain. In order to ease the transition, and in turn, help both your team members and your bottom line, it’s imperative that you take note of what is needed by your employees as well as remain flexible in constructing what your workday will look like going forward.

Many will still be struggling with childcare or transportation issues as things slowly open back up at different rates, so being mindful of their dynamics as well as open to potential new standards is critical. This could mean allowing for shorter hours or less days actually required on-site in order to allow for continued distance working. It could also mean utilizing third-party spaces such as coworking facilities to cut down on commutes while still providing a structured work environment. Whatever it means to your facility, keeping your employees’ needs at the forefront of your return to work plan and outlining this plan clearly are the best ways to ensure the smoothest possible transition as well as jump start productivity.

5 Tips for Getting Productivity Back on Track After an Extended Leave
4 May

5 Tips for Getting Productivity Back on Track After an Extended Leave

With businesses and venues beginning to open back up for operations in the near future following the COVID-19 stay at home orders, many entrepreneurs are looking to hit the ground running to make up for the time away. After spending several weeks working remotely, however, many business owners may be wondering just how to best transition their teams back to working on site again. Though the nation has proven true perseverance in such an unprecedented time, such a degree of change has never been maneuvered before, leaving many of us anxious to get things back on track quickly (and smoothly) as soon as things are deemed safe for their return. So just how does one go about getting productivity back on track after an extended leave?

Getting Productivity Back on Track

When it comes to getting your business operations back in full swing, it’s not as simple as returning to work and expecting things to magically go back to pre-social distancing mode right away. In fact, things may never get back to the same norm that was experienced before the entire world adapted to the pandemic by implementing work-from-home measures. There will likely be many obstacles and bumps along the way as entrepreneurs attempt to get back in the black and transition their workforce practices back to traditional work environments.

“It’s far from clear quite what normal will look like after COVID-19, but it seems likely that our desire to trek into the office will be tested after a prolonged period of acclimatization towards remote working from both workers and managers alike,” explains Forbes.com.

The best plan of attack for smoothing the transition and getting things going as quickly as possible is to outline a comprehensive yet flexible objective for the process. It’s important to consider the circumstances surrounding not only your business, but your business team, and to maintain a certain level of flexibility as things begin to move from one dynamic to the next. To help, here are 5 tips for helping to get productivity back on track with the return to work nearing:

1 – Create a Phased Plan

With so many unknowns and uncertainties surrounding the phasing out of social distancing, a gradual approach to reopening traditional operations seems the safest choice. Though many may be gearing up to ramp productivity 100% from day one, that may not be the best approach to getting things back on track effectively.

It’s important to create a phased plan that will account for the difficulties your team members and clients have been dealing with during social distancing. With so many demands on them to adjust to working from home, the best plan for returning will likely be in smaller phases that allow time to plan for schedule changes and juggling routines.

2 – Get Feedback from Your Team Frequently

Just as we’ve been doing for weeks while we work distantly, staying in contact with team members as you plan for the return is going to be critical to keeping the transition smooth. Try to keep regular meetings and conferences with partners, department heads, managers and other team members in order to make sure everyone is in the loop as far as communicating the phased plan being generated for the return to normal operations.

During these regular communications, be sure to gauge the feelings and concerns of your colleagues and coworkers. This is an excellent opportunity to get an up-front read on what your team will need from you in order to successfully transition from remote working scenarios. Be sure to consider these issues in the coming weeks to keep schedule delays and conflicts from affecting your increasing productivity plans.

3 – Be Clear About Expectations and Protocol

Another critical component of your communication efforts with your team will be to convey any and all policies and expectations that will be set into effect as things move away from distance working and back to traditional spaces. In order for your team to be able to plan for the transition, they must know first what to expect, and second, when to expect these changes to occur.

One of the fastest ways to derail your productivity efforts is with a breakdown in communication. When colleagues and employees aren’t adequately informed of timelines and procedures, it can cause major stressors among already struggling households with multiple schedule changes in place. In other words, you need to keep your plan clear and concise and it needs to be communicated as quickly as possible to everyone involved.

4 – Flexibility and Resources

With workers everywhere adapting to strict distancing regulations and abrupt cancellations of practically every public interaction available – school and work included – our lives were turned upside-down over the past several weeks with no discernable notice. If anything, it has proven our ability to persevere in the face of adversity, but that doesn’t mean it has been easy – not by any stretch of the imagination.

Now, as things slowly begin their return to a pre-pandemic norm, it’s important for employers of all walks to take into consideration the degree of chaos and change their team has been facing during this time. By understanding that most households have multiple work schedules and a sudden change in childcare schedules and education as well, employers will have a better sense of the level of flexibility that will be needed to transition away from working remotely again.

5 – Be Open to Change

At the end of the day, it must be said that this pandemic has ultimately shown both employees and employers that working remotely is not only possible in many cases, but preferable as well. While not all situations fall under this category, many employees have now seen that it is entirely possible to efficiently complete their job while working from home – a fact which also fits nicely with many home dynamics as well.

“Remote working has become a necessity for the majority of workers, and it’s shown businesses – some of which might have been skeptical about allowing staff to work from home – that it is possible to maintain productivity and communication,” explains Andrew Roughan, managing director for Plexal in an interview with Forbes.com.

As an alternative solution to choosing one extreme or the other (working from home or an abrupt return to full-time office work), coworking has become a viable consideration for many employers as well. By offering employees a professionally rented workspace to increase productivity but with the convenience of a shorter commute from home, coworking spaces are proving to be a valuable transitional asset as well.

Essentially, to reach optimal productivity and keep things running smoothly as the pandemic requirements phase out, employers need to not only remain flexible, but also open to change. Each scenario will be different, but it’s important not to entirely rule out distance working – via from home or from coworking spaces – from your phases. This situation may very well permanently change the way we approach the structure of the workplace to a model that’s much more centered on the needs and availability of its team members – something which could prove invaluable in terms of productivity going forward.

5 Best Remote Working Strategies to Stay Safe During Social Distancing
1 April

5 Best Remote Working Strategies to Stay Safe During Social Distancing

With a bulk of the world’s businesses being thrown into a completely new remote workspace dynamic, many employees and employers are trying to adapt to the changes as quickly as possible to minimize the strain that’s been placed on their normally structured routines. The sudden transition from well-designed productivity spaces to much less formal home working environments has caused a great deal of confusion and challenges for workforces in practically every industry out there. The change has left some managers and employees scrambling to adjust their approaches in a number of ways in order to find the best remote working strategies during the global social distancing practices. Whether you’re adept at remote working conditions or you’re completely inexperienced with continuing business outside of the office, here are a few tips to help you restructure your approach to navigate the distance between you and your team:

Remote Working Strategies Starting Point: Assess the Situation

With the sudden drastic changes business owners and employees are facing, many entrepreneurs feel like they’re fumbling around in the dark in their attempts to navigate the new process of working remotely. For those who are struggling to get started, one of the easiest ways to begin is simply to assess the current situation and take stock of what has changed, what isn’t working, and what needs to change in order to smooth things over during this transition.

By taking a quick step back and assessing your current situation, figuring out the best plan of action to successfully continue working remotely can become clearer. To put it simply, your first step should simply be to take a look at what aspects of your structured work environment are most essential to its effectiveness and find ways to provide these aspects to both your own home work environment as well as those of any of your employees. These items can be as simple as providing the necessary equipment (laptop, printer, phone, etc.) or more complex like providing remote access to a server, network connectivity, files, and other more industry specific items. Whatever you or your team need access to in the workplace, there needs to be access remotely in order to successfully work from home.

Address any Team Concerns or Questions Immediately

After the initial setup has begun and you (and/or your employees) are settling into your home working environments, it’s important to do another assessment of the situation. As things begin to progress remotely, there will inevitably be bumps in the road as well as several unforeseen frustrations that arise over the changes. It’s important to take stock of what is (and what is not) working for you and your work team in order to address any issues or concerns as quickly as possible.

Staying flexible and acting swiftly are the best ways to overcome any of these hurdles that will come up over the course of the remote phase. This is done by being understanding of the expected changes and by making note of any issues as well as checking frequently with your team to find out what their needs may be. From there, you need to attentively make the changes needed to provide solutions to any issues, questions, or concerns.

Have Necessary Resources on Hand for You and Your Team

As you and your team adapt to the social distancing conditions, understand that each person will likely have a widely varying degree of what resources they’ll need access to. For the more obvious reason (different team members need access to different areas and items based on their position within the team), needed resources may seem obvious (vendor files for sales, accounting software for bookkeepers, etc.). For others, however, resources needed may not be as obvious.

Some of your team members may need remote access to a shared server, while others may need access to high-speed internet if they live in more remote areas and don’t have reliable service at home. Speak with your team members and find out what items they may need to help them with their processes at home and address these resource needs in order to make sure they can stay connected and as productive as possible in an environment that’s much less structured than their usual workspace. If you’re an employee and feel as though you’re struggling with the resources you’ve been given, be sure to speak to your team leader or manager and allow them to help you find a solution that works best for you all.

Stay Connected Regularly with Team Members

The only way to effectively keep the wheels turning during the remote working phase is to stay in frequent contact with all members of your team. Understanding that not all employees will need a constant link to their managers in order to stay focused, you need to be available often and as needed. You’ll want to make sure your team knows you are there for any support or questions, but you also need to give them the space to navigate their own remote workspaces as well as give updates and feedback on how things are going.

Having regular video or conference meetings scheduled can help keep a form of structure in an otherwise unstructured work environment as well as provide a prime opportunity for updates and feedback. It’s important, however, to keep these brief so they aren’t overbearing or adding to the stress of working remotely. Try to remain positive and brief with these updates and keep detailed discussions limited to more direct task-specific conversations. Assigning partners or teams for various areas with a designated team leader can help keep everyone connected with additional resources and less demand on overall managers as well.

Provide Positive and Consistent Feedback Frequently

“Optimism is contagious. Leaders who demonstrate hopefulness and confidence in the future are better able to help their team members find meaning and purpose in work, especially under stressful conditions,” explains Harvard Business Review.

Remaining flexible and ensuring your team’s resources are being met are some of the most important aspects to navigating a change in your work experience, but they aren’t the only factors involved in its rate of success. Keep your finger on the pulse of your team members and be sure to address any issues quickly (or as an employee, bring any issues to your manager’s attention as soon as possible) in order to minimize stress levels and maximize productivity. Communicate with your team frequently and remain positive with a focus on optimism and progress updates as much as possible. Keeping these essential tips in mind will help you successfully manage the social distancing work scenario.

The New Wave of Mentorship: How Coworking Is Transforming the Way We Mentor
15 March

The New Wave of Mentorship: How Coworking Is Transforming the Way We Mentor

Coworking spaces have been on the rise in recent years – and for good reason. The spaces allow affordable access to impressive and imperative entrepreneurial necessities for those who might otherwise be unable to finance such spaces and supplies on their own. Their budget-friendly memberships aren’t the only reason coworking facilities are gaining popularity, however. Coworking has also been transforming the way we mentor young entrepreneurs with their uniquely designed spaces that bring about unparalleled community resources within their walls.

Coworking Benefits

The coworking revolution has brought with it an entirely new way to operate a successful business today. No longer do startups and freelancers need to scrimp to pay for a mediocre base of operation or hold customer meetings and pitches out of their homes. Today, these spaces offer a community office complex that comes complete with all the bells and whistles of the most impressive and productive locations available, but they also offer tenants a potentially limitless pool of resources in the form of a diverse community.

“Coworking refers to working in shared office spaces using economies of scale to give tenants access to amenities and facilities they otherwise would not be able to afford. Coworking spaces connect diverse organizations and individuals, giving them the chance to collaborate, share knowledge, and develop systemic solutions to the issues they are trying to address,” explains social entrepreneur Tonya Surman via MITPressJournals.org.

The Social Aspect

The social aspect of coworking spaces is, in large part, transforming the way we mentor young entrepreneurs today. Mentorship used to be based in large part by specific relationships with others within limited spheres of our area of study or expertise. This new transformation of mentorship through coworking spaces, however, opens up the potential social and environmental opportunities that put young entrepreneurs in contact with others in multiple areas of expertise who can help them expand. In other words, these spaces create unique communities with individuals of broad backgrounds, increasing the resource pool for those members within them to create meaningful and invaluable relationships to help with growth.

Since the flexibility of coworking memberships allows for an evolving community population, the potential for mentorship relations is exponential. Even in the events in which prized relationships move to new locations down the road, your mentorships only serve to expand to new areas, thus increasing your resources and connections.

Transforming the Way We Mentor

With technology changing the way we communicate in recent generations; mentorship has never been more important. Being limited to either technical communications (emails, texts, social media, etc.) or personal communication (in person conversations or phone calls) can severely limit your exposure and the amount of true connections you make as you try to build your brand. Mentorships can be a critical piece of the puzzle to help bridge the generational gaps and build lasting entrepreneurial relationships to help you truly expand your business. Coworking spaces, with their diversity and socially designed community layouts, are primed to offer invaluable mentorship opportunities and transform the way we mentor future generations.

Technology and Coworking: The Collaborative Effort and Invaluable Opportunities
2 March

Technology and Coworking: The Collaborative Effort and Invaluable Opportunities

If you’re a coworking space member or contemplating joining a nearby community, you’ve likely done your research on the many benefits of these spaces. For many, the overall savings when compared to a traditional brick and mortar office space for start-ups and freelancers is a huge draw to the coworking world, but it’s not the only perk, by far. One of the greatest advantages, in fact, can be found in the invaluable opportunities that come with technology and coworking combined.

Standing Out with Technology and Coworking

With technology being utilized in virtually every aspect of our lives today, it only makes sense to see it in the workplace as well – that’s a no-brainer. The problems arise, however, when you’re trying to incorporate the most useful and effective technology into your own business – the costs can add up very quickly, hitting your budget a lot harder than you’d like. As a result, lots of start-ups and small businesses are forced to skimp on technology, opting for the basics in favor of lower costs, but costing your business advancements at the same time. This can hurt your future endeavors by limiting your ability to effectively get your business ventures out there in the best light and in the most efficient way.

The Technology Advantages

Since coworking spaces have been on the rise in recent years, most spaces today offer members not just a beautiful workspace, but also one that comes equipped with the latest technology – and under budget. It’s no wonder then that these spaces can offer some serious technological advantages over the traditional (and limited budget) options of brick and mortar spaces. So, just what are the advantages of having the latest technology at your fingertips?

Well, for starters, since technology is essentially the media you utilize in every step of communicating your product or services, it’s clearly a pretty important (yet often overlooked) part of your business’s success equation. Using unreliable and outdated equipment can limit your ability to get your image out there, let alone make a favorable lasting impression on prospective clients. If, however, you utilize a workspace that already has all of its tech components seamlessly connected and ready to use, you stand a much higher chance of wowing your business connections as well as save yourself the time and headaches of dealing with shoddy equipment.

Invaluable Opportunities with Tech

Technology advantages don’t end with impressing clients. Some of the most invaluable opportunities that arise from having state-of-the-art tech at your disposal come from the dramatic increase in productivity they tend to promote. By allowing you the best network connections and the accessibility of easily connecting multiple devices for sharing and collaborating, technology promotes some serious productivity. Technology has become one of the hidden gems of the coworking communities that allows users to quickly connect and share ideas with others as well as brainstorm new ideas from anywhere in their space at virtually any time of the day. Can you imagine the invaluable opportunities that can (and do) arise from combining such technological advantages with sleek and affordable office spaces for entrepreneurs? They’re practically limitless!

Meeting and Event Spaces: The Most Valuable Asset That Coworking Offers Entrepreneurs
15 February

Event and Meeting Room Rental: The Most Valuable Coworking Asset

Whether you’re a coworking veteran or you’re looking into joining a coworking community in the near future, the benefits of utilizing these communal spaces for your entrepreneurial endeavors are exponential. From decreasing your overhead to increasing your networking opportunities and everything in between, coworking spaces offer a plethora of plusses for businesses and individuals looking to grow their brand. There’s one element, however, that stands out as perhaps the most valuable asset a coworking space can offer: event space and meeting room rental.

The Meeting Room Rental Advantage

If you’ve ever wanted (or needed) to host a group event – be it a business meeting, training session for employees, or even a holiday event – you’ve likely encountered an issue with space. Even if you have access to sufficient square footage for your meeting or event, what kind of image will it leave your attendants with? Does your space convey professionalism and sleek sophistication? Is it equipped with the latest technology and modern conveniences? Is it going to give your clients the best impression of you or let your guests and employees know they are important to you? Is your location convenient to your attendants? Chances are, if you have a space at all, the answers are likely “No.”

Hosting Workshops and Other Networking Opportunities

Coworking spaces are quickly becoming an entrepreneur’s most valuable asset for this very reason. Not only do they offer affordable, professional workspaces, but they also offer amazing spaces for your larger meeting needs as well. Since maintaining an organized and sleek appearance during meetings can make or break your growth potential, it’s not hard to understand how the meeting room and event space rental trend is on the rise today.

These spaces are designed specifically with your business growth in mind. It allows a low-cost way for you to access all of your tech and space needs for client or employee meetings such as interactive whiteboards, reliable Wi-Fi, impressive views and even refreshments as well as a convenient location. Hosting a workshop to invite potential clients or employees to learn new tips or techniques or expand your networking opportunities are all excellent ways to utilize these impressive workspaces to your advantage.

Making the Most of Coworking Spaces and Meeting Room Rentals

Meeting room rentals are generally free for those with memberships to the respective coworking space associated with them, or available at highly reasonable rates for non-members. As a result, they are a popular way for businesses of all walks to host their meetings and events. It’s hard to ignore the cost benefits of a space which comes fully equipped with technology and amenities as well as a conveniently central location for all of your attendees to find.

Other benefits of meeting room rentals include a higher degree of privacy and luxury versus traditional office environments. This allows you to keep potentially sensitive issues more private by discussing them away from your office environment, as well as offering a highly polished area as the backdrop for critical presentations versus dated (and usually costlier) hotel meeting areas. The benefits of these spaces are countless, but one thing is for certain: meeting room rentals and event space rentals are among the most valuable assets of coworking spaces, making it easy to understand why they are so quickly gaining popularity.