Budget Friendly Tips to Decrease Your Company’s Carbon Footprint

DecreaseYourCompanysCarbonFootprint

Large corporations looking to save money, improve their image, and even do their part to save the planet have turned to experts on how to make their organization more environmentally conscious. As climate change becomes harder to ignore every year, customers and clients are choosing to do business with sustainable companies. Beyond “going green” by printing less, there are many ways to decrease the impact your company has on the environment. And most of them can save you money, too.

Install Renewable Energy Sources
Something as simple as a few solar panels can have a huge impact on your electric bill. That’s why so many corporations have started installing solar on their campuses. The ROI for renewables is significant as well, as they can be paid off in a few years. Most solar panels will realize 10-30% annual returns after they’re paid off.

Motion Sensored Lights
The majority of your office’s carbon footprint likely comes from your energy usage. Though you might not be able to control what powers your building, you can control how much energy you drain from it. Motion Sensored lighting automatically turns off when no one is in the room, which reduces the amount of energy wasted from keeping lights on all the time. It also mitigates the security risk of keeping lights off, as they’ll automatically turn on when someone’s in the building.

LEED Certification
In California, water is scarce, so conservation is a necessity. If your company needs guidance on how to begin to conserve more water and create a sustainable building, look into LEED Certification. It’s a set of guidelines that combines energy, water, and material usage to ensure your building meets the sustainability standards of the modern world. As this is a priority for Barrister Executive Suites, several landlords go beyond the requirements set in place by LEED guidelines. Hines and Douglas Emmett have outstanding records to model after.

Shut Down & Unplug Policies
Developing clear and concise policies for your organization’s sustainability practices helps get everyone on the same page about how they can do their part. For example, once employees leave the office, they should make sure their computers are shut down, not on standby mode. All nonessential items should be unplugged when they’re not in use, as electricity is still drawn from the wall. The Department of Energy estimates that devices plugged into the wall on standby mode can account for up to 10% of your electricity bill.

Green Your Breakroom
Lots of waste can occur in the break room–and not just your time! Purchase reusable utensils, plates, and cups for a one-time expense that keeps single-use plastic out of landfills. Encourage employees to put names and dates on food to limit waste. About 40% of food in the United States is never consumed and it creates methane gas in landfills, a potent and dangerous greenhouse gas. Make sure employees know which items can and should be recycled with clear signs that your recycling service can likely supply for you.

Desk Organization Life Hacks

desk organization

When you’re establishing yourself in a new office, it can feel like you have a fresh start on keeping your workspace neat and organized. When you feel more organized it can be easier to take on the day and be more productive. A cluttered desk can be stressful, there are even studies to prove it. One such study done by Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that clutter limits your brain’s ability to properly process information, thus making you less productive. It seems that Einstein was wrong about one thing, when he said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Depending on your own personal work habits, the number of knickknacks you keep on your desk can positively affect your mood, which increases productivity. However, an unkempt desk can cause you to lose track of lists, documents, and memos which can hold back your performance.

Here are some ways to keep your desk organized to increase productivity:

Go Vertical
When you’re organizing anything, sage advice is to always go vertical with your space. If you work in a cubicle, or just don’t have an expansive desk, work with the space you’ve got. Creating a “place” for everything helps you file things away and retrieve them again quickly when you need them. Keeping paper vertical instead of horizontal seems to defy physics but it’s actually a helpful way to separate documents. When papers sit flat on your desk, stacks can easily become disorganized. This makes it a good idea to immediately file papers away, either in a drawer or on your desk where it’s in your line of sight.

Arm’s Length Test
Whenever you’re adding an element to your desk, make sure whatever’s within arm’s reach is used day-to-day. If it’s a souvenir from vacation, keep it closer to the edge to make room for more important items. Filers, writing utensils, coffee mug, notebook–whatever you use to get through the day–should be some of the closest things to you.

Add Some Green
Nature is calming and decreases stress levels, which can help improve your productivity. Adding a small plant within your line of sight can create a brighter, happier space. If you stare at a computer screen for most of your day, a small plant can be an inviting refuge. Desk plants are great for sunny workplaces and even in offices that use LED and fluorescent lights. Make sure to put a small plate under your plant so that you don’t damage the desk from watering!

Desk Lamp
Adding yellow light from a small desk lamp helps break up the blue light emitted from computer screens. They’re calming and help you focus on documents if you’re going through them with a fine-tooth comb. Desk lamps can also be great if they have built-in outlets, so you never have to crawl under your desk to plug in a charger again.

Organize Your Digital Desktop
It’s the end of a productive workday day, and you’re closing down all of your windows, only to be inundated with icons once you get back to your home screen. Think of your digital desktop like your physical one–organize with files! Getting into this habit may take some time, but immediately storing documents away into desktop files keeps your desktop clear and your hard work is right where you need it to be.

Busy Parent’s Guide to Having Kids Home All Summer

GuideHavingKidsHomeSummer

Millions of working parents all face the same dilemma with their children during summer months–without school, what should kids do? Juggling babysitters, daycare, and summer camp can be stressful, but it’s important to make the most out of the time you have with them in the warmer months. Nice weather means there are usually more things to do!

Get A Planner
The first thing parents should do when keeping track of summer schedules is finding a great planner to stay organized. If your child is starting a new camp in a few weeks, make sure you have a record of it somewhere to keep track. Planners are vital if you have more than one child, as their age gap probably prohibits them from doing all activities together. Planners can help make sure that your child’s summer isn’t wasted watching television or playing on a tablet. Involving them in the planning process can help you both find activities worth spending time and money on.

Start a Flexible Summer Schedule
If your employer is open to it, see if they let you start a more flexible summer schedule so you can spend some more hours at home. With high school and college students off for the summer as well, explore your options for babysitting during the hours you’ll need to be at work. Sometimes, you can even pair up with another working parent to find a babysitter that can take care of both kids at a lower cost to both parties.

Find Events to Attend
You don’t want to miss those special summer fairs and pop-up events that only come around once a year. Find social media sites that promote local events happening in your area to stay in the loop about what’s happening on the weekends. Check out your public library for flyers about local events, or even to find out about free educational events they often hold in the summer.

Explore Local Green Spaces
Kids love getting dirty, and taking them out into nature is great for your stress levels and their boundless energy. Take a walk before or after dinner at a park, or explore nature reserves on weekends. Take the time to get away from screens and into the current moment. Showing your children unspoiled nature at a young age helps them to appreciate it once they’re older.

Try a New Hobby
As your kids grow up, they’re finding out who they are and what they’re interested in. Support their imagination and help them pursue new hobbies, whether that’s through enrolling in classes or spending quality time on weekends learning with them.

Involve Them In Housework
There are seemingly always things around the house that need to get done. Within their capabilities, involving kids in your to-do list helps you check things off as well as spend time with your child. The skills kids learn from their parents aren’t taught in school, and you’ll be thankful they can land on their own two feet when they move out and don’t call asking how to change a lightbulb.

Going Green at Work

We all must do our part to care for the environment and reduce our personal carbon footprint. Though it’s easier to control that at home, we can easily turn our workplace into a Green Zone, and there are many ways that we can make a big impact at our workplace with proven results from experts in the field.

Going green in your business also produces green for your business. There are a lot of cost-effective ways to reduce your use, which helps the Earth and your budget.

  • Companies large and small are switching to predominantly electronic communication and have drastically reduced printing of documents and presentations which can easily be shared electronically and/or screened for viewing purposes. The money that is saved on paper, ink, and copy machine maintenance really adds up, but it also means that fewer trees are being cut down and less air is being polluted to make the paper. Recycled printing paper is also readily available.
  • Energy efficient LED lights use up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and last up to 20 years! And taking it a step further, adding dimmers and timers are quick and efficient.
  • Blue recycling bins for paper are pretty common but it is just as easy to set up recycling bins in a common area for batteries, light bulbs, and ink cartridges. They all are toxic if thrown into the trash, which only ends up in the landfills.
  • Switching to filtered water instead of bottled water is cost effective and makes a huge environmental impact.
  • Traveling to a meeting takes time, money, and causes pollution, so instead of always filling a conference room with employees for one meeting, try an interactive conference call option which allows everyone to communicate with one another without the sometimes unnecessary commute.
  • Many businesses have seen an improvement in productivity from employees who are allowed to work from home either part-time or on occasion. For many, being able to work from the comforts of their own home is a huge bonus, but it also helps reduce commuter traffic and saves on gas. For the worker, it could also mean less dry cleaning and less wear and tear on their vehicles.
  • Sharing your commute can save both money and aggravation. Taking turns in a carpool to work take more cars off the road and allows colleagues to bond and catch up before arriving for work. You can also implement a “no work talk” rule to keep it social and light until you clock in.

Creating an office environment that is cognizant of its impact on the environment declares its compassion for its employees and clients. Going green is not only easy, but an obligation that will impact everyone for decades to come.

Breakfast of Business Champions

Breakfast Business

It’s a universally accepted fact that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that it absolutely sets the tone and the pace for the rest of your day.

Why is it, though, that we neglect self-care in this area? We need the energy, but according to some surveys, more than half of adults opt out; they know that it’s important, but for some mystifying reason, they choose not to make the time for breakfast.

Keep in mind that children learn by example. If you show them by your actions that breakfast isn’t a priority, guess who’s going to model that behavior? Bingo —  your children. Guess who’s going to defend their actions when you get on them about eating their breakfast because of what they’ve seen with you? Bingo again.

According to a 2013 Harvard Study, men who skipped breakfast (and thus engaged in prolonged fasting) increased their risk of heart disease. According to study author Leah Cahill, “As we sleep all night we are fasting, and so if we regularly do not ‘break fast’ in the morning, it puts a strain on our bodies that over time can lead to insulin resistance, hypercholesterolemia and blood pressure problems, which can then lead to heart disease.” (Forbes, July 23, 2013).

So what can companies do to provide a solution to this problem? Technically, it’s really not their problem, but when their employees are stressed out because they’re not eating properly, an intervention might be in order.

 

The Office Breakfast Club

When we think of “The Breakfast Club”, we might think of a movie about a group of teenagers who bare their souls as they serve detention, but this isn’t the case. This concept might just make the difference between lethargy and productivity and maybe save a few lives in the process.

Depending on the company’s bottom line, it might well serve the company to offer cost-efficient breakfast items, but if the budget doesn’t allow for that type of program you should consider offering breakfast items for sale at cost. Even prior to that, the company might consider doing an anonymous survey to gauge the employees’ interest level.

Some foods that you might consider offering include:

  • Whole wheat bread (and a toaster) for toast
  • Bagels
  • Oatmeal (Steel Cut oatmeal is the most nutritious)
  • Fruit
  • Cereals (staying away from the sugary stuff)
  • Yogurt (keep it low fat and as close to sugar-free as possible)

Back to the idea of The Breakfast Club, the club members should not be eating at their desk; this could lead to grazing throughout the day which could lead to weight gain.  They should be enjoying each other’s company in a designated area away from their work area, like the break room or employee lounge.

There’s nothing like breaking bread together to reduce friction between co-workers and develop a sense of community.  Talk shop if you must, but it can be beneficial to sit down and socialize with your co-workers without discussing your work day – save that for your morning huddle!

Making Your Resolutions Work, at Work

New Years Goals

For most people, making New Year’s resolutions takes place right after Christmas. You’ll sit down, think about all the things that worked this year for you and the things that didn’t, as well as the things that you accomplished and the things that you didn’t accomplish. You might write them down, or they may stay in your head. It’s really up to you.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “I really want things to be different this year. I want to be successful in my resolutions as opposed to prior years.”

So how do you make it happen? How can you make things different? Here are some things to consider and possibly implement:

  • If you haven’t written your resolutions down, do it. Put them somewhere at work where they will be in your face all the time.
  • Find a friend at work that can help you stay accountable with your resolutions. After all, you spend a big part of your day at work, so why not enlist people who can support you? Conversely, ask your friend how you can support them.
  • Turn your resolutions into SMART goals. Make them very specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
  • Set up reminders in your scheduling program of choice.
  • Don’t get into comparing and despairing- you may see someone at work who has made a similar resolution getting faster results. The only person you should be competing with is yourself.
  • Set up milestones and reward yourself for reaching them. There’s a tendency to discount the progress that you’ve made along the way.

As you achieve these milestones and keep your resolutions, you’ll gain credibility with yourself as well as the confidence to try even bigger things in the future.

Do not make resolutions

Tips for Creating a Fitness Club at Work

Office Fitness Clubs

The New Year is often a time for people to focus on change, and usually, you hear things like “I want to get in shape” or “I need to lose some weight”. January is a perfect time to kick-off a Workplace Wellness Club!

Chances are you and some of your coworkers may put on a couple extra pounds at the company holiday party, not to mention all the family get-togethers. You’re all probably feeling just a little bit sluggish right now, and the energy just isn’t there. So what can you do?

The best thing that you can do is to help each another get back on track not only with your work goals but also with your physical goals. Note that we’re avoiding the R word… as in resolution, because we all know where those go very quickly after the first of the year.

What better way to support one another in taking those few pounds off than by starting a fitness club? Here are some suggestions:

  • Make the club as welcoming as possible. No one should be out to prove anything to anybody. You’re there to support one another and to enjoy each other’s company.
  • Set up a consistent schedule. The club should meet either before or after work so as to not to conflict with the day-to-day business operations of the company.
  • Set up a rotating leadership so that everybody takes ownership of the club and nobody is burdened to be there all the time.
  • The club is whatever you want it to be. It could be as simple as everyone taking a walk as part of their lunch hour, or just during a short break. It could also include everyone joining a sports team. It’s really up to you.

Before you know it, your clothes won’t be as tight, and chances are you’ll wonder why you didn’t start the fitness club sooner!

Here are some ways to keep people engaged:

  • Create a challenge board! It encourages employees to complete the daily physical activities each member selects. They can be fairly simple, such as do 20 squats once an hour or walk around the building 5 times today.  The challenge board shows everyone’s progress and helps keep people accountable.
  • Volunteer in the community – you can work with local youth clubs for coaching sports or leading activities, for example. Not into sports? Check with your local animal shelter or rescue organization to see if they need dog walkers!
  • Utilize technology – devices like FitBit and Jawbone are great for keeping track of daily activity, sleep, and even calories. It’s also easy to friend the people in the fitness club!

 

For more ideas, SnackNation has put together a list of over 100 Employee Wellness Program ideas that were submitted by people around the globe http://www.snacknation.com/blog/employee-wellness-program-ideas/

Networking at Work

14856186_10154225743883842_6142029294242946663_o

The idea of networking can conjure up some strong imagery and emotions.

For some people, it might mean going to a mixer (usually outside work) where you make small talk, exchange business cards, become thoroughly bored, and start creeping toward the nearest exit. For others, it may be a struggle, especially if you’re an introvert and don’t have many social experiences to draw upon. Yet for others, it may mean being something you’re not, putting on airs, and engaging in a certain level of fakery. Finally, it might mean wearing an embarrassing badge that says “Hello, my name is….” and filling in the blanks.

Regardless, you can’t work in a vacuum. It doesn’t matter what profession you’re in; you cannot be successful on your own, and to believe that you can make it alone is a fallacy.

There are some things at work that you won’t be able to do without collaborating with people, and depending on the scope of the project you’re working on, it could involve just a few people or several large teams of people. There’s just no getting around it; you’ll need to network with people within your business to see your project through to completion.

There are several reasons you need to master the fine art of networking:

  1. You need to be seen. Hiding in your office or inside your cubicle makes you a lone wolf and creates the impression that you’re not a team player.
  2. You need to establish relationships and form alliances. You’ll never know when you might need to have someone advocate for you, especially if it means keeping your job in the face of budget cuts and downsizing.
  3. Today’s ally may become tomorrow’s boss. Some of these people will be on an upward trajectory within the company and establishing a relationship with them right now may also aid you in furthering your career with the company. You never know who will be promoted and may need additional support in their new role.
  4. You need to become knowledgeable about the company and how it works. This doesn’t mean that you engage in idle, malicious office gossip, but it does mean that you keep your proverbial ear to the ground in order to become aware of any sea changes within the organization.
  5. You need to gain credibility within the organization in terms of what you have accomplished, what you can do, and what you might be able to do in the future.

 

Finally, how do you become a networker extraordinaire?  Here are seven tips to networking success:

  1. Be yourself. People can smell inauthenticity and hidden agendas a mile away.
  2. Be seen at company get-togethers. Don’t be the type of person who tries to make themselves invisible in the back of the room.
  3. Get to know people before making a request of any type. You may learn in the process that while this person might be great to know, they also may not be the go-to person you may need in the future.
  4. Create the evidence that you are trustworthy and reliable. Make sure your words match your actions. Don’t just say you’re going to do something to be a people pleaser, but follow through. Above all else, don’t flake.
  5. Know the players. If you are going to a networking event, find out who’s going to be there and familiarize yourself with their key accomplishments.
  6. Stay positive! The worst thing you can say at any networking event or meeting is “Man, I hate these things, don’t you?”
  7. Ask questions and make it about the other person. Pick their brains in a nice way so that they don’t feel like they’re being manipulated.

 

Barrister Executive Suites offers a unique opportunity to also network with people from other companies. Whether it’s having coffee in the breakroom or attending one of our suite events, it’s great to be able to get to know the people around you.  We hold regular mixers and parties so that tenants can mingle, network, and get to know the amazing community that we have in our Barrister Executive Suites!

Now get out of your comfort zone, emerge from your cubicle or office, and get to know the people that will be mutually beneficial.

Holiday Party Dress – Decoded!

Holiday Party Dress Code

The holidays are here and along with the responsibility we all carry, holiday office parties are at the top of the list. Feeling obligated to your boss or client to attend is sometimes daunting, but socializing is also an important aspect of doing business.

When attending said parties, it’s also important to be dressed appropriately. The first step is to find out if this is a casual, work casual, cocktail, or formal party. And yes, there is a difference!

Casual Parties could easily be jeans, sneakers, and the obligatory holiday sweater, so it’s fine to look cute but comfortable. Keep in mind, though, as casual is it may be, it’s never appropriate to show up in anything that others would find offensive, so keep it clean and presentable because you are still with work colleagues and not college buddies.

Casual Holiday Party

Work / Business Casual means you step it up a little. No need for suits necessarily, but a put-together-look that is fun and festive for the holiday, but not too casual. This can mean slacks and a nicer sweater or button-down, and for the ladies a nicer dress or slacks with a nice blouse. Work casual is generally only a little bit ‘fancier’ than your everyday business casual attire.

Business Casual Holiday Party

Cocktail Parties are a further step up. A dress, jumpsuit, slacks, suit, or sports jacket with some nice shoes, and maybe a little evening hairdo and accessories are safe bets. This is when you leave the work behind and get to have grown up fun time. Often you can bring a date to these events.

Cocktail Party Holiday Party

Formal Events are when you pull out all the stops. We all have our favorite little black dress or suit that we save for special occasions, or perhaps it’s time to pick up something new. Either way, you want to dress to impress! If someone is spending the money, time, and effort into throwing a formal party, this is when you want to look your absolute best.

Formal Holiday Party

Looking and conducting yourself in the best possible manner is not only good for your business relationships, but also your personal ones. You never know who you might meet at these events, and you want to be remembered in a good light. That may mean that you may have to dress a touch more conservative than you would for your own party, or drink a bit less than if you were hanging out with friends. Though everyone deserves to let their hair down and have a good time, it’s easy to go overboard, so the best way to keep your reputation intact is to remember that there is a time and a place for everything!

 

 

Keeping Up During the Holidays

Keeping up during the holidays

 

As much as we want to enjoy the holidays, it’s a very hectic time of year both at home and at work. When we get consumed with tasks, it can take the fun out of it – so relieve the stress by getting organized early. We may laugh at people who start their shopping in September, but they may be on to something! So order your holiday cards early, make a gift list, and actually have the time to check it twice for a change.

Here are some ideas that might help make your holiday season run just a little smoother this year.

Gifts & Cards

Getting an early jump on your holiday cards and gifts will take the pressure off, and by ordering ahead of time you give yourself extra time to have them delivered or shipped. Plus, you can then focus on getting those last minute business or personal gifts that everyone tends to forget. And since people usually send cards to the same people each year, print addresses on labels that you can use every year (with the occasional update here and there).

Invitations

Keep track of all the events you have going on by adding them to your phone or computer calendar with an alert. It’s just too hard to keep track of them all in our heads! And since it may not be possible to attend all of the holiday parties, make sure to send a note to inform your host that you will not be able to attend. It tells them that you appreciate the relationship and taking the time to respond shows that.

Consolidating

The holidays come along and time seems to disappear. To keep productivity high and workers happy, see if there are some meetings that can be combined or condensed, and make sure the meeting stays on target to get the most out of it. Efficiency helps everyone increase productivity, and no one wants to sit through a two-hour meeting that could have been accomplished in sixty minutes. No one.

Make a plan for the New Year

Businesses tend to slow down for the holidays, so this is an ideal time to review the past year and analyze what went well and what could have been better.  Reevaluating your company’s goals and targets for the New Year will also give you the opportunity to come back from the holidays with new focus and vision. Creating a plan for how to increase productivity, efficiency, and customer/worker incentives can help start the New Year in the right direction.

Handling Stress & Keeping Perspective

There is no doubt that the holidays also create a tremendous amount of stress both inside and outside of the office. Juggling responsibilities for work along with obligations for family and loved ones can become daunting. Try to get organized with gift ideas, holiday plans, and keep your calendar up-to-date with parties and events. Then take a deep breath and make a mental list of all the things you are grateful for. We move so fast that we often lose sight of what’s really important. The holidays are the time of year that we gather our friends and families, granting us the opportunity to tell them how much they mean to us.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!