Whether it's a personal endeavor or part of a corporate program, it feels good to help those in need – especially during the holiday season. One of the first steps to a successful charitable initiative is getting employees invested and onboard with the concept of being socially conscious.
For a number of reasons, employee participation in corporate-giving programs has been trending downward since 2006. America’s Charities, an organization connecting businesses with charities recently reported in a survey that only 33 percent of employees take part in corporate giving. One way to increase these figures is to offer employees a broader choice of charities to choose from. Committing to a corporate match for employee contributions is another way to encourage support.
While one-time donations are a good start, there are a number of B2B services available to help companies make charitable donations a year-round commitment. Here's a sampling:
B1G1: Business for Good: This is a membership-driven service that allows you to choose from hundreds of projects and support them with your daily sales.
Charitable Checkout: The premise is simple - donate to a cause and receive a reward.
‘Tis Best: Is a company providing gift cards that can be spent on the recipient’s choice of charities.
There are a number of creative ways businesses of all sizes can lend a hand. Share with us what your business has done to help others.
Fast Company got a flurry of responses when they asked its readers to
reveal what they disliked about working in an open office environment. During the course of the past decade, open workspaces were touted as the ideal solution for companies looking to reduce real estate costs by squeezing in more employees to less square footage and increasing collaboration among its staff by breaking down spatial barriers.
Companies from all sectors were drawn into converting their cubicle rows into open areas as lower costs and more frequent employee interaction were some of the immediate benefits of the transformation.
Based on the feedback of Fast Company readers, the lack of dedicated office space isn’t working for everyone. Some of the top complaints from their informal survey are constant noise, a barrage of co-worker interruptions and complete lack of privacy.
It's true, today's workers are more mobile, adaptable and connected than ever before. However, mandating them to be productive in an open environment all the time may be too high of an expectation. There comes a time when people simply need to hunker down, distraction-free in an office and focus on work - alone.
The lesson for companies is that each individual has specific needs and companies need to provide multiple areas - from meeting rooms to private offices - in order to maximize the performance of its staff.
Where do you work best? Let us know.
According to Bank of America’s semi-annual survey of small business owners, 30 percent in the Chicago area plan to increase headcount over the next 12 months. That’s good news for the job seekers. Surprisingly, 46 percent said finding qualified candidates is difficult and poses challenges.
To improve their success rate in hiring the right talent, the survey highlighted actions small business owners are willing to take in order to attract and retain their top workers:
- 57 percent are offering competitive salaries
- 50 percent will provide flexible working arrangements
- 44 percent will serve up bonuses for top performers
While salaries and bonuses are obvious recruitment perks, the importance of workplace flexibility continues to emerge as a top priority – almost as important as financial compensations.
Flexible work arrangements can mean a variety of things. Some employers may allow employees to work from home a few days a week. Employers can offer staggered work hours so that staff are not caught in traffic during peak commuting hours. This would be extremely beneficial in a market like Chicago, which has some of the worst traffic in the country. Another part of the flexible equation is allowing employees to work from a shared work environment. This is an ideal solution for workers who don’t like working from home because they feel too isolated and miss collaborating with like-minded professionals.
Additionally, businesses of all sizes are embracing flexible working due to the significant cost savings on real estate and the work-life balance it provides to its staff. In Chicago and New York, OfficeLinks customers are drawn to the term flexibility and scalability of our workspaces. Companies have come to realize they don’t need traditional space or the heavy burden of a long-term lease.
The survey revealed optimism among Chicago’s small business owners. Fifty-four percent of survey participants expect their revenue to increase in the next 12 months. Hopefully, this is a sign of sustainable growth.
In Chicago, OfficeLinks can be found in the iconic Willis Tower.
Some of New York’s most successful tech professionals were featured speakers at the latest Crain's Real Estate Conference. They shared their insights as to why New York’s Silicon Alley is gaining ground and, in some instances, surpassing Silicon Valley.
Unlike the last tech boom of the late 1990s, New York’s entrepreneurs are more savvy and focused on long-term growth, noted Kevin Ryan who spoke at the conference and was part of the first tech wave in New York and helped launch DoubleClick.
Howard Lerman, co-founder and CEO of Yext said, “It’s a lot easier to build a company in New York than in Silicon Valley.” He believes the talent pool is a lot deeper in New York because there are fewer firms competing for skilled workers.
The panelists were also quick to point out areas that the Big Apple can improve upon. New York’s bandwidth needs updating and office space is a concern for companies looking to expand in neighborhoods they like. Long-term leases for traditional office space are not appealing for this sector. Typical lease agreements in New York call for a 10-year commitment, which just doesn’t make practical or financial sense for a tech start-up. Tech firms along with businesses from all sectors are turning to shared work environments in order to effectively scale and grow their businesses. They are looking for spaces where they can collaborate with like-minded professionals.
Mr. Ryan noted the quality of life in New York is improving – pointing to the popularity of Citibank’s bike share program – a service, he says, all of his employees use.
So if you were launching a tech business, would it be in New York or California's Silicon Valley?
Don’t have time to work out because you’re busy at work? Soon, you may no longer be able to use that excuse. Exercise equipment is trickling into the workplace – with treadmills, cycling desks and stability balls becoming as acceptable as desks and chairs.
Indianapolis-based TreadDesk revealed their sales are expected to increase 25 percent this year as large corporations, including Microsoft, Coca Cola, and United Healthcare have begun to purchase these products in bulk for their staff.
“Even going to the gym three times a week doesn’t offset the harm of being sedentary for hours at a time,” said Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic. “Even walking at one mile an hour has very substantial benefits,” said Levine.
There’s enough data to support that being inactive during the day contributes to health risks such as obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. And, with employers taking workplace wellness more seriously, this trend is only expected to become more commonplace.
Even if your company isn’t going to purchase exercise equipment, there are easy and inexpensive ways to stay active during the day. Try walking meetings with a small group of colleagues. The fresh air may spark some new ideas and it’s good for your heart.
It has been a very spooky and frightful October here at OfficeLinks. Earlier in the month we created a contest and asked people to decorate their workspaces for Halloween for a chance to win a MacBook Air. All entries were submitted through Instagram using the hashtags: #OLhalloween and #officeswag.
We’ve been overwhelmed with great entries from our Chicago and NYC offices spaces, and even a few third party participants. This, our first annual Halloween contest, has proven to be a great success. Stay tuned tomorrow, to the OfficeLinks Facebook page where will be announcing the winner!
The celebration didn’t stop there – we also hosted a party at our Park Avenue South office space. On Wednesday evening we hosted a room full of NYC-based entrepreneurs, creatives and professionals for a night of ghostly fun. The party included: a photo booth, refreshments, a live DJ and of course – candy! We would like to thank everyone who joined us in Halloween fun!
The notion of “work” has already begun to change as people exert more control of when, where and how they get the job done.
Forces like technology, the economy and demographic changes will continue to rapidly push the workplace in directions many did not believe was possible. A piece in Forbes summarized some of the prevailing shifts to look for in 2014. Among the most notable:
Healthcare: According to CNNMoney.com, nine out of 14 economists say businesses are reluctant to hire because of next year’s health care reform. No matter which side of the argument you side with, there is no debate that business leaders are factoring in the issue of healthcare when it comes to expanding headcount.
Freelancing: This growing population of knowledge-workers-for-hire will only get bigger. Currently, one-third of Americans are considered freelancers. Many of these contract employees work from home. This allows a business to save money on real estate costs and other overhead expenses, like employee benefits. Companies can widen their talent pool by working with a remote team of experts.
Demographics: Baby boomers are phasing out of the workplace and millennials are coming in. In 2014, millennials will account for 36 percent of the workforce. This shift in demographics will impact culture, office design and overall management of a business as millennials have a very different approach to work.
What issues will be impacting your business in 2014?
Whether you work for an established large enterprise or a scrappy start-up firm, chances are your office space is starting to look the same.
Start-ups have been known to embrace a more relaxed and creative environment when it comes to office design - opting for informality and open plans in lieu of cubicle row and private offices.
Large corporations in a quest to foster collaboration and save money are now starting to head in the same direction as how people are working continues to evolve and transform the workplace. Mobility and the influence of millennials in the workforce play a big part in this shift.
For example, on any given day, Deloitte only houses about 30 percent of its workforce at their global headquarters in New York. This revelation of underutilized space resulted in a re-design that now includes casual work areas where employees can gather to work as a team and a lot less structured space.
In today’s workplace businesses of all sizes are making tangible changes in design intended to break down barriers and encourage the sharing of knowledge in real time.
Which environment suits you best? An office or a more open plan?
The generational gaps that exist in the workplace among millennials and older workers are also prevalent on planes, trains and rails. A recent survey reveals millennials who hit the road for work are more likely to spend and complain than any other road warrior out there.
The study commissioned by Expedia.com and Egencia showed that young travelers are all about convenience and speed. Unlike their more mature peers, millennials are more comfortable spending corporate money on high-end meals and airline upgrades. Not surprising, they also rely on their smartphones more than any other generation to book their travel arrangements.
"Business travelers are early adopters of technology — millennials travelers even faster — and all on the move from device to device, from online to offline and back again," says Rob Greyber, president of Egencia. "We realize that keeping pace with millennials and future generations of corporate travelers demands significant focus on mobile in order to sustainably engage them with the right information.”
Business travelers tend to be short on time and are looking for the quickest way in and out of their hotel. A tech reporter at Inc.com who travels frequently listed a few of his favorite hotels that cater to the needs of corporate travelers:
- Yotel New York – The property's self-service kiosks are open 24 hours. A five-step check-in process allows you to secure your room key in a matter of minutes.
- Aloft Cupertino – Even faster than a kiosk, Starwood sends you a card that unlocks your room at this west coast property. You are allowed to bypass the front desk and head straight to your room.
- Marriott Hotels – Marriott has rolled out its mobile check-in app to 325 hotels nationwide. The app allows you to check-in virtually. Upon arrival at your hotel you receive an alert your room is ready and your key is waiting for you at the front desk.
Jones Lang LaSalle is out with its most expensive list of business addresses in the U.S. Given its stronghold on the tech industry and that sector's growth, it should comes as no great shock the Bay Area takes home top honors.
Menlo Park’s Sand Hill Road, which is replete with high-tech venture capital firms, earns the number one spot. As the tech industry continues on its fast track two other addresses in the San Francisco area round out the top three.
Closer to home, New York’s Fifth Avenue takes the number two spot as one of the priciest central business district streets in the U.S.
"This year's results are particularly interesting because, not only do they demonstrate the standard real estate rule that location is everything, but they also reflect the overall office space demand trend in the U.S.," said John Sikaitis, managing director of office research at JLL. "We are seeing a slight uptick in occupancy rates as a result of the rate of business growth in the economy combined with a lack of new development."
Clearly, we are long way away from office-less businesses as some companies continue to add to their real estate portfolios. However, the investment in traditional space continues to come into question. Businesses who are looking to enter any of these tony cities should examine all property options before allocating a lot of capital and time to conventional space.