Remote workforces have arisen as cost-effective and productive solutions, but some companies still need physical office spaces for executive teams, non-remote employees, and clients to use. Sometimes, it may be hard to tell if you need an office. Determining the size and configuration of a workspace could be a challenge as well. Continue reading to see if setting up an office is the right move for your business.
Does your business need an office workspace?
During the 2020 pandemic, a large percentage of the U.S. workforce transitioned into a virtual work mode. Some firms found the business model effective enough to continue it long past the crisis. With all the data accumulated on the subject, can you honestly say you still need a physical workspace?
This can be a tough question. If you want to provide an in-person experience to customers and partners, it may be worth opening an office. Additionally, you might consider an office if your business requires a high level of collaboration amongst employees. If that’s the case, be sure to check with your employees to see how they feel about moving away from remote work. They may share insightful ideas that you haven’t thought of.
If you find you do require a physical workspace, the next step is to calculate how much square footage you need. Conference rooms, cubicles, phone booths, and kitchens are often available at shared workspaces like WeWork, Workbar, and Impact Hub. Renting workspace from a third-party provider can be more cost effective, so be sure to look into these options before you sign a commercial office lease.
How your workspace affects your team
Video conferencing is a great communication tool, but for many it doesn’t quite match what it’s like to work in an office together. In person, teams can learn more about one another, collaborate in one place, and implement new ideas quickly.
The social component of an office space should not be overlooked either. For some, there’s a level of comfort that comes from showing up to work every day. Many employees enjoy greeting and exchanging pleasantries with coworkers over their morning coffee. The ritual of saying “good night” at the end of the day is also important. It can set a clear boundary between work life and home life, a balance many struggle with when it comes to fully remote work.
Keep these social elements of being in an office in mind when you set about creating your space.
How to configure your office
Configuring an office in the digital age of mobile phones and laptops is very different than it used to be. Workspaces tend to be more open and comfortable now. Typically, you can use your office to either assign workspaces or create shared spaces where groups of employees can work together. Here are the pros and cons of each.
The primary benefits of an assigned desk or workspace is that it promotes a sense of belonging for each employee and gives them an opportunity to personalize their area. On the other hand, if the assigned space is too private, like a cubicle, it could limit opportunities to collaborate. Desk hierarchy is another thing to keep in mind when assigning workspaces.
Creating a shared workspace or open layout can increase the likelihood of collaboration among employees. However, it can make finding private focus time more challenging. One way to overcome this is making it easy for employees to use conference rooms or phone booths if they need to step away for some focus time. An open layout without assigned desks can also reduce the feelings of belonging that come with having a dedicated area to oneself.
Splitting the difference
It’s difficult to choose between assigned and shared workspaces, so many companies set up a combination of the two. Some businesses call this “hoteling,” where employees who are coming into the office can reserve a desk in advance. This approach can give you the best of both worlds if you do it well, plus people get the chance to work alongside different team members every time they’re in the office.
Workspace elements for small businesses
Many things come together to create your office space environment. Here are some of the elements you can use and how they may impact employees.
The sight of cubicle walls may be reminiscent of a past work life, but newer models are more aesthetic and welcoming—not to mention lower in height. Cubicles don’t need to be set up like a cell block. Putting two or three together can promote collaboration and give a small team their own collective space while still providing some privacy.
A full-size desk can provide a larger workspace than a small desk inside a cubicle. A collection of desks without walls around them creates an open work area. That’s good for collaboration, but it can get loud when multiple people are having conversations or on calls. Standing or walking desks positioned in front of windows are a popular option.
Securing a position that entitles an employee to a corner office was once the goal of workers in a professional setting. Today, a private office can be restrictive, and when only given to certain employees it can negatively impact morale. There’s certainly more privacy, but closing the door isolates the director or VP from other employees. Absolute privacy can be a good thing for accountants, but your creative teams might object to it.
Conference and meeting rooms
One of the keys to success for coworking companies has been the inclusion of conference rooms. They’re ideal for collaboration, presentations, and meetings. Calculate how many people you might gather for those events and plan accordingly. But budget carefully—the tech setup can be expensive.
You’ll have a hard time finding a phone booth on a public street. Today, they’re more common in an office setting. Phone booths provide privacy when employees need to make a call or have a solo meeting. However, you’ll need some extra space depending on how many booths you want to incorporate into your space.
Who doesn’t like to take a break and play video games in the office? Ping pong can be popular, too. These activities can help reduce stress and give employees a chance to do some team building. Having teams compete creates friendly rivalries and improves communication. Both are important when your company is striving to meet goals and deadlines.
Access to food and beverages keeps employees alert and healthy. Non-work socialization builds culture. The kitchen or break room is where all that can happen. It requires dedicated cleaning and management, but the upside outweighs the downside. When setting up your kitchen, be sure to include popular snacks and plenty of coffee.
A mother’s room is a private space where new mothers can go to comfortably pump. For mothers returning to work after leave, a mother’s room is a must. If you don’t have a mother’s room, be flexible and consider allowing the employee to work from home. In addition to a mother’s room, you might also consider creating an internal daycare if your team and work culture would benefit.
How to decide which workspace option is best for your business
You’re not the only person who will be working in your new space. You’re building a workspace where your entire team should feel comfortable. How can you accomplish that? Ask your employees what they want. Allowing everyone to have some input gives a sense of ownership and makes employees feel valued. It also ensures that your office will be productive when you open its doors.
Here are some final things to consider:
- Budget: Cost is always a concern. You may need to balance what you want against what you can afford. Work on the budget before you make plans. Leave room for delays and other unexpected expenses.
- Flexibility: What options are the most important for your employees? Ask them what they want and make sure you remain flexible if conditions change.
- Amenities: What extras do you want to offer employees? Many offices go above and beyond when it comes to amenities, with nitro cold brew taps and fully stocked beverage coolers. Even if it’s not in your budget to provide anything quite as fancy, it’s a good idea to include a few well-selected amenities to show you value your employees.
- Regulations: Do you legally need to provide break rooms or mothers’ rooms? What accessibility requirements must you meet? Check your state’s regulations on these subjects. These may not be optional, so you should budget accordingly.
- Future: What’s important to your employees might change as your company grows. It’s possible you may even change offices. Plan for today, but be prepared to go where your business takes you.
See how a Bluevine Line of Credit can help your business with office renovations and more.