Unassigned desks and new trends in company offices

white collar workers

The world is changing as more workers prefer to be mobile, and companies are adjusting by radically changing the layout of office workplaces.

More companies are shedding square feet by shifting workers into unassigned desks. Being untethered suits increasingly mobile employees, but it can be a hard sell for people who feel like they’re losing status or privacy. For employers, the rationale is simple: saving money, attracting young employees and popping personal bubbles to push collaboration.

Nowhere is that more evident than the Ernst & Young Tower in downtown Cleveland, the city’s first new multitenant high-rise building since 1991.

Accounting firm Ernst & Young, which moved into the tower last month, placed more than 60 percent of its employees into a “hoteling” pool — a group that flits in and out of the office and uses an online system to reserve desks. Even the partners share offices.

The cost savings and improved flexibility are huge advantages with this movement, though it will be interesting to see over time how these changes affect worker productivity, recruiting and retention. One aspect that seems cool is the ability to reserve spots electronically. This can also apply to premium conference rooms, or just hanging out and using the room when it isn’t reserved for specific business.

Shale gas boom’s ripple effects on job market

natural gas fracking

If you’ve been paying attention, you’re aware that fracking has led to a domestic boom in the production of oil and gas, including places like North Dakota and Bakken shale formation. Naturally, this trend has created a number of jobs directly related to the oil and gas industry, but as populations explode in places like North Dakota with these workers, we’re naturally see a significant ripple effect as services are needed for these new workers. This goes far beyond just creating housing and other services. The economic ripple effect is great news for the American economy.

An example would be a company like Safety Oil Services, which is focused on helping “safeguard the wellbeing of employees and the natural environment within the high-growth sectors of oil and gas-related services, including drilling and fracking.” This is one of many companies that provides necessary services to this growing industry.

Also, the demand for workers goes well beyond those directly employed by the oil and gas companies and companies that service them. BusinessWeek has an interesting article on how the shale gas boom is bringing opportunities for women as well.

While men dominate North Dakota’s shale-oil industry, women in the region are starting complementary service businesses ranging from oil-well geology to occupational testing to day-care and medical clinics. “There are great opportunities for women,” says Kathy Neset, 57, president of Neset Consulting Service. “Whatever skill you have, we need it in western North Dakota.” Neset and her husband founded the geological services company in 1980 in Tioga, which is in the northwest part of the state. More than one-fifth of its 180 employees are women. Neset regularly gives presentations at elementary and middle schools in the upper Midwest, encouraging girls to pursue careers as geologists, where salaries range from $80,000 to $140,000 a year.

Naturally, this is having an impact on wages as well. Read the entire article for a great snapshot on how these job opportunities are expanding for everyone.

If you’re in a rut on your job search and you’re open to relocation, start researching the areas of the country that are booming due to the fracking boom. You don’t have to be an oil engineer or rig worker to find work!

Construction jobs going unfilled

pretty house in suberbs

The numbers for new home construction have been steadily getting better, and that has been having positive effects on the job market. But this article explains how many construction jobs are going unfilled as contractors are having a tough time finding qualified workers, particularly in markets that got hit hard in the housing crisis.

This presents excellent opportunities for unemployed workers will to do this type of work. You have to be a self-starter and be willing to learn new skills like dry wall installation, but the jobs are out there.

Colleges are losing pricing power

After years of relentless tuition hikes, many colleges and universities are facing a backlash and more students and parents are looking at value. They don’t want to be stuck with outrageous student loans, and now many private colleges are offering record financial aid to keep classrooms full.

Jobless rate falls

Stocks jumped on this news as the report was expected to be bad. Again, the Labor Deportment made significant upward revisions to reports from previous months.

Overall the unemployment rate is at a 4-year low of 7.5%. Of course there’s a long way to go but at least we’re making some steady progress.

MOOC offerings continue to expand

The trend continues. The old college model continues to be threatened by the new trend of self-education where people all over the world can take advantage of incredible college courses that are free to everyone online. Here’s info on new courses from Case Western:

More than 80,000 people from around the world have signed up for Case Western Reserve University’s first free online courses – and there is still time to register.

The noncredit courses start Wednesday through Coursera, a company that provides an online platform to dozens of colleges for MOOCs, massive open online courses. It is CWRU’s first venture into MOOCs, which have exploded in popularity since Stanford University offered the first one in 2011.

As of Monday afternoon, over 65,000 had registered for a six-week CWRU course, Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence, taught by Richard Boyatzis of the CWRU Weatherhead School of Management. The nationally known professor of organizational behavior plans to teach about how emotional intelligence can complement analytic tasks as well as invoke curiosity and openness in students’ lives.

Check out the entire article if this course interest you.

Interested in a career in business development?

If you think you might be interested in a business development career, or if you’re not sure what a business development professional does, check out this article for an excellent overview about this potential career path. Topics discussed include how to prepare for such a career, including how an MBA or a JD degree can be very helpful. Bus dev guys put deals together, and knowing how deals are structured is essential. You can learn quite a bit by getting an MBA or JD, but frankly hands on experience doing deals is the most important factor.

Things to know when self-publishing a book

Here’s an excellent article from CNET on the 25 things you should know if you’re considering self-publishing a book.

Here’s one of the great tidbits of advice:

22. Design your book cover to look good small.

Traditional book publishers design — or at least they used to design — a book cover to make a book stand out in a bookstore and evoke whatever sentiment it was supposed to evoke. Well, with Amazon becoming a dominant bookseller, your book has to stand out as a thumbnail image online because that’s how most people are going to come across it. If you’re primarily selling through Amazon, think small and work your way up.

Check out the entire list before you start down the road and make too many mistakes, and follow our eBook thread.

Are you an ideal employee?

It’s a fair question, whether you’re looking for a job or you’re settled in with a job.

This articles describes 15 traits of the ideal employee. It’s a great list for prospective employers as they evaluate job candidates, but it’s also a great checklist for those of us looking for a job. What can we do to add more value to our company? Here are the first two items on the list:

1. Action-oriented – Hire employees who take action and take chances. While chances may lead to failure, they will more often lead to success and mold confidence while generating new ideas. Stagnant employees won’t make your company money; action-oriented employees will.

2. Intelligent – Intelligence is not the only thing, but it’s a strong foundation for success. While there are many variables you can be flexible on when hiring, intelligence is a must or you’re going to be spending an abundance of time proofing work, micromanaging and dealing with heightened stress levels.

The term “problem solver” isn’t on this list, though many of the attributes point to this quality. It’s important to be able to identify problems, but the best employees will help you solve them and also take the initiative where appropriate.

As you look for a new job and prepare for interviews, keep this list in mind.

eBook publishing tips

The eBook explosion offers real opportunity for aspiring writers who want to take control of their own writing career. There are tons of articles out there explaining how to self-publish and how to use tools like Amazon.com.

This is probably the best article I’ve found so far on this topic. It covers everything from the process of getting a book published to tips on the writing process itself. Topics like choosing a niche and a title along with how to handle things like the cover page and your summary description are also addressed.