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Why Landlords and Property Managers can Benefit from the Coworking Trend

Coworking is the new “normal”, and it’s not only attracting freelancers and entrepreneurs, but also corporates and property managers. What started off as a trend ten years ago is now revolutionizing the way people think about the workplace and about space in general.

Today’s world is powered by experience; the ability of spaces to offer to individuals a balance of work, life, and play. It’s why mix-use buildings are gaining popularity and why concepts such as co-living are attracting investors across the globe.

Landlords and property managers are now aware of the added value that a coworking space can give to their building. Coworking and shared workspaces are increasingly focusing on the hospitality aspect of their service. To be successful in this industry, operators need to offer unique services and amenities to their members to attract and retain them.

Offering these types of perks increases the value of the space, and therefore the building. People are willing to pay more to get a better experience; this could be anything from certified spaces, to top-notch connectivity, to access to unique events. And while coworking operators are the ones running the show, property owners have now realized how they can monetize and benefit from the trend.

For one, by working with a coworking operator, landlords take away the hassle of looking for tenants and it gives them more freedom to repurpose and redesign the space to fit their particular needs at a specific time.  Secondly, if a coworking member outgrows the coworking space and they’ve had a good experience with the building, chances are they will look for space within the building, just on a different floor–this circles back to our first point.

Thirdly, it allows landlords to stay updated on current trends on workplace design, technology, and management best practices. Fourth, landlords have found coworking operators to be great partners when it comes to running and managing a building. This is what operators are there for, to deal with all the nitty-gritty so that the end-user will have the best experience ever; this focus makes them the best partner out there to manage a building and do so in an advantageous way.

Finally, it allows property owners to tap into a formerly untapped market–like the younger generation, retired professionals, or growing companies. Where before their market was a small one, there now lays a new opportunity to redefine what their space should be like, and whom it will cater to.

In the end, it all boils down to one thing: added value. Landlords and property owners alike are embracing the coworking trend because it is increasing their building and property’s value–both monetary and in terms of perception from the end-user. And the opportunity goes beyond partnering with an existing coworking brand; in fact, some property owners are now running and operating their own brand of coworking or shared workspaces.

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Coworking Is Not Just for Freelancers & Entrepreneurs Anymore; Big Business Too

The first modern-day coworking space opened back in 2005 in San Francisco. Shortly after, many other coworking spaces followed, opening to offer working space for freelancers and entrepreneurs who used to mostly work from home or coffee shops. Fast-forward 13 years and coworking is still around, although with a different value proposition and business model.

While it used to be that freelancers, entrepreneurs, and startups were the main users of these collaborative spaces; the trend has shifted to include medium-sized businesses and large corporations. Corporate coworking has been around for a few years now, though it wasn’t until recently that it became a widespread trend across the world for companies to incorporate coworking spaces into their real estate strategy.

There are several reasons why corporates started to embrace the coworking movement. One of the most attractive value propositions of coworking today is the flexibility that these spaces offer and their ability to connect people and bring them together. Yet, there’s more. One of the main reasons why large companies are partnering with coworking providers is to provide a workspace experience that contributes to employee wellness.

Wellness is more than eating healthy and having an active lifestyle–it’s about mental health, about productivity, and about experience. As the lines of work and life continue to blur, companies need to find creative ways in which to make the workspace a destination for their employees; a place where they want to be and they will be empowered to be and perform their best.

Coworking spaces offer several amenities that contribute to wellness in the workspace, and companies have taken different approaches to this. While some large enterprises have opened their own coworking spaces, others have partnered with existing operators in order to manage their space.

Wellness is one key value proposition, but so is innovation. Change comes fast and often in today’s tech-driven world, and companies need to be resilient and innovative to remain competitive in a global market. Innovation can be powered by ‘healthy collision’, when people are forced to interact with one another, sharing and challenging existing ideas. Coworking spaces, because they bring together individuals from various industries and lines of work, provide a perfect opportunity for company employees to mingle and ‘collide’ with one another.

This also serves another purpose: attracting and retaining talent–one of the most common challenges most companies face today. Providing an attractive workspace, combined with the opportunity to work with the best and brightest of different industries can be a great motivator for a person to join and stay with one company. On the corporate side, this type of arrangement will aid them in keeping an eye out on talent, startups that they might be interested in acquiring, and help their current team create creative products, services, or solutions.

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Why Coworking Operators Should Look to The Suburbs for Growth

“There are three main sources of net population growth for a city: foreign immigration, net domestic urban migration when people move from one city to another, and old-fashioned urbanization—people moving from the country to the city or from a small city to bigger city. When you look at the current population flows—and more importantly the longer-term trends, all three sources are pointed at the fast-growth mid-markets and suburbs around major metros.” – Jayson White, Urban Affairs Expert, for Allwork.Space

While big brand coworking operators like WeWork, Industrious, and Mindspace look to big cities to expand their portfolio, an entire arena is left untapped: the suburbs and mid-sized cities.

WalletHub’s late 2017 research found that the fastest-growing cities in the US are in fact mid-sized cities, including Frisco, TX; Kent, WA; Lehigh Acres, FL; Midland, TX; and McKinney, TX. Coworking and serviced workspace operators looking to grow their brand and their business should, therefore, look suburban markets, as that’s where the most growth is taking place.

By opening a serviced workspace in these areas, operators are creating an entirely new value proposition for the city or town. Given that there aren’t many, or any, flexible workspaces available in the metros and suburbs, the value proposition of coworking spaces is substantially higher than it would be in a Tier 1 city.

With economic growth being higher in mid-sized markets than it is in larger cities, it’s clear that there are individuals with ideas that need a space to work. Some of these individuals might currently be commuting back and forth from the suburbs to the city, others might be easily working from the local cafe. Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter where they are working from; it matters that there is an entire market that isn’t yet being catered to.

These people need a space where they can connect and be surrounded by like-minded people with an entrepreneurial spirit. Others might simply need a place to work from once or twice a week, when going into the central office isn’t necessary.

Large coworking operators are not looking to cater to these markets; they’re concerned with big, cosmopolitan cities. The opportunity for small, independent operators is there. It’s these operators the ones that will be best capable of filling the void, especially as individuals living in mid-sized markets are more community-driven, so coworking operators with a strong focus on community and hospitality will be the ones to best fit in.

The opportunity is there, it’s just a matter of how best to take advantage for it. This means that as an operator, you need to research and understand the community and neighborhood you will be catering to. You’ll need to figure out the types of services that people in that suburb need and the prices that they are willing to pay for them. Office Suite Strategies can help workspace operators grow their brand in the suburbs by doing market research and developing a business strategy unique to each operator and location.

For more information, click here.

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Positioning Your Coworking & Shared Space for Success in 2018

2017 is quickly coming to an end, and believe it or not, this is a good time to start thinking and planning for 2018. After all, it’s always better to start early than to have to catch up late.

January can be a slow month for coworking and shared workspace operators, especially as many are getting back in from vacation, others focus on getting back on their work routine, while still others focus on getting their kids back on school mode. In addition to this, it often happens that will all the festivities and celebrations, many try to budget more during the first months of the year.

So, what can you do to make sure that you position your space from early on in the year to set the right pace for the duration of 2018?

Check and update your website

We know, you updated your website about 6 months ago…but, that’s not enough. Think of it as the “New Year, New You” of your business. Browse around your website, read your copy, analyze the images: does it paint an accurate picture of what your workspace is like, of what your community is like, of the advantages of your space?

Once you’ve established your website is user-friendly, visually appealing, and provides visitors with all the necessary info to get them to visit your space, or you’ve updated it so it meets these requirements, consider other ways you can use your website to market and position yourself.

People oftentimes start the year with small changes, apply the same logic to your workspace and use your website to brag about it. Whether it’s a new coffee maker, new chairs, new decorations, or a new service, make sure current and prospect members can easily find and access the information.

In any case, remember that websites are the new ‘window-shopping’. If it doesn’t stand out, then neither will your workspace.

Showcase your community and members

What better way to show the value of your workspace than by showing why other people value it? This is a strategy that will help you retain current members, as well as help you attract new ones. Whether it’s on social media, on your website, or via email newsletters, give a shout out to your members, show their success, and let the world know how your shared workspace helped them become successful.

This is an authentic, organic way to build and grow your community. Here’s the extra kick: we all need a bit of a push and motivation at the beginning of the year to get the wheels going again, sometimes just hearing the stories of others can be enough to get us back at it.

Host an event for members and non-members

Either rent out your space for an event, or host it yourself. Host a start of the year conference, invite local artists to share their work, host a workshop for business planning, or simply invite the community for a happy networking hour.

Sometimes people need to see and experience something for themselves prior to making a decision. Hosting events is a great way to position your workspace within the local community and to show everyone that your doors are open and ready to welcome anyone who wishes to join. What’s more, current members often greatly benefit from these events, as it provides them with a unique opportunity to expand their network and forge new relationships.

If you need help organizing an event, revamping your website, or coming up with unique ideas on how to showcase your members, let us know. At Office Suite Strategies we offer various consulting services that can help workspace operators position their brand and build a strong business strategy.

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Building a Strong Brand: Four Strategic Moves for Startups

It’s a problem every new business has to face: what can you do to make your brand not only stand out but stand the test of time?

Getting strategic is key to success. If longevity is your goal, you can’t simply mimic the tactics of your biggest competitors. For authenticity’s sake, you will have to think outside the box and build your brand from the ground up.

Look to your competitors to find out what others are doing in your space, but play to your strengths to establish true differentiation. Here are some tried-and-true brand-building methods to help you get started in crafting your own unique story.

1. Know and understand your audience

Defining your brand has many layers, including packaging, messaging, and marketing. To be able to craft compelling imagery and proof, you will need to know who you are selling to. If you are bringing a product or service to market that has global potential, you need to consider that as well. Cultural differences often require different tactics. Find out who your target market is and speak to them and them only. Be consistent and reach out to them over and over again.

2. Your competition is not the enemy

In most industries, there is a leader that can easily be identified. If you are consistent and strategic in your efforts, you will eventually meet all of the players, up to and including the top dog. Once you set your marketing plan in motion, you will likely convince some people to switch to your brand and suddenly, you will be on everybody’s watch list. Will you be ready to handle that scrutiny? Don’t shy away from this level of competition. If the top brands consider you worthy of watching, you are in a good place. Use your power wisely.

3. Play to your strengths

If you offer added value, versatility, cost savings, better operational efficiency, or any kind of advantage that differentiates you from the rest, put the emphasis on that. Whatever it is that makes your brand stand out, find that thing and hang your hat on it. If there are trends in your industry that may necessarily change your direction in a few years, find out what they are and plan well for it. Have a plan in place that will take you well into the future and you will always have a clear path to follow.

4. Put yourself out there: give it away

Building strong partnerships requires some generosity on your part. If you’re a new service or product, it’s difficult to build a reputation without some history to back it up. Consider giving your product or service away to an influential company or individual that can give you valuable feedback and endorsements. In a world fueled by ratings and reviews, getting great peer reviews will serve you well and will get you noticed by a wider audience.

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These are just a few steps you can take to building a strong brand. If you would like to learn more about Office Suites Strategies or about building your brand, give us a call.

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Office Evolution Conference RECAP

The Global Workspace Association’s 2017 conference was packed with workspace tours, insights, and trends. Titled “Office Evolution Conference”, the three day event (Nov. 8-10) held in Brooklyn, NY delivered key information and knowledge on the future of the workplace. The takeaway: it’s not only an office evolution, it’s also a revolution.

Hosted alongside NAIOP (Commercial Real Estate Development Association), the conference brought together leaders from the real estate and workspace-as-a-service industries, including Gensler, Industrious, CBRE, Convene, and Delos, to name a few. Topics covered ranged from workplace design, wellness, and tech to financing models and the future of CRE.

After 3 days, 28 sessions attended, and 53 panelists heard, here are some of our key takeaways from the conference:

  • The “office” is no longer just a place to work. It’s an asset that can help companies attract and retain talent, foster a strong company culture, and create a unique experience that adds to a person’s overall life and wellbeing.
  • Common spaces in buildings are no longer an option, they’re a must. Common spaces can be used to build community and make buildings more attractive. It’s all in the line of delivering a unique experience–through collaboration, special events, careful design, and wellness programs. These spaces foster creativity and innovation, and have the potential to bring people together–to eat, work, or simply relax. This is a key driver in what is attracting the newest generation of workers to the coworking/shared workspace model today.
  • The shared workspace model is a great opportunity for landlords. Property companies and large enterprises should start thinking about ways to incorporate and integrate coworking/shared workspace models to their current business strategies. This means mix-use buildings are the future; people are demanding spaces that deliver holistic experiences and have the capacity to be used for life, work, and play. There is a tremendous opportunity here for property companies and landlords to partner and work together with shared workspace providers and management companies.
  • Workspaces today need to be agile. This means shorter contracts, the capacity to expand or contract as necessary, and provide various workspace options–shared space, open space, collaboration space, etc. Dubbed “Office 3.0”, the workplace of the future will holistically blend together space, services, products, and infrastructure. Simply put, the workplace is now a destination, and a hospitality approach to workplace management is now a priority.

The bottom line is that flexible workspaces–the workspace-as-a-service industry–are here to stay, and large companies adopting flexible work policies and embracing the services of coworking and serviced offices are driving the growth of the industry.

About the author:

Office Suite Strategies is a shared workspace consulting and management company comprised of experienced business professionals focused on assisting property owners achieve maximum value from their real estate investments. Offering a broad range of services, our unparalleled experience in developing, opening, and managing shared workspace properties enables us to achieve extraordinary results for our clients.

If you’d like more information or are wondering how you can apply this knowledge to your commercial building, feel free to reach out to us.

Is Coworking the Future of CRE

Is Coworking the Future of CRE?

“The office hasn’t changed much. But the way people work has changed forever.” We learned this from Ryan Simonetti, co-founder of Convene, during the Office Evolution Conference held in Brooklyn, NY from November 8th-10th.

Adding to his argument, Simonetti believes that “coworking is just the first step in a major CRE industry shift.” Because we have changed the way we work, we have changed the way we ‘experience’ the office. The new generation of workers have different wants and needs; and their demands go beyond that of a good salary. Additionally, technology has also empowered us to work in new ways, from anywhere and at any given time; giving rise to agile working models and remote work policies. This, in turn, has powered the flexible workspace movement, in particular the growth of coworking spaces. And, according to JLL, by 2030 30% of commercial space will be used as ‘flexible workspace’.

Yet, the change isn’t simply about the workplace. The way people interact with spaces has changed drastically–powered by new and developing technologies like mobile phones and the Internet of Things (IoT). Today, life and work are all about experiences, about how people interact with other people, but also how they interact with their surroundings; this includes real estate.

In the world of work, this means that individuals expect seamless, integrated experiences in the workplace. The way Simonetti illustrates this is by saying that basically, a landlord’s tenant is no longer a company…it’s the worker (the talent).

“What talent wants, is what tenants need, and what landlords must build.”

Coworking has strengthened the notion of workspace-as-a-service; in other words, hospitality in the workplace. And this concept can easily extend to the world of commercial real estate on a much deeper level. Coworking has taught us that people are seeking experiences, and that they want these experiences to be integrated as much as possible. Coworking isn’t just about a place where people go to work; various coworking operators offer additional services like gym memberships, on-site cafes, lounges, game-rooms, laundry services, and more.

So, back to the original question: is coworking the future of CRE?

Yes it is. Adding a coworking or flexible workspace to buildings can bring in a much higher yield compared to a traditional tennent. Integrating these spaces to buildings provides landlords with the opportunity to create experiences for users. People want spaces where they can live, work, and play. The demand for mix-use buildings will increase in the coming years, and coworking is a solid first step. This is especially true as large companies and enterprises begin to adopt coworking and flexible workspace models in order to attract and retain talent.

Because of what the new generation of workers demands, companies are being forced to embrace coworking and provide their employees with spaces that provide access to workspace, fitness, food, programming, and additional hospitality services. If landlords want to attract these companies to their buildings, they need to make sure that they have the right infrastructure and management in place in order to cater to these needs.

About the author:

Office Suite Strategies is a shared workspace consulting and management company comprised of experienced business professionals focused on assisting property owners achieve maximum value from their real estate investments. Offering a broad range of services, our unparalleled experience in developing, opening, and managing shared workspace properties enables us to achieve extraordinary results for our clients.

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Grow Member Engagement with these 5 Tips

Engaging your workspace members shouldn’t be a source of anxiety, but it’s not rocket science, either. While you might have to experiment a little to find out what makes your client base tick, think of it as a fun social exercise that can add value to your member relationships and engage your on-site management in high-value community-building activities.

Building your workspace community foundations does not have to be stressful. Simply follow these five steps to help grow your member engagement:

1. Appoint an Ambassador

Having an advocate for member activities and events is key. With someone on your team acting as the point person, members will always know where to go when they need to connect or want to find out more about what’s going on in the member community. If you don’t have someone on your team to fill the roll, then look for a member that can fill the roll. The best person for the job should be easy to choose: simply look for the person who is actively tweeting, sharing, posting, starting conversations or coming up with ideas. For a person like this, being the community manager is something they come by naturally. You’ll just be making it official.

2. Plumb your imagination

Ideas, ideas. What makes your community tick? Finding out is easy: circulate a little survey amongst the membership. Do a little casual eavesdropping around the water cooler. Take what others are saying and turn it into something to rally around. Wine tasting, anyone? Sports? Golf? Book club? Host a networking event to get to know everybody and solicit ideas for future get-togethers. Change the theme each time and turn it into something that they’ll look forward to attending every month. The better your members get to know each other, the more it fosters collaboration and community.

3. Ask for opinions

Don’t just take your own word for it, take it to the people: ask your members what they really think about the workspace and encourage them to be candid. If you are able to make changes based on these suggestions, you will always have their respect and admiration. This could be as simple as flowers in the reception area or connecting with a local artist to provide visual appeal. Not all ideas are going to be great or viable, but you might be surprised at what comes out of it.

4. Use digital tools to connect

Give your members a digital forum from which to share ideas, connect and collaborate. This will give your busy members an opportunity to tune in on their own time to share their insights, photos, celebrate wins and connect with other like-minded professionals in a socially collaborative way.

5. Keep in mind

Digital communication works very well, but there is no substitute for honest-to-goodness face time (not the iOS kind). Connecting in the virtual realm should be an extension of your real-world conversations, providing value that goes beyond the in-person relationship. It can deliver a sense of connectedness to members who are only occasionally in the house, but your personal connections should be where it all begins.

Office Suites Strategies is the Coworking and Shared Space management and consulting company in the United States. Connecting your real estate with ideas and out-of-the-box approaches to help you grow, they are committed to excellence in development and passionate about connecting.

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Critical Marketing Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make

These days, business moves at the speed of sound. Statistically, however, the businesses that fail each year far exceed the ones that launch – a sobering metric for any entrepreneur, no matter what industry or niche they are in. Of the ones that survive their first year, half will fail in their first five years. Many more will fade away over time.

When you’re just starting a venture, optimism is on high. The initial excitement may make it seem like you’re invincible, but you can’t build a lasting legacy on enthusiasm alone.

Marketing may be the one thing that can carry you through the good times and the bad, but there are several commonly made marketing mistakes that can lead to a premature demise.

Forewarned is forearmed: marketing mistakes to avoid

Let’s look at the top five marketing mistakes that even the smartest entrepreneurs make:

1. Ignoring your existing customers

You can’t just assume that your existing customers are going to stick with you no matter what. There is a lot of competition out there, and unless you’re related to them, or truly doing something nobody else is doing, they will tend to go where they find the most value. The truth is, you have a far better chance of selling to an existing customer than you do to a new one, so you should put an effort into making sure the ones you have are and will remain happy with your service. Loyal customers will also deliver value back to your brand through referrals. It’s a win-win.

2. Not knowing your target audience

If you don’t know who you’re selling to, how can you market it to them? If you’re not targeting your online advertising, you may not be reaching people who care about what you have to offer. Define your audience and craft your brand message around their values. Developing customer profiles is a good way to predict what your ideal (and not so ideal) customer is or isn’t.

3. Thinking your blog doesn’t matter

We know you’re busy. After all, you just launched your company and everything is a whirlwind. Blogging, however, is one of the best ways to attract and engage an audience. It positions you as an expert in your field, and it gives you valuable assets in the form of shareable content that can drive your social media presence and drive traffic back to your website. If you are truly too busy to write your blog yourself, ask one of your associates, or hire a freelance copywriter to do it for you.

4. Thinking your email strategy doesn’t matter

If you’re a millennial, you might think that nobody reads email anymore, but the reality is that email is still the best way to get your voice in front of your audience. When they receive it, it’s probably the only time you will have their absolute, undivided attention. Start to capture emails through strategies such as giving away valuable information or digital assets in exchange for their email, and then tailor your future messaging based on their actions. Studies show that targeted emails yield a more than 200% higher conversion rate than non-targeted emails. Use an email marketing software that allows you to segment and tailor your email messages, making them more personal to the recipient and ultimately winning their business.

5. Going with untested ideas

Testing your marketing strategies ranks pretty high on the importance scale. If you are unsure, or if you just go with what’s working for the next guy, you could land yourself in the middle of nowhere and be out a pile of money in the process. Tracking your efforts through analytics is important: your social platforms provide you with all the tools you need to determine your ROI. Google Analytics will tell you what is going on (or not going on) with your website. Use these free tools to discover where you’re winning and where you’re selling yourself short. Knowing where your customers are coming from will also help you to hone your brand message to razor sharpness. Use every feature at your disposal to know more.

Office Suites Strategies: supporting entrepreneurs with real solutions

Office Suites Strategies provides expert consulting services to clients in all phases of business within the coworking and shared space industry. If you would like to learn more about what we do, or are interested in working with us, get in touch today.

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3 Ways Collaborative Workspaces Inspire Innovation

These days, collaborative workspaces such as coworking spaces are fast growing in popularity. Though many tend to associate collaborative workspaces with freelancers and remote workers, they are also becoming the work environment of choice for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups, as they inspire innovation through direct connection.

It wasn’t long ago that our workspace design was focused primarily on the individual. On the heels of more recent changes in how we communicate and collaborate – both online and via our connected devices – the idea of a conventional office has been diminished in favor of environments that foster collaboration.

According to a study published by industry thought leaders Steelcase, the ability to increase innovative activity is directly related to three main concepts:

1. The workspace should support flexibility

To best support innovation, a collaborative workspace needs to be truly flexible. Moveable furniture groupings, different types of seating, items such as sculpture that breaks up the room, and portable aids such as white boards, easels, and tables or desks that can be adjusted for height. These elements allow users to configure the space as they need it, allowing them to work the way that best suite them, and not having to fit into somebody else’s pre-conceived and potentially awkward office design.

2. Space that is comfortable is also inspirational

Natural lighting, views of outdoor areas, and high ceilings are all elements that stimulate creative thinking. Access to technology, innovative art, and plenty of focal points to engage the visual sense add to the aura of creativity, helping workers to envision a future that looks different. Workspaces that offer moderate ambient noise levels – as opposed to high noise or no noise at all – are optimum for fostering creativity.

Temperature that is neither too warm nor too cold helps also, and although this tends to be a very individual preference for many people, keeping the thermostat hovering in between 70 – 75˚F seems to be a good baseline. Any colder and you will be expending more energy simply keeping warm, taking away the attention and energy needed to come up with newer, greater ideas. Keep in mind, too, that as the temperature goes up, attention tends to drop.

3. Workspace that supports culture supports collaboration

A collaborative culture can be best emphasized and supported through workspace design. If innovation is connected to collaboration, and collaboration is connected to engagement, the workplace itself should be engaging of its culture. For instance, if employees are working in an environment that recalls a company’s past accomplishments and instills a sense of pride in how they have impacted other geographies, it will support the desire to engage in future achievements, and perhaps impel them to take risks. Whether the workspace is dedicated to one single company or accommodating a multitude, high-impact collaborative work environments need to minimize individual work spaces and emphasize easy-to-change environments and open spaces. This allows for a higher degree of experimentation and expressions of individuality, which in turn inspire innovation.

Office Suites Strategies: inspiring innovation

Achieving maximum value from your dedicated office properties requires agility in today’s changing marketplace. Office Suites Strategies delivers insight, strategy, and ideas that drive equity and profitability. Call today to find out more about what we can do for you.