Office Management

Empty Office...What Now?

December 8, 2020

It’s sad that we can say 60% of businesses that were shut down due to COVID-19 are more than likely going to be permanent closures, according to Yelp data. With the skyrocketing cases since the surge at the beginning of the 2020 year, it became the catalyst for stay at home orders and businesses shutting down to protect the safety and wellness of others. And unfortunately, many of them are not surviving because of it.


Now, if you are a business owner who is temporarily closed down as we speak, it does not necessarily mean you are going to fall into that 60% statistic. There are several things you can do to support your business, keep it afloat during turbulent times, and set the foundation for it to thrive again once this mess is over. And the first step to ensuring that outcome is optimizing your empty office space.


What Now? Tips for Your Next Moves


Whether you are renting or you own your office space, chances are you are paying a lot to keep it. So, it stands to reason how frustrating and budget hindering it can be to pay for a space that is not being used or generating an income to help support it. What does this mean for you? Well, you have three choices. You can either close shop permanently, keep paying for it as you are if you have the bottom line for it, or you can make strategic moves to lower the costs, up the value, and keep it in your name all at the same time. If that latter sounds like the best route for you to take on, then below are some ideal tips you can adopt and/or think about doing to make your next moves count.


·   Don’t Sublease - I know, it might sound strange to see a tip against commercial subleasing, as this is a way for you to generate income fast from your empty space, but hear me out. Going with subleasing means you are subjecting yourself to the risk of facing recuperation costs. Not to mention that defaulting under a lease with a sublease can leave you with larger damages than you had before going into it. As tempting as it may be to sublease, leave this as a last resort, or better yet, avoid it entirely. 


·   Cut Utility Costs - Alright, onto the things that you can do and are recommended. First up is cutting the utility costs where applicable. This means reducing the heating and/or cooling bills, keeping the lights off, halting any outside cleaning services, etc. After all, there is no need to keep the space comfortable if no one is there.


·   Think Outside the Box - Is the space you have feel too small and crowded? With this empty office space opportunity, this is a great time to look over your layout and experiment with different formations that can maximize the entire space. Perhaps you can orchestrate a productive new configuration and make the most out of your existing office space instead of having to endure a costly relocating endeavor. Some concepts to think about when/if you choose to do this include:


o   Identify the unused space, including the size, location, and features

o   Looks for what types of spaces your workplace is missing

o   Gauge and research the demand for different types of spaces and environments

o   Explore the viability of different space utilization, such as multipurpose workspaces, and expansion opportunities

o   Plan out ways to effectively utilize re-proposed space to derive the most benefit


How to Utilize Empty Office Space During COVID


Even with the tips above, it all boils down to the effort in reducing the harm in your bottom line and gaining the most value from your space as you can. When it comes to value, however, that is where you might feel a bit stuck. Though you can sublease if you wish and gamble that it will work in your favor, there are some other ways you can add value and utilize your empty office space before your team starts trickling back in again post COVID.


Skill Swap It - Are you someone who also owns a small, single owned side business? This could mean selling things like painting, photography, or creating products to sell on Esty, etc. If so, think about re-purposing your empty space to support you on that side effort for now. This can be a creative way for you to get out of the house into a safe space you are comfortable with and make the most out of it during its vacant duration. Plus, you will have plenty of room to stock up your inventory as well, which can reduce the hefty costs of paying for fulfillment storage.


Re-Modeling Opportunity - According to the Global Impact of Biophilic Design, their workspace study showed that people who worked in spaces with natural features reported 15% higher levels of overall wellbeing. In addition, those respondents felt 6% more productive and 15% more creative at work as well. With this data, another useful thing and potentially fun task you can do is to work on a workspace remodel. If you have the budget for it, think about repainting, reflooring, and reorganizing the place. This not only will offer a fresh vibe to promote productivity when the time comes for your employees to go back to the office world, but it also gives them something new and exciting to look forward to. You can go as monumental or as simple as you want, but even a fresh coat of paint on the walls can work wonders for employee satisfaction.


Event Space Renting Out - Remember, renting your space out for an event is not the same as subleasing. This is just you making some extra cash to keep your space running by allowing others to pay to use it for a duration of your choosing. Whether it be for a small wedding venue, or an all-remote company looking for a professional space to have an in-house conference, this is a reliable option to market out there. The only thing to be careful of here is that with more people going into your space from the outside, the more risk you are instilling for getting COVID-19. So, if you do choose to rent for events, have a strong disinfecting protocol in place before, during, and after each one.


Conclusion - There Is A Lot You Can Do with An Empty Workspace


The year 2020 was something that was not on anyone’s radar or on any business plan. It resulted in the nation experiencing an economic crisis that is said to dwarf the Great Depression. And with that reality came millions of people losing their jobs, remote work becoming the new norm, and of course, traditional workspaces being empty. It has been tough on everyone, and if you are stuck wondering just what your next moves are in terms of your empty workspace, then know that you still have options to keep it valuable and utilizable. Go ahead and leverage the guidance and tips above to help you maintain your business and keep it optimally running until your employees begin slowly migrating back in.


For now, the best thing you can do is sit down and analyze your situation, such as your budget, your goals, and the bare minimum to keep your business alive, and using that to help determine what your next steps should be. In the end, you do have empty office options. Some that save money, some that make money, and others that offer you the time you need to upgrade your space without hindering the workflow as it would have if the office was regularly full. Do what you feel is best for you, your team, and your business, and don't be afraid to get started.