There are right and wrong ways to save money by offering your employees the option of working off-site.
Just to start today’s post with a chuckle, here’s a story about a company that did it the wrong way, in the words of one of its employees. . .
“My company asked me to go to work in an empty floor it had rented from a company that had downsized. The place was full of cubicles that still had some of the belongings from the employees who were no longer there – one cubicle had a small vase with dead flowers in it! It felt depressing, like I was working on Easter Island, a place where the previous inhabitants had simply vanished. I was afraid I would get mugged in there. I could see one of my coworkers in a distant cubicle, all by herself. But then, things got even worse. When I went back to my company’s home office hoping to work for a half day, I discovered that my own cubicle had been filled with boxes and that the company had rented out half its floor space to a shoe company! I had nowhere to go! I felt like a man without a country. I know our company is cutting costs, but this is ridiculous!”
Right Ways, Wrong Ways to Save Money on Office Space
If you are planning to let your employees log time in off-site shared work spaces, your first logical thought might be to consider downsizing your company headquarters. Get smaller! With fewer employees logging hours in headquarters, you should be able to operate in a smaller space and save money as a result. But the thing to remember is, planning is important. Here are some considerations.
· Do a workforce analysis – Realistically, how many employees will work off-site, and for how many hours? And what percentage of your space should that free? You might only be able to do a rough estimate at first but doing even a first-pass analysis will help you begin a realistic plan of how your in-house facilities can be reduced.
· Think about job functions – Which of your employees will be most likely to work from off-site locations? And which of them will be most likely to continue as “home bodies” who will log most of their time in your home location? What kind of working facilities, equipment and space will those stay-in-headquarters employees need to work effectively? You will have to meet their needs.
· Consider how your internal space can be modified – Many companies are finding that after they start using off-site shared work spaces, their home facilities start to look more and more like the off-site locations they are using, with shared open work areas where employees can plug in and log on. That alone can reduce the need for private offices,which in turn can save money.
· Do a technology review – You have great Wi-Fi in your home office, so that is not a consideration. But review where employees can find power outlets for their laptops. A basic thing to think about, right? But if employees who are working in-house have a hard time plugging in, that can be a big problem. Also think about where you will locate docking stations if you use them.
And Think About the Big Picture Too
Using shared off-site work spaces can play an important role as your company grows. So think big by asking questions like these:
· Can you grow faster when you can staff up quickly, as needed? Thanks to shared work spaces, you can staff up flexibly and quickly respond to new opportunities. If you win a new client, for example, you can add new employees without considering whether you have enough internal space to house them.
· Can you expand into new cities and new regions without overspending? When you’re operating only out of company headquarters,your ability to enter new regions and markets is limited. But if you can enter new regions by setting up shop in shared work spaces, you can expand more quickly. And you can control costs at the same time, because you won’t immediately need to lease or buy new facilities for your employees.
· How about launching a new division, a new product or even a new company? Shared work spaces can give you the flexibility to staff up and try new things without busting the bank. Think big! You have a powerful new tool for business growth at your disposal!