Do Startups Really Need Office Space?
When you’re launching a startup, there are hundreds of ways to spend each dollar. Prioritizing your spending is vital to your success, and office space may seem like an expensive luxury, given the other infrastructure and inventory costs that demand your attention and your funds.
And with the popularity of distributed teams, an office can seem quite non-essential. High-speed internet service is available nearly everywhere in the world. You can hire top talent and collaborate with them regardless of where they live. You avoid relocation costs, and your employees enjoy all the advantages of telecommunications. No office is required, and no real estate budget is necessary.
Yet with all these advantages come some significant disadvantages. It can be difficult to build team cohesiveness without regular face-to-face interactions. The “water cooler moments,” when a chance conversation can spark a profitable breakthrough, are hard to replicate in a distributed team. Not everyone’s personality is well suited to distributed teamwork, and it can be challenging to monitor the productivity of team members separated by many miles and time zones.
Beyond team management, there’s a psychological boost that office space gives to a new business. Corporate culture attracts and retains the best talent, and office space is a big part of corporate culture. It demonstrates your commitment to the business, and by extension, your commitment to your employees. In turn, they feel loyalty to you and pride in the new venture.
Investors, too, are influenced by office space. A lease says you’re in it for the long run and planning for the future. Likewise, clients feel more comfortable doing business with a startup that has a physical address, with offices that reinforce your corporate brand.
Faced with all these pros and cons, many startups are opting for a blend of both scenarios, combining distributed teamwork with some office space. Flexible work hours and telecommuting are valuable recruitment tools, and they also reduce office space requirements to something more budget-friendly. High-density mobile storage, too, can contribute to lower real estate costs by increasing storage capacity in a smaller storage footprint. Adaptive furnishings can reduce spatial needs even further, reconfiguring from individual workstations to collective conference room at a moment’s notice.
It takes a little imagination and some creative solutions from design consultants, but start-ups can have the best of both worlds – distributed teams that also work face-to-face from time to time, in space-efficient offices. And after all, imagination and creative solutions are what start-up entrepreneurs specialize in.
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