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Does Your Office Play Fantasy Football?

office fantasy footballOn Monday, July 25th the NFL Players Association signed a new collective bargaining agreement to end the 2011 NFL season lockout. For professional football fans, this is a huge sigh of relief. However, this announcement is also a celebration for the 15 million+ fantasy football participants. Are you one of them?

 

According to the Internet’s most credible source, the Urban Dictionary– fantasy football is defined as, “Dungeons and Dragons for meatheads,” and “a game for grown men that makes them regress back to childhood wherein they will turn on their best friends, argue to the death about anything, and become lifeless shells of their former selves.” –sounds like a healthy competitive outlet, right?

 

A more practical definition being, fantasy football is “a football competition with imaginary teams which the participants own, manage, and coach and with the games based on statistics generated by actual players or teams of a professional sport.”

For those of you who play fantasy football, have you integrated your fantasy football obsession into your workplace?

In order to stay competitive, fantasy football participants spend hours upon hours researching, studying, and analyzing the NFL. For some, fantasy football can be an awful distraction and an anti-productivity suck at the office. Essentially, fantasy football is a project manager’s worst nightmare.

NCAA March Madness pools are more commonly accepted and encouraged in the workplace- mostly because March Madness brackets are locked at the start of the tournament, and it’s only an office distraction for a couple of weeks. On the other hand, fantasy football leagues require active weekly participation, and a much longer time commitment for the 17-week season (not including playoffs). Employers may want to consider the implications of prohibiting fantasy sports in the workplace, and instead use fantasy sports as a tool to improve morale between coworkers, and to liven up the office chatter.

Why not start a fantasy league for your office? Here at thinkspace, we’re well aware that the word “office” means something different for everyone. Whether it’s your floor of coworkers, network of virtual employees, desk mates at your coworking space, or your fellow coffee shop entrepreneurs- you may want to consider starting a league at work.

Potential benefits of an office fantasy football league:
1.     Fun non-sales related competition
2.     Have something to talk about with people you usually have nothing in common with
3.     Fix your fantasy football addiction in healthy doses without having to go undercover
4.     Prize money
5.     Office Superbowl Parties

What do you think? Would you participate in a fantasy football league with your office? Employers, would you allow your employees to participate in a office fantasy league?

Most importantly, are you ready for some football?

Alternatives to Driving – Because $100 Per Tank Sucks

This last weekend was National “Don’t buy Gas” Day. I should have listened. I filled my gas tank up this weekend and it cost me $92 and I’m no longer laughing.  It’s more like I’ve reached the “Supreme” level as shown in the picture. Two weeks ago it was $84. That’s about a 10% increase in two weeks. Insane. Back in 2008, I remember gas prices climbing higher and higher, but, it never cost this much to fill the 22 gallon tank in my 2005 Ford Explorer Sportrac Truck. With the cost of gas continuing to soar and by Memorial Day it’s projected to be at $4.50 for regular unleaded, it will cost me about $100 to fill my gas tank. I am looking into some alternatives. It’s time to become more energy efficient, it’s time to stop driving as much.

Firstly, I’m thinking of selling my truck and replacing with a Toyota Prius. Secondly, I’m planning on biking into work. On days that I have to do kid drop off or pick up, I’ll have to drive a more fuel efficient vehicle. I really don’t need a truck anymore as I’m no longer doing construction projects so it’s time to get rid of the truck. Those really are my only alternatives as I live don’t live on a bus line and basically if I did bus in, I’d be driving 1/2 way to the office anyway.

Here’s a few alternatives to driving:

  • Biking (btw, we have locking bike storage at thinkspace in the underground parking garage. We also have a changing room and shower).
  • Take the transit. (I don’t think I’ll be crossing the bridge as much anymore especially when they get the toll operational, if I do, I’ll be taking the 545 express to downtown).
  • Live closer to work.
  • Buy a scooter.
  • Take a vanpool or carpool.
  • Telecommute or work in a coworking space instead of driving into Seattle. Get a virtual office (shameless plug).
  • Eating out less. That’s another thing I’m going to be doing as it’s time to start saving some money.

Incentives to not driving:

  • Earn a one-time $50 reward from R-TRIP after logging your first 50 alternative commutes, including any combination of walk, bike, carpool, vanpool, and transit.

A few months ago one of our divvy users at the time — Maria Zheng, CEO of UrbanQ, introduced me to GasBook an iPhone App that allows you to find the cheapest gas station and also allows you to log your fuel for multiple vehicles. I’ve been using this app for a few weeks and I’d certainly recommend using something like this to save some money!

What are some things that you will do?  What will you change? Will you do a staycation this summer instead of driving all over creation?

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Working from Home? Coworking Could Be Your New Best Friend

Here at thinkspace, we are thrilled to offer coworking as an office space solution for our members. Just in case you haven’t heard of coworking before- it is a space designed for individual workers who are looking for a space and a community to work alongside (for more info check out the coworking wiki). Our coworking space is well equipped with desks, chairs, crazy fast internet speeds (we just upgraded to 100 mbps- woo hoo!), plenty of natural sunlight, a TV, conference room space, and all of the coffee and tea you need to stay awake! The only thing our space is missing is more people- and that’s where you come in.

You may have read about our new coworking space in one of my previous blog posts, Options to Avoid the 520 Tolls. As I mentioned before, coworking is an amazing solution for someone who lives on the Eastside and is looking to avoid his or her dreadful 520 commute. Whether it currently takes you forever to drive across the bridge, or it will begin to cost you $3.50 each way- it’s no fun. It’s time to get creative, and try some new options. In fact, King County Metro has listed thinkspace coworking as a commuter solution for avoiding the 520 tolls on their website.

However, for those of you who have the privilege (or curse) of working from home, coworking could be your new best friend.

Speaking from a little bit of experience, during my last quarter in college I completed an internship for an organization where I managed their social media efforts. Initially, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work from home- on my schedule, in my room, and in my pajamas. However, I quickly discovered that it wasn’t as easy to get the ball rolling when you have a million distractions and all of the flexibility in the world. In addition, I disliked having the option to separate my “work” from “home” life. Also, I missed having the support of physical coworkers to run my ideas and thoughts by.

Working from home might might look a little different for you. Perhaps you love having the flexibility of a home office, the ability to spend more time with your children, and access to your kitchen pantry full of food. Or on the other hand, you could be working way longer hours than necessary due to the home office distractions that hinder your productivity. I could be wrong here, but I’m just giving it my best guess.

This leads me to my point (sorry, I tend to ramble). Coworking can be a great solution for many people. However, I truly believe that it can increase productivity for the people who dread waking up and walking to their home office, kitchen table, or simply pulling their laptop off the bedroom floor. With coworking, you can come to your desk, put in the hours, mingle with your fellow coworkers, and “clock out” for the day. Having a community of like-minded business professionals, entrepreneurs, and techies will eliminate the loneliness and isolation of a home office. In terms of working from home to save overhead, coworking won’t break your bank either.

We offer a variety of memberships that range from 3 to 15 days per month. We also offer a full-time coworking membership, which will provide you with a designated desk, 24/7 building access, and a business address. All of our pricing and options are listed on our coworking page.

Take a moment to meet Lou Holsten, who is one of our full-time coworkers. Lou is a website designer and developer who use to work from home, and he now holds down the fort in our space. Lou has designed some phenomenal websites for his clients. So if you’re interested take a moment to look at Lou’s newly launched website, acute square.

Interested in giving coworking a shot? Well you’re in luck- We are excited to offer three free days of coworking to any person who mentions this blog post. Come check us out, and try on coworking for a day.  Also, I would love to hear about your experience and opinions on working from home.

 

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Options to Avoid the 520 Tolls

I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely dreading the SR 520 bridge toll. The peak hour rate is set at $3.50 each way. As a Seattle resident who works on the Eastside, I can think of a million things I would rather spend my $140/month on other than toll fees. What’s your plan? Will you continue to drive to and from work? For those of you who live and work on the Eastside- will you travel to Seattle as often?

If you’re trying to avoid the bridge toll, here are my suggestions:

1. Take the bus

There are several bus lines that run between Seattle and the Eastside via SR 520. Sound Transit express routes 540, 542, 545, 555, 556 will get you across the bridge. Head to Sound Transit’s website for time schedules. King County Metro has several routes that will take you across the bridge too. Take a look at King County Metro’s page which lists all of the routes servicing the SR 520 bridge, as well as some additional commuter resources that you might find useful. Each way is $2.50, which is only $1 less than the scheduled tolls. However, if you purchase an ORCA card, you can ride the bus for $90/month.

I have been practicing my bus riding skills by taking the 542 to work here at thinkspace. We are fortunate enough to have the Redmond Transit Center only 200 feet away from our building!

2. Work on the Eastside in Redmond with a thinkspace coworking membership

Do you live on the Eastside but work in Seattle? Talk to your boss about working at our office here in Redmond. Save time and money by eliminating your commute. We officially opened our new Redmond coworking space in February. What exactly is coworking? Picture a desk, chair, lightning fast Internet, a LEED certified work environment, and a room filled with like-minded entrepreneurs, business professionals, and tech startups. Sure, you can work at home with all of those distractions. Or, you can head to your local coffee shop and have Internet issues. Why not give coworking a try? Come check us out, your first day of coworking is on us!

If you are interested in learning more about coworking and locating other coworking spaces check out the Seattle Coworking Wiki.

3. Help us build a stronger network of entrepreneurs and events on the Eastside

Why do all of the fun networking and education events always happen in Seattle? With the upcoming SR 520 tolls, my goal is to create a stronger event presence here on the Eastside. Redmond, WA is filled with brilliant individuals and inspiring entrepreneurs. Therefore, we should be channeling this energy right where it belongs, at home here in Redmond! At thinkspace, we are fortunate enough to have the space to host events. So, next time you’re thinking of hosting an event, feel free to drop me a line- Kristin [at] thinkspace [dot] com.

As thinkspace’s Community Marketing Manager, I am always looking to meet interesting individuals, engaging groups of people, and fun events to bring to our community. Although I hate the idea of paying $3.50 to cross the bridge to work everyday, I am inspired by the opportunity of what can be created here in Redmond. I am asking for your support, passion, feedback, and ideas.

UPDATE: We’re now featured on King County Metro’s SR-520 Travel Options page for our coworking space- take a moment to check it out.

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Pitfalls to Working From Home

Making the decision to work from home can make a lot of sense. For the self-employed, there are lots of benefits; decreased overhead is one of the biggest ones. Paying lower monthly rent can really help the bottom line for a new business. Not all personality types are well-suited to working from home, however. Here’s four reasons you may want to think twice:

1. Social skills. The ability to relate well to other people is an important one for the small business owner, and if those skills aren’t practiced regularly by interacting with co-workers and clients, your social skills can become rusty from disuse.

2. If you’re easily distracted, working from home may not be ideal for you. Even the most attentive businessperson might find it hard to concentrate over background noises of kids, pets, and the washing machine. (‘I’ll finish writing the rest of this article after I’m done folding that load of clothes… And after doing the dishes… Oh, and the dog needs to be fed…’) Online games, Facebook, and the latest YouTube sensation are not likely to help matters, either.

3. Absence can actually make the heart grow fonder, when it comes to family members. You may find being constantly underfoot will not endear you to your spouse, and the unpredictable schedule can also lead to marital discord.

4. When there’s no set schedule to follow, procrastination can become a problem for the less-than-disciplined home worker. Your sleep schedule can get misaligned, making it difficult to complete assignments during “banking hours”.

Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Virtual offices might be an option to consider for an up-and-coming bootstrapping business. Your business can have the benefit of a local address and phone number, and even a virtual receptionist service. This can really improve the image your business projects, without the expense of private offices.

Coworking is another office space model to consider. A shared workplace that is maintained by several small companies can be very beneficial to all. It might be easier to attract prospective clients when you can invite them in for a sales pitch in your nicely appointed meeting room, even if that meeting room is only available to you on certain days of the week.

thinkspace offers Virtual Offices, Meeting Rooms, Part-time offices and Coworking, to boot! Check out the links above, or give me (Alyssa) a call at 425-629-6200; I always love to chat!

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Ensure First Day Success With These 3 Tips

With the coming of a new year, many companies experience a change in their team. Whether you will be the one joining a new team this year or you’re hiring a new team member, you always want to make this experience as enjoyable as possible. When you start a new job many employees want to know how to excel on their first day. If you are an employer who is hiring a new employee you may wonder how you can make this experience as pleasant as possible. Either way, a first day on the job can be an anxious time for both employee and employer. Consider the following items to ensure success:

1. First Impressions Are Crucial – Remember, you never have a second chance to make a first impression. So, if you are a first time employee, be sure you are on-time, of course, dressed to impress and don’t forget any resources that you may need for the day. For the employer, you should ensure the office space or private offices for the employee are ready in advance. An employee does not want to spend their first day removing your old, used coffee cups from there cubical – unless you hired them for janitorial services! (thinkspace offers part time and full time office space, so don’t hesitate to call if you need a larger office or an additional one for your newest employee.)

2. Training is Fundamental – For the employee, you must approach your new job with an open mind. The way the company does things might not be exactly what you are accustomed to and you may even know a better way, but the first day on the job may not be the best time to start trying to change their “business as usual”. As an employer, you will want to have the training prepared in advance. There is nothing more frustrating to an employee then being expected to complete a task that they know nothing about.

3. Introductions of Importance – On the first day introductions are very important. As a new employee, take the time to introduce yourself to those that seem appropriate. Use a firm handshake and make eye contact and make it a point to remember their name. As an employer, take the new employee around the office and introduce them to the people they will be working with and their manager. You may also want to introduce them to individuals in upper management, if it seems necessary.

These simple steps will help ensure that the first day on the job goes well for both the employee and the employer. By following these steps and being prepared you are showing that you care.

Seattle – Where’s your “think space”?

One week ago, we sent out a office space survey through Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to find out if we expanded into Seattle where would you like to see thinkspace be located.  We got back a lot of responses, more than I expected!  The chart shows the results from the question “Location – Where do you want this to be?”.  Pioneer Square 42% of the votes. South Lake Union at 22%, Fremont at 14%, Capitol Hill at 8%, and 14% fell into the “other” bucket.  My question to those of you that picked South Lake Union as your number one choice — if we take office space in Pioneer Square would you still come use our space?

Parking is another thing that we polled on.  31% of the responses said “Parking should be free”.  Not a big surprise here, but, seriously free parking in Seattle went the way of the dinosaur a long time ago.  I’m very happy to see that 22% preferred to Walk or Bike as I personally like walkable neighborhoods (thinkspace Redmond has a walkscore of 97).  That was followed by 17% Pay Lots and 14% Street Parking.  Having worked in Pioneer Square for about five years, I’ve accepted the fact that if I want to work in Seattle I will have to pay for parking.  I think that’s a small trade off considering how cool it is to work in the downtown.

Our next step is share some photos of the office space that we’ve identified in Pioneer Square and get your feedback on the atmosphere that you’d like to have!  It’s really important to us that we have the right “vibe” as it’s also the highest ranking survey question based on how everyone responded.  We’ll post some photos later this week and we’ll want to get more feedback from you all.  Thanks again for filling out our survey!

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Bringing Yoga to You… and You… and YOU!

thinkspace will now be hosting PhyzzYoga classes every Tuesday from 12-1pm! What better way is there to spend your lunch than re-centering your mind and body with a little bit of Yoga?

Karen Lindenberg, Owner of PhyzzYoga, came and taught our first class last week and let me just say that she was a great instructor and I think I know why! PhyzzYoga is dedicated to bringing Yoga to the workplace and I just can’t tell you enough how much this one class helped me gain clarity and focus for the rest of my week. They focus primarily on bringing yoga to workplaces and encourage businesses to attend to their most valuable resource: their people. According to their About Page and apparent in their instructor, Phyzz is “helps people and business energize and innovate the way they work. We [Phyzz] are dedicated to helping you strengthen the core of your business by increasing flexibilty, balance, agility and grace in your workspace.” Does that not just make you excited? I know I am looking forward to the opportunity to spend some time meeting some great business owners during yoga classes right in our building!

If you would like to join us for yoga on Tuesdays from 12-1pm, please do! The classes are $12 for thinkspace members and open to the public for $14 per class and will be held in the first floor conference room of our Redmond location 8201 164th AVE NE Redmond, WA 98052. I am so excited to have PhyzzYoga here tomorrow and hope to see you soon!

Seattle Commercial Real Estate: Professionals and startups have options to explore

Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle)
by Peter Chee Guest Columnist:

Double-digit unemployment, challenging economic times and other reasons for career reinvention have created a community of independent business professionals seeking places to do business beyond the local coffee shop.

Read on to consider options to serve members of what best-selling author Daniel Pink describes as “Free Agent Nation.”

Many independent professionals have experienced the isolation and absence of creative inspiration that comes with working from a home office. Coworking is one of today’s emerging trends that can ease these pains.

The concept is that professionals work better together than they do alone. Securing coworking space is among the most cost-effective options for those who have escaped Cubicle Nation to launch businesses of their own.

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Dan Pink on Coworking, “It’s more than simply real estate”

I attended Town Hall Seattle tonight to listen to Dan Pink talk about “What really motivates us”. Dan’s the author a bunch of books, his latest called “Drive”. Dan focused in on three things during his presentation: 1) Autonony, 2) Mastery, and 3) Purpose. I could go into details, but, I wanted to focus in on one word that Dan mentioned during his presentation, “coworking”.

After the presentation, I went to get my book signed and had a quick conversation with Dan.  I brought up the topic “coworking” with him again and…

Dan: “Coworking is totally cool and it’s definitely on to something. It’s a great time to be doing it. Does it (coworking) answer the question about people looking for affinity?”

Peter: “yes, it’s all about the natural affinity for passion and inspiration that brings entrepreneurs together. We all feed off the energy of each other which is why so many people that had home-based businesses become thinkspace members.”

Dan: “It’s more than simply real estate, interesting!”

Peter: “Yes, I don’t even talk about the four walls, because, it’s about the community of the space.”

For me that was an amazing connection! I wish I would have had more time to ask him his perspective about what makes people motivated to be a part of coworking community.

danpink-pcheeHere’s my take on why people are motivated to be a part of this community. Solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses, home-based businesses many if not most have complete autonomy to define the vision and path that business will go. Entrepreneurs don’t lack motivation, it’s just a matter of being able to sustain it. I definitely don’t lack motivation, but, sustaining it year after year inside my house was impossible. This is one of the reasons why I feel thinkspace exists, so there could be place where entrepreneurs could feed off the crazy energy created by everyone else who is inspired to build a successful business. Another reason is the collaboration aspects, being able to bounce ideas off of others — sharing those idea gives me the feedback to create a better product and provide better services as well as come up with new ideas. So here’s my shout out to Dan, what do you think?