8 Quick and Simple Green Tips for the Office

8 Quick and Simple Green Tips for the Office

The Importance of a Sustainable Office

When you’re under a deadline or stuck in meetings all day, developing a greener office may not be at the top of your priority list. But when you look at how they align with your other business activities, such as finances or team productivity, green initiatives are actually one of the best investments you can make. They can even help your employees stay healthier, happier and more productive.

Above all, companies with green initiatives get to be part of an elite group that is contributing to the sustainability of our planet. More than growing the bottom line, going green means working together to build our collective future.

Here are a few tips on building a greener workplace.

 

Revisit your business process

Start with your business process- from onboarding new employees to bringing in new customers. Does your company use a lot of posters and flyers to promote events? Or print out physical handouts for each customer? Or perhaps your work involves back-and-forth driving. No matter your industry, we’re all guilty of using more resources than we need. Think about all the steps that involve using excess amounts of paper, plastic, or energy. What can you do to avoid waste?

 

Use eco-friendly office supplies

According to the National Wildlife Federation, 17 trees and 6,953 gallons of water can be saved by recycling just one ton of paper. Imagine the difference that can be made when entire organizations decide to use recycled paper, drink from reusable water bottles, and repurpose old electronics. What supplies can your business replace with eco-friendly alternatives?

 

Cut back or schedule your energy consumption

Retailers and corporate offices are guilty of leaving the lights and computers turned on even when the day is over. Schedule power cycles for lights, air conditioning, and computers to avoid wasting energy. Not only will your team not notice an inconvenience, but you will greatly decrease your energy consumption.

 

Embed sustainability into the culture

Sustainability isn’t something that can be knocked off on your weekly agenda. It’s a mindset that must be adopted by the entire company, a routine followed every day, month, and year. Revisit your company culture. How can the literature be modified to be more environmentally conscious? How can you ensure that the company continues to strive towards its green goals?

 

Install energy-efficient alternatives

Incandescent bulbs are a relic from the past, yet we continue to use them in our desk lamps and hallway light fixtures. Consider replacing these bulbs with newer versions, such as CFL or LED, which use 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.

 

Let employees work from home

Depending on your job, you may not even need to come into the office on a daily basis. For one or two days during the week, allow your team members to work from home. Not only will it develop a greater sense of freedom and autonomy within your team, but working remote also cuts back on expenses associated with commuting, such as the cost of ridesharing and gas.

 

Develop a recycling program

Instead of having a generic wastebasket in the office, purchase a trash can with a separate receptacles for recycling paper and plastic. Amazon offers dozens of options for a variety of budgets. Recycling is one of the most effective and direct ways each team member can contribute towards a more sustainable workplace and environment.

 

Redesign your space

Not everyone has the luxury of working or living in an environmentally friendly building, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do your part. Consider purchasing sustainable office furniture, from Steelcase for example. Bring more plants to regulate the air quality of the space. Make use of large windows to take advantage of natural lighting. There are dozens of ways you can adjust your space’s design to be greener and more sustainable.

 

Novel Coworking spaces have always had sustainability and environmental impact in mind. We offer recycling services, automated lighting and air conditioning, and naturally lit spaces. To learn more, visit our location map to find a space near you.

How to Find Investors for your Business

How to Find Investors for your Business

If you’re planning on starting or maintaining a business, you better be prepared to pay for it. Some business owners save for years, others borrow banking institutions. But there are alternative options to get capital, namely, through investors.

Investors ensure the lights stay on throughout the work week, and that every employee can go home with a check, but finding the right investors isn’t always an easy task.

So how exactly does one find investors for a business?

 

Where to find investors for a small business

 

Searching within your network

You may think, “I don’t know any investors!” but you would be surprised. Your friends, family, former professors and classmates, and even ex-coworkers could be potential investors. Since you already have an established relationship with them, it may be easier to sell them on your business idea.

Be careful- you may be personally close to many of these people, so it’s important to draw clear boundaries. Be very clear about the risks involved with a startup, for instance, that they may not receive their investment back. Above all, never let your business or the money get between your personal relationships.

 

Crowdfunding platforms

Finding one or two investors to pledge a few thousand dollars can be a crapshoot. Getting a few dollars from a thousand or more people online may be more achievable. Today, there are dozens of different platforms that allow you to crowdfund, such as Kickstarter, IndieGogo, GoFundMe, Patreon, and many more.

When taking the crowdfunding route, businesses need to be mindful of the promised product or service. Backers (the investors on these platforms) will only invest when they see a potentially profitable and feasible product. When you abuse that trust and fail to produce on that promise, your brand will likely experience an overwhelming backlash.

 

Coworking Spaces

Coworking is ideal for networking and collaborating with like-minded business owners. Coworking spaces are known to have dozens of businesses, many of them startups. At the next Lunch & Learn or networking event in your coworking space, introduce your startup team. You may find your next investor there.
Investors aren’t the only people you’ll find in coworking spaces. It’s not unusual to meet a potential business partner just down the hallway or in the lounge. Best of all, coworking spaces contain entire communities of professionals and entrepreneurs. More than funding, you’ll find a group of supportive mentors willing to guide your entrepreneurial venture.

 

Startup incubators and accelerators

No man is an island. Even if you have some funding already, that doesn’t mean you have all the tools to ensure your startup succeeds. That’s where incubators and accelerators come in. Incubators connect companies with angel investors, mentors, and entrepreneurs to help them grow. Accelerators are similar, with the primary difference being that accelerators operate under a set timeframe.

Incubators and accelerators have the added benefit of training and guiding business owners along the way. They’re not just dumping funds into a business- they’re helping it grow and scale. Business owners learn about the common pitfalls and mistakes of early startups, so they are better positioned to use the funds they receive.

 

Private Equity Firms

Private equity firms are considered one of the most reliable paths to getting funding, especially early during the development phase. Within a few meetings, you could pitch your idea and receive anything from thousands to millions of dollars.

Once your startup takes off and begins to grow, your business will need to sell the private equity firm’s stake. Check out Wall Street Oasis’ Company Database to find thousands of different private equity firms.

 

Getting off the ground

Funding is just one part of starting and running a business. But it can also be the most difficult part. There’s a lot of competition from other startups looking to get a piece of the action, so your brand and idea need to stand out.

First, focus on your elevator pitch. You need to have a great idea and be able to present it to others succinctly and effectively. If your elevator pitch is lacking, investors won’t believe in your idea enough to invest. Even with a great pitch, you need to understand how investors think. Tailor your pitch to each investor with these tips.

Still in search of a little more guidance? Check out our previous post on tips from successful entrepreneurs. As always, visit Novel Coworking’s blog for more guides on building your dream business.

5 Ways To Create a Millennial Workplace

5 Ways To Create a Millennial Workplace

Millennials represent the largest and most influential generation in our global workforce. Known for being technologically literate, collaborative, and creative, millennials introduce new ideas and processes that help elevate brands to modern standards. Companies that find ways to attract and engage millennials will likely see greater success in their sales and in their daily business.

 

Implement modern tech in the office

Millennials are the first generation to grow up with the Internet. They tend to use their phones frequently, and check social media and email multiple times every hour. Instead of trying to ban or restrict the use of these technologies, find ways to incorporate technology into the process, like supplying a dedicated work phone or using social media to help promote the brand. You’ll find that millennials learn quickly and will actually end up getting more done.

 

Design the space with a balance of privacy and collaboration

Engage millennials with a modern workplace and ditch the cubicle completely. If you care about making millennial employees happy during their time at work, create a space that they can retreat to and focus on work, while offering an open public space where they can have lunch or chat casually with coworkers. Giving that flexibility to choose between the two can make a world of difference. Learn more about Novel Coworking’s private offices and open coworking spaces here. From creativity to networking, there are several benefits to an open workspace design.

 

Build a responsible and inviting company culture

You’ve heard it multiple times before and with good reason. Millennials are not the type to chase a salary if they know the work will make them miserable. Instead, they care much more about a solid culture, including healthy work-life balance, benefits, and a positive CSR (corporate social responsibility) program. If your business can’t provide the same salary as a larger brand, consider focussing on company culture.

 

Encourage healthy habits in the workplace

In a world driven by automation and computers, many employees spend their days staring at a computer screen and neglecting their own health. Companies have a responsibility to ensure that their employees are mentally and physically healthy. Offer healthy office snacks, gym membership discounts, or outdoor meetings. Check out our previous post on developing healthy habits in the workplace.

 

Offer flexibility in work routine

Millennials tend to adopt the mindset, “I don’t care how it’s done, as long as it’s done on time.” Instead of forcing your employees to follow a rigid structure and routine, offer some leeway in how they complete their work. For some, that might mean the opportunity to get to work from home. For others, it might mean coming in later in the day and working into the evening, or coming in and leaving earlier. Listen to your employees feedback on how they would like to work, and as long as their results are positive, give them the freedom and flexibility they desire.

 

Today’s biggest brands, such as Google, Facebook, and Apple, have seen the impact of millennials on their workforce. Despite all the misconceptions around their generation, when treated the right way, millennials have a lot to offer your business. The question becomes what your business can offer to millennials.

To read other guides and tips for engaging your workforce, visit the Novel Coworking blog today.

How to Improve Your Business with Online Customer Reviews

How to Improve Your Business with Online Customer Reviews

Regardless of the product or services you offer online, one of the most important factors you need to focus on and develop is your reviews. Although there are many reasons why Amazon has developed and grown into one of the biggest companies in the world, reviews, and ‘social proof’ remain a crucial component of their marketplace.

When buying anything online, it is impossible to physically examine the product and assess its quality like you can in person. In order to tackle this problem, testimonials have become the de facto solution. Customers turn to those who have already bought and used a product to validate their purchase.

 

The Importance of Online Reviews

Potential customers hold a great deal of value in the reviews of other people, so it is essential to take every opportunity to generate and publish positive reviews of your company or product. When executed properly, reviews can bring a lot of value and benefit to your business. The reverse also holds true- negative reviews can quickly impact a company’s reputation.

 

Online Review Statistics 2018

 

What percentage of customers leave reviews?

This figure varies depending on the nature of the industry, and whether their experience was positive or negative. For example, a 2018 ReviewTrackers study found that only 19% of customers who had a positive experience at the bank will leave a positive review, whereas 43% of restaurant guests would leave a positive review after a good experience. Roughly 34% of consumers will leave a negative review after a poor experience.

This data also implies that users are more likely to leave positive reviews in food service and entertainment industries, and leave more negative reviews for businesses in the financial industry.

 

How many people trust a business more after reading reviews?

Reviews are more influential than you may realize. In the same ReviewTrackers study, 80% of consumers said they didn’t trust businesses with lower than a 4-star rating. In another study covered by Inc, 84% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. 68% form an opinion after reading one to six reviews. With just a handful of positive reviews, you’re more likely to sell a product and encourage others to buy it, than if you didn’t have any reviews at all.

 

Online Review Sites

 

What are the best review sites?

Google My Business – Google remains the top of any business review site, with a #1 rank in Alexa and 158 million monthly users in the US alone. If you have a business, make sure it’s listed on Google!

Facebook – More than a social platform, Facebook is a review platform as well. In fact, customers on Facebook are more likely to believe other users with Facebook profiles and photos, as they make the reviewer seem more human and relatable.

Amazon – If you’re selling a product, it doesn’t hurt to sell through Amazon too, as they capture more than 37.60% of all the total U.S. Internet traffic. They have approximately 85.4 million monthly users in the U.S.

Yelp – When most people search for interesting places to go or restaurants to try, they start with Yelp. Make sure your business is listed on Yelp, as they are able to capture more than 90% of the total U.S. traffic.

Honorable Mentions: Trip Advisor, Yellowpages, Better Business Bureau, Foursquare

 

Which sites work best for my business?

Each review site is different, so your business may want to list on some and avoid others. But in general, make sure you’re at least found on the main review platforms: Google, Facebook, and Yelp. If you’re an e-commerce brand, you may want to get on Amazon or Better Business Bureau as well. If you have a business suited for tourists, Trip Advisor may be the ideal platform. Consider which platforms you need to look up reviews yourself.

 

How online reviews can help your online business

 

Encourage the use of social media

Social media has huge potential to benefit any business. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so get permission from the client to publish a before and after shot of your work on Instagram or Facebook. If you are confident that they are happy with your work, ask the client to comment on your post. The use of pictures enables potential customers to physically see the transformation, and gain a better understanding of how the product looks in the real world.

 

Offer free samples for a review

Depending on your product type, another avenue worth pursuing is to find leading social media commentators in your industry, contact them, and offer them some free samples. This is essentially a twist on using celebrities to endorse your product. If your product is exceptional, and you can engage with the owner of that account, and offer them a free trial in exchange for an honest review. If they like the product, when they write and distribute their positive review, they will be endorsing your product to their mass following. You are essentially leveraging their credibility and reputation to validate your product to a very targeted demographic within your industry. This strategy can be a game changer and has been shown to be eleven times more powerful than banner ads. However, it can be difficult to get the attention of such a powerful influencer unless you are a huge brand. Take your time and slowly build a relationship with the owner of the account, rather than just aggressively approaching them with your product.

 

Monitor and respond to your online reviews

One of the downsides of reviews is that you are not guaranteed to always get positive ones. However, even negative reviews can be used to your advantage. Although they can be painful to confront, negative reviews allow you to identify areas that need improvement, particularly if the complaints are focused on the same issue. If that is the case, then there is a significant problem and one that needs to be rectified immediately. In essence, the reviews are providing you with valuable feedback and market research.

The other benefit of online reviews is that it provides you with an opportunity to respond to your customers. Many tech-savvy customers have begun to realize that they can get problems resolved if they take to social media to complain. If there is a genuine mistake or error on your part, take the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the matter. Most customers don’t have any issues with companies making genuine mistakes or errors. In fact, if they deal with the problem and resolve it, it will increase their trust in that company. This is the ultimate opportunity to transform a negative into a positive.

 

Here at Novel Coworking, we are a forward-thinking, dynamic team inspired to develop methods to improve the future for businesses small and large. If you’ve benefitted from this article, please share it with your friends and colleagues, and regularly visit, as we update our blog every Monday!

9 Productive Hobbies To De-Stress, Build Skills, and Stay Happy

9 Productive Hobbies To De-Stress, Build Skills, and Stay Happy

Work can be a grind, so it’s important to have hobbies on the side to help you relax, focus, and overall, stay productive.

We’ve compiled a list of hobbies that absolutely anybody can get into, but would take a lifetime to master. Consider setting aside some time each week between your work, family and other obligations to try these out and incorporate it into your routine!

 

Deep-reading

With social media, people have gradually shifted their reading habits from concentrated reading to skimming for facts. Deep-reading harkens back to a time when people found solitary places to read long texts, often focusing on the symbols, themes, and concepts presented by the book. You can do it with any book, just slow down your reading pace so you can fully absorb each sentence with clarity. Visit Longreads for some other in-depth interviews, books, stories, and essays. Check out Novel Coworking’s list of 8 must-read books for 2018.

 

Exercising

If you really want to stay productive in your free time, the best thing you can do is to exercise. Doesn’t matter what kind you do- whether it’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Crossfit, yoga, or just a quick run- getting your heart and lungs pumping can be liberating while helping you stay focused and energized. Look for gyms and fitness centers near your home, and try to fit in an hour or two of training before or after work. Above all, exercising can help you stay fit and healthy, especially if you sit in front of a computer at work for most of the day.

 

Cooking

Everybody wishes they had more time to cook. The truth is there is time! Sometimes the biggest challenge is finding the right recipe- one that doesn’t take too long and doesn’t require multiple trips to the grocery store. Allrecipes is an awesome starting point. They have a gallery of popular recipes with reviews from the community, a recipe finder with ingredient search, and filters for cooking time or cuisine. Save your money, stay healthy, and develop one of the most important skills by cooking at least twice a week. You won’t regret it.

 

Writing a blog or journal

Writing isn’t just one of the most productive hobbies, it can also be a great method of recording moments, thoughts, and feelings, as well as a timeless way of communicating with someone miles, or even centuries apart. One way to practice writing is through a blog. Not only do blogs let you communicate with readers directly, but it has become a way of earning money for many writers. We recommend reading The Minimalists’ guide to starting a blog, which walks you through each step in detail. Don’t feel like sharing your thoughts with the world quite yet? Try out journaling. Journals can help you think through complex issues and emotions, without fear of being judged.

 

Drawing and painting

Similar to writing, drawing can be a powerful alternative to traditional communication, like speech or the written word. Drawing (and painting) can help reveal hidden emotions and thoughts, and revisit how we view the world. However, compared to methods of traditional communication, the barrier to entry for drawing is typically higher and is not often treated with the same importance. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain has become a popular introductory course and book taught by Betty Edwards. After just a few pages of reading and practicing, you too will realize drawing isn’t as difficult as people make it out to be, and can actually be deeply relaxing and satisfying.

 

Volunteering

Time is never wasted when it’s spent helping someone else. There’s something profoundly rewarding about using your free time to volunteer at a soup kitchen, contribute to a charity, or assist at a shelter. Visit Idealist and VolunteerMatch for safe matches with organizations and activities based on your skills and experiences. It doesn’t take much to make a difference.

 

Programming

Programming isn’t just about making apps or video games- it represents the language of the future. That’s why so many schools have begun teaching it as part of the curriculum. The next generation will develop software and programs that we’ve never dreamed of. But even as a hobby, programming will teach you new ways of problem-solving that can be applied to other fields and aspects of your life. Codecademy offers an easy way to learn through a code editor with a built-in tutorial and preview window. Harvard University’s CS50 course is just as good, complete with filmed lectures, problem sets, exams, and homework.

 

Travel and Sightseeing

Travel shouldn’t be limited to the once-a-year vacations! You don’t have to plan a whole month or save a fortune, you can start exploring the world on a shoestring budget. Try using Skyscanner, a website and app for tracking the best flight deals. You probably already know about Airbnb, but you can get the local experience and stay places for free through Couchsurfing. Want to stay somewhere fancier? HotelTonight lets you know which hotels have discounts tonight or the following night. Even if you can’t get away for a weekend, you can always explore your own city. You’re bound to find something you didn’t know was there before.

 

Dog Walking

Have experience with dogs? Why not walk them in your own time? Get some cardio in your free time while exploring local areas and meeting new pups. On top of it all, you can make some extra cash on the side (some walkers make up to $20 for each walk!). Check out Wag!, an LA-based dog-walking app that connects walkers with pet owners. Check to see if your city is supported.

Here’s our advice- give it some time! Hobbies aren’t supposed to be stressful second jobs, they’re meant to provide some levity and balance to your existing obligations. Put in a few hours in each week, and you’re guaranteed to develop some skills and perspectives that can even help you in your daily work.

Check out our previous blog on getting a productive start to your morning.

Make sure to follow our blog for more guides and posts on productivity and all things entrepreneurship.

How to Find Commercial Office Space For Rent

How to Find Commercial Office Space For Rent

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.

 

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.

 

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.