How To Describe Your Company Culture

How To Describe Your Company Culture

Defining Company Culture

Company culture doesn’t always get the attention as other areas of the business, but it’s just as important because it influences almost every discipline from operations to sales.

But what makes up the culture of a company?

In its essence, company culture refers to the shared set of values and ideals within an organization. It’s what brings character and personality to a brand name.

It can be influenced by:

  • Team members – what are their shared values and ideals? A culture is created by the people.
  • Mission statement – what is the organization’s collective goal?
  • Values and ethics – what is considered important or pointless? Acceptable or unacceptable? Right or wrong?
  • Environment – where does the company work? How do space and amenities affect people’s behavior and mindset?


Why is the culture of a company important?

Organizations in any industry experience change every day. The one constant is the company’s culture- the highest standard expected of each individual, and the values that glue everyone together. Company culture is more than a collection of words, its a collection of ideals.

Culture pervades every aspect of professional life, even though it’s not always apparent. For example, if an employee has a birthday, the way that the rest of the team treats that individual can represent the company’s culture. Similarly, if the team is hostile to one another, that may come out in customer interactions.

Whether it’s a simple interaction or a major initiative, culture plays an important role in unifying and directing people.

Still confused? Be sure to read our post on the importance of company culture.


How To Describe Your Company Culture

So how do you describe the culture of your business or the culture of the workplace? That might not be easy questions to answer, so we’ll cover a few steps on how to refine your culture messaging.

Brainstorm your brand’s top core values

Gather the key stakeholders of the brand in a room and come up with the top 20 values of the brand. Then narrow them to 10. And then again to five, until you have three left. While the others are still important, focusing on three main values will be easier to embed in the brand’s identity.

Start with the team

Find people that aren’t just qualified, but exemplify the brand’s core values. In most cases, you can train the individual to become proficient with a certain program or process, but you can’t train them to follow core values. During the interview process, picture how that person might behave with the team or under pressure. Would you still hire them?

Check out our tips on finding the best talent for your company.

Get down in the trenches

The best way to learn about the top values of your company is not just to ask, but to observe. Watch your team at work or at events and try to find the best aspects of their personality. Chances are these personalities and traits are what influence your current culture.

Listen to feedback

And not just to your team, but to your customers and partners as well. Read the reviews (as hard as that may be) on Google or Amazon, or whatever website your business may be rated on. What do others say about how your team’s interactions? Criticism can be difficult but can also be opportunities for change.

Measure, Evaluate, Revisit

It’s not enough to write down the values, you have to actually uphold them! Set milestones to check in with your team and see how closely the values are being followed. Send out anonymous surveys to get real opinions on how well the values are implemented, and how they might be improved. Use that feedback to build upon the values you created.


10 Attributes to Assess Your Company Culture

  1. Communication – The interactions between your team is in itself an example of the company culture in effect. Observing how your team discusses both professional and personal matters can give you a better sense of how the culture is implemented. If the culture is creative, collaborative, and upbeat, chances are that interactions at work will reflect those values.
  2. Feedback – Praise is all well and good, but if you really want to measure a culture’s efficacy, you must stay cognizant of how the company handles even the most critical feedback. Companies with well-realized cultures understand how to respond and act on criticism while staying consistent with the brand’s voice and personality.
  3. Goals – Culture is as much about setting objectives and creating plans of action as it is about how people interact. Some cultures place high importance on excellence and prestige, while others are about moving fast and innovating.
  4. Learning opportunities – Learning shouldn’t stop after school. In fact, companies have a responsibility to encourage its employees to expand their knowledge base. Unilever, the global consumer goods brand, even goes as far as to offer tuition reimbursement. This has lead many of their employees to get degrees in higher education for marketing, entrepreneurship, management, and more.
  5. Purpose – Organizational culture is heavily rooted in meaning. Without it, the company’s employees would not have a reason to come in each day, let alone stay long term. A good way to test whether your company’s purpose is clearly conveyed is to ask every person on the team what they believe the purpose is, and how they interpret it. Depending on the responses, you may have to fine-tune the language to ensure it is clear as it is inspiring.
  6. Decision Making – Culture can also dictate the best course of action to take when faced with a certain dilemma. Nordstrom, the luxury department store chain, defines their philosophy in a simple way: “Use your own initiative to provide customers with exceptional levels of service. You’ll never be criticized for doing too much for a customer, only for doing too little.” While other brands force adherence to a rigid process, Nordstrom employees are encouraged to be their selves, as long as it benefits the customer in some way.
  7. Responsibility – Everybody should be accountable for something within an organization. To understand why, look no further than Apple’s example. For any project or initiative, there is a DRI (Directly Responsible Individual). Whenever there is an issue, a bottleneck, or a general question, the DRI is the person to seek out. The DRI ensures everything stays efficient and that communication stays as clear as possible.
  8. Teamwork – Collaboration is often the key to a happier and more successful time in the workplace. You would be hard pressed to find a culture that doesn’t involve teamwork and collaboration somehow in their values. How well does your team mesh together? What is their chemistry like? How can you encourage them to work together even more?
  9. Trust – Teamwork, communication, and respect… none of these values would even be possible without first having a shred of trust for your coworker or leader. How much does your team believe in the strengths of one another? Trust forms the foundation for any social interaction, especially in the workplace.
  10. Adaptability – Cultures that are set in stone do not age well. The world today is very different than it was ten years ago, twenty years ago, and it’s vital that a company culture is continually revisited to be relevant to the times. Your company culture should have an open mindset, open to change and new developments, if it truly wants to stay competitive.


20 words to describe company culture

Below are a few words used by companies to describe their culture in a positive light:

  1. Lean
  2. Flexible
  3. Collaborative
  4. Rewarding
  5. Innovative
  6. Nurturing
  7. Motivating
  8. Inclusive
  9. Autonomous
  10. Curious
  11. Nimble
  12. Engaging
  13. Fun
  14. Fast-paced
  15. Exciting
  16. Professional
  17. Creative
  18. Transparent
  19. Sustainable
  20. Empathetic


A Higher Standard

Company culture and values act as the north star for a business, guiding the team during tough times. It’s easy to shrug off company values as a low priority item, but doing so only leads to further ignorance and conflicts in the workplace.

Take the time to make the company culture a priority. The lasting effects of a well planned, fairly enforced value system can cause ripples beyond the business and beyond the workplace.

Be sure to read our article on the 8 must-read books for 2018.

Follow Novel Coworking’s blog and social media for more resources and guides for entrepreneurs and startups!

How Much Should Startups Pay for Office Space?

How Much Should Startups Pay for Office Space?

Any hopeful startup will want a space that inspires productivity and creativity. That’s why finding a suitable but affordable location is often a top priority for new business owners.

But exactly how much should a startup pay for an office or coworking space? Ideally, the minimal amount, as they typically have other expenses such as labor, licenses, equipment, and more.

In Novel Coworking’s first post for the year, we’ll cover what every entrepreneur should know about paying for their startup’s office space.


How much does it cost to rent office space?

Since every location’s office market and vacancy rates are different, there is no single answer for how much office space rent costs. Instead, there are a number of factors that affect the price, including location, workspace type, and additional services and amenities.

As with any other commercial real estate, the value of the space is largely dependent on location. Metro areas like New York charge substantially higher monthly rent per square foot than a city like Seattle. According to thesquarefoot, San Francisco is among the most costly cities (approximately $65.16 per sqft), while Atlanta is the most affordable (approximately $20.97 per sqft).

Office Space Rent by square foot across different cities


Average Office Space Rent per Square Foot by City

City Dollar Price per Square Foot Novel Coworking Building
Washington, DC $595 Dupont Circle
Boston, Massachussets $550
Austin, Texas $486
Tulsa, Oklahoma $421
Raleigh, North Carolina $290
Denver, Colorado $284 16th Street, Trinity Place
Dallas, Texas $271 Katy Building
Chicago, Illinois $255 River North (Superior), River North (Huron), The Loop, Wacker, West Loop
Atlanta, Georgia $239
Nashville, Tennessee $217 5th Avenue
Sacramento, California $216
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania $207
Baltimore, Maryland $202
Salt Lake City, Utah $187
Charlotte, North Carolina $177 Uptown
St. Louis, Missouri $168
Minneapolis, Minnesota $158 LaSalle Building
Kansas City, Missouri $152 Kessler Building
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania $140 Golden Triangle
Milwaukee, Wisconsin $100 Cathedral Square
Columbus, Ohio $61 Hooper Building

Another consideration to be made is the type of workspace your business will need. For sole proprietorships or small teams, a single office room may be enough to accommodate the company, at least at the start. For much larger businesses or rapidly-growing startups, an office suite may be more appropriate.

Finally, startups must also factor in the additional expenses tied to office spaces, which may include a reception desk, maintenance and cleaning staff, mail delivery service, Internet, and parking space. Fortunately, when business owners rent with Novel Coworking, their offices come fully furnished with fiber internet and WiFi, as well as many on-site amenities. The all-inclusive pricing covers the little things that business owners may overlook, such as mail service, security, and utilities.


How to calculate the optimal office space cost

You may be curious to learn how much of your business’s revenue should be allocated to rent. Here are the prices you can expect to pay based on Novel Coworking’s own offerings.

Office Space Type Price per employee per month
Virtual Office $59 – $100
Coworking environment, or Dedicated Desk $100 – $250
Private office or class B office building $300 – $500
Office suite $3,000

Typically, you’ll need to first consider how much space you need per employee, and then whether you’ll pay monthly or yearly. From there, you simply multiply the square footage (space) by the cost per square foot (price) and then by 12 (months).


Where do I find office space for rent?

When you’re ready to make the jump and rent office space for your business, Novel Coworking has your back. We offer beautifully designed spaces in major cities at competitive rates. Each location comes with a community manager and on-site staff, as well as useful amenities and services such as hi-speed Wi-Fi, a private conference room, a fully-stocked kitchenette, beer on tap, an espresso machine, and much more. Since these amenities are provided, you can avoid the additional costs that can come with renting a traditional office space.

Our office spaces come fully-furnished with enough room for your equipment and your team. Prices for office spaces start at just $299 per month.

For larger businesses, our office suites can accommodate teams of 10 – 100 people. Prices for office suites start at $2,999 per month.

And for freelancers or solo entrepreneurs who don’t need a private room, our coworking space is all you need to get started. Our coworking spaces start at just $99 per month.


Curious to learn if there’s a Novel Coworking in your area? Visit our ever-growing list of locations today to learn more. You’re one step closer to finding the perfect space for your business.

Risk vs Uncertainty: What it Means for your Business

Risk vs Uncertainty: What it Means for your Business

Business professionals are no stranger to risk and uncertainty. Whether it’s reaching out to a new client, or releasing a new product, risk and uncertainty influence every business decision. They can push a startup to innovate faster, or bankrupt businesses that fail to plan accordingly.

But what are the differences between the two concepts? Are they similar, or more different than people think?


The Difference Between Risk and Uncertainty


Risk is defined as the possibility or probability of an unpleasant or undesirable event.

In business, risk might suggest the potential loss of money, time, or information. Most importantly, risk can be calculated or measured. Entrepreneurs can use market data to calculate whether a new product may be worth introducing. Accountants can use balance sheets to measure the profitability of certain stores. Calculated risk can be beneficial, as risk takers can also generate significant returns.



On the other side, there’s uncertainty. In contrast, uncertainty involves situations with unknown variables, information, and outcomes. Uncertainty cannot be measured or calculated.

Since uncertain events are unique and difficult to plan for, they come with even greater downsides for unprepared businesses. During the dot-com era, companies invested heavily in expensive domains before understanding their value. When the bubble finally burst, several companies disintegrated, and thousands of employees laid off.

The main takeaway from these two concepts: risk can be measured and predicted, while uncertainty cannot.


Examples of Risk and Uncertainty

Here are a few examples of risk and uncertainty in the business world:

  • Risk is when an online clothing store decides to sell a new line of clothing, based on customer analysis. Uncertainty is when that same clothing store introduces a new, unrelated product without research, such as a new furniture line.
  • Risk is when a company moves their processes and data to the cloud. Uncertainty is when a major outage affects multiple servers across the nation.
  • Risk is when an ad agency opens an office in a new country. Uncertainty is when the country enters a recession.


Risk Management: How to Plan for High-Risk Events

Fortunately, risk is something that can be predicted and planned for ahead of time. Gary Patterson’s Million Dollar Blind Spots, outlines a simple but repeatable process for risk management:

  1. Identify risk – Spot the risk early through research and historical analyses.
  2. Assess the probability – Evaluate all the factors involved, including the likelihood of positive and negative outcomes
  3. Make a cost-benefit analysis of alternatives – Measure the pros and cons of each decision you could take.
  4. Choose a response
  5. Evaluate results – How did the chosen action impact the business?
  6. Ongoing monitoring – Risk events should be constantly checked for changing circumstances. In some cases, risk aversion may be the best option.

While uncertainty cannot be measured, the same approach may be taken in addressing related tasks and challenges. While a recession cannot be predicted, a business can take steps to protect the future of its employees and customers.


Turning Risk Into Opportunities

Risk and uncertainty surround every business. Weighing options and outcomes, and deciding the final action as a team is just one way a business can remain vigilant. With enough practice in risk analysis and assessment, risk turns from an obstacle into a challenge. Risk forces startups to mature and innovate faster through competition, and rewards entrepreneurs with greater experience of the market and industry. Risk can’t be avoided, but when businesses learn to prepare, risk can open up new business opportunities.



Risk vs Uncertainty

The main differences between risk and uncertainty can be summarized by control and predictability. Risk can be measured, and therefore, controlled. Changes in sales because of the season can be predicted and planned. This is why risk analysis or risk assessment can be important for a business’s strategic development. Calculated risks can lead to great rewards.

Uncertainty on the other hand cannot be quantified or controlled. For example, a new local competitor can have unpredictable effects on your own sales. You cannot measure uncertainty, you can only deal with uncertainty. This is why we look for certainty as much as we can: the more certain future events are to take place, the better a business can prepare.

Need help with preparation? Read our 5 tips on business planning.

Addressing risky situations requires courage and leadership. Learn how to develop those skills.

For more tips and guides on managing businesses and startups, follow Novel Coworking’s blog today.

5 Benefits of Renting a Coworking Space

5 Benefits of Renting a Coworking Space

Why people thrive in coworking spaces

Coworking has become something of a phenomenon in the past decade. It all started back in 2005, when Brad Neuberg opened the first coworking space in San Francisco. His initial idea was to create a space that supported the community and structure that he had been searching for, but unable to find, throughout his career doing consulting and a great deal of traveling.

Recently, coworking environments have grown increasingly popular as professional individuals are able to work in a space where there is a variety of industries, helping to foster new ways of thinking. Here are a few reasons why coworking spaces have replaced the traditional office space.


1. Experience organic networking opportunities

People that work in coworking spaces are, by nature, a diverse group. When someone works in a shared office environment, they are in search of openness and collaboration from those around them. The person sitting next to you could be a great contact or may be able to connect you with someone who could help grow your business. The people surrounding you are resources you might not have been exposed to in a traditional office environment.


2. Maintain a professional appearance

Coworking is a perfect medium for employees. It allows an autonomous person to work freely while providing the necessary resources to get the job done. Forget workplace politics; instead, focus your attention on urgent tasks. Shared workspaces like Novel Coworking offer important amenities, including office, mailing addresses, meeting rooms, ad video conferencing tools that ensure a professional appearance.


Infographic on coworking from DeskMag

3. Increase efficiency

For those who typically work from home, transitioning to a shared office environment can boost productivity. This space creates a sort of productive bubble around you. The person on your right could be a social media guru and to the left, a real estate agent. No matter what you do, working in a space with a variety of people creates a huge pool of knowledge that’s encouraging and helpful.


4. Diversity and creativity

Spending just a few days in a coworking space is enough to realize the importance of diversity in the workplace. With so many different types of companies and individuals working alongside each other, there’s a greater sense of creativity and collaboration that you wouldn’t notice in a cafe or in a home office. Diversity is crucial for startups to gain a competitive advantage and to create innovative solutions to industry challenges.


5. Office perks

Many shared working spaces include access to printing, meeting rooms for client visits, and video conferencing capabilities. At Novel Coworking, coworking memberships also include access to a kitchen and lounge area, featuring an espresso bar and comfortable couches. These amenities provide the comforts of working from home while maintaining the professionalism of an office. Whether you work from home, hop from coffee shop to coffee shop, or commute to a company office, look into shared office space to switch up your routine and get those creative juices flowing.


Maybe you’re a solo entrepreneur in the early stages of your first startup venture or an industry veteran with a fast-growing enterprise. Novel Coworking can find an office solution that can meet your business’s needs. Find a coworking location near you to begin your journey.

What to Do About Gossip in the Workplace

What to Do About Gossip in the Workplace

Overworking and mismanagement aside, there’s another force that can rip your team apart from the inside: gossip. With just a few words, feelings are hurt, reputations tarnished, and the team divided. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a newly hired member of the team, it’s important to call out gossip when it starts, and develop practices to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.


Defining gossip

Gossip can have varying definitions. Some believe gossip must be false, others say gossip must be defamatory. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word as, “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true.”

So whether it’s malicious or harmless is beside the point, as long as the conversation involves someone else and is not yet verified, it can be considered gossip.


Distinguishing gossip from casual conversation

So what separates gossip from ordinary conversation?

For one, gossip has to be about someone else. So employees talking about their own problems do not count as gossip. Nor does it count when one talks about somebody present during the conversation. Typically, gossip has to be about someone who is unaware of the conversation.

Second, gossip is generally untrue, or at the very least, based on unconfirmed rumor. Discussing an employee’s promotion or severance without the chance to speak directly to that person or the manager falls under gossip.

As we mentioned, gossip isn’t always malicious. Sometimes what starts off as an innocent remark can quickly turn into a scathing critique or early judgment. For example, congratulating Jane on her pregnancy may seem like a kind act, until you find out it was only gossip, and you’re left in complete embarrassment.

The effects and consequences of gossip

  1. Gradual disintegration of trust and respect. This is by far the most damaging effect of gossip. Any team that hopes to work effectively together must be founded on mutual trust and respect for one another. The moment gossip begins to circulate, it can be difficult to know who to rely on.
  2. Loss of reputation. Building a reputation can take a lifetime, and reducing it to nothing can take only a few minutes. And it’s not just the reputation of the subject of the gossip, or the person gossiping, but the reputation of the entire team.
  3. Decreased productivity. When teammates are gossiping instead of working, productivity is greatly reduced. When morale suffers from especially damaging gossip, productivity reduction is even worse.
  4. Team division. Instead of moving as a single unit, team members begin to take sides on a matter and becoming increasingly hostile to one another. This can make it difficult to accomplish what used to be simple tasks.
  5. Unintended consequences. Discussing Will and Sarah’s engagement before it’s announced may seem innocuous, but it could also lead down a dangerous path, resulting in needless discussions with HR, strange looks from other team members, and so on.


How to manage gossip in the workplace


Zero-tolerance policies

State clearly in the employee handbook and in person that gossip and spreading rumors is strictly prohibited. Better to take preventative measures than punitive action. Don’t just settle for including it in company literature, it should be an actively repeated concept in the company culture.


Set training guidelines and examples

Many people are still unaware of what counts as gossip and what counts as a harmless conversation. Educate the team by providing examples and clear definitions. Bring in an HR representative to discuss gossip and related matters to the whole team.


Create opportunities for healthy discussion

The zero-tolerance policy shouldn’t prevent the team from having constructive conversations about superiors. Make sure there are opportunities for team and manager feedback when possible. Doing so may even reduce the need for gossip.


Keep work and personal life separate

Set an example for others. Whenever gossip comes up, make an excuse to get back to work, or call it out when you hear it. Prevent yourself from sharing sensitive information and others will learn to do the same.


Focus on improving employee health

Gossip tends to be the byproduct of a larger issue- whether it’s boredom at work, issues with a coworker, or personal problems deflected onto others. One of the best things a manager can do is to ensure their team is both physically and mentally healthy, with enough breaks between tasks, and a balance between work and home life. Read our previous blog post, Low-Cost Ways To Encourage Better Employee Health for more ideas.


The impact of gossip in the workplace

For all the steps you will take to prevent gossip, it will inevitably happen. A small amount may be normal, even healthy for the team to create a sense of camaraderie. But the moment someone is hurt or tension flares up, actions need to be taken to address those involved, educate the team, and prevent it from happening in the future.

If you’re ever in doubt about whether something is gossip or not, just leave it out of the conversation. You have more to lose and little to gain from gossiping about your team.


Want to receive more articles on entrepreneurship, team-building, and productivity? Follow Novel Coworking’s blog today.

The Best Digital Rolodex Apps

The Best Digital Rolodex Apps

Remember the Rolodex? The toylike office accessory was originally designed to allow professionals to thumb through a Ferris wheel of business cards. They were efficient at organizing the clutter of your contacts physically, but by today’s standards, look dated and limited in their capacity.

Today we live in the information age. We can easily capture thousands of contacts and access them with just a few swipes and taps on our phone. Thus, the question of contact organization has now become a digital one: which app is best for storing and organizing contacts?



As the name suggests, CamCard makes it simple to snap a photo of your business card and digitize them. The app automatically orients the image, transcribes it into your contact list, and exports the information to your email, contact list, or social media. CamCard is excellent at reading words and numbers but fall short in categorizing information to the right places. You may have to manually edit a person’s company name into the right field, for example.

CamCard is available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry. There’s a version with ads and limited card slots, and a premium version that ranges between $10 and $20.


ABBYY Business Card Reader

ABBYY Business Card Reader is billed as the “world’s fastest business card scanner and contact management app”, and has even been recommended by The New York Times, CNN, The Telegraph, Computer Business Review, and Macworld. ABBYY works like a breeze, even auto filling missing text and offering automatic or manual backups. It’s also more extensive some of its digital Rolodex counterparts, with support for Apple Watch, Facebook, LinkedIn, and MS Excel exports.

The free version comes with ads and offers 10 card recognitions. Premium offers unlimited card storage, auto backups, and ad-free support for either $8 each month or $30 per year.


Evernote Scannable

Perhaps you are looking for an app that will not only store your business cards but also your receipts, contracts, or other business documents. Evernote Scannable is the solution you’ve been looking for. With a clean and sleek interface, Scannable acts more like a secondary camera app, except documents ready to be scanned turn blue. All images are auto-oriented, cropped, and adjusted for readability, and are easily exported into PDF or JPG, and sent via email or text.

Best of all, Evernote Scannable is totally free to download and use, without limitations.



Despite the odd name, ScanBizCards is actually one of the more powerful options on this list. In addition to the same scanning abilities offered in the other apps, ScanBizCards also allows you to export your cards into the CRM platform of your choice, including Salesforce and SugarCRM. For those worried about transcription issues, ScanBizCards even offers manual transcriptions, with 2 complimentary included and then 50 transcription credits for $10. The app has received praise from Apple Gazette, TechCrunch, and the Appy Awards on ABC TV.

ScanBizCards has only one flat price: $2.99, and comes with no subscriptions or limits (except for the aforementioned transcription credits).



If you want something that does away with all the cloud technology and fancy graphics, SamCard is your best bet. SamCard doesn’t have any fancy features or flashy interface but instead opts for a simple UI and imports information directly to your phone’s local contact list. Some power users may fear that the app is too barebones compared to the others mentioned on this list, but if you want to capture the simplicity and ease of the Rolodex, SamCard is all you need.

SamCard has a free lite version and a $4 premium version.


WorldCard Mobile

Perhaps you work with several international clients and want to support a variety of languages. WorldCard Mobile has the best language support out of all the apps. With 21 languages available, from Chinese to Arabic, you can format names that don’t translate easily to Roman English. For Gmail users, there’s the added benefit of being able to sync to your Gmail and Google contacts. One caveat is that it does not have the auto-snap feature when the card is in the right position. This may not be a dealbreaker for some, but definitely noticeable for others.

WorldCard Mobile is available in a free lite version and a $7 premium version.


These are just a few of the most popular card scanning apps, but there are many more on the market that serve different niche needs. Regardless of which app you choose, you can look forward to speeding up your contact information organization and ditching (or avoiding) that ancient contraption called a Rolodex.

Which one is your favorite? Have an app in mind that we missed? Get in touch with us through our Twitter (@NovelCoworking) and Facebook. Check back each week for more tips on how you can increase productivity and more!