OPEN AS USUAL
Jun 11, 2019
It's funny how the human mind works. When buying clothes we hunt obsessively for bargain. When renting office space we pay for footage taken up by old files and computer monitors. And we pay for it monthly.
There is no shortage of office space in any major city except Hong Kong. From massive skyscrapers to converted warehouses, there's a space for everyone and a price to suit the neediest entrepreneur. Here we make the case for downsizing.
1. Save Money
Your pay by the square metre for office space. You pay for utilities, office equipment, furniture, internet and a lot of other things you have too much of or don't need in your name. Solution: move to a space where it's all included in the fee. Let someone else's brain take the strain of maintaining all that and you get on with bringing in the contracts.
Buy exactly the amount of space you require and no more. Upgrade or downgrade it as the need arises. You should be able to do this in the same building. There are now companies dedicated to offering this sort of flexibility to businesses.
The alternative is to buy your own building as an investment. That is something the very savvy might do. And the very wealthy!
Otherwise, it makes no sense to cling to a larger space than you require. The outgoings can bite if your cash-flow slows to a trickle. You go through a bad patch. No shame in that. Then the monthly rental bill comes; that is painful.
Rented office space offers furniture already included. This means you don't put valuable seed money into something that devalues as soon as you've bought it. This leaves more for investment.
"Before the [downsizing] program began, 35 percent of GlaxoSmithKline’s work activities were taking place in cubicles or offices. But those spaces took up 85 percent of the company’s office space, what Mr. Bigsby called a significant misallocation of resources. The question became: if the company provides 85 percent of its space for 35 percent of its work, where was the rest happening?
The answer: in meeting rooms, corridors, coffee stations and during travel. “Our solution is to press down the 85 percent dedicated space and increase the variety of alternative work spaces, because people’s activities did not align to the traditional spaces.” Mr. Bigsby said. “The desk space is now about half of our footprint." (Source: nytimes.com)
2. Collaborate Remotely
In the 21st century we can communicate easily, quickly and cheaply. Internet video means phone calls no longer cost by the minute and are more intimate. Collaborative software means employees can work on the same project from anywhere; home, abroad, in a cafe or in the office. There's no need to drag oneself into the office on a cold winter's morning just to get updates on a project.
Examples of collaborative popular softwares are SharePoint, WebEx and Huddle.
3. Work From Home
This really depends on the nature of the work. For some types, you definitely need to make a human connection. Sales is an obvious one. Strategy is another.
Presentations and spreadsheets, however, can be worked on in spare room just as easily as the office; you just need a laptop and a bit of peace and quiet. Your company can then keep a few desks free for drop-ins at the office and a meeting room or two for sessions which require privacy or quiet.
You don't want to go too far down this road. It's surprising how much business gets done through office interaction. It's easier to 'show and tell' in person than just 'tell' over a telephone. People interact in corridors and when having a smoke. Casual remarks lead to serious ideas.
You just don't need to pay for a cubicle farm to achieve this.
Offices collect furniture the way homes collect gadgets. After a while they become redundant and take up space. One thinks "I might need that. After all, I paid good money for it." If it's collecting dust, you obviously don't!
Storage and filing systems can be chaotic. Outsource the storage of documents for the legal length of time you're required to keep them, then destroy them.
Organise the rest, which are essential, so you can find any file easily and quickly. This frees up space.
5. Rethink Your Current Meeting Rooms
You may not need the amount of space you have. How often is it used? Can an alternative space be used? If it's only used once or twice a week you may have a 'trophy' room on your hands; looks good, makes you feel good, impresses visitors but it's not much used.
You can have meetings outside the office or just huddle someplace quiet.