Friday, July 30, 2010

Hub Day: Social Media and The Hub

We think we're a pretty social office. Heck, we like each other: We go to Center City Sips together; we celebrate our successes and our mis-steps together; we play and we work hard together.
But the social media thing was a whole new quandary. We thought to ourselves, Gosh. We're already social. Do we really need to embark on social media?

Our office social committee is all of us, and we have better ideas than this.
(Webcomic via Shane Johnson.)

And then someone told us that being involved in social media was like having 500 sales calls all at once, and that made us think about it again.

See, here's the thing. For us, it's not the idea of boosting sales that got us into this social media game in the first place. And it's not the idea of having the most friends, or whatever, on Facebook. Honestly, it had mostly to do with the fact that we wanted really good, meaningful interactions with everyone who could potentially mean something to us.

We wanted an exchange of ideas. We wanted them to know what we knew, and we wanted to learn what they know about their businesses. There are meeting planning groups all over the nation. We were dying to find out how they plan meetings in Australia. We wanted to know if they were as serious about green in British meetings as we are at The Hub. We wanted to know how Japanese meeting planners think, and what people learned at MPI conferences that are too far away for us to get to.

We want to share our clients' successes. You don't always get to yell about the cool things your clients are doing. Social media--and we mean everything from the web 1.0-world of blogs and egroups to the current world of Gowalla and 4sq--lets your clients, past, current, and potential, know that you are proud of having them on your list.

We wanted our voice to be heard. Social media isn't the company newsletter, that carefully planned and worded medium of yesteryear. Social media gives your company a voice, an identity beyond its stock symbol and logo. We happen to think our employees are fun and frisky, so our voice is a little uppity. Sometimes weird things happen on our Twitter feed, but that's directly because sometimes weird things happen in our office. That's OK. It's real life at The Hub offices.

We want to have lots of conversations, with lots of people. That's it, really. Social media lets us do that. Why are you using social media in your business interactions?

Don't forget to come on over to our page and fan us on Facebook. We know, we said we didn't care how many friends we had, but it's nice to be liked.

Monday, July 26, 2010

EcoMonday: EnergyStar, demystified

You hear it bandied about all the time: "Get an Energy Star appliance, it'll help." But what does that mean? Is it just a case of green-washing, another gimmick for companies to push more goods under the guise of environmentalism?

Is this an Energy Star Appliance? If so, what does that mean? Read on to find out more.

Well, Energy Star really does exist. It's backed by the U.S. Government and by the EPA, and serves as an international standard for energy-efficient appliances. It was created in 1992, under the Clinton administration, and originally was meant to just cover computers. Since then, though, it's been expanded (we're now in Energy Star version 5.0 for computers, by the way), and now the guidelines comprise everything from refrigerators to windows and doors, which can contribute to energy loss by not sealing efficiently, or letting in too much heat or cold.
Really quickly, here's some information about what that means for your office:
  • Energy Star retrofitted and built-to-specification vending machines can save 50% more energy than models that haven't been built to Energy Star standards.
  • Energy Star water coolers can save up to 45% more energy than standard units.
  • Energy Star computers use between 30 and 60% less energy than non-Energy Star units.

You can also apply to be an Energy Star office (The Hub is LEED Silver certified, which we believe encompasses a larger set of standards, but Energy Star is a great place to start. Energy Star building information can be found here.)

At The Hub, everything from our servers to our dishwasher has the Energy Star stamp of approval on it. We don't purchase appliances that don't carry some kind of efficiency standard. And, because of the recent March controversy over Energy Star, during which 10 of 15 bogus items were passed through Energy Star standards, we try to do a little back-checking, using the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy web site as a backstop.

Heck, a little research never hurt anyone, and we'll do it in the name of fiscal and environmental responsibility.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hub Day: Meet Bill

On a recent day, Bill Decker, The Hub's President, was not in one of our facilities, but near them, taking some time to watch the World Cup with one of our staff in a local cafe. It can't be said that the man isn't diligent: As one of The Hub's founders, Bill has watched over the growth of The Hub from one facility to three in barely as many years, and is instrumental in keeping our staff happy.
Bill looks content. Read on to find out what's behind the Mona-Lisa smile.

Yes, that's right. Decker's title might as well be Chief Satisfaction Coordinator, and his insistence on watching the world's premiere sporting event is a key indicator of the way he runs the office: He runs it by paying close attention to his staff, all the better to figure out What Drives People.

One of the many things that interest our President is stewardship of the environment. Last year he engineered a cleanup of Philadelphia's Fairmount Park.

So what drives Bill Decker? Bill has a propensity for surfing. He loves community service and was elected to president of his Rotary Club for this year, only to pass the mantle onto someone else after he was elected to chairman of the board of directors for the international disaster-relief group ShelterBox. He's also an in-field volunteer for the same group.
What does it all mean? Just that Bill is a man of many different interests. (He minored in Russian during his undergraduate years and, worked in pharmaceuticals and energy while he was in business school.)
It also means that Bill wouldn't expect his employees to be one-dimensional people, either. From sales staff to operations staff to the environmental edict of The Hub, he's well aware that a well-rounded perspective is the best one to have.
All of which makes it not only okay to watch the World Cup in the middle of the day so long as you're on track with your work, because when the president asks you what you're going to do after work, or with your weekends, the answer had better be something interesting.

Monday, July 19, 2010

EcoMonday: Flor-ing it to a greener workspace

We've already told you a little bit about some of the steps that we take to make our workspace more sustainable. Turns out, one of the biggest answers is right under our feet.

Pop quiz: Which one of the items in the this photo contributes most to our sense of CSR? It's not what you think.

We use Flor carpeting in our facilities, and we'd like to tell you why: We do it because Flor not only looks great, it's also part of one of the most forward-thinking sustainability movements around. While some major corporations are just now getting behind corporate social responsibility, Flor's parent company, Interface Global, has been doing it for over a decade now, starting with CEO Ray Anderson's (pictured below) 1994 promise to take nothing from the planet that can't be replaced by the planet.

Photo via Interface

That sounds pretty lofty, and the goal that Anderson has set for Interface matches that expectations: Anderson wants Interface to be a zero-impact company by the year 2020. (In March of this year, the company launched a year-long metrics measuring program, so it could better gauge how it's doing in its quest. You can read those results here.)

Okay. Now you know a little bit more about Interface, and why we chose Flor. But realistically, what does that mean for a sustainable office? It all breaks down to the steps that Flor's taken.
  • Work with the best: Flor only works with sources that share its vision of sustainability. To that end, it also is constantly on the lookout for new materials that will break down, or recycle into new carpet tiles.
  • Reduce, reuse, renew: Flor's manufacturing system is tight. There's very little waste. All Flor tiles can be returned to Flor for breakdown into new carpet tiles. Its modular system (you buy batches of Flor tiles to make up a wall-to-wall carpet, or a rug) means that if you spill something on a tile, you just replace that one section of the carpet or rug.
  • Closed-loop sustainability: From beginning to end, the entire Interface company works to reduce its impact. Everything is as locally sourced as possible, and employees even participate in sponsoring the planting of nearly 100,000 trees in order to offset the carbon footprint of things like air travel and commuting.
We like what we see at Flor, and we think it's a pretty good model to use. In the end, what it says to us is that the most quotidian of things can be sustainable, and that sustainability can be a great business model.

Interface's project is called Mission to Zero, and you can take a look around at its drive to get consumers to participate here. For more on sourcing low-VOC carpet, you can visit the Carpet and Rug Institute here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hub Day: Meds and Eds

We love our city. Philadelphia is architecturally gorgeous, has beautiful green spaces, terrific eateries, and flat-out amazing history.
But there's even more to it than just what meets the eye: It's by far the most impressive gathering place for folks in both the medical and academic professions.
One organization, the Meds and Eds Alliance, is giving back to our great city by paying direct attention to the workers who make up the two largest industries in Philadelphia. "We have 92 colleges and universities in the greater Philadelphia area," said Kate Bay, Director of Member Services for the Meds and Eds Alliance, "and 75% of the world's pharmaceuticals are manufactured within a 50-mile radius of here."
The alliance is one of The Hub's newest clients, and their mission to establish a strong membership organization for the workers who make up so much of what Philadelphia's about is going strong.
Members of the group, who must all be professionals in academia or medicine, can learn from each other and from the resources and events the alliance gathers and creates for them. It's the first support network of its type.

Bay says that its best asset is its members. "No generalists are allowed to join," she said, "and all of the events are driven by members. They're living in this world every day, so it makes sense for them to be creating the content of the events."
So how exactly do the arguably different worlds of academia and medicine meshing? The question's a moot one, since both academics and medical practitioners are constantly learning. And the Meds and Eds Alliance will ensure that both fields are tied together with one simple step. "The moderators for each event are college professors," Bay said. "They're speaking to highly educated audiences. Professors are educated enough to drive discussion, and eloquent, and they know which questions to ask."
So what's on deck for Meds and Eds? A meet-and-greet happy hour for nurses August 11 is a good example of one way the alliance brings professionals together. And Meds and Eds will be making a concerted push to address the needs of health information management professionals, too. The alliance is also establishing a foundation that will aim to provide scholarships for those in the medical and academic professions; the first scholarship will be announced for 2012.
And as part of its ongoing effort to shore up both professions, Meds and Eds is planning on a mentorship program that will help young medical practitioners and academics to navigate their professions.
The Alliance's ongoing relationship with The Hub means that it will always have a good place to hold its events, whether they're continuing-education classes or social mixers, in any of the three Hub's three conveniently located centers.
"The idea is to go nationwide," said Bay. We can easily see cities all over the country getting behind this effort.
We're happy and proud to work with Meds and Eds. What better gift than academic brotherhood to give the city of brotherly love?
Click here to learn how to join the Meds and Eds Alliance.

Monday, July 12, 2010

EcoMonday: The facts about paper

Paper recycling and conservation has been around for so long that most people and offices do it just out of habit. In fact, we did a small survey around The Hub's twoffice, and we discovered that the most common answer people gave when asked why they recycle paper or conserve it, was a quick shrug of the shoulders and an easy, "I'm saving trees!"

That's nice. It really, really is. But the average office worker uses something like 10,000 sheets of copy paper alone per year,* so we'd like to think that keeping all that paper out of the stream might be doing more than just saving trees. There are a few more benefits to recycling or saving paper, some of which stem from the act of saving trees, some of which don't. Let's take a look.

1. Paper has many lives
Recycled paper doesn't just end up being made into post-consumer recycled office paper. In fact, the more paper gets recycled, the shorter its fibers get. At the end of its life span, paper fibers might be not be long enough to be suitable for office use, but shorter fibers are suitable to make everything from egg cartons to newsprint.

After recycled paper becomes egg cartons, we've seen them repurposed yet again. Image via Craft Elf.

2. The carbon cycle
Saving trees comes a flip side: Although many forestry companies say they plant trees to make up for the ones they've cut down, they're neglecting one critical part of the equation: Each tree that's cut down releases carbon dioxide back into the air through the natural process of decomposition. So if we can reuse paper that's already out there, we can prevent more carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

3. Quite simply, a more cost-efficient office
In many cases, we use our shredded documents as packing materials instead of purchasing packing peanuts or bubble-wrap. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it does add up.

It's not quite like this, but you get the idea. (Photo:

4. Saving Landfill Space
Paper takes up quite a bit of landfill space. Imagine 4 million tons of office paper. That's what the EPA says we use on average in American offices each year. That's a lot of land area. And since paper takes about a month to break down in a natural, aerated environment, you can imagine how long it'll take to break down in a non-aerated landfill surrounded by other garbage.

For all these reasons and more, we recycle and try to keep virgin paper out of our office. We're curious: What other items do you recycle in your offices?

*Source: EPA Recycling Paper FAQ.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hub Day: Meet Danarita

Our staff is so fabulous, we want everyone to get to know them. From time to time, we'll post staff profiles, so check in every once awhile and meet us.
Today we'd like you to meet once of our sales associates, Dana.

Dana is a Philly-area native, and a graduate of Temple University. It's her job to make sure that our clients, prospective and past, have everything they need to keep coming back to The Hub.
Her experience (she'll be with us for three years this coming August) and her personal passions make her perfect for what we need.
Right around the time we were opening, Dana took a class in meetings, and boy, are we glad she did.
We knew immediately we wanted her for our team. But how did we know that? After all, this is a girl who, in her spare time, dabbles in retail by helping out her friend Kristyn Rudnet at Philadelphia boutique Shimmer and Spice, and also helps out a wedding planner on the weekends.
The answer is simple. We knew because we wanted someone with such varied interests to work for our clients. We wanted someone who could think outside the box and regularly deliver great value in line with our company ethos of sustainability and quality.
This is a cardboard box. Dana's thoughts are never found here.

So we hired her on full-time after her stint as an intern, and we're happy we did. We asked Dana recently what her favorite part of working here is. She only had to think a little bit before she answered. "The fun clients. I really like it when we work with someone for a long period of time," she said. "It just gives you the feeling that they’re really happy with what we’re providing to them."
Dana has another favorite part of working here. She says she loves the challenge for finding solutions that work for our clients. "In this economic climate, it can be a struggle to stay profitable and make sure our value comes through,' she said. "All the time, we'll be on the phone to STARR Restaurants, our caterer, seeing what creative ways we can work in to satisfy both ends of the equation."
Dana's creativity and her willingness to explore different options have helped us to add even more value to our packages in ways you might not expect. Our superfoods shelf, crammed full of dark chocolate, fresh fruit, seeds and nuts, is proof positive of that, and so is the Wii station that we have set up at our Cira Centre location.

But all that is fodder for another post.
For now, we're happy you got to meet Dana, and we can't wait to see what other great ideas she's got up her sleeve to share with our clients.
Follow Dana on Twitter here, and check out the boutique she's been helping out with at Yelp here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

EcoMonday: What's a VOC?

You know that VOCs are bad for you. You might even know that VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound. And you might even have worked your way past the fact that "organic" typically means something good, but that VOCs are to be avoided. So why are they bad for you, and how can you best avoid them?

Even charts that attempt to describe VOCs graphically can be confusing. Read on to find out more about VOCs.

VOCs aren't anything new. Speaking in broad terms of everyday household items, a VOC is anything that changes into gaseous form as you use it, after which it combines with other gases to contribute to ozone.
Not good, right?
Although you can't really avoid VOCs like methane, you can easily ensure that VOCs have a minimal place in your indoor spaces (The EPA estimates that indoor air quality is often five times worse than outdoor air quality, for obvious reasons: air comes into your home, but unless you've got a constant open-door, open-window policy, it doesn't always make its way out.)
At the Hub, we used low-VOC paints (water-based), and also rely on standards like those from Design for the Environment to ensure that our cleaning products are low-VOC. Our carpets and furniture are also low-VOC. We've also taken a hard look at the Green Seal to help us to hunt down cleaning and household items that allow us to be as ecologically sensitive as possible.

(Yes, it's true. Carpets and furniture, which end up making use of sealants, laminates, or adhesives, can carry a dangerously large amount of VOCs.)
Practically speaking, VOCs may not have short-term effects, although we know a girl who gets woozy at the smell of VOC paint and particle- and press-board. But studies have shown that career painters are susceptible to cancers that can be traced directly back to VOCs.
We buy low-VOC for many reasons, but the health of our employees and clients is top of the list. What types of measures do you take in your office for your employee and client health?
Find a full list of Design for the Environment-certified products here. And Home Depot's Eco Options program is a good source for hunting down low- or no-VOC paints.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Why you should leave your office

We don't mean that you should up and quit. We just think you might need a change of pace. A change of scenery, really.
Consider the traditional staff retreat. Why do companies have them? They say an off-campus retreat can build staff morale; encourage truer interactions between staff members; give everyone a little break.
We believe that. Heck, we're in the business of providing a change of scenery. Consider the following:
  • Your everyday office is familiar to you. And that's nice, but it can also be boring. Hardly inspiring, staring at the same old walls every day.
  • Your everyday office has a ton of distractions in it: Your office mates; your telephone; your inbox.
  • Planning a meeting in your office is a lot like hosting a party. There are ton of unrelated things you have to consider, often in short time-frame.
Our solution is pretty obvious.
  • Leave the office. Come stare at some of someone else's art, or at least at someone else's walls instead of yours.
  • Leave the distractions. Work alone or have an off-site meeting (a mini staff retreat!).
  • Don't work at all: Plan a day at home; take a day to rejuvenate. They're called "personal days" for a reason. Use them.
  • Let someone else do the planning for you.
Taking yourself out of your normal environs can have a remarkable effect. Just try it; we promise you'll at least feel different, and that's worth a lot.

What's that? You say you simply must have meetings in the office? In that case, we highly recommend you take a look at this great post, from BlackRimGlasses, on how to avoid what he calls The Vampire Meeting. Yes, yes, named so because they suck the creative life out of you.

Do your meetings feel like they siphon the lifeblood from you? Maybe it's time for another way.

When you book a meeting or a room at The Hub, we provide all-inclusive options that include meals or refreshments. And hey. Did we mention that most of our rooms are designed for you to make the most of them? Did we mention that our staff is expertly trained to ensure that we deliver what you need to make yours the most productive meeting possible? Come take a look.