In the modern economy, where knowledge-based jobs can be done from anywhere in the world, having a big office is no longer a necessity. Computers can fit in our laps, paperwork can be done online, and even the biggest customer file can be stored in the cloud instead of in a file cabinet. Renting office space is expensive, and there are many benefits to downsizing it.
How to Know When It’s Time to Downsize
If you are thinking about downsizing, here are some questions to ask yourself before you make the move.
- How much of my current office space do I actually use on a daily basis?
- Do I have clients coming in all the time, or are face-to-face encounters a rarity?
- Do I have items that I need to have daily access to, or would it be possible to move some things into storage?
- Do I have to be in a particular location to do my work, or can I do it from anywhere?
The answers to these questions can help you determine whether you need to stay in your current space. If you find that you only rarely use your conference room, and you have an accumulation of things that you rarely access, it might be time to consider alternatives to paying high monthly rent.
Tips to Help You Downsize
Once you have made the decision to downsize, there are many things you can do to maximize a small space. Whether you are working in a home office or simply renting a smaller space, the reduction in size does not have to translate into a reduction in productivity. In fact, in many cases, the opposite can be true. Small spaces can lead to greater efficiency and easier collaboration than large spaces, and those things can both be helpful to your company.
- Think vertical instead of horizontal. A lot of offices have big furniture: large desks, broad credenzas, and huge conference room tables. Instead of going for horizontal scope, look for storage options that use vertical space efficiently. Desk-top shelves can take the place of credenzas and filing cabinets. A small table can sometimes allow for stronger presentations than a large one.
- Get organized. If you’re accustomed to having piles of work all over your office, a smaller space will require you to think about using desk organizers and other tools to keep your work accessible and your office neat.
- Embrace electronic storage. Certain industries have a tendency to cling to traditional paperwork, accumulating huge files that eat up office space. If that sounds familiar, consider hiring a company to scan and archive your existing documents, and then buying a scanner to help you store new documents efficiently. The Supreme Court has ruled that emails and virtual signatures are legally binding, so let go of the idea that you need paper documentation.
- Rent a storage space for items you need to keep that can’t be stored in the cloud. If you have things that cannot be stored in the cloud, such as inventory or raw materials, consider renting a small storage space for them. Storage space tends to be significantly less expensive than office space, and you will be able to get your items if you need them.
- Consider outsourcing and ad hoc options for office space. Shared office space is becoming increasingly common, and not just in high-priced executive suites. If you pair up with another small business, you might be able to work out an arrangement to use a conference room once a month or access a copy machine for a big presentation. Another option might be to rent a small conference room at a hotel for the occasional meeting. There’s no point in paying for space that you only use occasionally. Rent a room when you need it, and the rest of the time, your small space should be sufficient.
- Finally, take a few tips from interior designers to make your space look larger than it is. Stay away from dark colors, which tend to shrink space, and go for light and bright colors instead. You may also want to think about adding a mirror on one wall or finding other ways to give the illusion of space.
Downsizing an office is a big decision, but if you keep a few practical things in mind it can save you money and increase your productivity and efficiency at the same time.