Category Archives: office space

The launch event of our largest co-working space in the Silicon Valley of India, Bengaluru was a happening one. Our office space apart from being spread over 3 lakh sq ft, is also packed with facilities that make it one of a kind. The launch event was graced by our ennoble members and the prodigious Mitri, India’s first AI-based ‘she’ robot. We hosted a number of funfilled activities along with a social media contest. Drop into our recent blog to know more details of the event and about Mitri.

5 Tips In Deciding The Right Coworking Space

For various businesses choosing the right office space can make all the difference in not just building your business but also in forming a strong team and developing the right work culture that can boost productivity. It can be a daunting task, from figuring out the budget to location to negotiating the space and rent. Today, with the rise of start ups and entrepreneurial drive, plenty of coworking spaces have come up to meet this demand. However, not all the space can provide what you’re looking for. Smartworks has been around for a while and along the way, we have picked some key pointers when discussing our space with potential members. Here are 5 tips to choose the right space for your business, team, brand and budget.

1. Location Counts

As a business owner or running an enterprise, you want to be accessible to both your employees and clients. This mean, finding a location which is accessible by both private transport and near enough to public transports such as bus, trains, metro, cabs. Also, one can do a KYC based on your clientele, by knowing your client’s location. If you cannot be on the same street, at least choose to be in the same neighbourhood or area. By this, you will not only be close to other industry leaders but also potential new talents.

2. Space For Success

This is where your knowledge about your team comes to play. Figure out how your team prefers to work – a designated space or hot desking? Do they need a space to beat their stress? From a team level to an individual, choosing the right space can help in boosting performance. Plan and be realistic on the number of seats required, any additional furnishing needed and being able to prioritise between access to space, natural lighting, break out rooms.

3. Impressions Matter

Making the first impression on your clients (existing or potential) makes a big difference. Therefore, the type of space your business chooses to work out from will also play a big role. Maybe you are an existing enterprise which is growing, your clients might expect your business to be working out from a classy high rise space rather than a loft. These days, it is preferable to work in an agile workspace which reflects your brand and culture without having to re-do a space on your own.

4. Additional Space

Everyone likes to take a break from their hectic schedule. Once you have figured out the above points, it is best to visit the site and find out what additional amenities are being provided from the space. Is there a café for your team to get their caffeine fix? Are there plenty of meeting rooms for that important meet with your client? Being part of a community, one needs to also determine spaces that allows for hosting events such as networking sessions.

5. Figure The Budget

After considering all of the above, the final deal will be based on the agreed rental agreement. As an owner of an enterprise, you need to think beyond the short-term and determine if the space you have chosen will be suitable when you grow further. Negotiating the right price which includes flexible workspace, IT service and interior designer in one monthly fee would go a long way in saving time and money which can be invested towards your business.

To sum up, the location and ease of access for your team and clients, an agile space that reflects the best of your enterprise and business, space for your team members and clients to collaborate and network and making the right impression within budget are some of the key factors one needs to look out for when choosing the right coworking space. There are many players in the market but very few that can actually deliver to your business persona.

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Work From Home: 6 Reasons Why It Is Not For Everyone

With the rising cases of the COVID-19 pandemic, it made sense for businesses to adapt and adopt work from home policy to safeguard their workforce without hurting the business. It not only helped in flattening the curve, but also ensured some aspects of the economy, both at home and aboard, kept going. One the benefits of this new normal was the flexibility it offered, improved productivity, increased time management and gave freedom for work and life balance.

However, remote networking for work was already happening around the world. With France implementing strict office hour rules, Scandinavian countries experimenting with 4-days work week, the current pandemic put such efforts in the forefront. Over the last 10 years in the US, there has been 91% increase in remote working, representing 3.4% national workforce. Use of technology has also increased during this time, but there has now come a sense that an indefinite work from home set up may not be feasible in the long-run.

Under the new normal for businesses, along with maintaining social and physical distancing, it is now the right time to revaluate office hours with possible rotation in the form of working from home and from the office space. However, sticking to just working from home may not be productive. Here are 6 points for the value employees place on working from an office space for the company and the culture:

Lack of Human Connection Can Be Detrimental

Work from home has enabled technology to come to the rescue, from video calls to hosting webinars as events. However, according to a report by Virgin, 84% employees prefer in-person meeting and it makes sense. When interacting with a client, a video call may not attract the finer body language that one can notice while dealing with them face-to-face. Plus being in an office space allows for the flow of ideas and creativity, improves social skills with fellow colleagues and get tasks done quickly.

Time Management Becomes Difficult

Human beings are used to routines. The current scenario has displaced that sense of routine and replaced it with a new style of working. However, in the long run, employees might have high burn out rates if they do not address working hours according to their normal day. Being in an office environment, one is able to make sense of time, be punctual and leave for home at their designated hour. WFH disrupts that process, while a highly energised employee might log in much before business hours, that same employee may end up working much late into the evening. Such action on a regular basis will not only affect his/her downtime but also productivity.

Home and Professional Imbalance

One of the benefits of working from home is the sense of work life balance. However, during the lockdown it was observed that in many cases, this sense of balance was short-lived. The distraction of working from home is real and can impede the productivity of an employee. From washing dishes to attending to laundry, looking after children, plus working on a presentation for a client pitch can bog down an employee. Even with lockdown being lifted and kids going to school, other household duties can affect the focus and input needed for a successful outcome for any businesses.

Technology Is Not Always Friendly

Every office or workplace today is technologically enabled to assist and ease businesses and employees in conducting their duties and performance. Often many such operations have specialised software and products that can be used from a workplace. Such limitations can pose a problem for individuals to work from home. As everything is available in the office, chances are even a simple tool such as a printer may not be available at home (plus not to mention the costs of purchasing paper and inks). In some areas, issues relating to electricity and internet connection can also pose problems in the long run for employees to work efficiently.

Office Culture Is Important For Growth

As stated before, remote workplace can often be a lonely experience. The novelty of working from home wears off after a while and it starts to affect productivity and the business. Workplace culture becomes an important aspect of dealing with stress and anxiety, it allows for people to collaborate, network and grow themselves. The ability to learn new concepts and upskilling gets restricted.

With the lockdown being eased across many parts of the world, businesses still need to adopt to the new normal, ensure worker safety and maintaining physical distancing till a cure for COVID-19 is found. This is also a great time to experiment with workplace settings and work environment. However, restricting your employees to working from home on an indefinite period might stagnate their growth which can affect business output.

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smartworks Mobile App

SmartEdge- Our online events platform

As the world struggles to find an equilibrium amidst the ongoing Covid-19 situation, employees world over brace themselves to adapt to ‘the new normal’ of workplace resumption- maintaining physical distancing and prioritizing personal hygiene and personal space.

Coworking space providers, hosting these companies have sprung into action and put in place all the global best practices within their premises while ensuring prescribed social distancing measures and staggered seating arrangements are followed. Alongside the battle with the pandemic, most employees are battling dreariness and anxieties, owing to the uncertainty. Human connection and regular collaboration have become more critical than ever in determining employee productivity and wellbeing. Most large enterprises and businesses are looking for swift measures to help employees cope with the ongoing situation.

In an attempt to help members uplift employee morale, Smartworks had launched ‘SmartEdge’, our online events platform with an exclusive range of events curated specially to engage and inspire. These events have been designed to enable people from different backgrounds, skillsets and walks of life to interact and share, discover and grow together.

Here’s a glimpse of the different webinars and workshops conducted by Smartworks:

Policy Making and Investment Workshops

Policy makers play a critical role in keeping employees engaged and motivated, our sessions on policy making and investment were conducted by industry leaders to share their valuable insights and tips on the same.

    – HR Policies and Legalities

  • This exclusive webinar was designed to help policymakers and HR professionals design a legal recourse and a wholesome employee engagement plan to keep employees motivated and productive while working from home.
    – Investing In Volatile Times

  • Amidst these times, financial literacy and saving for the future becomes imperative for long-term returns. This exclusive seminar brought industry experts on one single platform to help employees understand the basics of savings and investment.

Sessions on Health and Wellness

We know that this is an unreal situation, where everyone is struggling to find their equilibrium and peace of mind. Our focused sessions driven by health coaches and fitness trainers will help you relax and rejuvenate.

    – Hatha Yoga and Meditation

  • The Hatha Yoga and Meditation session in collaboration with SweatByShwetha, was a series of power-packed yoga poses and asanas designed to align your body, soothe your mind and spirit in preparation for meditation.
    – Power Yoga

  • This guided session by yoga masters was focused around teaching several energetic vinyasa-style yoga and bodily postures. Some of the key benefits of practicing this form of Yoga is to increase flexibility, focus on your body’s core and boost your immunity.
    – Embrace Your Emotional Quotient

  • Motivating the self to push our own boundaries and achieve the unattainable, requires immense time management and self-management skills. This session on emotional intelligence shares expert tips and methods of self-regulation and nurturing your existing social skills.

Creative Art Workshops

These recreational workshops were aimed at reducing stress and anxiety, while allowing people to take a deep dive in their creativity and showcase their innovative ideas.

    – Mandala Art

  • Drawing a mandala pattern is considered therapeutic and the entire experience will help you reduce stress and lower your blood pressure while promoting sleep and easing depression. This session was focused on teaching the basics of mandala art.
    – Newspaper Craft

  • To reminisce the excitement of making creative art from paper, a fun session on making newspaper craft was organized where people from different walks of life came together to draw and design interlocking patterns and take a break from their tedious routines.

Sessions Related to Smartworks’ Preventive Measures

Our team at Smartworks has been working relentlessly to provide a safe and hygienic work environment for all. Some sessions were specially curated to share a glimpse of our workspace preparedness measures.

    – Workplace Considerations for Business Resumption

  • This insightful session had Real estate experts from Keppel Land, who discussed workplace considerations and best practices from China and Singapore. Their outlook and viewpoint helped Smartworks design and implement global measures to safeguard the health and security of all upon business resumption post the lockdown.
    – Smartworks’ Preparedness and Response post Lockdown

  • This session was conducted to share an insight into Smartworks’ preparedness and preventive measures to make your workspaces safe and ready to use. The discussion addressed all the queries that members and employees had and helped in reassuring them.

Smartworks is driven to provide a safe and productive work environment for our members and employees. We will continue to implement all the global best practices and design employee engagement programs, to know more about our safety updates and upcoming events, visit- https://www.smartworksoffice.com/safetyfirstworkplace/

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How companies can boost employee morale upon workplace resumption

It goes without saying that the current COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for all, be it the first-line responders such as our health professional to manufacturers and small businesses who depend on the daily transactions to keep themselves afloat. While employees were forced to adopt remote working options, many struggled with maintaining a healthy work-life balance and keep their spirits up. With the lockdown slowly easing and most of the employees gearing up to get back to work, there is a good chance that your employees would need an extra dose of motivation and positive vibe to help them adapt to the ‘new normal’.

A recent Gallup survey has shown that low morale can cost companies anywhere between $483 to $605 billion loss each year due to low productivity. It is a huge figure, one that cannot be ignored. Low morale has a direct effect on an employee’s productivity leading to low turnover, high rate of absenteeism, and general negativity. There is nothing wrong if a person feeling low sometimes, however, the management should indulge in a ‘pulse check’ with various departments and teams before it becomes an organisation-wide issue. With most employees struggling to find a balance and manage their anxieties, all employers must consider employee engagement programs to keep the employees focussed and in sync with the organisational goals.

Here are some ways to boost employee morale and improve business productivity in the long run:

1. Low Hanging Goals

Employees need a target as part of their daily motivation to work. Setting achievable low hanging fruits can improve their focus and help them boost their confidence once the said objectives are achieved. It puts them in a better mental frame, improves positivity, and gives a sense of accomplishment. Start from small and work their way to more challenging tasks. As managers, you will need to help them out of their low morale.

2. Encourage Employees to invest time in skill-building

Another method to boost employee morale is encouraging employees to take up a course and focus on skill-building. Taking a course just for half an hour a day in their spare time can help employees feel focussed and motivated. Such online courses need not necessarily interfere with their daily tasks. Most companies such as Google, Twitter, Unsplash encourage their employees to get some time off their daily routine and focus on skill-building workshops, courses, and projects.

3. Increase Lunch Time For Relaxed Team Building

Businesses have not stopped working, it has just slowed down in this current pandemic. Therefore, to beat any type of blues within your employees, consider extending the lunch break hour. For fear of being in the bad books of their bosses, 20% of employees skip lunch. This is not only bad to boost morale, it will also affect those employees with low energy, making them more stressed, cranky, and tired. Managers should take their teams for coffee and tea breaks as part of a healthy team-building exercise which has proven to have a significant impact on the team’s morale and positive outlook.

4. Celebrate Milestones

It is important to celebrate even the small milestones, appreciating the good never goes out of fashion. Employees need to be told that they are doing well and are on the right track. When an employee overperforms, let them know, as it helps to boost their morale and the recognition motivates them to go above and beyond their call of duty.

5. Crowdsource Ideas Within the Company

Instead of hiring an external agency for developing cost-cutting strategies or coming up with marketing plans, allocate an hour a week to crowdsource ideas from employees within the company. As the employees are aligned with the organisation’s goals and objectives, they will be able to ideate and come up with innovative ideas for the existing knots and problems. This will help keep the employees motivated, engaged, and valued.

These are some of the actionable strategies that can be implemented by any type of company in the current situation to keep the employees engaged and motivated. In these uncertain times, when people around the world are struggling to find their balance, focusing on team-building exercises while creating transparent workflows can help both employees and businesses to weather this storm together.

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COVID-19: Maintain Social Distance And Host A Virtual Conference

With crisis comes opportunities and 2020 has been a year where the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner to the work for various industries and sectors of the economy. So much so, some of the world’s biggest conferences called off their events – from SXSW, a technology and music festival, to Google and Facebook calling off their annual developers conference.

However, many took up the challenge of hosting their events through virtual conferencing and brought communities together for it. This was not limited to tech events but also various music festivals were organised to raise donations for the frontline workers others affected by a coronavirus. Various broadcasting platforms such as Twitch, Zoom, and Google Meet became popular choices to host a virtual conference.

While hosting a virtual conference might seem daunting, it is one of the best ways in the current situation to connect with your industry members and sector. Here are some tips your business must consider to host a successful online conference and webinar:

1. Set The Right Theme

To host a meaningful online conference for a day or a week, it needs to have an overarching theme. A series of various sessions scheduled as is without any pretext or context will leave your attendees clueless, distracted, and directionless. A successful virtual meeting is one where all the topics, sessions, workshops are brought under one umbrella or theme which gives a context for the conference.

2. Live Sessions

Various platforms such as Facebook and Instagram provide live streaming options for users. Along with this, Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Team, and various other video hosting platforms allow for a live session to be conducted. Such live streaming makes a virtual conference more humanised and allows attendees to ask questions and queries. Thus, while your conference remains virtual, it allows your audience to participate and engage.

3. Make It Interactive

While hosting a virtual conference, it is important to keep it engaging. The best way to do it is by allowing and encouraging attendees to ask questions and conduct a live Q&A session. These can be done by means of online polls, conducting activities, and quizzes. Virtual sessions are mostly passive in nature and therefore, to conduct a successful one, organisers need to understand this nuance. Another way to keep it interactive is by letting your audience to submit suggestions or questions before a session is conducted and have it addressed towards the end. People asking questions in such a scenario are far more likely to be around to hear it answered.

4. Run A Demo Session

Conducting an online conference can be tricky. There can be many potential failure points and it is certain to hit some technical glitches while going live. Thus, to avoid any unmitigated risk, run a demo session with your speakers much in advance. Test your equipment and internet speeds, identify back up points in case of any failure, and plan for potential trouble.

5. Simple Is Best

Hosting a virtual conference is not exactly the same as a normal conference at a particular location. You will need to re-create and re-imagine your online sessions in a virtual manner and strip it down to the bare minimum. Keeping it simple will go a long way in making your online events a success. Use the popular streaming sites such as Facebook/Instagram Live, initiate a Twitter thread. Make it transparent and make it easy for your audiences to access the content for more reach and engagement.

6. Engage And Network!

While hosting an online conference can seem tedious, it still maintains getting almost the same traction and opportunities to network as at a physical conference. Video hosting platforms such as Zoom and the likes provide chat features which help in having a discussion between the host and participants, even during a session. Facebook and Instagram Live session encourages participants to comment as the session is being conducted, as well as allowing for a break out session, one-to-one conversations.

Conducting an online session and virtual conference brings in a new avenue of engagement and keeps your brand image alive with your audience. It also allows your business to create a series of video library which can be reused at a later stage. Apart from keeping your audience safe by keeping them social distanced with each other, virtual conferencing allows your audience to participate with experts from your industry and your brand too.

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Smartworks Preventive Measures for COVID-19

The Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life as we know it and put a sudden halt to all business activities and global economies, confining people to the four walls of their homes for the last few months. The coronavirus outbreak has proved to be a challenging antagonist for coworking spaces as most of them had to temporarily close their doors for their members to reassess their processes, re-evaluate their operations, develop frameworks for ensuring the health and safety of their members.

At Smartworks, your health and wellbeing is our utmost priority. As we continue to navigate through the situation, we have been deploying all the preventive measures as prescribed by the government for the safety of our members and employees.

Enhanced Cleaning and Sanitization Measures

Apart from our routine cleaning and regular sanitization of workspaces, we have proactively initiated weekly anti-bacterial fumigation and deep cleaning as a measure of added precaution.

1. Anti-Bacterial Fumigation:

The entire office space, including your workstations and the frequently touched areas, are regularly undergoing anti-bacterial treatment. This process is undertaken using an Ultra-Low Volume Sprayer Fogging Machine, with droplet /mist in the range of 5-50 micron with 1% Solution of Alpha Guard. This treatment is used in hospitals to minimize risk and is considered very effective to kill all germs, bacteria, and viruses on contact, establishing a personal safety zone.

2. Deep cleaning:

Deep cleaning is carried out under the guidance of experts covering every area in the office space such as staircase, lift lobby, parking area, rooftop, mechanical rooms, pantries, and machines.

3. Sanitization Tunnels:

We are in the process of installing sanitization tunnels in our facilities for a full-body disinfection using herbal citrus extracts and ionized solution. This disinfection process is safe, skin- friendly, chemical-free and very effective in killing germs and pathogens.

4. Atomizers:

We will be installing atomizers in every center to make our premises disinfected using the fogging mechanism.

5. Vehicle sanitization:

All vehicles entering the Smartworks premises will be disinfected using spray chemicals. While spraying would take care of the exteriors, we request vehicle owners to keep the interiors sanitized and cleaned regularly.

Measures to monitor indoor air quality:

We are following all the air purification measures as prescribed in the ISHRAE guidelines to maintain optimum indoor air quality inside our premises. Founded in 1981, ISHRAE is a group of eminent HVAC&R professionals that recommends air conditioning and ventilation guidelines for all workspaces and industries in India.

1. Air purification:

All the AHU/HVAC Equipment filters are being deep cleaned using R2, a green chemical. The process included the cleaning of AHU coils with pure water as well. We will also initiate a steam cleaning of indoor coils soon.

2. Hygrometers:

Hygrometers help in determining the humidity levels of the workplace and allows regulating the air quality within the recommended range of 40 to 70% as per the ISHRAE guidelines. Hygrometers will ensure the air is never too dry, or too humid, for bacteria to multiply.

Training of staff and appointment of security officers:

We have been continuously training and sensitizing our housekeeping staff and security personnel on the preventive measures and importance of social distancing. Our housekeeping and security staff is equipped with masks, gloves, and face shields to keep themselves and others protected.

We have appointed Security officers in all centres for the timely and planned execution of all preventive measures, to guide and ensure social distancing practices are followed by all inside the premises.

Measures to minimize touch inside the Smartworks facilities:

1. Sensor- Based Sanitizers:

We would be placing automatic sensor-based sanitizer dispensers at various common areas to minimize touch and maximize personal hygiene practices.

2. Foot Paddle door openers:

Our common area doors, such as the washrooms, meeting rooms, etc. will have foot paddles for contactless door opening.

3. Meeting Room bookings on the Smartworks app:

To minimize touch and maximize accessibility, we have enabled meeting room bookings through the Smartworks app.

4. Self-Declaration Forms:

Instead of pen-paper health declarations, we have enabled a self-declaration form on our Smartworks app. This form will capture the basic health information and is a proactive safety measure, to keep everyone in the premises safe.

Smartworks is driven to provide a safe and hygienic work environment for all. We will continue to implement all the global best practices and preventive measures, to know more about our coronavirus safety precautions and updates, visit- https://www.smartworksoffice.com/safetyfirstworkplace/

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10 Best Video Conferencing Tools For Remote Teams

Due to the rising cases of COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and their team have to find novel ways to remain productive and stay connected with each other. With work from home notices across the world, video conferencing tools are booming, helping teams connect in real-time and allowing for remote networking. However, with this also comes the question of the effectiveness and usability of these online video chat software. Some can be pricey for a small business, while some open platform tools perform better than others.

Companies are increasingly finding and experimenting with online video conferencing software to find the right fit. The ideal choice is one which is easy to use, accommodate the various sizes of your department/teams, compatibility with various devices, operating system and so on. A business, even in this trying time, has to maintain its bottom line and thus ensure standard operational productivity by their employees.

Here are the 10 best video conferencing tools to engage with your remote teams:

1. Zoom

This platform has seen its business suddenly booming during this crisis. Zoom offers both free and paid versions, however, it has become the go-to platform for many small businesses. Up to 100 participants can join a single conference with a time limit of 40 minutes. For more advanced features such as meeting recording and multiple admins for additional controls, the Pro version costs $15 per month, per host. If you wish to use this for a larger gathering of around 300+ participants, one can upgrade to business or enterprise plan for $20 per month, per host.

Pros

  • For short usage, the free plan is great as it comes with screen sharing option and allowing 100 participants
  • Easy to set up meetings, link-based access to invitees to join a meeting
  • With Paid plans you can access analytics reports, user management, and administrative controls, along with this, you also get cloud space to record and save your meetings
  • Fun Fact: Say good riddance to dull backgrounds and uplift your look with a face filter called “Touch Up My Appearance” along with a virtual background

Cons

  • Meeting feed will cut off at 40 minutes since the start of it with the free version
  • In the news for privacy concerns which the company is currently addressing
  • Multiple hosts and add-ons become expensive on the paid version

Zoom has become one of the most popular platforms for various businesses due to its various offering in the free version. However, choosing a paid version will cost you per host, so be mindful of who can have access to undertake a video meeting.

2. Google Hangouts Meet

Not to be outdone by others, Google for a long time had come up with their own version of video call feature with your Google account called Hangouts. It’s free for personal Gmail users, supports up to 10 participants in its unpaid and G Suite Basic, and 25 people with the Business or Education accounts. Furthermore, Google’s paid video conferencing is Google Hangouts Meet which can allow up to 250 participants. Google Hangouts Meet is part of the G Suite features, pricing starts at $6 per user, per month.

Pros

  • Suitable to those already inducted with G Suite, as meetings can be integrated with Google Calendar
  • Easy access, participants can join from any device through browser link or app

Cons

  • Compulsory sign up with G Suite to use Hangouts Meet

In this COVID-19 pandemic, Google has opened up its Hangout Meets access to schedule a meet for free, without having to sign-up to G Suite. However, this may not last for long and you will need to arrange for an account with Google.

3. Microsoft Teams

At the outset, Microsoft Teams does not provide any free version, but this software is more than a simple video hosting platform. As part of Office 365 Business Essentials, it allows for collaborative tools and full-access meeting service. Compared to other services in MS Office’s tools, this is a cost-effective tool starting at $5 per user, per month.

Pros

  • Easy integration with other Office 365 apps such as Powerpoint and Excel
  • Participants can access a meeting without having to install or create an account with Microsoft Teams

Cons

  • Unless proven as an educational institution, there is no free version
  • Linked with Microsoft, so if you’re an Apple or Mac user, a training session will be required

The video hosting tool is one part of Microsoft Teams. Unless you or your organisation already have an overall MS Office set up, the meeting service can be a bit costly for just hosting meetings and video calls with your team or clients, as there are other services for this purpose.

4. Cisco Webex

Similar to Google Hangouts Meet, currently the unpaid version allows up to 100 participants with no time limit. Webex provides three plans to choose from, depending on your needs. Small business owners or team might better be suited for the starter plan of $13.50 per host, per month. The other two plans are more focused on midsize and large businesses.

Pros

  • Free plan is quite generous just by itself

Cons

  • Every host is considered as a “license,” thus, every time someone sets up a meeting, it can become expensive

Overall, Cisco Webex is the best video platform for business training, online learning, and webinars. The free service has also become a great choice for smaller teams and businesses for video conferences.

5. join.me

Under the free version, only three participants are allowed for a video call, while the paid versions, ‘join.me Pro’ and ‘join.me Business’, allows up to 10 participants.

Pros

  • Personalized and branded URL for meetings
  • Easy screen-sharing option

Cons

  • Video conferencing tool seems ad-hoc and not a strong suit
  • Limited access: one can only join a meeting with an iOS mobile device or Google Chrome.

Join.me plays on vanity psychology with its circle-shaped video bubbles and personalised URL. Access is limited along with small participant limit. If you wish to host a meeting with over 10 people, this may not be the best bet.

6. GoToMeeting

Starting at $12 per month, per organizer, GoToMeeting can host up to 150 participants. The other feature is the business plan for $16 per month, for hosting up to 250 people. This platform also has advanced features like drawing tools and meeting transcripts. The annual subscription plan is more cost-effective for businesses of any type.

Pros

  • Easy to join meetings with a single click from any device
  • Personalized “meeting room”

Cons

  • No free plan

Belonging to the same parent company as join.me, GoToMeeting is the better product of the two.

7. Skype

Skype has often been the go-to platform for making video calls as it allows free video calls for up to 50 people from any device – mobile, tablet, or computer. The only paid service is for making international calls via the Skype platform.

Pros

  • Every participant can screen-share, not just the host
  • Portrait mode, blurring the background and camera focus on you

Cons

  • Limit of only 50 people for a video call

Skype has been around for a while and many are familiar with it and remain a strong choice for the occasional video meetings. However, it may not be a suitable choice to host a video conference involving a larger group of over 50 people.

8. BlueJeans

Similar to Skype, BlueJeans can host up to 50 participants. While prices are quite cheap, starting at $9.99 per host, per month, it can record up to five hours of meeting. You can upgrade to the $13.99 monthly plan which can host up to 75 people and provides more advanced tools such as analytics and integration with other business tools. Custom plans are also available for Enterprise levels.

Pros

  • Cool features such as real-time chat, raise hands during meetings, and intelligent meeting recaps
  • Powerful Dolby voice audio and background noise cancellation
  • No downloads or installation needed

Cons

  • Lacks a free plan
  • Paid plan has member limit of 50 and 75 participants

BlueJeans caters to the professional aspect of video conferencing, brand agnostic and can easily integrate with Microsoft, Google, or Apple, for a seamless experience. However, there are other better resources available for both free and paid service to hosting a video conference.

9. Cyberlink U

It comes with a basic plan for free, hosting up to 25 participants with a 30-minute time limit. The paid plan amounts to $29.99 per month, per host, with a 50-person meeting limit, where to host 100 people, one will need to upgrade to the $49.99 per month, per host, plan. Enterprise plans are also available with advanced meeting analysis however, pricing is undisclosed and accommodates only 100 participants.

Pros

  • Live notes or message during an ongoing meeting
  • Share a specific application, instead of the entire desktop, along with a range of annotation tools and a whiteboard mode
  • No downloads, registrations, or complicated dial-in numbers

Cons

  • Steep pricing of its paid services, compared to other video conferencing platforms

Cyberlink U’s interface has plenty of unique features. For a short meeting with a small number of participants, the free plan is quite suitable. For heavy usage, other platforms are far better than this one.

10. Lifesize

Lifesize’s free plan can host up to 25 participants, with no time limit for a meeting. The standard plan is for $16.95 for one host per month and can host up to 100 participants. For small to medium-sized businesses, the $14.95 per month, per host, plan, allows to host up to 300 meeting participants which can be a suitable choice, however, there is a minimum sign up for a minimum of 15 hosts.

Pros

  • End-to-end encryption for video calls
  • 4K hosting experience for a more professional meeting

Cons

  • Limit of only 25 people on the free plan

A cloud-based videoconferencing and collaboration platform, Lifesize, can work on all devices and platforms. It also offers a free trial to excite interest for a limited time period.

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10 Things to Consider While Furnishing your Office

First impressions matter- whether you like it or not, people often judge your office space on the basis of its appearance. The look and feel of your office space plays a crucial role in not just hiring and retaining employees but also in creating an excellent impression on your clients. According to an HBR study, your office décor determines about 25% of your employee engagement and productivity. As most employees spend at least 9 to 10 hours at work every day, it is the responsibility of the employers to provide them a comfortable and motivating work environment. Furnishing your office space can pose to be a tedious job as it requires considerable planning and investment.

Here are some things you should keep in mind while furnishing your workspace:

1. Plan The Space

Before you commencing purchasing and renovating your office space, make a plan. This should include the changes you wish to make and the estimated cost. Do you hire an interior designer or do it on your own? Does your office space come with a planner who can assist? Arranging your office space can be a time-consuming affair. You will also need to keep in mind the individual requirements of your employees along with keeping your office space accessible to everyone.

2. Make comfort your priority:

Let’s focus on the basics- desks and chairs. Desks and chairs are the most used pieces of furniture in every office, as everyone spends most of their time sitting on them. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, it is imperative to ensure that the desks and chairs you choose are comfortable and convenient. While choosing a desk, ensure that they are big enough to hold files, laptops, and stationery. The desks should be of a uniform and standard height to accommodate the nature of work and the person working on it. Choosing desks with drawers and lockers can be very convenient for employees as it helps them keep their personal belongings. However, while choosing a chair ensure that they are properly cushioned and comes with an armrest and a backrest.

3. Quality over price

Just as in your business, you work to deliver quality work for your clients, a similar expectation remains amongst your employee when it comes to their office space. A Good quality furnished office will last long even if it falls expensive in the short term. Think of purchasing quality furniture as an investment than an expense. A shoddy, poor quality desk, chair, or file cabinet will start falling apart within a short time of use. Office furniture is meant to withstand heavy-duty usage. If budget is an issue, consider purchasing second-hand yet quality furniture. The comfort of your employees should be of paramount importance.

4. Add a personal touch

A stylish office can send a strong and positive message to your employees and clients. But a truly captivating and stylish office goes about in visualising the company’s mission statement with its furnishings. Let your office reflect your personality. Allow your office space to reflect your values and vision with décor that accentuates on your philosophies. Bright, vibrant wall painting can be a welcoming presence. Portraits of people you admire, displaying artifacts and curios, personalised space for your employees gives a unique blend to the mundane office space that communicates the dynamic values of you and your business.

5. Strive to create a serene environment

An office is a hectic space brimming with energy and ideas. It can also be an overwhelming space for some of your team members. As an employer, it is your responsibility to create a calm environment. The office ambiance plays a very crucial impact on your employees. A cluttered, noisy space with bad lighting, bare walls, and no windows can be not only unproductive but also dull. Part of your office furnishing designs and it should include space to allow natural light, ventilation, a zone where your employees can de-stress. Keeping plants can also have a productive impact as it allows a sense of tranquillity along with beautifying the space.

6. Invest to keep things fun

Gone are the days when an office was all work and no play. Today, employees check out the office culture too before making a final call to work for your business. We are creatures of habit yet become easily bored with the mundane and monotonous work. Creating a space within your office where your employees can de-stress will enhance their productivity. Investing in ping-pong and pool tables, massage chairs, the gym can improve the motivation of your team.

7. Get tech support

As you’re improving the furnishings around your office, set up a meeting with your IT and engineering team to configure the plug points and jacks for your employees to maximise the utility of your office space. Consider where you will set up your office printer, wifi routers, projectors, and screens which can be accessed easily but at the same time not coming in anybody’s way.

8. Employee feedback

According to HBR, a workplace that included employees in the decision making of setting up their individual workspace reported having higher job satisfaction. Allowing your employees to set up their space with the type of furniture they want to create a shared floor space can have added benefit for your business with improved productivity and realising your brand culture.

9. Create open space

When creating your office space, keep in mind to leave some room to move. Use décor that enhances your office space. For instance, if you have a small office space, but wish to create rooms, use glass partitions instead of opaque curtains as it will create a visual breathing space. Also depending on your space, creating an outdoor open and green space goes a long way to de-stress your employees.

10. Space to grow

You will want your business to grow, and therefore, when furnishing your office space keep in mind about the future when you may have to increase your team size. Your office space might remain the same but you will need to create an environment that will allow you to add more furniture and furnishing with a growing business and employees.

Furnishing your office goes beyond buying furniture and filling up space. It is about creating an elegant and vibrant ambiance. The manner in which you furnish your office can embody your principles and personality. Keep it consistent, warm, and welcoming.

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10 Benefits of Coworking Spaces

The rise of coworking spaces is a good sign. It means many are opting to work from a professional space but avoid the overheads, are more willing to network and collaborate and many enterprises are now choosing to work from agile coworking space as it offers business space for rent which is cost-effective than holding an actual office space. Coworking space not only offers a place to work but also provides additional benefits which is exclusive for the members of that space. However, before renting office space from a coworking environment, figure out what exactly you are looking for. Distractions will be present but choosing the right set up will ease the journey and not affect the business environment.

Here are the top 10 benefits of coworking spaces:

Networking

Coworking space increases the chances of meeting like-minded people is a great incentive for your business development. You get to interact with people from various industries and sectors. It only fosters a sense of community, but interacting with high-performing individuals will also boost your own self-confidence along with opening doors for enhancing your service.

Professional Address

Coworking spaces are centrally located within a city, close enough to public transport and restaurants, and also convenient for members to work from. As a business owner, working from home or café might not send the right message to your prospective clients, thus, coworking space offers not only a professional space but also dedicated meeting rooms, cafeteria and coffee zones to help you network better.

Finding Your Spot

A shared space allows a person to move around the workspace to find the best areas for yourself. At different times of the day, your mood might be different and changing spots might improve your productivity. Experimenting with different corners at work, you will find the best spots for yourself. Coworking space is great for people who like to move around while working.

Great Offers and Discounts

Working from a shared office space has a variety of benefits. Such coworking spaces offer a lot of discounts to members. Stay updated with the latest offers make the best use of it. Such offers and discounts are provided to make a member’s life in the coworking space convenient and enhance the work-life balance.

Attend Events

A lot of coworking spaces go to great lengths by conducting events. Be an active participant to such events. It not only helps you learn new things but also provides the opportunity to meet and interact with new people. Events at co-sharing space is a great way to socialise and interact with fellow members which allow for future collaborations. This goes to the first point of networking; attending events opens networking channels and a window of opportunity for new ideas and new clients.

Improve Productivity

Around 68% of people find they can focus better while working in a coworking space. If you prefer to work out of office but yet in a professional zone, renting a business space from a coworking site will improve your focus level. Plus the additional benefits a coworking space provides will always outweigh the cost.

Flexibility

Coworking is about being flexible. Choose the day and time of your work and get there, it’s that simple! Renting office space from an agile workplace offers you the chance to take charge of your own day without the hassle of owning an office. It’s basically, one less key to worry about!

Reduce Operational Costs

For small business owners, having a dedicated private office space might seem costly but working within a coworking space, the benefit of using shared amenities outweighs the cost. Business owners can work within these spaces without having to worry about the overheads such as the internet, electricity, maintaining office equipments, replenishing cups, tea, and coffee to name a few.

Place To Learn

The working environments in a coworking office space allow for interactions with people with a different mindset, skills, and knowledge. This can improve a person’s outlook and provides a learning opportunity to either upskill themselves or improve their own productivity.

Mental Wellbeing

Working in a shared office space is a way to meet new people and increase your own network. This helps in avoiding loneliness, improving interpersonal skills, and many coworking spaces also offer various self-improving workshops which can help in boosting your productivity.

With all the benefits of using shared office space, many businesses are now turning to utilise such spaces. The hassle-free transaction of utilising such office space makes it a worthy investment for small to medium business owners. Other benefits such as open office space, networking with like-minded people, business opportunities are some factors that make this a worthy place to work out from.

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The Future of Coworking Spaces

Coworking spaces have transformed the way we work today. It provides flexibility, takes care of the basic amenities such as desk space, electricity, internet connection and all a person has to do is pay for their space at a reasonable price. Unlike the traditional set up with direct to asset purchase and bearing all the overheads that came with it.

It is estimated by the end of the year, there will be over 26,000 coworking space globally. Furthermore, 10% of office spaces are occupied by coworking and are expected to rise to approximately 25% in the next few years.

Plus, the working population today likes to perform to their own timing and there is one crowd in particular that prefers a coworking environment.

According to Forbes, millennials are especially fond of coworking spaces for a few reasons, namely, affordability and not having to worry about the overheads.

However, as the workforce changes, coworking space also needs to evolve itself to remain relevant to the dynamic, new working-age population. Here are some ways, the future of coworking spaces can shape the new-age of work:

Revamp Workplace Strategy

Be it a coworking workplace or an enterprise, the people managing these organisations need to understand the mindset of Gen Z, who are the future of the workforce. Millennials will soon become the new elders and will more likely stick with their existing business. Gen Z, on the other hand, seeks experiences and a better work-life balance.

Collaborative Working Environment

Every professional these days seeks to work in a place that has a conducive work environment with enhanced collaboration and accessibility. This means less silo departments and more collaborative spaces with an employee-centric workplace.

As the way work changes, coworking space should be able to physically change as well. A coworking space that is more collaborative, offering wellness programming or a robust and dynamic design plan that puts employee needs first, without sacrificing productivity, will help companies easily align with the younger generation of workers seeking long-term careers.

Amenities

Most coworking space providers offer a huge gamut of services to their partner companies like crèche facilities, locker rooms, courier services, cafeteria, gaming zones, and gym facilities among others. These amenities help in assisting employees by making all the essentials, available at the click of a button.

Going The Extra Mile

For the younger generation, talking about inclusivity and sustainability is not enough. A business needs to showcase that they can walk the talk.

According to Cushman & Wakefield, 29 percent of millennials rank environmental concerns as their top priority. Whereas, Gen Z has the highest level of social awareness, and that is reflected in their employment choices. Corporate social responsibility, alongside flexibility, is perhaps the leading competitive recruitment strategy moving into the next decade.

Workspace design and setup

A cubicle is a thing of the past and Gen Z will most likely not join a company that still has this type of setup. Soft furnishings that can be changed with the needs of the office and through subscription services are more popular than ever and for good reason. A coworking space that gives people the power to make their own space will be more successful in retaining talent. Business-wise it makes sense as there will be less waste and consumption which allows for more flexibility to create the workspace of the future. Telephone booths, hot desking, an open workspace set-up are here to stay for the long run.

Recreational Events and Corporate Training Workshops

Employees look forward to work in a collaborative workplace with engaging recreational activities. Most coworking spaces have dedicated activity rooms and recreational areas within their campus to help companies keep their employees motivated and engaged.

Some coworking spaces also arrange weekly events like coffee painting, karaoke, Zumba fitness, baking sessions, etc to help employees rewind and relax. Off late, most coworking space providers have started arranging corporate training workshops in the office premises to help employees revamp their existing knowledge and skills.

Such networking opportunities and exposure helps in keeping the employees motivated and increases their productivity.

Coworking spaces need to understand the demands of the modern workforce and continuously innovate to provide state-of-the-art workspaces, adept with all the latest technology, amenities and recreational activities. By providing employees a flexible workplace and a collaborative environment will not only help them learn new skills and grow, but also help companies to grow and retain talent. The future of coworking spaces rests on their relevancy and adaption to the needs of the modern workforce.

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