Entrepreneur finds his office supplied
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org January 27, 2013 1:44PM
Joanne Sicher, general manager, talks about a day office in Regus Orland Park at Orland Executive Pointe Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, at 15255 S. 94th Ave. in Orland Park. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 1, 2013 6:04AM
For years, going to the office for Allan Sutherland meant going downtown to the accounting firm where he worked, then later to Illinois Tool Works’ Glenview headquarters, where he oversaw investments and tax planning for the huge multinational corporation.
But when the accountant decided about a year ago to start his own consulting business, Capital Solutions International, going to the office meant traveling no further than the confines of his Orland Park home. It worked, briefly, but Sutherland said the distractions of being around his home made it nearly impossible to focus on his business.
“I needed and wanted a space of my own,” he said.
Today, Sutherland has a corner office on the fifth floor of a building that’s about a seven-minute commute from his home. Even better, he doesn’t have to worry about whether there’s paper in the printer or to pay the phone bill, and if he makes a mess in the kitchen, someone else will clean it up.
He’s one of 32 businesses leasing space in the Orland Park building from Regus, the biggest player in the arena of flexible workplaces, which, in addition to Orland, has 31 other office locations in the Chicago area and 1,200 worldwide. To business owners such as Sutherland, facilities the United Kingdom-based company operates offer all the accoutrements of a professional-looking office without all the headaches that come with having to run it.
Regus occupies the entire fifth floor of a six-story office building at 15255 S. 94th Ave., directly south of Orland Square Mall. Along with leased offices, the 15,000-square-foot space includes a kitchen — dirty dishes left out are cleaned by office staff — lounge area and two meeting rooms that are at the disposal of tenants. The rooms are named “Centennial,” after Orland Park’s biggest park, and “Sedgewick,” after the lake.
Sutherland’s neighbors include attorneys, mortgage companies, accountants and financial advisers.
“Some are startups and some existed in other parts of Illinois,” Joanne Sicher, general manager and a 20-year resident of Orland Park, said. “They might have had an office on (Chicago’s) North Side and they wanted a presence in the south suburbs.”
It’s all about image
Another 20 small businesses in and around Orland Park aren’t actually using the office space but rather pay for Regus’ “virtual office” services. They might be at home, but when the phone rings a caller will be greeted by a Regus receptionist at the Orland Park location who can transfer the call or take a message. It not only gives the impression that the business isn’t just a dinky one-person operation but can help entrepreneurs avoid being hassled by solicitors.
Also, some firms have their company mail directed to a Regus office — something Sutherland did when he still worked from home — to lessen the appearance of a home-based business. The mail might be going to Joe Smith Consulting Services, but having your business address on Wacker Drive or Michigan Avenue — where Regus has offices — lends a small firm “instant image credibility,” Sicher said.
For businesses that need an office, she said that Regus offers flexible terms and can even accommodate someone who needs nothing more than a desk and phone a couple days a week.
“You don’t have to sign a three-year lease,” she said.
After realizing he had to move his business out of his house, Sutherland said he scoped out a “bunch of spaces” in Chicago, but landlords offered only unattractive multiyear leases and Sutherland said he would have had to take on more space than he really needed.
“It was going to be an incredibly expensive commitment for a long time,” he said.
Along with the ability to expand into other offices as his business grows, Sutherland said, the layout at the Orland location offers “a nice social element.” Having other entrepreneurs as neighbors allows the opportunity to share ideas and “there are great networking opportunities,” he said.