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Small Office Space: It Can Work for You

As business people, we have grown accustomed to vast, sprawling spaces where the actual work of “doing business” gets done.  Whether it’s a large open space with little pods of desks scattered hither and yon in workgroups, or an acre of identical cubicles, each being at their own small office space (accented with the electronic burble of telephones ringing and the soft tappa-tappa-tap of keyboards), it is where business usually gets accomplished.

Small Office Space

Harkening back to a cartoon from the 1960s: a High Minister rushes into the throne room:  “Your Majesty…Your Majesty!  The peasants are revolting!”  To which the King replies “Well, that seems rather harsh.  They can’t help it if they’re poor and filthy!”

The point, however, is well taken.  In many cases, management is oblivious to the fact that their best people are leaving or retiring, and starting up their own businesses.  As we have observed in this space before 99.7% of U.S. employer firms are small businesses (those with ≤ 500 employees).

Since the most recent recession of 2008–2014, when big business gathered in its skirts and shook loose what it regarded as deadwood, a remarkable number of people have left the mainstream of big business and opened up their own small office space.  Much to their own surprise, they became successful business owners.

Pluses and Minuses

There certainly advantages to working in a large office—personal assistants, free photocopiers, Health Insurance, stock options, free Wi-Fi…  On the other hand, there are downsides in this scenario.

You follow directives “issued from above”, sometimes with no explanation, or any apparent logic; this is certainly not the best way to stimulate employees to produce their best work.  You wear your business uniform every day, arriving promptly at one time, and departing promptly at another (except when they want you to “stay late” and “finish up before you leave”).  Plus that glory-grabbing supervisor who takes your name off reports and inserts his own.  Who needs that?

Creating your own small office space

Set limits
If you’re working in your home it is going to require a separate small office space where you can close the door.  Furthermore, it requires the clear understanding that this is your workspace; if a family member wants to talk to you, they can phone you, make an appointment, and see you at a scheduled time or “when you get home from work”, just as if you weren’t present.

It requires consideration from your spouse, for example.  Partners can’t expect you to interrupt what you’re doing to “watch the kids” while they “run down to the store”.  Sex doesn’t enter into it; both men and women can be equally selfish and make presumptions.

Office design

Are you an architect?  Drag your drafting table out of the garage and get it setup where it’s going to be useful.  Obviously, this follows for any specialized equipment that you need in your profession.

Go to the local Reuse Center and pick up a good sturdy desk.  Just remember you’re creating a small office space, so don’t get something too elaborate or too flimsy—you don’t want anything that quivers or shakes or can in any way be a distraction.  While you’re there pick up a nice comfortable office chair, height-adjustable, and which rolls easily.  Is your future small office space carpeted?  Grab a roller mat for your chair while you’re shopping.

If you have the capital, donate your old printer to a neighborhood school.  Pick up a new multifunction model (they are stunningly cheap) with a printer, scanner, copying function, and which generally includes OCR Software (Optical Character Recognition).  This machine will provide just about all the versatility you need.

If you need to do a lot of printing, buy refilled cartridges online for about ¼ of the price of retail.  If printing needs in your small office space are truly immense, consider one of the new printers that don’t use cartridges, but instead employ large bottles of ink.  More costly, sure, but over the life of the machine it will save you thousands of dollars, plus you generally only require ink every two years or less. Epson is a good candidate for your small office space at 11,000 black and 8,500 colored pages.

Presuming that a computer is going to play a large role and that you’re going to be researching, creating documents, and so on, I have an additional suggestion.  Pick up an extra monitor or two (LED or LCD, not CRT, of course) while you’re perusing the reuse center.

In my small office space I have one Portrait Mode (on the right) for documents ($15 at reuse center), one for research materials (24″, center), and one (19″, left) for Communications (such as Skype and TeamViewer) for connecting with clients.

While not strictly necessary, the sheer ease and convenience of having so much Desktop real estate can make your life so much easier.  Most computers can handle two monitors relatively easily.

The Takeaway

The key, of course, is to be efficient and well organized when creating your small office space.  It must be a zone where you can work without interruption, and it needs to have the required tools at hand.

The drawback, of course, is that it is a space for you to work.  It’s not really appropriate for hosting clients.  And sometimes activities at home, such as your spouse entertaining, can be too distracting for getting your work done in your small office space.

We suggest Liberty Office Suites in New Jersey as an answer to your small office space needs.  We can provide office space on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis.  Give us a call and we’ll fill you in on the details!

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