By Noam Livnat
Chief Product & Innovation Officer
SpaceIQ

There’s a finite amount of space in your workplace. Maximizing the square footage you have is the best way to keep overhead costs in check and put off a larger lease until it’s absolutely needed. But this is easier said than done, especially when it feels like you’re already short on office space. Thankfully, there are a few space-saving office ideas to make your workplace more nimble.

1. Recognize dead space

Before maximizing the office space you’re already paying for, figure out how much of it you can actually use. Every workplace will have dead space—areas you can’t use at all. You can’t put a desk in front of the fire exit or position a copy machine in front of an office door. Factor these unusable spaces out of your square footage to see what you’re left with.

Then, determine where dead spaces are located. You might have a great plan for a new desk arrangement that’s foiled by dead space. Generate a floor plan that’s proportionally accurate before making changes. Realistic workplace space saving starts with a comprehensive understanding of the real footage available to you.

2. Use corners effectively

Corners are the bane of many workplaces because they’re so restrictive. Instead of leaving them empty or filling them with fixtures for the sake of using the space, consider how to actually use them.

Amenities and equipment are great corner candidates. Copy machines can be neatly tucked away, yet still easily accessible. Ditto on garbage and recycling bins, supply cabinets, and decorations. Corners and permanent workspaces are a bad marriage. No one wants a desk that faces two walls.

3. Explore flexible workspaces

Flexibility is a hallmark of small office space saving ideas, and flexible workspaces are the best way to optimize defined areas. If you’re short on square footage, using a single space for multiple purposes is about as efficient as you can get.

Conference rooms are one example. They’re rarely occupied all day, every day. Such spaces are great for quiet work spots, collaborative project areas, and temporary staffing spaces. You’ll get the most out of space you’re already paying for while offering diverse work environments for employees and guests.

Keep in mind, flexible workspaces only work if they’re well-managed. A booking system is a must, including availability information.

4. Take a minimalist approach

Furniture hogs the most physical square footage in the workplace. A great way to free up space is to reduce the amount of furniture you have and invest in minimalist styles.

Space-saving desks—like standing desks or convertible models—net precious square feet. Replace old, bulky chairs with ergonomic models that take up less space. Say goodbye to massive conference tables and replace them with bean bag chairs to recoup square footage and shift the work atmosphere.

Reducing furniture size can have a decluttering effect. It’ll seem like the walls have been pushed out, alleviating that cramped feeling.

5. Embrace the Cloud

How much of your workplace is reserved for file cabinets? Are you making multiple copies to send to remote employees? If so, it’s time to embrace the cloud. Digital files are accessible from anywhere by anyone who needs them.

Cloud archiving is perfect for backing up hard-copy files. Once scanned and placed in digital folders, those bulky paper files can be sent to storage or recycled. Another bonus: file cabinets become unnecessary. Say hello to more usable space.

Cloud collaboration software can also reduce the number of needed desks. Converting five workers to remote staff frees up workspaces for hotel and hot desks. Real estate once occupied by file cabinets is now available for flex space.

6. Reevaluate your floor plan

Sometimes you need a big change to unlock the value of small office space. The biggest shift is a floor plan realignment. Simple changes to current desk layouts can both unlock space and allow better collaboration between employees and teams.

Consider the switch to desks neighborhoods from individual desks. Open concept floor plans are another option, but are waning in popularity. A workplace filled with hot desks and flexible work environments all fit the bill.

Make data-driven changes

Walking the line between space utilization and productivity is tricky, especially in smaller workplaces (read more on space planning software). To avoid upsetting this balance, approach space saving ideas with as much data as possible. Look at metrics like occupancy, cost per head, and real cost per square foot. Use data to drive decision-making and track changes to gauge the effect.

You may have a small amount of square footage to work with, but recognizing the value of every inch highlights opportunities for better utilization across your workplace.

Keep reading: welcoming reception area ideas for small offices