Business owners are increasingly choosing remote and flexible work models since more people are interested in and capable of working from home. But there are still many benefits to having a small office where your employees can meet. The only real problem is that managing an office is expensive and time-consuming – but with the right strategies, you can make both of these factors manageable.
Here’s how to plan and manage a small office on a tight budget.
Look for the right location
Much depends on your ability to find the right location for your office. Getting an office in the heart of a highly populated city is going to be significantly more expensive than getting a similarly sized office in a more rural location. Obviously, there are many benefits to getting an office in a centralised location; it makes it more accessible for a wider range of employees, while simultaneously improving your brand image and visibility.
But if you’re trying to remain frugal, while still capitalising on at least some office benefits, you’re much better off finding an office space in a relatively cheap area.
Most offices increase in expensiveness with size; you can expect to pay a fixed amount of money per square foot of space, according to the location where you’re buying. Many entrepreneurs are optimistic and excited about the future, so they choose to pay for offices they can easily grow into. But it’s usually smarter from a financial perspective to start with an office that’s only the size you need.
Negotiate the lease
When you start shopping around for office space, be ready to negotiate the lease. Most landlords are willing to offer reduced rent prices, flexible terms, or other benefits if it means securing a reliable tenant. Don’t be afraid to ask for a reduced rent price.
Make strategic upgrades
If you want your workers to be happy and productive, it’s important to make upgrades to your office they can truly enjoy. But you also don’t want to spend money frivolously on upgrades that turn out to be less valuable than you anticipated. You have to be strategic about the upgrades you make, and focus on ones that are both inexpensive and highly appreciated by your staff members.
For example, adding a bidet to each bathroom is an upgrade that costs next to nothing, but could significantly improve the average bathroom experience for all your employees. Investing in ergonomic furniture could increase your spending by more than you’d like, but it’s also going to make your employees healthier and happier – especially over time.
If you’re trying to subsidise the cost of renting this office space, consider subletting (if your lease allows it). Essentially, this means renting a portion of the space you’ve rented to someone else, allowing you to reduce the net amount of money you spend each month on rent.
Allow at least some remote work
Just because you have an office doesn’t mean all your workers need to be there all the time. If you allow at least some of your staff members to work from home at least some of the time, you can reduce the total amount of space you need and therefore reduce your total operating costs.
Plan for paperless
Going paperless used to be difficult, but these days, it’s the norm. As long as you have the technology you need to maintain proper communications and keep records securely, there’s no reason to spend extra money on paper products and related office supplies. This may seem like a small way to save money, but in the long run, it could save you thousands of dollars.
Remain frugal with technology
Technology can be ludicrously expensive if you’re not careful, dwarfing most of the other costs associated with an office. Thankfully, there are many strategies you can use to remain frugal with technology without sacrificing its functionality. Buying last year’s model, rather than the latest model, and relying on open-source software are good places to start.
Closely analyse the costs and benefits
There are varying schools of thought about whether a business office is truly “worth it” for the average organisation. Since many of the costs and benefits are somewhat intangible, this is a tricky equation to calculate. Still, it’s important to keep an eye on these costs and benefits as they apply to your own business, so you can make the decision to continue or cease managing your office in the future, accordingly.
Offices aren’t as popular as they used to be, but they can still be an indispensable platform for collaboration and productivity. You just have to make sure you’re properly monitoring and controlling your expenses.
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