Strategize Your Space: Seven Essential Points To Remember Before Making Your First Small Office Investment Your office becomes a dynamic and responsive environment that encourages creativity, teamwork, and productivity, ensuring that you stay at the forefront of workplace efficiency.

By Celia Vrnak

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The modern business environment has seen an encouraging resurgence of people returning to physical office spaces. Yet, for young SMEs, the transition often feels like solving a complex jigsaw puzzle. Every square foot counts, and every decision can either enhance or curtail results.

As a professional organizer, I have worked on countless spaces to declutter, organize and set systems that super-boost productivity. Typically, SMEs consider bringing in a contractor or business consultant.

For that, here is the ultimate guide to planning a small office space that is efficient and aesthetically pleasing:

1. Zone flow When it comes to organizing your workspace for optimal efficiency, it's all about aligning your environment with your workflow. The first step is to ask yourself: what are your primary tasks, and how do they mesh with your work style? Are you a creative who thrives in collaborative spaces, or do analytical tasks demand solitude? While open layouts may seem appealing, they can often hinder productivity. Instead, start by listing every function and activity in your workday.

Let function guide your design. If brainstorming is frequent, prioritize collaborative spaces. For focused work, create areas that minimize distractions. Remember, your workspace should serve your needs, not just follow trends or aesthetics. Craft a space that empowers your productivity. Also: talk to your team! Take a survey, and you might realize that the coffee corner being larger would have been the best investment if you had known.

2. Optimize vertical space Your wall space -an often-overlooked area- can be a gamechanger for your office setup. Consider installing shelves for storage, utilizing hanging organizers, or even incorporating vertical gardens to infuse a touch of nature into your workspace.

These vertical solutions not only help declutter your office, but also provide valuable storage options. By making the most of your walls, you can keep your workspace tidy and organized, while maximizing storage capacity, creating an environment that fosters productivity and creativity.

3. Less is more: simplifying storage solutions So, should it be baskets, or should it be bins? Neither- when designing your workspace, remember that more isn't always better, especially regarding baskets and bins. While these storage solutions can be invaluable for organization, overdoing it can lead to inefficiency. It's crucial to get critical about what you have in hand, and how much excess you are storing.

The clutter of too many bins and boxes can hinder quick access to essential items. Instead, focus on creating a storage strategy that prioritizes accessibility and functionality. A wellorganized space should allow you to reach for what you need effortlessly without getting lost amidst an abundance of containers.

Related: Five Tips For Creating A Successful Freelance Design Brand

4. Versatile furniture While bespoke furniture may seem enticing for its tailored appeal, it's often more prudent to focus on versatile business equipment. Think of it as an investment in the future of your workspace. Look for items that can easily transition with you as your business expands or your needs evolve. Imagine having furniture that can seamlessly adapt to different spaces and purposes, ensuring that it remains functional even as your office grows.

Can a desk be repurposed as a coffee bar in the future? Or a side buffet coffee bar that can be repurposed as a standing desk? A conference table that becomes a large-shared desk? This flexibility not only saves you resources, but also promotes a sustainable approach to workspace design, and promotes a growth mindset.

5. The shift in office supplies: embrace digital solutions When was the last time you used white-out? Switching to digital systems is often a more practical and convenient choice for office organization. (Digital post-it note apps that keep your notes secure, instead of paper ones that fly off whenever you move your computer? Yes, please!). If you're ready to shift paperwork and tasks to a digital format, how many of your current office supply items will still be relevant or necessary? For example, if you switch to storing files digitally, it may eliminate the need for binders, page holders, and/or a holepunch.

Similarly, a wall calendar and markers will be made redundant using a digital calendar for scheduling. Bonus, you'll save money by not having to replace physical office supplies. Moreover, don't hesitate to adopt a communal approach to larger stationary equipment. Shared stations can serve multiple team members efficiently, reducing redundancy, and streamlining resource allocation. It's all part of the movement toward leaner, more agile workspaces that embrace the digital age. (Here's a tip: scan your reference materials with optical character recognition (OCR) to make it easier to find things with your device's search function, versus rummaging through pages and pages of content!)

6. Mobile office elements Using movable dividers, rolling chairs, and desks on wheels can truly boost productivity. It showcases that not only can you effortlessly evolve with your team's needs, but also foster a culture of flexibility and innovation. Your office becomes a dynamic and responsive environment that encourages creativity, teamwork, and productivity, ensuring that you stay at the forefront of workplace efficiency.

For instance, some things don't have to be as stationary as previously thought. Create a rolling cart for meetings filled with all your technology supplies to make it easy to host a conference anywhere. (Time for another tip: ensure that you have several plug points across different walls or tables for your new space!)

7. Declutter regularly Implement a "one in, one out" policy. When a new item comes in, an old one goes out. Regular decluttering sessions ensure that only essential items occupy your limited space. Coming up with a decluttering system can seem daunting, but you can replace that fear with fun routines including a weekly paper shredding party. Another cool strategy is testing all the markers once per month by having each employee write a nice or fun message on the community whiteboard. I would love to see companies integrate a monthly declutter challenge, i.e. if employees collect 30 things to recycle or ditch, they are rewarded in monetary or nonmonetary ways.

In the world of office planning, size isn't everything. It's about maximizing utility and creating an environment that fosters creativity and productivity. By asking the right questions and making strategic decisions, SMEs can turn their compact spaces into hubs of innovation and collaboration. Before calling in external experts, trust in your ability to understand your team and your business. A thoughtful, space-savvy strategy can lead to an office space that's both efficient and inspirational.

Related: A Flexible Shift: A Look At The Workspace Ecosystem Post The COVID-19 Pandemic

Celia Vrnak

Founder, The Savvy Space

Celia Vrnak is the founder of The Savvy Space, a professional home and life organizing firm specializing in creating streamlined systems that elevate spaces and transform lives. 

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