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Why It’s Time to Redesign the Way We Think About Office Space

If your office still has a fax machine or projector, stop reading right now, because you won’t like what you’re about to hear: Your office, like your equipment, is probably obsolete.

Lana Bortolot

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“I think the whole definition of what an office is needs to be rethought,” says Frank Mruk, associate dean for the School of Architecture and Design at the New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan.

“The office may be ready for extinction – it’s just a place to meet. We don’t need computers anymore; we can work anyplace, at any time. Why do we have to meet in a building?”

Indeed. For graphic designer Jill Bluming, the idea of an office is more remote than the global clients she works with via Skype, Google Docs and Dropbox. Her eight-person creative boutique, The Creative Type, is completely virtual, with on-demand copywriters, designers and illustrators working from wherever they have a connection. “We are driven not by structure but by flexibility,” she says.

 

The benefits of changing an office

People not ready to throw the office over find alternatives in workspaces that are shared with not only their own colleagues but, depending on the setup, other like-minded entrepreneurs or industry peers. Such is the case for New York architect Martin Kapell, who once worked in a 120-person firm. When he formed his own studio, he turned to WeWork, a scalable shared workspace. His initial consideration was affordability, but now he sees other benefits.

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“I’m 63 and working in a space where the average age seems to be under 30, and it’s good for me,” he says. “We meet new people – it feels like we’re all working in the same office. In a way, I don’t feel that different from anyone else here.”

And that’s just what WeWork strives for, according to chief experience officer Noah Brodsky, who says the company took a lesson from social media.

“Like Facebook users who share their life with other people – that has spilled over into the workspace,” he points out.

The company has 16 buildings in six cities, with plans to expand this year.

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WeWork taps into a cooperative approach among people and even industries. Says Elizabeth Danze, associate dean for undergraduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture, “I think there’s more collaboration than ever and more recognition of interdisciplinary work … the ability to work in teams around a table or screen is important and won’t go away.”

To that end, she says, architects spend more time creating spaces where people can interact – and that’s not always indoors. Outdoor green space at the office, whether a rooftop respite or an employee community garden, is an amenity that gives employees breathing room and creates a holistic, feel-good experience. “It’s trying to address the whole person in the office – addressing their whole lives,” Danze says.

 

What does an office need

Other offices are designed with flexibility in mind, enabling employees to move about, from personal workspace to testing room to collaborative meeting area. But breaking down barriers doesn’t suit all. “The Physical Environment of the Office: Contemporary and Emerging Issues,” a study co-authored by Matthew C. Davis of the University of Leeds in the U.K., suggests that the open office can impede productivity, with employees’ attention and creativity declining and their stress levels rising.

“Some people can move from portal to portal and be productive, but that’s a skill – and some people have it and others don’t,” says Seattle architect Jonathan Rader, noting that his job as a designer involves “cultural problem-solving” as much as solving for space.

“I try to pull out from a company some of their cultural things – work habits, what they like and don’t like – because that will determine how well they will work in the new space.”

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While some firms want to keep traditional layouts for privacy and prestige, others – particularly tech and media companies – choose open floor plans (with some phone booths for privacy). Rader looks for ways to create environments for clients with hybrid needs, such as a law firm representing start-ups, which opted for an open space that resembles the offices of its clients. “There are lots of ways to solve the problem and not to be too dogmatic,” he says.

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That flexibility is also behind the philosophy of HeartWork, which makes a colorful line of modern office furniture. “We saw changes in how people use space. Clients want to use furniture in different ways, with different spaces that support the different ways people are working,” says founder and designer Karen John. “No one wants to go to an anonymous gray office anymore. They want design to reflect their culture.”

Lana Bortolot covers real estate, arts, culture and wine for The Wall Street Journal and others.

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How to Calculate the True Monetary Value of Your Time

As an entrepreneur, your time is precious. To protect it, you must know exactly what it’s worth.

Nathan Resnick

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Do you know the value of your time? Ken Segall, creator of Apple’s famous ‘Think Different’ ad campaign for agency Chiat/Day, said he got thrown out of a meeting once by the founder of his agency, Jay Chiat.

“Why are you here?” he asked Segall and the art director, who’d shown up with everybody else. “We’re just responding to the invitation,” said Segall. Chiat told them to get lost. “Go create something,” he said.

Jay Chiat knew the value of his creative people’s time. He knew it wasn’t worth it for them to go into that meeting when they could be putting together the next big ad campaign. They were more valuable to the company doing the creative work that made it run than attending a meeting.

That’s what knowing the value of your time can do for you; it tells you what’s most important. Time is the one resource all of us have, but it’s also painfully finite in nature. You can’t bank it — all you can do is invest 
it wisely.

As an entrepreneur, if you don’t know the true monetary value of your time, how are you going to prioritise your business and your life? What does it take to find the monetary value of your time?

Invest your time

Be aware that your time is likely to appreciate in value. If you’re a founder or running a successful business, your time’s value will increase as your business does. Sooner or later, the monetary value of your time is going to surpass the importance of money. It’ll be more important for you to invest your time in moving the business forward because your time is going to be worth more. So, invest your time on process early, lest you spend it later putting out fires.

Related: 5 Time-Management Tools for Small Businesses to Improve Productivity

Crunch the numbers

James Clear

Entrepreneur James Clear decided to approach this problem systematically — he talked to everyone from poker players to executive coaches to figure out what the optimal method of measuring his time’s value was.

Then, he sat down and tracked every hour for three months. The upshot of that time investment was a very clear process that you can use to lay out what your time is worth.

First, figure out the amount of time you spend to earn money. That’s not just time spent working. Are you commuting? That’s time you’re using towards work that’s not going elsewhere. School? That counts. Drop the kids off at school? Add it on.

If it’s related to the time you spend earning money, add it on. Clear’s estimate guesses that most full-time employees and entrepreneurs spend around 2 500 hours a year on this (his exact estimate for himself came out to 2 742).

Then, figure out how much you earn in take-home pay per year. That calculation should be pretty simple, though if you’re a business owner, it’ll be a little more complex as you figure out taxes and withholding.

Divide your total earnings by the hours you spend to earn it. That’s your time’s value.

Surprised? It’s probably lower than you expected, especially if you calculated the extra hours devoted to things like dropping of kids at school or commuting accurately. We don’t often think of our work value in terms of total hours spent.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Time Management Is Such A Waste Of Time

Create a system of checks and balances

You don’t want to just rely on that, though. Maybe you’re being underpaid (or underpaying yourself, if you’re an entrepreneur — don’t laugh, it’s more common than you think). Maybe another factor is throwing it off, or your math has 
an error.

Consider a few other factors:

  • What do other people make to do your job?
  • What would you pay someone else to do your job?
  • What could you make on the open market if you were to go find another job?

Run those numbers against each other to determine an average. For entrepreneurs, this changes everything. Once you understand this number, it’ll change the way you approach everything in your business and your life.

Know what your own time is worth. Remind yourself of it constantly. If you do, you’ll find yourself more productive, more efficient, more satisfied, and more successful.

So, what are you waiting for? Invest wisely.

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(Infographic) 9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making In The First 10 Minutes Of Your Day

From setting goals to drinking coffee, these bad morning habits might surprise you.

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There are a number of things you’re probably doing every morning that are actually hindering your productivity.

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you might be surprised to find out that drinking coffee between 8 and 10 a.m can make you more stressed throughout the day. That’s because caffeine early in the morning interferes with the time that the stress hormone, cortisol, is peaking in your body. It’s best to get your fix between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

When you get into the office and try to jump right into the top of your to-do list, you might find yourself confused and not very productive. When you don’t let your brain empty and refresh before starting a project or task, it loses a sense of control, becomes overwhelmed and ultimately, makes you less productive. Something else to avoid is checking email or social media right when you wake up. Typically, after checking your inbox, it takes a person at least 25 minutes to get back into a productive state. If you start your day off reading and responding to email after email, it will take you a long time to get back on track.

Another surprising mistake is setting self-imposed goals. Setting goals and deadlines for yourself might seem like an obvious productivity hack, but it turns out, that’s not the case. Instead, share your deadlines with others and you’ll feel more pressure and responsibility to get things done.

Related: 5 Surprising Elements That Boost Your Productivity (One of Them Is Colour)

Check out resume.io’s infographic below for more productivity mistakes you’re likely making in the first 10 minutes of your day.

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This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Workflow And Business Efficiency – 5 Strategies You Ignore At Your Peril

Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. You’re not still depending on email, are you?

Toby Nwazor

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An inefficient business can cost you a lot more than just growth – it can affect your revenue, too. According to a report by IDC, your business runs the risk of losing 20 to 30 percent of your revenue due to inefficient systems.

Unfortunately, many companies still struggle to implement the right systems to improve their workflow. Others have it worse, because they have no systems. In those situations, projects take ages to be completed, more time is spent on menial tasks and teams never seem to get enough done during work hours.

If that describes your company, your company’s profits may start to plummet, too.

Every successful business, then, has clearly defined systems to help the business run like clockwork. Improved workflow, better management and business efficiency save time, increase the bottom line and ensure a higher profit margin.

In fact, in an article on ContractZen, Tim Cummins, president of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management, wrote that, “The average corporation could boost its bottom line by almost 10 percent if it invested in improving the quality of contracting.

For many companies – especially those in more complex, project-based industries – the prize could be much higher – perhaps as much as 15 percent.”

Related: Become A Life-Hacker

Unfortunately, some companies fail to provide systems that put users first, taking a negative toll on those companies’ workflow and efficiency. The good news is that they’re only five strategies away from turning this around:

1. Automate all you can

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From email lists, bookkeeping, invoicing and contract management, to social media posts and payrolls, almost everything can be automated. For a business that aims to be more efficient, automation is a must.

Automation doesn’t just save you time, it can be the one strategy that can guarantee explosive growth and higher conversion rates. According to this Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness study, 63 percent of companies polled that were outgrowing their competitors said they had automated their marketing.

Automating monotonous tasks that have to be repeated several times during the day helps you be more productive in tasks that require your personal attention.

2. Invest in customer-relationship management software

It’s not uncommon to find businesses that are barely able to keep up with their leads. Some waste hours hunting the low-quality leads instead of focusing their energy on those ready to buy. Here, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution linked to these businesspeople’s network phone system is a great way to enhance customer communications.

Customers value businesses that provide excellent customer service. A CRM solution increases the ability to keep track of customer information, monitor leads and provide efficient delivery. Businesses can provide for their customers’ needs faster and make effective business decisions. With CRM, businesses can also keep their focus on quality leads that will drastically improve conversion rates.

Related: 11 Ways To Maximise Every Part Of Your Day

3. Set up a task-management system

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Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. Email makes it difficult to carry everyone along. However, setting up task-management software like Slack, Trello or Asana makes it much easier to have everyone’s tasks in one place and ensure that everyone is carried along in the project.

Task-management software helps members of a team track their progress and ensure that everyone is working on their tasks.

4. Sync your calendar with that of everyone else on your team

How many times have you had to reschedule appointments because you didn’t know you had other meetings lined up for the day?

Aside from leaving negative impression in clients’ mind, this error makes you less productive. Having to go back and forth until you have settled on an appropriate date can be cumbersome especially when different time zones are involved. So, do this instead: Sync your personal calendar with your work calendar, and make sure that everyone in your team is synced to the latter, too.

This will ensure sure that everybody is “on the same page” in terms of appointments and deadlines. Google Calendar can help you do just that. Once everyone is synced up, any change in the calendar will be seen by everyone so they can manage their own appointments.

5. Block out chunks of time

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Constant interruptions hamper your workflow. Imagine having to deal with turning over a project on a deadline while you’re stuck in a series of meetings throughout the day. It can get very difficult to focus on completing your most urgent tasks.

Block out chunks of time on your calendar for uninterrupted work. It’s better to schedule a series of meetings in one day than to spread them throughout the week.

If you’re creating content, block out one day to create all the content you’ll use for the week. That way your business will run more efficiently.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Embrace Change

Wrapping it up

With the right strategies, you can turn your business around to make it efficient and lucrative. Automating your processes, setting up the right software and remaining focused on the tasks at hand will go a long way to help you do this. But just as with every good strategy, you need to remain consistent and give it time to do its magic.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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