October’s ‘Work and Family Month’ reinforces virtual offices for the mompreneur movement

October 20, 2010 by ·  

Mompreneurs are an amazing phenomenon in our decade. Many moms, after leaving the workforce to start a family, have utilized their managerial, marketing and business skills to start at-home businesses where they can be both ‘mom’ and ‘CEO’ at the same time. Canadian organizations such as Mompreneur Magazine and MomCafe are highlighting the impact moms are having in the business world. On Canadian TV we have role models such as Arlene Dickenson, the ‘dragon’ investor on Dragon’s Den who started as a single mom taking on the corporate world. Tamara Taggart, Vancouver’s CTV weather girl even has her own mommy blog on the CTV site, promoting her dual role as both mom and celebrity TV anchor.

However, the mompreneur movement stems from a long-known concept called the work-life balance. And, believe it or not, October was officially named in the U.S. as National Work & Family Month. The goal of celebrating work-life balance in October is to “raise awareness among employers about the value of work-life effectiveness as a business imperative.” The message is that being flexible in the work place is good for business, and more organizations should take the opportunity to “try telework, condense a workweek, join a wellness program or organize a workplace volunteer activity.” (According to the press release at http://www.awlp.org/awlp/nwfm/nwfm-home.jsp)

The great thing about today’s day and age is that technologies exist for a work life balance with a virtual office. Virtual offices use technologies such as remote phone answering systems, e-mail, and video conferencing to conduct daily corporate activities from anywhere in the world. A mom could be on vacation with her family and still have her virtual receptionist taking her calls and forwarding only the important ones to her overseas number. Not only that, all her voicemails can be sent to her e-mail inbox so that while the kids are fast asleep, she can sit under the moonlight on the beach and keep her business deals moving. Besides being a vacation backup, a virtual office and virtual assistant can do wonders for her while she’s at home too!

A virtual office is not only for the woman who runs a business while running a family, but also a great opportunity for an employer to participate in the work-life movement by allowing mom-employees to work from home and not lose any of the productivity gained from being physically in the office. Many companies with sales reps do this already – they equip their team with smart phones and laptops so they are always connected to head office. When calls come in through the main switchboard, it’s easy for a virtual office provider to transfer the caller to the work-from-home mom at any number. Reports can be done online, and the commonplace use of e-mail allows for the quick transfer of documents. Secure e-courier services are also now available on the market for highly sensitive documents.

According to Deborah Frett, CEO of the U.S.-based Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, “while one person may like her work and life to flow seamlessly through out the day (check email, wash laundry, research grants, grocery shop…) others may prefer a clear division with traditional hours and a proper desk.” So the idea is to let moms juggle their day in the way they are personally most effective. The Business and Professional Women’s Foundation themselves went completely virtual earlier this year and implemented a “Results Only Work Environment”, imitating the Best Buy morale where “Work is no longer where you go, but what you do” (according to Frett, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-frett/ten-tips-to-create-a-flex_b_745611.html).

Today’s generation of educated, smart and business-orientated women are proving there is no need to give up family life for a great career. And businesses are discovering their talent and taking on the philosophies of the mompreneur and work-life balance. Virtual office services are here to do their part, and aid the movement for women in the workforce!

Offices creating change: going virtual is 94% better for the environment

October 6, 2010 by ·  

In our industry, we’ve always been known to reduce costs for businesses. Why pay for your own kitchen, copier, security, receptionist, etc. when you can share it all by pooling in with other businesses in a shared office centre? However, our services are more than just a cost-saver to our clients, they’re also a planet-saver.

Recently, our counterparts at the McLeland Group released a press release stating that virtual offices, when compared to traditional office space, can reduce a person’s carbon footprint by an astonishing 94%. This was found out by using carbonfund.org to calculate the carbon offset ratio between a single office business centre serving 100 clients to the same number of separately operated offices.

Truth be told, we’ve known that for years too. Trouble is, not that many people are aware of just how much our industry is doing, and how beneficial it can be both for our environment, and our businesses. Here are a few reasons to go with a packaged office service or a virtual office when ‘going green’ is weighing on your conscious:

  • Sharing space in a building is the most sustainable thing you can do. You not only will share space, but will also be sharing water, electricity, heat, cleaning, and so on. The garbage man will only have to make one trip to your centre, and so will the recycling man.
  • Your employees don’t necessarily need to be there all the time. Allowing them to work from home is an eco-sustainable choice, avoiding fuel consumption and in many cases, increasing productivity and employee job satisfaction.
  • Office supplies are shared, which means less waste in terms of photocopier usage, paper handling, cabling and so on. Not only that, in the Elite Business Centres, you can often buy paper, discs, labels, envelopes and other supplies right from the front desk, eliminating your need to make frequent stops to the office supply store.
  • Furniture is reused when you decide to leave. That means you won’t be struggling trying to find a new home for your chair or filing cabinet, and the junk removal service won’t be taking them to the junk yard when you’re finished with them. The furniture stays and is reused from client to client.
  • Being connected to your clients with a virtual telephone answering service means you don’t need to check in to an office every day, and your virtual assistant doesn’t even need to print out copies of your documents and snail mail them – they can be electronically attached to an e-mail and reviewed right from your computer screen.

Being eco-friendly doesn’t just stop at the concept of a virtual or shared office centre. The inside practices of our centres are also doing what they can to create a better planet for our future. Recycling is a daily routine, and digital photocopiers are allowing direct scanning from USB sticks and more efficient printing. Some of our buildings have scheduled ‘lights off’ times and use less energy with newer technologies.

Sometimes ‘going green’ comes with a price – more for organic vegetables, a premium for buying local, or longer commute by using public transit. However, with a shared business centre, you actually SAVE money in addition to being kind to the environment. The 94% speaks for itself!

Elite Centres Creating Stepping Stones for Businesses

August 25, 2010 by ·  

In this ever-changing economy, companies find themselves in a position where they may need off-site satellite offices, flexibility, or perhaps graduated rentals or shorter leases. Business centres are the ideal solution, whether your company is expanding or just starting out. A business can come into a fully staffed, fully furnished centre complete with the capital expenditures of photocopiers and a switchboard already in place for a fraction of the cost of traditional office space.

Elite Business Centres are at the forefront of providing such opportunities for businesses in the Metro Vancouver area. For example, one company was expanding quickly into Canada from New York. They hired a Sales Manager to head up the Western region of their ever-growing business. An entire office staffed with administrators and receptionists was not necessary for this particular satellite office. The new Sales Manager travels frequently, but has to maintain a professional office environment when meeting clients locally.

Image is, of course, of huge importance to the expansion and success of any type of business. The front desk area and the friendly reception provided with his business centre has been extremely helpful. His company calls are answered from Monday to Friday, and can be easily transferred to his mobile or put through to a voice mail box to hear at his convenience.

From a different perspective, an enthusiastic Simon Fraser University graduate had an innovative idea for a start-up company. After the initial meeting with one of the Elite Business Centre owners, the young entrepreneur had not only a mailbox, but a professional meeting place where he could show clients his products and services.

Eventually, by marketing his services effectively, and allowing Elite Business Centres to provide meeting space, mail handling, and telephone answering, our young entrepreneur was ready to lease his own shared office space without needing to relocate. He can still meet clients all over the Lower Mainland using the Elite boardrooms, but now he has his own furnished office space, 24 / 7 access, kitchen and coffee room, plus admin services when he needs them.

The many options and business solutions each of these companies found in the shared office industry were key components to building and maintaining a business. As a stepping stone for any company, Elite Business Centres can customize services to clients’ current needs. From virtual services to leasing a permanent office, people can rely on them to help guide business owners towards success!

Finding The Optimal Work-Life Balance in Vancouver

June 1, 2010 by ·  

Vancouver is the ideal place to find the perfect work life balance (Image Credit: JMV)

Find Your Right Work-Life Balance

Once upon a time, working meant clocking 40 hours each week, Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm unless you worked at a bank, or held a shift position. These days, the boundary between working and non-working hours has blurred thanks to flex-time, working from home, and the technology that we use in our work and personal lives.

Whether you work for yourself or have an employer, it’s important to set up boundaries that define the hours you work. Carve out business days and hours for yourself – making it clear where weekends and evenings fit into the picture. Let your clients, subcontractors, suppliers and business partners know when they should not expect to reach you on your cell phone, Blackberry or mobile device.

Is technology making work invade your personal life? Are PDAs, cell phones, laptops and other electronics intruding into your family time, your evenings and weekends? Turning your cell phone off and stopping from checking your email are two steps that can help restore a balance and protect your private time.

Freelance writer Anne Troy tells agents and clients alike that they should not expect her to answer her phone or reply to email during evenings and weekends. By repeating that message clearly and consistently (as well as not picking up her cell or home business phone after 6pm and on weekends), Anne got her point across.

Separate Work From Your Private, Family Life

While it`s tempting to bring work home, the experts agree that separating work from your private and family life can help to achieve a work-life balance. If you work from home, you may be more effective locating work tasks in a separate space such as a library, quiet internet cafe, virtual office or furnished office space.

Achieving a work-life balance means a state of equilibrium between the activities, roles and responsibilities in your life. Know your limits. Keep track of how much time and attention you devote to each. Are there blocks that get in your way to attain a balance?

Committed parents love spending time with their children, but with today’s pressures of work and other priorities, work life balance can be difficult to achieve. Book time with your children and family as though they were your most important clients.

It`s important to sort out what saps your time and energy versus revitalizes you, and to say `no` to low priorities. Are there involvements and activities that you can shelve, temporarily stop, or delegate to someone else? Allow yourself to rely on others around you while you focus on top priorities. Tag-team with your associates and coworkers for carpooling as well as attending after-hours functions and handling tasks that encroach on your private or personal time.

Play time can be as important to allow you to recharge and improve your effectiveness. You don’t need to join organized groups or spend money on equipment. Lunch hour escapes can be as simple as taking your lunch into the park or sitting beside a water fountain to read a magazine. One of the easiest and simplest ways to meditate is to watch flowing water such as a river or fountain.

Vancouver Is An Ideal City For Work-Life Balance

Greater Vancouver is surrounded by almost 20 kilometers of beaches with specially-designated quiet beaches where loud music is banned. Whether you like to skimboard, spike a volleyball or stretch out on a blanket, Vancouver has a beach for you. Sunset Beach, no more than 30 minutes from the downtown core, is a quiet zone where there is nothing but sand dunes and spectacular views of Kitsilano and the Pacific Ocean to gaze at. If green space is more your scene, Vancouver offers more than 200 parks to choose from including woodlands and ravines, display gardens and small urban parks.

If you work alone in an office or home office, it can be challenging to find social interaction but it`s important to get away from the solo setting to find balance. Make lunch arrangements with former colleagues, meet up with friends after work or connect with peers through a professional association.

Ultimately, consider the important – and neglected – aspects of your own life and make a date with the opportunities to optimize them.

Make Work Meaningful: The Future of Work through Ideas and Conversations

May 4, 2010 by ·  

Credit: Lars Plougmann

The future of work is not yet known; it is constantly changing and evolving. With the rise of virtual offices, ever-growing technology and globalization, it seems that the workplace is always going through shifts of change.

Make Work Meaningful is a website created to discuss the change of the workplace. It is a collaborative conversation about the future of work. There is a team of “top thinkers” that contribute to this collaborative conversation. It is aimed at getting individuals to be motivated, focused and in sync with the people they work with. The idea is that the community can help shape what the workplace becomes.

The Make Work Meaningful website was created by Rypple. Rypple is a Toronto-based startup that offers tools for employees to receive coaching and feedback about their work.

The Co-CEO of Rypple, David Stein says, “Based on these conversations, it’s clear that there is a movement afoot. Work is changing.” The three big changes he points out are:

  1. The new leadership philosophy: don’t just manage-coach
  2. The feeling of continuous growth and appropriate recognition goes further than a paycheck.
  3. The way people value ongoing development over periodic evaluation.

Stein continues, “This is what top thinkers… are writing about.”

Make Work Meaningful was created with the idea that leaders and aspiring ones can come to learn, grow and share ideas together.

Charney, a contributor for the site, wrote an article about coaching, said, “One of my hot buttons gets pushed by people who enjoy finishing my sentences. It amazes me that the older we get, the less we seem to listen. Here’s my theory: We’re taught that we need to demonstrate we’re smart, or an expert, by talking.” She suggests that we need to learn how to listen more in order to be coached.

Asmus, another contributor for the site, wrote an article about the difference between coaching and feedback in the workplace. One of the things she said was, “In the end, coaching is about “letting go” of advice-giving and assuming the person being coached is whole, smart, and understands the best direction to head in. When we give feedback, we believe that the person we are giving feedback to requires our advice to figure out the actions they need to take. There is a time and place for feedback, as there is for coaching. But they are not the same.”

Finally, another contributor for the site, Beth Steinberg, who is an HR Executive for Nike, writes about “doing what you love.” In this article she writes about the importance of working in an environment you enjoy. She gives suggested criteria for making the right decision about a job change. This suggested criterion is, “the mission of the company, the people, the company culture, the ability to learn and grow and work/life balance.”

The site is full of articles just like these three examples. It’s great for sharing ideas to figure out how to make work more meaningful and discuss the future of the workplace.

Virtual Offices: The Future of the Workplace?

April 19, 2010 by ·  

Virtual offices are quickly becoming the new go-to working environment for business professionals, law firms, accountants, and start-up entrepreneurs. The virtual office combines off-site live communication and office services so that people can work remotely, but still easily access business amenities.

Virtual offices are gaining popularity, especially with the shift toward self-employment caused by the recent economic downturn. People can now work remotely or from home, but still be able to communicate with their clients and co-workers. Small businesses no longer have to concern themselves with renting office space, and can instead pay for virtual office services which are much less costly.

Virtual offices first gained prominence by way of global businesses that required the use of a temporary or shared office space when traveling on business. The clientele for these virtual offices now seems to be changing, however, with more companies simply seeking a space that will provide them with a business address, telephone number, and temporary meeting space. Not only are virtual offices cheaper for big conglomerates, they also allow small business owners to access services like remote receptionists and remote assistants.

The benefits of virtual offices enable businesses to work remotely with all the required amenities and services within easy reach. Office services such as reception, boardrooms, telephone lines, mail services, executive suites, temporary meeting spaces and support staff are available within virtual offices. This kind of office space can be personalized and tailored for individual businesses by providing them with their own business address, telephone number, voicemail service, and administrative office staff.

Virtual offices are quickly becoming the solution for finding support services that allow companies to focus directly on their own clients and work. Clients of virtual offices are largely comprised of law firms, accountants, real estate workers, entrepreneurs, start-up companies, people working in finance, and remote workers. Virtual office facilities can be utilized by any kind of business in an economical way that allows them to access office space and communication services on an as-needed basis. Businesses can trim costs by eliminating the expense of having a personal receptionist and paying monthly rent, for example.

Rent is often the second highest expense for smaller businesses. This has led business professionals to work remotely from home, at coffee shops, or other public locations. Virtual offices are providing such individuals with access to a professional working space equipped with the technology and support services to benefit their overall efficiency. Business professionals can access virtual offices to check in on their messages, mail, and get administrative support while still working remotely.

Virtual offices pride themselves in providing exceptional customer services for business clients. They work hard to maintain the professional image of individual businesses utilizing their office services. Virtual offices offer businesses all of the comforts of a full-time office without all of the costs. Perhaps the biggest draw towards virtual offices is the reassurance of administrative support services while being able to focus on what matters most to a business: their clients, their products, and providing their services to others.

Technology is changing the workplace. Watch this video from ABC to see how companies are adapting to new workplace trends:

We have over 25 years in the executive office industry, please visit our Vancouver Virtual Offices page for more information on our services.

Growth Strategies for your Business

January 22, 2010 by ·  

Exciting Expansion Launch for MPS Executive Suites

January 17, 2010 by ·  

After 28 years in business, 5 company expansions and 16 years of dreaming, the intense planning, design and construction has paid off. This month, MPS Executive Suites officially launched its modern, new look as a full-floor 33-office business centre.

“Since moving the company to 999 West Broadway in 1994, it has always been my ambition to take over the entire 7th floor,” says Owner/Manager Karline Mark-Eng. “Over the years we have been gradually expanding, and now we are happy to announce that this dream has finally become a reality.”

When she purchased the company in 1989, it offered just 8 rental offices. With her office move to 999 West Broadway, Mrs. Mark-Eng expanded to 12 furnished executive offices. As additional space came available on the same floor, she saw her bigger picture coming together, one suite at a time. An expansion in 2000 gave her 5 more offices, and four years later she expanded again by 9 offices, bringing her total number to 26 executive offices.

Then in the summer of 2008 Mrs. Mark-Eng received a phone call from her Landlord to advise that the last remaining suite on her floor would become available. In September she began the construction process to join the three separate 7th floor units with one common hallway. The reception area, staff data processing room and boardroom were all relocated to the centre of the floor, capturing the impressive north views overlooking False Creek and the North Shore mountains.

With this expansion, a new state-of-the art VoIP telephone system was installed, complete with new phone sets for every office. The new telephone software enables the company to offer many new features to greater enhance the flexibility of her telephone answering services, as well as providing cost-saving options to her clients.

At the launch party held on December 17th, 2009, owner Karline Mark-Eng gave an emotional and heartfelt impromptu speech, thanking her exceptional staff, her husband and sons, her parents, her mentor – Diana Gray, and all past and present clients whom have helped to pave the way for 28 successful years in business. The crowd was large, the food excessive and delicious and the mood was jovial.

This expansion to the entire 7th floor at 999 West Broadway will allow MPS Executive Suites to better meet and serve the needs of its small business clientele.

Mrs. Mark-Eng proudly looks forward to an exciting 2010 and beyond.

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Office Business Centres Ready For Growth

August 25, 2009 by ·  


October 4, 2009

Office Business Centres Ready for Growth

The mood at last week’s Office Business Centre Association International’s (OBCAI) Annual Conference in San Diego was positive and uplifting. In keeping with the conference theme of “Evolve and Thrive,” speakers reiterated the fact that business isn’t down, it’s just different. Business owners need to recognize the changes, new trends, and global opportunities, and be able to quickly adapt. It was predicted that small, flexible, and agile businesses will do well in this economy. There is a stronger than ever need for business efficiency, so those businesses ready with the seamless provision of services and technology across borders will do extremely well.

Office business centres provide the ideal environment for consultants, professionals and small business owners to flourish. These centres serve as an “incubator” for small businesses to grow, and frequently provide the internal opportunities for client acquisition and referrals.

Diana Gray, owner and General Manager of Central Park Business Centre (CPBC), located in Vancouver on the west border of Burnaby, attended the conference along with owners and managers of office business centres from the US, Britain, Mexico, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. As an entrepreneur herself, Gray enjoys working with her clients and seeing them succeed in business. She spontaneously shares her expertise and business network with her clients. Published twice on small business (The Complete Canadian Small Business Guide and Home Inc.: The Home Based Business Guide), Gray has a lot to offer.

Having started in the office business centre industry almost 30 years ago, this is not the first business recession Gray has experienced in Vancouver. In fact, she started her first centre during the real estate crunch of the early 1980s and was ready to service clients who were downsizing from excess and unused leased space.

Providing fully furnished offices inclusive of phones and internet, plus all the administrative and reception staff, Central Park Business Centre has everything ready for small- and mid-sized businesses to move in and start up instantly. Her company is a safety net and one-stop office business centre for her clients. She removes a lot of the stress and financial risk of high overhead costs such as staffing and carrying long term leases. A very familiar statement she hears from her clients is: “Being in the centre saves a lot of time that would otherwise be spent managing the office. Now I can concentrate those hours on running and marketing my business.”

Gray feels CPBC is ideally positioned to face the new economy. “We have bundled our service offerings to make it easy for our clients to enjoy a comprehensive, all-inclusive office space solution with many value-added features, for one low competitive price.” She also provides Virtual Offices for those working from home, allowing them to have a business presence in just one or multiple locations through the umbrella organization of Elite Business Centres.

Inspired with new ideas and contacts generated at the conference, Gray is enthusiastic about embracing the change that is in the air, and helping her clients succeed through the changing tides of this economy.

Contact Info:

Diana Gray, Owner and General Manager

Central Park Business Centre



Some Walls Come Down, Others Stay Up, Says Entrepreneur Barr

August 25, 2009 by ·  

Entrepreneur Irene Barr

Some walls come down, others stay up, says entrepreneur Barr

By: Diane Strandberg – Tri-Cities News

After some 25 years in business and involvement in provincial and local politics, Irene Barr can offer a unique perspective on both worlds.

Women are making great strides in business but only baby-steps in politics, says Irene Barr, a longtime Tri-Cities business woman and provincial Liberal.

In an interview across her polished desk in the elegantly-appointed Headquarters Office Services in Coquitlam, Barr was asked to consider the changes faced by women in businesses since she started her own company 25 years ago.

Like many entrepreneurs, a passion for pursuing challenges prompted her to start a word-processing business out of her home with a $22,000 hybrid between a computer and typewriter. With previous experience in computer conversions, she soon branched into technology training, starting Headquarters Office Services and moving into a 7,000-square foot space on Lincoln Avenue. A federal contract then enabled her to expand the business to 70 training seats.

She got involved with the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce, became its president in 1988 and made connections that helped her students get jobs.

“It’s about building relationships,” Barr said of her network that grew withher community work.

Throughout the Tri-Cities, Barr said, women are becoming successful by helping each other. They might not do deals on a golf course but they build relationships with other professionals through business exchanges, and community service, through groups such as such as Sunrise Rotary, where Barr was a member.

But breaking into the world of local politics is a bigger challenge. It’s not just her own experience running for office as a Liberal candidate she cites. She tried for years to get more women involved in politics as the president of the BC Liberal Women’s Commission. Barr said getting nominated is the first stumbling block. She narrowly lost a 1996 bid for the Westwood Plateau/ Port Coquitlam seat and tried twice again, failing to get the nomination each time. (As a north-east Coquitlam resident, she also unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Port Coquitlam.)

“I see it as this barrier stopping us. When we do see women make it, they do a great job. They use their power well,” she says.

“Everyone recognizes we need more women in politics but women have a tough time getting nominated. The local community still has these back-room boys – they call the shots.”

Stalled in her drive to get a seat in the B.C. legislature, Barr focused her attention on her business, which had expanded to include branches on North Road and in PoCo. But even there she was discouraged. The federal government pulled her contract while it proceeded with other job training models, and Barr had to retrench, firing staff and closing one of three offices.

It took years to rebuild, she said, but the effort was not without a silver lining. Women she met through informal networks came to her aid, some acting as sounding boards for major decisions, others holding her hand through the rough spots.

“That’s when you know who your friends are,” she said.

Capitalizing on the trend toward business incubation in which small start-ups need an office presence but don’t want the hassle and the cost of starting their own, Barr was able to evolve once again, leasing office space and providing communication services to a wide variety of clients. It’s a model that has been successful: Barr has secured a marketing relationship so she can provide even more services to her clients as a division of Elite Headquarters Office Services Inc.

Unlike politics, the business world is much easier for women to enter, Barr says. Women entrepreneurs are more common now than when she first set up shop and more successful than they’ve ever been. It may be a way to get out from under the glass ceiling but, whatever the reason, Barr applauds women’s business success and plans to mentor women entrepreneurs coming up in the ranks.

“I just think there are no barriers [for women],” she said. “They don’t expect barriers and they don’t receive them.”

Photos from Irene Barr’s 25th Anniversary:

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