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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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5 Reasons to Make Your Office a Virtual Office

Lets face it- the way we live and work is changing rapidly. We are clocking into the office less and are trading in corporate positions to start our own businesses. We are working from home, in coffee shops, and during our bus commute; our laptops are our new desk! Working virtual has amazing perks, however, our image suffers from not having the traditional office. We, at thinkspace have solved this problem by creating a way to maintain the flexibility of a virtual workspace while maintaining a flexible, secure and supportive, cost effective, environmentally friendly professional presence and space for you to grow your business. We are offering you a professional Redmond business address, fully staffed phone answering services, and an established and respected business infrastructure. Do your business a favor, introduce it to virtual office space!

1. Professional Presence: Establish yourself as an industry leader with a business. Present yourself as an invested, respected, professional and reliable business.  A business address allows you to look established and permanent.

2. Flexibility Our virtual office provides mobility and freedom! Our fully staffed receptionists ensure that you never miss a call. Work from anywhere and appear to have multiple locations (we have Redmond and Seattle office addresses). Don’t worry about having to sign long-term leases.

3. Cost Effective Let us provide all of the staffing, don’t worry about expensive monthly rent, or tenant improvement costs, cleaning and maintenance fees or maintenance of office equipment. Have an overall lower monthly overhead!

4. Administrative Support With our virtual office, you have complete administrative support. Let us handle the calls, the mail and incoming packages, the faxes and scanning, and odd jobs and administrative projects.

5. Security- Don’t use your home address or a P.O. box! Using a home address appears very unprofessional, and can be a security risk to you and your family. Using a P.O. box shows your potential clientele that you do not have company head quarters. This can break a close before you even have your first meeting.

If you are interested in hearing more about our virtual offices, contact me at Barbara@thinkspace.com, or call (425) 629-6206. To view our website CLICK 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.

Eastside Executive Office Space Providers

Today, I attended a meeting and met many of the local eastside executive office space providers.  It was nice to meet some of the other providers of office space in Bellevue, Issaquah, Federal Way and Seattle.  We were the only ones to show up from Redmond.  Each company provides shared office space to companies that are looking for full service office suites.  There was representation from the following companies:

  • Premier Business Centers who has office space in Bellevue, near I-90.
  • Hometown Office Suites & Services located in Federal Way.
  • Lake Place Office Center located in Issaquah, the Costco shared office space.
  • Executive Support Center off Interurban Avenue in Seattle.
  • Meadow Creek Professional Center hosted the event at their location in Issaquah.

It’s nice to meet many independent office space providers in the local area so that way if I happen to come across people that are looking for space in Bellevue, I can refer them over to Premier Business Centers.

We discussed the economy and impact that it is having on people looking for shared office space. We’re seeing an increase in demand for virtual offices as companies are looking to minimize their expenses yet still have a professional addresss.  At thinkspace, we also provide virtual offices where companies also get to have their company name listed on our touch screen lobby directory.

We also discussed that there seems to be an increase in the number of companies looking for temporary office space.  Some companies are in-between space, their lease has expired in their current location and the new office space that they are looking to move into is not ready yet.  Tenant improvements sometimes take longer than expected and lining when a lease expires and the start of a new lease can sometimes leave a company without a place to operate.  That’s where companies like thinkspace can fill the gap and provide “sling space”.

I also found out today that there is a conference sponsored by OBCAI (Office Business Center Association International) on October 1- 4, 2008 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in Orlando, Florida.  It would be interesting to attend that event but unfortunately it does not work with my schedule.  I’m looking forward to hearing about the event at the next gathering.

Shared office space: attractive lease rates thanks to lowering our energy consumption by over 40%

Being in “green” shared office space can help keep your companies operating costs down.  Yes, it does cost more to go green, but the payback begins right away.  thinkspace has the ability to offer shared office space in a class A shared building and keep the lease rates reasonable.  One of the big ways we’re able to do this is because our space is operating more efficiently than before.  By going green it helps keep our costs down so that our lease rates remain attractive.  This is something you won’t be hearing from other shared serviced office space providers and executive office suites in Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, Woodinville, and even in Seattle.

Three years ago, before going green was hot and trendy, I was learning about efficient building envelopes at the King County Master Builders Association, Built Green classes.  We made our decision to go green with thinkspace and seek LEED certification for our work space.  We wanted to make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint and one way we did it was by reducing our electricity consumption.

As part of our LEED certification, we installed commercial energy efficient light fixtures.  The model that we used was the aesthetically attractive and appealing Lithonia PWS1836 AVANTE series fixture.  This article is a follow up to the the blog post that I wrote called “Energy efficient Commecial Light Fixtures“.  In addition to using these light fixtures, we also installed Lutron occupancy sensors in each office and meeting rooms.  Even our vending machines have energy misers on the vending machine, which I’m told will save us approximately $150 per year in electricity.

I wanted to follow up with concrete facts on our energy consumption since we have completed our build out.  I also wanted to show some historical numbers for the last three years so that you can see what a few years of usage looked like before the building went green.

                 
    2008   2007   2006    
  KWH Utility Bill KWH Utility Bill KWH Utility Bill  
  June 56,040 $4,897 58,080 $4,787 74,400 $5,785  
July 52,080 $4,741 88,200 $6,620 83,280 $6,100  
  August 48,600 $4,722 86,040 $6,564 88,560 $7,077  
                 

For August 2008, we consumed 48,600 KWH compared with 86,040 KHW in August 2007.  That’s a 37,400 KWH reduction for the same period a year prior when the building was not “green”.  To quantify that in dollars, our electricity bill is $1,841 less!  That’s a big 44% reduction in energy consumption.  I expected to see a 30% reduction in electricity expenses, but this is definitely exceeding my expectations.

“Green is the new black”.  That phrase has new meaning to me.

How to find shared office space in Redmond

Every day I talk with people that are looking for office space in Redmond.  I thought I would do a quick summary of the available shared office space currently for lease.  A quick way to find office space is to Google “shared office space redmond” you get a list of companies that provide office space.  Google lists the following in the Local Business results:

  • thinkspace
  • Premier Business Centers: Redmond (no longer operating)
  • Business Service Center – Bellevue
  • Karman Executive Center
  • Regus / HQ Business Centers
  • Apple Tree Executive Suites
  • Bellevue East Office Suites
  • Juanita Bay Office Center
  • Eastside/Premier Business Center
  • North Creek Executive Office Suites

In the organic results, North Star Offices is also listed.  I wanted to bring this up as they are also a company that provides shared office space in Redmond.  Like thinkspace, North Star Offices is independently operated.  North Star Offices is run by Heidi and Molly.  I’d like to meet them but they were not around when I dropped by their space.  It appears that they have a mix of space — four open workstations, four private offices, as well as some group meeting space.  North Star’s space has a cozy and comfortable feel.

The second company listed on the Local Business Listings is Premier Business Centers: Redmond.  As of June 2008, they are no longer operating in Redmond.  Their Regional Vice President, Lisa Vojik, who managed the Redmond location has moved over to their Bellevue office which is located off I-90 in Eastgate.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Lisa and if you’re looking for space in Bellevue, she’s a sincere and true professional to work with.  Premier Business Centers is headquartered in California and also has a location in Bothell.

There other companies listed do not have a physical Redmond address as they are located in Bellevue and Kirkland.  Each of these shared office providers offer various pricing.  Some offer cheap office space, while others offer fully serviced space.  Fully serviced office space has many definitions but to be called fully serviced they should all offer things like phone, Internet access, onsite office manager, receptionist, copy machine, fax machine.

I’d like to point out that thinkspace offers much more than that.  We offer 1) Sustainable and creative office space that is built to LEED certification standards;  2) Reasonable pricing, just because it’s “green” doesn’t mean it costs more; 3) True VOIP (Voice over IP) communications; 4) Experienced staff committed to providing a healthy, friendly, professional environment; 5) Commitment to sustainable business practices; 6) and lastly, but just as important as the others is community.  We’re holding events monthly that allow you to mix it up with others as well as provide an opportunity for businesses to get exposure to all different topics that will foster and help your business grow.

We are in the business of leasing office space, but we’re also focused on building a strong community within thinkspace and the City of Redmond.  Our open areas are very conducive for collaborating with others.  We’ve got approximately 2,500 SF of shared space that is an extension of your private space.  We provide a large mix of space ranging from virtual offices, shared coworking space, private individual offices that can hold one person on up to 15 people.  Our goal is to provide the amount of space that will allow your company to grow and sustain.

There’s no long term 3 to 5 year commitment, large capital investment and financial risk, personal guarantee, triple net leases, long lease negotiations, and hiring and managing of office staff that you would need if you were to go with traditional office space.

If you’re looking for great space to call your “think space” and you are near Redmond, Woodinville, Bellevue, or Kirkland please consider checking us out.  When you tour, you can enjoy a cup of fair trade coffee and charge your electric car in our electric car charging station.