Space is becoming scarce, whether it be empty land for buildings or empty buildings for office spaces. As a result of this growing scarcity, rent is rising and more businesses are moving towards downsizing to a smaller office space. However, saving space doesn’t necessarily demand a move into a smaller physical space.
Technological developments are actually leading to a phenomenon that’s seeing small businesses all over the globe save space. Technology is evolving in such a way that it is demanding less physical space while simultaneously offering more in its functionality. Businesses are therefore being able to free up existing space within their own offices simply by upgrading to newer technology.
The BYOD movement
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement is seeing employees bringing their own computers and phones to work. This saves business costs and office space where laptops are used in place of computers. Rather than dealing with expensive and bulky workstations, many companies are moving towards laptops so that their employees are able to work remotely and flexibly, whether in or out of the office.
On the topic of working remotely, video conferencing and collaboration softwares are allowing staff to conduct their work from anywhere while not disrupting the workflow. This freedom in where you work is leading to an increase in the number of people telecommuting, or opting to work from home rather than commute to the office. This has a large impact on the way business is conducted, and frees a lot of space in the office as it’s people and their equipment that take up the most room.
Storage and equipment
After the space taken up by people and their desks, a business’ filing cabinets, printers, scanners, and photocopiers clutter what’s left in the office. Not to mention the fact that operating this equipment adds quite a bit to a company’s budget. Developments in IT programs such as electronic contract management software and PDF software means that some of these items may no longer be required.
Documents, including sensitive information, can be securely stored on a cloud online, and files can be saved in PDF format, negating the requirement for scanning. Copying information onto discs and USBs is also obsolete with services allowing people to send large files over the internet, and cloud services allowing shared access to virtually stored information.
Cloud computing has been the one key development that contributed to space saving in offices all over the world. Sharing files has never been easier, with full access available from anywhere with services such as DropBox. Documents no longer need to be stored in hard copy form in a filing cabinet, and photocopiers need not exist anymore either. There are sufficient facilities to effectively run a paperless business. Even accounting and invoicing can be taken care of online through applications such a Freshbooks.
Enterprise servers are another piece of large equipment that are becoming less necessary. Remote cloud solutions have the benefit of being accessible from anywhere, including external locations, giving them an advantage over enterprise servers.
With less hardware in an office, the need for permanent staff to service and maintain these systems is diminishing. As a result, headcount in these departments is falling in favour of outsourced staff, freeing more space within the office.
With all the space saving benefits of cloud computing, new software applications, and mobile devices, businesses are embracing IT and seeing real reductions in their need for physical space. In addition to this, granting employees flexible working conditions has an impact on staff morale and is even known to improve productivity. Telecommuting and remote work arrangements are not the only ways in which this can be achieved. Zappos, for example has less desks in its offices and more free space with casual furniture like couches and pods where staff can roam and work on their laptops. This new way of working is inspiring creativity in the workplace while also reducing the requirement for traditional, bulky office furniture.