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Lessons Learned from Office Space

The fact that people are most productive when around others has been proven in more conventional ways. But, we are going to mix it up a bit and bring it right back to 1999 and the release of the movie Office Space.  If you haven’t yet seen this epic comedy, please stop reading here and pay a visit to your local video store.  Believe it or not, Office Space can actually teach us some core lessons about the benefits of working with others.

If you are trying to start a business, attempting to finish a project or anything in between, a little time working right from home can be a good (and sometimes necessary) thing. But what happens when you get writer’s block? Or when you need a professional reference that really knows your business? Or, what if you just can’t muster up the strength to pull yourself off the couch in the middle of “Family Guy” and get to work? The answer lies between the lines of Office Space: surround yourself with like-minded professionals to reach your true potential.

Lesson 1: Collaborate

Remember the scene in which Peter Gibbons has just informed his two friends of their unexpected termination from Initech (your typical late 90’s software company)? After tons of thought (and a couple drinks) they come up with their brilliant plan for making millions. (For now will ignore the fact that it almost lands them in jail.) Without their collaboration they might not have found a solution; Samir Na..Naga…whatever and Michael Bolton (no, not the singer) would have been left without a job.

Lesson 2: Coworkers Count

Milton (the squirrely one with fishbowl glasses who mumbles a lot) teaches us yet another lesson when he is repeatedly asked to move his desk multiple times further and further away from his coworkers. When Milton ends up in the basement, with only storage boxes and rats to keep him company, he claims (again) that this is “the last straw.” The lack of human presence in that basement was quite eerie and I hate to say it, but some homes resemble just this during the day. No matter who you are, at some point, you are going to crave human contact and this contact could give you a step up over your competitors.

Lesson 3: Camaraderie

Peter, Samir, Michael Bolton and Milton also teach us how vital it can be to have friends in the work place to share a few laughs with. Get into an office and send along your favorite joke from the weekend or forward on those silly cartoons (not on company time, of course). Having professional friendships can only be beneficial. Along with the business referrals received the connections you make in a workplace can have a lasting impact on your professional career.

Who would have thought you could learn that much from a couple of Initech employees in Office Space, huh?

Check out www.thinkspace.com for all of our coworking and shared office programs.

Triple digit heat brings our community together

Last week we had record heat and we also had a bunch of people come to use thinkspace for the first time due to my “beat the heat” tweet.  People came as far as Everett, Seattle, Bellevue, and Sammamish to get out of the heat and try out our coworking space.  We also got a nice plug from Seattle Times Reporter Lindsay Toller who saw the Twitter tweets and re-tweets.  Seattle Times article titled: “Talk of triple-digit temps creates tweet wave on Twitter“.

I really enjoyed the interaction that occured between complete strangers.  It’s sweet how things like extreme heat can bring people together that would have never have otherwise met.  Throughout the week we had ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, creamsicles, watermelon, and lemonade.  Here are a few photos and a videos from the week:

Top row: Sign says temp is 119; Kate Walling, Tom MusicDave Manningsmith
Middle row: Dustin Johnson, Sean O’Driscol, Kory Gill, Loan Gordon, Jason Preston
Bottom row: Steve Doherty, Carrie, Dawn Mertens (behind Marius), Marius Nita, Steve Broback, Phuong Plagge

While some of the discussions were about business models, one conversation was about when was your last date.  Here’s a little 30 second random video featuring Kate Walling, Jason Preston, and Steve Broback.

Beat the Heat! Free coworking this week

I left the house this morning and it was already 77 degrees.  For four years I worked at home and remember that once in a while the temperature gets so warm that it really is hard to work inside the house.

So this week, I’m opening up thinkspace for free to people looking to start their own business or entrepreneurs working from home.

We’ve got a community of entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses.

You can enjoy a nice desk, chair, WIFI, white boards, in an air-conditioned space and feel good drinking a warm cup of coffee.  Just swing by and say you’re here to “Beat the heat”.

We’re located 200ft from the Redmond Transit Center.  If you come by bus, we’ll give you a free bus ticket to get back to your home.  We’re partnered with the City of Redmond’s R-Trip program and we’re trying to promote trip reduction into the city.  * Free bus tickets, until we run out!

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Seattle Community: Party @OfficeNomads w/ Tara Hunt @missrogue, and BarCampSeattle #bcs09

Jacob Sayles, Susan Evans, me, Tara Hunt

This last weekend was an amazing display of what Seattle Community is like.  My weekend kicked off Friday night at Office Nomads in Seattle.  I’ve been to a few other ON gatherings and always meet some really nice people and always have a great time.

Tara Hunt (@missrogue) was a special guest and talked a little about her new book “The Whuffie Factor“.  I got my autographed copy of the book and haven’t been able to put the book down.  At the event, Tara says “the book basically takes a look at re-framing the idea of marketing in the sense of instead of approaching marketing as I want to make a sale or transaction, I need to raise social capital like everyone else does in these online communities”.  The book covers five different ways to earn social capital:

  1. Shut up and start listening
  2. Be part of a community you serve
  3. Create amazing customer experiences
  4. Embrace the chaos
  5. Find your higher purpose

I’m going to review the book in more detail at another time and am thinking of having a little gathering to discuss this book if people would be interested.  Tweet or DM @thinkspace if you would be interested. I think a discussion on earning social capital would be really fun.

The other part of my weekend was going to BarCampSeattle 2009.  I find it absolutely incredible that people get together on an adhoc basis to share and learn in an open environment.  While I wasn’t able to attend that many sessions but there was still some fun discussions.

Here’s a picture of grid from Saturday: (click the image to see it big)

Coworking Visa – Reciprocal Office Space

Back in October, I had a member ask us if we had space in San Francisco.  I told them that we did not, but, I did refer them to use Citizen Space.  I exchanged an email with Tara Hunt at Citizen Space and she told me that they “have a free drop-in policy…so anyone who comes from thinkspace to SF to hang out for a couple of days is welcome at Citizen Space.”

The Coworking Wiki site has something called a “Coworking Visa“.  This allows active members of one space, when traveling, to use another coworking space, gratis. Terms vary from space to space, with regard to hours of operation, reservation requirements, etc. Those currently listed on the Coworking Visa page agree to offer up to 3 complimentary, drop-in days, with guidelines listed about using those days.

After running around Portland the other week, I stopped off at Souk and Cubespace.  Those are two other Coworking places in Portland.

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FastCompany.tv: Seattle green office space mashup hosts interesting startups

Robert Scoble from FastCompany toured our space and posted an article about us.  Here’s what he said:

“Want to work with a ton of cool startups like iPhone app developer Shazam? Well, then you’ll want to check out Thinkspace which is run by Peter Chee up in Redmond, WA. Right near Microsoft’s campus. Here Peter gives us a tour and talks about why he has one of the hottest places to work in the Seattle area. Read Peter’s blog too.”

Here’s a link to the FastCompany thinkspace article.

Robert also interviewed Newline Software and wrote an article about them too.

“It’s not every day that you get to see a company before they have their product finished, before they hired PR people, or have everything together. Which is why it’s interesting to see Newline Software, which is a startup located in Redmond, WA and is housed in Thinkspace, which is a green coworking space designed for startups. Here the two founders tell you about their company which is designed to back up your PC in a new way and they also tell you why starting up at Thinkspace is important to them.”

Here’s a link to the FastCompany Newline article.

Robert Scoble tours thinkspace

The Scobleizer came into thinkspace today and interviewed me as I gave him a tour of the space.  Robert tweeted us as the “coworking / office space mashup”.  Robert also had time to interview green tech startup Newline Software, who is pioneering eco-digital preservation software.  We stopped by to see Bart McCormick with Shazam, but unfortunately Bart wasn’t in the office.  Robert now has a comp virtual office at thinkspace when he comes up to Seattle, we even made him a door plaque when he’s in town.

The next time he comes up here I hope to have Sysgain’s taggle service integration complete and he’ll be able to negotiate for real office space through an iPhone.  I’m also hoping that we get a random “Tweet-up” inside here when he comes back into town.  The Eastside tech community could use a few more events around here!

Office Space 2.0 (Part 3): From seed to stem to branch & leaves

Your business goes through different stages and depending on your stage, your need for office space can have very different requirements.  Shared office space can help provide a business’s a place to go from seed to stem to branch and leaves.

  • Seed: Your business could be a concept that you’re trying to get started.  You might be self funded or even have an angel investor.  One of our virtual office clients registered his domain name and is starting his business.  He is using our address as his mailing address and that shows up on his domain registration.  When his address is “googled”, his business shows up on a map in the middle of Redmond, rather than, a residential neighborhood.  In the seed stage, your business might need creative space that helps foster new ideas, where you can collaborate with other likeminded people.  Our shared coworking space is an excellent option for those of you who want creative space without a lot of overhead. You’ll find desks, chairs, bandwidth (up to 30mb/s down and 5mb/s up), printer/copier, etc.
  • Stem: Your business is starting to grow and you want a professionals space to hold meetings with potential clients, a place to close the deal.  With the space and infrastructure your company of has the professional presence to convey to your customers that you’re operating a sustainable business.  Many of our clients tell me that they used to work at home, but, now need a quiet and private place focus and operate your business.
  • Branch and Leaves: Your business is growing and you are hiring employees.  You don’t have to move to traditional space or taking on more space than you need.  You can grow right inside this space.  We have space that ranges from 100 SF to 1000 SF.

Benefits:

  • Less financial risk.  You are able to grow your business without having a large capital investment.  In traditional space you have to commit a lot of money into office space deposits, lobby furniture, conference room table and chairs, phone systems, data networking infrastructure.  Don’t forget that you need to furnish the kitchen too.
  • No personal guarantee. You are a small company that may not have two years of operating history.  Trying to get a business loan in this economic climate is not always so easy.  You don’t have to sign a personal guarantee to move in.
  • Business insurance is not required.  Here’s something that often goes over looked but when you’re leasing traditional space you might be required to obtain business insurance that is rated AV-X.  That can be costly and is money that could be used elsewhere when starting up a business.
  • No lengthy and complicated lease terms. Negotiating a lease with a landlord can be as fun of an experience as buying a car from an auto dealer.  Lease documents can also be tricky to understand.
  • Economic climate:  Given today’s economic climate, it makes good sense to not get over committed in leasing office space.  With shared office space, you do not need to sign a long 3-5 year long term lease.  You can go with a 6 or 12 month lease.
  • Flexibility: You have the ability to grow or downsize.  You pay for what you use and not one square foot more than you need.
For more information you can contact me at peter [at] thinkspace [dot] com.

Office Space 2.0 (Part 2): Who uses Shared Office Space & Coworking Space

We believe that because we have a dynamic mix of space, we also have a dynamic mix of companies that use our space.  There are many of types of industries and users that recognize the value of shared office space and mix of coworking space.  We are seeing our space work great for:

Industries and types of users:

  • Entrepreneurs (some on their second and third companies)
  • Indies (independents/experts that have left the rat race)
  • Energy companies
  • Finance (banks, financial forecasting, accountants and CPA’s)
  • Health (psychologists, therapists)
  • Technology (web 2.0 startups, IT consultants, cellular networking, social media consultants)
  • Aerospace (aircraft engineering)
  • Real Estate (developers)
  • Staffing and Recruiting
  • Writers and journalists

We are doing our best to operate our our space with sustainable business practices. We have even gone to the length of pursuing LEED certification as our interior space is built to USGBC (United States Green Building Council) LEED standards.  We get people that love the fact that we’re operating in such a manner.  The idea of an easy way of going green with their business really resonates with them.

People using our space recognize that there are so many different types of people and industry experts that they can meet and collaborate with inside our space.  In traditional office space people/businesses are inside their own silos where networking is an activity that they need to “go to”.  A shared office environment fosters networking, it allows it to happen naturally.

If you’re wondering if this kind of space is right for you and your business, come try us out or look for an event inside our space where you can meet us and learn something new to help grow your business.

Read Part 1 of Office Space 2.0 (Part 1) – Paradigm Shift in Office Space.

Office Space 2.0 (Part 1): Paradigm Shift in Office Space

Today, I’ve been having conversations about how unique thinkspace is compared with Bellevue shared office space companies.  I would say the things that make it different is that our space really is the next version of what is known as the “executive office suite & business center industry plus the concept of hot desking”. In Web 2.0 terms, one might call us an “office space mashup”.  A mashup of shared office space, meeting rooms, virtual offices, and coworking space.

Earlier this summer, I attended BarCamp Seattle.  I sat on a panel with a few other people that are running coworking space in and around Seattle.  I mentioned that I feel that much like how there’s a paradigm shift with the Internet where the emphasis was on commerce but has since shifted to people, your office space no longer needs to be in the hub of the downtown core, rather, it’s shifting to locations closer to where people live.  It’s no longer a drive in to the downtown, rather, it’s now a walk or bike ride to the place where you work.  I think this is partly due to the global energy crisis, rising energy and fuel costs.  Susan at Office Nomads wrote a blog post about Coworking and Transportation. I whole heartedly agree with her comment “coworking is a part of the future of working and sustainable neighborhoods”.

A few other components that makes this space different is our focus on community and sustainability.  Our vision is to create a place a great community for SMB’s to build sustainable businesses on the Eastside.  It’s about building community inside our space as well as being a part of the business community in Redmond.  We are active in the Redmond Chamber of Commerce as well as within the online Biznik community which starts with online connections that turn into face-to-face meetups.  We are using our large meeting rooms to host learning and networking events inside our space.  This helps allow people that are running businesses to make meaningful connections with other people that they might not otherwise come in contact with.

Photos from BarCamp Seattle 2008.

Read Part 2 of Office Space 2.0 (Part 2) – Who uses Shared Office Space & Coworking Space.