As your business grows, the desk in your spare bedroom or basement may seem increasingly inadequate for running your business.
Maybe you’ve even started to look into a professional office before, but hesitated. There are lots of reasons put off such a big investment. After all, successful companies tend to keep overhead costs as low as they can and avoid unnecessary expenses.
But it’s not as complicated as you might think to get an office for your company.
You don’t have to find a standalone space, spend tons of money on furniture, or try your hand at interior design. It might not even require a commitment to a year-long lease to get the benefits of a physical office.
Plus, toiling away alone in your basement each day or having meetings next to the loud folks at the coffee shop comes with real costs to your business.
The Cost of NOT Having an Office
First, let’s address why the seemingly simpler and more affordable road of forgoing an office space might actually be making your life more complicated.
When you and your staff are distracted, either by noise, other people, or just by an environment that’s less than relaxing, you can’t concentrate very well. This probably isn’t a surprise. You could potentially earn more in an environment that optimized your ability to concentrate and communicate. Related: Designing a Productive Office Environment.
You may be taken less seriously if you have to hold important meetings in coffee shops or other public places. Being taken less seriously could lead to missing opportunities for sales or partnerships. Related: How Physical Space can Grow Your Business.
With no dedicated meeting space available, it’s simply more difficult to schedule anything in-person. You have to work around the hours of wherever you’re trying to meet. Then you have to worry about seating availability, outlet availability, and the noise and distraction level you’ll find when you get there. Related: Hosting Meetings Without Wasting Everyone’s Time.
How to Uncomplicate Your Potential Office Space
If you want to avoid these pitfalls but don’t want to invest too much time and cash in an office, there are plenty of options to consider.
They key is finding a property that specializes in catering to people like you and will get you the essentials without any added complications. Look for these features:
Shared Common Areas And Equipment
Many office buildings are set up so tenants can share common space with other businesses, which extensively cuts costs and time spent on maintenance.
Shared amenities often include conference spaces, bathrooms, reception areas, kitchen areas and cafeterias, and even coffee shops.
Look for a building whose staff takes good care of spaces like hallways and the building exterior, such as landscaping and parking areas, so that you don’t have to worry about it.
Some coworking spaces even encourage you to share the internet connection and printers, handling any equipment maintenance to make your experience hassle-free.
Minimal Square Footage
Digital technology has freed up a lot of space in the modern office. Gone are needs for fax machines, big supply closets full of paper, and bulky servers stored on-site.
Technology has also simplified what the average worker needs at her desk: in many cases, the only requirements are an internet-connected computer and an outlet. If you want to start small, it’s more than OK to skip flashy features such as nap pods and ping pong tables.
As we mentioned in our tutorial on what to look for when viewing a potential office, many people assume employees need a far bigger work area than they actually do. The key to figuring it out is often to step into a potential office so you can visualize and measure by hand.
For more even more on this topic, check out our full article on estimating office square footage.
No Multi-Year Commitments
Many shared office spaces are doing everything they can to make their offices as simple and flexible as possible for tenants.
That includes offering pricing plans with agreements as short as month-to-month. You’ll pay more overall each month than you would with a longer term contract, but the expense could definitely be worth the peace of mind if you’re worried about cash flow.
By using a shared office space, you also get to avoid signing the long-term agreements that a standalone office would require, such as contracts for internet service, cleaning service and security systems. Plus, many shared office spaces allow tenants much more flexibility than a standalone space could to grow and shrink their space on short notice.
Other Office Complications to Skip
The shared office spaces available today may also let you avoid other complications, including:
- Furnishing and Decor – Turnkey office spaces have this taken care of. Just make sure you like the aesthetic they’ve chosen.
- Moving Expenses – If the office is already furnished, there’s no need to hire a mover.
- Maintenance and Repairs – The responsibility for these is off your shoulders.
- Big Upfront Deposits and Complicated Lease Agreements – Shared office spaces typically don’t require them.
Solutions for Simple Office Space
There are lots of real estate types that specialize in offering these uncomplicated spaces, and options continue to increase as demand for them grows.
This article from the NAOIP’s Development Magazine sums up the trend:
Today, the shared office movement, which has been building momentum for years, is skyrocketing. It’s also revolutionizing how, when and where people work. In 2005, there was only one coworking space in the U.S. By 2013, they had mushroomed to more than 3,000 worldwide.
Here are some specific types of shared office space that might work for your company:
Turnkey Office Space – A “turnkey” office space refers to any office that’s furnished and ready for you to move into. These rentals typically have all the benefits mentioned above for business owners who want simplicity. Many people aren’t aware just how many of these types of office spaces are available in their neighborhoods. Start your search for one here.
Coworking Space – These spaces also offer super flexible contracts with an emphasis on creating shared spaces. These spaces have open floor plans and are meant to encourage creativity, networking and productivity. Read more about co-working spaces here.
Subleasing or Office Sharing – If there aren’t any coworking spaces or turnkey office spaces in your area, you could get creative and seek out a business partner who would be willing to share or rent their office space with you. For example, a nutritionist might be able to sublet an office in a local fitness facility. These agreements may or may not have the flexibility of the turnkey office approach, but they could be a simple, affordable option for some.
Working with a Local Business Incubator – Some cities run nonprofit organizations such as business incubators and accelerators that have temporary office space available for their members.
Virtual Office Space – If you’re primarily looking for the benefits of a physical address, some companies specialize in providing “virtual” office spaces. Their flexible packages typically provide a mailbox and may include things like a receptionist, a local phone number, and meeting rooms (more on this trend here).