Room to grow
One of the more challenging considerations of many growing small businesses is office space, particularly deciding when to move from the home office to the office park and beyond. Finding a space that meets your business’s current needs while leaving enough room (literally and figuratively) for future needs is no easy task.If things in your current workspace are starting to feel tight and you begin to consider expanding your small business to a larger space, first consider these factors:

  • Number of employees. How many employees are in the office each day? What are your future projects for the next two years—are you adding more employees and when? What is the nature of their work—do they require special desks (like drafting tables), quiet environments for concentration or open spaces for better communication? Your office needs to accommodate your employees, office equipment and furniture comfortably in a way that efficiently suits the tasks they will be doing from day to day.
  • Size of your budget. When it comes to office space, what can you afford? Can you afford a new space? New furniture? A renovation? Rented, leased or purchased office space is not cheap and can fluctuate from year to year based on the market. Make a detailed budget that illustrates a comfortable threshold for spending and keep it handy when considering your options.
  • Parking options. Take into consideration the parking options available at your current space and other workspace options. Is there room for all employees to park? What about customers, clients and visitors? How far do they have to walk? Do they have to pay? What’s the ideal parking situation for your business and is it possible at your current location? If considering relocating to a building with a paid lot, consider ahead of time if you’ll be including parking or offering discounted rates in employee benefits packages or not.
  • Building features. From windows, to individual offices, to secured entry and break rooms, the list of possible features for a new office space could be endless. What’s more, some office spaces have really big (but often pricey) perks like furnishings, staffing the building with receptionists and cleaning crews, secure servers and other space-needing technology. Before scoping out new options, make a list of any must–haves, can’t-haves and bonuses to help focus your options.

Then, consider all your options—moving to a larger space isn’t the only one.

  • Workspace solutions. If your office is feeling cramped but you’re just not ready to move, consider rearranging things. Cubicles, built-ins, moveable desks and more all offer both function and style. Many furniture stores like Ikea® and Room and Board® offer affordable (and stylish!) small business office furniture options, along with knowledgeable design consultants to help decide which solutions are best for your needs. What exactly are those needs? Get your team together for a brainstorming session. Ask them to conceptualize their ideal work station or office space. Then, grab a display board to make a designer’s “mood board” of the ideal setting using brainstormed ideas and pictures from magazines or catalogs—tack up pictures of colors, surfaces, desks and other furniture, people and more—to give to a designer or consultant or to take with you on the office furniture shopping trip.
  • Flex time and telecommuting.
    Another solution to an expanding team with a small space is to provide the option of flex time—which allows employees to work non-traditional (9-5) work hours or a staggered “shift” schedule to reduce the number of employees in the office at any given time. Meanwhile, telecommuting enables employees to work from anywhere—home, coffee shop, library, beach—virtually, thus not interrupting the work day but again reducing the number of employees in the office from day-to-day. Further, support employees by providing laptop bags and USB drives to ensure a seamless transition from office to alternate locations and back.
  • Incubators and shared workspaces.
    If it’s definitely time to grow but you just don’t have the budget to fully expand your space, consider finding an incubator or shared workspace to rent for your employees. Essentially, these spaces are owned by other businesses, universities or chambers of commerce, and desks or single offices are rented out on a short-term basis to anyone needing space or a business address. This is a great solution for employees who need a quiet, office-like environment but a challenge for employees who need to meet with coworkers frequently. If this is a viable option for your business, arm your employees with mobile supplies like the Office Essentials To-Go Pack and mobile file bins to ensure they have what they need.

Limited by budget and options, office space can be challenging when you’re a small business. There are plenty of solutions, though, and with a thoughtful approach to problem solving you’re sure to find the one that best suits the needs of your office today and tomorrow.

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30: Reformation Sunday
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31:  Samhain
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