Avoid these Six Words in Business

The Newsletter

Avoid These Six Words and Your Firm Will Work Better
Some believe the commercial real estate industry continues to use outdated processes and can’t adapt to the ever faster pace of technological change. This is an unfair generality. But it raises the question: When was the last time you audited your company’s processes and made them earn a place in your business?

The key may lie in asking tough questions. One, in particular, often elicits a response known as “the six deadly words.” And it’s not helpful.

For example, to the question “Why do you do it this way?” you may respond, “We’ve always done it this way.” The six deadly words.

But few of your processes exist because they’re now the best option. They were convenient, cheap, a temporary solution or one that worked well…10 years ago.

So what’s the best way to audit your processes?

Ask questions. Don’t accept the six deadly words as a proper response. If a process is outdated, ask your team for suggestions to improve it. Encourage interdepartmental input. Your sales team might see bottlenecks that your marketing department can’t, and vice versa.

Once you’ve asked questions, step back and really listen to the answers. Look for patterns. Are there little tweaks that would improve your company’s operations, or is your probe revealing deeper systemic problems?

While it might not be an option to overhaul your company’s operating systems now, looking for processes that are past their prime will help you plan a more efficient future for your company. And maybe even help change the perception of our industry.

What’s New about This Hybrid Office Space? Everything

Shopify, an e-commerce company that develops software for online stores, has implemented a hybrid work environment with elements of traditional corporate offices and open concept workspaces at its headquarters in Toronto, Canada.

And the 35,600 sq. ft. (3307 m) office has business and architectural media breathless: According to CBC News, Inc. magazine dubbed it “one of the ‘world’s coolest offices.'”

As open concept offices are hardly new, and it’s notoriously difficult to impress media, what’s afoot here?

Innovation # 1: A philosophy that makes sense: not all people work or think the same way. Therefore, the environment must be conducive to extroverts and introverts. (Shopify’s employee population is half and half.)

Commented Satish Kanwar, Shopify’s director of product, in a CBC interview: “We recognized there are people who are predominantly introverts and others who are extroverts…so we wanted to create a very flexible environment that was both extremely private and extremely open.”

Witness “Sofa Boxes” – rooms on wheels, with noise-canceling cushions and one see-through wall. It’s private, but still in the open; it can be pushed together for meetings; and, bonus…it’s comfortable!

Innovation # 2: The desks, on the other hand, are the ultimate in communal working. Called “hot desking,” they’re a nod to the fluidity of work at Shopify; desks are identical – no one has a defined space.

The focus of the layout, as designed with assistance from a design firm and Shopify employees, totally reflects the employees and the work they do. Now there’s a concept!

Job Burnout is Hazardous to Your Job…and Your Life
Life Balance

If you’re like half the working population, you may be experiencing burnout. And if you are, the good news is, you can take action. According to the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Lifestyle website, “Job burnout is a special type of job stress – a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”

In a recent online article, Dr. Travis Bradberry, coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, wrote: “You get burnt out when you feel like you’re putting more into your work than you’re getting out of it. Sometimes this happens when a job isn’t rewarding, but more often than not it’s because you aren’t taking care of yourself …” Bradberry reports that a recent Society of Human Resource Management poll found burnout “was one of the top reasons that people quit.” He lists signs to watch for:

  • Health problems
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Fatigue
  • Negativity
  • Decreased satisfaction
  • Decreased motivation
  • Performance issues

Adds Bradberry, “If you recognize many of these symptoms in yourself, don’t worry. Fighting burnout is a simple matter of self-care.” The Mayo Clinic offers a number of self-care action steps to fight job burnout, including:

  • Managing contributing stressors
  • Evaluating options by assessing your skills and passions
  • Adjusting your attitude
  • Seeking support
  • Exercising regularly and sleeping seven to eight hours a night.

Is It Time to Think Solar for Your CRE Assets?
Many commercial property owners entertain the idea of outfitting their physical plants and offices with energy-saving solar photovoltaic panels. But the cost, labyrinthine paperwork, and long lead times before seeing the return on investment (ROI) have overshadowed the benefits.

However, just as computer technology has advanced from building-size machines to powerful supercomputers sized for a pocket, the solar energy industry is fast evolving. Solar providers in the United States are reporting record growth. For example,

In April, San Francisco became the first US city to require solar panels on all new buildings with 10 stories or less. And a recent US federal study concluded that almost 40% of the country’s energy needs would be met if solar panels were installed on every rooftop across the country.

Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of going solar:


More affordable

As more solar suppliers jump into the field, competition is driving prices down. Advances in technology and improved manufacturing processes deliver additional savings. The good news? Competition and advances will continue to grow, promising greater savings over the next few years.

Decreased operation costs

Energy is a significant line item expense for businesses. Computers, phones, printers, machinery – it adds up.

Solar doesn’t just reduce energy consumption; many buildings generate enough energy to send or sell back to the grid. That frees up company resources for business development. Another consideration: utility provider services and pricing fluctuate throughout the year. Going solar means locking in a predictable source (and price) of energy for years to come.

Positive publicity

Renewable energy and environmental responsibility are high-profile, hot-button topics. Going solar is a visible demonstration of a company’s commitment to sustainability and reducing its own carbon footprint.

Whether it’s part of a mission statement or a budget sheet consideration, going solar can generate positive publicity for your company. It’s also a powerful value-add for prospective tenants.


Installation inefficiencies

While increased competition and technological advances have driven down the price of panels and their installation, the process is far from streamlined. In addition to costs associated with cabling, racking, switches, and monitors, there’s the time and expense involved in permits and inspections as well as syncing panel systems with the grids – both the building’s and the local utility provider’s.

Long lead time on returns

Most commercial property owners – whether businesses or investors – are in their assets for the long haul. Even so, an expected ROI of up to 20 to 25 years (at the upper end) gives cause for pause.

Location, location, location

Plenty of commercial buildings have installed panels in areas not conducive to solar. However, while significant advances have been made to improve solar panel performance in shady or overcast conditions, they do their best work in consistent sunshine. Reduced performance means reduced returns, and that’s a tough sell to shareholders, board members, or balance sheets.

One thing is certain, however: solar power is worth considering. Just like computer technology, it’s here to stay.

SA Realty Watch Group
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Worth Reading
The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers
By Adam Grant

To Adam Grant, “originals” are nonconformists who come up with great ideas and put them into action despite their doubts, fears, and…their tendency to procrastinate. This isn’t a bad thing. Moderate procrastination is vital because it allows for time to think and incubate ideas. Now we can feel good about procrastinating!

Great Leaders Embrace Office Politics
By Michael Chang Wenderoth

Harvard Business Review

Getting ahead in the corporate world is more about managing up and networking with influential decision makers than working hard. Managing a career is critical, but surprisingly few people do it, largely because it’s perceived as Machiavellian. So? At least we’re not languishing at the bottom of the corporate food chain.

We Are Now Witnessing Elon Musk’s Slow-Motion Disruption of the Global Auto Industry
By Steve LeVine


Love him or hate him, Elon Musk is trying, some say successfully, to fill a void left by another great disrupter, Steve Jobs. By taking the lead in producing the Model 3 Tesla, Musk has disrupted the auto industry – perhaps forever – as his competitors frantically retool to welcome the “new” electrics.

This Month: The Art of Bleisure
Over half of American workers didn’t take all of their vacation time last year. But “bleisure,” which combines business travel with leisure time, is becoming increasingly popular. You can be all things to all people with this trend!

Get the full scoop on the bleisure trend:
4 Things to Know about the Bleisure Trend

Learn who’s enjoying bleisure and how:
Benefits of Mixing Business Travel with Leisure

Both solo bleisurites and those with family in tow can take a moment to enjoy the sights. Check out these suggestions:
Bleisure Travel

Over the past several years, this emerging trend has influenced travel, tourism, and even fashion. Review the changes here:
Bleisure Overview

Hotels are starting to cater to the bleisure crowd. Find out what they are offering for your next trip:
Targeting ‘Bleisure’ Business

This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter.
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