The office tower dance

There’s some jostling in downtown Moscow. Buildings are trying to attract the attention of visitors by using its body or by highlighting their main asset. Give them smart phones (or mobile phones) and they’ll take photos of themselves. Building selfies! Why not!

They compete in a space known as the Moscow International Business Center, known to Muscovites as Moscow-City or Moskva-City. Others call it the Manhattan of Moscow.

It’s a futuristic business area that continues to expand in the heart of the Russian capital. It climbs to the sky, as it also contains four of the five tallest buildings in Europe, including the tallest one. Vladimir Putin and Russian billionaires are ambitious.

What are these buildings?

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iStockphoto

There’s the very sensual Evolution Tower. It grabs everyone’s attention by twisting to the extreme. The twist is so perfect that it’s almost a spiral. Continue reading

Helpful Tips of the Month from BMO

Get to know these four people when buying a home. Assemble your dream team for a winning result.

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or getting ready to buy your second or third place, making a move can be exciting. But, it also can be intimidating and a bit overwhelming when you consider the many steps you need to take before picking up your new keys.

Fortunately, it’s a lot easier when you work with professionals who know the ins and outs. So consider reaching out to these four individuals during the home-buying process.

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iStockphoto
  1. Real estate broker: You may think looking for potential homes is something you can do on your own. However, first-time buyers and even more experienced buyers can benefit from hiring a real estate professional. They can help you find listings that specifically fit your criteria, including listings that may not be advertised, as well as provide insight into the market. Plus, they can help you negotiate things like price, the date you can take possession and any extras you want included like repairs, furniture and appliances.
  2. Lawyer or notary: A lawyer or notary may act as an advocate on your behalf throughout the home-buying process. They will help coordinate everything from drafting and negotiating the contract of the sale to examining inspection reports and mortgage documents. Hiring a lawyer or notary early in the home-buying process can save you time and risk.
  3. Home Inspector: It’s to your benefit to hire a home inspector to look over the home before you buy. A home inspection may cost an average of $450 (may vary by province). But it’s often money well spent, because a home inspector can alert you to issues you may not see on the surface, like problems with the roof, plumbing, electrical, heating or cooling, windows and doors and foundation. Make sure to hire a certified home inspector, ideally with a background in engineering and experience doing home surveys in the area where you are buying.
  4. Mortgage Specialist: Last, but not least, having a working relationship with a trusted mortgage specialist is essential during the home-buying process. He or she can help review your finances and determine a price range that is realistic for your budget, as well as help you decide what type of mortgage is right for your situation and how much you can afford for a down payment.

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An efficient workspace

You’re sick of your home office. You’re often being bothered or your space is poorly structured. You decided to dedicate part of your vacation to renovating your workspace, or possibly even creating it if you have just joined the ranks of the self-employed.

The door to your office isn’t insulated enough? There is a draconian solution: take the office out of the house, which is something many people have done. Some have even renovated a room near the family home, even if it involved paying rent.

Why not convert the shed into a workspace? That was the solution for author Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory played by Johnny Depp in the movie) and Russian writer Anton Tchekhov, who set up a pavilion behind his property.

You could also use the garage. Some self-employed workers have also set up their offices there.

A less radical solution: build an outside door and cover the one that connects to the inside of the house.

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iStockphoto

You have to expand the space between you and your family, your friends and your neighbours, who will not hesitate to travel the short distance to go and bother you.

If none of these ideas work for you, try the attic. It’s a space worth considering. Self-employed workers often take refuge in the basement. However, it’s harder to go upstairs than it is to go down. Your entourage will be less inclined to bother you.

If you want to keep your current office. Add a separation between you and your entourage. It could be a screen, a glass partition wall or even a bookshelf that covers the wall. The more massive it is, the more efficient it will be. Continue reading

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Feel good offices

Who said that home offices had to be ugly? A tour of offices in large companies showed us that times have changed. Work spaces are being redesigned, colour is being added and clutter removed.

Look at your children registered for post-secondary studies. They have no qualms about decorating their offices. Increasingly limited by self-employed workers, they let their personalities shine through the decoration. By doing so, they are setting up a work space that is likely to inspire and motivate them.

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iStockphoto

Your home office is more than a workspace. It’s a refuge where the only dictatorship allows is efficiency. After all, environment is one of the key factors in work.

If you prefer a stripped-down office, or if your office is as exciting as a room in a monastery and you feel good and are efficient in your work, stay on the same path.

If not, let your imagination run wild.

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iStockphoto

The wall is the first thing to think about, since that is usually the first surface you look at outside your workstation. Continue reading