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5 ways to make the most of your small office space

Small office spaceDo you hit your daily step count just walking around the office looking for a quiet place to call a client? Or do you move files off the chair by your desk so you can talk with a co-worker? There are benefits to working in a small office space, like the camaraderie our office developed eating lunch in the combination kitchen/library/conference room, and any challenges can be offset with some adjustments. Here are some ideas for getting the most out of your limited office space.

  1. Ask before you act:

Is your office a good place for valuable impromptu meetings? Does your staff feel it’s easy to concentrate? Does the lighting throughout your office allow for a good work experience? Is technology easily accessible? The best way to find out is by asking, either in an informal meeting or via a survey. Your plans to get the best use of limited office space won’t work if you don’t solve the problems that prevent staff from doing their best.

  1. Consider processes and workflow:

No matter how much space you have, you’ll get more out of it if used efficiently. Whether your employees are working collaboratively or moving throughout the office to get approvals, things will run more smoothly—and ultimately more productively—if the space is designed around your workflow. For example, based on their daily tasks, would your team be most efficient if they worked with sets of two or four desks facing each other, in a row of desks next to each other or in a central bullpen? Are the people, files and technology they need easily accessible, or do they require a trip to the other side of the office several times a day? By reviewing your staff’s activity around the office, you can streamline processes and create a better experience for all.

  1. Learn to let go of paper:

File cabinets crowding the break room. Piles of paper taking up precious desk and floor space. These can be problems of the past if the firm shifts as much as possible to a paperless environment. Cloud technology solutions, including easily available options such as Box or Evernote, as well as scanning can solve the problem by containing physical documents while keeping the information accessible. If you still need some papers within reach, implement a secure system that requires files to be returned to cabinets quickly and accurately. Can’t get rid of stacks of paper on your desk no matter how hard you try? Apply the “touch it once” principle, and resolve to address (and file or discard) papers the first time you see them, rather than adding them to the mountain on your desk. 

  1. Embrace hoteling:

Firm members need workspaces, but they don’t have to be permanent ones – especially if they are seasonal, part-time or regularly work remotely. In a hoteling setup like we use in our office, team members sign up for open cubicles or offices on an as-needed basis. The firm won’t have to cram less frequently used work areas into a small space or increase spending on expensive office space. A simple step to make hoteling work is to ensure there’s a display showing who’s sitting where each day.  

  1. Stress mobility:

If you don’t need a big conference room for team meetings very often, consider pulling out a folding table and chairs for these gatherings instead of setting aside space that will be unused most of the time. Consider mobile workstations to accommodate seasonal or part-time staff. They can easily be stored or used to reconfigure space if workflow changes after busy season. Computer monitors on adjustable arms can be moved aside to give you greater desk space when you need it. And if your office walls are crowding you in, move meetings to an outdoor location or an indoor open space.

Want to learn more about opportunities to make your small firm more productive and profitable? The AICPA offers a wealth of resources to help you help your firm make a big impact. 

Lisa Simpson, Associate Director – Firm Services, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

Small office space courtesy of Shutterstock.

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