Many small businesses have downsized their office space over the last couple years in response to the pandemic and its ensuing shift toward more remote and online work. The benefits of downsizing office space are many, including cost savings, increased energy efficiency, and greater working options for employees who can now go remote. But while downsizing office space can be a cost-saver, keeping it a productive, uncluttered space requires a bit of creative planning. A smaller space that has to hold the same furniture and decor as a larger office will quickly feel cramped, crowded, and uninviting.
If you are downsizing your office to something more economical, some tips to make your smaller space appear and feel roomier:
Having a lot of clutter is the most effective way to shrink your usable space and make your office appear smaller than it is. Getting rid of unnecessary objects is the first—but not last—step to creating a minimalist office space. Reexamine furniture choices as well so that you have as few large, bulky desks and cabinets as possible. Replacing large furniture with expandable/collapsible desks and tables helps conserve space and gives you more room to move when they are not in use. (Depending on how many employees your office accommodates each day, you may be able to double up on some desks so that they can be "shared" by people who only use them part-time.) Be selective about which wall hangings and other room décor you keep so that your walls do not feel overcrowded and small; look into replacing large, outdated printers and copiers with smaller, more streamlined multi-task devices that take up less space and work more efficiently in your new office.
Letting in as much natural light as possible will brighten a small space. Opting for sheer or basic window treatments instead of heavy, dark, and cumbersome drapes or shades can help you maximize the incoming natural light. If your office does not have access to a lot of natural light, consider well-placed lamps, sconces, and dimmable overhead lighting fixtures that don’t take up much space but still cast warm, abundant light that can be adjusted to make the space feel inviting.
Overcrowding the walls with a lot of decorations can make tight space feel even more limited. Well-placed mirrors, however, reflect light and make a small space appear roomier. Decorating stores and online decorating sites offer an almost endless selection of mirror styles and sizes that can accommodate most rooms and just about any personal design preference. When combined with light paint colors on the walls and light colored flooring, mirrors can work well to enhance the light and give the appearance of a larger space.
A disproportionate amount of space in a small office is often utilized for storage. Large filing cabinets are becoming increasingly obsolete as more and more documents are transmitted online and stored through cloud technology. Many receipts, invoices, forms, and other financial documentation you need for your business can be scanned, uploaded and registered through online bookkeeping software services that don't take up any space at all and still keep all your records at your fingertips. For papers, contracts, and office supplies that you absolutely must store in your office, consider vertical storage options like shelves and overhead cabinets rather than filing cabinets so that you maximize your floor space.
As small businesses lean more heavily on mobile operations and remote workers--and as commercial rents continue to rise in many cities--downsizing leased office space makes sense for better productivity and smart cost cutting. A little creative designing prevents a small office from becoming a crowded, cramped place. Keeping only the most essential workplace items frees up a lot of space to work and move around and creates a simpler, cleaner ambiance for everyone.