Liz Elam: How to Upgrade Your Work Environment

September 15 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: Working Together

Have you ever had a job that required you to literally take your timecard and clock in? At one of my first jobs, come starting time, we all raced to the back room to get that all-important time stamp. We stood in line like a bunch of train cars, and the last employee, the caboose, always ended up getting her timecard stamped a minute late.

That first job helped me learn the basics of time management and teamwork—two essential components to master for just about any profession. Today, ponder how much your lifetime of jobs has taught you, and give some thanks to all those co-workers, bosses and mentors who passed down their wisdom in order to help you build a great career.


I don’t think many of us miss those time-clock days. Fortunately, there’s a great perk to being a professional these days: telecommuting, which allows for a little more of that elusive work-life balance and increased flexibility, whether you want to pick up your kids from school or take the dog for a walk mid-day.

The practice is getting more popular, as 37 percent of U.S. workers polled by Gallup say they have telecommuted to work, four times more than in 1995. Telecommuters can forgo the stress and time associated with driving or riding the bus to work, and put that time toward productivity. Sounds like a win-win to me!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Liz Elam, Founder and Owner of Link Coworking

The thing about working from home is that it can be a little lonely. There is no break-room banter, no co-worker potlucks (unless you count eating an apple while petting your cat). That’s why co-working spaces have become a popular solution for telecommuters. These communal spaces provide the perks of working in an office with the flexibility of being a telecommuter.

Nearly seven years ago, Liz Elam created a super cool 3,000-square-foot co-working environment called Link Coworking in Austin, Texas. It has awesome perks, like private meeting spaces, mail services, free drinks and snacks, a covered courtyard and even interns who can be hired on a project basis. A couple years later, after it was clear there was a demand for such a space, Liz opened up a second co-working location, called Link Too, more than doubling the size of her company’s available workspace. The business has really taken off, with Business Insider naming Link Coworking as one of the coolest co-working spaces in United States.

Liz knew from the get-go that her telecommuting concept would be a hit. A longtime employee of computer giant Dell, she managed a profitable multi-million-dollar business from the comfort of her home office before turning to entrepreneurship. Armed with that experience, she decided to delve into creating a professional space where people can gather to telecommute, from entrepreneurs to lawyers and small-business owners. Those who are unsure whether Link is a good fit can try out the space for a day, no strings attached, to see if they like it.

The Link office is rearranged once a week, so members sit in a totally different space just about every visit. Liz admits this move is disruptive, and that’s the point. She doesn’t want members to become territorial of what is meant to be an open and inviting atmosphere. And space rearranging is paramount for those of us who can’t bare the monotonous cubicle lifestyle.

Liz is passionate about co-working. She is the founder of the Global Coworking Unconference Conference, the largest co-working conference network in the world, which visits cities throughout the world every year.

Life as a small-business owner hasn’t all been easy. It took Liz 18 months to break even after opening Link Coworking, and the space has flooded four times. But Link weathered the storm and has become one of Austin’s go-to spots for telecommuters.


Writer of Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer, declared:

“Begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing or been too hesitant to attempt. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

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