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5 Ways You Can Profit from Your Empty Office Space Use these win-win ideas to turn your empty commercial space into a profitable venture.

By Laura D. Adams Edited by Heather Wilkerson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

During the past year, lockdowns and restrictions have shuttered storefronts and left hundreds of commercial office buildings empty. In the first three months of 2021, the vacancy rate was 18.2% for office space and 10.6% for retail space, according to Moody's Analytics. Many employees are still working from home, and some small business owners are figuring out how long their remote setups will last.

If you have a commercial space that's sitting empty, you might consider renting it out, at least temporarily. You could advertise the space yourself or hire real estate professionals for guidance.

Here are five ways you can make a vacant office profitable:

1. Private events

In the aftermath of the pandemic, many people are looking for clean spaces to meet up and organize private events. From book clubs to birthday parties, weddings, and baby showers, your vacant office could be the key to helping people gather and celebrate safely.

Before advertising your commercial space for rent, consider which types of events would work best and what you might need to upgrade to make it as appealing as possible to potential customers.

2. Professional training

Some companies aren't bringing workers back to the office and may have closed their physical location. However, but they may need a place to host occasional meetings or provide staff training.

For example, corporations might want to host workshops on sales techniques, and non-profits may need high-tech offices to facilitate global remote meetings.

3. Pop-ups

A pop-up is a short-term retail store, such as a holiday craft shop, summertime brewery, food market, or clothing retailer. They typically last a few days or weeks, which is beneficial if you don't want to commit to a long-term rental contract.

As the world recovers from the pandemic and people are looking for things to do outside their homes, pop-ups can be excellent ways for businesses to increase brand awareness and revenue.

Related: Hate Working From Home? This Company Brings You Chairs, Gadgets, Internet and Even Babysitters

4. Co-working space

Since millions of workers have been confined to their homes for more than a year, many would be glad to pay for a place where they can concentrate on work, hold meetings, and make human connections.

Turning your empty office into a co-working space could be an excellent option if you have desks, chairs, internet access, phone lines, and a few conference rooms where people can take calls. If you have amenities such as an exercise studio, kitchen, and lounge, they could add significant value to your space.

5. Photography studio

You can also turn your unused commercial real estate into a place that's well-suited for photographers. Many professional photographers need large spaces to set up equipment, invite clients for photoshoots, or take photos of clients' products.

Your office could benefit photographers who want to show professionalism but need the flexibility of a short-term contract. If you're interested in this option, consider whether your office has good lighting, storage space, and a clean design that would be appealing to photographers.

What to consider before renting an empty commercial space

Before advertising your commercial real estate for rent, research the following:

  • Evaluate your offer. Based on factors such as how long you can rent your space and its square footage, facilities, and amenities, consider the types of events that may work best. For instance, a book club may want to use your conference room, while a wedding party would need a kitchen. Create a list of possible clients based on what you have to offer.

  • Consider your risks. What might happen if you rent out your space? The risks vary but could include theft, injury and damage. Ask your insurer what type of coverage you need, such as commercial liability insurance, and if renters should sign a waiver of liability agreement.

  • Establish safety standards. Set rules for anyone who's planning to rent or step foot inside your building. For instance, you might require people to wear masks and sanitize the space before leaving. That way, you can keep them safe and protect your interests.

  • Check legal limitations. If you're currently renting your office, check your lease to see if you can sublet it to others. If you can, check local laws about safety, inspections, parking regulations and tenant rights before signing a contract.

  • Calculate the costs of keeping the space open. Add up how much it would cost to make upgrades, add furniture, run the utilities, hire someone to clean, and conduct reference or background checks. You'll need to factor these costs into the price you charge or include them in agreements with renters or tenants.

If you've been worried about the costs of keeping your empty office open, renting it out to companies, organizations and professionals may be a solution for earning income or at least breaking even. Keeping an open mind about how your space could benefit others may allow you to turn it into a win-win proposition.

Laura D. Adams

Award-Winning Financial Author, Podcaster & Spokesperson

Laura Adams, MBA, is one of the nation's leading personal finance and small business authorities. She's an award-winning author, speaker and host of the top-rated 'Money Girl' podcast since 2008. Laura is an on-camera financial spokesperson, and her expert advice is frequently quoted in the media.

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