GWA 2017 Countdown

With GWA around the corner and the excitement building, let’s take a closer look at last year’s GWA. There was so much positivity surrounding this conference. All the blogs and conversations continuing are proof of that. Fun with new friends leads to strong connections and numerous networking opportunities. Last year everyone enjoyed themselves in Las Vegas, and this year we can’t wait to head to Miami!

In Office Suite Strategiesblog on GWA 2016, they speak on how coworking began to refer to any type of shared workspace. It became more about the culture in the environment than the layout. They provide examples of how this is seen in WeWork and Industrious, by having a hybrid business model. Open space is offered along with private space and meeting rooms. The fact that this topic was brought up at GWA is no surprise, considering Scott Chambers is part of the GWA team. It’s no surprise because he is the co-founder and chief operating officer of Pacific Workplaces. In our blog on Pacific Workplaces Expansion, you will get some insight as to how Pacific Workplaces rebranded themselves to include all aspects of shared workspaces.

Cloud VO too wrote a blog on GWA regarding the integration of all types of shared workspaces. In it they discuss Kane Willmott’s presentation at the conference, where he explains today’s Google definition of coworking: “the use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge.” Coworking used to mean “open plan,” but that has certainly changed. The presentation created a communal and all inclusive feel for all in attendance.

In “GWA: What not to leave in Vegas” from Essensys, they point out some interesting takeaways. Just like Office Suite Strategies and Cloud VO, they speak on how coworking is growing and is no longer restricted in what it pertains to. They share why GWA 2016’s motto was perfect, “We’re Better Together.” The conference itself exemplifies that by showing how essential networking is. By walking around or listening in on a speaker, it is apparent that everyone is sharing their pathway to success and are enthusiastic about helping each other get to where they want to be. Essensys points out that coworking operators can learn a lot from Vegas, from the luxury service to the memorable experiences. In their blog, “GWA 2016: Workspaces Can Learn a Lot From Vegas,” Essensys lists how Vegas does a great job at keeping guests engaged and coming back. Vegas needs to be technologically advanced, and so do coworking spaces. It is important for the optimization of a space and of course offering a great experience on the user’s end. Customer service is always key, too. Another impactful point from Essensys: Hotels create revenue through activities such as bars, casinos, shows, etc. They have various activities to keep people out of their rooms. Coworking spaces should have activities to keep people out of their, in this case, desks with events, speakers, and communal spaces. Essensys is undoubtedly a supporter of GWA, and we look forward to catching up with them too!

SphereMail also loves GWA. Our team that attended last year can attest to majority of what has been said already. There was a broad spectrum of people in attendance; from those just starting out to long established spaces, from trendy coworking open spaces to executive suites. It’s great to allow people to get to know SphereMail on a personal level and we look forward to doing so again this year. It’s also a blast developing relationships with fellow vendors. GWA has the word “global” as part of their acronym for a reason. It’s awesome speaking with people from around the globe. It gives you a great overview of the industry in terms of new innovations, experiments, trends, and seeing how coworking is attracting people from all industries. The excitement of everyone all together in one venue is also very encouraging. GWA has a great way of making people feel like they’re a part of the movement. They have interactive activities such as the dance instructor from last year, and allowing each and every sponsor a “one minute pitch.” We’re excited to meet more people and catch up with friends from previous years. And by SphereMail being a customer of its own product, we are always improving. We’re especially excited to arrive with all of our developments and newest features. Don’t miss out on this amazing conference! Newcomers, come say hi to the people in purple, and old friends, we have lots to catch up on. See you in September!

Pacific Workplaces Expansion

Found in 2004 and with now nineteen locations, many have heard of Pacific Workplaces, especially those involved in coworking. They generally do not use the word “coworking” to describe their spaces, except for their newest NextSpace addition in Berkeley (as seen in the photo). In their virtual tours, there is an emphasis on “not sacrificing image or connectivity.” While many coworking spaces have a trendy and more casual image, Pacific Workplaces maintains professionalism with a sleek simplistic style. The reason being; they started off as business centers. Scott Chambers, co-founder and chief operating officer, is also the president of GWA, Global Workspace Assocation.

As mentioned in the Pacific Workplaces blog, CEO Laurent Dhollande, also co-founder, grew up in France, worked for the UN in Africa, went back to Europe in the Netherlands, and then settled in California, where his wife is originally from. In his interview on the Last Rush Hour podcast, he explains working from home made it difficult to concentrate for himself. He wanted the warmth of people, and believes people learn through interaction. This is certainly something he and Scott Chambers have in common. In Jamie Russo’s Everything Coworking podcast, Chambers states “People want more out of their workspace. They want social interaction. And that’s what I’m trying to bring to the business center.” Chambers describes initial fear around competition when starting business centers that actually turned into bringing more awareness and validation, which was in turn great for his business. He also says that Pacific Workplaces was re-branded from its original name, Pacific Business Centers, placing a higher value on human interaction and networking. These two come from totally different backgrounds in terms of where they’ve been. Dhollande from living in Europe and Africa, and Chambers being a Bay Area native have brought two different perspectives together. This is the very root of coworking. A foreigner can learn a lot from a local, and someone local can learn from someone who has lived in other parts of the world. It’s no wonder they make such a great team.

Not only are the two founders of Pacific Workplaces a prime example of what comes out of coworking, but the recent transition into NextSpace locations is also a serendipitous way of bringing different worlds together. In the Pacific Workplaces blog on this topic, Dhollande expresses, “The NextSpace experience will be a great source of inspiration for the rest of the Pacific Workplaces portfolio, which I foresee will permeate throughout the group by osmosis and with the sharing of best practices.” Many NextSpace members will remain at these locations as well as the set up, which certainly does mean the two company’s cultures will be meshing. All NextSpace locations use SphereMail as their virtual office provider, too. We’re ecstatic to now serve Pacific Workplaces San Francisco and Pacific Workplaces Berkeley. It’s a great collaboration and we’re excited to see what’s next for Pacific Workplaces as a whole.

By Dani Carrillo

How Coworking Staff & Owners “Think Different.”

Steve Jobs dropped out of college to be a video game designer, backpacked through India, then teamed up with a high school friend to work on the first Apple product. John Mackey dropped out of college several times and opened his own grocery store, Whole Foods. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard. Oprah Winfrey dropped out of Tennessee State University her sophomore year. Michael Dell enrolled as a pre-med student at the University of Texas, but he dropped out at 19 to pursue computer business. Matt Wullenburg dropped out of the University of Houston; he had already began WordPress at the age of 20. Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room, and dropped out after his sophomore year. Daniel Ek left the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, eventually created an online marketing company which he sold to a Swedish company, and then teamed up with its founder to create Spotify. These are just some of the 16 Insanely Successful College Dropouts listed in the Business Insider.

What do these insanely successful individuals have in common with coworking owners and staff? They all “dropped out” of the corporate world. All took that risk to believe in entrepreneurs, the company they own or work for, and themselves of course! All coworking staff think outside the box; not only with the position they have, but being in the coworking industry alone requires people skills and creativity. Coworking is still fairly new. When speaking with staff and owners, many have come from the corporate world and some may even describe that time as a time they felt “lost.” In Jamie Russo’s Everything Coworking Podcast, she interviews Iris Kavanagh, who describes her personality as a “circle walker; somebody who connected different groups of people and was sort of that connector type of personality.” Because of that trait, she felt she was made for coworking and did very well at managing the community. Now she is the go-to person for every aspect of coworking. Iris also explains that the coworking industry is creating a career path for people not only by going into another coworking space while job searching, but also going into different positions within coworking spaces.

In Coworking Insight‘s article on the Right Person for the Right Job, Tobias Kremkau clearly states that versatility is super important for the team and the community. Because coworking is so new, those that are passionate about networking and creating daily are the perfect fit, no matter what the position. The coworking world does not JUST consist of coworking. There are virtual offices, coliving, endless different types of coworking spaces, coworking matchmakers, coworking apps, coworking furniture, and coworking media. When you attend a conference you really experience all it consists of. It is so much more than coworking spaces. Coworking spaces are basically a startup itself, and so they know what entrepreneurs need. Staff of coworking spaces tend to wear many hats, which requires a particular personality type; someone willing to constantly learn and share ideas too. In quite a few articles and interviews, many state that those with a background in hospitality fit well in the coworking world. Those that have worked in the hospitality industry deal with many different types of people daily, and fulfilling needs becomes natural for them.

According to Deskmag, the first official coworking space opened up in San Francisco by Brad Neuberg. Neuberg actually wrote an article about his experience. In it he explains he created his coworking space because he had already worked for himself and worked for someone, but was still unhappy: “I couldn’t seem to combine all the things I wanted at the same time: the freedom and independence of working for myself along with the structure and community of working with others.”

Undoubtedly, coworking is a unique industry. With so many various spaces open today, one can certainly find one that fits his/her needs. Coworking staff also have endless opportunities to move up, learn, or even create something that will benefit the coworking community. Thank you, Brad Neuberg and all contributors since for creating this new world for creative and entrepreneurial enthusiasts.

By Dani Carrillo

Men vs Women in the Coworking World

Biologically, women are wired differently than men. Those that speak on the subject portray women as nurturing, more emotionally inclined, and more able to multi task. There are still women who take on traditional female roles; secretaries, receptionists, nurses, or stay at home moms. The female CEO’s or any other higher up positions tend to be labeled as “alpha females.” In the coworking world especially, we’d like to think that there is gender equality, but is that really the case?

Traditionally in society, what’s embedded in women is the idea that they need to be approached and taken care of. This is seen in dating, in family life, and at times even in the workplace. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there would be less female entrepreneurs than male. In an interview with Melissa Kim, founder of Haus of Maven in Hawaii, she explains that while working at the few coworking spaces Hawaii had to offer, she felt a masculine presence. She previously worked for a PR agency, which consisted of predominantly women, and she describes the setting as kind, supportive, and inspiring. Her motive behind creating Haus of Maven was to close the gap and barrier for women.

Interestingly enough, while researching this topic, nothing came up when searching why coworking consists of predominantly males. When searching for women in coworking, only the “all women” or “female focused” coworking spaces came about. In Iris Kavanagh‘s interview with Felena Hanson, she points out that coworking spaces tend to have very few women. I can certainly attest to that, as a community manager for a coworking space, I am one of three females in our office. Felena, founder of Hera Hub, created a female-focused coworking space. It is not exclusive, and she does have a few male members. She is providing a community that is pro-women, and an opportunity for members to be open and vulnerable, and not feel like you should know something that you are not knowledgeable on. In an article from Twin Cities Business from 2014, they list how CoCo Coworking were attempting to boost female membership from 35% to 50%, but they do not provide reasons why. Perhaps because the article was written by a male (half kidding).

Are exclusively female spaces and female-focused spaces necessary? Absolutely. Unfortunately, sexism does still exist. There was a worldwide march in January to prove it. Sallie Krawcheck expresses her frustration in a November 2016 article for the Business Insider. She provides an example of a meeting with a board of a non-profit she was a part of. She brought up a topic and it was brushed off, but when a male brought up the same topic, only then was it acknowledged. She also explains it is more affordable today to create your own business. Not only are female-focused coworking spaces empowering and inspiring women, but they also give women the comfort of being in their element. Men can be less collaborative than women, and a bit messier. I have trained myself to not get upset nor surprised when I find myself washing dishes, kicking down the toilet seat, or replacing our restroom key because someone pocketed it and took it home.

This all has nothing to do with being against men or women. We are simply made this way! In Psychology Today, male brains are described as having more “gray matter” for activity, and females utilize more “white matter.” Gray matter areas are localized, and it is seen when men go into tunnel vision while working on something. White matter is the connector between gray matter and other processing centers, which is why women may be described as too emotional or illogical, but are great at multitasking. Women also tend to have verbal centers on both sides of the brain, whereas men tend to have verbal centers only on the left hemisphere. This explains why women use more words when describing something or telling a story. These combined explain why women tend to enjoy collaborating and sharing ideas more than men do.

Female-focused coworking spaces are a great way to build up women who are less open, and need the support to move forth. I do however, think it is important for those same women to go out into a co-ed coworking space for growth. Nothing ever grows from a comfort zone! Both genders need to be more understanding and aware of our differences, and use them to learn from each other. Although society has taught us otherwise, women, do not be afraid to dominate, and men, don’t be afraid to learn from women. Balance is definitely key.

By Dani Carrillo

Why the USPS is Still Around, Despite Technology

What do you think of when you think of a trip to the US Post Office? It’s almost like a trip to the DMV. Almost. I think the DMV still wins in terms of one of the least favorite places to visit. Anyway, one reason for this mundane business with lack of great customer service is partly on its disinterest to make many changes, if any. Instead, prices are being raised, which is a bit humorous because most businesses would decrease prices to win customers back. Not in their case.. After all, the USPS has been around since 1775!

Even with technology and email in particular, using the USPS still is a necessity at times. They’ve undoubtedly lost money over the years, although paper mail has decreased significantly. However, it has not vanished entirely. There have been talks for years about cutting Saturday service, but only letters were canceled out for Saturdays. Packages are still delivered six days a week. Large companies still use mail for marketing, which many may refer to as “junk mail.” Postcards, holiday cards, and birthday cards are still relevant for sentimental reasons too. Checks are still sent in the mail, letters, and notices from your bank and the government.

Clearly, paper mail is not going anywhere anytime soon. Sure, we enjoy complaining about the service they provide, but perhaps we should cut them some slack. Imagine coordinating deliveries to every existing address. One great solution to this: virtual offices! We’ve take a spin on snail mail. You don’t want that piece of junk mail? Request to shred it. You want that check deposited? No worries, we can send it to your bank. That package you do need, however? Request to pick it up or we can forward it to your personal address.

SphereMail has been around since 2011 and have seen many virtual offices come and go. Perhaps SphereMail among other virtual office providers are saving paper mail. According to Forbes, Outbox, a former virtual office provider, wanted to partner with the USPS in February 2013, but they declined. They are no longer around. But since then, there are various virtual office providers that help digitize and keep paper mail alive!

By Dani Carrillo

Corporate or Coworking?

Working out of a coworking space, you need to have full faith that coworking is the way to go, right? You’re eliminating the corporate world from your mind, especially if you’ve spent many years in that particular work setting. How can you not? You’re surrounded by entrepreneurs now, and working alongside professionals of all sorts. Many current coworking space owners feel excited about the industry, and say they disliked their previous corporate job in comparison. I absolutely love working out of a coworking space, but I’m going to play the devil’s advocate just a tad bit here considering the survey I put together. It initially was an attempt to bring about the negative aspects of working for a large corporate company, but perhaps it depends on the person, the title, and what the company presents to their employees. I asked a few questions to a group working for a large tech company, and to a group working for a corporate hotel.

For those that drive to work, majority said they feel rushed or anxious due to traffic in the morning, which is one definite perk of coworking spaces. You can choose how close to home you’d like to be. For those working for a prestigious corporate company (of which will remain anonymous), majority said their schedule is flexible. In terms of repetition, most agreed there is a routine, but, just like any job, each day is different. This is another great thing about coworking spaces – there are always new faces to interact with, especially with spaces that hold events and workshops for their members.

What keeps these individuals going to work is their pride in their company, and of course the amazing benefits given to them. A mother of five that was surveyed expressed that she would much rather have a position that allows her to work from home. Half agreed they feel they have a work/life balance, and half disagreed. My favorite response toward work/life balance certainly pertains to both coworking and corporate settings: “I try to discipline myself to do so. This way there is no resentment in what I do for a living. Balance in my book is key!” If you feel great about your company and put a lot of focus into your job, working in a corporate office can make you forget to make time for YOU. Conversely, working at a coworking space might distract you from making time for work because you are in a self-governing setting. Self-discipline is crucial.

Each person described their job as both an obligation and something they enjoy. Those that said they feel they make an impact with their company was dependent on the context. The volume of the group’s company I chose to ask is massive. Therefore, in terms of the company as a whole, many said they at times do feel like just a number. They do, however, feel they are an asset to their teams. Throughout conversations with coworking owners, I love hearing how people from complete different backgrounds are able to collaborate with one another. In the corporate setting, employees tend to be more fixated on who they are working with. Growth is constant and at a quicker rate in more creative departments. With the diversity coworking brings, creativity is almost forced upon you. The executive assistants I surveyed either are in the same position they began at, or got to where they are after 10+ years. One finance analyst manager even described her journey to get there as “too long.” Within the more creative side of the company, the label coordinator for the music department got to where she is in 3 ½ years. Her descriptions of her team heavily depicted diversity, creativity, and constantly meeting new people. These qualities give professionals an endless flow of ideas and motivation.

Work settings are also dependent on the company you work for. Those in hospitality (hotels specifically) may have complete different opinions than those above. Those surveyed feel as if their schedule is restricted, duties are repetitive, and there is no work/life balance. Just like those with little to no creativity in the job title itself, it takes a very long time to move toward an aspiring position. The individual determines their own happiness in their position. One explained, “I enjoy my job because I feel like I’m welcoming people into my home (that just happens to have 400 rooms).”

Through solely questioning people in corporate offices, it seems that there is no right or wrong. It is a matter of the individual and what he or she takes from her company. There are always pros and cons to any situation. Your personal goals and outlook on the workforce determines what best suits you.

By Dani Carrillo

Coworking Culture

 

What a great time GCUC was.. The Global Coworking Unconference Conference brought so many great conversations, energy, and people! The amount of like-minded individuals there to learn and collaborate was truly inspirational. Everyone from vets to brand new coworking spaces all came together to share ideas, which is the very root of coworking itself! People from Belgium to New Zealand gathered under one roof small enough to meet a good portion of the crowd, yet large enough to fit people from across the spectrum of the coworking world.

Steve Whittington, of Lifeworking Enterprise, shared his story of how he began. Before coworking, Whittington worked for Proctor and Gamble for twenty five years. When he moved to Chicago, he decided to try something else and witnessed people working at coffee shops struggling to try to be productive. He attended GCUC before opening his space, while actually trying to disprove the model. He gathered all the information needed, and decided to give it a go. His space is described as “professional with a touch of home.” It is hospitality focused and network friendly with 80% open space. Open for six months, Lifeworking Enterprise takes advantage of the benefits of virtual offices – the up-selling aspect, as well as the growth in the community.

Lucas Seyhun, founder of The Farm Soho, perfectly depicted those in the coworking community. He stated that the employees feel as if it is the best job they’ve had, and the best business they’ve ever built. He says, “We’re innovating how people work and that resonates into our employees.” He also shared that in Desk Mag, it was said that 25% of U.S. Employees are going to either be remote working or in coworking environments that resemble home. Another great point from Seyhun: The coworking market is young. Those working in coworking spaces are no longer in the corporate world, having the same mundane routine. They’re now part of something exciting, on their own time. Seyhun describes that his coworking space fits into the social mode of people. Instead of going to their office, they would go to The Farm for creativity and collaboration. The Farm also utilizes virtual offices for business, and is one of SphereMail’s coworking partners.

Colo intrigued me with their simple logo, forcing me to go up to the booth to see what they’re about. If you are looking for a coworking space fit for you, visit Colo. It’s practically online dating for coworking spaces. Jonah Merchant, co-founder of BizDojo and Colo, was such a pleasure to speak with. Before coworking, he had no experience in real estate or property. He worked as a freelancer for digital products and online development. Coworking had similar characteristics to a project he was working on at the time: the diverse teams, collaborative environment, and serendipity. He wanted to keep those aspects of that experience. No one was coworking in New Zealand, and so he became the first one to introduce the idea there. BizDojo is described as a friendly atmosphere known for their diversity. He wants to make the members feel like they’re part of something more than just a workspace. He explains, “We always want to have an artist sitting next to a freelancer, sitting next to a corporate person. They all interact in unusual ways. The most amazing stories have been with the most random collaborations that have come out in people you would never in a million years expect to have gelled and connected.” I definitely admired the willingness of Merchant to put New Zealand on the map. He stressed throughout our conversation how small of a country New Zealand is. Towards the end of our talk, he explains that he is trying to help New Zealand become more globally innovative. He wants to see all different sectors working effectively as a unit in order to do well as a country that is too small and too far away from everything else. He wants New Zealand to be more than just a cool place to visit.

These few examples of the conversations held at GCUC is just a taste of the diversity the coworking world contains. Each person I conversed with had a different culture, aim, and tactic. But the purpose was universal: to increase productivity in a collaborative, creative, comfortable space.

By Dani Carrillo

 

Why Choose a Virtual Office?

Imagine going on vacation and coming back home to a pile of mail. Then imagine that you have your own business and use your home address for it. That’s double the amount!

So, you put it off.. and the mail piles up. The day that you finally decide to go through the mail, it’s a project. Oh. My. Goodness. You suddenly remember that there’s something important in the mail that you are waiting for, and you have to dig through a ton of papers.

I can’t be the only one with a box filled with mail that I STILL haven’t sorted through. I can’t decide whether or not they’re even necessary to keep. It’s a job alone, and especially in the case of setting up your own business, there’s no time for that.

Virtual offices are an amazing solution to not only the time consumption of sorting mail, but they also will give you the business presence you need and protect your privacy.

Virtual offices come in many forms – some store your mail, and offer phone answering services. Others offer time at the space: drop in days, conference room hours. And some even offer remote mail management, like the offices that SphereMail partners with.

With offices that provide remote mail management, once new mail has arrived, you’re notified via email. You can access what has been sent online or on your mobile phone. It tells you who sent it, what type of mail it is, and you can process requests online. If you choose this type of service, you won’t even need to go to the office! How awesome is that?

Do you want it shredded? Scanned? Forwarded to another address? Also, you get notifications when mail is received AND when your request has been processed. It’s such a great organizational tool that you don’t have to spend those hours weeding out what you need and what you don’t anymore.

Not only do virtual offices save you a huge chunk of time, but many people are concerned about the privacy and safety issues that may come about when using a home address. You definitely don’t want customers or competitors to know where you live. It’s safer to use a virtual office and maintain a professional image by doing so. There’s trust and credibility made with a business address for your customers. Also, what if they want to meet with you? Are you going to meet at a local cafe? With some virtual offices, your membership may come with day passes to meet with clients as well as conference room hours.

As a startup, virtual offices are certainly the way to go if you don’t want to pay for a desk or office space. It provides you with the professional image you need, saves you time, gives you a place to meet clients, and is a diligent organizational tool to help with your continued success!

By Dani Carrillo and Tom Montgomery