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Tips For Running Effective Stand-Up Meetings

Tips For Running Effective Stand-Up Meetings

Meetings can go two ways: either they are quick and productive, or dry and drawn-out. Most people’s experience tends to fall in the latter category. Harvard Business Review conducted a study of 182 managers in various industries, and found that 65% reported meetings kept them from completing work, while 71% saw meetings as “unproductive and inefficient.”

If meetings are so important, how come everyone sees them as a waste of time?

This is the question that stand-up meetings attempt to answer. We’ll cover the basics: everything from how to set up these meetings and the advantages they provide for your team.


What is a Stand-Up Meeting?

Also known as standing meetings or daily stand-ups, a stand-up meeting is a brief meeting held while the meeting participants are standing up. The standing requirement ensures that the meeting is quick and focused, with the main purpose of synchronizing the team and optimizing processes.

Stand-up meetings originated from agile development teams, particularly in the software industry. Team members from different disciplines across the world needed to understand the current state of their project while staying cognizant of potential obstacles and impediments. Today, stand-up meetings are being used by companies in retail, technology, hospitality, marketing, and many other industries.

There are two different types of a stand-up meeting, the kanban, and the scrum:

Kanban stand-up: Focuses on the team’s kanban board— a visual tool highlighting tasks to-do, tasks in progress, and completed tasks. The goal is to prioritize tasks (also called issues or stories) and identify/eliminate bottlenecks.

Scrum stand-up: Focuses on the team’s experiences— the work accomplished the previous day, work to be done today, and any impediments that affected their ability to complete their tasks.

In short, the main difference between kanban and scrum meetings is that scrum meetings focus on the people, while kanban meetings focus on the tasks.


Rules for Stand-Up Meetings

Now that you’ve read up on stand-up meetings, you’re ready to start implementing them in your own company or team. First things first, how do you start a stand-up meeting?

Start by picking a meeting time and place. It has to be during a window when everyone is alert and ready to start the day, so aim for an early morning meeting. The agreed-upon time must also be recurring, so if you choose 8 am, it must be 8 am for every workday. If you cannot meet in person, then take the time in choosing a solid video conferencing tool. Zoom, Discord, and Google Hangouts are all free solutions for teams of all sizes.

Keep the debates and questions to a minimum. If you must, develop focused questions with a clear intent— what was accomplished yesterday? What roadblocks did you encounter? How can other team members be of help? Make sure to keep it short and sweet, and to save any longer discussions for a separate meeting.

Develop a structure. The best way to keep stand-up meetings efficient is to have a template for each person’s response. Most stand-up meetings start with top priorities, tasks for the day, and whether help is needed. Adjust this outline for your team’s needs.

Include remote workers in the stand-up. Remote workers are the ones often left out of the loop when it comes to certain projects, as the difference in location and time zones can be an impediment to communication. Choose a time that works for people working remotely so that everyone can have a chance to participate.

Follow-up as necessary. Stand-up meetings shouldn’t just be a routine, they should lead to important actions and conversations. After a stand-up, take the time to assess any of the topics brought up and see if it warrants further discussion. Stand-up meetings should act as a jumping board, not replace meetings entirely.


Advantages of Stand-Up Meetings

Team alignment – Stand-ups can involve people from vastly different backgrounds and departments, which can lead to big insights. For example, a person engineering the code for an app can help inform a designer’s work on the app’s user interface.

Reduce meeting times – Unlike the long conference calls, we all dread, stand-up meetings should take about as long as it takes to make a cup of coffee. These shorter meetings should erase the need for drawn-out meetings, making everyone happier.

Team focus – Stand-up meetings have a few central questions that can be easily answered, such as “what was completed yesterday”, and “what needs to be done today?” Cutting through the small talk and distractions will ensure the team focuses on only the most pressing issues.

Group productivity – With different people in a single meeting, it’s easier to get an understanding of the current state of the project, and any obstacles that may block progress. As problems are identified and resolved more quickly, deadlines and milestones can be met more efficiently.

Team energy – Finally, stand-up meetings can be empowering. They develop a sense of camaraderie within teams, as everyone can see the contributions of each individual and how it fits within the bigger picture. Since the meetings are snappy, people can focus their energy on the work rather than talking about work.

Of all the investments a company makes, the most precious is time. It’s the one thing that you can’t take back or make more of. That’s why leaders and managers have a responsibility to lead and allocate resources in a way that saves everyone time, rather than squandering it.

Stand-up meetings are just one solution. Everyone can appreciate meetings that are short, get straight to the point, and involve everyone within a team. While they may not ever completely replace the standard meeting, stand-ups can lead to more meaningful, smarter conversations.

Looking for more tips on leading successful meetings? Read this previous post by Novel Coworking. Also, read our ultimate guide to workplace productivity here.

A Guide to Office Lighting and Productivity

A Guide to Office Lighting and Productivity

Which environment would you rather work in—  a dim basement or an office with plenty of natural light? Regardless of which you prefer, we can all agree that each setting has its own effect on our mindset and that lighting in general plays a major role in our daily productivity.  In one UK survey of 7,000 office workers, 80% reported that workspace lighting was important to them, yet 2 in 5 struggle with uncomfortable lighting every day. The brightness, color temperature, and placement of the lights in a room can affect how we perform our work.

In this guide, we’ll describe the various nuances of lighting, why lighting is so important, and how you can use lighting to your team’s advantage.


Health Effects of Office Lights

Have you ever worked indoors for a long period of time, and then walked outside to feel the sunlight? In a matter of seconds, your physical and mental wellbeing can change drastically. That’s because lighting isn’t just about aesthetics, it can have a profound impact on one’s health.

One of the most immediate effects of light is on our eyes. If you’ve ever worked on a computer late at night, you’re probably familiar with eye strain. Prolonged eye strain can also bring about fatigue, headaches, and even intense migraines. If you happen to work in dim or dark environments, consider downloading an application like f.lux, which adjusts the lighting of your screen to match the time of day. It may just help with your sleep cycle and “social jet lag” (the discrepancy of your sleep between workdays and off days).

Lighting also affects you mentally. Many individuals around the world suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that starts in fall and lasts throughout winter. It’s widely believed that the lack of natural daylight disrupts one’s body, leading to the feeling of depression. Light therapy can be the most effective treatment against SAD.


How Light Affects Productivity

In a study by Northwestern University, researchers found that workers in windowed offices received 173% more white light exposure and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night. The workers without windows scored lower on quality of life measures linked to physical problems and daytime dysfunction. It’s safe to say that lighting leads to a better quality of life, which leads to better work performance.

Lighting, mood, and productivity are all connected. To understand how lighting affects mood, try this thought experiment. Consider working in an office with warm and ample lighting. Now imagine the same environment but with harsh white light, the same you would find in an airport. Which one makes for a more comfortable work environment? Which one brings you more focus? The answer is bound to be subjective, but there’s no denying that different lights have different effects on mood and potentially increase job satisfaction.

Depending on the nature of the work, lighting can also lead to a decrease in work accidents. It’s no coincidence that workers in manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation all require well-lit environments to carry out their tasks safely. Lighting can bring greater awareness, and bring greater attention to important processes and mechanisms (such as operating a potentially dangerous machine).


Types of Office Lights

If you’re interested in better understanding office lighting or want to change the lighting around to your team’s preference, you must first understand the different types of lighting. Each one uses a different kind of technology with advantages and disadvantages.


LED Lighting

LED stands for light-emitting diodes, and are becoming more popular and affordable. Compared to fluorescent lights, LEDs are far more energy-efficient, can yield more light (lumens) and don’t use mercury, a toxic ingredient in many fluorescent lamps. While the initial cost can be steep, the savings can be made back through its low-watt usage. Some LED lamps can also change color like the Philips Hue lights controllable via an app.


Fluorescent Lighting

Fluorescent lights use low-pressure mercury vapor gas to produce light. They are more energy-efficient than traditional bulbs (not quite as efficient as an LED) but are also potentially toxic if they crack or shatter. Fluorescent lights can come in warm or white variations, but the most common types are the long rods found in garages or hospitals.


Natural light

The brightest, longest-known light source known to humans: the sun! Although not a bulb or lamp per se, sunlight can be just as influential in one’s health and mindset. Other environmental elements can help enhance natural light within a space, such as mirrors, bright colors, and large windows.


Lights Around the Office

With the different types of lighting in mind, you can better customize your office to fit your team’s needs. In addition to the type of lighting, consider the lighting color temperature— whether to use warmer colors (red and orange tones, similar to a living room) or daylight colors (bright white, like a hospital).

Warm lights – Warm lighting is ideal for spaces with a sense of comfort and relaxation. These include break rooms or recreational rooms for your team to let off some steam, or waiting areas for guests.

Cool white lights – Cool white refers to a bright light with a slight blue hue. You may notice them in some showrooms or bathrooms. These lights are great for conference rooms where people need lights to stay alert but without the harsh intensity.

Natural white lights – Somewhere between warm and cool lights is a bright white tone, similar to daylight colors. This type of lighting is great for brainstorm rooms, particularly in artistic fields, where it is important to show the true color of an object or design.

Regarding which you should choose between cool white, warm light, and daylight, the answer depends on the room in which the light will be installed. Warmer colors are great for cozier settings, for creating a sense of comfort, or for photo opportunities (people’s skin tones look better in warm lighting). On the other hand, cool white colors are more suitable for more practical applications, such as design or manufacturing.


Other Factors that Influence Productivity

As one can imagine, lighting isn’t the only factor that influences a person’s productivity. Other aspects of a worker’s environment can play an equally important role, such as accessibility to food and water. Having nearby restaurants or a kitchen for snacks can be helpful for quick bites. The hungrier a team is, the less likely they can produce quality work.

Another crucial environmental factor: temperature. Throughout the day, it’s not uncommon for a coworker to bring up the temperature of the room. If a room is too hot or too cold, it becomes difficult to focus on the task at hand. Providing air conditioning in the summer and heating during the winter is vital to operational efficiency.

Besides physical factors, company incentives like employee wellness programs can also impact an employee’s overall motivation. Fitness classes, financial counseling, gym reimbursement, are just a few examples of programs your company can implement.

The most important aspect to remember is to treat your employees with dignity and respect. All your cultural and environmental solutions should work to support and empower your teams, so they can continue to work without sacrificing their wellbeing. How can you set your team up for success and greater productivity?

Personalization can be just as important as office lighting in terms of driving productivity. Read our post on decorating your space for inspiration. If you’re interested in cultivating a healthier environment, read this post. And finally, check out these tips for creating an engaging workplace.

Top 10 Productivity Podcasts To Listen To In 2021

Top 10 Productivity Podcasts To Listen To In 2021

Self-improvement is an essential skill for any entrepreneur. How can anyone hope to get to where they want to be if they can’t take the simplest steps to better themselves?

But what if you’re constantly busy at work and home, with little time to attend inspiring seminars or read self-improvement books? The answer is simple: podcasts. They allow you to listen and learn on the move: during a workout, or on the way to work. But with thousands of podcasts to choose from, finding a starting place may be difficult.

Here’s a list of podcasts worth looking into.


1. The Tim Ferriss Show

Out of all the podcasts we looked into, Tim Ferriss’s stood out as the most popular. Bestselling author and “world’s best human guinea pig,” Ferriss is best known for The 4-Hour Workweek, now translated into over 40 languages. On his podcast, Ferriss invites and interviews someone from a niche background or industry, then uncovers the secrets to their success. In the past, he’s covered investment, technology, eastern philosophy, meditation, and much more. Ferriss’s disarming personality and genuine curiosity makes this podcast an entertaining listen.

Best episode: “Lessons Learned Traveling The World”


2. The Accidental Creative

Learn to develop everyday skills that can help you stay healthy, creative, and productive. The Accidental Creative Podcast is hosted by Todd Henry, author of Die Empty, Louder Than Words, and of course, The Accidental Creative. Each episode is less than half an hour, which is perfect for squeezing in a little wisdom in between a lunch break. Whether you’re a creative or a business professional, there’s something for everyone in this podcast.

Best episode: “Exactly What To Say” (with Phil M. Jones)


3. Back To Work

If you want something specifically focused on improving work habits, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better than Back to Work. This award-winning weekly podcast from Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin break down the most common topics in the workplace, from productivity to communication. Listening to Merlin and Dan is like listening to two friends talk casually, which makes for some great background listening.

Best episode: “Alexa, Light It Up!”


4. Productivityist

Mike Vardy has made quite the name for himself. Not only has his company, Productivityist, been mentioned by Lifehacker and Fast Company, but the podcast of the same name has quickly become a productivity podcast favorite. Vardy’s goal is to help listeners “define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter” through actionable tips and useful tools. Not bad for a half hour weekly podcast.

Best episode: “Morning Routines with Benjamin Spall”


5. Cortex

A collaboration between Myke Hurley (host of and CGP Grey (YouTuber, host of Hello Internet), Cortex explores the work processes and productivity hacks of two self-employed content creators. Listening to these two hosts talk about their work can be one of the most inspiring moments of your week, no different to learning from a mentor.

Best episode: “Cortex 1: I Don’t Really Like Work”


6. Beyond The To-Do List

Host Erik Fisher hit a home run in choosing a title for his podcast. Not only does each episode teach you how to get more done, but it also explores the main purpose of productivity- living a meaningful life between personal and work life. The podcast features interviews with real entrepreneurs and thought leaders, extracting the most important lessons of time-management, motivation, and organization. After a couple of episodes, you’ll be using some of his tactics right away.

Best episode: Sleep: Shawn Stevenson on Caffeine and Screen Curfews to get better Sleep 


7. Masters of Scale

An original podcast by Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn), Masters of Scale explores how companies seemingly grow from nothing into major, worldwide phenomenons. Hoffman starts each episode with a theory about scaling businesses and then tests the idea by interviewing the leading figures and influencers today.

Best episode: Special Episode: Remote Teams with Matt Mullenweg, Co-Founder and CEO of Automattic


8. Business Wars

Ever wondered about the biggest battles in the business industry? Whether its Netflix v. HBO or Pizza Hut vs. Dominos, Business Wars covers the shocking dark side of the biggest corporate rivalries in history. You’ll learn about how some brands come to be cultural landmarks, how others get forgotten by history and the countless Machiavellan plays made by leaders and entrepreneurs.

Best episode: Amazon vs Walmart – The Big Bang Theory of E-Commerce


9. How I Built This with Guy Raz

Journalist and NPR host Guy Raz has developed a reputation as one of the most popular podcasters ever, and with his podcast, How I Built This, it’s not hard to see why. Learn about the stories about early beginnings and touch decisions made by the world’s most famous companies, including Lyft, Bumble, Khan Academy, Airbnb, and many more.

Best episode: Wikipedia: Jimmy Wales


10. The Mind Your Business Podcast

Entrepreneurs understand the secret to success lies with one’s mindset. James Wedmore, an online entrepreneur, hosts a podcast specifically designed around the entrepreneur’s mindset, and how it can have a greater impact than any strategy. Each episode is only 20-45 minutes long, but you’ll walk away with lessons that stay with you long after they’re done.

Best episode: The Way To Grow Is To ____


The Journey of Productivity

One of the best ways to improve yourself is to learn from the experts- the individuals who faced the same struggles and setbacks and converted their failure into wisdom. Listening to actionable advice helps us avoid the same pitfalls.

These are just a few suggestions out of dozens other productivity podcasts. There’s simply far too many out there to put into a single list. The same is true for blogs. Here are 7 great blogs to get started.

But it’s not enough to listen to podcasts, you have to apply the lessons each day: like managing your time, getting an early start, or finding a place to focus and work. Healthy habits are formed with time and discipline.

To get more tips and resources on maximizing productivity, follow Novel Coworking’s Blog today.

Free Online Classes You Should Take in 2020

Free Online Classes You Should Take in 2020

Although 2020 brought challenges for everyone, it also allowed people to rediscover their passions and continue their path of learning. For some, that meant more time working hobbies like drawing or reading. For others, it was an opportunity to take more online classes for topics that they were always interested in.

As the country (and the rest of the world) enters another period of uncertainty and isolation, we wanted to share some of the top online classes to help you pass the time and stimulate your mind. The best part: all of the classes mentioned here are free, so you won’t have to worry about taking out a hefty loan!


Why Take Classes?

No matter how old you are or what you do for a living, there’s always something to learn. Here are a few compelling reasons for continuing your education:

Learn new skills – A college degree just isn’t enough to stay competitive in today’s workforce. The key is to build and develop skills that open new doors for you. For programmers, it may be learning new coding languages. For marketers, perhaps certification for a specific tool. Choose skills that complement your experience and help you stand out from your peers.

Develop your interests – Far too often, we tend to set aside the hobbies and activities we enjoy because we simply “don’t have time”. Being in a class helps block out the time to dedicate towards a particular hobby. Learning to use Photoshop sounds daunting, but a 6-week class sounds much more manageable.

Career changeAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average baby boomer worker changes jobs 12 times. Statistics for other generations are hard to come by, mostly because it’s difficult to define what constitutes a job change. But if you’re in the camp that has been thinking about doing something different for some time, you’ll want to study and immerse yourself in the new industry you hope to find yourself in.

Meet similar individuals – Classes can also expose us to like-minded people that share our interests and motivations. Beyond helping with homework or studying for exams, they can teach you something new, or rekindle the passion for your particular craft.


Online Classes Platforms

Coursera – founded by former Stanford University professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, Coursera was one of the original MOOC (massive open online course) providers and continues to be a powerhouse today. The platform has collaborated with over 200 universities and companies, including Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Imperial College London, IBM, Google, and much more. You can also get a Course Certificate, Professional Certificate, or MasterTrack Certificate for taking a class, which could help your chances of getting hired.

edX – A nonprofit organization using an open-source platform, edX was founded by MIT and Harvard scientists in 2012. Courses typically specialize in computer and data science, but there are also classes available for learning languages, business, and humanities. Partnerships include MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, Boston University, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, The University of Queensland, and many more. As of 2020, edX has approximately 33 million students, taking 3,000 online courses taught by 6,000 instructors worldwide.

Udemy – A more recent take on the MOOC model, Udemy was founded in 2010 after founder Eren Bali’s experience living and teaching in Turkey. Udemy has over 35 million students, 57,000 instructors, and 130,000 courses ranging from learning guitar to mastering data analysis. Employers have used Udemy for upskilling their employees, with notable examples including Lyft,, Adidas, SurveyMonkey, GeneralMills among many others.

Skillshare – If you’re looking for a more direct or interactive approach to learning, Skillshare is the best bet. Although the courses are not accredited, classes can be equally engaging as they emphasize skills-based learning and projects over lecturing. The site has over 27,000 premium classes, and over 2,000 free classes available for students.

Codecademy – Always been interested in coding but didn’t know where to start? Codecademy is the place. Choose a language or project you would like to learn, code using their intuitive platform, and then see your work manifest in real-time. You’ll learn to make websites, build apps, develop games, and more by doing instead of watching.

FutureLearn – Owned by The Open University and SEEK Ltd, FutureLearn is a MOOC learning platform with an emphasis on classes from world-class universities taught by industry experts. Partnered universities include King’s College London, John Hopkins University, Institute of Coding, Monash University, University of Michigan, and more. Learn about tackling food waste, or building professional resilience— FutureLearn has countless courses for you to build your career or simply enjoy your hobbies.

General Assembly – General Assembly has been building its online learning community since 2011. With a focus on web development, data, design, and business, General Assembly has cultivated a platform dedicated to upskilling the next generation of workers. Their network currently includes 70,000 alumni, 25,000 trained employees, 19,000 hiring partners, and 30 campuses, so there’s power in the General Assembly brand name.


Free Classes You Can Take in a Day


Psychological First Aid – Offered By John Hopkins University

Just as first aid is necessary for treating someone with physical injuries, psychological first aid can help someone suffering from a mental health emergency. Students will learn and use the RAPID model (Reflective listening, Assessment of needs, Prioritization, Intervention, and Disposition) to better understand the impact of trauma and non-physical emergencies, which can be used in disaster relief, workplace environments, military, and faith-based organizations.


Stanford Introduction to Food and Health – Offered by Stanford

As diabetes, obesity, and other diet-related diseases continue to afflict countries around the globe, there’s never been a better time to learn about food from a public health perspective. More than ever, the world needs students willing to explore new ways for promoting healthy eating and expose the dangers of processed foods. After taking this course, students will learn the differences between healthy and unhealthy nutrition, how to update their own dieting habits for more sustainable living, and the importance of food education today.


Understanding Research Methods – Offered by University of London

True, academic research is more than just doing a quick Google or Wikipedia search. But at the same time, effective research can be broken down into fundamental principles and practices.That is the goal of this unique course offered by a university renowned for its research. Students will learn how to conduct research for postgraduate studies, personal development, or business applications. In 2015, the course was even nominated for the Guardian University Award for its online learning achievement.


Global Diplomacy – Diplomacy in the Modern World — Offered by the University of London

What if you were the next UN ambassador or leading diplomat? Understand the inner workings of global diplomacy, explore real-life decisions in the field, their influence on contemporary politics, and the issues affecting diplomacy today. The course will take roughly 13 hours to finish, and is offered in French, Chinese, Russian, English, and Spanish.


An Introduction to Consumer Neuroscience & Neuromarketing – Offered by the Copenhagen Business School

The next time you walk down a shopping street or a grocery store aisle, ask yourself: why do people make their purchasing decisions the way they do? What grabs their attention, and how do they decide out of dozens of choices? The emerging field of consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing can provide an analytical perspective on the future of marketing, business, and psychology.


Feminism and Social Justice – Offered by the University of California Santa Cruz

An adaptation of Bettina Aptheker’s course at UC Santa Cruz, Feminism and Social Justice explores feminism in the context of three pivotal moments in history: the Empire Zinc strike of 1951, the 1971-1972 trial of Angela Davis, and the #metoo movement. The course is offered in French, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, English, and Spanish.


Marketing Classes


Introduction to Marketing – Offered by The University of British Columbia

In the information age, marketing means the difference between a brand’s popularity and its demise. Although the field can be broad, there are certain concepts and lessons that carry over no matter what branch or discipline of marketing you gravitate towards. This edX course covers the basics: from segmentation to consumer psychology. For budding entrepreneurs, this course is essential.


Google Analytics Certification 

Google Analytics is Google’s premier tool for analyzing web traffic to a certain website. For digital marketers, Google Analytics is indispensable. But for newcomers, it can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. This course on Alison takes only a few hours but will walk you through the basics of the platform, from monitoring traffic to analyzing data. We recommend this course for students looking to get their feet wet in the digital marketing world.


Marketing in a Digital World – Offered by the University of Illinois

Marketing has evolved tremendously in the past few decades. The billboard and radio have been replaced by the Internet and smartphones. But exactly how do these new tools change the proven principles of marketing? That question is at the heart of this course, one of Coursera’s most popular courses on their platform.


Programming and Computer Science Classes


CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science – Offered by Harvard University

If you’ve ever been interested in computer science or learning to code, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything as in-depth, well-paced, and easy to understand as Harvard’s legendary CS50 course. Harvard Professor of the Practice of Computer Science, David J. Malan will cover everything from how computers operate to solving problems with a programming mindset. The course has been awarded a Class Central Top 100 Course of All-Time, a testament to the quality of the class.


Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) – Offered by the University of Michigan

Python is one of the most versatile programming languages in demand today, allowing you to create web apps, games, and other software. Programming for Everybody is Coursera’s premier course on the topic, with 4.8 stars based on 173,064. As of December 2020, there are currently 1.9 million people enrolled in the free class.


HTML5 Coding Essentials and Best Practices – Offered by W3Cx

HTML5 is the industry standard and most widely used language for websites today (and in the foreseeable future). Learning HTML5 will not only help students create stronger websites, but also mobile pages, games, dashboards, and other lightweight applications.


Entrepreneurship Classes


Becoming an Entrepreneur – Offered by MIT

What does it take to become an entrepreneur? This edX course, taught by MIT Professor Martin Culpepper and LaunchX Founder Laurie Stach, dives into the entrepreneurial myth, the strategies for developing a successful business, and selling to your first customer.


Make Money from Home: How to Build an Online Business

There’s never been a better time to figure out how to make money online. Online entrepreneur Mike Omar’s course on Udemy takes you through the simple, yet painstaking process of building websites to generate passive income. You don’t even need to know how to code, only a curiosity for online entrepreneurship.


Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer? – Offered by MIT

The difference between an idea and a business is a paying customer. Yet even the world’s biggest brands forget or lose sight of their target audience. In this introductory entrepreneurship course, you will learn how to identify your ideal customer and use proven methods for a better understanding of your customers.


AI and Data Science Classes


Introduction to Big Data – Offered by UC San Diego

In today’s world, data has become more valuable than oil. Data is so valuable that a new industry has spawned over the last few years: Big Data. This course will teach you the basics of Big Data, structuring your analyses, and learning from real-world examples. It’s also a great primer into the world of data science.


Machine Learning – Offered by Stanford University

Computer intelligence has reached such a high level that we now use it in self-driving cars, automating our homes, and understanding population health. Learn about various machine learning topics, including supervised learning, unsupervised learning, best practices, and more. The course is also taught by none other than Coursera founder, Andrew Ng.


Statistical Thinking for Data Science and Analytics – Offered by Columbia University

Columbia’s course on data science is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in the statistics side of data science. Learn about data collection and analysis, conditional probability, linear regression, and using data to predict future trends.


Communication Classes


Business Communication – Developing Effective Business Presentation Skills – Revised

A single solid presentation can lead to a newly signed client, a potential partnership, or industry recognition. Yet so many business professionals struggle with a lack of self-confidence. In this course, you will learn the necessary skills to engage an audience, gain confidence, and present more effectively.


Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills – Offered by University of Michigan

From negotiating a pay raise with a manager to negotiating prices with a supplier, we all use persuasion to cut a better deal. No matter what line of work you may find yourself in, it can never hurt to learn more about effective strategies for negotiating with others.


Business Communications – Offered by the University of British Columbia

Communicating within and with other organizations is like a language in itself. It requires a certain level of professionalism and clarity, and sadly isn’t always taught in higher education institutions. This course will help you write stronger business documents and better understand your audiences.

Design Classes

Professional Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator

Logos represent so much of a brand, from its personality to its key offerings. It’s no wonder people are willing to pay a premium for a well-designed logo. But before one can design a professional logo, it’s important to learn the basic design principles and techniques involved: choosing a typeface, using shapes, picking out a color, and other special effects in Adobe Illustrator.


Adobe InDesign Made Easy. A Beginners Guide To InDesign

Adobe InDesign is the industry standard for creating page layouts, whether they’re for webpages, booklets, flyers or another visually-appealing document. But like many other Adobe applications, there can be a steep learning curve to doing even the simplest task. Infinite Skills teaches you how to work with text, layers, styles, objects and other seemingly-obtuse concepts and become proficient with the tool.


Adobe Photoshop CS6 Essential Tools – Revised

Photoshop continues to be the industry standard for image and photo editing. Learning how to use the tool proficiently will likely land you more job opportunities. Understand how to use the interface, enhance photographs, use stylistic elements like text and retouch, and become a stronger and more skilled graphic designer in the process.


Language Classes

Basic Spanish 1: Getting Started – Offered by UPValenciaX

Spanish isn’t just one of the most widely spoken languages, it’s also a window into some of the most beautiful cultures in the world. Whether you’re new to learning Spanish or your last class was in high school, this course will help you through the basics so you can communicate at work, at home, or on the go.


Basic French Language Skills For Everyday Life – Revised 2017

French is simply a beautiful language to learn, and you can find it useful in Canada, Africa, France, or as a means of understanding the French culture better. This Alison course is perfect for newcomers.


Chinese for Beginners – Offered by Peking University

If you count only native speakers, Chinese is the most-spoken language in the world. This course covers the basics of phonetics and daily conversation so that once you complete it, you can feel more comfortable finding your way around the country.


Writing Classes


Secret Sauce of Great Writing

What’s a better way to learn how to write well than from a world-renowned journalist and editor? Former Wall Street Journal editor Shani Raja describes the secret elements to successful, polished writing, using four fundamental ingredients: Simplicity, Clarity, Elegance, and Evocativeness.


Start Writing Fiction – Offered by The Open University

Do you have a short story or novel idea that you’ve had for some time? This online course will help bring it out of your head and onto the paper, with the guidance of skilled fiction writers such as Patricia Duncker, Alex Garland, Abdulrazak Gurnah, and many more. You’ll even have the opportunity for peer review— an essential part of improving as a writer.


Writing Stories About Ourselves – Offered by Wesleyan University

Somewhere between fiction and nonfiction is the realm of creative nonfiction— a genre that resembles a personal memoir. Writing about one’s self is never easy, but Instructor Said Sayrafiezadeh breaks down the elements of storytelling and knowing your audience, so you can share a personal experience with your readers.


Law Classes


Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy – Offered by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Environmental law is taking on a new meaning in the 21st century, as more governments and corporations continue to pillage the world of its natural resources. Learn about the pressing issues in environmental regulations, including pollution, water, endangered species, and toxic substances.


Copyright made easy

Copyright, patents, trademarks— what’s the difference? It’s not something we think about on a daily basis, but it affects every creator, from the aspiring artist to corporate titans like Apple. Understand the basics of protection and how to apply those rules to your own content in this unique course.


Cyberwar, Surveillance, and Security – Offered by The University of Adelaide

Privacy is a hotly debated topic that affects everybody today. While companies continue to encroach on our privacy and misuse our personal information, dedicated individuals and organizations are fighting back through the rule of law. This course will teach you the impact of global networked surveillance, the state of cyber-activism and cyberwar, and the current responses to these issues today.


Hobby Classes


Yoga With Adriene

Yoga may seem like an overwhelming topic, but it’s really an activity that can be enjoyed by anyone. Not only is it good for your body, but it can also be healthy for your mind. Adriene covers everything from the basics to Yoga for Weight Loss.


Seeing Through Photographs – Offered by MoMA

Although photography has become more prevalent with the rise of smartphones, there’s still a place for meaningful, meditative photography. How can we better understand photography and the photographer’s intent? This course is presented by The Museum of Modern Art and covers nearly 100 photos from their collection.


The Art of Baking with Yuppiechef

Baking is as simple as it is enjoyable. Once you understand the basic principles and chemistry behind baking, you’ll learn how to make cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and other delicious desserts. Turn baking from an interest into a lifelong passion with this introductory course.

As the new year approaches and resolutions are made, there’s never been a better time to pick up a hobby, find a new passion, or build one’s skills. Although many of us are no longer in classrooms, there’s no excuse not to continue learning. With enough research and exploration, you can find the perfect course to dive into, get lost in, and learn something new.

Offices of the Future

Offices of the Future

The office space as we know it has evolved over the years, from prioritizing productivity to prioritizing collaboration. This year, the nature of the office is set to evolve again, placing greater emphasis on employee safety and wellbeing.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the recent changes the modern workspace has gone through and where we are headed.


Quick History of Modern Office Spaces

The modern office has had its fair share of experimental designs. In the early 1930s, the open office plan was developed to maximize space. By removing walls and borders, the goal was to increase productivity by promoting social interaction between coworkers. The design philosophy was called Taylorism, or “Scientific Management”, and soon found its way into countless American workplaces.

While the idea made sense on paper, it soon became apparent that the new office design felt more like a factory rather than a space that promotes collaboration. Big rooms were packed to the brim with employees. The environment was cramped and noisy, with little opportunity for interaction, let alone getting work done.

There was little concern for physical and mental health when it came to office design. One of the remedies to improve the open office was the application of cubicles. The goal was to bring back privacy in the office while cutting costs in designing for the influx of new workers. Unfortunately due to the lack of safety regulations, the material used to produce cubicles also made workers sick.

Today, employee health and wellbeing is now a priority for architects and designers. The rise of coworking spaces has also made companies consider trendier and more human-centric designs. It’s no secret that an increasing number of startups are seeking out office spaces, company branding and image is greatly influenced by the look and feel of their offices.


Increased Office Hygiene Focus

This year has prompted companies to focus on improving the safety and hygiene of their offices. As lockdown restrictions ease, employees are slowly heading back into the office. Employers are now looking for solutions to enforce social distancing at work without hindering productivity. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), social distancing is one of the effective measures in reducing the transmission of disease.

Hygiene at work should now be a priority as well. This can be achieved in numerous ways. To start, wearing face masks and some form of personal protective equipment (PPE) should be a new standard for office attire. Companies and building owners can hang signs to help remind employees of general hygiene practices such as limiting physical contact and the proper way to wash hands. New sanitization equipment must be installed as well. Hand sanitizers and wet wipes should be easily accessed by employees, or better yet if each employee is provided their own to reduce transmission from sharing equipment.

Avoid crowding areas or high-traffic zones. If possible, employees can adopt rotating workdays and flexible work hours for their employees. Not only will this practice drastically reduce transmission but it will also help in contact tracing should employees become infected.

Click here to learn more about Novel Coworking’s COVID-19 Protection Plan.


What Employees Want in a Workspace

As a leader, it’s important to focus on listening to the team’s feedback and concerns around a particular space so that you can know which equipment to invest in and how to best arrange the office.

Companies tend to spend a lot on perks and wellness programs for employees. Examples of these are office gyms, standing desks, meditation rooms, and massage rooms. Although it’s nice to have these benefits, ask your team whether the benefits are something they would even use, otherwise you may risk a misplaced investment.

One survey evaluated what North American workers valued in their workspace, and found that the most sought out features were the office basics: clean air, natural light, and personalization. Despite the extravagant campuses used by major enterprises, it turns out that all people need to stay focused is a space that has proper ventilation, lighting, and a sense of personality. No surprise here: each person works differently and while some might perform better in closed, private rooms where they can zone in, others prefer being outside with natural light and fresh air. Having the option to choose where and how you work is important for employees.

Coworking spaces have become popular in recent years due to spaciousness and opportunities to network with other people. This collaborative workspace design can be adopted by bigger companies to enhance employee interaction. The open floor plan that was popular in the mid 20th century can appear dated when compared to the colorful, playground-esque aesthetic of office spaces today. In the future, we can expect to see a greater emphasis on cleanliness and protection.


Advantages of Flexible Workspaces

One of the biggest advantages of having flexible workspaces is networking and employee bonding. This was the original intention of the open floor design. The difference is, however, that employees don’t feel forced to interact with other employees if they don’t feel like it. What the plan was missing back then was the flexibility for employees to choose.

Now, companies empower their employees by allowing them to control their environment. This not only helps the company but allows the individual to improve their work habits. Employees are able to easily step out of their circle and collaborate with other departments when needed. This helps individuals improve their networking among other skills.

The corporate culture is slowly changing and moving towards a more modular, less traditional landscape. Employees are empowered to work how and when they want (within reason). Now more than ever, companies should embrace change and not be afraid to experiment. Each company and each employee is different. Leaders should initiate dialogue with employees to find out what they value most. Doing so allows you to focus on areas that would bring in immediate positive results, rather than wasting resources on perks that employees might not even bother with. The future of office spaces will be determined by the teams thoroughly analyzing and improving on them today.

How to Find & Lease Commercial Office Space

How to Find & Lease Commercial Office Space

Choosing an office space for a business is a difficult but important decision to make. The space you ultimately choose will come to represent your brand and influence how your team performs. Before you make your decision, you should do your research to find the space that best fits your business’s needs.

There are a lot of considerations to make in finding commercial office spaces for rent. While we can’t make your final decision for you, we can help steer you in the right direction in determining the space or spaces that work best for you.


Types of commercial real estate

Retail space – One of the most common, public-facing spaces. Retail covers anything from a convenience store to a grocery store, as well as service companies like nail salons or car rentals.

Office space – Used by technology or communications companies, office spaces can usually be found in metropolitan areas. They are also often used by small businesses or startups.

Industrial – Manufacturing or supplying companies may have large warehouses for storing their goods.


Tips before you sign a lease


1. Plan for Your Office Needs

Forget about “best of” lists and fancy awards- the best office is one that supports businesses to do their best work. That includes:

  • Space – how much square footage of space does your business require to operate efficiently?
  • Number of offices – are you a large business that needs private offices for each member?
  • Location – where your business is situated can impact how your clients interact with you. Check out Business Insider’s list of 50 best places to work in the USA.
  • Amenities – Coffee machines, printing services, mail delivery etc. Typically more amenities mean a higher monthly or yearly rent.
  • On-site staff – From the receptionist to the community manager to the cleaning crew, a helpful team can make all the difference in an office.
  • Transportation – The ideal office should be close to public transportation or main roads and highways. The easier the morning commute, the more productive the team can be.


2. Calculate Your Monthly or Yearly Budget

Moving offices may seem straightforward, but it can quickly become a costly investment if not properly accounted for.

If your business involves moving from a previous location, start by evaluating the cost of moving. These costs typically include the cost of hiring a moving company or renting a moving truck. Keep in mind your previous office location may require an early termination fee under a rental contract.

Consider additional costs, such as electricity, heat, Internet and parking spaces. While some places may quote a reasonable rate, make sure it’s inclusive of all the other utilities your team may need.

Once you add up your costs, evaluate whether a move is right for your business. For many startups, a coworking solution may be more cost-effective. For medium-sized businesses, a shared office suite may be more effective. Explore your options and consult your team for the best route.


3. Focus on a List of Potential Locations

Location is everything! Once you begin to find spaces based on your personal criteria, consider where the building is located. Is it in a safe neighborhood? Are the rates reasonable for the area? Is it close to public transportation, nightlife, restaurants, other relevant or important services for your business?

Start listing down locations that best match your expectations. Some may be in completely different cities or states. It’s important to get the opinions of other key stakeholders in your team. Would they be willing to relocate?

Check out Novel Coworking’s various locations across the nation.


4. Tour, Interview, Research

Start researching your list- the locations and the building. This is the only way to determine the viability of potential locations.

Determine what kind of space your business needs. Do you need an extension to your business’s existing offices? Or perhaps you simply need a temporary coworking solution.

Many office space providers offer tours of their location. Don’t just settle by going off images or 3D renders- you need to visit them in person to make a decision. Can you see your business’s culture developing within the space?

You may also spot something during your tour that wouldn’t have shown up on the webpage- a dilapidated corridor, or leaky pipes. In-person visits will also help you measure the specifications of each room, allowing you to determine whether you can move in existing furniture and infrastructure.

Most importantly, touring a location with your team can really help you accurately envision how your business may operate within the environment. There’s no point in having a large and spacious office that none of your team members feel connected to.


5. Negotiate Your Lease

You’ve narrowed your choices to one or two spaces. Now it’s time to negotiate the terms of your lease contract.

Keep in mind not all places will allow negotiation of a contract. However, they may be open to a flexible rate depending on a few factors, including the expected length of stay – the longer your business expects to rent out the space, the better position you may be to negotiate a lower average rate.

Plans may vary also depending on your need. Monthly plans may be more suitable for shorter stays, while Yearly plans will help you save in the long run.

Have your team’s general counsel or attorney review the terms of the lease as well. You never want to be caught in a position where you inadvertently break one of the landlord’s rules and find yourself moving spaces again.


How to find commercial lease listings


1. Google search and web directories

There’s a good chance you have already tried this out of instinct, but searching online is always a great place to start. Remember to use important keywords relevant to your search, such as “commercial real estate for lease” followed by the location or city name you are looking for. Doing so will also bring up a series of local directories, which can aid in your search for commercial real estate.

2. Facebook groups and community boards

In addition to searching Google, try searching through Facebook groups, subreddits, and LinkedIn groups. Although some may have strict requirements for joining, this is an effective way to canvass and network within the industry. You may also find unique opportunities that just aren’t available through other, more traditional channels.

3. Novel Coworking

That’s right, Novel Coworking offers commercial real estate for teams of 10 – 500 across our nationwide network. To learn more about our offerings, visit our Office Suites page, with plans starting as low as $2,999 per month.


Your new commercial office space

There’s no specific guide to finding commercial office space- each scenario differs depending on the business involved. However, you can still use these tips and best practices to help find a space that maximizes your team’s productivity and efficacy.

Interested in finding a flexible, customizable solution for your business? Whether you need multi-room extensions or just a new private office, Novel Coworking works with your team to develop a plan fit for your needs. Check out our plans and pricing page.