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While working from home has its merits, there are many good reasons why renting yourself some desk space in an office might be the better option.
After all, if you're stuck in a corner of the lounge or upstairs in a spare bedroom, there can be an awful lot of distractions. Even well intentioned family members can often be more of a hindrance than a help when they knock on the door offering you the umpteenth coffee of the day.
If you’re starting a new business or looking to expand an existing venture and feel you’ve either outgrown the spare bedroom or can't take much more of those well meaning interruptions at home, the next logical place to consider is an office all of your own.
Thanks to the growing phenomenon of renting desk space here in the UK, it’s now possible to get your own dedicated workstation in an office where you simply pay rent and let the landlord handle all of the other stuff.
Turning yourself into a ‘desker’ means that you have all the benefits of a professional workplace environment, including high-speed internet access, utilities and round-the-clock security all for a flat fee. While these charges are generally payable monthly, you'll also be able to search for pay-what-you-use desk space too, which is perfect if you're a start-up that has to keep a firm grip on costs.
By searching out the right type of desk space, which can be done online using the free services of Desk Space Genie, you can find a place to work that’ll offer a more productive environment than being at home.
What's more, you'll get a credible office address and chances are the location might be more useful for making new contacts and networking. Renting desk space can invariably prove much cheaper than acquiring a whole office, the contract terms are often more flexible and the landlord does all of the management and maintenance of the facilities.
Being able to get up and leave your desk without having to worry about emptying the bins or putting the vacuum cleaner round at the end of the day can be undeniably handy. Better still is the fact that having a dedicated workstation away from home means that it's much easier to separate your work from your home life.
It's certainly more cost effective too, with average costs outside of London averaging just over £200 per month, although be prepared to pay a premium if you're desperate to be in a city centre location where rents are always higher.
There are added benefits that come with renting desk space and these can often include a parking space, use of meeting room facilities along with easy access to your workstation round the clock. Most contracts will generally include a typical workstation setup, so look to expect a desk, chair and possibly tea and coffee facilities.
A telephone line is generally not included, although broadband probably will be, and you'll also need to use your own computer. However, if you're making moves with your business, you'll probably be enjoying the freedom of a laptop and mobile phone already, so with access to high-speed internet and email you'll be up and running in a matter of minutes.
Desk space contracts often run on a monthly rolling basis, with perhaps an initial fixed rental period to check that you're in a reasonable position to pay the rent. Simply search Desk Space Genie for available locations in your area and the site will reveal a selection of possibilities. It could end up being the best thing you've done since starting your new venture.
Ciaron Dunne, Desk Space Genie
I was up until til 2:30am cooking to fulfil orders and make samples. I am feeling hyper and excited, with that butterflies-in-stomach feeling about what lies ahead and the opportunities that I have. I am equally overwhelmed about what to do next and I'm tired. Whatever I do, it means that I’m not doing something else that is equally important.
The bookkeeper came this morning and we are getting our new system in tip-top condition. It required my attention because we are changing to a new accounting system and I need to know how it works. So I couldn’t make the follow-up sales calls I needed to do, or pay the bills, or organise tasting sessions, etc. I also teach Spanish on a Wednesday and I haven’t prepared yet.
More orders are coming through, but I'm not able to cook tomorrow because I’m at a “Meet the Buyer” event. I hope the buyers do buy! So it looks like another 2:30am bed time tomorrow, as my kids are in a local panto and I won’t miss their debut!
Wish me luck, I’ll keep the coffee flowing...
You can find out more about Marcela on the new interactive business website www.inafishbowl.com
It is a well-known fact that ink is now more expensive than gold – and last time I checked not many companies were printing in gold. So how can you minimise your long-term printing expenditure? Here are my ten tips.
1 Separate cartridge slots
Great saving potential lies in simply switching from a printer using tri-colour cartridges to one with individual colour cartridges. You only replace what you use, thereby minimising waste and with ink/toner now containing chemicals to counteract drying out, you needn’t worry about cartridges sitting dormant.
2 Draft print mode
Draft uses up to 50 per cent less ink than the default print mode, with the only downside being a small loss of print quality. It’s a great money-saver and you can easily switch back to the standard setting when printing important or presentation-quality documents.
3 Greyscale prints
Do you need to have colour in all letterheads, text and images? If not, select greyscale in your printing options. This only uses the black cartridge, saving the more expensive coloured ink for important pages.
4 Low ink performance
Some printers will mix all three colour cartridges to maintain printing, even when the black has run out. Check your printer guide. If yours has this feature, you need to monitor black ink levels rigorously to avoid draining your colour reserves at a horrendous rate.
Technology is your friend. Duplexers (printing on both sides of the paper) save not just time and effort, but paper costs too. Even budget-end printers may now include this feature.
6 Print in batches
There are two important factors to remember for each separate print request sent to your office printer:
You will use less power and ink/toner if you send print requests through together, instead of forcing the printer to run numerous start-up and cool-down procedures.
Additionally, certain printers perform print head cleaning every time they turn on, which wastes ink. If your printer manual lists this attribute, either limit how often you turn it off or only turn it on when you need to do groups of printing.
7 Paper quality
Printers have become more tolerant of lower weight (ie thinner) paper, making it an ideal way to limit costs for documents that don’t need a professional finish. Look out for reams of 80gsm paper, as this stock can still give nice prints and good cost savings.
8 Paper settings
Not many people know that their printer’s paper settings can impact their ink usage, and thus your costs. Different papers have varying absorption and dispersion rates, which will be pre-programmed into printers. To confirm your setting matches the paper you’re feeding into the printer, when you select print, quickly take a detour through to “Properties”, locate the “Paper type” option (typically in the form of a drop down or tab) and ensure they match. This will eliminate any ink wastage and help reduce costs.
9 Recycle paper
Make it a habit to check if sheets of paper are blank on the reverse before binning them. If there’s no print and the edges aren’t damaged, you can add them to the printer tray and use for producing draft prints. This saves a lot on cost, as well as being more environmentally responsible.
10 Go compatible
The stereotypical dodgy refilled cartridge vendors have been rendered obsolete by advancements in quality requirements. Compatible (third party) cartridges must now meet stringent testing requirements to be listed on respectable retailers’ shelves and websites – and are of course cheaper.
Matt Bird works for printer cartridge superstore StinkyInk.
I love my job and what I do and as a result I spend lots of my life seeing and hearing things and then being unable to stop myself relating them to being a good leader and what makes organisations work. I guess if I was a musician I’d always have songs in my head!
A few days ago we were doing a long journey in the car and we put story CDs on in the car for our young sons to listen to - and so, for the first time in ages, I heard Aesop’s Fables. Initially I wasn’t really tuned in and then I heard this one and BANG my mind was back in work mode again:
The Belly and the Members Fable - An Aesop’s Fable
One fine day it occurred to the Members of the Body that they were doing all the work and the Belly was having all the food. So they held a meeting, and after a long discussion, decided to strike work till the Belly consented to take its proper share of the work. So for a day or two, the Hands refused to take the food, the Mouth refused to receive it, and the Teeth had no work to do. But after a day or two the Members began to find that they themselves were not in a very active condition: the Hands could hardly move, and the Mouth was all parched and dry, while the Legs were unable to support the rest. So thus they found that even the Belly in its dull quiet way was doing necessary work for the Body, and that all must work together or the Body will go to pieces.
As I listened, it occurred to me that we so often feel that we are the ones who are doing all the work, whether it be at work or at home – and we forget that there are other people in the team who are doing their bit too, but in a quiet, often overlooked way.
I regularly facilitate in situations where someone is convinced that the other departments or individuals aren’t pulling their weight – and I get them to understand and/or work in each other’s departments and also encourage them to make sure their own house is in order before they start casting around to give criticism. These approaches get good results, but I think I’m going to add this fable into my toolkit as it underlines the point very succinctly and is a great model for good organisational design. I probably need to pin it on the fridge at home too!
Emma Warren, Portfolio Directors
This post originally appeared on Emma Warren's blog
I think that marketing is a really important key to opening up the sales door for my yummy sauces. I regularly do food tasting sessions at the shops where they sell my products.
It's time, however, to up my game and analyse the return on investment of all of my marketing activities. This is another tricky task for a novice like me: do I know how to measure the effectiveness of a marketing event and the get figures to quantify? Er, I think you know the answer.
Take last Saturday, for example. I had discussed the idea of having a Mariachi band at the Food Halls with Selfridges . It turned into reality on Sat 31 January and we had such a good time, which is clearly a good thing. These are some benefits from this tasting session:
Two videos taken were particularly interesting:
This is where I reach my limits as I don't know how to quantify whether the event was good ROI. How do I measure this? It's not straightforward. On the day, we saw 300+ people and I will get the sales figures next week.
This is what we spent:
To summarise, I think that the event was worthwhile: we sold, created awareness, and have been/will be on other websites. However, this is only my gut feeling and I need to take the guesswork out of investing on marketing to focus my very limited resources wisely. Do leave me a comment if you have any suggestions.
You can find out more about Marcela on the new interactive business website www.inafishbowl.com