Younger computer users may struggle to imagine what the workplace was like without autosave. Before the cloud existed, you had to manually save files, usually relying on devices called floppy disks. These disks would be used to transfer data and install operating software like Windows 95 or apps like Photoshop. Today, even though the floppy disk is no longer in use, it continues to be an icon for the save button.
This is just one example of how technology evolves over the years to become more efficient and practical, allowing us to focus less on the tools, and more on the work at hand. We tend to take for granted just how influential technology is in our daily lives, so today we wanted to take a second to highlight some of the most important tech within the workplace.
Effects of Technology in the Workplace
It’s difficult to quantify exactly how technology has affected the modern workplace. Take a look at how your company conducts its business, chances are it’s powered by technology in one way or another. From online marketing and social media to operations and finance, work has been overwhelmingly streamlined through the aid of computers and the Internet.
For example, before tablets became as prevalent as they are today, pilots needed to carry roughly 40 pounds of reference materials, including the manual, safety checklists, log books, navigational charts, and more. Today, pilots can carry all that information in a single iPad, which weighs only 1 pound. Imagine the increase in efficiency, the ease of accessing information, and the resources saved from a single technological change.
New tech like the cloud is also allowing us to innovate at work, through tools like mass video conferencing. By now, people around the world have become familiar with Zoom, which allowed businesses to maintain face-to-face conversations during a global lockdown. In March 2020 alone, the app saw 200 million daily users. Zoom’s popularity is attributed to combining the innovation of real-time video conferencing with complete accessibility.
Want to improve your performance at work? Here are a few items we recommend that may enhance the quality of your workplace experience.
Laptops were designed for portability and convenience, not for long work sessions. If you use a laptop, you may notice the strain on your neck and shoulders after hunching over the screen for too long. Fortunately, there is a solution: a laptop stand can be placed between your computer and your desk or table to elevate the screen to your eye level. This allows you to sit up and correct your posture, relieving some of that shoulder discomfort.
For a great laptop stand, consider looking into the Roost stand, a collapsible stand that weighs only 5.5 oz. It fits most popular PC notebooks as well as Apple MacBooks.
Carrying a phone without battery life can be a frustrating experience. Thankfully, charging phones has become far more convenient with the introduction of wireless charging. Now, you don’t even need to plug in your phone or tablet, you simply need to set it down on a wireless charging mat or surface, and the device powers up magnetically. At the workplace, this can be a lifesaver in case you don’t have an extra cord and need to top up your phone before leaving for a meeting.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
Try getting work done when the surrounding offices or coworking area is bustling with activity— it’s nearly impossible. Even in a quiet room, the sound of air conditioners or traffic can be all it takes to throw you off your concentration. Noise cancelling headphones, like the Bose QuietComfort or the AirPods Pro, take in the ambient noise, inverts the frequencies, and then “cancels” them out, so it sounds as if you’re in a completely silent room (with faint sounds from the outside). Consider making this purchase if you really want to feel immersed in your work or activities.
Work from Home Gadgets
Similarly, here are a few items that can help you out whenever you decide to work from home.
If you live in an area prone to power spikes or thunderstorms, a surge protector can ensure your devices maintain a stable current, preventing any major damage. You can use them for your workstation, as well as home theater systems, and other everyday household items. They also allow you to plug more devices into power sockets than the average home outlet.
Wireless Mouse And Keyboard
The difference between a wired and wireless mouse may not be major, but the convenience is definitely noticeable. Not only does having fewer cords and cables look better on your desk, but you can also bring your keyboard and mouse to a farther distance, letting you work on your couch while using your television as a screen.
Two monitors is better than one— just ask anyone with a dual monitor set up. It may take some getting used to, but you’ll be using that second screen like a pro in no time. Use it for watching videos or reading reference material while you type something on another screen. Or have a meeting agenda on one screen while hosting a conference on another. Having more screen space is simply empowering.
If you’re going to be spending a majority of your working time sitting down, you may as well invest in an ergonomic office chair. These are designed to better support your weight and are shaped around your body. They may be expensive, but the investment is well worth it. Perhaps the most famous ergonomic office chair is the Herman Miller Aeron Chair, which has become a standard in the workplace.
Working from home just isn’t the same as working in an office. You’ll have to rely more closely on your tools to communicate and collaborate with your team members. Consider downloading apps like Slack for instant messaging, Zoom for web conferencing, and Asana or Mavenlink for project management.
Technology is as much about safety as it is about productivity. Companies would do well to invest in solid cybersecurity technology, particularly if you deal with customer data or sensitive information. Not only would you safeguard your team from a potential lawsuit, but you could also protect invaluable data such as banking information, trade secrets, R&D technology, or even simple conversations that might be otherwise misconstrued.
These days, cybersecurity can apply to a wide range of protection against potential threats. Email-based threats, such as phishing scams or email bombs, remain prevalent as ever. But today, companies must also consider new threats, such as DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service, which involves overwhelming a network or service with traffic in order to take it offline. With the rise of voice assistants and video equipment, it’s also easier now to spy on people without their knowledge. Be sure to visit the Center for Humane Technology for more information.
Besides cybersecurity technology, one must also consider the importance of the physical security system. Just because your data is deleted and your recycle bin is emptied doesn’t mean it can’t be accessed in other ways. Invest in data shredding services to ensure deleted sensitive data is gone for good. Consider adding an alarm or video surveillance to your office to ensure nobody accesses private files or devices without permission. Always remember to protect your assets both physically and digitally.
Technology for a Smart Office
Among the countless new technology trends is the concept of “smart” environments, smart homes, cities, and of course, offices. This involves tapping into the power of the “Internet of Things,” the connectivity of various devices through the Internet, including thermostats, lightbulbs, speakers, television screens, and more. The main benefit of smart offices is the added convenience compared to traditional offices. Everything is in sync and can be controlled right from your smartphone.
Cloud computing has given rise to more than just smart environments. We see it in practice everyday— from Siri and Alexa relying on the cloud to figure out the proper action or response, to office applications like Google Suite and Microsoft Office storing your files.
Other businesses are even incorporating virtual reality. Equip a VR headset, and suddenly you can have simulated conferences with other people. You can observe a model in 3D, or simply have a virtual happy hour. In other practices such as architecture, VR is allowing designers to better visualize their concepts in a full 3D space.
Another emerging trend is that of artificial intelligence. You may think this is some far-off pipe dream, but AI is already being used today. Google Maps uses AI to better parse real-time driver-reported incidents to suggest faster routes. Uber uses machine learning to better estimate ETAs for rides, as well as optimal pickup locations. Artificial intelligence is being used for complex calculations that the human brain simply isn’t capable of.
It’s difficult to predict the next disruptive technology that will change the workplace, when so few could predict the disruptive technologies of today. Whether it’s the promise of blockchain technology or simply a better-designed computer, there’s no denying that technology will continue to be an exciting and essential part of our everyday work lives. Which technology will you use to stay competitive in your respective field?
Learn more about the technology used in some of our SmartSuites™ and how they can power your business.
Slowly but surely, the world is coming back to work in offices. But the office space world as we know it may be continuing to evolve as we know it. While renting office space will never go away, the manner in which people use those office spaces is changing depending on the people and the times. The pandemic may have accelerated habits and trends by a few years.
In today’s blog, we’ll explore what to expect in the future of office spaces.
Before 2020, the office space provider market was more homogenous, owned by a few big companies. Today, the market is seeing new businesses enter the market, resulting in more competitive offerings and niche office space services. According to Forbes, 250 flex space providers joined just last year. It’s likely that more competitors will join focusing on a particular service (for example, spaces that are exclusive to health and wellness workers) to stand out from the competition.
Other providers are turning to franchises. Similar to the model employed by McDonald’s or 7-Eleven, these spaces are operated by an independent group of people but pay certain dues to the parent brand. The strategy has shown to be effective for rapid scaling, so long as the brand outlines a clear set of objectives and guidelines for each franchisee.
Post-covid research is still being collected, but the outlook is positive. Consider the following coworking statistics from AllWork.Space:
– Despite the pandemic, many markets globally have shown increased demand for flexible workspace, and on shorter terms. The Instant Group forecasts flexible workspace supply growth of over 21% in 2021.
– The Commercial Observer estimates that coworking spaces are likely to double or triple in the U.S. in five years.
– 71.5% of workers that used coworking prior to the pandemic plan to return to it, while 54.9% of remote workers that didn’t use coworking before stated that they will consider joining a coworking space as a remote work solution in the future.
– Inner cities have become the most popular location type to date in 2020 with a 52% share of demand.
Similar to coworking, office space on demand is becoming increasingly sought after for similar reasons: flexibility, access to an entrepreneurial environment, and above all, affordability. Large corporations are seeing that maintaining large office buildings can be counterproductive to their financial goals, while startups see flexibility as an opportunity to focus on more pressing tasks.
Office Space Costs
The going rate for office space has changed dramatically in recent months. Cheap offices are becoming more prevalent in certain cities, while demand is pushing prices up in other areas. One statistic shows that the average monthly rate for a coworking space is highest in Washington D.C. (at $843), while the lowest is in Houston ($220).
The United States is showing strong signs of recovery, largely due to stimulus action enacted by the government. Some companies were able to take out PPP loans to pay their employees, and reallocated the funds as “work from home stipends.” These funds could be spent on coffee, office supplies, groceries, or even a coworking pass.
Other companies are instead investing in technology, realizing a physical office space is no longer needed. Virtual offices became popular alternatives as stimulus money was spent on tools, software, and labor rather than physical space. They remain a staple component for many national and even international brands today, largely because of their affordability.
Office costs will continue to fluctuate throughout the year, but as more people become vaccinated and return to the office, the increasing demand will only force prices to rise from their all-time lows.
Live Work Play Communities
In today’s environment, well-designed office space isn’t enough to attract and engage the modern workforce. Instead, urban planners, architects, and developers have been proposing the concept of “Live Work Play communities,” places where people can go to their jobs, live nearby in affordable homes, and then have access to public spaces and recreational activities.
Live Work Play communities (once called mixed-use developments) have historically featured office spaces in proximity to other basic needs and amenities, like event spaces, restaurants, hotels, gyms, and of course, residential communities. This makes it more appealing to stay in certain neighborhoods, a way for companies to improve employee engagement and encourage work-life balance.
The change in name reflects the shifting nature of office culture: from a factory production mindset to a greater focus on the other, equally important aspects of life, such as family, friends, school, food, and recreation.
Another trend that has been growing for some time is the concept of satellite offices. These are office branches opened separately from a company’s headquarters, varying in location and size. For major enterprises and corporations, satellite offices are great for a couple of reasons:
- Expansion to new areas and markets – Satellite offices make it easy for companies to open in new geographic locations and test out new markets, without opening a major headquarters location. This can be useful for servicing a wider area, experimenting with new products and audiences, or just increasing overall visibility.
- Great for distributed teams – For teams scattered throughout the country, satellite offices offer a centralized location for meetings, creative collaboration, or even team-building activities. Nothing beats communicating in person.
- Useful and convenient amenities – Working from home or at a cafe sounds pleasant in practice, but in reality, they tend to lack basic equipment and supplies, such as printers, fax machines, conference room tech, and so on. Satellite offices provide everything you need to get work done efficiently.
If you are part of a large or fast-scaling company, consider looking into satellite office spaces. Discover your options on our plans page.
Examples of Future Office Spaces
Want to get a glimpse at the future of office space? Here are a few notable places to watch.
Bell Works (Chicago)
Formerly an AT&T headquarters building, the Ameritech Center in Hoffman Estates, IL is being renovated into a one-stop destination for business, entertainment, and culture. The 1.65 million square foot complex will feature mixed office spaces, restaurants, retailers, and more, exemplifying the core concept of Live Work Play communities.
Capital One (New York)
Another location demonstrating the potential of offices is Capital One’s office in New York, NY. Designed like a coworking space, Capital One employees have access to a number of recreational activities, such as ping pong, foosball tables, video games, a ball pit, and a kitchen stocked with snacks.
Despite the challenges of last year, the future of the office space industry looks bright. Not only is there more competition to drive innovation, but we can also expect shifting attitudes to the way we use and share space with others, particularly to offset the rising cost of traditional office space. We’re excited to be at the forefront of this new era.
During the pandemic, companies around the world got their first taste of managing a remote or distributed team and the challenges that came along with it. Coordinating different time zones, distributing an even workload, and working through virtual meetings have become common everyday obstacles.
Today, we want to share a few ideas that can help your team work more efficiently and effectively even if you aren’t in the same room.
Managing a Remote or Distributed Team
Lack of in-person communication can severely hamper a company’s ability to hire, onboard, and collaborate with each other. But using the right tools and processes, it’s not impossible to regain a sense of human connection, even if the team is scattered geographically.
Choosing Your Communication Tools
The more remote a team is, the more they must rely on their tools to ensure communication is clear. Last year, Zoom became the de facto video conferencing app due to its accessibility and ease of use— unlike previous video conferencing software, users did not require an account or login code to join a call.
Slack has also become iconic enough to become part of everyday vocabulary. “Slack” me implies a quick message on the app, which is a kind of hybrid between the rich formatting of email and the immediacy of IM. With support for multiple channels, third-party integrations, and even voice and video chat, Slack has even replaced traditional email clients for some startups.
For those seeking to collaborate on a specific document, presentation, or spreadsheet, look no further than Google Drive. This suite makes it easy to edit documents together in real-time, which means you don’t have to keep sending files back and forth to make changes. Full cloud storage support also frees up hardware space, allowing you to store millions of files online.
Other apps can assist with various purposes— Bonsai allows freelancers to set up contracts quickly. Toggl or Mavenlink can allow teams to carefully track their time for billing. HelloSign or Docusign can help you get signatures from other people for your SOW or RFPs. Ensure that team resources are shared and properly understood. Some tools, such as CRM software, may require additional training before team members can feel comfortable.
Developing Your Communication Process
Tools are often not enough to get a team talking to each other— you have to have processes in place to ensure the tools are being effectively used. Be transparent about working hours and availability, perhaps through the use of a shared calendar. When it comes to meetings, everyone should know beforehand exactly how to join, at what time, and what the meeting is about.
The same goes for client communication. There should be a general understanding of how remote teams respond to clients, from the timing to the language used. Poor communication can portray a negative depiction of your company’s brand.
One of the biggest challenges in maintaining a company culture remotely is the lack of recognition for a job well done. We tend to get so focused on the work at hand that it’s easy to leave little room for celebrating success, even though that’s when we need to celebrate the most.
Create a channel for celebrating success, both figuratively and literally. In Slack, you may have a specific thread dedicated to recognizing accomplishments from the team. Or you may choose to publicly shout out team members that have helped in difficult situations. Regardless, always ensure that everyone in the team gets their due recognition.
Remote Team Building Activities
Daily standups and weekly meetings – Every day at the same time, team members are encouraged to keep everyone updated on their current tasks, any obstacles ahead, and any help needed. These standups should last no more than 15 minutes but can vary depending on team size. Weekly meetings are longer and tend to involve more team members. Both these practices will develop more cohesive and collaborative teams.
Conduct special events, even if held virtually, that show you care and value your team members. Some ideas include trivia night, happy hours, webinars, online games, and other bonding activities.
Start an ask me anything session. Inspired by the popular subreddit, this gives team members an opportunity to ask each other questions that don’t necessarily pertain to work. When done right, it can be a great way to get to know someone and even find shared interests.
Organize team retreats. Nothing beats going to a place somewhere with your team. The change of scenery can inspire more creativity and collaboration and will allow team members to see each other outside work in a casual, yet still professionally relevant environment.
Volunteer together. Find a cause that’s important to everyone in the team, and then organize an event that pulls everyone together to help towards that cause. It may be cleaning up a local park, packing supplies for families, or helping at a nearby shelter or soup kitchen. Philanthropy can be a great way to bring people together.
Benefits of a Remote Workforce
Greater collaboration – working with people around the country and around the world can be eye-opening and creatively fulfilling. You get to hear different viewpoints and experiences, all of which serve to make stronger products and services— just make sure you cultivate an environment of open and honest communication.
Greater engagement – As people have more time to focus on their wellness and work-life balance, a remote lifestyle can have a significant impact on an employee’s sense of belonging and dedication to their work. The result is lower employee turnover and a higher level of loyalty.
Greater productivity – Remote work opens up new opportunities. Employees don’t have to be stuck in traffic or working a rigid 9-5. Instead, they have flexibility in deciding when and where they can work.
Challenges of Remote Work
No supervision – No one will be hovering over you to ensure you stay productive! Remote work means being accountable for your own deliverables and deadlines. This can be detrimental to people who are less autonomous or require a little more guidance.
Social isolation – Remote work can feel lonely if you aren’t surrounded by people you care about. Be sure to have check-ins with your team regarding how they are doing mentally. This is also where team activities can play a major role in increasing engagement.
Lack of resources – Depending on where you are, you may lack basic office equipment: things like printers, fax machines, conference tables, or postboxes. For some industries and types of work, these pieces of equipment are essential to completing projects.
Remote Work Tools
Proofhub – a useful, all-in-one project management app for workflows, discussions, Gantt charts, calendars, documents, and other important pieces of information. The interface is colorful and intuitive, ensuring your team stays on track no matter what project you are working on. Netflix, Google, NASA, Nike, and Pinterest are just a few of their clients.
Basecamp – Another popular project management tool designed to keep you productive and organized. Teams can organize projects through message boards, to-do lists, schedules, documents, group chat, and automatic check-ins. There are also apps for iOS and Android, Mac, and PC.
Instagantt – Some teams like to view projects as Gantt charts, which show the timeline, task types, and dependencies that are often overlooked when making a project. Instagantt makes that process easy with beautiful-looking charts. If you use Asana, Instagantt syncs seamlessly.
Lattice – Think project management meets HR, and you get a people management platform. Utilized by Reddit, Slack, Asana, and many more, Lattice allows companies to better understand their employees and their overall engagement, through performance reviews, goal setting, feedback, updates, and more. The result is a more inspiring and human way of working together.
Officevibe – Learn about the important things that your employees don’t always want to talk about— everything from collaboration problems to workplace harassment. Officevibe’s platform makes it easy to take surveys or leave feedback anonymously, protecting employees as well as the company.
Kudos – Recognition for a professional achievement can only do wonders for the individual as well as the company. So take the time to shout out employees and reward them for performing an exceptional job. That’s the idea behind kudos, a way to praise employees as part of your overall program, motivating them to do even better the next time.
Nextiva – Whether you communicate by phone, text, video, email, or IM, Nextiva brings it all together in one location. This isn’t just for teams, but for customers as well. That means you only ever need one app to do all your communications and customer outreach.
Whereby – Want to have video conversations but always have privacy in mind? Whereby is your solution. No app or download needed, just a single URL and you can start chatting via video. All your communications are encrypted and browser-based, and you can even have branded rooms hosting up to 50 people. A seriously competitive alternative to Zoom.
Coworking or Virtual Office Solutions
Even if you are working remotely, sometimes you need a physical place to meet up, or just somewhere besides your apartment or house to finish up work. Other times, you may just need a prestigious address to receive your mail and documents, or a place for printing and faxing.
Visit Expansive for more information on our various plans.
Sometimes just changing a single tool or updating the team process can have profound effects on the company as a whole. If you want to ensure your distributed team can perform successfully, make sure they have everything they need to collaborate and get work done. 2020 showed us that remote teams can absolutely work, even thrive, as long as the right tools and processes are available to empower them.
Even before the pandemic, there were early signs that indicated major companies were moving their workforce into coworking spaces. Microsoft, for example, recently gave 30% of its New York employees access to a local coworking space. The technology titan even announced its own version of coworking spaces, called Microsoft Reactors, where developers and startups could work and network.
As it turns out, Microsoft isn’t alone in its thinking. Other companies are making the decision to invest in or start their own coworking spaces.
Large Corporations Moving to Coworking Office Spaces
Microsoft isn’t alone. As safety protocols ease and the world gradually returns to the office, large corporations (as well as budding startups) are finding that by using coworking spaces, they can save money, develop important connections, and gain access to thriving entrepreneurial communities.
In 2017, Verizon converted an old data center in Washington D.C. into a bright and colorful coworking space. John Vazquez, Verizon’s senior vice president and head of global real estate said, “to us, the real value is what we get by bringing entrepreneurs into the building and having them meet our folks.”
The reason big companies like Verizon, Bank of America, and IBM are finding coworking spaces is due to cost and culture. Coworking provides a more affordable alternative to giant office campuses (that are seldom used, especially in 2020), allowing flexible payment plans. But beyond that, coworking spaces offer a sort of startup culture that enterprises seek out.
Coworking Office Space Benefits
- Cost-effective plans – Coworking spaces distribute the cost of the space among all its members, resulting in a highly competitive rate for everyone.
- Workspace flexibility – Choose whether you want to work at a dedicated desk, in an open office room, in a phone booth, or in a completely different coworking location. Coworking is about giving employees a choice of workspace.
- Work-life balance – Coworking spaces are typically found in major cities, in proximity to commercial and financial districts as well as transit. The coworking culture encourages rest and relaxation as much as hard work.
- Startup community – Speaking of culture, coworking is about a sense of community with other entrepreneurs, startups, building staff, and other tenants.
- A central meeting place – Whether working with a remote team or inviting a potential client for a meeting, coworking spaces offer businesses a single place to meet up, collaborate, or just have a friendly chat.
Impact of Coworking Spaces on Culture
Over the years, coworking spaces have completely reshaped society’s perception of work culture. In a few short years, companies have gone from rigid and formal settings to embrace more open and collaborative spaces.
One big change is the idea of a flat management structure. Instead of having several managers and employees beneath them, startups have begun to employ a leaderless organization. This leads to a greater sense of ownership, of feeling valued.
With open spaces and entrepreneurial culture, talent management also changed overnight. Companies gained access to prime talent, including vendors, employees, interns, and even clients. Collaboration became a great priority for many, as it leads to more unexpected yet fruitful relationships. Although we are likely to see greater instances of remote, nothing will replace the benefits of in-person work and networking.
Flexible Leases in Coworking Office Spaces
Fast-growing startups and multinational corporations share something in common: the entrepreneurial drive to save money and allocate resources to high-priority items. Coworking presents a way for companies to continue using a common space for productive and collaborative work while having the freedom and flexibility to add or remove office spaces as needed.
For startups, this low-risk commitment is crucial in the early planning stages, while for enterprises, this can be a cost-effective way of expanding to new markets and locations. Coworking offers scalability, whether for enterprises looking to expand their geographical footprint or startups looking to plant their roots.
A coworking place can even offer a convenient meeting place for a distributed workforce, across the country or even the world. If two separate teams were located in the US, they need only an Expansive membership and a chosen coworking location to meet up for monthly meetings.
Whether you are part of a major brand known across the world, or you’re responsible for the growth of a new venture, or you’re somewhere in between, Expansive Workspace can provide you with space and resources to help your business grow and thrive. Learn more on our plans page.
As the world shut down in 2020, companies were forced to experiment with new ways of working together. For some, that meant working remotely, and for others, it meant having to close their offices indefinitely.
Now, as the national population becomes vaccinated and offices open back up, companies are continuing to re-evaluate their policies, adapting their work environments for a post-pandemic normal. That’s precisely why hybrid office spaces are currently in high demand— they provide the flexibility that many companies need right now.
What exactly is a hybrid office, and what are its benefits? Why are they becoming so popular with different types of businesses? We’ll explore the answers to these questions and more in this article today.
What is a Hybrid Office?
A hybrid office is a type of office that accommodates both remote workers and office workers. Hybrid offices are ideal for startups with flexibility requirements, for tech companies that predominantly work remotely, or for growing businesses that want to offer a variety of options for their employees. Because it can cater to remote workers (and telework is now becoming a perk for employees), the coronavirus’s impact on the workplace greatly accelerated the demand for hybrid office spaces.
Also worth noting that hybrid offices may be called flex office spaces or flex spaces. Usually, this refers to a mix of both traditional office space and industrial spaces, like garages or warehouses converted to accommodate multiple work styles.
Hybrid Workspace Productivity
Hybrid offices offer high potential for greater productivity, due to the flexibility and customization options available. In fact, according to one study, a majority of companies believe that the productivity gains from remote working will be sustainable beyond the pandemic. In other words, remote working isn’t going anywhere. Instead of solely relying on remote work, or forcing employees to come into the office against their will, hybrid offices allow more flexible work hours, cut down on commuting, and reduce overhead costs.
Because employees are given the option of when and where they work through hybrid offices, employers will also notice employee attrition decrease as engagement increases. With more time spent with families or doing things outside of the workplace, people can invest their time and money beyond commuting or eating out as well. Overall, that translates to a more pleasant work-life balance. It’s no small wonder that companies are continuing to update employee guidelines when it comes to the workplace.
Hybrid Office Design and Amenities
As our use of technology and office spaces naturally evolves, so too will the design of the spaces themselves. While large private office spaces and cubicles may have been the standard twenty to thirty years ago, today, particularly in a post-pandemic world, the office is changing to be more flexible, while amenities become on-demand.
For example, the conference room used to be a staple for every business with an office. Today, companies are realizing that they only need the conference room on an as-needed basis, so instead of paying for it every month, they are more comfortable paying for it by the hour.
Similarly, phone booths and private offices are offering the same level of privacy and utility that conference rooms once provided. Need to jump on a quick virtual conference? Simply hop in a phone booth, equipped with an electrical outlet, ample lighting, and sound-dampening acoustics. It’s more cost-effective, convenient, and sustainable in the long run.
In the future, hybrid offices will act as a social and cultural space— a place for meeting and holding events, rather than a 9-5 setting for all employees.
Hybrid Office Furniture and Effects
In addition to the design, hybrid offices are also showcasing the future of furniture and the need for customizable arrangements. It turns out that for most office spaces with short and long-term leases, only a certain amount of furniture is required- desks, whiteboards, chairs. The rest can be added as needed by the tenants that come and go. The goal is to maximize the office layout space, minimize office noise and distractions, and keep workers focused on their task at hand.
One essential piece of hybrid office furniture is the standing desk. Many computer users are reporting severe neck, spinal, and wrist pain after prolonged sitting. Standing desks allow users to continue working while they stand, allowing your body to stretch the muscles that tend to naturally atrophy when we’re hunched over low screens. These days you can find standing desks almost anywhere, but UPLIFT offers some serious, high-end, feature-rich standing desk options.
Sustainability is also at the forefront for many designers and workers, now more than ever. Energy-efficient buildings and furniture are designed to minimize power usage without sacrificing output and tend to use sustainably sourced materials for construction. Learn more about the impact of energy-efficient buildings at the Department of Energy.
Hybrid Offices v. Coworking Offices v. Private offices
Now the question that may be on your mind: which type of office space is right for you? Between hybrid offices, coworking spaces, and private offices, which one is ideal for a startup or growing business?
As we’ve discussed, hybrid offices are designed for flexibility, for both remote and local teams. They can be found at affordable prices for simply needing a common office space each month, through an on-demand model.
The most affordable option for solopreneurs or startups. Coworking spaces offer access to the local entrepreneurial community, freedom to choose where and when you work, but sacrifice the privacy of a separate office.
Great solutions for scaling businesses or enterprises. Companies can demonstrate their prestige with a logo on the front door, or with the amount of space they rent out. If you want to show brand power through your office space, a private office or even an office suite is best.
The best option really depends on the needs and wants of your particular business. If your company, like many others during this time, are looking for something flexible that caters to both remote and in-person office workers, then you can’t do much better than the hybrid office solution.
Interested in speaking with one of our experts to learn more about which space is right for you? Contact Expansive Workspace today!
Last week, we covered the power of changing one’s mindset— how small adjustments to one’s routine and thinking can greatly influence one’s career and livelihood. But in addition to a positive mindset is the importance of consistency and follow-through. This week, we’ll discuss how habits work and how to form more positive habits.
The Science of Habits
Our habits are formed in the part of the brain known as the basal ganglia, responsible for the development of emotions, memories, and pattern recognition. When we repeat a set of actions, for example, driving a car or working out at the gym, the basal ganglia combines the separate actions into one, easy-to-remember habit, a process known as “chunking”. It’s also how people can remember information such as addresses or passwords.
Certain habits can bring us greater enjoyment than others, creating a more engaging feedback loop. When the outcome of a habit is desirable, like eating snacks or playing video games, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine. Even when we’re not doing that action or habit, over time the brain will come to crave that chemical, forcing you to eat more, play more, or continue engaging in that addicting habit.
Another factor in habit formation is the concept of friction. Habit friction adds undesirable unnecessary steps to a habit, for example, a long commute to the gym can make us less likely to keep the habit. Conversely, you can decrease habit friction by listening to music on the commute, or attending with a friend, to make the habit easier and more enjoyable to repeat.
The Habit Loop
Habits are broken down into four stages: cue, craving, response, reward.
The cue tells your brain to start a certain habit. When we see images of food, naturally our mouth starts to water or our stomachs make less than pleasant sounds. When we see people yawn, we naturally yawn in response. Cues can also be a sound (like a baby crying), a particular time of the day (a sunrise indicating it’s time to get up), or some other visual reminder.
The craving is the motivational push to act on the cue. This can vary depending on the internal state of our body. If we’re hungry, the cue of a picture of food can make us hungry enough to seek out our next meal. But if we’re not hungry, then the craving isn’t there and the picture becomes just another picture.
The response is the habit you actually perform. After we see a cue and develop a craving, we act on that craving. Using the same example, we may decide to look up restaurants online or check the fridge for any leftovers.
Finally, the reward is the satisfaction and lesson learned for informing future habits. It’s the dopamine released in your brain that says “congratulations, this is what you wanted.” This is when our hunger is finally satisfied with the bite of a meal or the sip of a drink, thus completing the habit loop.
Stages of Forming a Habit
Habits don’t just become habits overnight. Instead, people go through a few phases or stages in the formation of a habit. They are as follows:
Honeymoon phase. This is when you are greatly inspired by a recent book you read or a friend’s success story, that you want to start a new habit. There is high energy and excitement to take on each day tackling your new habit.
Fight Thru phase – After a few days, weeks, or even months, setbacks and struggles make the habit harder to keep. You may experience boredom, tiredness, or a general lack of purpose and energy that you had when you started. If you are serious about forming the habit, continue to ask yourself why you started in the first place.
The Second Nature phase – Once you push past the first two phases, the habit begins to set in the basal ganglia portion of your brain. It no longer takes conscious decision-making to do the act, instead it becomes natural and automatic. The benefit of this is that your brain is free to think or focus on other aspects while you continue to perform the intended habit.
The Different Types of Habits
Keystone Habits are small habits that lead to major changes. Sometimes all it takes is a slight adjustment or addition to your daily habits to start forming other positive habits. For example, quitting cigarettes can save you money and lead to healthier habits like exercise. Or making your bed in the morning can energize you to take on other small tasks throughout the day.
Mental Habits are habits to do with strengthening and conditioning your mind. Your brain is just like any other muscle, and it needs to be exercised so it can work at optimal capacity. This can include sleeping the right amount of hours each night, meditation, creative arts, or even therapy.
Physical Habits are habits that focus on the strengthening of your body. Stretching, yoga, running, walking, or any form of exercise can develop your physical wellbeing. Not only do they increase your conditioning and build muscle, but physical activity also has the added benefit of affecting your mental habits too. Activities like weightlifting, yoga, or running have similar effects on the mind as many mindfulness practices.
Productivity Habits are habits that allow you to achieve a greater level of efficiency and output. This may involve calendar blocking, Pomodoro techniques, or prioritizing quick or important tasks over longer projects. Be sure to read our other blog posts centered around productivity.
How Long Does It Take to Form a Habit?
Let’s say you want to make exercise a regular part of your routine. How long does it take until it becomes a habit? The short answer: anywhere between 21 and 66 days. The longer answer: it depends on who you ask.
According to Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a famous plastic surgeon in the 1950s, patients would take 21 days to get used to their new faces, or for amputated patients to stop sensing phantom limbs. In his book, Psycho-Cybernetics, Maltz says “these, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”
The flaw in Maltz’s research was that it was anecdotal. Researchers at University College London studied how subjects formed simple habits like eating fruit with lunch or drinking water after breakfast. The study found that some people formed habits after only 18 days, while others took 254 days. On average, people took around 66 days to form a habit.
Keep in mind that both studies are around very specific cases, involving a limited number of subjects. The habit itself plays a significant role— making exercise a regular habit may take longer than drinking an additional glass of water. The lesson here is to be patient, stay consistent, and trust in your process. The habit will follow naturally.
Yes, it takes time to form a habit. But notice that the easiest habits to form can also be detrimental to our health, like binge-watching television or oversleeping. Positive habits like exercise and learning a new skill take time and patience. So don’t give up on whatever it is you’re trying to learn. You may find that you’re only a few days or weeks away from making it automatic.