When people think of a traditional office, they usually imagine a walled in space with a desk, filing cabinets, and a single door. But is that the most efficient way to run a business? Many smaller companies that need more agility in their day-to-day operations are opting for other office models, including rented office space, open environments, and the increasingly popular virtual office. Whether this is just a trend or the walled office model of old is on its way out, here are some of the reasons why people seek to avoid the old-fashioned office model.
A Communication Blockade
The first and potentially biggest disadvantage that a traditional office possesses is a barrier to easy communication. Even though the traditional model theoretically has advantages over office models that involve remote communication, such as virtual offices, in practice the walls often prevent people from voicing concerns and talking through problems. Too often, a walled office gets seen as a place of privacy by other employees, and many people are loathe to disturb a person in such an office even if they have a legitimate issue. This becomes especially true if the employee leaves an office door closed most of the time—simple verbal communications that can speed up workflow get ignored due to subconscious concerns about privacy.
Counting all the expenses that a business has is never easy, even if that business is on the small size. Those expenses increase with a traditional office due to the many indirect expenses that go toward things which are peripheral to your main source of business. This includes maintenance contracts for copiers and printers, the cost of maintaining a cleaning staff, and the price of phone lines and other utilities. Many companies that are looking to cut non-business costs now opt for rented offices, which include those costs in the monthly rent, or virtual offices, which avoid many of those expenses altogether.
While virtual offices are accessible from anywhere in the world and rented office space can be tailored to a company’s short-term needs, a traditional office places physical restrictions that limit how much a business can change. If the business grows too much, you find yourself forced to move to a larger space at a higher cost. If the business shrinks due to hard times or simple downsizing, you wind up paying for office space that you aren’t using. The physical limitations of purchased office space combined with restrictive terms in leases and buying agreements often hamstring businesses and cause them to be less adaptive and agile than they should be.
Ultimately, only the individual managers and stakeholders in a business can decide what kind of office is right for their needs. However, it is important to consider the pros and cons of the traditional model instead of automatically assuming that a walled office is the best way to go. Companies that look at all the angles might be able to provide better communication, more efficiency, and additional cost savings by using a more modern office model.