Posts by Suite Spotte

Face of coworking


As Google moves out, coworking giant WeWork is moving into the River North space in Chicago. The 105,000 square foot building at 20 W. Kinzie St. will be the new home for the WeWork team. This $5 billion company, as it was valued in December, will make history in Chicago. According to Skokie-based Alter Group, which owns the 17-story office building, it’s the largest deal by a coworking firm ever in Chicago. What does this monumental deal mean for the world of coworking in the Chicago area and beyond?


Coworking awareness

The old way of working was based on face-time. The level of productivity was determined by the amount of time spent at your desk. This is no longer the case: telecommuting and coworking allow workers a great flexibility in when and where they choose to work.

Having such a high-profile deal really puts the spotlight on coworking not only in Chicago, but across the nation from New York to San Francisco. As a result of this deal, more people will be introduced to the concept of coworking than ever before.

Currently, coworking is a solution mostly employed by solopreneurs and small businesses. However, with WeWork’s presence in many big cities, more national companies may be able to appreciate what coworking has to offer. This is a significant step for the coworking industry.


Coworking opportunities

Coworking spaces bring many benefits to those that take advantage of them including: WiFi, printing, meeting spaces and common areas. These amenities allow others to work as if they were in an actual office without the time and location restraints.

Coworking also promotes the exchange of ideas through networking. Opportunities like these are difficult to come by in a traditional office setting, where people are often stuck at their desks for a good majority of the day, without much interaction with colleagues and management.

This great surge in coworking awareness will undoubtedly lead to more spaces opening (such as Suite Spotte) and more opportunities for people to reap the benefits that coworking has to offer.  Through the events offered by the coworking space and the potential for networking, coworking presents more opportunities for business growth than a home office or traditional office space.


This deal with Alter Group will create a new coworking awareness among all companies, both small and national. It will allow a generation of new economic opportunities in Chicago, and foster subsequent new coworking opportunities across the nation.

If you are ready to see if coworking might be for you, try Suite Spotte just for the summer with our Summer Camp!

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Collaborative Tools(1)


Collaboration (or “collab” as we call it here at Suite Spotte) is where true magic happens.  People with different talents and different perspectives seek a common goal, which happens often in a coworking space. The collaborative whole is much better than each of its respective parts because each person contributes to the group like a jigsaw puzzle – each individual is incredibly integral to the sum of its parts.

When you have a team of people that works remotely, communication can often become an obstacle. As small business technology focuses on more entrepreneurial problems, it has acknowledged this and responded with tools that help break down the barriers to communication between team members and facilitate team growth.

Here are a few collaboration tools that we love:


Project Management Tools



Founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-engineer Justin Rosenstein, Asana enables teamwork without email. Each team gets a workspace, which contains projects, and projects contain tasks.

Tasks can include notes, comments, attachments and tags. Users can follow tasks and get project updates to their inboxes. The application is free for up to 15 people with endless amounts of tasks. Premium plans exist for larger organizations.





Trello is a free system that uses a webpage format called a “board” to create lists for your project. The lists are broken up into cards that can be dragged between lists.

The cards can have pictures, files, hyperlinks and checklists. You can color-code cards for better organization. The progress meter lets you keep real-time track of your project’s progress. It’s a really great tool for visual people with its drag-and-drop style.




Chat Tools



Slack is like a project management and chat tool all in one. Separate your chats by projects or by people. You can name rooms for various clients or functions within your company. Slack eliminates the need for email with the ability to attach documents right within the interface.





Employees can use this platform via web, desktop or mobile to chat with their colleagues, share documents and set statuses. Because it’s now owned by Microsoft, you can even integrate it with SharePoint.




Cloud Storage Tools



Dropbox is a must have for every business owner.  Store and share articles, videos and more from any device, from anywhere.  You can share your folders with an unlimited number of people, and that folder will show up in that person’s folder list. Best of all, Dropbox is free initially, with higher storage plans starting at $9.99/month.




Google Docs 

 Google Docs is free, and better yet, it integrates with your Gmail and your Google Calendar. You can make changes directly onto the documents without having to download them first, and others that you have given viewing permission to can see your documents in real time.



What tools do you use to collaborate with your team? Share them below!


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Leaving office behind(2)


Your small business has an office.  You go there every day (probably for too many hours), get what you can done, and then leave wondering if you actually accomplished anything.  You read an article about coworking and think it sounds pretty amazing, but know that you’re doomed to stay in the same office rut forever.

Or are you?

Now, more small business owners are freeing themselves from their offices a couple of days a week to reap the benefits of being surrounded by other successful, inspirational business owners.  Like one visitor to Suite Spotte said, “It’s like a never-ending, no-pressure networking event.  Plus, you actually get tons of work done!”

If you have ever been curious about using a coworking space as your second office, here are 6 benefits to leaving your office behind every once in a while and embracing coworking.


Easy Networking

You could go to all the live conferences in the world and it still wouldn’t beat working closely with a group of other business owners and entrepreneurs day after day. Working this intimately together builds trust and confidence in each other, which in turn could lead to an infinite number of business partnership and referral opportunities.


Productive Environment

Distractions can run rampant in an office.  If an employee comes running in with an “urgent” yet simple question, any focus on that truly important task you were working on before that moment is lost.

There’s something to be said about working alongside a group of like-minded, driven and focused members of a coworking space.  They are there to provide just the right amount of inspiration when you require it, yet know that when you’re in “work mode” that they need to stay away.  Coworking members know this because they are all in the same productivity boat, creating a one-of-a-kind industrious environment.


Opportunities for Learning

Many coworking spaces hold events for members to help them grow and accomplish more in their personal and professional lives. Often these seminars are given by members of the coworking space, such as the Suite Spotte workshops.  Not only is it a great way to get a new perspective or skill, but you also get to learn more about your fellow coworkers and their businesses.


Socialization Breaks

Human beings are social creatures, so when we work in a solitary office, loneliness can set in. In coworking spaces, that never happens.  Everyone gives you privacy when you need it, but you can go seek out social interaction during work breaks. Taking frequent breaks to socialize with others can even fuel creativity or inspire a different way to approach a problem.


Meeting Places for Clients

Where are you meeting your clients?  If it isn’t beautiful yet rife with any technology you could ever need, you’re in the wrong place.  With a coworking membership, you can book an hour or two in a state-of-the-art conference room and instantly impress any client. Not only does having your own meeting space look professional, it will also show your client that you’re innovative and a strong part of the entrepreneurial community.

Suite Spotte Conference Room


See the Big Picture

Do you ever have big plans for the day but, when you sit behind your desk for the thousandth time, you seem to fall into the same pattern of chugging away at the details?  You work hard all day, but wonder what you actually accomplished.  Coworking is the antidote to this phenomenon.

It’s hard to fall into a rut when things are always different, moving, and getting stirred up.  Innovative ideas are thrown around, others’ accomplishments are announced, and discussions about big plan are happening all the time.  The energy practically forces you to look at the big picture, and take steps towards those big plans you are working toward.


No other work situation gives quite the community foundation and networking potential that coworking does. Leave your office behind and begin to embrace all the benefits coworking has to offer!


Do you have an office and also work out of a coworking space?  

Share your experience in the comments below.

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Steve Ryan, RyTech LLCSteve Ryan, who became a Suite Spotte member in January, is the subject of our second Suite Spotlight. Steve has enjoyed the collaboration he’s been able to partake in and the growth he’s seen in other entrepreneurs since joining Suite Spotte.

What are three things that surprised you about coworking?

1. The amount of privacy that I do get while working
2. Collaborating with people in different industries
3. Sounding board to bounce ideas off of each other


When has another Spotter helped you in an unexpected way?

I have had many great experiences at the Suite Spotte. One day Kathy Doyle helped me organize my thoughts on a document before I sent it to my client. And Sue is constantly pushing me to do better and take my company further.


Steve Ryan quote(1)


What are three things that make you feel most inspired?

1. Watching other entrepreneurs thrive
2. Different perspectives
3. Meeting new people all the time and learning from their experiences


What are three big accomplishments you’ve seen from working out of Suite Spotte?

1. Meeting other entrepreneurs
2. Looking forward to going into the office
3. Getting involved in local organizations with other spotters


What is your daily routine on a day you work out of Suite Spotte?

Come in early, often the first one in for the day. Set-up in the main area, varying my spot to find the perfect one. Working while greeting and chatting with other spotters as they come in to the office. Taking a break in the middle of the day to move my car and grab lunch OR running out to meet a client.


Steve Ryan, President of RyTech, LLC, has always been intrigued by technology and the ability for technology to transform an individual’s life, business, or education. A native of the western suburbs of Chicago, Steve Ryan graduated from Marquette University and received a master’s degree in technology from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

Additionally, Steve has already successfully developed a number of business websites, begun monitoring the online reputation of businesses and their executives, and developed and deployed a social media strategy for a variety of companies.

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Time Management Tools


How many people do you know that couldn’t live without chocolate? That delectable sweetness and savory texture and the unparalleled smell leave most people begging like a Boston terrier.

Nothing much compares to chocolate, except maybe a few time management tools that organized entrepreneurs couldn’t live without.

How possibly could a time management tool be better than a delightful M&M or a lusty little piece of Dove dark chocolate you say? Trust me – once you use these tools, your life wouldn’t be quite the same without them ever again.  Much like the beloved chocolate.


• Remember the Milk

Remember the Milk adds your tasks to a to-do list, prioritizes them and manages them across several different devices. This superb to-do list app is compatible with Outlook, Gmail, Google Calendar, BlackBerry, and Android. You can access your list from anywhere, at any time.

It has even now added an Evernote compatibility – your Evernote reminders will also appear in your Remember the Milk list. Remember the Milk beats milk chocolate any day.


• Evernote

Evernote is a free and widely-known productivity tool that allows users to capture ideas and images from the web through searchable notes. If you’re a content marketer, you can create a notebook for each client and easily organize your curated content.  It also has a chat platform to communicate with other users.

For a small monthly fee, you can upgrade to Evernote Business.  Evernote Business allows you to create a collaborative hub for your team and effortlessly share project information. The combination of benefits in Evernote to be better than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  And that’s a tough treat to beat.


• RescueTime

Have you ever felt like you worked all day, but have gotten nothing substantial done?

RescueTime for Windows and Mac will help you hone your efficiency by calculating how much time is spent on websites. It will send you a weekly report of time spent so you can see where you can improve in efficiency.

It also helps you plan for the next week by setting goals. RescueTime claims to recover up to four hours of time a week for you.  It’s like the Andes mint of chocolate – it’s full of everything good in the world.


• MindMeister

Mind-mapping is an efficiency tool that is growing in popularity. It’s exceptionally beneficial for visual people.

MindMeister helps you organize your thoughts into an effective mind map that you can collaborate on with others. This mind-mapping system also works well for goal-oriented people, as it focuses on goals and not tasks. It’s a sophisticated tool that is reminiscent of a chocolate truffle.


• Google Calendar

Google Calendar is like the Hershey Bar of the time management tools: it’s a staple product that will last the test of time. There’s so many apps that sync with Google Calendar, and that’s a huge time saver.

Put all your meetings on Google Calendar, where you can invite other participants and include detailed information on the meeting. You can also view other calendars, for example that of the entire company or a colleague, simply by having them share it with you.

These tools are life-changers. They will streamline your business in ways you never thought possible, and leave you with more free time doing the things you love.

An added bonus – not a single one of these tools will add an inch to your waist, no matter how much you indulge.  Now, how could chocolate possibly stand up to that?

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