In a super-sized world, it is refreshing to find people who know how to put a lot of value into a little bit of space. As someone who currently lives comfortably in a 550 square-foot apartment, and once used my car as an office for about 18 months, this "smoffice" (small office) project really speaks to me. Unfortunately, I don't want to move to Durham, so I won't be entering this particular competition, but this is a good opportunity to ask, just how much office space do we REALLY need?
Room to entertain clients. If entertaining clients is part of your job, ask yourself if it is truly beneficial for those clients to meet you in your office? For example, if you're an interior decorator, and use your office as a show room, then the answer is obviously yes. But in many industries, it's more common to meet clients on a job site, or at a coffee shop, in a restaurant, or in a cafe like the one shown in the video above. If you generally meet your clients in public places, it might make more sense to reallocate a good portion of your office real-estate budget to entertainment costs.
File storage. Do you really need to keep a massive amount of paper files or manuals or books? Maybe you do, and if so, then you'll definitely want a climate-controlled, secure space for those files with easy access. Increasingly, however, in most industries, it is more convenient to store files electronically. It's easier to share and update them in electronic format - particularly if your clients and/or colleagues are in other locations. Explore whether taking time to scan and digitize those archives might significantly reduce the amount of commercial property you need to lease or buy for your office space.
Ergonomic comfort. This is a big one, and the reason my brilliant office-in-my-car idea eventually fell to the wayside. If you're going to be sitting and working for long periods of time, you really do need to protect your back, legs, arms, neck, and eyes. You need room to stretch, and a place to go for a walk. No matter how big or small your office space is, make sure you have a chair that is adjustable to the right height, a keyboard and monitor that are appropriate for the amount of time you're spending on the computer, and a desk that allows you to reach your phone, computer, and files without reaching or stretching into positions that could pull a muscle or cause you to fall out of your chair, or crack a shin open on an inconvenient corner.
Light. Again, the importance of good lighting cannot be stressed enough. Whether you have natural light or not, you'll need to make sure the indoor light is bright and comfortable for night-time or cloudy days. Remember, light does not take up any space, so you can afford to splurge on it.
Equipment. Think about all of the equipment you really need to operate efficiently. If you need a copier and printer, be sure to make room for one. You'll probably need a desk and/or table of some sort at a minimum. Even if you have digitized your files, you'll probably need SOME sort of paper or file storage, so make room for that as appropriate. You need enough electric plug-ins to charge and power each of your devices - computer, phone, printer/copier, etc.. If you find you're using any of your equipment less than once a week, you might consider whether it is worth it to simply use the services of a local library or print shop, rather than maintaining and storing the equipment yourself.
So, how much office space do you really need? Are you ready to try a smoffice?