The (executive) suite life: One month and counting…

Wow, it’s amazing that a whole month has already flown by.  It feels like only last week I was getting settled in to experience the executive suites at 500 N. Michigan Ave.  During my time here, I have had the privilege of meeting several independent professionals who have embraced the value of working in a shared environment – networking with other professionals and experiencing the empowered feeling of having an established office, without having to deal with all of the hassles of a conventional office.

Since a month has passed, I wanted to write a summary of my experiences.  I have decided to evaluate the experience through a table of pros and cons of officing in an executive suite.  Note that these are my observations – I encourage professionals in the executive suite industry to provide additional insight or response to my observations.

Pros Cons
All telecommunications needs accounted for; no need to manage multiple service providers Space can get pricier than conventional offices when a business reaches 4+ people
Space is furnished to your specifications Locked into building standard finishes
Always room to effortlessly schedule large meetings or impromptu gatherings The space is not yours to do with as you please
Turnkey VoIP and internet service available, so you’ve essentially got a dedicated IT department rolled into your rate You don’t get to choose who else occupies the other offices
Easy to move in and get started
Receptionist and answering services lend a professional quality to your office without substantial fees or management hassles

To be honest, it was hard for me to come up with a lot of cons, when considering a small business.  Although office suites are not ideal for large teams or businesses, small businesses of 1-4 employees can get a professional image, quality space, and productive environment at an affordable rate without the hassles that come with conventional space.

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Happy Holidays!

With Good Friday, Easter Weekend, Purim, and who knows what other holidays this weekend, I expect that most of you are in some sort of celebration mode.  I wish you all a wonderful holiday and look forward to welcoming you back into the business world come Monday.

The (executive) Suite Life: Just when you thought I had blogger’s block…

I’ve been fairly well-occupied with special projects related to games.  The biggest one right now is an in-culture marketing opportunity (read: advertising) to the Hispanic community – http://www.gametime24x7.com/loteria/.  By targeting a different product and market, my sales and calling skills are rapidly developing beyond the plateau (worth exploring in another post).

The important thing was that I did not have a whole lot to discuss.  Everything in the office was fairly status quo, until today.  I had the opportunity to experience first-hand the value of working in a shared office environment.  Sales directors, take note: it may be a revenue booster to have a shared office suite through which you rotate your sales team.  The following examples justify my position:

A) I’m helping a really great guy who is fairly fresh in the world of marketing and sales.  He’s looking to establish himself via the Loteria Mix program.  I overheard my neighbor at Avenue Business Center mention that she was involved in buying broadcast advertising time for clients.  Since we need to target professionals who want to buy advertising, I asked her if we could sit down for a few minutes to pick her brain.  She was more than receptive to the idea and gave us both some great pointers on who we should be targeting when we make sales calls.  As it turns out, we didn’t actually want to speak to media buyers, but media planners, who then tell the buyers to buy.

B) This morning, a woman who works down the hall knocked on my door.  She had heard from Mike, the owner of Avenue Business Center, that I run a real estate blog – Do I run a real estate blog?  No kidding. 😉   Her firm, Full Circle International Relocations, Inc., helps international executives when they relocate to the US.  Not only that, but they appear to be one of the few real estate firms (outside of residential brokers) to embrace blogging.  They have a blogger who discusses the relocation industry via www.ReloBlogger.com.  It’s a very clean site that focuses on content and left me impressed.

Two different stories.  In one, I receive valuable time-saving advice.  In the other, two related business activities that can now explore collaboration.

Two business opportunities that could never have happened if we all worked out of corporate offices and only interacted with co-workers each day.  That’s why sales teams should evaluate taking some flextime for their biz dev folks to get out there and meet new circles.

Have a great weekend,
Jacob

The (executive) Suite Life: It sure beats a $4 latte

Since I’ve begun my adventures in a shared office suite, I’ve learned to appreciate the value of setting up meetings on my “home turf”.  I previously never understood when colleagues and business associates would persuade me to meet them in their office, but I was always happy to oblige.  The alternative was often to meet at the corner coffee shop that rhymes with “Less Bucks”, where it was a foregone conclusion that we would be purchasing a couple cups of $4 coffee.  Individually, this was no problem, but at an average of a meeting a day, this could add up to a substantial expense.

Now that I have the privilege of my own private office, with its own private door – in contrast to the cubicles and open workspaces I have had in the past, I fully appreciate the value of hosting meetings.  Not only do I have my computer, my phone, my printer and all of my in-office accoutrements, but I also have a breakroom.  Avenue Business Center has me taken care of, providing coffee (which I don’t drink), tea (which I definitely drink), and hot cocoa (of which I occasionally treat myself on these cold winter days).  Having all of these options on hand sure makes it less appealing to brave the cold and make my way to a cafe.

The (executive) Suite Life: Appreciating the importance of transit when selecting an office space

As I type this, I’m sitting in an office at Avenue Business Center, which occupies the entire third floor at 500 N. Michigan Ave.  I mention the address because it is not only a feature but also a benefit of the space.  Size of the office space, location in the city, proximity to clients or other businesses, quality of the space – these are all factors that get a lot of attention during a site selection process.  One factor that frequently is overlooked when doing a space search is transit access.  The location of the office where I am working demonstrates the value of convenience.  I can walk half of a block from my home to pick up my choice of bus line that will run express down Lake Shore Drive and drop me off right in front of my building – total commute time: 20-25 minutes.  In stark contrast is my roommate’s commute – living downtown, but working in the north suburbs, he takes a bus west to a train north to a shuttle that drops him at his office complex – total commute time: 60-75 minutes on a good day, plus 3 changes of transit type, which can add additional latency.  My roommate is a very special exception to the rule; most of my peers in the late generation X/early generation Y (already in the work force) are not willing to accept the commutes that our parents have historically.  We want immediate action and quality of life and office location can have a substantial impact on our employment decisions.

Now, that isn’t to say that no employers are taking transit into consideration when evaluating their space.  The US Government “gets it”.  Working on the GSA projects for the US Census Bureau, I was impressed that proximity to bus line was a question included on the market survey forms, to ensure that the employees at the Census Bureau would have access to transit to and from work.  If you are in the market to evaluate your location and ways to improve your top line (i.e. the revenue from hiring the best, brightest and most productive), take into consideration where they live and how far they’re willing to travel.  You may find that a small time investment up-front will yield substantial returns down the road.

Since I saved so much time on my commute, I was able to sleep in 15 more minutes and still have almost half an hour on each side of my work day to be more productive.

The (executive) Suite Life: Expecting a full day in the office

Today is going to be quite the packed Monday.  I ran to Office Depot this morning to pick up some essentials for a new creative venture: dry erase markers for notes on the large window in my office, new business card sheets for printing some custom business cards, and envelopes because, well, you can never have too many envelopes.  Conveniently, it was a quick zip down the road on the #144 bus and a return trip on the #151 – no waiting for the bus and the stops for both Office Depot and Avenue Business Center are right outside the buildings.

My office space is starting to feel like my own.  On Friday, I had the luck of desiring a cup of tea.  When my friend Brian and I went to make tea, we found a discarded printer, “free to a good home”.  It’s a nice little perk of working in a shared office environment… shared resources.  The printer will need some TLC, mostly in the form of new cables, but I’m sure I’ll be able to get what I need at Office Depot.

Now that I’m settled in to the office for the day, I’ve got a couple of business development meetings, so I’m sure that we’ll be taking advantage of the tea and coffee service in the office.  Then I’ll be heads-down in the afternoon, spreading the word about the GameTime Connections Professional Relationship event coming up on the evening of March 24.

The (executive) Suite Life: Held my first conference meeting

This was a busy afternoon – once I confirmed that all of my computer files were still intact (long story… special thanks to Jon for his support), I met up with a college friend with whom I had worked on computer science projects back in the day.  We were discussing ways to create a website experience that draws in users and keeps them engaged, and he also demonstrated a LEGO pin-hole camera that he built – did I mention he is very creative and good at building things?  We got on the subject of games and he told me he was going to build a MAME cabinet, potentially with an integrated electronic projector – very cool.

After lunch at Potbelly’s, we went back to my office at Avenue Business Center, where we were met by Chris Rollyson and James Bergstrom to discuss how to engage today’s executives using social networking tools, both online and offline.  Since I only have three chairs in the office and hadn’t expected a party of four, we made our way to one of the conference rooms.  It was a perfect space for us to collaborate.  I didn’t even need to make a reservation – Victoria and Kim directed me to available space and it was effortless.  After grabbing cups of tea from the members’ break room, we adjourned to the conference room and spent the next hour and a half brainstorming, idea-sharing and discussing ways that we could all collaborate.  In fact, the space was large enough that we could have comfortably accommodated another 4-6 people, all gathered together to share knowledge.  If I wasn’t a participant, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall, listening to the talk of generational marketing, pain resolution and bringing trust and collaboration into a dysfunctional organization.  We all walked away with new ways to approach our respective business targets, so it was definitely a successful meeting.