Benefits of Live Receptionist Services

Technology has taken over. It has affected the way we communicate, how we retrieve information, how we view entertainment, how we purchase things, and what type of jobs are available. It has made us more busy at all hours of the day. Everything is instant and easily accessible. It may have taken away some jobs, but it has made life much easier for business owners. Who needs to wait ten minutes for a taxi? Call a Lyft or an Uber. Why call for delivery when there are applications to track your order? Why wait in line at the movie theater when Fandango has an app? Why go all the way to the bank when you can take a photo to deposit your check through your bank’s app? Gone are the days of printing out directions from Mapquest, and gone are the days of trips to Blockbuster. In the midst of all this, human interaction is still important. Customer service is still important. Perhaps as a business owner, or even as a staff member at a start up, you do not have the time to answer all incoming calls. You are worrying about overseeing endless factors as a business owner. And, if you work for a start up, you’re most definitely wearing multiple hats. Live receptionist services are available to save the day.

One huge reason a live receptionist may be helpful is it improves productivity. There are days when calls keep coming in. It takes away from your day and interrupts your train of thought. Usually calls require follow-up emails or contacting another person. Everything is completed for that phone call but that interruption took you out of your zone.. You’re back at your computer thinking, “Where was I?” Hours can be spent on taking phone calls alone. Opportunities may be missed too if someone is not manning the phone every second of the day. Unfortunately, not everyone leaves voicemails. Having a live receptionist saves you so much time and maintains a sense of peace.

What does your voice mailbox machine sounds like? Even if you do have a nice, clear message, it is unsatisfactory as a customer to be sent to voicemail. With everyone communicating online, calls are usually for more demanding topics. Having all calls answered makes the person on the other end feel cared for. It also gives you a more professional image. Many opt out of getting a receptionist at the business location simply because of the cost. However, D.C. Denison provided an interesting take in his article, “Some start-ups forgo receptionists.” In the article, he mentioned Vince Pan, an architect for Analogue Studio in South Boston, explains that start-ups do not want to look like they are wasting money. Paul English, Kayak‘s chief technology officer and cofounder, believes receptionists make the organization seem too formal. An interesting statistic also mentioned in the article: “According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for receptionists will increase 24 percent between 2010 and 2020.”

Today there are numerous live receptionist services to choose from, such as DaVinci, Cloud VO, VoiceNation, eVoice, and Call Ruby, to name a few. In past blogs I have mentioned the continuous growth of new features of SphereMail and this is a testament to that. Now not only are you able to receive mail services and phone numbers through SphereMail, but you may also purchase a live receptionist plan too! Enjoy the peace of mind of having a professional answer your phone calls with your customized greeting, forward calls for you, and answer standard questions regarding your company. They can even make outbound calls and schedule appointments for you. It is a great addition to the many services SphereMail provides.

Bringing Your Company Mailroom into the Digital Age

We live in an age of instantaneous communication: tweets travel ’round the world at the speed of light; instant messages can be sent on a variety of platforms, and text messages and photos are sent straight to your smart device.

The general public now expects communication to be fast and efficient. It’s not like the old days when clients would wait days, weeks or even months for a response.

In many ways companies have adapted to the fast pace of technological change by hiring social media managers and implementing chat bots on their sites; but there is one area that still lags behind all others in speed, efficiency, and cost effectiveness. It’s the dinosaur of nearly every organization.

Of course, I am talking about the company mailroom.

Paper mail not going away. In fact, due to compliance issues, certain industries still rely heavily on paper communication, including financial institutions, legal institutions, insurance companies, and government agencies.

But the lag in communication time, not to mention storage and transportation costs, can seriously impact the bottom line for all of these companies.

Adopting a robust mail management tool like SphereMail can help your mailroom flow fast and efficiently, just like the rest of your organization:

Some advantages include:

  • Cutting costs and waste of space
  • Better data retention and organization
  • Speeds up mail management time
  • Gives employees remote access to mail via smart device
  • Streamlines internal communications

Upgrading to a digital platform like SphereMail eliminates the need for physical redistribution of mail to other offices. Quick communication also ensures that non-essential mail items can be shredded to save on storage space. Workers would easily stay connected to what’s happening with their postal mail, even as more and more work places experiment with telecommuting and coworking options, and fewer employees have easy access to go check their physical mailboxes.

Like many other workplace innovations happening right now, digital mail management software has seen a tremendous amount of growth in the coworking industry. As large corporations like Microsoft, Verizon, and Amazon become more involved with the coworking model, I imagine that it’s only a matter of time until they begin to adopt some of the software that coworking spaces are using as well.

Paper mail isn’t dead, and perhaps it will never completely go away. But we can make paper communication more efficient by connecting it to our digital world.

Tom Montgomery

SphereMail Business Development

Entrepreneurial Mindsets & SphereMail Founder: Hear More at GWA!

 

When thinking of entrepreneurial leaders, some qualities that come to mind are intelligence, perseverance, and of course risk taking. These individuals tend to carry themselves with such confidence that almost makes them seem invincible. In order to fully take on a business, one must have high confidence. They believe in themselves and their product so much that they are not worried about competitors. They do not focus on challenges, but are aware of them. The focus is always goal oriented. They are always prepared to try new things. Failure does not scare or discourage them because they are constantly learning through failures.

Entrepreneurship seems to have risen. But there are many misconceptions that come along with it. Some may have the idea that it’ll be lucrative right off the bat, or they’ll have all the freedom because they are now “their own boss.” They fear the success of their idea because it exists already. While these may be true to some extent, it definitely takes time and is not a get rich quick scheme. You’ll have a say in when and how everything happens, but it comes with a lot of sacrifice, especially if you want your business to succeed. Competitors should not be seen as a threat, but instead as another outlet of getting your idea out.

The Kauffman Foundation‘s article about the rise of entrepreneurship lists trends shaping entrepreneurship in America. Listed is demographics of entrepreneurship, stating that although the U.S is becoming diverse, entrepreneurs do not reflect that. 80.2 percent of them being white, and 64.5 being male. Minorities do not see much of a representation, which either sends them into working for someone else, or to attempt to prove people wrong. Raising capital for your business is much easier when you already come from wealth. Risks are much higher with those that do not have that luxury nor the opportunities to create the amount of revenue needed to fund a business. The blog also lists a new map of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship tends to take place in urban areas. “As a percentage, startup activity in rural areas now is even lower than the percent of the country’s rural population.” The third trend states that technology has now made it possible for startups to grow revenue without as much hiring. Companies are not creating as many jobs as they once were.

Although there are many ways to think pessimistically or to be afraid of starting one’s own business, those that succeed find ways to challenge set backs. Founder of SphereMail, Hasan Mirjan, came from a family of entrepreneurs and says with a smile, “I think it’s genetic.” He’s expressed that while working for tech companies, he became bored very easily because he would get things done so quickly. He had been promoted, but still wanted a challenge.

When choosing where to open up his coworking space, Hasan was told that the North Beach district in San Francisco was risky. He believed it, but it did not stop him. Instead, he thought of bringing SphereMail into the mix to sustain revenue. SphereMail did extremely well at SpherePad, but Hasan did not stop there. He decided to reach out to other spaces to see if they would be willing to utilize SphereMail. Now SphereMail has numerous partners globally. His optimism and enthusiasm is contagious, which makes for a great leader too. A response one might take as politely declining, he will take as a yes, with excitement to advise to follow up again. Hasan took multiple already existing products and made it his own; with his own expertise, his own experiences, and his own personality which trickles into the customer service everyone loves. Come meet the SphereMail team and hear Hasan speak among many others at GWA in Miami, September 11th – 13

By Dani Carrillo

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!

By Dani Carrillo

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

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

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