Could Starbucks Crackdown Spur Business Center Boom

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If you live, work and play in New York City, listen up. News headlines are trumpeting a new Starbucks policy that could put the kibosh on so-called laptop loungers. But could the policy also spark a new wave of traffic to coworking facilities and business centers? It’s possible.

Time magazine notes, “At Starbucks, there are laptop users, and then there are those laptop users. The ones who spread all their papers out and stay for hours on end, turning a coffee-shop table into their makeshift cubicle. But it looks like work sessions will start to last only as long as computer batteries—the coffee chain is covering up those coveted electric outlets in at least some of their New York City stores.”

Starbucks hasn’t officially commented on its motives for covering up the electrical outlets. But further investigation suggests there’s a trend afoot to deal with what some are calling laptop hobos. The Wall Street Journal reports, “A sign at Naidre’s, a small neighborhood coffee shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., begins politely enough: “Dear customers, we are absolutely thrilled that you like us so much that you want to spend the day … people gotta eat, and to eat they gotta sit.”

Meanwhile, at the B&N Café in New York City, there’s only one outlet, which discourages laptop hobos from getting too comfortable from the get-go.

“I manage a B&N cafe and we have about 16 tables and a bar with stools which seats about 45 people total. Our cafe is always full of friendly people actually talking with each other, reading books, and enjoying a latte and maybe a slice of cheesecake. How is this possible you ask? We have 1 (one) outlet…period,” wrote Charles on the Starbucks Gossip site.

The point is this: Entrepreneurs have long used coffee shops as a makeshift office space. In fact, coworking was birthed to give those caffeinated entrepreneurs a step up to a more productive working environment. If coffee shops around the world start cracking down on laptop hobos, it could drive them to pay for office space, which could be a boon for coworking facilities and shared office space centers.

So, with that in mind, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to go have a cup of coffee and leave a few business cards around and about. Starbucks might even thank you.

Published Thursday, August 4th, 2011, by Mike Sullivan.

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Palace Business Centres’ Donna Haskins Meets Challenges

Posted by GWA in  Member News, Newsletter Articles  on February 21st, 2013

Donna Haskins

We interviewed GWA Member Donna Haskins of Palace Business Centers.  Donna has been an Association member since 1995. In the past few years she has closed and opened a new center – and closed another one. We learned how she has handled the challenge.

How long have you been with Palace Business Centres? We are in our seventeenth year of business.

When and why did you join GWA? I joined GWA in 1995, a few months before I opened my first center when it was known as ESA.  I attended a Saturday IPS training in Dayton and learned so much and met helpful, encouraging people.  I decided to join that day.

How have you benefited from your membership so far? I’ve attended educational meetings and conferences whenever possible–there is always something new to learn and someone new to meet.  I enjoy visiting our vendors, learning about new products and services, meeting industry consultants and touring centers in other cities with different cultures.  It’s motivating!  The best part is the relationships I’ve made.  I find people in our industry are nurturing; we share ideas, visit each other’s centers and, in many cases, become friends.

How many centers and clients do you have?  How are the markets different? I have two centers, one in Erie, Pennsyvlania and one in Westlake, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.  We serve hundreds of clients in many ways, on-site, virtual, touch-down, meeting room usage, paralegal/staff support, and more.  Erie is a smaller market and more of a blue collar area with a declining population.  Westlake is an affluent community enjoying considerable growth right now.

What makes Palace Business Centres stand out from other work spaces? In Erie, we are located on the top floor of the tallest building in town and the views of Lake Erie are amazing.  We operate full-service centers in both markets and are fortunate to be able to provide phone service and bandwidth to traditional tenants in the buildings we are located in.  Our niche is great customer service and, in Erie, we still have several clients that are supported by our staff.

The past three years have been really tough.  How have you coped? In Erie we had two centers a block apart, which we consolidated to one larger center.  It was expensive to do, but it helped immensely in the long run.  We added a Conference Center and a few multi-office suites; started offering video conferencing and IT services and the combination of everything is working.

We launched our Center in Westlake in 2011 and it has been challenging.  We’ve had tremendous support from our landlord and our Center Manager serves as building site manager reducing payroll expenses.  We’ve put together some creative offerings to local organizations for meeting room usage that are paying off.  Being able to provide bandwidth and phone service to traditional tenants in the building is a plus.  We’ve seen the momentum building in recent months and office rental and virtual clients are picking up.

What service or product has the most potential for growth? Virtual Office revenue has shown a steady increase each year.  We are having success selling VoIP phone service to off-site workers.  They like being an extension away and having their private DID as their outbound caller ID instead of their home or cell number.  Meeting Room rentals and related services have increased significantly as well.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I love the sense of community I feel in my Centers.  Our clients and staff mesh very well.  I feel lucky to have met so many wonderful, interesting people over the years and learning about their businesses.

What is your proudest accomplishment in the industry? I would have to say that it is deciding to open a business center in Erie when I didn’t know much about the industry,  was new to an area that was far from what you’d call metropolitan, and I made it work!  Along with tenacity, I have to give credit to a good business partner and a very loyal staff.

What is your greatest challenge over the next year or two? It is getting more difficult to meet the needs of all the different types of workers there are today.  I have to make smart decisions regarding technology, space design, staffing and how we best spend our capital dollars.

How do you spend time outside of work? I volunteer for The Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting ongoing research for noninvasive radiowave cancer treatment.  I also enjoy spending time with friends and family doing all sorts of fun things.

What are your hobbies? I love the beach, boating, and non-serious golf.  Last year I started snow-shoeing–it’s work, but really fun.  I routinely visit a gym and read for escape and relaxation.

What was the last movie you saw in a theater and loved? I have seen several, but haven’t loved all of them.  I guess I’d have to go back to the ‘The King’s Speech’ – I loved it and thought Colin Firth was outstanding.

Who’s your favorite singer or band? Michael Buble

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure? Dirty martinis!

What’s your favorite quote? It’s by John Lennon…“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Fast, Free and Out of Control: Why Wifi Users Disconnect from Wireless Security Risks at Hotspots

Another reason to work out of business center or coworking setting…..Posted on Friday, June 1st, 2012 by Jan Legnitto

Do you ever wonder why more and more Americans are becoming victims of identity fraud?

One of the chief reasons is our irresponsible mobile behavior, according to the 2012 Identity Fraud Report by Javelin Strategy & Research. The fact is, as the number of hotspots and wireless devices continues to explode, identity fraud is skyrocketing. The Javelin report found that 11.6 million adults in the U.S. were victims of ID fraud last year – 13% more than in 2010. That’s not surprising, according Tom Bartholomy, President of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont in Charlotte, North Carolina. The BBB recently received complaints from ID fraud victims who’d been hacked after they had connected to Wifi hotspots at the Charlotte-Douglas Airport. “Their laptops were connected through their phones,” says Bartholomy. “Then their information was stolen from their laptops.” It was only when the unsuspecting airport hotspot users checked their bank and credit card accounts that they realized something was up. Consumers Connecting to Hotspots Don’t Understand the Dangers One airport hotspot hacking victim told the Better Business Bureau that because he’d gone through airport security, he believed that everything past that point would be protected. Faulty assumptions that like that are extremely common among public hotspot users, according to a 2012 survey of American Internet users by the mobile broadband provider NetZero. The survey found that 64% of those who use unsecure wireless networks say they have little or no concern about using them.

According to a 2011 survey conducted for the Wi-Fi Alliance, only 18% of public Wifi users reported that they use a VPN to encrypt their information when they’re logged into hotspots. That means their sensitive information is easily accessible to hackers. And that’s not the worst of it. The survey also revealed that that those who had suffered the effects of a computer virus are no more likely to have better Wifi security behavior than those who haven’t been hit. This in spite of widespread and well publicized hotspot threats about everything from malware to wireless snooping of email and log-in information. “What we’re hearing from consumers is very much in line with those studies,” says the BBB’s Tom Bartholomy. “Their assumption is that Wifi hotspots would be as safe as using a desktop. In other words, why would using a stick in the sky be any different than using a modem at home?” By 2015, the number of Wifi hotspots will increase 350%, bringing the total to five million hotspots worldwide, according to a report from the Wireless Broadband Alliance. So unless consumers get wise to the risks of using public hotspots, millions more will become identity fraud statistics every year. “The scammers are way ahead of the average consumer,” says Tom Bartholomy of the Better Business Bureau. “And that’s not likely to change any time soon.”

How to Disconnect from Hotspot Hacking Risks The Better Business Bureau offers this advice when you’re connecting to public Wifi networks: •Never connect to any unfamiliar network. Disable automatic connections to wireless networks. •Turn off file sharing when you’re on the road . •When you use public Wifi networks, the BBB says it’s wise to use a virtual private network to prevent hackers from intercepting your data. The Federal Trade Commission also recommends that if you access online accounts through Wifi hotspots, you use a personal VPN to encrypt traffic between your computer and the Internet. Personal VPNs like PRIVATE WiFi™ protect your sensitive information by making it invisible to hackers, even when you’re on unsecure networks. That means your identity is safe every time you go online.

eWorky offers free space management tool

eWorky space management tool has been beta-tested by dozens of spaces (thank you guys ;)) and is now open to everybody ! It is available for free for coworking spaces, and it enables you to: – Manage your bookings – Manage your calendar – Secure payment – Automatic invoice system – Community aspects for coworkers   If you would like to use our tool: – you should add your space on eWorky and then ask to use the space management tool – if your space is already listed on eWorky, click on the right on “Contact/show details” and then “Are you the manager of this workspace ?” – send an email to contact@eworky.com

Looking for Ideas in Shared Workspaces

By RACHEL EMMA SILVERMAN

Taking a page from start-ups, some established companies are opting to share their workspaces.

In downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., workers from five large employers, including furniture maker Steelcase Inc., SCS +0.87%  shoe company Wolverine Worldwide Inc. and food retailer Meijer Inc., share an open, lofty space in a recently developed building.

[COWORK]The Grand Rapids Press/Associated PressBusinesses, such as Amway and Pennant Health Alliance, are opting to share space in the Grand Rapids, Mich., Grid70 building, shown here.

Employees are urged to wander from floor to floor, bounce ideas off one another and test out new products in the hope that such informal interactions will help spark collaboration, solve problems and generate new ideas.

In some cases, companies are renting desks in co-working spaces, with an idea that workers from different companies, and with different skill sets, can complement one another. Some companies are also turning to shared workspaces as a way to save money on pricey leases or to house employees in areas where they don’t have other corporate offices.

While some companies say these co-working initiatives are too young to point to new products created from intercompany mingling, managers add the practice can help inject older firms with a start-up mentality and bring in new talent.

Teams from consumer-products and sales firm Amway Corp. and health-care provider Pennant Health Alliance also work out of the Grand Rapids building, called GRid70. About 30% of the building is shared space, such as meeting rooms and lounge areas. A “skunkworks room” to develop new projects is shared among the five employers, and workers are welcome to pop into meetings.

“One of the core design elements [of the building] is this idea of happy accidents, where people do not only collaborate with their core team, but they bump into somebody from somewhere else and it triggers some idea that they wouldn’t have come up with before,” says John Malnor, vice president of growth initiatives at Steelcase, who works out of the building.

Initially popular among start-ups and freelance workers, co-working spaces are gaining traction among bigger employers who want their staff to cross-pollinate, or interact with employees from other firms. Some 9% of U.S. co-working users in 2011 came from companies with more than 100 people, according to an analysis of some 1,200 co-workers from Emergent Research and co-working site Deskmag.com. Facilitating those companies are matchmaking services such as Loosecubes.com and LiquidSpace.com, which connect desk-seeking employees with unused space.

“What’s appealing to the big businesses is they want to be near the places where the start-ups are,” says Steve King, a partner at Emergent Research, which researches workplace issues.

Plantronics Inc., PLT -0.44%  as part of a pilot program, recently bought a membership for about 40 of its 500 employees at NextSpace, a co-working facility with workspaces in San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Cruz. The company hoped the move would be attractive to the 26% of its employees who lived in Silicon Valley, says Pat Wadors, Plantronics’ senior vice president of human resources and facilities.

Having the company’s employees in proximity to workers from smaller, newer firms comes with other benefits: “I like the passion of a start-up right next to a Plantronics that is 50 years old. It rejuvenates,” says Ms. Wadors. Plus, she adds, “I can hire talent from them.”

Shantanu Sarkar, vice president of software development at Plantronics, often works from NextSpace in San Jose. He says that he and other software engineers have benefited from being surrounded by potential customers of Plantronics’ headsets.

For example, the company says workers have found that the new—and noisier—shared workspace means that it is harder to block out ambient office hubbub, an observation that may lead to improvements in the next generation of headsets.

To encourage “serendipitous interactions,” employees at online retailer Zappos.com Inc.’s Henderson, Nev., headquarters only use one entrance and exit to encourage workers to literally run into each other in the building’s lobby, saysZach Ware, Zappos’ head of campus development.Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ chief executive, is also developing a large co-working space in downtown Las Vegas, and Zappos employees are encouraged to work out of co-working facilities, the company says.

When workers are stuck on a tough problem, working outside of the office can help, Mr. Ware says. “Sometimes that change of scenery encourages you to think differently and that’s what we want.”

Software company Atlassian, for the past two years, has let data-management start-up WibiData work out of its San Francisco office space free of charge. In exchange, WibiData shares its expertise analyzing large data sets. “That has been very valuable—to have our guys go over and ask them questions,” says Jay Simons, Atlassian’s president.

WibiData has recently outgrown its space at Atlassian and is moving to another location. But that office is too large for its 12 employees, so it plans to “pay it forward” and share the remaining space with other firms, says WibiData CEO Christophe Bisciglia.

New customs tend to emerge wherever employees gather, and the openness of the GRid70 offices has led workers there to create an office-wide code of etiquette, says Steelcase’s Mr. Malnor.

When someone has both headphones in, it means they don’t want to be bothered. One headphone means they are trying to concentrate but are open for minimal interruptions. No headphones mean anyone is welcome to chat.

Write to                 Rachel Emma Silverman at rachel.silverman@wsj.com

Joining hands with other extraordinary coworking spaces

I would like to share this blog from WorkBar in Boston, and news that they are forming a league with other coworking spaces across the country….
A shared, coworking office in the heart of Boston.  WorkBar is a collaborative, professional workspace with a raw, brick-n-beam vibe and the high energy of a startup.  The space is professionally managed with ample workspace, meeting rooms, phone rooms and full office amenities, creating a productive work environment for an individual or team.

Located: 711 Atlantic Ave, Lower Level, Boston MA 02111

Joining hands with other extraordinary coworking spaces

Today WorkBar took a noteworthy step in the broader world of coworking.  We’ve joined hands with some other coworking spaces from around the country to form LEXC – the League of Extraordinary Coworking Spaces.  It is a start to building a seamless network of unique coworking spaces.  A network where our members combined have access to an extended set of league workspaces and communities.  To be clear, this is only the start.  As the coworking movement continues to thrive, undoubtedly the League will grow in concert.

Below are several reasons why WorkBar joined with other founding League members to create LEXC and why now is the time to do it!

1. Migratory Members. To me, the basis of the coworking movement is that we no-longer have one ‘place of work’ but instead, ‘multiple centers of productivity’.  This trend is driven by technology and the increasingly global nature of business.  The result of this trend is a growing number of micro-coworking communities scattered around the world — WorkBar being one of them.  However, many of our members don’t operate this way, they are rarely singularly-located and often travel to meet with team-members, associates, clients, investors and partners located across town, the country and the world.

Take for example, Traackr who has bi-coastal offices based at WorkBar in Boston and The Hub in San Francisco.  A bi-coastal presence gives them easy access to multiple markets and a leg up on tech talent recruiting.  Pretty good strategy for a start-up.  An affiliation, such as LEXC, across these various coworking centers would aid these bi-coastal patterns.   LEXC provides local coworking flare with an underlining base of familiarity.  Take another example, SnapKnot, a member company with its base at WorkBar and a co-founder living in California.  As Snapknot grows, a west coast base is inevitable and a search for a similar workplace and community will ensue.  Again, LEXC – a starting point for SnapKnot to find a suitable west coast base and a natural way to grow their operations.

2.  Strength in Numbers. A core tenet of coworking at WorkBar is collaboration.  We know that there are lots of places that people can go to find a desk and wifi, but few places where they can connect with like-minded people, hone their skills and share business opportunities.  For me, LEXC is the start of an eat your own dog food approach to expanding the coworking movement.

Over the past couple of years, the founding members of LEXC got to know each other as friends, we shared experiences to hone our skills as coworking centers across the country and now LEXC will enable us to begin providing additional benefits to our communities as a whole.  As this kernel of center collaboration gains ground, it will surely grow in the same fashion as our individual centers have grown.

3.  Experimentation, iteration, feedback. We built WorkBar on experimentation, iteration and feedback.  We experimented with space setup, we iterated with membership types, and have continually gotten feedback on events to host.  LEXC has the same core.  It is starting out with a manageable group of founding members committed to seeing what works, and what doesn’t.  We’ll experiment with ways to ensure seamless integration for both members and workplaces, iterate on elements of the LEXC pass and continually collect feedback.  This will all play a part in growing LEXC to a more encompassing network of connected coworking spaces and be an exciting new chapter for WorkBar and its members.