The Flavors of Downtown

Thursday, June 15th,   Lisa Gufford, Managing Member at Executive Suite Professionals planned an event in cooperation with CenterState Bank entitled ‘The Flavors of Downtown” where several brick and mortar restaurants donated food. Some of the restaurants include, The Pita Pit, Banks BBQ and Bakery, Akel’s Deli, Uptown Kitchen & Bar, The Ultimate Caribbean, and the Burrito Gallery. Why is this important?

People come together over food, as its an integral part of our culture. We build networks over a meal, strengthening old bonds over chips and salsa or a rack of ribs. These downtown brick and mortar restaurants are an integral part of our culture and our economy in downtown Jacksonville. Recently however, there has been a decline in business due to the rise in popularity of  food trucks. At the event, the representatives of the restaurants featured explained that the food trucks, which are a good idea, ultimately are not a good fit for downtown.

The trucks are traditionally made for carnivals and theme parks, a more whimsical environment. They even work wonders in places like New York and LA, but here in Jacksonville, the population density has both brick and mortar restaurants and the food trucks marketing to the same patriots.

During the event, the food was sampled and it was noticed that there were many healthy selections, Pita Pit and Akel’s offer exceptionally delicious and healthy food choices compared to the food trucks, as well as friendly inviting atmospheres. The Burrito Gallery and Uptown Bar & Grill are perfect for dinner meetings with their full bar and eclectic selection of food. These restaurants are part of what make Downtown Jacksonville amazing, they bring the people together in a way that the food trucks can’t.

We are all a family, the Burrito Gallery even advertises local artists, their artwork hangs on the walls, inviting conversation and nurturing the talent locally.  Next time you and your co-workers want some good food and to make good memories visit the brick and mortar restaurants, they are here to serve you and bring you the best experience possible. Remember this is our home and we are all family. We must support one another when we can. It is reported that the restaurants featured at the event will be called for catering opportunities by some of the guests who attended.


-Devin Hill

Suites near courthouse working for attorneys

By Max Marbut, Associate Editor

It’s only about 600 steps and 5.3 minutes from the Duval County Courthouse.

That’s part of what’s made Executive Suite Professionals such a success since it opened in July 2014, said Lisa Gufford.

She and some partners built out most of the 14th floor at EverBank Center to offer small businesses small office suites and meeting rooms with a Class A address Downtown at 301 W. Bay St.

The space includes traditional office amenities like mailboxes, shipping and receiving services and a coffee lounge. It has a central reception area and shared support staff.

Gufford said the response was so strong that nine months after opening, a second phase of EPS was added, for a total of 31,000 square feet including 93 suites and six meeting and conference rooms occupied by more than 150 entrepreneurs, small business owners — and mostly, attorneys and legal-related service providers.

Gufford said Tuesday EPS is 95 percent leased. Eighty percent of the tenants are solo practitioner lawyers or small firms and about 15 percent are court reporters.

Read full article on Jax Daily Record


Differences Between Class A, B and C Office Space

Offices are normally categorized into three different types of spaces: A, B and C. It is a tiered system with level A office spaces being in the most sought-after buildings. Many times located in downtown areas, level A office spaces are ones where image conscious companies usually have their offices. Fortune 500 companies are likely to have level A office spaces.

Office Space Class A

“A” spaces may have terrific amenities like cafes, mailrooms, and fitness facilities. As you might expect, these also are the most expensive spaces and are highly competitive.

While “A” space is the most expensive, it is possible to have your business located at spaces like this on a budget. One such example is with Executive Suite Professionals. ESP clients only pay for their individual office, but expenses for common areas, receptionist, mail service and larger boardrooms is absorbed by Executive Suite Professionals. The result is an affordable office space that still has the upscale image for those companies that want to give their customers and employees comfort and peace of mind.  

Office Space Class B

These spaces are not as impressive as the ones with an A rating. They’re about average as far as rent and age of the building itself. The building could be approximately 20 years old and be ready for a remodel. Perhaps it was once considered an “A” space but changing area demographics or lack of maintenance caused it to be downgraded to a “B” space.

As far as amenities, a B level building could have fancy marble lobbies,  or functional spaces that are medium-sized and near to a prime location. They could have some amenities like security personnel on site or parking for customers, clients and employees.

This type of building is for those who need to be near a certain location and would like some amenities, but can’t afford traditional “A” space.

C Office Space

A level C office space is primarily functional and lacks any amenities or highly coveted street visibility. It’s possible the space is outdated, perhaps in a higher crime area, in need of repair and lacks basic comforts like central air conditioning.

However, this is cheaper than class A or B space.

Best of “A” space without the cost.

In Jacksonville, Florida the concept of shared space continues to be a popular alternative to traditional space. With improvements in technology, many companies and individuals are electing to not have any space at all. Instead, they have a “virtual office” and have all the benefits of a traditional office, without the commitment of time and money it requires.

To learn more about shared office space or what it means to have a virtual office, visit Executive Suite Professionals website.

Executive Suite Professionals Receives 2016 Best Businesses of Jacksonville Award

Executive Suite Professionals has been selected for the 2016 Best Businesses of Jacksonville Award in the Shared Office Spaces category by the Best Businesses of Jacksonville Award Program. This is the second time since 2014 that Executive Suite Professionals has been selected for this award.

Each year, the Best Businesses of Jacksonville Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Jacksonville area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2016 Best Businesses of Jacksonville Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Best Businesses of Jacksonville Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About the Best Businesses of Jacksonville Award Program

The Best Businesses of Jacksonville Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Jacksonville area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Best Businesses of Jacksonville Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

5 Business Types That NEED a Virtual Office

With the ability to do job tasks remotely, many professionals are turning to virtual offices for their businesses. While many business owners can work from home, there are times when they will need an office to visit with clients or have professional meetings. Virtual offices make it possible for professionals to have their business in their homes. At any time, they can step into a virtual office to give them a more professional work environment when needed. 

From conference and video call technology to desk space to conference rooms for large meetings, a virtual office has all the technology in place that a business owner might need. The offices are run by a manager who provides all the state-of-the-art equipment of an office for a set price based on services required.

Financial Advisors

Financial advisors can do most of their work from home because most of the communication comes over the telephone or through email. In the event that they need to use an office space, they can reserve a virtual office space. That space might even include a virtual assistant to schedule appointments or a virtual receptionist to answer the phone. When they have a new client that wants to meet in person the meeting can take place at a virtual office.

Law Firms

A small law firm might need virtual assistance with office space or an assistant to provide basic administrative tasks like bookkeeping or billing. Potential clients might not understand a lawyer who works from home. While the concept is coming into the latest century, some clients expect to see their lawyer in a luxurious office. With this in mind, lawyers can rent those luxurious offices for clients that might need that reassurance.


Along with tools like Skype and Dropbox that allow architects to share online, there are virtual offices and assistants that will help a remote worker be productive. It reduces the need and overhead associated with an office space. There are many architects who are opening the doors of their small business without having a physical door. They are setting up websites and doing all their work virtually.

Software Developers

Those who develop software can often do their work from home. As long as they have the computer that will allow them to code and work with others, they can develop processes at home. The most important part is that developers might have to work remotely but collaboratively. They may need more technology like the ability to connect with others through Skype or Google Hangouts. That can be accomplished with the help of a virtual office. Client meetings can take place in a virtual office for those developers who are working for themselves.

Engineering Firms

There are both financial and environmental considerations for those who want to work remotely in their own home offices. It allows their staff to work remotely too. There’s no extra cost for equipment, utilities or overhead. The freelance workers or telecommuters have to be able to access virtual space occasionally to hold group meetings and meet with potential clients or investors. A rented virtual office space will cost less than a dedicated office year-round.

Whether it’s physical space like a meeting room or administrative help with a virtual assistant or receptionist, a virtual office like those found at Executive Suite Professionals can be a great way to fill in the gaps between working from home and having a professional office.

How to Go About Asking Members for Google My Business Reviews

By Ceci Amador

When it comes to picking between you and your competition, prospective clients will look for and rely on reviews. Reviews matter, simple as that. And they matter even more if they come from the right place.

In previous articles, we’ve explored why adding your flexible workspace locations to Google My Business is a good idea; not only will it improve your Google ranking, but it’ll also make it easier for prospective members to find you. But, before people go out and find you, they’re likely to have conducted some research beyond where you are located; hoping to find out who you are, what you offer, and–most importantly–what’s being said about you.

Google My Business can be a great marketing tool. When people do a local search of businesses or workspaces, Google will give preference to those businesses or workspaces who have a Google My Business profile. Yet, it’s not enough to just have a profile, it needs to be complete and robust; and offer accurate information of your workspace, your location, your contact details, and, reviews.

In today’s world, an online review qualifies as a WOM (Word Of Mouth) recommendation. Reviews are influential, and just like a positive review can greatly improve your business, a negative one can greatly affect it. According to Business2Community, “[H]aving an indication of the quality of your services in Google’s search result can be a powerful way to stand out from the crowd. In Google’s Local Pack once you have received 5 reviews your result will be accompanied by 5 gold stars, these have been shown to increase click-through-rate (CTR) by as much as 20%.”

Asking for Reviews

Ideally, your flexible workspace members will write reviews without prompting from your part; however, no harm is done by encouraging or asking for it directly–that is, as long as you do it right. Like B2C says, “engaging with someone directly about their experience is actually good customer service and will often prompt a positive review on your Google My Business page.”

So, without further ado, here are Business2Community’s 3 steps to successfully ask members to write you a Google My Business review:

Get Your Timing Right

You can’t ask for it too early or too late, for you risk either the member not being fully aware of all the benefits and perks, therefore not having formed a full opinion yet; or, alternatively, if you ask for it too late, then the initial excitement and affect your workspace had on them might have faded.

Make it Easy to Leave Reviews

Don’t assume everyone knows how or where they can leave a review. The easier you make it for them to leave you a review, the more likely they are to do so. Link to your reviews page in your website, your social media accounts and newsletters, and do it constantly.

If you don’t know how to link to your Google My Business reviews page, here’s how to do it:

  • Go to (or your local Google maps domain)
  • Search for your workspace name
  • Click your workspace name on the search results
  • In  the box that appears after you click your workspace’s name, look for the reviews link underneath your name
  • A new tab or window will open. Grab the URL link from this tab or window.
  • Copy the URL address you grabbed and paste it to an email, a blog post, your website, or any place where your members can easily find it and click it.

Integrate with Your Email Marketing

Your email marketing campaign can be a great ally in getting reviews; you can ask members what they think about your workspace and services, and encourage them to write a review. Make a CTA (call-to-action) and link it to the URL you got from the step above.

Remember, you want members to leave an honest review about your workspace, so thanking them for their honest opinion is something you should also do. It’s likely that not all reviews will be positive, so you need to be careful on how you respond to negative reviews, but it’s important to always do so; whether it is to thank them for being honest or to let them know you’ll work on the issue, make sure that the public at large knows that you’re aware and interested about what others are saying and are looking for ways to improve.


Blog provided by all work:

Virtual Office: An Actual Definition and Stopping the Shills

As part of our journey to clarify the history of virtual offices, we at Alliance Virtual Offices have had the pleasure of speaking with some early pioneers of the virtual office movement. Our friends at OfficingToday have also undertaken research focusing on the roots of the sector and, while the process is still ongoing, we want to update you with some important revelations that have come to light. For details of conversations and interviews to date, please see these articles:

  • Interview with Marcus Moufarrige, COO Servcorp (OfficingToday) – Servcorp is one of the world’s largest providers of virtual offices and an early adopter of the service. In the late 1980s, the company referred to it as ‘Networking’ then ‘Company Headquarters’, and by the mid nineties started branding it ‘Servcorp Virtual Offices’.
  • Interview with Richard Nissen, founder of ‘The Virtual Office’ (Alliance Virtual Offices blog) – Business center operator Richard Nissen was an early pioneer of the virtual office concept, and trademarked the term ‘the virtual office’ in the UK in 1992.
  • Timeline of the virtual office – We decided to compile a timeline of milestones in the world of virtual offices, and we found a few surprises. Especially the one from 1973!


The flexible workplace industry, and its component offerings — like the virtual office — are often perceived by those in and around the industry to be misunderstood, overlooked or worse yet, completely unknown to those who might benefit from the industry’s services. In the past ten years, a new movement  — coworking — within the flexible workspace industry has arisen and surpassed serviced offices and virtual offices in terms of popularity and buzz, and perhaps in other ways too.

I would posit the reason virtual offices do not see the growth and buzz that they could is due to a lack of good, clear communication of what it is, and the broad based benefits associated with having a virtual office. I decided to take a look at top google results for definitions of “virtual office”. The results were enlightening. While I don’t think a definition on Wikipedia or some other website will make or break an industry, I do believe if all the definitions are poor, it reveals that the originating sources of communication (those in the industry) are perhaps poor as well.

The emergence of the collaborative internet has revolutionized and democratized the function of defining terms. Definitions and classifications no longer rest solely in the hands of unseen publishers. Any individual with any knowledge of a subject or term may become more-or-less directly involved in creating and revising its various definitions and functions.

Of course, sometimes collectively defining terms can be a little trickier than it seems. This particularly can be said of technology-related terms, which tend to take on new meanings and connotations as technology advances.

Take our words “virtual” and “office” for example. Both of those words have existed nearly 100% independent of each other throughout their entire existences. “Virtual” was an adjective living a pretty static existence until the 20th century, when the advent of computers and software suddenly shaded the word with unpredictable implications and applications. “Office,” having more literal than metaphorical definitions, continued to live a static existence until computing technology conspired to combine the two into a single term whose meaning is more than the sum of its parts. Like many compound terms, its meaning cannot be understood as simply a combining of the two traditional definitions.

Things are further complicated by the quaint trend of referring to anything Internet-related as “virtual,” a somewhat short-lived trend whose ghost nevertheless haunts the term “virtual office,” encouraging the simplistic notion that the term merely means “a (metaphorical) office on the Internet,” or something equally nebulous and hazy.

These simplistic notions have crept into the ongoing discussion and definition of the term, a problem the online community needs to use its collaborative powers to remedy.

For instance, Investopedia (one of the top non-commercial results in a google search ) defines “virtual office” in such a way that it almost says nothing at all beyond an outdated, surface reading of the two terms separately:

A business location that exists only in cyberspace. A virtual office setup allows business owners and employees to work from any location by using technology such as laptop computers, cell phones and internet access. A virtual office can provide significant savings and flexibility compared to renting a traditional office space. Meetings can be conducted via teleconferencing and video conferencing, and documents can be transmitted electronically. Some companies even provide virtual office services to give virtual offices the prestige associated with physical offices, such as an important-sounding address, a professional phone-answering service and even occasional rental of office space and conference rooms.

This definition, as meaning-free as it mostly is, is more harmful than neutral, as it just encourages an inaccurate understanding of a new thing that was born of two disparate concepts.

Also, it is full of logical fallacies.

First, there are any number of businesses, including Alliance Virtual, that can provide an address to include as part of your virtual office — not merely a “cyberspace” location, but a physical location that you can put on your business card, and where you can pick up mail or to meet with a client.

Second, I am not really sure how to argue for or against the idea of a “location” being “cyberspace” and have decided against trying. I think the reader will understand why.

Not very helpful, to say the least.

Unfortunately, despite its growing reliability and accuracy, and despite its continuing reign as the most prevalent place to define terms, Wikipedia doesn’t really do any better with its two proffered definitions. In fact, one of the alleged definitions (the one for “Virtual Office”) is not so much a definition as a veiled advertisement by a company who created a cloud-based server product. I would call for this entry in Wikipedia to be removed altogether.

The entry for “virtual office” (link to the latest snapshot from January 28 is here and I will link to the snapshot rather than the actual entry due to the fact it will change, hopefully for the better after people read this post) is a little better, but still very much focused on the narrow view of a single industry and therefore limited in scope:


A virtual office provides communication and address services without providing dedicated office space.

This is a noble start to a definition, but like the other current web definitions of virtual office, it suffers from a significantly narrowed scope. Definitions like this are usually written by someone with special interests in a particular industry, or by someone unaware of the broader applications of the component parts of the virtual office, and how those aspects can enable people to work more efficiently. Also, it attempts to define the term by saying what it is not, which is always less than ideal.

Another nitpick issue with the Wikipedia definition is actually a logical fallacy: it says “communication and address services”. This is a case of sloppy writing mirroring sloppy thinking. By using “and,” it is saying that one has to have both to have a virtual office. In other words, if you just have address services, like a UPS Store or other brand mail depot, you are not a virtual office; or if you just offer VoIP, you are not a virtual office. I’d say the head of all mail depots and VoIP systems would take some exception to such categorization.

We could continue to parse the Wikipedia entry and find multiple flaws in every sentence, unfortunately. Most of the problems come from sloppy thinking/writing, but there is also evidence of obvious company shilling. This is sometimes a problem for Wikipedia, given its “anyone can contribute” collaborative nature; “anyone” unfortunately includes shills and advertising specialists.

For instance, further down the “virtual office” entry page, you will find information that has likely been planted by a company in the industry, and which provides no real value to someone wanting to know what a virtual office is:

Some virtual office companies or telephone answering companies offer a franchise system, enabling entrepreneurs to enter the marketplace for a fraction of the usual set up costs and with the added bonus of leads being fed to them.

This is likely a marketing ploy to allow someone who is doing research (perhaps someone who is thinking of starting some sort of company) to know there are franchise opportunities available.

I have marked up the Wikipedia page as it currently exists and we count about 200 problems. I stopped counting when my brain began to have trouble processing how many inaccuracies can exist in a single sentence.

But let us not simply curse this darkness; let’s light a candle. Since Wikis are collaborative, let’s collaborate and see if we can improve upon the Wikipedia definition by developing a more genuine, transparent, balanced view of what a virtual office is:

A virtual office is any or all of a combination of people, place, technology and processes (the “Virtual Office Infrastructure”) which enable individuals and entities to work more efficiently, whether remote (at home, in Bora Bora) or in some non-centralized office (with its corresponding technology and people that may inhabit it). Usually, the infrastructure is paid on an as-needed and/or recurring basis as opposed to capital expenses associated with typical office infrastructures (land, buildings, equipment).

We feel this definition moves us at least a little closer to a useful, inclusive, and accurate definition, one that includes far more aspects that most would consider part of a virtual office.

Such a revised definition is necessary, because the virtual office infrastructure is shared across individuals and entities, allowing resources to be allocated more efficiently. There are no dedicated servers, or dedicated offices or dedicated receptionists, for example. All is shared in order to make more efficient use of the infrastructure. In theory, there is unlimited capacity and inventory, yet there is little or no excess inventory or capacity. In practicality, of course, there are limits to capacity and inventory, and there are often predictable capital expenses on the part of the provider (but not the consumer) and overhead associated with increasing usage.

For a more concrete example, think of Digital Ocean’s cloud server infrastructure (or Amazon Web Services or Rackspace). In the recent past, one of the only ways to have back up was to partition your existing hard drive or to buy a new server. But now, for $15 per month, a company can back up its entire website and customer data in a safe and secure environment on a recurring basis with little to no manual intervention. Of course a new server that could hold the data might cost a few thousand dollars and would require someone on a regular basis to run the jobs that backed up the data.

This is just one small, optional component, but it neatly illustrates why web definitions such as Wikipedia’s need some work in order to truly reflect the phenomenon that is the virtual office. To further put things in perspective, let’s lay out a list of services our definition of “virtual office” allows for, and compare and contrast these items with the current Wikipedia definition:

As this table clearly confirms, the Wikipedia definition needs a lot of work, much of which can be facilitated by a quick look into the history and evolution of the virtual office and its place in the larger global picture.


History of the Virtual Office

Just as the Wikipedia entry on “virtual office” leaves much to be desired in terms of definition, its “History” section is woefully lacking. This is an important component that needs work, since understanding the history of a term is crucial to understanding its definition/s.

Part of the difficulty in delineating the history of the virtual office is knowing where to begin. Since a virtual office is a broad concept, enabled by our advancing technologies, where do you start? Do you start with the advent of the transistor? Do you start with the artisan guilds where people shared workspace in the Middle Ages?

To simplify, let’s focus on a number of trends in relatively recent history that converged to get us to where we are today. A good place to start is with globalization, specifically the first “modern” globalization, as described by The Economist. About 50 years before World War I, the world saw an amazing proliferation of globalization, enabled by reduced tariffs and new technology — in the form of ships and trains – that allowed the transport of goods efficiently across borders and around the globe. According to The Economist, this stopped during WWI and did not really return until the 1980s as countries liberalized their trade policies, and as communications technology — this time in the form of computing rather than shipping — advanced further into businesses and homes.

Not surprisingly, the early 80s was the time when the term virtual office first began appearing in our lexicon. Two writers, first John Markoff in 1982 and (independently without the knowledge of John Markoff’s writing) Chris Kern in 1983 began to describe the phenomenon very well. Chris’s definition of “Virtual Office” in American Airline’s inflight magazine was:

The virtual office is a set of capabilities at remote site that are indistinguishable from those available at a real, physical office.

Now, back to the globalization trends of the 1980s.

Thanks to these advancements in communications, there are very few isolationist countries any more. Much of the globe is participating. This also makes it easier for workers to be mobile (although The Economist article points out that workers are still staying in their home countries more than expected due to certain barriers).

Not only does communication continue to get easier, but the costs of communicating are approaching zero, which enables individuals and entities to reorganize the way they work globally. Also, computing/communication devices are constantly getting smaller and more powerful. These factors, considered together, have helped make the virtual office not a novelty or luxury, but practically a necessity (which makes Mr. Kern’s article seem quite funny, I think). The almost age-old notion of needing to plant oneself in one spot in order to conduct efficient, profitable business is now quaint.

With all of this change and advancement as a background, consider key moments that have enabled “Virtual Office Infrastructure” to exist:

Notice how understanding such historical milestones enables us to arrive at the definition of “virtual office” that we proffered earlier:

  • Place: Paul Fegen’s shared offices.
  • Technology & communication: Tim Berners-Lee’s protocol, Arpanets packets and Alon Cohen’s audio transceiver.
  • People: Again in the form of Paul Fegen’s shared resources, including call center receptionists, maintenance and other staff.

Clearly these concepts have evolved drastically and are applied in many different ways, backed by heaps of interesting and innovative processes — all of which goes together to make what we know as the modern virtual office.

Some interesting movement on Wikipedia’s “virtual office” entry over the years

This section is more of a sidebar to the foregoing information. Its intent is to help us learn from our past mistakes, and displays at worst our petulance or at best our unwillingness to recognize that many people have played many roles over decades to get us where we are today. There is no one person or moment that caused the transition to the amazingness that is the virtual office.

Currently, one of the statements in the current version of the Wikipedia entry says:

The first commercial application of a virtual office occurred in 1994, when Ralph Gregory founded “The Virtual Office, Inc” & later “Intelligent Office”, in Boulder, Colorado.[Citation is to an article in the Boulder Daily Camera, but cannot be found online] Since then & over the years, the industry has grown further with industry leaders like Davinci Virtual, Regus & Synergy [Synergy??? What?? They shuttered their doors years ago.], among others, who now offer worldwide access to offices in almost every country in the world.

If you look at previous versions of this wikipedia entry, you’ll find a number of changes to it, with reference to Servcorp’s Alf Moufarrige pioneering the virtual office concept, to Chris Kern coining the term (but not commercializing it). Check these out here from Wikipedia in 2009, here from Wikipedia in 2011, and back to here in 2012. I also remember seeing Richard Nissen of The Virtual Office at being given a go at being the pioneer, but I had no luck finding it in the Wikipedia archives (more on this in a moment, as it looms large).

The reality is that the product that constitutes a virtual office in the serviced office industry was around before 1994. Likely, Mr. Gregory is saying that he was the first to take the term “virtual office” and apply it to a set of services others were selling.

I can’t grant him that claim, however.

It was very simple to do some research on Mr. Nissen to see that he has stated that he had the forethought to trademark “The Virtual Office” back in 1992… and lo and behold, a 30 second internet search lead me to this page. So, we’re sorry Mr. Gregory. At this point I don’t think we can grant you the first commercial application of the product known as a virtual office any more. I believe it must go to Mr. Nissen. Please let me know if I am mistaken. I do this in the name of science. Science doesn’t rely on citations from interviews or other unverifiable information.

The citation that is used in the Wikipedia for Mr. Gregory’s virtual office claim is to an article that appeared in Boulder’s Daily Camera newspaper. This article probably existed, but it doesn’t seem to be available online anywhere. Perhaps on microfiche somewhere? Oh, it doesn’t matter… it was 1994 and we have proof of 1992 trademark describing exactly the product, and we know Mr. Nissen’s company was selling the product.

So, it is disingenuous as it is very misleading.

There is also ample proof of others in the serviced office industry selling what were commonly referred to as “business identity” plans, often coupled with the nicely descriptive phrase “everything but the office.” I consulted with Carrie Gates at Barrister Executive Suites whose predecessor company was Fegen’s Law Suites. In the image below, you can see a contract written for a client from 1992 (which as a side note, is still a client 24 years later as of this writing) for a business identity plan. Also, check out this video (scroll down).

I don’t discount Mr. Gregory’s role in helping to popularize the virtual office. But there are those who have similarly, and likely some to a greater degree, contributed to the service offering. I would proffer that there are laureates, who are truly the founders of the virtual office. I’m talking about Tim Berners-Lee, Alon Cohen, Paul Fegen, the inventor of the PABX or automated call center (whoever that may be), etc. Then there are the founders of the concept of communications and address services we have in our industry, originally called “business identity” then “virtual offices.” I would posit a short list, that could go on indefinitely (in no particular order): Richard Nissen, Ralph Gregory, Alf Moufarrige, Mark Dixon, Vince Otte, Frank Cottle (perhaps I’m biased as he is our CEO and Founder, but I don’t think many would argue the point that he pioneered the concept of wholesaling of virtual offices now leveraged in various flavors by Davinci Virtual, Cloud Virtual Offices, Allied Virtual, Opus Virtual Offices, and of course, Alliance Virtual Offices)… and I would say I’m not knowledgeable enough to know who else to put in this list.

There are some other quite significant late comers to the game, such as Bill Grodnik at Davinci Virtual, who has done a tremendous job growing a great company that was founded in 2006. This company was built on the initial foundation of Alliance member locations and Frank Cottle’s concept of wholesaling. You can hear Mr. Grodnik talking about ABCN’s contribution to his early development on our (ABCN) Youtube channel.


What next?

Like all worthwhile things, creating and maintaining a relevant, profitable business model requires attention to detail and precision. This is one of the reasons why so many people seek out the services of the virtual office in the first place.

So it only makes sense to be detailed and precise about how we define what it is we do – and more than at any time in history, we collectively hold the power to influence that definition in a very real way, and to assure its accuracy and legitimacy. The days when dubious, vague definitions could permeate the culture and thrive unchecked are gone. Collaboration changed all that, much as it spawned the virtual office itself.

In that spirit, we hope this sparks a meaningful discussion that helps us create a great new Wikipedia page for starters, one that mobilizes us to tell our story more clearly, articulately and coherently.

Or, as Carrie Gates said when I was discussing this with her, “If we as an industry cannot clearly define what/who we are – how can we expect the general public to ‘get it’ and understand what we are?”

Exactly. We don’t want people leaving our “elevator speech” still wondering what we offer and how relevant and important it is. And we certainly don’t want them stumbling over wildly inaccurate and/or incomplete definitions on the Internet.

Why not join us? We’ve already gotten the Wikipedia page partially re-written (but not public yet), and we’re trying our darnedest to be neutral. Those who want to join us, please let us know. Those who want to play games, please go elsewhere.

Blog provided by Alliance Virtual Offices

How to Tighten Up Your Remote Team’s Feedback Loop

Encourage Communication From The Get-Go

The best way to encourage feedback is to get there early in your employee onboarding process. Introduce any new hire to the rest of your team thoroughly and encourage your existing workforce to reach out to casually chat and start building connections.
This may seem like an odd first step to tightening your remote team’s feedback loop, but the closer your team is, the more comfortable they will be with giving (and receiving) feedback. Encourage collaboration through either group projects or brainstorming sessions, meet and greet with the whole team in person (if possible) and above all else encourage questions.

Ensure Every Member Contributes (Even If It’s Privately)

Although you should be holding regular meetings to both keep track of and help motivate your remote members, if you happen to notice that someone is not contributing regularly to the conversation then consider ringing or messaging them privately to ask for feedback.
A lack of contribution could be due to the remote employee just not having anything to say or question during the rest of the team’s presentations, or it could be that they’re reluctant to speak up. Either way, you need to make sure that they know their voice will be heard and encourage them to voice any questions or feedback during your meetings.
You could even promote this naturally by making each member present their activities since the last call, as this encourages every team member to take the stage for a brief section of the meeting and communicate with both you and the rest of the team.

Document Regular Processes

If you do not document processes which you (and your team) carries out regularly, the potential for feedback is drastically reduced. Documented processes not only serve to provide a useful guideline on how to do any given task for old and new employees alike, but also provide greater quality assurance without any extra effort.
These processes are golden opportunity for feedback, as they can highlight problems with both how your team is currently operating and how individuals currently execute tasks. For example, if an employee regularly carries out content promotion duties incorrectly, without a documented process they are unlikely to even know that they are making a mistake.

Centralize Your Communication

By this we mean that you need to ensure that communication between team members is not isolated to long chain emails where the rest of your team cannot see it; you can make sure that all information is recorded and therefore no-one is left out. This is especially vital in a remote team, as the potential for different time zones makes it difficult for some members to catch up everything that’s going on. If they aren’t up to date, you run the risk of alienating them and destroying that section of your feedback loop.
One way to do this is to ensure that all communication is recorded within a particular app. Back at Process Street, we record all conversations using Slack and Trello to avoid the potential for lost information when using private emails. An alternative option is to integrate your apps to automatically keep everything up to date. For example, using Zapier you could integrate Trello with Slack to pass updates on Trello cards into a direct message to the team manager.
Another way to centralize communication would be to create one-time group chats with the people involved. For example, if you notice that something’s been missed, or you want to give feedback on a project so far, you could create a group chat with everyone concerned and then give your feedback or talk to remote team member individually in the group session. Even though you would be holding a conversation with just one person, this allows the rest of the team to see what’s been done and what to avoid or do instead in the future. Be careful though, as some employees could feel as if you’re putting their mistakes on display by doing this.
In short, the tighter your feedback loop and the more open your team is to both giving and receiving feedback, the healthier the interactions between your remote team will be. Rapid feedback will enable you to adjust your management or operations accordingly, whilst giving you ample opportunity to let the team know where they’re excelling and what could do with a little improvement.

Blog provided by Alliance Virtual Offices

How to Build Company Culture with Remote Teams

“Company culture is the personality of a company.” –

A simple, understandable definition; yet, it doesn’t portray the importance of company culture. Company culture encompasses goals, vision, mission, values, beliefs, employees, and relationships. As Trinet explains:

“An organization’s culture may be one of its strongest assets or it can be its biggest liability. The reason culture is so important is that its impact goes far beyond the talent in the organization; it has significant influence on the organization’s goals. Culture drives or impedes the success of an organization. With culture impacting the talent, the product, the clients as well as the revenue, why would a company not measure, review and intentionally nurture something so important and critical to its success?”

William Craig, contributor of Forbes, believes that the most important aspects of company culture is that: “[it] is something that is pre-existing in your company’s genetic code; it’s not something that employees bring with them.”

“Environment” (in terms of the actual physical space) has been considered as a key characteristic of a strong company culture. However, with employees demanding more flexibility and businesses adopting remote work strategies, company culture can no longer rely so heavily on work environment.

With physical space out of the equation, the non-tangible aspects of company culture have become more important than ever.

One of the biggest issues facing remote teams is that remote team members tend to work by themselves. Part of a company’s culture is how its employees and employers interact and work together; when work gets done by everyone in the same place, interaction happens easily and naturally. When, as is the case with remote teams, work gets done from different places and times, it’s harder for interaction to flow among all members constantly.

How to Build and Nurture Company Culture

Companies with remote teams need to provide the necessary tools and platforms for all workers to be connected and in sync. It’s about creating the right environment (even digitally speaking) in which workers can share topics they are interested in, hobbies; a digital ‘place’ where they can connect to when they need a break or just some distraction while still; a platform that adheres to the company’s values, beliefs, and ethics.

Introduce New Team Members

Whenever a new member joins the team, make sure you go through a well-established on-boarding process. Introduce them to everyone else, let them know who does what and who to contact for different types of queries, etc. It’ll help the new member feel more comfortable and get familiar with the rest of the team and internal communication won’t change by having the new person on board.

Provide Members with Necessary Equipment

Provide remote workers with the necessary equipment for them to be able to carry out their jobs satisfactorily and successfully. From laptops, to phones, to internet, make sure that they have access to whatever it is they need; not only will this motivate them to do their best, you’ll be able to guarantee that they’re accountable for their work.

Have Regular Calls and Video Calls

Emails and messages are a good way for fast communication, but they’re not the best way to relate to one person. Calls and video calls make communication more personal than email and messages; it’ll help team members get to know each other and learn to read a bit better how other team members feel and think–try as many may, deciphering tone on emails and texts is quite hard, as they all appear to be quite dry in essence.

Use Collaboration Apps & Technology

Slack, Asana, Skype, GoToMeeting, these are all apps that help remote teams work together and maintain the flow going. Theses all provide a great way to keep everyone in the loop of what’s being worked on, how it’s moving forward, and they’re great tools to keep communication open.

One on One Meetings

Some people don’t mesh well in groups and when others are present, so make sure you keep constant one on one meetings (every other week or once a month) with every team member to go over their work, provide them feedback, and make sure that overall they’re doing well. It’s a way to bond with team members on a more personal level and learn more about who they are outside of their work, what they value, and what’s important to them.

In-Person Meetings

Though technology can be great at bringing together people that are physically far apart, it’s still necessary and important for team members to meet in person and talk face to face every now and then. Even if all members can’t make it, you should still aim to have a meeting or event at least once a year where the majority of team members can go to and get to know each other.

Be Transparent

There’s a reason “honesty is the best policy” is such a popular saying. When working with remote teams, make sure you’re transparent about company processes, procedures, and finances in order to make them feel comfortable and a part of the company. Being transparent is a great way to share with members the values that are important for the companies and it’s a good way to set up an example of what you expect from your team at all times.

Blog provided by Alliance Virtual Offices