Think outside the traditional office
“I’ve got a theory: if you love your workspace, you’ll love your work a little more.” Cynthia Rowley
As many of us are going into week 6 of social isolation, what were temporary accommodations to support the continuity of our business are now becoming a core element of our operations. To support business continuity, companies are investing in technology and other office equipment to ensure they and their staff remain productive.
So what will happen when we get the green light to return to work. What are we returning to? Does our office need to accommodate all of our staff members, now that we know some key functions of our business can work remotely? After all, according to Benefits Canada.com, “Nearly half (47 per cent) of Canadian employees work from outside one of their employer’s main offices for half or more, according to Regus Canada.”
This is a great starting point for any business to evaluate whether their operations support their strategy, efficiently. While there are many aspects you may want to look at individually, let me help you with a brief guide to the various work space options that are currently available to you, so you can determine what maybe the right fit for your business.
The traditional office space offers full privacy, customization and still be a necessity for your business, but the square footage or location may not longer be. More often than not, traditional office spaces have a lot of wasted spaces and under utilized common spaces, such as hallways, meeting rooms, vacant desks etc. Also, long term leases can be a significant expense and ultimately eat into the bottom line of any business. In addition to the lease cost, there are a host of operational costs as well such as cleaning, maintenance, office equipment etc. which also contribute.
Fortunately, there are some excellent alternatives to the norm, which allow any business to control their costs and operational expenses, while continue growing in a professional environment. Here are four alternative options you can consider, when evaluating your office requirements.
Office sharing with a friend
This cost saving initiative often works very well for businesses who want to share costs of operations, such as rent, common area costs, cleaning, share services such as internet or copier etc. More often than not, the office is shared who know each other and can cross refer business to one another, if the businesses complement one another.
However, office sharing has its disadvantages as well. There are privacy issues and handling potential clients could also become a reason for conflict. Finally, what if you have outgrown the space or simply want another office, how do you handle that? Personally, I have seen some amicable friends sharing an office separations, while others have resulted a separation in the relationship as well, so its very important to go into this arrangement with clear boundaries established at the onset.
Business Centre – Shared office concept
Many people aren’t familiar with a Business Centre. It is a shared space provider of turnkey offices with the benefits of many amenities such as meeting rooms, reception services, shared kitchen etc.
The value of a business centre / shared office, is that the tenants only rent the space they require and they save considerable dollars on other overheads such as meeting spaces, kitchen and other common areas. Depending on the provider, space can be used immediately and there are flexible lease options to help you determine whether this is the right fit for you.
Another advantage is that as your business grows, you can add additional spaces, if required. If additional locations are required, Business Centres are a great option for satellite offices for any organization globally and locally.
Disadvantages include the compliance of rules and regulations of a centre, lack of signage as well as privacy.
“According to the GCUC global coworking report, there are currently 3.1 million coworkers in the world and the number is forecasted to nearly double by 2022.” Source
Coworking spaces are an excellent way for people self employed, freelancing or remotely working to work outside the home, network and have great opportunities to collaborate with other professionals. There are also significant savings in technology without long term committments.
However, a disadvantage is also no fixed space, lack of privacy and noise concerns. Similar to Business centres, coworking spaces have strict rules and regulations in place as well.
A very important segment of business owners simply don’t have a need for an office. However, they require a business address to separate their business from home, a professional meeting space as well as additional services such as phone or courier management.
A virtual office is a great solution for a minimal cost. Its an office without a physical office, which provides flexibility for a very important segment of the population.
The disadvantages are that there is no permanent space and all important documents have to be brought in when needed and meeting spaces are subject to availability.
All the above options are great alternatives to working from home or a traditional office space. However, when evaluating your work environment, ask yourself:
How accessible does your office need to be to your clients, vendor partners and/or team?
What are the key requirements for your functional office space? I.E. Meeting rooms, open space vs offices, reception, kitchen etc.
Is it crucial for all your team members to be in the office at the same time?
“It appears in the long term, companies are going to minimize their office obligations to core (essential) staff and uses only. They will attempt to maximize their utilization for flexible office spaces, where they can grow and take office space on demand (shorter term leases). These include business centres, shared offices and co-working spaces.” Sam Kohli, founder of Greater Toronto Executive Centre
This pandemic has changed the way we do business. How will your operations shift to continue supporting your strategy?
About the Author
Ritu has over two decades of experience in operations, marketing, and business development. Married and a proud mama of two, Ritu enjoys writing about her professional and personal life experiences.
“Forget race, forget gender, forget religion, and become a human, my friend. Become a human above everything else, and all great things shall follow.”