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Happy Earth Day! 5 Ways to Green Your Small Business

Friday, April 22 is Earth Day, marking the 46th anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. What used to be a day celebrated by a few fervent environmental groups and activists is now a worldwide call to action embraced by individuals and major corporations alike. Good environmental stewardship benefits us all.

How can your business do its part? We’ll give you five business-centric ways to green your workspace and protect our planet at the same time.

1. LEED by Example

The U.S. Green Building Council says the average person spends 90% of his/her time indoors. That means the air we breathe and the light we’re exposed to should keep us healthy, happy and productive. You might think LEED only applies to building construction, but LEED for Interior Design and Construction (LEED ID+C) helps businesses that don’t have control over building construction or operations (office building tenants, for example) develop healthier and greener workplaces. Learn more.

2. Increase Your Efficiency

Your company can realize big returns on investment when you reduce your energy usage—not only in terms of cost savings, but also greater comfort for and productivity of the people who work for you. Look for office buildings that have an energy efficiency program in place. These programs often reduce tenant occupancy costs and provide a high-functioning workspace—a win-win. Energy efficiency programs often include energy-efficient roofing systems, LED lighting, and HVAC, as well as in-house expertise capable of monitoring and maintaining NYSERDA’s energy-efficiency standards. To learn how your office can make simple changes that add up to big savings, sign up for a free Smart Office Audit.

3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

It’s an old—but relevant—reminder, and it means more than recycling paper in the bin next to the copy machine. Ask employees to bring reusable mugs and water bottles to the office and do away with the disposable ones. Ask employees to think before they print, and buy recycled-content products for your office (on average, they cost approximately 5% more, but help reduce waste and pollution. From recycled paper and refillable ink cartridges to cell phones and computers, almost everything in your office can be recycled for future reuse.

4. Buy second-hand office furniture

When shopping for furniture and furnishings for your office space, consider buying used or remanufactured furniture. You can find deals on used office furniture on eBay and Craigslist, and you can find like-new remanufactured furniture (often restored to the original equipment manufacturer’s specifications but at a fraction of the cost of new office furniture) through your local office furniture dealers and remanufacturers. A quick Google search in your area should lead you to a number of resources for both. You can also choose to donate your old office furniture to save it from the landfill. Check the donation rules and regulations for your local Salvation Army or Habitat for Humanity Re-Store to give your old furniture a second life.

5. Soak up the sun.

Green power takes many forms, including solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower, but all come from renewable energy sources and not fossil fuels. If you’re looking for new office space, look for buildings that have invested in renewable energy. The savings, in terms of reduced electricity usage and heating and cooling costs, indirectly and positively impact your bottom line by offsetting a portion of the electricity your building owner purchases from the utility. In addition, when your business benefits from renewable energy, you’re telling your customers that clean, sustainable, cost-efficient energy is important to you—a powerful message in this day and age.


 

To learn how to make your office space more energy efficient and reduce your carbon footprint, contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com

 

Posted in Albany NY Business, Ask The Expert, Energy Efficiency, Managing Your Business, Office Productivity, Office Space Efficiency, Small Business Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Meeting the Needs of the Millennial Workforce: A Primer

One in three American workers are Millennials (adults born between 1980 and 2000 and aged 19 to 35 in 2016). According to a Pew Research Center analysis, Millennials comprise the largest share of the American workforce.

Haven’t noticed? You will. By 2030, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. And with them come some major changes to the workplace—both in terms of how an office looks and functions. Attending to these Millennials’ needs will be key to attracting and retaining them and ensuring your company’s future success.

Understanding Millennials: Not business as usual

Millennial

Millennial Entrepreneur –  Michael DiPiazza Founder and Owner of JAD95, LLC. Office located at 125 Wolf Rd., Albany, NY.

Gone are the days of hiring a young professional who retires from your company decades later. Millennials typically stay in job for two years. The reason is twofold: 1) Millennials are an entrepreneurial generation willing to build their own ladder if they can’t climb yours, and 2) Millennials simply won’t stay in a job that doesn’t meet their needs and expectations.

Bentley University’s Center for Women & Business conducted a survey of 1,000 college-educated Millennials and found that Millennials “want to work hard, but they also want to work different.”

Say Goodbye to the Corner Office

If you haven’t heard about Google’s and Facebook’s offices, let us fill you in: nap pods, game rooms, all-you-can-eat cafeterias, and climbing walls. If you’re running a small business, these perks may be out of the question.

But if you think a fancy corner office is going to inspire legions of Millennials to rise from the cube farm and sit behind a big oak desk, think again. Millennials view such office constructs as old fashioned, non-collaborative, and inhibitive to creativity and information sharing. One fix is open office space.

According to the International Facility Management Association, 70% of offices had open layouts in 2015. It’s not surprising. Studies show that Millennials feel most comfortable in collaborative, uncluttered environments where they aren’t tethered to desks by cords and hard drives. Jonathan Webb, workplace strategist and vice president of KI Furniture, says companies that attract the best and brightest Millennials design offices that “emphasize sharing ideas, socializing, and treating workers equally.”

That means the corner office—and the partitioned cubicles all around it—represent unapproachable management and a major impediment to the free flow of important information. Lindsey Pollak, a leading voice on Millennials in the workplace, says Millennials “don’t equate space with worth” but rather “value flexibility and common areas that are set up for specific tasks rather than specific people.” Studies also show that Millennials like casual workspaces that remind them of college or home.

Michael DiPiazza, founder and owner of JAD 95, LLC, a dotcom company with offices at 125 Wolf Road in Albany, says the first thing he did upon moving into his new office was to hang a 60-inch flat screen television on the wall.

Remote Control

Employee requests to work from home used to make managers cringe. But advances in mobile technology have made working from home—or the coffee shop, airport, or anyplace with Wi-Fi—mainstream. According to a study conducted by oDesk and Future Workplace, 92% of Millennials want to work remotely, and 87% don’t want a typical 9-to-5 workday.

“Many Millennials would rather work from home than receive higher salaries. They value work life integration, not separation like older generations,” says Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at Future Workplace, in an article for Forbes.

DiPiazza, who is on the cusp of the Millennial generation at age 36, agrees.

“In my line of work, I jump around a lot. Today’s jobs don’t necessarily fit into that old 9-to-5 lifestyle,” DiPiazza says. “I worked hard for years to never have to report to an office 40 hours a week again. My days of sitting in an office all day are over.

But this penchant for remote access doesn’t rule out the need for a brick-and-mortar office. This is, after all, a social generation. To Millennials, an office serves as a touchstone, a place to check in and be part of a “work family.” Your company may need to loosen the reins to show that you support this new workforce mobility in order to be more attractive to Millennial workers.

“I have a start-up, and I need a home base,” DiPiazza says. “I like to get up and go to the office. When I get to the office, I know it’s game time.”

Embrace Technology

Millennials never experienced professional life without the Internet. It bears repeating. Millennials never experienced professional life without the Internet.

A study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Millennials at Work:

Reshaping the Workplace, states, “This is the first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of a key business tool than more senior workers.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because you and your company ultimately benefit.

The bad thing, notes the PricewaterhouseCoopers study, is that 46% of Millennials surveyed believe their bosses don’t understand the way they use technology in their work. It’s not entitlement; it’s that those clunky desktop monitors and pool of shared cell phones simply don’t cut it in this day and age. Today’s world is mobile, fueled by technology, and requires instant access to information for everybody. That translates into a heavy demand for technology—and employees who not only know how to use it, but how to harness its power for the good of your company.

For his part, DiPiazza is scouting his company’s future talent through career development offices at local colleges and universities.

“The combination of youth and technology is key,” DiPiazza says. “Today’s college graduates have a passion and technical skills that are difficult to find elsewhere.”

Get on Board

By all accounts, Millennials are hard workers. If your company is willing to offer engaging, flexible, creative work environments that meet their needs, you can expect great things from them. But don’t get too comfortable…you’ll be hiring Generation Z before you know it.


 

Ready to find or create Millennial-friendly office space? Contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.

 

 

 

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Commercial Renters Insurance: Does Your Small Business Need It?

commercial renters insuranceWhen you rent or lease a commercial office, you’re responsible for the property you use or store in that space. Most commercial lease agreements will also hold you responsible for any damage caused to the property you rent.

If you operate your small business in leased office space, you may want to invest in commercial renters insurance (also known as business renters insurance or business owners policy) to protect you and your business from circumstances beyond your control.

While some landlords and property owners mandate that their tenants purchase renters insurance, others leave it to their tenants to decide. From a liability standpoint, commercial renters insurance is a worthwhile business expense that provides invaluable peace of mind.

What is commercial renters insurance?

Commercial renters insurance covers three primary areas: casualty, liability, and property (see sidebar for common definitions). And according to an article posted to the American Express Open Forum, “small business owners who forego renters insurance are leaving themselves vulnerable to theft, natural disasters, and ultimately – the loss of everything in [their office].”

The type and amount of insurance your business needs (or landlord requires) will depend upon several factors, including the number of people you employ and the equipment or assets you store onsite. Policy prices will vary depending on your insurance carrier and the coverage needs of your small business. While the cost will vary by insurance company, you should be able to find good coverage for under $1,000 a year.

But where do you start?

Step 1: Talk to your landlord

Find out what your landlord’s insurance policy covers in your office space and how that policy affects your liability and business assets. A well-drafted lease agreement will clearly state the type of insurance your landlord has, how or if it covers your business, and insurance requirements for tenants. Don’t assume that your landlord’s insurance will completely cover your business and property. If you have questions or concerns, get them answered before you sign a lease so you can make sure your policy covers anything your landlord’s policy doesn’t.

Step 2: Do your research

You can get a sense for policy types and costs by conducting your own research online can check with your insurance carrier for rates, but. A quick Google search will net dozens of potential carriers offering standard packaged policies, as well as policies that can be tailored to meet your specific business needs.

Step 3: Buy. Carefully.

What policy is best? Only you and your agent can determine that. Show your agent a copy of your lease, as well as a list of your coverage questions and concerns. Your agent should be well qualified to recommend the right policy for you and your business—whether it entails property coverage, liability coverage, commercial auto coverage, or anything and everything in between.

You worked hard to build your business; your commercial renters insurance should work hard to protect it.


Have questions about commercial renters insurance for your leased office space? The Anderson Group can help. Contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.


Don’t let commercial insurance terms intimidate you. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most popular policy coverage.

  • Property and building coverage: Covers damage you, your guests or employees do to your business rental property. Also covers losses related to your belongings, land, and buildings and is often combined with casualty insurance.
  • General liability coverage: Protects your business if someone gets injured or experiences property damage in the course of doing business with you.
  • Casualty coverage: Protects you if someone gets injured on your business property and/or if there are crimes against your property.
  • Business asset and equipment coverage: Covers you if a piece of equipment you own causes damage to the business property you rent.
  • Loss of production coverage: Protects you in the event of a disaster that prohibits you from conducting business in your rental space, including equipment replacement/repair and relocation costs.
  • Crime and theft coverage: Protects you from damage or loss as a result of a break-in at your business.
  • “Valuable data” coverage: Covers data lost in fires, floods, or other disasters.

 

Posted in Albany NY Business, Ask The Expert, Commercial Office Space, Commercial Property Management, Executive Suites, Managing Your Business, Office Productivity, Small Business Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Work Well With Others: Workplace Wellness Initiatives that Work

There’s a lot of buzz about workplace wellness initiatives and their ties to big-picture promises like “increased employee productivity,” “reduced healthcare costs,” and “lower employee absenteeism rates.” Is your company on board, or is it missing the boat?

workplace wellness

Do workplace wellness programs work?

What in the world is workplace wellness?

The term “workplace wellness” applies to any program or initiative implemented to improve your employees’ health, with the added benefit of reducing your company’s healthcare costs. Most programs and initiatives focus on preventive care (flu shots, blood pressure screenings and the like) and lifestyle modification (increasing movement and healthier eating). Encouraging healthy habits can prevent or lower the risk of serious health conditions or help those with existing health conditions manage them.

What’s in it for employers?

According to an article in Inc., employer motivators for implementing a wellness program or initiative include “improving employee productivity, reducing health-related absences, improving employee morale, and retaining employees.” The article also cites a study that shows “health and efficiency have a clear relationship—healthy employees take fewer sick days and are more productive at work.”

What can I do?

There are plenty of things businesses of any size can do to show employees that their health is important to the company. Here are just a few:

Promote preventive care

On the front end, consider offering (and subsidizing) an in-office flu vaccine clinic for employees to keep influenza at bay in your office. Or host a health fair, complete with confidential blood pressure, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI) screenings. On the back end, discourage your employees from coming to work sick, and set a good example by doing so yourself. If you’re not providing enough paid sick time to your employees, you can expect them to come to work sick.

Simplify snack options

When you’re at work it can be easy—or necessary—to grab a quick bite from the vending machine or local fast-food chain. But these foods ultimately zap energy and inhibit productivity. Offer your employees healthy snack options that fuel performance and meet nutritional needs. Replace soda with juice or sparkling water, and stock snack machines with nuts and dried fruit instead of pastries and candy. You can even stock your break room with fresh fruit once a week.

Offer good health insurance

Yes, it will cost you money, but if you don’t provide your employees with comprehensive health insurance, your workplace wellness initiatives will fall flat. Good health insurance includes good preventative care, which may mean less employee absenteeism and more productive employees.

Send smoke signals

According to the CDC, men and women who smoke incur an average of $17,000 more in lifetime medical expenses and are absent from work two to four days more per year than their coworkers who don’t smoke. Offer insurance benefits that cover smoking cessation programs and nicotine replacement medication. You can also promote tobacco quit lines and meetings or workshops held by local chapters of the American Cancer Society or the American Lung Association. Refrain from providing ashtrays outside your building, and establish a company policy that prohibits tobacco use on your property.

Get up and move

Office workers spend much of their time sitting down, which isn’t good for physical or mental health. When you encourage your employees to stand up and move, you might find an increase in their energy levels, creativity, and willingness to collaborate. Locate your copiers and printers—even your break room and restroom—in a far corner of the office to make employees get up and walk throughout the day. You can even map out local routes and distances and organize a walking group for those who feel like getting a little exercise after lunch.

Identify extracurricular activities

Organize a company team for a local 5k or walk-a-thon, or reimburse your employees for race fees (say $50 per year). Contract with a local fitness expert or gym to conduct free lunchtime workshops or trial memberships. Some companies even purchase fitness trackers and sell them to their employees at a discount. Others host Weight Watchers meetings after hours. There’s something about a group mindset (and healthy competition) when it comes to setting fitness goals, tracking metrics, and sharing results with co-workers.

Practice what you preach

You can’t expect to instill healthy habits at work if your meetings and corporate lunches include doughnuts, chips, and cookies. Make sure you offer employees free, filtered water and use catering companies that offer fresh, healthy options.

Ready to start a wellness program?

You don’t have to launch a costly, full-fledged wellness program right out of the gate to make a big difference. Ideas that don’t cost a thing, like a walking club, can get the ball rolling. Start by conducting an employee survey, outlining potential wellness initiatives and asking employees to rank them in terms of interest (and add ideas of their own). But you must make sure that your wellness program is a continual effort that goes beyond handing out informational pamphlets. And don’t neglect the follow-up. Poll your employees to find out what’s working and what isn’t. It’s ok to adjust your program as you go so it remains effective, up-to-date and continues to keep employees interested and motivated.


The Anderson Group: Expertise that helps your office succeed. Questions? Contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.

 

Posted in Albany NY Business, Ask The Expert, Commercial Office Space, Commercial Property Management, Executive Suites, Managing Your Business, Office Productivity, Office Space Efficiency | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Short Employee Commutes and the Bottom Line

Employee Commutes

According to the U.S. Census Bureau the average employee commutes 25.4 minutes each way to work.

Why paying attention to the length of employee commutes can pay big dividends.

Looking for new office space? If so, you’ve probably spent a good deal of time compiling your wish list—from square footage and budget to corporate image and zip code.

But there’s another important factor that employers may overlook when searching for new office space:   the length of employee commutes. The fact is, daily commute times can affect employee satisfaction, corporate recruitment and retention efforts, and your company’s carbon footprint.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American commute is 25.4 minutes. Here in the Capital Region of NY, employee commute times average 17.4 minutes, although our region’s workforce commutes from as far as the Adirondacks, the Hudson Valley, western Massachusetts—and beyond. Employee commutes have become increasingly important to businesses nationwide for lots of reasons.

Shorter, easier employee commutes make for:

Happier employees

The less time your employees spend battling traffic and inclement weather, the happier they are. Studies show an employee’s commute has a huge impact on their mental and physical health, which can affect work quality. In addition, a long or expensive commute leaves an employee with less disposable and discretionary income, which may make employees feel unsatisfied with their pay.

More productive employees

Who pays for your employees’ missed workdays? In many cases, you do. And if you have to pay overtime or hire a replacement to ensure that an absent employee’s work gets done, you might even pay twice. In addition, long or difficult employee commutes can increase absenteeism and tardiness—and decrease your bottom line.

Happier employers

As if decreased employee absenteeism and increased productivity weren’t enough, shorter employee commutes can also boost your company’s recruitment and retention efforts. A long or difficult commute has been shown to increase corporate turnover rates and can dissuade prospective hires from accepting employment with your company.

A healthier planet

Looking to fulfill corporate sustainability initiatives or reduce your company’s carbon footprint? Locate your company in a central, easily accessible location. According to Stanford University’s carbon emissions calculator, a 25.4-mile commute generates more than 4,000 pounds of CO2 emissions a year*. When your company is near a bus line, train stop, or major roadway, you help employees get to work faster and take advantage of sustainable transportation options.

Before you scout your next office location, solicit input from current employees so you don’t risk losing them in the move. Consider conducting a brief employee survey to assess your employees’ commuting concerns. You might even map employee addresses to get a big-picture view of commute distances. However you determine your next move, it pays to be mindful of the time your employees spend commuting.


To see centrally located, easily accessible commercial properties here in the Capital Region of NY, give The Anderson Group a call. Contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.

 

 

* Varies by vehicle make and model.

 

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