How To Find Focus In The Office

In its simplest sense, mindfulness means balancing the intense pace of life with being fully present in the moment, which many can agree is easier said than done – especially in the office. Employees in North America, for instance, lose 86 minutes per day due to a variety of interruptions in the workplace, and according to a recent study from Steelcase, only 58 percent of workers reported being able to work in teams without being disturbed.

Life is full of distractions, but workers nowadays are still expected to be “always on,” an ironic metaphor given the proliferation of technology in recent years.

Mental fatigue occurs when we’re often at our busiest, and so at Steelcase we’re asking ourselves, how do we design workplaces that offer workers opportunity for moments of rest, rejuvenation or deep focus free from distractions.

My team has recently completed a comprehensive study on wellbeing at work, and found mindfulness to be one of six dimensions of well-being that the workplace can help improve.

As part of our study, researchers identified and developed design concepts that companies can incorporate into their workplace to help encourage mindfulness by enhancing employees’ ability to concentrate and make thoughtful choices amid distractions and disturbances:

  • Offer spaces where people can seek solitude and respite, or connect with others without distractions or interference.
  • Design areas that allow workers to control the amount of sensory stimulation they are exposed to and enable them to amp it up or ratchet it down.
  • Create spaces that help people stay focused as they interact with others one-on-one and eye-to-eye.
  • Offer places that are restorative and calming, which can be achieved through materials, textures, colors, lighting and views.

Take a look around your own office – how many of these principles ring true of the design and environment in your workspace? This issue isn’t distinct to employees alone. It is a bottom-line issue that can potentially affect the entire organization.

Thirty-six percent of a person’s time is spent working. By creating spaces that help people reconnect with what makes their work fulfilling, employers can help ensure that 100% of that worker’s time is helping to build a better work product and a stronger bottom line.

The story was originally published on Steelcase.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

The Right Office Building For Any Business

When it comes to office buildings, you generally get what you pay for, but first you need to know what you want. Colliers International Workplace Strategist David McEwen shares his guide to selecting the office building right for your business.

Defining your requirements starts with a solid understanding of your business strategy and a well formed workplace strategy, identifying who is going to occupy the building and how they will use it. Prioritizing your requirements (other than cost and lease terms) can be broken down into these broad categories:

1. Risk Mitigation

What is the risk profile of the business activities to be undertaken?

What is the impact of unexpected loss of power, phones or data circuits?

What is the security profile of the operation? Is it at elevated risk of industrial espionage, theft, hacking / social engineering attempts, or public protest?

Is the building in close proximity to any location specific hazards?

2. Spatial Needs

Will the floor plates, core placement, column grid, ceiling heights and features like internal atria work for your business?

Are there any groups requiring high levels of floor space density such as call centers or clerical processing teams? Or are there areas where typical occupancy may be higher than expected, such as non-territorial environments?

Conversely what’s the expectation for the density of built zones such as personal offices and meeting rooms?

How large are your various teams? How much do their sizes vary and what are their needs for interaction and collaboration?

How long is the facility required and what are the expectations for changes in team sizes, work practices and technology over that period?

3. Building Performance

Will capacity, sustainability (eg. energy and water efficiency) and other characteristics of the various building services including electrical supply, air conditioning plant, telecommunications risers and elevators meet your business needs?

What are the operating hours? Is shift work undertaken? Will the building’s plant be able to service your needs efficiently outside normal business hours?

Is there to be a computer room or data center? Does it host applications or web services used by customers or users in other sites? Does it need to be on site?

Are there any specialist requirements such as labs or clean rooms?

Do you require particular delivery access or garaging? Do you have areas requiring high floor loading?

4. Amenity

Is the building located close to a public transport hub? If not, is adequate car parking available?

Are there end of trip facilities like secure bicycle parking, shower and locker services to support employees’ lifestyle choices?

Does it provide access to cafés, banking facilities, other retail, gyms and child care facilities nearby?

5. Cosmetic appeal

Will appearance and fit out standards for the building exterior, lobbies, lifts, bathrooms, and the floor and ceiling finishes within the proposed tenancy area align with your brand?

What types of employees are you trying to attract? What will they look for in a building?

What is the profile of visitors or clients attending the site? What are their expectations? Are signage rights important?

Armed with this information you can start to prepare your property brief and prioritize your requirements. In practice it’s a complex juggling act with many traps for the unwary. At the outset, it is useful to assemble a team of internal and external specialists headed by an experienced Project Director, typically covering the following disciplines:

While this sounds like a long list, a good Project Director will help ensure timely and efficient inputs from the necessary experts to develop the right strategy and property brief, and provide effective due diligence on short listed sites.

The story was originally published on Colliers International.

 

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

What Each Country Leads The World In

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Networking

We all know networking has the potential to dramatically enhance our careers; making new connections can introduce us to valuable new information, job opportunities, and more. But despite that fact, many of us are doing it wrong — and I don’t just mean the banal error of trading business cards at a corporate function and not following up properly. Many executives, even when they desperately want to cultivate a new contact, aren’t sure how to get noticed and make the right impression.

I’ve certainly been there. Years ago, I was a speaker at a tech conference — as was a bestselling author. By chance, we met in the speakers lounge and, massively unprepared, I fell back on platitudes. It’s great to meet you! I love your work! I handed him my card. If you’re ever in Boston, it’d be a pleasure to meet up! He hasn’t called, and frankly, I’m not surprised.

We’re all busy, but it’s hard to imagine the volume of requests that well-known leaders receive. Reputation.com founder and fellow HBR blogger Michael Fertik told me he receives anywhere from 500-1000 emails per day, and describes it as “a huge tax on my life.” Wharton professor Adam Grant, who was profiled by the New York Times for his mensch-like habit of doing almost anyone a “five minute favor” was rewarded for his generosity by being inundated with 3500 emails from strangers hitting him up. “I underestimated how many people read the New York Times,” he jokes.

Grant does get back to the people who write him — he even had to hire an assistant to help — but most people at the top don’t have the time management skills (or the desire) to pull that off. If you want to network successfully with high-level professionals, you have to inspire them to want to connect with you. Through hard-won experience, I’ve learned some of the key mistakes aspiring networkers make in their quest to build relationships, and how to avoid them.

Misunderstanding the pecking order. The “rules” for networking with peers are pretty straightforward: follow up promptly, connect with them on LinkedIn, offer to buy them coffee or lunch. I’ve had great success with this when reaching out to people I had an equal connection to: we’re both bloggers for the same publication, or serve on a charity committee together, for example. People want to congregate with their peers to trade ideas and experiences; your similarity alone is enough reason for them to want to meet you.

But the harsh truth is those rules don’t work for people who are above you in status. The bestselling author at the tech conference had no idea who I was, and no reason to. My book hadn’t yet been released, and his had sold hundreds of thousands of copies; he was keynoting the entire conference, and I was running a much smaller concurrent session. We make mistakes when we fail to grasp the power dynamics of a situation. It would be nice if Richard Branson or Bill Gates wanted to hang out with me “just because,” but that’s unlikely. If I’m going to connect with someone far better known than I am, I need to give them a very good reason.

Asking to receive before you give. You may have plenty of time to have coffee with strangers or offer them advice. Someone who receives 1000 emails a day does not. Asking for their time, in and of itself, is an imposition unless you can offer them some benefit upfront. Canadian social media consultant Debbie Horovitch managed to build relationships with business celebrities like Guy Kawasaki and Mike Michalowicz by inviting them to be interviewed for her series of Google+ Hangouts focused on how to become a business author. Instead of asking them for “an hour of their time” to get advice on writing a book, she exposed them to a broader audience and created content that’s permanently available online.

Failing to specifically state your value proposition. Top professionals don’t have time to weed through all the requests they get to figure out which are dross and which are gold. You have to be very explicit, very quickly, about how you can help. My incredibly weak “Let’s meet up in Boston!” isn’t going to cut it. Instead, you need to show you’re familiar with the person’s work and have thought carefully about how you can help them, not the other way around. Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek fame blogs about how his former intern Charlie Hoehn won him over with a detailed pitch, including Charlie’s self-created job description touting his ability to help create a promotional video for Ferriss and an online “micro-network” for fans of his books.

Networking is possibly the most valuable professional activity we can undertake. But too often, we’re inadvertently sabotaging our own best efforts by misreading power dynamics, failing to give first, and not making our value proposition clear. Fixing those crucial flaws can help us connect with the people we want and need to meet to develop our careers.

The story was originally published on the HBR Blog Network.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

3 Ways to Maintain Work-Life Balance While Staying Connected

In an increasingly mobile environment with a business clock that runs 24-7, many entrepreneurs use their smartphones and tablets to stay connected to both their customers and business partners no matter where they are.

“A lot of small businesses deal with other small businesses, so it’s important to communicate when it works for both parties,” said Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing at digital business solutions provider j2 Global. “It might be early in the morning, late at night, or on a lunch hour. You need to be able to take a message and access information to keep a deal in motion.”

However, just because you can be reached constantly through your mobile devices doesn’t mean you should be. “You should avoid being available all the time to everyone, or available to no one,” Pugh told Business News Daily. “Use technology to make yourself accessible in the right ways to the right people at the right time.”

Pugh offered the following mobile tech strategies to help people stay accessible while still maintaining their work-life balance:

1) Take your time and single-task. With online faxing and a digitized signature, you can send an important fax from anywhere while you’re doing other things. But when you multitask, you’re far more likely to make errors. Step away from what you’re doing so you can give the business task your undivided attention.

2) Don’t take calls unless it’s quiet. Projecting professionalism and seriousness is just as important as being responsive. Before you take or return an important call from a prospect while you’re out of the office, make sure you’re in a quiet environment first.

3) Find solutions that work on any platform. You need to be able to use whatever device  is available to you at the time to conduct your business. The software and programs you choose to run your operations should behave the same way on your phone, tablet and desktop.

The story was originally published on Business News Daily.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

10 Simple Ways To Cut Business Expenses

There’s no avoiding the fact that running a business costs money. Whether it’s a brick-and-mortar retail store, a service provider, or a small e-commerce company, every startup has its own set of expenses. While you can’t fully eliminate your costs, you can significantly reduce them with a few simple changes to your business operations.

Holly Perez, senior manager of personal finance software company Quicken, shared these 10 cost-cutting solutions to help you reduce your business’s budget:

1. Outsource. Bring in freelancers or contractors for short-term jobs. You won’t have to pay a full-time salary with benefits to employees who you may not need after a project is completed. If a particular temp worker stands out, you may be able to hire them to fill a current or future position, which could help you cut recruiting and training costs.

2. Hire interns. Hiring interns is a win-win situation. Interns get valuable experience, and employers enjoy low-cost labor. However, interns might need extensive training on your software and procedures before they can get to work. Keep this in mind when weighing the costs and benefits of this tactic.

3. Use email whenever possible. When sending simple messages, like greetings to new customers and requests to vendors, do it electronically. Small costs like stamps, envelopes and paper can add up fast, so cutting the little things can make a big difference.

4. Print less. Ink cartridges, paper, file cabinets and storage space are all expenses you can easily limit in the digital age. Store the majority of your documents and data on a hard drive, scanning paper documents if necessary. Be sure to back up all of your files and protect your computers with passwords.

5. Negotiate lower credit card APRs. Many small business owners use credit cards for working capital, minor purchases or travel expenses. If you’re paying a high annual percentage rate, try to negotiate a lower rate with your provider. You can save significant money over the long term.

6. Negotiate lower prices with your suppliers. You shouldn’t just be wrangling better deals from your credit card companies; you should also negotiate with your suppliers. Most suppliers are amenable to the idea of negotiating prices, because they would rather do so than lose a regular customer.

7. Pay invoices early. Many suppliers offer discounts for paying invoices within the first few days of receiving them. If you have the cash, paying early is a great way to build long-lasting relationships with your suppliers.

8. Buy used equipment. With technology constantly improving, you can get big discounts on software and hardware that was recently replaced by a new version. Used equipment can be just as useful as new equipment, but even at a few months old, these products will come at a significantly lower price.

9. Travel less. You can save a lot of time and money by avoiding unnecessary trips. Use online resources like Webex and Skype to conduct meetings with people in multiple locations rather than traveling to visit them in person.

10. Let employees telecommute. If possible, allow your staff to work from home at least one day per week. You’ll see a cost savings on your electricity bill, and you may ultimately be able to relocate to a smaller office.

The story was originally published on Business News Daily.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Making Your Business Buzzworthy

An article from the Business News Daily discusses how email marketing used to follow a one-size-fits-all model, but now new technology is giving businesses the chance to take their campaigns to the next level.

Vivek Sharma, co-founder and CEO of email marketing technology provider Movable Ink, said there are numerous new ways businesses can help ensure their emails are not only read, but revisited multiple times.

Originally, email marketing was similar to direct mail in that everyone got the same message, Sharma said. Eventually, email messages could be targeted to different customer segments — for instance, one email could be sent to men, and the other to women.

Sharma said “agile marketing” takes things several steps further. “Agile marketing is actuality-based marketing — meaning, rather than creating a prefabbed message, the message is adapting to you based on when you are [reading it], where you are, what device you are opening it on and even the weather outside,” Sharma said.

To help businesses better understand the capabilities of email marketing, Sharma has compiled a list of 10 ways retailers can use email marketing to generate excitement and boost sales:

  • Multimedia: Rather than a simple picture, use video and a countdown clock to unveil a new product and create a sense of urgency.
  • Social media: Use social media to make emails interactive by incorporating real-time tweets and Instagram photos.
  • Personalize: While some think slapping someone’s name at the top of an email makes it personal, take it even further by personalizing an image with the recipient’s name on it — for example, a piece of jewelry with the person’s name engraved on it.
  • New deals: To get consumers to revisit the email after they have opened it, use new technology that allows for the email to be updated with new deals every hour.
  • Shipping: Include real-time shipping-status information in purchase confirmation emails.
  • Updated locations: Use geo-targeting to show nearby store locations and the hours when each of those stores is open.
  • New products: Change offers that are promoted based on each shopper’s location. For example, a ticket broker could change the concerts or sporting events it promotes in an email based on each consumer’s location.
  • Bar codes: Use bar codes in mobile emails to drive sales by letting consumers have their email scanned straight from their mobile device for an in-store discount.
  • Best sellers: For businesses with fast-moving products on their home page, use new tools that allow the emails to always show the most up-to-date best-selling products. It ensures the emails never go stale.
  • Mobile friendly: Optimize emails for mobile devices — for instance, include a “click to call” button for customers who want to make a purchase or speak to a customer representative.

Sharma said email marketing makes the most sense for retailers because it has the largest return on their investment. He points to past research that shows that the return on investment for email marketing is $29 for every $1 spent.

“Dollar for dollar, out of all of the digital channels available to retailers, email simply performs the best,” Sharma said. “It is incredibly effective.”

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

10 Surprising Social Media Statistics

If you’re managing social media for your business, it might be useful to know about some of the most surprising social media statistics this year. Here are 10 that might make you rethink the way you’re approaching social media.

1. THE FASTEST GROWING DEMOGRAPHIC ON TWITTER IS THE 55–64 YEAR AGE BRACKET.

• This demographic has grown 79% since 2012.
• The 45–54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+.
• For Facebook, this group has jumped 46%.
• For Google+, 56%.

Those are impressive numbers against the prevailing idea that social media is “just for teenagers.” It certainly points to the importance of having a solid social media strategy if these age brackets fit into your target demographic.

Rethink it: Keep older users in mind when using social media, particularly on these three platforms. Our age makes a difference to our taste and interests, so if you’re focusing on younger users with the content you post, you could be missing an important demographic.

2. 189 MILLION OF FACEBOOK’S USERS ARE “MOBILE ONLY”

Not only does Facebook have millions of users who don’t access it from a desktop or laptop, but mobile use generates 30% of Facebook’s ad revenue as well. This is a 7% increase from the end of 2012 already.

Rethink it: There are probably more users accessing Facebook from mobile devices than you thought. It’s worth considering how your content displays on mobile devices and smaller screens before posting it, particularly if your target market is full of mobile users. Of course, make sure to make sharing to social media from mobile more straightforward.

3. YOUTUBE REACHES MORE U.S. ADULTS AGED 18–34 THAN ANY CABLE NETWORK

Did you think TV was the best way to reach the masses? Well if you’re after 18–34 year olds in the U.S., you’ll have more luck reaching them through YouTube. Of course, one video won’t necessarily reach more viewers than a cable network could, but utilizing a platform with such a wide user base makes a lot of sense.

Rethink it: If you’ve been putting off adding video to your strategy, now’s the time to give it a go. You could start small with simple five-minute videos explaining what your company does or introducing your team.

4. EVERY SECOND TWO NEW MEMBERS JOIN LINKEDIN

LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, continues to grow every second. From groups to blogs to job listings, this platform is a rich source of information and conversation for professionals who want to connect to others in their industry.

Rethink it: LinkedIn is definitely worth paying attention to. In particular, this is a place where you may want to focus more on new users. Making your group or community a great source of information and a newbie-friendly space can help you to make the most out of the growing userbase.

Make sure you share consistently to your LinkedIn company page and profile by, for example, scheduling your posts.

5. SOCIAL MEDIA HAS OVERTAKEN PORN AS THE NO. 1 ACTIVITY ON THE WEB

We all knew social media was popular, but this popular? Apparently it’s the most common thing we do online. So next time you find yourself watching Kitten vs. Watermelon videos on Facebook, you can at least console yourself with the fact that the majority of people online right now are doing something similar.

Social media carries more weight than ever. It’s clearly not a fad, or a phase. It continues to grow as a habit, and new platforms continue to appear and develop.

Rethink it: Putting time and effort into your social media strategy clearly makes sense in light of these stats. If you weren’t already serious about social media, you might want to give it a bit more of your time now.

6. LINKEDIN HAS A LOWER PERCENTAGE OF ACTIVE USERS THAN PINTEREST, GOOGLE+, TWITTER AND FACEBOOK

Although LinkedIn is gathering new users at a fast rate, the number of active users is lower than most of the biggest social networks around. So more people are signing up, but they’re not participating. This means you’re probably not going to have as good a response with participatory content on LinkedIn, like contests or polls, as you might on Facebook or Twitter.

Rethink it: If you’re hoping to get people involved, think about which platforms are best for that. Looking at the latest Twitter statistics and Facebook statistics, these platforms might be a better place for your contest or survey, while passive content like blog posts or slide decks might be just right for your LinkedIn audience.

7. 93% OF MARKETERS USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BUSINESS

Only 7% of marketers say they don’t use social media for their business. That means there are lots of people out there getting involved and managing a social media strategy. It’s becoming more common to include social media as part of an overall marketing budget or strategy, as opposed to when it was the outlier that no one wanted to spend time or money on.

Rethink it: If you’re struggling to make your strategy work, or you just want some advice, you don’t have to go it alone. If 93% of marketers are using social media for business, you can probably find someone to give you a hand. Plus, there are lots of blogs, videos and slide decks around to help you out. Be sure to find the right social media management tool for you to stay on top of everything.

8. 25% OF SMARTPHONE OWNERS AGES 18–44 SAY THEY CAN’T RECALL THE LAST TIME THEIR SMARTPHONE WASN’T NEXT TO THEM

It’s pretty clear that mobile is a growing space that we need to pay attention to. And we’ve all heard the cliché of smartphone owners who don’t want to let go of their phones, even for five minutes. Well, apparently that’s not too far from the truth. If 25% of people aged 18–44 can’t remember not having their phone with them, there are probably very few times when they’re not connected to the web in some way.

Rethink it: While you can reach people almost anytime, since they have their smartphones with them almost always, this also means you can interrupt pretty much any part of their lives. Don’t forget that having a phone in your pocket all the time isn’t the same as being available all the time.

9. EVEN THOUGH 62% OF MARKETERS BLOG OR PLAN TO BLOG IN 2013, ONLY 9% OF US MARKETING COMPANIES EMPLOY A FULL-TIME BLOGGER

Blogging is clearly a big focus for marketers who want to take advantage of social media and content marketing. This is great, because blogging for your business has lots of advantages: you can control your company blog, you can set the tone and use it to market your product, share company news or provide interesting information for your customers. With only 9% of marketing companies hiring bloggers full-time, however, the pressure to produce high-quality content consistently will be a lot higher.

What a lot of people struggle here is how to write the best headlines for your articles, when the best time is to publish posts and lots of other blogging questions that arise when people are starting out.

(Of course, not all marketers work at marketing companies, but the stats are still interesting–how many companies in any industry can afford to hire–or already have–a full-time blogger?)

Rethink it: If you don’t have (or can’t afford) a full-time blogger for your business, be aware that having a content strategy that requires consistently posting on your blog will mean a lot of work for your marketing team and/or other team members in your company to keep up that volume. This can work, it’s just important to realize how big a task it is to run with a full-time content strategy without a full-time content creator.

10. 25% OF FACEBOOK USERS DON’T BOTHER WITH PRIVACY SETTINGS

We’ve seen a lot of news about social media companies and privacy. Facebook itself has been in the news several times over privacy issues, Instagram users recently got in a kerfuffle over changing their terms of service, and the recent NSA news has seen people become more conscious of their privacy online.

But despite these high-profile cases of security-conscious users pushing back against social networks and web services, Velocity Digital reports that 25% of Facebook users don’t even look at their privacy settings.

Rethink it: Assuming that all of your customers are thinking along the same lines could be a big mistake. Especially if you’re basing that on what you’ve heard or read in the tech news. Remember that your customers might have very different priorities than what you expect.

Your social media strategy really comes down to what your goals are, and who your target customers are, but it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to the trends happening across the web. Hopefully these stats will help you to identify trends that will affect your strategy and adjust accordingly.

The story was originally published on Fast Company.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

For the U.S. Office Market, 2013 Was A Very Good Year

Investors are cheering the gains in asset values seen during 2013 from a strengthening recovery in the U.S. office market, and looking forward to an even brighter 2014 as virtually all the important metrics that drive rent growth and property income are expected to continue to improve over the next 12 months.

The robust office market performance was the highlight of the year-in-review analysis and forecast webinar presented by CoStar market experts Walter Page, director of office research; Hans Nordby, managing director and corporate officer, and Aaron Jodka, manager, U.S. market research.

According to CoStar’s analysis, net absorption in the U.S. office market rose a solid 22% in 2013 over the previous year to 59 million square feet, with the increased demand helping push the vacancy rate down 50 basis points from 12.4% to 11.9%.

The growing demand for office space, combined with an extended period which has seen little to no new office construction, resulted in the average U.S. office rent to grow 3.1% last year – the first time rents have cracked the 3% annual growth mark since 2007, the peak of the market cycle.

New office construction remains muted with just 40 million square feet of new office space added in 2013, and another 78 million square feet under construction at the end of December. Any gains in construction were largely offset by the loss of existing office space as older buildings were demolished or converted, in many cases to be replaced with apartment or condominium properties.

Despite a flattening yield curve and expectations that 10-Year Treasurys will rise to nearly 5% over the next few years, investors increased office purchases by 20% last year, for total office property sales of $106.2 billion, driven in part by demand created by the 2.4% gain in office-using employment in 2013, well above the overall U.S. employment growth rate of 1.6%.

Looking ahead, the CoStar analysts expect the country should finally reach its pre-recession employment peak by summer 2014, building on the 750,000 new office-using jobs gained in 2013.

The office recovery continues to evolve and broaden in new and different directions. While CBD markets in top-tier gateway markets saw the lion’s share of improvement earlier in the recovery, suburban office is now recovering at a dramatic rate, driven by gains in technology, health care, education and even energy industry jobs.

“Markets such as Charlotte are being driven by diversifying economies and lower business costs. Many of the jobs coming into the office sector such as call centers don’t use CBD towers, but they do absorb space,” Nordby said. “This is one of the few calls we’ve been on where it’s hard to find much bad news at all.”

Vacancies Down, Rents Up

In fact, the CoStar analysts said, 2013 was a great year for the office market. Even better, the office recovery is only at about the halfway point — the vacancy rate is expected to plummet another 100 bps to 10.9% by the end of 2015, noted Page, adding that the 59 million square feet of net absorption included a strong year-ending 20 million square feet in the fourth quarter.

“For office investors in particular, the second half of this recovery is what they like,” Page said. “With the occupancy gains, we should see rent, NOI and value gains.

“We are reaching what I’d call a sweet spot — and we’re also reaching a tipping point, the 11.6% vacancy line which is the historical average between 2004 and 2012,” Page added. “At that point, we will really see accelerating rents.”

Roughly half of major markets have already reached or are near that point, including Pittsburgh (8.2%) New York City (8.8%), San Francisco (9.3%) and even St. Louis (11.6%). Baltimore (11.6%) and Philadelphia (11.7%).

Not reflected in the hard numbers is the decline in free rent and concessions offered by landlords, which have been cut in half in such markets like Seattle, Boston and Miami. Rent discounts tenant improvement packages are also shrinking in many markets, Page said.

While the majority of U.S. office markets experienced notable gains, others still have a ways to go. Detroit and Phoenix still have vacancy rates of 17.9% and 18.2%, respectively, but they’ve also come down from stratospheric levels.

The Amazing Suburban Office Rebound

While suburban office markets were still largely lackluster as recently as a year or two ago, CoStar analysts now describe the recovery in the suburban office sector using superlatives such as amazing, remarkable and “on fire.”

Lingering higher vacancies have prevented additional construction in many suburbs, which are also benefitting from the fast-growing tech, health-care and other employment sectors. Suburban markets, which make up a much higher share of total office inventory than CBD markets, account for 90% of total office absorption.

“Some of the recovering suburban markets would have been in tough shape a year, 18 months ago,” Nordby said. “The economy has become much more broad-based, and normal, low-cost back-office places like Tampa and Phoenix have been posting very good job growth.”

Cranes Rising In More Markets

While office construction starts remain low as a percentage of existing inventories, building has been relatively brisk in a few markets like San Jose, Austin, Houston and Boston — and more recently, San Francisco, Dallas, Northern New Jersey and even Chicago.

Most projects are built with tenants or owners in tow, although developers are beginning to move forward on a handful of speculative projects. It’s hardly a surprise to see cranes piercing the skyline in San Francisco, where 2.5 million square feet is under construction, including Jay Paul Co.’s 181 Fremont, a $500 million mixed-use tower in the South Financial District with 415,000 square feet of speculative office space.

San Francisco CBD rents have risen 63% from their recession lows, compared with average 5.7% rent growth for the 54 largest markets.

“Much of this activity is smart money getting under way before the cycle becomes long in the tooth, and we’ll see more of this across the country,” Nordby said.

The story was originally published on CoStar.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Does A BYOD Policy Make Sense For Your Business?

Smartphones and tablets are what make many small businesses tick. Modern mobile devices are portable enough for a daily commute and powerful enough to keep your employees productive from anywhere. For many small businesses and startups, these devices are practically indispensable.  So should small business owners be the ones to buy iPhones, Android phones, Windows phones or BlackBerrys for their employees? Or should your employees bring their own?

For decades, companies have usually provided a desktop computer for each employee if the job called for it. But as personal computing devices become more and more mobile — not to mention numerous — small business owners are faced with tough new questions. Shelling out for company-owned devices may be the most secure option, but it can be expensive — and, counterintuitively, could even dampen morale. Here are three reasons to adopt a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model for your business — and three reasons to stay far away from BYOD.

Your business should go BYOD because:

1. It’s cheaper: Smartphones and tablets are not cheap. Regardless of how many employees you have, these devices might not fit into your business’s budget. And the hardware costs are just the beginning: don’t forget to factor in the cost of a data plan for each device. Prices vary widely between devices and carriers, but providing a Web-connected cellphone or tablet could cost you $1,000 or more for each employee.  Besides, most of your employees probably already own at least a smartphone — and if they don’t, they’re likely to be in the market for one soon.

2. Employees want BYOD: When it comes to mobile technology, most workers have strong brand preferences, be it iOS, Android or otherwise. Those employees are most content when they can work using their favorite devices, applications and Web tools, instead of ones hand-picked by their employer. And working from your own smartphone or tablet is often simply easier, since there’s no need to juggle multiple devices or partition mobile activities. That translates into happier, more productive employees. And because workers will almost always have their personal devices on hand, they can be ready to work at a moment’s notice.

3. You’re busy: Let’s face it: You’re busy, and your small business isn’t likely to have an IT department on hand to manage a fleet of cellphones and tablets. And there’s a lot to manage beyond picking the right devices and juggling payment plans. You could spend a lot of time micromanaging which apps your employees use for functions like reading and responding to company email. And if a company-owned device breaks down, you’ll be the one tasked with fixing it. By going BYOD, you leave those decisions in their hands, letting you stay focused on daily business operations.

Your business should stick to company-owned devices because:

1. It’s (much) more secure: Letting your employees work on an unsecured personal device is risky business — especially when it’s a device that’s so easy to lose. Even when using devices and apps that hold sensitive company data, employees are likely to use weak passwords — or no passwords at all. And if an employee accidentally sends private client data to a personal contact, your business is on the hook. By managing company-owned devices, you can control which applications your employees use — and how. You can also retain the option to wipe company devices — even remotely — or revoke access to company accounts at any time. All else aside, legal liability is the No. 1 reason to steer clear of BYOD policies.

2. You own the numbers: Letting employees use their own phones has its perks, but what do you do when an employee leaves? Shelling out for company-owned devices means you own more than just the phones — you also own the corresponding phone numbers. That can save you from a lot of headaches — and keep you from missing out on business if a client tries to contact your company through a former employee. Owning all phone numbers associated with your company will also help your next employee get right to work without any hiccups and avoid lost productivity.

3. Your employees really need them: The majority of Americans have smartphones, but the pocket-size computers are far from ubiquitous. If you depend on your employees to respond to that email from wherever they are, buying them a phone might be the best option. Employees can’t be expected to shell out for an expensive phone or tablet — not to mention foot the bill for a data plan. Biting the bullet on company-owned phones isn’t just secure and practical for small businesses; it might also be the only way to ensure that every employee can stay connected and productive when they’re away from the office.

Ultimately, this choice comes down to the needs of your individual business. Not every employee needs to stay connected to work through a smartphone or tablet. But when they do, there are very good reasons for small business owners to buy and maintain their own devices. On the other hand, if your business is very small, or if employees rarely handle sensitive company data, the flexibility and cost-savings of a BYOD policy might be too good to ignore.

The story was originally published on Business News Daily.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.