As a business leader, there’s nothing more exciting than growth. But when your organization is growing faster than your available space, it can be painful.
Investing in more space isn’t always feasible (at least not right away.) And sometimes it isn’t even necessary—you just need to make better use of the space you have.
If your office is starting to feel like it’s getting smaller every day, here are six space management hacks that can help.
When it comes to space design in a small office, you can reframe “thinking outside the box” as “thinking vertically”. Because maximizing space doesn’t just mean maximizing floor space; you need to take advantage of your available wall space (and even the ceiling), too.
Any important item that can be hung on a wall instead of placed on a flat surface should be — for example, clocks, calendars, lights. Install modular shelves that can easily be rearranged to accommodate objects of varying sizes and can also be quickly removed without a lot of effort. If your ceilings are high enough, install overhead shelves to store things like extra office supplies.
Assign Double Duty to Everything
It seems like every “As Seen on TV” product has a dual purpose. You might not need a tool that’s both a knife and a cutting board, but you can apply that same principle to your workspaces and office furniture.
For example, use conference room tables that double as whiteboards. Invest in desks that can easily convert from individual workstations to a collaborative work surface. If you have an open office and want to create subtle separations between work areas, use whiteboards as mobile partition walls.
Your goal should be to find office furniture and assets that satisfy the 3 Ms: multi-purpose, mobile and modular.
Give Your Space Some Breathing Room
Attempting to make the most out of every inch of a small office will make it feel more crowded. And crowded spaces inhibit efficiency and productivity — the two things you’re trying to maximize with your space management strategy.
So take a page from the graphic designer’s playbook and remember the power of white space. Don’t think about every blank wall or vacant corner as a place to put something. Consider the fact that sometimes the true purpose of these spaces is just to be empty. The placement of “unused” space should be just as deliberate as the placement of every piece of furniture, shelf and storage unit.
Rethink Your Workplace Strategy
Just as you need to be thoughtful about what you’re putting in your space, you need to consider who you’re putting there. Assigned seats are still the norm for three out of four organizations, but they can be confining—especially when you consider the fact that today’s employees spend more than half their day away from their desk.
That’s why more than half of employers say they’re moving toward a more agile work environment where seats are unassigned, according to a recent CBRE survey.
Use Psychology Tricks
The most effective office space utilization tactics involve a little illusion.
For instance, lighter colors tend to make a small space feel larger.
Mirrors have a similar effect.
And when it comes to office furniture, less is more. Avoid large, heavy desks and incorporate lighter furniture that’s easier to move.
Also, make sure there is consistency in the design of the space. Every color and element should complement the rest of the space, not distract from it. Too much contrast in the office disrupts the flow of the space and will make it appear cluttered...and small.
Pay Attention to the Atmosphere
As with color and furniture design, the quality of light, air and overall atmosphere all impact the way employees interact with a space.
Take advantage of any natural light sources you have. Don’t install heavy blinds; use roman shades instead. And try to block as little of the windows as possible. If your space doesn’t have windows, use smart lighting that can adjust its brightness to imitate natural light.
Similarly, even a wide open space can feel restrictive if poor ventilation makes the air stuffy or dry. Consider using a smart HVAC system that can adjust to occupancy levels and maintain proper airflow. IoT sensors that monitor environmental factors like temperature and humidity are also worth considering.
If you’ve tried these space management hacks but your office still can’t comfortably accommodate all of your employees, it might be time to consider a remote work policy. Not only will it reduce the number of people in the office at the same time; it’s also an attractive recruiting perk.