10 Ways to Better Communicate with Your Employees

10 Ways to Better Communicate with Your Employees

Whether you’re a corporate giant towering over the masses or a new startup barely crawling, you communicate every single day. With your spouse as you leave for work, with commuters on the train, with the guy you buy your hot dog from. But mostly, you communicate with your employees.

Here is a list of tips for interacting with all employees, both in your building and out in the world.

Working Together

In the Office

– Pay attention to body language. Take note of a person’s equilibrium state (at lunch or just hanging out) and when they’re working. Learn to recognize stress levels and reactions so you know when you should approach them and when you might want to hold off.

– Schedule ‘non-transactional’ meeting time. Even if it’s only 15 minutes a day, make it clear to your employees that they are more to you than request-granting machines. We don’t recommend becoming best friends, but business has a better chance of thriving when employees know they can talk to you as a person, not just a boss.

– Communicate in writing. Email, text message, Post-It, whatever- write it out and include dates and times that the request was made. This is important so that the employee knows what’s expected and you know what was said. It also allows you to send messages without pulling them away from their work stations.

Working Solo


– Use voice and video calls occasionally to establish a more personal connection. Meaning can often be misconstrued in the written word, and what may seem to you as the writer might be interpreted as all hell about to break loose to your reader.

– Don’t be afraid to use emojis or gifs to get your point across. Though you might think it feels silly at first, some people are just bad at wording in emails. A well-placed emoji (in reasonable quantities) can completely shoot the conversation over to the other side of the emotional spectrum.

– Utilize systems like Slack, HipChat, Viber, Flowdock, Campfire, or Skype to keep in contact. Some bosses fear the outlet for wandering minds, but these chat platforms allow employees to talk to each other in real time. Not only can it address emergency issues immediately, but the fluidity can foster better relationships than the turtle-pace of emails. Establish a codeword that exclusively means: “please don’t get offended, but I need to focus my undivided attention on this task right now.” Suggestions: ‘pirate ship,’ ‘hammer time,’ or ‘magnifying glass.’

*Sandbox Suites recently started using Slack as our main means of off-site communication. We can categorize our discussions into groups such as ‘marketing’ or ‘general’ and easily search all conversations for that one line from last Tuesday morning. (Their emoji selection is also pretty fantastic.)

– Limit industry jargon. Using acronyms and slang may make things more efficient for you, but for the employee, it may put a drag on productivity if they’re trying to figure out what the heck “Supes in the weeds this mrn, get TAJR report on M’s ASAP” means.

Blog, both

– Make sure everyone knows the lines of communication are open. Employees who are afraid to disappoint or anger their bosses are less likely to communicate information. Reward them for good ideas and encourage them to ask questions. Projects take a lot less time when a wrong direction gets nipped in the bud.

– Use simple words and avoid unnecessary repetition. Nobody likes a dead horse, and nobody likes to hear it beaten.

Ultimate Networking Tips Entrepreneurs Can Use

Ultimate Networking Tips for Enterpreneurs

Helpful networking tips for startups, job seekers, entrepreneurs and small businesses from Sandbox Suites, the coworking space for everyone.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 5.08.11 PM

1. Take it online

When you meet someone and receive a business card, unless you are building an impressive business card collection, take it online. Find the person on LinkedIn; if they don’t have LinkedIn, send them an invite! Find them on Twitter and respond to one of their tweets- even if it’s personal and not professional. Follow them on Instagram, or Pinterest. Personally, I’d draw the line at Facebook friend request until after you’ve logged a few real time hours. (However, if they have a company Facebook page, DO like that.)

Protip: if you are lurking a few years deep on their Instagram, try not to like their photos. There’s a thin line between ‘cool new connection from networking event!’ and ‘I think this person is online stalking me.’ Invite them to another similar meetup or event instead where you can take new pictures!

Networking for entrepreneurs

2. Make Authentic Connections

Unless you are the host or an extreme extrovert with the attention span of a toddler (and if you are, you do you) DO NOT work the room. If you are having a great conversation with someone who matches or complements both your personality and your professional interests, stick with it. If you start chatting and realize that this person is your mortal enemy, or simply the most annoying person you’ve ever had the displeasure of making small talk with, then politely excuse yourself and move on. If you look around and realize you’ve only made one solid connection, that’s okay! With a really authentic connection, you’ll feel much more comfortable following up and connecting with them in the future.


3. Follow Up

When you tell a potential colleague, ‘let’s get coffee!’ follow up and actually invite them to coffee. Offer to make an intro email?  Do it! If you find a meetup, networking event or class similar to the one where you met, ping that person and ask if they’d like to meet you there. At minimum, refer to step 1 and connect online after your real life connection. The new contact will remain current and viable.


4. Host Your Own Event

Are you an expert in a field? Strangely good at knitting? Always wanted to make your own zine? Interested in starting a podcast or teaching people the basics of digital photography? Search for meetups or events in that category and in your area through networking websites like meetup.com. If you find an existing event, offer to host, teach, volunteer or just go!

No upcoming events? Be proactive and message the event organizer and submit your idea, or ask to host the next event. If you are a member of a coworking space, many times meeting rooms and common areas are available on evenings and weekends at no cost to members. Coworking spaces are also a great way to learn about events and classes!

networking tips for entrepreneurs

5. Quality Over Quantity 

I cannot emphasize this point enough: one authentic connection can be infinitely more valuable than a stack of random business cards. If you click with someone right away, don’t feel guilty cultivating that conversation all night. It will be much more rewarding in the long run.

And keep in mind that you may not hit a networking home run at every event you attend. Sometimes you’ll get nothing more than a drink and a good meal. But meeting a new investor, a valuable business resource or your new boss only needs to happen once!

If you’re having a great chat, but don’t want to seem too exclusive, introduce yourself and your new found connection to someone nearby. Make sure to connect online and follow up with your new colleagues and friends.


Put your newfound networking skills to work at our Grand Opening Party for our brand new Palo Alto Sandbox!

Register HERE

Good luck out there! Networking can be rewarding and fun.

Top 5 Reasons for Coworking in San Francisco

Top 5 Reasons for Coworking in San Francisco (or anywhere really)

Coworking Flexibility

Coworking in San Francisco offers flexibility.

1. Flexibility

As writer and theologian Adam Tosko said, “We ask 18-year-olds to make huge decisions about their career and financial future, when a month ago they had to ask to go to the bathroom.” Just like recent high school grads, those new to the startup world are suddenly faced with a LOT of freedom, a LOT of questions, and a LOT of possible options. Maybe you’re the kind of person who still likes to come in 9-5 M-F. Maybe you’re actually a night owl but never knew. Coworking spaces provide the ability to swing the full spectrum of productivity. Take the time to find what works best for YOU.


Work/life balance

2. Separation of space

Our brains pair particular settings with certain mental reactions. Sleep is to bed as hunger is to kitchen. The same is true of your work space. Offices were made for productivity and homes were made for relaxation.


coworking in san francisco

The effect of environment.

3. The effect of environment

Almost everything you like, you probably keep at home. That’s where your family is, that’s where your Netflix is, that’s where all your favorite foods are stored. No one wants to write a business proposal when the next episode of “The Walking Dead” is about to start, when your kid wants to play or when your roommate starts making the day’s third smoothie.

On the other hand, when you see everyone else around you quietly working, making progress on their goals, it stirs a sense of solidarity. Other cursors are moving rapidly toward the triumph of completion. No distractions, no excuses.


Network, socialize

Coworking offers an eclectic mix.

4. An eclectic mix

Sandbox is unique in that each of our locations is a collaboration of many diverse backgrounds. The hands that reach into the pizza box at networking events are those of tech companies, nonprofits, lawyers, freelancers, telecommuters, and countless more. And that’s not even what they do in their spare time. Who knows what mutual interests you might have?

Meeting Rooms

On-Demand meeting rooms

5. Dedicated meeting space

Don’t even bother struggling to find the quiet spot in a coffee shop to meet with a potential client. When you’re worried about making a good impression, you don’t need to be thinking about snatching up parking, waiting in long service lines, and paying too much for a latte. Your focus should be on the future of your business.  


Check out our membership options or book a free trial to see if coworking is right for you.


Sandbox startup Breeze, formerly ZephyrCar is disrupting SF ride-sharing by providing rental cars for Uber and Lyft drivers.

A San Francisco startup working out of SBS’s offices is renting brand-new Toyota Priuses to people who want to drive for Uber and Lyft.

“There is huge demand from people who don’t own cars to be part of the ‘ride-sharing’ economy,” said Jeff Pang, CEO and co-founder of Breeze, formerly called Zephyr. “We are solving the problem of getting more drivers on the road.”

Breeze now has 25 cars, all fully booked by drivers who answered its Craigslist ads or heard about it from friends, Pang said. Drivers pay the company $20 a day plus 25 cents a mile, typically totaling $40 or $50 a day, Pang said. Drivers pay for their own gas. (Previously it charged $50 on weekdays and $75 on Saturdays with no mileage charge.)

“At $50 a day, we are effectively cash-flow positive,” Pang said.

Where the cars come from and what they cost are crucial questions that the 2-month-old company declined to answer.

“We don’t buy outright, as that’s a capital-intensive, asset-heavy model,” said co-founderNed Ryan.

Instead, Breeze rents the vehicles from an unnamed partner in the automotive industry, Pang said. “Our partnership gives us unlimited access to cars for the near future.” Breeze will switch the cars out annually to keep down maintenance costs.

Who is the partner? “That’s our secret sauce we can’t reveal,” Pang said.

Insurance is a huge and still-evolving issue for app-enabled ride services like Uber and Lyft.

Drivers share cars

Breeze requires drivers to get personal insurance tied to their rented car and gives them $150 a month to cover it. Drivers are assigned to specific cars; generally two people share a vehicle with each reserving full 24-hour days. One might drive on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and the other on the week’s remaining four days, for instance.

Pang said there is no requirement for members to inform insurers that they will be driving for the ride services. However, when The Chronicle interviewed three drivers, he requested that their last names be withheld. Revealing their full names “would jeopardize their livelihood with the insurance companies,” he said. “Insurance companies will ban you if you disclose you’re doing ‘ride sharing.’ ”

Pang said the insurance is designed to cover the drivers’ personal use of the cars. “Uber and Lyft act as the primary form of coverage while the app is on,” he said in an e-mail.

That is not strictly true. Uber and Lyft have “excess” policies, designed to kick in after the personal policy is exhausted. Also, while Uber’s insurance now applies as soon as its app is on, Lyft’s coverage only starts once a driver has accepted a ride request.

The three drivers, Pamela, Luke and Steve, have each been renting Breeze cars for a month or less, and driving full time. Each said they are happy with their relationship with Breeze and its pricing. Luke and Pamela own personal cars but said they are too old to pass muster with the ride companies.

The emergence of “supply-side feeder” businesses like Breeze validates how quickly smartphone ride services have matured, said Lisa Gansky, founder of consulting firm Mesh Labs, which specializes in collaborative economy issues. She has investments in ride service Sidecar and in peer-to-peer car-rental marketplace RelayRides.

However, she was taken aback by the business model.

“It’s hard to imagine that this has either sufficient margin or scale to be meaningful in terms of profits,” she said.

She also questioned whether the insurance was sufficiently robust.

Sourcing questions

Chris Brown, executive editor of Auto Rental News, was perplexed by Breeze’s car sourcing.

“Who in their right mind would rent out brand-new Priuses to a broker who then rents out to someone else for low prices?” he said. Margins seem “really thin when you consider that there is an extra layer; the guy renting out the Priuses will want to make money too.”

New cars lose value rapidly. “It doesn’t quite add up when you consider the amount of depreciation as you put miles on a car and the costs of ownership per mile,” Brown said

Pang said Breeze is pursuing partnerships with Uber and Lyft. Neither of those companies commented. Uber has a pilot program with General Motors and Toyota to help its drivers buy cars at favorable rates.

Breeze is currently bootstrapped by its founders and hopes to do fundraising soon, Pang said.

Pang, Ryan and third co-founder Charlie Fang have today’s requisite entrepreneur resumes: They’ve done stints in business development or engineering at companies such as Twitter, Uber, Homejoy and Goldman Sachs. Two have Stanford degrees. All take turns driving for the ride services to stay in touch with their market.

Pang said Breeze expects to have hundreds of cars in the Bay Area by year end, all from the unnamed source. “There are no supply constraints there,” he said.

Breeze also hopes to expand into other markets, starting with Los Angeles, but would need to line up a different supplier, he said.


Work Design Magazine: Articles on the Changing Nature of Work - Exploring How Workplaces Are Changing

California-based Sandbox Suites cut the ribbon on their fifth coworking space in September. At 10,000 square feet, it’s the largest Sandbox location yet, and the first in Silicon Valley (the others are in San Francisco and Berkeley).

In addition to the expanded space, Sandbox will also offer expanded business services, like legal and management consulting, for its members. At the moment, they are working with Trivium, a management consulting firm, to create a platform for Sandbox’s coworkers to tap into HR, finance, and accounting resources.

These expanded services have accompanied the opening of the new location, but will be made available to all Sandbox members.

Style-wise, Sandbox went with Mondrian-inspired blocks of color that mimic the company’s logo.



“We wanted a clean look that was still edgy and artistic,” said Shadi Nayyer, Sandbox’s marketing director. “There’s a good balance in the space – the murals on the wall, juxtaposed with an otherwise clean cut look.”


According to Nayyer, the facility – which can accommodate up to 113 coworkers at once – is usually busiest in the afternoon, but on “Pizza Fridays” and “Bagel Tuesdays” they see a steady stream of members all day.

“People come to hang out and network with the other members,” said Nayyer. In addition to luring coworkers with food, Sandbox also hosts after hours events for their members – a recent “hack-a-thon” drew over 100 people, who formed teams and built an app.

“The community atmosphere is fun and exciting to work out of,” said Nayyer. “We want to use this location to build a stronger network of coworkers and a stronger coworking community.”



Published Jan 3, 2014 – Work Design Magazine

Sneak Preview of Sandbox South Park

Painting, furniture building and cleanup is under way in the new South Park office in preparation for Opening Day | Startup Waffle party on Sept. 7.

Last week, some lucky companies got to put dibs on the private offices and I’m excited to report that we have a great group anchoring Sandbox Suites South Park, including Ayopa Games, Promethium Marketing, Red Giant Software, RockIT Recruiting, Analyte Health, Sparta Consulting Group, M2Media360, Cherry.com and a few other great companies.

After more than a month of listening to drilling, polishing and hammering, it was awesome to finally have new members running around! And even better to hear how much they loved the colorful private offices:

We’re opening the private desk waiting list, so if you’d like first dibs on a dedicated desk or a cluster for your team, write us a note – info@sandboxsuites.com.

For conference rooms, we’ll have 4 different sizes seating from 4 to 12 people. If you’re not a member, you’ll be able to rent meeting rooms in South Park after Sept. 12. Here’s a fun meeting room for 6 that we just finished:

Can’t wait to see you all in September!!

Creative design from the South

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