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Does It Make Sense Anymore to Get a Physical Office?

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We are on the edge of disruption after almost all offices shifted to the culture of remote working and then to hybrid work culture. The hybrid model is a mixed model where some workers come to the workplace while others continue working from their homes.

The management, as well as, the workers are learning as they go. However, one thing is certain. Flexible work and work from stay are here to stay. At the same time, there has been a fundamental shift in the talent landscape. The good news is that remote work has led to fresh job opportunities for many.

Many people have been enjoying more family time and choices for when or whether to commute or not. At the same time, there are severe challenges in front of businesses. For instance, trams have become more isolated this year and digital exhaustion has emerged as an unsustainable threat.

More than 40 percent of the worldwide workforce is contemplating quitting their existing jobs. Therefore, a thoughtful perspective to hybrid assignments would be crucial for drawing, as well as, retaining talents from diverse fields.

Are you the owner of a growing small venture? If the answer is “yes”, you might be visualizing an office or a workplace with a few people. This handful of your employees interacts with one another through meetings, brainstorming sessions, and interacting with coworkers standing by the coffee counter.

Yet, this all-familiar scene is beginning to change soon. Also, it is becoming simpler than ever before for startup businesses to survive well without having a physical space that is also known as an office space.

There are popular technology companies, such as Buffer that have completely done away with the concept of their offices. At the same time, there are some businesses that will find it tough to survive without having a physical workspace.

So, here we are with a million-dollar question before you. Does a start-up business actually require a physical office? The article aims to address this issue by looking at the various aspects.

Virtual office user
photo credit: Anastasia Shuraeva / Pexels

Reasons for Completely Doing Away With a Physical Office

A business can reap several benefits when they get rid of a physical workspace altogether. Let us now look at some of them below:

1. Locations of teams

Are you hiring relents from all over the country? If that is the case, there is no assurance that all the members of your team will be living in the same geographical location. Therefore, it does not appear logical to create a physical office when your employees function from different parts of the country.

2. The cost of office space is saved

The average rent of office space has touched the sky these days. Several organizations, including startups, have to spend thousands of bucks each month for rent. An entrepreneur will rarely disagree that he/she can make this significant saving when the business does not operate from a physical office.

You should consider using virtual office services. You can choose the level of services you want, compare the virtual office cost, and only use those as you and your team need them.

3. While building a fabulous digital product

Do you aim to create a perfect digital product to make your customers satisfied? If that’s the case, why should you unnecessarily want to spend your precious time tracking down an office location, maintaining the workplace environment, and negotiating lease terms?

When your primary focus is to create a fabulous business, having a great office is not always essential.

4. Subjective merits of not having a physical office

Additionally, there are other anecdotal and subjective merits of working remotely or from home vis-à-vis working from an office space. According to some reports, working remotely leads to greater productivity. Plus, many workers are gladder working remotely as opposed to working from an office.

Attending virtual conference

Questions That Will Help you Make Up your Mind

In case you are yet to make up your mind about whether to do away with a physical office entirely or not, try to answer these questions below.

1. How much impact does interaction have on the success of your business?

It may not be an easy question to answer and yet, contemplate the services and products of your business. Also, think about how they could develop. Do you depend on brainstorming sessions of your teams for your work? Alternatively, is your company more function on many individual employees in relatively isolated areas of your expertise?

2. Is there a need to impress your clients?

It is important for you to think about ways of impressing and attracting your clients. For instance, are the potential clients traditional entrepreneurs who may get confused if you have no office? Or, are they younger professionals who are aware of and comfortable with the rules of the digital age?

3. What is your wish?

This is possibly the most pertinent and relevant question to answer before deciding whether you want to do away with an official space or not. Introspect after reviewing your logistics and then take a decision. Think carefully about what is your personal preference? Would you like to thrive in a physical workspace or you will get greater satisfaction by working remotely from your home?

You are the best person as the owner of your business to decide what should be done. After all, you are acquainted with the brand and tone of your business best and so trust your gut feelings.

4. What is the revenue and working capital you can count on?

It is likely that you have to invest a lot of capital, especially when you have just started your startup business. You may feel excited about the prospect of an office of your own. However, think carefully about whether you can actually afford it or not. Rather, it would be sensible to try a cheaper, simpler option first.

Remote working
photo credit: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Summing It Up

We are hopeful that these queries and merits have helped you in arriving at a final decision. As an entrepreneur, it is crucial for you to perceive whether a physical office is suitable for your business or not. In case you are hesitant or uncertain about your decision to operate remotely, do not worry.

After all, you can always have a change of mind later. Incidentally, there are many businesses, which initially began without any physical office but had one at a later stage and vice versa. Make up your mind; see how it goes, and make alterations if required.

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Managing people

12 examples of team-building activities for small businesses

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Virtual bonding sessions

Team building during the pandemic has been tough. Small businesses have rapidly gone from mostly in-person to mostly remote. Even as employees return to in-person work, many people will continue to work remotely or have team members in other locations.

Workplace shifts and new company culture norms have given rise to an important dynamic: virtual team-building activities.

A small business used to go to an afternoon movie or head over to Escape the Room to share some laughs and get out of the office. Now, high-growth, venture-backed companies have created new ways to bring teams together on Zoom and in virtual environments.

Startups are now using terms like, “we’re the virtual watercooler conversation” or “we’re like Escape the Room, but in the metaverse.”

Zoom has launched an entire app marketplace that seems to have initial traction around team building. There’s almost saturation when it comes to team-building activities for small businesses.

Luckily for you, we’ve evaluated the options and asked small business leaders about some of the team-building activities they’ve used and would recommend them to other SMBs.

From sharing pet pictures to holding educational events to building trust through music, here are 12 examples of team-building activities at small businesses:

  1. Create fun Slack channels
  2. Learn together
  3. Escape rooms
  4. Core values exercise
  5. A hike improved our unity
  6. Book club
  7. Trust building with music
  8. Virtual cooking class
  9. Contests
  10. Fitness challenges
  11. Remote campout
  12. Life Highlights Game

Let’s dive in to learn about the experiences small businesses have had with these team-building activities.

Headshots of small business leaders

Create fun Slack channels

“As a fully remote company, one of TeamBuilding’s most effective team-building strategies to date is sharing pet pictures. We made a special channel on our company Slack called #furry-friends where employees can drop pictures of cute dogs, cats and other creature companions. This activity is low-touch and easy to execute on asynchronous schedules. These photos offer an opportunity for teammates to glimpse into each other’s home lives and get to know and appreciate coworkers on a human level. Plus, the adorable photos provide an instant mood boost and are an easy way for employees to make each other smile throughout the day from miles away.”

— Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding

Learn together

“With a business built around education, our entire team enjoys coming together to learn the latest in the lash industry while still having some fun. Any company, even if not focused on teaching, can make a team-building event out of an educational event. Make the learning fun, so your employees can benefit from increased knowledge and team bonding.”

— Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional

Escape rooms

“A fun and super-effective team building activity is an escape room. Escape rooms enable teams to work together towards a common goal and so it’s the perfect activity to see how well your team works with one another. In the end, whether you get to escape or not, you’ll always remember that it was a team’s effort that will definitely leave you wanting more.”

— Jessica Ulloa, MyPerfectResume

Core values exercise

“We have used a core values exercise to identify the top six core values for each individual. This allows us to learn more about one another on a deeper level. This also helps us to know how to better communicate and approach situations based on what others value. Make the activity fun and interactive and your team is bound to appreciate this!”

— Alison Stine, Stine Wealth Management

A hike improved our unity

Recently our company did an offsite in Southern Utah. One of the activities was a hike at Angels Landing and it was a unifying experience for us that we still talk about. Though not all team members made the entire hike, everyone felt victorious in making it partway through the hike. We helped each other climb, struggled through the elevation change, and took celebratory pictures at the top. It cost practically nothing but had a strong impact on our already positive relationships and will be an experience most of us remember for the remainder of our careers.”

— Logan Mallory, Motivosity

Book club

Stack of books

“We run a regular book club that has been a huge hit with our employees. The books are chosen by different employees and we try to meet every other week. We weren’t sure how it was going to be received when we started it, but it’s grown in popularity and served as a great way for us to connect, especially during COVID.”

— Sylvia Kang, Mira

Trust building with music

“Team building for small teams can be challenging, especially in our virtual work environment. The benefit of being a small team is we are able to create moments of intimacy and vulnerability in ways that a larger group may find taxing. The most impactful activity that brought the team together was a trust-building platform called anythm, which connects life experience to music. We shared our “5 Moment Intro,” which leverages a unique combination of life moments and music. This brought a sense of bonding, trust and vulnerability amongst us all.”

— Jenn Christie, Markitors

Virtual cooking class

“Our whole team works remotely from home, so we need to think outside the box when it comes to team building. We found something fun we could all do together — Truffle Shuffle! They send you a kit of ingredients, then you tune in to your class via Zoom and all cook the meal together. It was a great experience we could share and laugh about, and afterward, we all ate the same dinner together, just virtually!”

— Suzanne Crest, Eos HR Consulting

Contests

“One of the best ways for small businesses to team build is to hold workplace contests that have nothing to do with business objectives. They can be holiday-themed, like a Halloween costume contest or an ugly holiday sweater contest, or you can choose themes that work year-round, like cook-offs or funny photo captions. Contests are simple, incredibly fun, and create a competitive atmosphere that’s totally positive. Team members get the chance to learn about each other and bond over playful experiences, and that relationship building translates into business success.”

— Roy Morejon, Enventys Partners

Fitness challenges

“We started doing fitness challenges where we start a fitness trend on TikTok and each person needs to add on to it and continue the rest of the challenge. This encourages the team to get creative, get motivated to engage quickly, and have loads of fun in the process. The videos are something we all wait for, help us generate content for our social media platforms and spread our team spirit to promote employee engagement and productivity.”

— John Gardner, Kickoff

Remote campout

Campfire on rocks

“Hosting a remote campout is a great way to bring your team together. There is so much fun to be had with your remote team by hosting a campout. The company tiny campfire<https://tinycampfire.com> offers an experience to remote teams where they send members of your team tea lights and s’more ingredients. While s’more making is already fun enough, they also lead our employees through different team-building games that were fun and relevant to what we do. At the end of the night, your employees can enjoy a haunting ghost story, told by either one of your experts at ‘tiny campfire’ or each other. These campouts have been crucial in keeping our team’s morale high, and I definitely recommend giving it a shot.”

— Bryan Philips, In Motion Marketing

Life Highlights Game — The best team-building game

“Our personal favorite is the Life Highlights Game. This is a fantastic icebreaker game that works well for both small and large groups. We do this activity by having each person close their eyes for one minute and recall their favorite memories. It can be about professional accomplishments, personal revelations, or thrilling life adventures.

“We then ask our employees to stop thinking and tell us which period of their life they would prefer to relive for 30 seconds if they had the chance after they’ve reflected on their lives’ highlights.

“This activity allows people to reflect back on their lives and reminisce about all the good times they had. It brings in more joy and happiness. It further strengthens the sense of passion, affection and camaraderie toward each other.”

— Vartika Kashyap, ProofHub

Get your small business started on team building

Inspired to book your next team-building activity? Hopefully, these examples help ignite a few ideas on what might work well with your team and organization.

A great team-building activity brings people together and doesn’t feel like a waste of time. A lot of pressure comes with putting on a team-building activity, but with these examples as a starting point, you’ll have a head start on designing an employee experience that unites the team.



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Leadership

How to Respond When an Employee Quits

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Someone giving notice doesn’t have to be the end of the world or the end of a relationship. In this article, the author offers advice for how to respond in a constructive and professional way when someone says they’re quitting. First, take a moment to digest the news. It’s okay to show you’re surprised or to say something like, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.” The last thing you want to do is react impulsively and say something you might regret that would leave the individual with a negative impression of you and the organization. Notice and manage any in-the-moment reactions and depersonalize the news. It’s also important to show your support and genuine interest in why they’re leaving and what they’re going to do next. And make sure to get alignment on what they need and what you need from them before they leave to ensure a smooth transition. It may involve some give and take and could include finishing a specific project or set of tasks, training others to take over these responsibilities to minimize disruption, or even hiring their replacement. Using these strategies can help all parties move on in a positive way.

With over four million people quitting their jobs each month during the first quarter of 2022 and 44% of workers currently looking for new jobs, it’s entirely possible that someone on your team could leave in the near term. And it may not be the person you thought it would be — or hoped it would be. It could come as a total surprise to you and be a key contributor on your team, someone with whom you really enjoy working and who has great potential in your organization. So, how do you respond when this person gives their notice?

While there are several things you should not do — like take it personally, belittle their new opportunity, or give them a guilt trip (among others) — there are six key elements to ensuring that you respond in a constructive and professional manner while processing the surprising news.

Take a beat

First, take a moment to digest the news. It’s okay to show you’re surprised or to say something like, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.” The last thing you want to do is react impulsively and say something you might regret that would leave the individual with a negative impression of you and the organization.

Notice and manage any in-the-moment reactions

During this momentary pause, take a breath and try to discern precisely what it is that you’re feeling. Susan David, author of Emotional Agility, shares that naming our emotions is the first step in dealing with them. Try to be as specific as possible. In addition to being surprised, you may feel frustrated, discouraged, hurt, deflated, betrayed, angry, miffed, irked, or deeply disappointed or just plain sad. There are many subtle flavors of negative emotions, and parsing out the specific emotion you’re feeling will help you create greater self-awareness and enable you to process your feelings more effectively and respond more constructively.

It’s when we’re not conscious of these negative emotions that they can unexpectedly emerge from below the surface, triggering unconstructive, reflexive comments or behaviors that you may later regret, such as lashing out or making a sarcastic jab or snide remark. It’s ill advised to share that you feel betrayed or angry, even if that’s the case — here, discretion is the better part of valor. However, if you’re sad or disappointed, it’s okay to say, “I’m so sad you’re leaving, but it sounds like a great opportunity. We’re going to miss you.”

Depersonalize the news

When we feel hurt or betrayed by such departures, it’s because we take the news personally. Even if you could stand to improve as a manager (let’s face it, we can all find ways in which we can do better), their departure is not a statement about your personal worth or how good you are as a person, so it’s best to put your ego to the side and rise above any strong or harsh feelings you may have. The individual might be leaving for a better opportunity, better compensation, personal reasons, or all of the above. The best career development path for them may be to leave the organization and get experience elsewhere. It is their career, so respect that they made the best choice for themselves, their career, and/or their family, which is the same anyone would expect you to do for yourself. They are showing loyalty to themselves — not disloyalty to you.

Be curious and show a growth mindset

Show genuine interest and curiosity to learn why they’re leaving and what they’re going to do next. What can you learn that would benefit you, the organization, and other employees for the future? You might ask, “What could we do to entice you to stay?” At that point in time, the answer may be nothing since they’ve likely accepted another position. But one client of mine let her boss know, when giving her notice, that a competitor was willing to bring her on at a more senior level with much higher compensation — something her organization had been dragging their feet on and had been noncommittal about for quite some time. Unexpectedly, within a few days, they came back with an even better offer that ultimately did convince her to stay.

While this scenario might be the exception, it’s still important to ask the question above, which might also be phrased as, “What else could we have done to keep you?” or “What appeals to you or excites you most about this new job?” Their response may be related to better work/life balance, the ability to work remotely, a more inclusive culture, a new and exciting challenge with more responsibility, or being more empowered to make decisions. This is all useful feedback for you and the organization so that these areas can be addressed for remaining and future employees, even if it’s too late to do anything about it for this individual.

Show your support

Maintaining positive working relationships with departing employees is important, well beyond the time that you actually work together, so show your support for their decision and enable them to leave on a good note. After all, you may need a positive reference from them one day.

Further, as a former employee, they are still a brand ambassador for the company and may be a future customer, client, or referral source for business and other employees. And by showing support and enthusiasm for their new opportunity, as disappointed as you may be, you are more likely to keep the door open for them to potentially return to the organization one day. So, celebrate their contributions and next endeavor, and ask them how you can be helpful to them as they start their new role.

Ask for what you need

When an individual gives notice, they likely have a desired end date in mind. After all, they will want to take a break before diving into a new job. Get alignment on what they need and what you need from them before they leave to ensure a smooth transition. It may involve some give and take and could include finishing a specific project or set of tasks, training others to take over these responsibilities to minimize disruption, or even hiring their replacement.

. . .

Someone giving notice doesn’t have to be the end of the world or the end of a relationship. As surprised as you may be, using the six strategies above can help you respond in a constructive way that builds the relationship and helps all parties move on in a positive way.

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Don’t Just Pay Interns, Help Them Build Networks

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Summer internships are a proven gateway to jobs. But that gateway is not equally open to students from different backgrounds. Low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students’ internship participation rates lag behind those of their wealthier, white peers. Moreover, access to paid internships, which are associated with long-term wage premiums, remains uneven along lines of race and class.

Any organization with an internship program should be asking itself: Are your company’s internships a cause of or a cure for workplace inequality? The answer depends not only on who gets internships, but also what those interns get in exchange for their time.

By now, it’s widely acknowledged that paying interns is a critical first step to addressing barriers to access for historically underrepresented students who otherwise could not afford to spend their summers working for free. But simply paying an intern isn’t enough to jumpstart a career. In a labor market where an estimated half of jobs come through networks, social capital remains the other key currency for getting ahead. Diversifying access to internships as an inroad to not just compensation, but also connections, is also essential.

Based on my and my colleagues’ research on innovative strategies to expand and diversify young people’s networks, we’ve surfaced practical, research-backed approaches that can connect interns more equitably across your enterprise and harness the full potential of a diverse talent pool. Here’s where you should start:

Think beyond the hourly wage.

Paid internships, along with relocation and housing stipends, can address real barriers to entry for interns from low-income families. But there can still be barriers to building networks and connections. After all, even casual lunches and coffees, where employees build rapport and exchange advice, don’t come cheap.

That’s led some advocates to work to ensure interns have daily stipends for meals. “We give all of our students a $20 per day lunch stipend,” said Kevin Davis, founder and chair of the nonprofit First Workings, which offers internships for underrepresented high school students in New York City. In a recent interview with researcher Brent Orrell of AEI, Davis explained that the purpose of these stipends is to help interns buy time to connect. “The idea there is to build social capital [and] create relationships,” Davis says. “So, if a colleague says, ‘Hey, we’re all going out for coffee after work’ or ‘we’re all having a sandwich at lunch,’ [they] can participate.” He adds: “It’s those interactions at work which enable you to acquire a mentor.”

Don’t just assign a manager — build a web of support.

Employers often assign supervisors or even mentors to interns. While that might be sufficient for managing day-to-day work, research from the CERES Institute has shown that webs of supportive connections are critical to thriving. For example, Old Navy’s This Way ONward program seeks to place 16 to 24-year-olds facing barriers to employment in engaging first jobs that will serve as foundations for successful careers. Participants have access to not only an in-store supervisor, but also a job coach (from a local nonprofit with which the company partners), a “big sib” (a young employee), and peer associates. This web of support appears to pay off. According to one alumni survey, 72% of participants went on to secure stable employment compared with 55% of their peers.

Companies should pay particularly close attention to the often-overlooked upside that a “big sib” can offer. While your younger employees may have less wisdom and experience, they can offer know-how and relatability that other mentors can’t. In fact, in a recent study by the Search Institute of organizations aimed at expanding low-income students’ and students of color’s career prospects, near peers (those close in age and experience) emerged as the relationship that provided program participants with the most resources, including connections to others and useful skills and insights on reaching education or employment goals.

Make feedback real through relationships.

Your interns need feedback, in addition to networking opportunities. Creating opportunities for interns to get constructive, useful feedback can not only improve interns’ task performance, but also their relationships across the office. Numerous studies on internship quality have highlighted that well-structured projects, along with feedback on said projects, are critical to intern satisfaction and productivity. Research from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research suggests however, however, that supervisors tend to offer general support for interns’ wellbeing but are less likely to provide the rich, task-specific feedback that interns want.

To start, invite more individuals to review an intern’s work. Colleagues can offer not only a fresh set of eyes, but also a broader context about where tasks intersect with organizational goals. According to Jeffrey Moss, founder and CEO of Parker Dewey, a company that pairs students with paid microinternships, diversifying sources of feedback can boost interns’ sense of purpose and belonging. “It’s invaluable to show the interns where his or her work fits within the larger effort of the company, [such as] how the case study created by a marketing intern aligns to a need within sales, or the competitive analysis is used by the product development team,” Moss said. “It demonstrates that the intern’s work is valued, a key component to ensuring he or she feels like part of the team.”

Take the chance out of chance encounters — including online.

For employers still navigating the tradeoffs of virtual and in-person work, ensuring interns are fostering connections might feel daunting. Spontaneous encounters in an office environment are the kind of thing that might have been left to chance before the pandemic. But there are big benefits to taking the time to facilitate these connections.

In their 2021 report on “Virtual Watercoolers,” Harvard Business School researchers found that even brief, online, synchronous, informal interactions between remote interns and senior managers increased interns’ performance, attitudes, and eventual likelihood of receiving offers for full-time employment. Returns were even stronger among interns who were matched with demographically similar senior managers, as defined by shared gender and ethnicity.

For companies still operating in a virtual or hybrid capacity, make sure you are offering opportunities for informal, online conversations, including with senior managers. This will not only help build a culture of belonging and success for interns generally, but data also suggests that both entry-level employees and employees of color are particularly likely to report feeling lonely in the workplace. Informal relationship-building will not solve all of this, but it can bolster employee engagement.

Invest in, and measure, lasting relationships.

The value of a network is rarely one-and-done. A colleague may offer episodic support on projects. Down the line, that same colleague might offer referrals to new jobs or opportunities. Although it’s hard to predict perfectly if and how a relationship might open doors, professionals, particularly those operating in industries that place a premium on social skills, are incentivized to invest in their networks.

Interns just testing the waters in the world of work may not share this understanding of how to build or mobilize networks. And according to research from America’s Promise Alliance, young people of color and from low-income families believe connections and social capital are essential for navigating their career journeys but report struggling to build them.

Arming interns with the skills, mindsets, and confidence to forge connections across your company can unlock valuable social capital that outlasts the summer. Investing in targeted network- and relationship-building training can help. For example, Social Capital Builders Inc., a social enterprise, offers a program called Foundations in Social Capital Literacy – a cousin to financial literacy – to young adults just entering the workforce. Another organization, MENTOR, has created a curriculum called Connect Focus Grow that can help interns and their supervisors alike deepen their relationship-building and networking skills.

From there, you can take proactive steps to understand how connected your interns actually are. Collecting data, and disaggregating it by interns’ backgrounds, is critical to checking assumptions about what is and isn’t working for your interns. There are fairly simple ways to understand which interns are building relationships and how those relationships are, in turn, offering them resources like support, advice, and feedback. A weekly pulse check on whom interns interacted with can offer supervisors insight into how connected or isolated their interns are. Employers that want to go further can ask interns to maintain network maps throughout their experience to keep track of and reflect on new connections. If they are already deploying an intern survey, they can also integrate survey items that use what sociologists call name and position generators to measure how connected interns are before and after their summer work experience.

Now more than ever, companies are turning to internships — and even “pre-internships” — as a strategy to diversify their pipeline. If internships are going to operate as engines that promote inclusion rather than perpetuate inequality in the labor market, compensating interns with both financial and social capital matters. Calls to expand access to internships, especially paid ones, are well-intentioned. But they’ll fail to deliver on their full potential without a careful eye on who students get to know along the way.

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