The time has come, fall is just around the corner and your summer vacation is in the rear view. While you are in the process of getting last minute school supplies and dorm room accessories for your children, don’t forget that the end of summer also means time to refocus on your work priorities.
Now, you finally have the opportunity to shift all your attention to your business and presenting a professional image.
We at Officense understand your relief of having your kids back at school and offer the most effective support. As one of the superior Virtual Office providers in Maryland, we know the importance of a well-structured and maintained business.
That’s a great question. It basically is a combination of off-site live communication, address and meeting room services that allow businesses to reduce traditional office costs while still maintaining business professionalism. Whether you’re a small business owner or an employee, you will now have the freedom of working from any location you want by using modern technology such as laptops, tablets, smart phones, etc.
By comparing the operations of a virtual office and those of traditional ones, you will rapidly realize that virtual offices are not only an innovative approach to office management but are also much more cost effective. But let’s take a closer look.
Take into consideration how much money you spend on leasing office space, utilities, furniture, a receptionist or administrative assistant on a monthly basis. Now imagine having all of this, whenever you need it, without the heavy financial burden. Our Virtual Office space allows you to have an address for your professional image and access to all the necessary amenities to strive as a business. It also allows you access to conference rooms for a proficient meeting atmosphere and access to technology such as video conferencing.
Here are some of the diverse services we provide:
An impressive, Baltimore downtown location to serve as your business address where we offer a variety of mail options.
Live- answering service, screening and forwarding to another number or to a voice mailbox.
A phone number with a local area code or a toll-free phone number is provided for business communication.
Beautifully furnished offices with window views guaranteed.
On-site, professional Executive Assistants, who greet your clients and can even maintain your calendar.
As you can see our options are endless and ideal for small companies and large corporations, as well as entrepreneurs who run their business from home but are interested in expanding to a more professional environment.
With technology advancing so rapidly and workloads increasing along with it, the desire to work from home and alleviate some of the stress that comes along with commuting, juggling family life, etc. has also become very strong.
At OFFICENSE, we understand that it is difficult to run a successful business while making the kids realize that the end of summer also means back to school. Let us help you make the transition as smooth as possible. Call us now at (410) 814-7500 and mention the promo code “Back To School” for 1 month off when registering.
Let’s face it, since the decline of the United States’ economy in 2008 Americans everywhere have been forced to make each dollar stretch. Affecting the employees of declining business, individuals have faced pay cuts, layoffs, and a general lack of opportunity. Unfortunately most individuals do not have access to government bailouts or business tax credits and, as our economy relies on consumerism, the demise of consumer confidence continues to take its toll on capitalism. Small businesses and startups also may not have access to big government bail outs and in the face of adversity shouldn’t have to sacrifice to cut costs. Here are some of the top money-saving techniques for your business, big or small, and some, you can even apply to your personal finances!
Home-based? If you work out of a home office, a portion of your rent or mortgage, interest and utilities could qualify as business expenses. You may also deduct a percentage of many home maintenance expenses, along with a portion of the costs of services like
Fill it out for free. Instead of buying forms at your local office supply store or spending time creating them yourself, you can find tons of free templates online that you can download, customize and print. Free forms on Form.net can get you started.
Consult with consultants. Thanks to the rapport you’ve probably already developed with them, the professionals you work with regularly are often quite easy to bargain with. Ask your insurance agent, accountant or lawyer how you can cut back on their costs. You’d be surprised at the suggestions they might offer on ways you can cut your premiums, reduce billable hours or avoid huge retainers. You might also be able to barter some of your services in the process.
Get out on the town. If your business requires you to meet clients at their offices or restaurants, don’t forget to take those deductions! For 2014, you can deduct 56 cents per mile to cover your transportation expenses. Additionally, you can even deduct a portion of your entertainment costs if you entertain clients or even potential clients to discuss a current or future project. Just remember to maintain a log of the entertainment-related expenses you plan to deduct.
Compare Credit. If you run unpaid balances on your credit cards at the end of the month, it’s time to shop for a card with a low interest rate. If you pay in full, it’s more important you avoid an annual fee and look for a longer grace period. Some credit card issuers will actually waive the annual fee or even reduce the interest rate if you ask. Tell your credit card company you’ve received offers from other companies with lower interest rates or no annual fees, and ask if they will reduce yours.
Buy recycled. Local recycled printer cartridge suppliers can be found through most directories or google. Better yet, you can blend your charitable instincts with your printing needs. LaserMonks.com, a re-manufacturing printing supply company out of Wisconsin, is run by a group of monks who, after paying their business expenses, donate their profits. house cleaning and lawn care. Talk to your tax adviser for more information or check the IRS’s website.
Check overstock or used. Why buy new when you can save as much as 60% off retail by buying used or overstock computer equipment, copiers and office furniture from stores like Aaron Rents & Sells? Auctions, newspaper classifieds, and sites like Craigslist.org are all great sources of used office equipment.
Save on Shipping. If you’re near your suppliers, pick up your order yourself-or perhaps have a friend or family member do it for you. Just remember to only pick up supplies yourself when it truly saves you money. If it’s taking you away from a revenue-producing activity, you’re not really saving.
Bank Early. Make bank deposits early enough in the day so you get credit and can start earning interest that day.
Be a legal eagle. When you hire an attorney, make sure you have a written fee agreement to prevent surprise fees. It should include an estimate of the time to be spent on your case and specify what is covered in the fee-including typing or copying-and what is not.
Learn something new. Rather than hire a consultant to write your press releases, instead, pay one for an hour or two to show you how to do it yourself. You’ll have the added benefit of gaining a new skill which will save you lots in the long run by never having to hire again!
Alternatively, a virtual office can be a choice solution for your business-saving needs. For about 10% of the cost of maintaining office facilities and administrative staff! Virtual offices that offer customizable packages, like Officense, allow for you to add and remove services as your business needs change. Call us today to find out more ways we can help you save instead of spend!
Remember when you were in seventh grade and the science teacher grouped you up and told you to work as a team and figure out how to drop an egg out of the 4th story lab window without breaking it? Team building for grownups… Yes. It’s exactly like that.
The list of companies and organizations that use team building activities is as vast as the reasons for using them. Some of the more important reasons for implementing them into your workplace: boosting morale, improving communication, increasing motivation and productivity, breaking the ice, learning about strengths and weaknesses and plenty of others. These types of activities can be used by any company, any size, to create a better sense of camaraderie in the workplace, and as most owners, organizers and managers know, having a cohesive, happy team is one of the biggest factors associated with a company’s success. The idea is to create something that is both fun and challenging.
Communication, problem solving, ice breakers, and tasks that focus on building trust are the four main types of team building activities. The idea is to create something that is both fun and challenging. Here are a few great activities to get you started.
Two Truths and a Lie – Ice Breaker Have each team member write down two truths and one lie about themselves. Each participant reads their statements, and the other members try to guess which one is false. This game helps to encourage better communication in the office, as well as letting you get to know your coworkers better.
The Great Egg Drop (See? I told you.) – Problem Solving This messy, yet classic and fun problem solving activity requires splitting the room into two groups to build an egg package that can sustain an eight foot drop. Be sure to provide tools and other materials to the teams. It will be just as fun as you remembered it.
Gossip – Ice Breaker The group sits in a circle and the “gossip” begins with one person sharing a secret with the person sitting next to them in the circle. The secret is passed as each person shares it with the next person. In telling the secret, it may not be repeated twice to the same person (so the listener must get it all the first time.) When the secret makes its way back to the person who started the “gossip”, it is shared out loud. That person then reads their original and a comparison is made. Laughter and a valuable lesson in communication will ensue.
M&M or Skittle Game – Ice Breaker Have the group sit in a circle. Pass the bag around and ask people to help themselves to a handful of Skittles or M&Ms, but not to eat them yet. When the bag has been around the full circle, each person must tell one thing about themselves for every piece of candy they took. A variation is to assign a number of things a person must tell about themselves to every color. Of course, don’t tell people about this aspect of the game until they have already grabbed a handful.
It’s obvious to some that these activities are both entertaining and useful. On the other hand, if you know that your staff equates these teambuilding sessions to several wasted hours of their lives sitting in a semicircle talking about their feelings or playing silly games, then a different approach may work best. No one will be happier to see those events removed from their weekend calendar than your staff. Instead, look no further than your own backyard to help build your team.
According to Amanda Schneider of IdeaPaint, the most dynamic workspace is all you need to facilitate spontaneous collaboration and inspire creativity; just use the Five C’s: Comfort, Connectivity, Central location, Coffee, and CNN.
The “Five C’s”
Comfortable spaces have soothing colors, plush furniture, and open spaces in a clean and fragrant environment – so much so that people actually want to go into the office.
Communal spots positioned centrally where people pass builds trust among employees. Steve Jobs believed in the power of casual interactions and the spontaneous conversations and ideas that germinate from those encounters – and thus designed Apple headquarters accordingly.
Connectivity is key so visitors and employees can immediately connect to their electronic and mobile devices on-the-fly without anxiety.
Workers always want a good cup of coffee and a friend to talk to. That not only makes their work experience genuinely enjoyable but also facilitates casual conversations and quick idea exchanges that often turn into more effective collaboration than formal meetings.
CNN on a TV nearby gives employees a connection to the real world so they don’t feel like they are suffocating in a cloistered office without a refresher break.
With the boom in telecommuting over the past six years, it’s been widely believed that the physical office space would go away. Yet today, we are finding the opposite to be true.
“Workers may be more productive at home, but they are more creative in the office,” Schneider said. “The office is where we go to be together. Being in one place builds teams much faster – and teams with higher trust levels have much higher rates of productivity than others.”
No one understands the need for creative space more than the staff at Officense. Give us a call today to schedule a tour of our dedicated office and meeting spaces. Let your creativity start here.
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
With these words, Neil Armstrong, and the nation he represented, would be inscribed in history as the first to land on the moon on July 20th, 1969. The Apollo 11 mission wasn’t very long and the brave team splashed down in the cerulean waters of Hawaii on July 24th. But this short week in history lifted the spirits of the American people and changed the course of space exploration and scientific innovation. Experiments are yet being performed based on what had been started on our fateful mission to the moon. A dozen more men would walk in Armstrong’s footsteps on the cold white orb that millennia of people had looked upon in the thousands of nights past.
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to
A copper-haired American president, considered veritable royalty at the time, issued those words before a gathered crowd on May 25th, 1961. The crowd was comprised of citizens of the United States who had not yet achieved their bi-centennial and were still reeling from a failed challenge to a large and ancient nation—Russia.
In the last decade Russia and the U.S. had stretched their respective budgets, staffs and pilots in the mad dash to succeed in the mission of launching the first man into space; in April 1961 Russia won. Just over a month later, licking their wounds from the lost bid to beat the arctic nation into the stars, the citizens of our nation rallied around an inspiring promise from a beloved president—that an American would trace the smile of the man in the moon.
The idea of this mission to the moon was birthed at the height of the Cold War and brought the attention of nations higher than the grievances on our tiny planet. To this nation it was proven that there was something great that could be achieved and, to the world, it was said that beyond the borders of this blue-green sphere the drawn lines on our maps became meaningless. Innovation had changed the way people saw themselves and the world around them.
In this same way, corporations, small businesses and one-person-freelance operations prove to themselves every day that they can reach beyond expectations, beyond imposed boundaries of thought. Something incredible happens when you achieve that which creates meaning in the world, even if it’s only your portion of it.
When you leave the “daily grind” behind and choose a life that allows you to invest time into the things that matter most, you have changed your corner of the planet. And you don’t have to do it alone. Innovative communication technology is offered to business owners by Officense every day. When you’re ready to support your business through cutting edge technology and sensible business practices, we’re the ones to contact.
“Going Green” is more than just a slogan you will find on the cover of a reusable shopping bag; it most likely describes the process of changing one’s lifestyle for the safety and benefit of the environment.
A greener workplace can mean a lighter ecological footprint, a healthier and more productive place to work, and good news for the bottom line.
Did you know that an average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year and that U.S. citizens alone throw out over four million disposable pens daily?
Find out how you can implement simple steps on your way to a greener office environment.
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Install recycling stations in high-traffic and easy accessible areas and locate explicit instruction labels on the bins.
Recycle just about any kind of paper you would encounter in an office including fax paper, envelopes, or junk mail.
Print smarter by printing on both sides of paper and using a smaller font.
Stock the office with reusable pens and refills.
2. Go paperless
Make it a habit to think before you print: eliminate waste in printing by increasing the numbers of digital storage devices and systems (external hard drive, cloud computing etc.)
Set up files to save emails instead of having a print version.
Instead of printing a meeting agenda, incorporate it as a slide show or send it via email.
3. Conserve to preserve
Use daylight whenever you can and turn off lights in spaces that are unoccupied.
Save 75 % of energy and cut energy costs by using compact fluorescent bulbs, which last about 10 times longer than conventional incandescent light bulbs.
Check that all computers/monitors are set to their most energy efficient settings and make sure to shut them down at the end of the day.
Adjust thermostat settings to no higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit during winter month and no lower than 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer.
4. Telecommute or reconsider your transportation
Contemplate carpooling, taking public transportation, biking or walking to minimize the approximate 23 billion gallons of gas wasted in traffic each year.
If you have the opportunity to work from home and take advantage of instant messaging, phone conferencing and invest in video conferencing.
5. Make eco-friendly product choices
Purchase chlorine-free paper with 100% recycled content for printing and copying.
Use biodegradable soaps, dish detergent and cleaners.
Replace disposable paper cups with washable, reusable mugs.
Replace the office coffee with a fair-trade, shade-grown or organic version.
Given how much time the average person spends at work, greening the work place is a logical extension of people wanting to maintain an environmentally conscious atmosphere.
Our shared meeting space at OFFICENSE is conveniently located in the heart of Baltimore. Not only can you reach us by utilizing public transportation, but most importantly use office or conference rooms when needed. Besides that we offer a wide range of business services including video conferencing to help you cut costs and focus on living a green life.
Summer has finally arrived and with the mercury rising so are our cravings for crabs! Even though you can eat crabs in the U.S. all year round, Marylanders know the best time to indulge in a Chesapeake blue crab feast is between May and September when the crabs are in season. Known for being the state’s official crustaceans, the Chesapeake blue crab’s scientific name, Callinectes sapidus, translates to savory beautiful swimmer and it’s the crab’s sapphire -tinted claws that merit their name.
So, besides color and a country, what separates the Atlantic Blue crab from the Pacific Dungeness crab? A lot, actually, from taste, size, to having opposing seasons, the crabs couldn’t be less alike. What makes the blue crab a MD favorite is its sweet and bountiful lump meat, ideal for crab cakes; yet, it’s the fun and delight of cracking steamed crabs and licking fingers smothered in the region’s signature seasoning, Old Bay, which makes our penchants for the crustacean persevere.
Besides a large group of family and friends, a proper crab feast requires bushels of crabs, pitchers of beers, mallets, corn in the husk, and plenty of newspaper! However, our individual appetite for crustaceans is not always shared by a large group; so how can you satisfy your craving without spending a bundle on a bushel? For those of us who prefer to play with our food before we eat it, there is always the option of buying live crabs and steaming them at home yourself. For the rest of us who would prefer our blue crabs red, Baltimore is a premier city for some of the state’s best crab houses including:
Captain James Landing– The seafood spot that looks like a commercial ship has earned itself the name of the most unique restaurant in the city! Besides, looking like a boat, you can actually get to Captain James Landing by boat. With its own water taxi stop, this restaurant truly offers water front dining. A Baltimore landmark since 1978, this crab house is a must for tourists and residents alike.
Riptide by the Bay – Located in Historic Fells Point, this restaurant serves up blue crabs all year round and authentic Maryland blue crabs during the season, between April and November. A favorite spot for locals, Riptide has crabs for eat-in, carry-out and on Tuesday’s the crabs are on special. Offering live music on the weekends, Riptide by the Bay is your place for everything seafood, especially Maryland Blue Crabs.
Canton Dockside – Available for eat-in, carry-out or catering, this family-owned eatery deals directly with crab fisherman to ensure they bring you the freshest crabs daily. The restaurant offers picnic-style outside seating where diners can delight in cracking crabs while overlooking the waters of the city’s Inner Harbor. The next time you’re in the Canton neighborhood on a beautiful day, make sure you drop by their patio for good eats!
Now that you have your crab feast guide, all that’s left is getting here! Take a plane, train, car or cab and visit Baltimore for some of the best crabs this side of the Chesapeake. If you’re here on business, or just passing through on vacation, you can feast-assured that while you’re picking crabs, Officense will be here to answer your calls, receive your packages, and greet your clients before your lunch meeting!
You are a weekend warrior of the business world; a force to be reckoned with, especially when it comes to your company. And you know there is no such thing as nine to five. For you there is only one speed – Go! Sunday to Sunday and all the hours in between, you get after it like a tenacious wildfire. But you want to work on your own terms, when and where you want, with the flexibility that enables you to maintain a good work/life balance. And you are not alone.
It’s not about working LONGER. It’s about working SMARTER.
In today’s harsh financial climate, every day and every dollar needs to be dedicated to building your business. The question is, “How can I maintain the tenacity I need to stay ahead of my competition without having a phone glued to my ear or spending crucial funds needed to further grow my company on a support staff?” The answer is Virtual Assistants.
More and more businesses are benefiting from the rewards of a VA. They can help you cut costs and free up hours in your day. Virtual Assistants can streamline your workflow and take care of the tedious day to day tasks that prevent you from doing the actual work you love because you are too busy rescheduling the appointment you just scheduled 20 minutes ago.
If you are unaware of the flexibility and specialized support a virtual assistant can offer, they are worth the consideration. Most virtual assistants are well educated and highly trained professionals who have a myriad of skill sets. A virtual assistant can be a perfect solution when you need ongoing help (but can’t afford a permanent staff) or when you need a specialist for an important project or two that you can’t afford the precious hours to complete. From general administrative support to creative and technical projects, a virtual assistant can give you back some of those much needed hours in your day.
Workers who control their own hours are healthier because they are less stressed and get more rest.
You’ll be happier, less stressed and more fulfilled if you work more flexibly. So what does the work week of the next decade look like? It turns out, a whole lot freer. The current trend shows that flexible work, whether in office hours or location, is more cost efficient in both time and money spent, and there is no better argument for a world that’s still suffering from the recession. Now you can have your office at your fingertips, no matter where you are. If you will be happier and also see your business thrive, there’s no reason not to ditch the 9-5 with the extra 20 hours of overtime thrown in.
It looks like your calendar just opened up.
Give us a call today to see how we can get you out of the 9-5 (let’s be honest, it’s really more like 24/7) grind:
Provide the highest level of service
“Follow you” communications
Process mail and handle correspondence
Maintain your calendar and set up meetings
Follow up on leads
Manage your contact lists and customer spreadsheets
Prepare, collate and ship proposals, meeting materials or depositions
Send out requested information to customers
Handle client inquiries by phone or e-mail
Not only does it make good sense, it makes Officense.
As the New Year progresses and your calendar overflows with new responsibilities and challenges, make sure to free up some space to meet like-minded people.
Wouldn’t it be nice to connect with other business owners or entrepreneurs between important business meetings to exchange innovative ideas?
While social media networking is becoming an essential part of any company’s growth, don’t underestimate the importance of old fashioned “face to face” meet and greets. Don’t hide your ideas behind a “Like” or an eloquent comment on a social media website, when you are just a handshake away from creating an interpersonal business relationship.
Now it’s your time to shine by revealing that outstanding persona that is veiling behind your business card or logo. It has been proven that shaking hands at conferences and promotional chit chat at cocktail gatherings is still one of the best ways to expand your brand’s reach, build your business and create dynamic partnerships. Besides handing out your business cards, you will quickly realize that one of the main key points of joining networking events is “to give” by being genuine and engaging with others. For that reason it’s all about developing real, authentic relationships with people and nurturing them over a long period of time.
Plenty of businesses use the holiday time every year to engage their employees, clients as well as business partners for festive occasions to express their appreciation. Wouldn’t it be great to find more opportunities to meet one another?
Make sure to save the date for one of these events in the Maryland area:
NRG Networking Group – Every Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at OFFICENSE
300 E. Lombard Street, Suite 840, Baltimore, MD 21202
While most networking events cater to professionals who want to expand their network and create new business opportunities, it’s important to have the perspective that your goal should be to help others first. “Building relationships without any expectation of what you are going to get is the best way to maximize your networking effort.” (Diane Helbig)
OFFICENSE can help you find the perfect platform for your emerging networking group by providing the ideal meeting room space. Please feel free to stop by and take a look at our facilities or even join the NRG Networking Group ever Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m..
By now Americans’ most prevalent New Year’s resolution, losing weight, has been discarded by 25% of dieters. In another month, about half of resolutions will be abandoned. Meanwhile, research findings in Forbes article, “Why Sitting at Work Can Be so Deadly” reveal an increase in mortality as positively correlated to an increase in body mass index (BMI). BMI surges as a result of spending long amounts of time sedentary, which in office environments, is the norm.
In “Sitting is the New Smoking”, sedentary lifestyles were found to contribute 10% to breast and colon cancer risks, 6% to heart disease and 7% to Type 2 diabetes. The national kidney foundation chimes in citing the strong link between sedentary lifestyles and the most common of chronic illnesses, kidney disease. Considering office workers gain about a stone or 14 pounds each year and since even those who regularly exercise will sustain an increased risk of death due to metabolic and cardiac diseases, it seems the office may be killing us.
From office “Biggest Loser” competitions, corporate gym memberships, to Lufthansa’s Fly-Robics videos, progressively more companies are taking notice of the damage sitting for long periods of time does to the human body. It seems the problem is two-fold, fewer calories are burned whilst sitting and more profoundly, marathon sitting sessions alter our bodies’ metabolisms. In between conference calls, emails and meetings, there are several exercises designed to be done right from your desk chair to build strength and flexibility and ward off the silent killer known as your office:
The Wooden Leg
While sitting in your chair, extend one leg out straight in front of you. Hold it up for two seconds and then raise it up as high as you can. Hold again for another 2 seconds and repeat with each leg 15 times to build lower-body strength.
The Magic Carpet Ride
To strengthen your core and arms, sit in your chair with your legs crossed and feet on the seat. Placing your hands on the armrests, raise yourself a few inches above the seat engaging your abdomen muscles and the muscles of your hands. Holding for 10-20 seconds and then resting for 30 seconds, complete 5 reps.
Copy Machine Catapults
Time spent waiting for your copies to feed is time wasted indeed. Next time you’re standing at the copy machine, standing with one leg straight try to kick your butt with the heel of your other leg. Repeat this ten times with each leg to stretch out your hamstrings and productively make copies.
Switch out your chair on wheels for a stationary seat for this whole-body work-out: Sit at the edge of your chair and press down on the table with both hands. Simultaneously, lift both legs as high as you can. Despite that you’re actually working-out you will appear attentive and alert to those around you.
Regardless of the resolution you’ve chosen for 2014 and whether or not you uphold it, your health and well-being are always paramount. Even if you don’t have the freedom to move about your office, there are plenty of isometrics you can append to your normal work-out routine to keep fit. Likewise if you’re still tied down to the ball-and-chain of a traditional office and don’t have the freedom to move about,New Years is the perfect time to revolutionize yourself and your business practices. Officense not only gives you the freedom to manage your business from anywhere in the world while still maintaining your professional image, our clients find comfort in knowing while they’re out on a run, we’re here exercising at our desks by running their business.
During the 19th Century, the “Wild West” of the United States saw dramatic growth. Towns arose seemingly overnight on the frontier landscapes and business minded individuals were quick to take advantage of the “booming business”, thus the term “boomtown”.
However, they also saw the advantage of prestigious appearances and low overhead costs; they constructed their stores with so-called “false fronts” which made their businesses appear to be larger, and thereby more successful, then they actually were. Yet, this concept had downsides; anyone who took a closer look could easily see the deception.
Unfortunately, many virtual office services operate based upon this concept. Businesses receive a professional phone number and address without the actual support of a staff.
That’s where Officense differs; we offer customized business services which provide all of the support of a hired staff without the overhead of hiring onsite staff. From call transfers to anywhere in the world, to transcription services, to appointment setting, Officense will make sense of your business needs.