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ACE Blog

Because the mission of ACE is to foster 'Success through Collaboration', the Membership is resolved to promote internal communication and to enable interchange. One effective means to accomplish these objectives is through Blog activity to broaden the audience for thoughts, activities, and successes. 

This forum enables the members to share expertise and learning regarding topics of interest to the consultant community or to call attention to key work and current activities. However, areas of focus and expertise are better displayed in the Member Directory.

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  • January 21, 2022 8:00 AM | Donna Brassard

    You find yourself at the end of your fiscal year with a sales number that’s the same as last year, or worse, lower than the previous year, despite your best efforts.  You may think that outside factors are the reason for your sales stagnation:  the economy, the marketplace, competitors. However, I challenge you to consider inside factors first.

    Remember the old adage: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”  Working harder or for more hours without real results may mean that you are working on the wrong things. Let’s not be crazy.  Let’s be strategic.

    Information drives sales strategy

    To develop a sales strategy, you need information. Take some time to evaluate your revenue streams. Data can tell you a story about your business. How deep an understanding do you have about where your sales come from and how they come to you?  Sure, you can quote the top line, but dig deeper: which revenue “bucket” is growing or static or losing sales? And why.  Which product is most profitable? 

    This analysis can show you that you may need to make changes in pricing and/or or marketing promotion. I’ve seen cases where companies have put the most effort into selling the least profitable product. 

    Know your customers, the market.

    How well do you know your customers and why they do business with you?  How has your relationship and their buying habits changed over the years? And do you know why prospects don’t do business with you?

    What’s your customer churn? Don’t expect that every client will remain a client, or even have the same buying habits every year.  In fact, expect the opposite.  Turnover is a given, so you need to replace lost business before you can grow your top line. Are you replacing 20%, 30%, 50% or more every year? Do you have a clear picture of who your best prospects are, and what may motivate them do business with you?

    Have there been changes in the marketplace?  How are your competitors doing? Are you in a position to act on new opportunities as they become available?  If no, why not?

    Have a well-trained and motivated sales team

    Is your team stuck in their comfort zone?  Are they selling the same products to the same clients and happy with the “rinse and repeat” book of business?

    Does your team understand the value of your products and pricing, or are they addicted to discounting? Do they anticipate price objections before hearing any response from the client?  Are they selling with fear?

    Are your sales people motivated to build a book of business or are they comfortable where they are? Bonuses or more commission as a reward for performance can work, but only if the sales person is motivated by the additional earnings. Often a sales person can become complacent with what they are earning and don’t need to make extra effort to earn more.  It may be time to revamp your compensation plans with your sales team.

    How committed are you to training your sales team? A high-performing sales person needs clear direction and tools to help and motivate them to push themselves beyond the “rinse and repeat” mode.  If you are accountable to them for providing what they need, they will be accountable to you.

    To jump start your sales will require you taking a combination of actions that are informed by the data you collect and the analysis you do on your internal situation. 

    Donna Brassard is owner of Strategies+, a business consulting firm that helps businesses maximize their potential..  Learn more at, and you can reach Donna at

  • December 10, 2021 10:09 AM | Bob LaBrie

    Story telling in selling has been around a long time.  One of the most effective methods of closing a sale is called Similar Situation Closing - which is telling a true story about a previous customer who was in a similar situation as your current prospect.  The goal here is to explain why the previous customer made the decision to invest in your product and why it makes sense for your prospect to do the same thing?

    Example:  Years ago, I was in Life Insurance Business.  One of the frequent objections I would get is, typically, one parent would object adding the children to the policy. 

    There are a number of ways to try and overcome this, but I had one that never failed.  I would tell a story of when I didn't want to add my own kids to my policy but was convinced to add a small amount to guarantee insurability of my kids should they become uninsurable due to illness.  I go on to say Thank God I did that because 4 short years after I took out the policy, I got a phone call from my 21 year old son in Texas telling me that he had a severe backache.  After a couple of trips to the hospital, he was diagnosed with Colon Cancer that had already spread to his other organs, spine and brain.  He had 8 weeks left to live.  Had I not put that small $25,000 life insurance policy on him, I would not have been able to afford to fly his body home for a proper family funeral. 

    I would tell that story and look at the mom and ask her if she ever wanted to be put in that situation? Usually through tears, she would say no and then we would both look at the dad who did not want to add the kids to the policy.  I've never had a dad or mom say no after that story.  

    If your story is compelling and you are able to put the customer in the same situation, you will be surprised how effective Story Closing can be.

    You can also tell a story with a happy ending because someone invested in your product.  

  • November 29, 2021 2:54 PM | Douglas Packard

    Many people dread the networking process. However, if you create a plan — including clarifying your goals — and work hard on being sincere and likable, you are likely to enjoy success and actually come to love networking and its benefits.

    Their viewpoint counts most

    As you begin networking conversations, focus on the other person's perspective. These are the thoughts, in order, that most people will have as they listen to you (even though they don't realize it):

    • Do I like this person?

    • Do they care about me?

    • Can they help me?

    If the person you approach does not like you, or if they sense you do not care about them, they won't consider if what you have to offer might be of value to them. Many networkers fail because they jump to the third step too quickly.

    Plan-Do-Adjust: The 10/80/10 paradigm

    It’s tempting to spend too much time planning without ever jumping into the arena. Others fail to plan or never adjust their approach. I generally recommend the 10/80/10 paradigm: Spend 10% of your networking time on planning, 80% on doing, and 10% on adjusting.

    The “plan phase” includes defining your targets based on a description of your perfect prospect, for which you need to define the common attributes of your best customers. Once you have defined your target, you need to find out where they hang out. This includes the business and personal functions they attend, publications they read and online tools they use. Uncovering this information gives you an idea of where and when you can approach your targets.

    Next, you need to create a compelling “elevator pitch” so that once you establish likability and demonstrate you care, you can effectively communicate how you can help. How well you communicate also impacts how much they like you and whether they think you truly care about them.

    Create a message that's not only understandable, memorable,and unique, but also leaves people wanting to hear more.  You’ll know you’ve succeeded when they start to ask questions, opening the door to go into a bit more detail and, more importantly, to explore their needs.

    For the “do phase,” look for opportunities to give something of value to the people you network with.

    Suggestions for this tactic include asking them to describe their perfect prospect so you can look for referrals for them. You could also suggest helpful resources, tools, books or events.

    And don't forget, the first step is likability. To accomplish this, mirror your target's demeanor and their dress. Other key tactics include arriving early and staying late — when there are fewer people to contend with. Also make sure you get the other person to do most of the talking by preparing interesting questions. Avoid spending the majority of time with people you know; unless they are a target with whom you want to deepen your relationship.

    In the “adjust phase,”  when attending networking events I strongly recommend having a tag-team partner. In addition to enabling possible conversations for each other, you can rely on each other for feedback. Then define when and how to change your approach based on your results and the feedback.

    Start small and find a partner to celebrate success

    Learning to love networking and achieving success can seem overwhelming and will take some time. Be patient with yourself and start with small steps such as creating your elevator pitch, picking one event, trying your approach and recording what you learn.

    A mediocre but well-executed plan usually beats out a great but poorly executed plan as long as you follow the 10/80/10 paradigm: plan, do, adjust and repeat. Also be sure to find a networking partner. In addition to getting candid feedback, you can also celebrate your successes.

  • October 20, 2021 1:13 PM | Carrie Green (Yardley) (Administrator)

    Co-Author:  Terry Johnson

    (This post will be updated as new information becomes available.)

    Keep your eye on these direct grants to private business: 

    Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry:



    Support farms and food processors



    Recovery funds for forest products industry



    Competitive infra-structure grants for seafood processors and dealers



    Department of Economic and Community Development:



    Covid – 19 recovery grants.



    Recovery grants for businesses and entrepreneurs not previously qualified



    FAME loans and guarantees, including rural development projects



    Business assistance programs through FAME for innovative business financing and organizational models (e.g. B-corps, cooperatives and ESOPs)



    Technical assistance for new businesses and entrepreneurs



    Business diversity initiatives



    Matching grants to encourage investment in technology sectors (through the Maine Technology Institute)



    Efficiency Maine Trust



    Energy efficiency matching grants



    Department of Health and Human Services



    Grants for Improvements to child care facilities



    Maine State Housing Authority



    Technical and planning assistance to public and private entities for affordable, energy-efficient housing



    Department of Professional and Financial Regulation



    Assist small businesses providing group health insurance



  • October 19, 2021 11:31 AM | Tom Renehan

    Marketing versus Sales: What is the Difference?

    I’d like to thank my co-authors, ACE members Tom Morgan, of Breakthrough Sales Solutions LLC and Bob LaBrie, of LaBrie Training and Consulting, for their contributions to this post.

    Marketing is company-focused; it communicates your brand identity and message. Sales is customer-focused; when you approach a potential customer you need to convince the customer that his, her or its need can be filled by your unique value proposition.

    Marketing provides critical support for your sales team. Through marketing you promote who you are, make it easy for customers to find you, and measure your reach. Your brand, your message, your website content, and your newsletter are all opportunities to communicate your brand personality, and all of them must appeal to your target audience.

    Your success is not measured in dollars, but in reaction. As you’ve discovered, in the digital world you can measure your audience response down to the click. You can determine whether a marketing campaign or initiative makes an impression. How many people enter their email address into the pop-up page when they look you up on the web? How many later unsubscribe from your email?

    One way or other sales are measured in revenue, or revenue opportunities. A sales process is critical to the success of any organization and always starts with the customer need. To improve your revenues your sales team must understand that need and demonstrate how your product or service can fill it.

    A typical sales process will involve these steps: 

    • 1.       Prospecting for and identifying potential clients
    • 2.       Discovering the prospect’s needs
    • 3.       Offering solutions
    • 4.       Proposing terms and asking for the sale
    • 5.       Negotiating and addressing final objections
    • 6.       Agreeing on terms and plan for the service

    Your marketing research and efforts should be directed toward identifying potential clients. A successful marketing campaign will allow you to identify and qualify specific clients or groups of clients to contact for a meeting.

    In the meeting, your objective is to understand the client’s true needs. The most successful salespeople understand that thorough discovery is well worth their time. They ask questions regarding need, timing, and budget. We recommend preparing questions ahead of time that will allow you to understand the client’s “pain points” and goals, also known as pleasure points.  Once you fully understand the pain and/or goal, you can propose solutions to remove it (pain) or achieve it (goal) in terms that resonate with the client.

    A successful discovery process allows you tailor your proposal to your client’s specific need, and lets the client know that you have a genuine interest in providing a solution. Take care to express your scope of work clearly. Your client should have no difficulty understanding what you will do, and what it will cost.  At this point what you have to offer should be well-established and sets the stage for another meeting with the client to review the proposal, reach final terms, and close the sale.

    In this meeting you will almost certainly hear objections. Often the objection is because the client misunderstood. Don’t freeze! Instead, ask a few simple open-ended questions to get the client to explain the misunderstanding.

    Why open-ended? Because you want the client to open up and tell you what is bothering them. A simple “Can you tell more about what you do not like?” should help you understand what you need to know to overcome the objection. Make sure you answer the client’s concern, first by restating the concern, and then by reframing your explanation of how your product or service can solve their problem.

    The final step in the process is to insure you have agreement on scope of work and payment terms.

    Good luck!

    * * *

    We participated in a panel discussion for ACE on October 15, 2021. The question-and-answer period was particularly lively, so we thought we would take the opportunity to present a few of the key questions and answers here. We will add a link to the video once it is available.

    Q.  Do solo professionals have to sell? I have past sales experience, but as a professional I have trouble selling myself.

    LaBrie:            Everyone needs to sell, but it might help you think of selling as persuasion.  Any time you persuade someone to do something that he hasn’t thought of before, you sell a new idea.

    Morgan:         Selling is fun when you believe in what you are selling and in yourself. We spend too much time talking about “the close” when selling is really a process of finding out what the client needs and catering to the need.

    LaBrie:            You need to believe in yourself, and to be able to explain what people get from working with you.  A professional should always bring integrity and expertise to the table.  You need to convey empathy and build trust.

    Q.  What do you do when the client’s objection is funding?

    Morgan:         This is something you need to address early in discovery.  For most clients funding is never enough, but they still have a problem to solve.  If this is the case it might make sense to move out your time line and learn more about when the client’s financial constraints might ease.

    When a client passes on a proposal they are not necessarily gone forever because they still have a need.  When I send a proposal, I assume that I am sending it to a client.  If a client passes, do not assume they are gone forever. Stay in contact.  Send meaningful articles, congratulatory notes, and other “on purpose communications.”  Keep the door open.

    Renehan:      You should also make sure that the client understands the impact of your services on its bottom line.   My trade association collects data on improved employee retention and productivity resulting from well-honed leadership skills.  In that case the question isn’t whether they can afford to hire you, but whether they can afford not to.

    LaBrie:            Understand the difference between an objection and a condition. Funding is usually an objection and is there to be solved.  A condition, on the other hand, can’t be eliminated. So, for example, an NBA player will never fit into a Toyota Yaris, and there is no point trying to sell him the car. Discovery will help you determine whether you have an objection or a condition and how to proceed from that point.

    Q.  It can be hard to maintain the discipline needed for a sustained sales effort. Do you have any suggestions?

    Morgan:       You need to set up metrics.  I keep track of how many times I reach out to a contact and measure them against specific goals. These “reaches” include any contact – coffee with a referral source, a conversation at a networking meeting, or a thank you note.  Then you can compare your reaches to how many actual client meetings you have, how many proposals you are asked for, and how many completed sales.  These in turn let you evaluate the quality of your contacts so that you can fine-tune your approach.

    LaBrie:         Make every contact count.

  • September 21, 2021 12:03 PM | Karla Doremus-Tranfield

    Successful digital marketing is more than just clicking through options on a Google or Facebook ad campaign and hoping for more sales. It requires a collaborative approach between marketing, data analytics and business teams to set objectives, design campaigns, find and interpret data, and measure results. Digital tools let teams test and iterate rapidly to achieve and maintain messaging that will influence target decision makers. This is the digital marketing advantage!

    Digital tools have shifted the focus of business-to-consumer marketing to resemble the long-term relationship building that characterizes business-to-business (B2B) marketing. McKinsey’s Consumer Decision Journey has evolved the way we think about the traditional sales funnel. It adds a loyalty loop and, as a result, resembles the iterative consensus building and problem solving required of a successful B2B firm.

    As digital tools have matured, it can feel as if they are built for consumer marketers. You may ask why a 100-year-old commodity manufacturer needs to have a Twitter account. Maybe it doesn’t. Your business objectives, not the latest trends in digital technology, should drive your digital marketing presence.

    I asked Joy-El Talbot, a talented data analyst, collaborator, and founder of Iris Data Solutions (, how data influences digital marketing strategies. Joy-El says, “As with traditional marketing, data is the background to all campaigns. There is data about when, what, where, and to whom content goes live. There is data about the impact of the campaign: clicks, hits, conversions. There is data about the business before, during, and after the campaign: product launches, inquiries, sales.”

    Joy-El and I answer some questions, below, that you might have when considering a digital marketing campaign:

    I'm overwhelmed by data - how can I start?

    Start with stories and questions. Tell the story of how your company got to where it is today. Where will it go next? How will we know when we have arrived? What would it take to get there? As you discuss, you will start to identify data you already have and gaps that need to be filled.

    Consider the goal, "We want to increase sales of our custom products." Questions such as which products or industries, by how much, how much we sell now, can all be answered with data. Then it is simply a matter of going down the list to find the sources for each answer - sales reps, accounting systems, delivery schedules, etc.

    I’m no expert – can I just hire a data analyst and see what she comes up with?

    Data analysts work magic with interpreting data and developing visualizations that help solve complex business problems. However, an analyst can only be effective if she understands the business objectives and desired results, which is why collaborating with the marketing strategist and product expert is so important. Effective digital marketing is a team effort.

    The product expert and strategist will determine marketing objectives. For example, if your business objective is to increase revenue, choose a marketing program that builds awareness of your brand. If increased volume is the objective, tailor your campaign to ensure you are a top contender in the consideration set. If you are trying to shift to a higher profit margin customer base, work toward repositioning the brand or growing loyalty.

    I’m not a digital native – how do I pick a platform?

    People purchase from companies (and people) they like and trust. In the B2B world it is imperative to understand the user, technical expert, and buyer. They have unique personalities and rely on different sources of expert information. Choose platforms that your target decision makers use and trust.

    How will I know if my digital marketing campaign is a success?

    The digital marketing team should work with senior management to define what success looks like. Set goals, metrics, and preliminary key performance indicators (KPI’s) that align with the business goals early in the strategy development process. Formulate a hypothesis to help you control the process and to analyze data against objective criteria. As you analyze incoming data against these KPI’s, you will determine if your campaign is achieving the goals or needs further refinement.

    I already have a website - won’t my customers get confused if they receive other digital messages?

    In digital marketing, it is important to contact prospects and customers on a regular basis and in the context of when they make decisions. Creating consistent messaging across all platforms reinforces your brand during the decision-making process. As you proceed through the campaign, make limited adjustments in order to analyze which versions resonate best with your decision makers.

    I’m a product manager not a data scientist – how do I make sense of all this data?

    Here’s where your data analyst shines. She will work with the team to gather, analyze, and organize that data into a meaningful analysis tool. In addition, she will help you mitigate analysis bias that may creep in. Finally, the data analyst will guide you with creative data visualizations that tell the data’s story to decision makers and provide clear recommendations.

    My head is swimming - what is the most important takeaway about digital marketing?

    Iteration, speed, and flexibility are the hallmarks of digital marketing. You don't have to have all the answers at the beginning. Understand where you are, have a general idea of where you are going, and be disciplined to keep checking in with every iteration. Negative insights or ideas that flop are as useful as the ones that make you feel like a marketing genius! Digital marketing is so much more cost effective than tradition marketing that we can afford to take chances, analyze results, then swiftly adjust as needed.

    What’s the bottom line?

    In digital marketing, perfection is the enemy of good enough. Determine objectives, make assumptions, choose meaningful metrics, and go for it! Have the bravery to stick with a plan long enough to gain meaningful information from it. Your data analysis will help you perfect your journey based on actual, rapid results. Prospects and customers will thank you for it!

  • September 08, 2021 2:57 PM | Carrie Green (Yardley) (Administrator)


  • August 22, 2021 6:08 PM | Hillary Lister


    Businesses must be prepared for new regulatory requirements, but it can be difficult to stay up-to-date with constant developments. Change comes from many directions, including municipal ordinances, agency rulemaking, federal and state legislation.

    Maine legislators enacted over 500 bills in 2021, with over 400 new pieces of legislation going in effect this October. Rates of regulatory change reached new levels in response to COVID, with rapid modification of municipal policies, legislation, executive orders and department rules. 

    Preparation is Key

    Business viability increasingly depends on whether one is able to effectively adapt to rapidly evolving regulatory requirements.

    Regulations can determine business practices by restricting scope and scale of operations, locations, distribution, packaging, technology, and marketing, expanding recordkeeping, reporting, employment, or licensing standards, mandating updated health and safety practices, and creating penalties for failure to comply with new requirements.

    Uncertainty resulting from rapid change has created significant challenges for small businesses and organizations seeking to maintain balance in constantly shifting regulatory terrain. 

    The first notice many businesses receive of regulatory change comes upon renewing a state or municipal license, with  updated applications listing new reporting requirements, fees, or limitations on operations. With deadlines to meet and little advance planning, businesses must rush when determining how to maintain day-to-day operations. It can take many months to implement changes necessary to maintain compliance.

    Understand Media Limitations

    An increasing number of business owners depend on social media for information on regulatory changes. The telephone-game effect of social media communications can promote a collective misunderstanding of how law-making processes work and of how regulations are implemented. Important details of policy changes are lost in one-line postings.

    Social media portrayals of 2018 federal legislation to revise the classification of hemp drove a gold-rush mentality that resulted in thousands of people investing in large-scale hemp and CBD-production and processing businesses. Most of the new businesses became untenable within a year due to restrictions on the marketing, licensing, and distribution, resulting from federal and state agency rule-making. These mistakes could have been avoided if professional guidance had been obtained prior to making costly business decisions.

    Newspapers, radio, and tv are similarly limited in their ability to provide comprehensive information on regulatory changes. Unless there is an organization with a PR budget promoting or opposing a specific policy change, legislation and rulemaking are rarely featured in mainstream news. Hundreds of regulatory changes each year are adopted while receiving no media coverage, though industry-specific news sources can provide more in-depth coverage of policy changes. 

    Monitor Regulatory Processes

    Business owners are responsible for staying up-to-date on regulations impacting their operations. Monitoring policy developments affecting your business is key to being prepared.

    Most legislative committees and State agencies maintain email lists for interested parties. It is worthwhile to subscribe to lists of committees and agencies developing policies that may impact your business. Department websites (DACF, DAFS, DEP, DOT, DHHS, OSHA, DOE, EPA, FDA, etc.) provide information on agency rule-making processes, though finding specific information can take significant digging and frequent monitoring of the sites for updates. Maine legislativecommittee and agency rulemaking calendars and mailing-lists can be found at

    Think Local

    Municipal ordinance changes can impact day-to-day operations of a business at least as much as federal and state policy revisions. Monitoring calendars and websites of any localities where you are operating can help you stay informed of hearings, committee meetings, and ordinances, though accessibility and timeliness of posted content varies between municipalities.

    Participate in Professional Associations

    Many professional and industry associations provide advocacy on legislation and rulemaking impacting members and valuable updates through newsletters, networking, and workshops. By joining and participating, you can draw organizational attention to concerns about proposed regulations impacting your business that may otherwise go unnoticed.

    Obtain Guidance

    While most large businesses invest in regulatory compliance services and expertise necessary to keep up with evolving government policies, many small businesses are unprepared for new regulatory requirements. The cost of attempting to comply at the last minute with unexpected regulations can be significantly more than the cost of obtaining professional guidance prior to making major business decisions.

    The work necessary to be prepared for regulatory change is time-consuming, but essential for long-term business viability. A regulatory compliance expert knowledgable in local, state, and federal regulatory structures can review current business practices and help you develop a plan to successfully adapt to changing regulations.

    About the Author

    Hillary Lister is a solo practitioner providing professional guidance for small businesses and organizations seeking to effectively navigate Maine's changing regulatory landscape.

    Hillary can be reached at

  • August 09, 2021 4:06 PM | Tove Rasmussen

    To be released soon.

  • July 26, 2021 4:45 PM | Lisa Whited

    Times have changed.  

    Since COVID-19 caused a mass exodus from offices in March 2020, 47% of employees who have been working from home would rather quit than go back to the office full time. However, many employers want their people back in the office – and many bosses want them there five days a week. In what could be a rude awakening for company leaders, 94% of employees say they would like to work remotely 1 to 4 days a week.

    Employees’ resistance to returning to the office is not surprising. People proved that they could be productive while working remotely; money is no longer the only compensation employees expect from employers. They want choice of when and where to work.

    And there are good reasons to change with the times.

    Employees experienced improved productivity while working from home. Prior to the lockdown, primary complaints about the office were 1) noise, 2) constant interruptions and 3) no quiet places to focus to escape distractions. Working from home gave people the peaceful, productive spaces they craved. Of course, not all home working situations are equal – home-schooling parents and employees with roommates did not have quite the same experience.

    Approximately 40% of jobs can be accomplished remotely at least some of the time. Leesman, an organization which measures workspace performance globally, has one of the largest databases on workplace effectiveness and workspace performance. Leesman has data showing that employees ranked their productivity while working at home at 83% whereas they ranked productivity while working in an office at 64% (pre-Covid).

    Most employees indicate they want to spend some time in the shared office – socializing, collaborating, and connecting with colleagues. They believe that the office can better support activities that require learning and brainstorming. The results of a recent client survey showed that 60% of respondents would use the shared office for collaboration and 72% would use their home office for heads-down work. When in the office, 53% indicated they also needed places to focus and do independent work.

    Bricks and mortar aren't all they are cracked up to be.

    Here are some known facts about office space:

    • Before COVID-19 workstations and desks were empty 40% to 60% of the time.
    • Private offices were empty 73% of the time.
    • Commercial buildings contribute 39% to carbon emissions.

    Office spaces are often vacant because many of the tasks performed by knowledge workers allow people to be mobile – they are in meetings, off site with clients, sitting in spaces with colleagues talking and brainstorming, or sitting in a quiet area (when they found one!) using their laptop. Employees no longer need to be tethered to one place in an office and they often welcomed that ability to roam. Employees were instinctively finding their own means of escape, not from work, but from working conditions.

    A possible solution: shared space.

    What do new work habits and empty spaces mean for the role of the office in the future? If employees can embrace the idea of sharing workspaces with other people, then there is a world of possibilities for businesses. Let’s pause right here – because this one idea of sharing desks often opens a tsunami of objections.

    We share many things in our day-to-day lives. We share bus, train, and plane seats. We share library books, church pews, restaurant tables and shopping carts. In our homes if we live with others, we share kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms. In our offices we share meeting rooms, lunchrooms, and restrooms. There are four things we never share: our toothbrush, our bed pillow, our cellphone, and our desk.

    Once we recognize that we do not need to have a workstation assigned to us, and if we are provided a variety of spaces to choose to work from (including private focus rooms in the office, window seats, sit/stand desks, library zones, lounge areas, and home offices) then we can reimagine a workplace that has a smaller footprint, and allows us to better connect and collaborate with colleagues.

    Having a desk assigned to you in 2021 is not sustainable. It is as crazy as expecting the supermarket to provide you a shopping cart with your name on it for your use only. I hear the cries of, “What about the photos of my family?” and “I want to personalize my surroundings!”

    Your family and friends matter, of course, but how about putting their photos on your screensaver? You want to express your personality? Awesome – create a personality wall that includes images and information about all of your coworkers in a space where more can view it (this expression can be physical, and it can be digital).

    We know that 80% of people worldwide are not engaged in their work (Gallup Poll). Research shows that connection to purpose is an intrinsic human motivator. It may not be glaringly apparent where you are employed, but you are part of a company that is working hard to make a difference for others. The vision and mission of the organization that you are devoting your waking hours to should inspire you and make you feel like you are contributing to that goal. This is why installing story walls in an office is such a great way to provide a visual reminder for anyone in the space. Story walls are not “brag” walls to attract clients and customers; they are creative expressions of how the company is making a difference with its work – illustrating the organizational values and purpose – and exist solely to inspire employees.

    Less space translates to lower cost and a smaller carbon footprint.

    Remote work can result in significant overhead savings for businesses. A global insurance company recently determined that it could save 82% of its real estate expense by embracing hybrid work and downsizing its real estate portfolio. As commercial buildings contribute so much to carbon emissions, both in their construction and in their operation, using less space can also be good for the planet.

    Imagine this: an office that is beautiful, one-half to two-thirds the size of its previous version, and where people leave the space at the end of the day feeling more energized and engaged than when they arrived. Envision a business that exceeds profitability projections, has its highest retention and engagement numbers, and contributes to achieving a net zero outcome.

    That stuffed bear collection on your office bookcase? Sorry, that needs to go. Not only is it collecting dust, but wouldn’t a little kid somewhere in the world benefit from having a lovable stuffy?

    Rethinking the purpose of the office can engage employees, build community, and improve your bottom line. Now is the time to create the world of work that is better for the planet and great for people.

    #   #   #

    Lisa Whited is founder and chief transformation officer of Workplace Transformation Facilitation based in Portland, Maine. She is also a senior associate for Advanced Workplace Associates, a global workplace change management consultancy, based in the UK. Lisa’s first book, “Work Better. Save the Planet will be published in the summer of 2021.

    Find links to Lisa’s presentationsBuild Community and Drive Innovation with Remote Work” (Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce Growth Basics for Business, June 2020). “Is the Hybrid Work Model a Sustainable Model?” (WorkInSync, July 2021).   Check back for a link to her ACE presentation last month.

    Lisa will participate in a panel on The Modern Workplace August 25, 2021 at the MaineBiz Small Business Forum.

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