Cost-Saving Alternatives to a Traditional Office Setup

Joining a Coworking Space

Are your remote team members eager to work in a traditional office setup? While the lure of a physical office can sound like a major milestone, don’t forget to consider other factors

Office space is essential for every business, but it doesn't have to be large from the get-go. Apart from a lack of cash flow, startup businesses often make the mistake of scaling too early. 

People generally think you need to rent or lease space to start a business. But, let us be the first to tell you: That is simply not true! In reality, there are many alternatives to a traditional office setup.

Do Instagram, Spotify, or Uber ring a bell? Those businesses are just a small sample size of successful startups that didn’t start in a traditional office setup.

Top alternatives to traditional office setup

1. Coworking spaces

Productivity In Coworking Space

So if businesses like Spotify, Uber, or Instagram didn’t start in traditional office spaces, where did they start? If you said coworking spaces, you’d be right!

Coworking spaces are the best alternatives to a traditional office setup. They’re composed of different desks and offices where freelancers, remote workers, and entrepreneurs can work outside their homes. 

This office alternative has become a norm not just for startups, but even big-name brands. Companies such as Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft are just some of the industry giants to hop on the coworking trend.

So, why do business owners find more success in coworking spaces than in traditional office setups?

For starters, coworking spaces don’t force you to make a long-term commitment. If you feel the space isn’t the right fit, you’re free to end your contract next month. What’s more, coworking spaces will make it easier for you to scale your business. Most are equipped with private offices that can cater to businesses of all sizes.   

If you’re considering using coworking spaces for your business, make sure they have the following amenities:

  • Secure 24/7 access
  • High-speed internet
  • Printers and scanners 
  • Virtual mailbox services
  • Ergonomic furniture
  • Free beverages
  • Flexible membership options
  • Private meeting rooms and conference rooms
  • Event spaces

2. Small business incubators

people talking in a small business incubator

If you own a startup that has its sights set on long-term business development, consider using small business incubators. 

This substitute for leasing an office is run by government agencies or nonprofit organizations. They will offer support by providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and help you craft the perfect business roadmap. 

These programs were created with the aim of fostering business growth, resulting in a more thriving economy. 

The only drawback to small business incubators is that they are hard to find and are limited to specific industries.

Moreover, leasing agreements for incubator programs also last a few years. So you'll need to ensure that your startup is steady enough to meet the lease obligations before signing up. 

3. Remote work arrangements

woman holding her dog while working from home
Photo source: Canva

Before looking for physical office space, it's also a good idea to experiment with how your employees work remotely. 

If you’re worried about their level of productivity, you can always make use of different tools. 

You can use programs such as Slack or Skype for communication. Then there are project management tools such as Trello and Asana to organize your employees’ tasks. There are even time tracking tools to monitor your employees’ productivity. Some examples include Hubstaff and Time Doctor.

Furthermore, this setup can help you save on any possible overhead costs, and gives you access to the best talent. As a remote employer, you can be more selective with the talent you hire. Most employees nowadays would much rather choose flexibility over a higher salary. 

4. Executive office suites

executive office suites in the farm soho

If you’re really adamant about having your own private office without the long-term lease, go for executive office suites. These are joint offices used mostly by small businesses to help scale their business. Executive office suite agreements last a year or two, but terms can often be arranged, including the use of amenities.  

While this may cost more than some of the alternatives mentioned above, it does offer a lot of other benefits. For a start, most office suites are located in a prime business location, hence improving your business’ credibility overnight. 

Some executive office suites will even offer the following:

  • Administrative help
  • Receptionist services
  • Quick office setup
  • High-speed internet access
  • Mail handling
  • High-tech utilities

Factors to consider

Once you've decided on an office setup, it’s time to look into other factors. Use the following questions to help you make the right decision:

1. What working environment will maximize your employee’s productivity?

The kind of environment you need will depend on your industry. For example, if you're in a design niche, you’ll want an office that’s quiet and has an aesthetically pleasing design. This will help you and your employees draw inspiration from what's going on around you. 

2. How much space do you need?

This is an important question to ask yourself since it involves your budget. How many of your employees will work on-site? Will this space be feasible once you scale your business?

Having definitive answers to the amount of space you need from the start will help you plan for the future of your business. 

3. What's your budget?

Girl Holding Money
Photo source: Canva

Moving on to the next and, arguably the most important factor to consider, is your budget. If you’re a startup company, be sure to plan your budget before choosing a space. Think about how much you can afford to spend on rent, utilities, and other office-related overheads.

4. What are the lease terms?

Since you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to traditional office spaces, don’t forget to read in detail the terms of the deal. How many years will it take for the lease to end? Are you free to re-design the space?  

For instance, some leases will allow you to sublet the space if your business needs to expand. Meanwhile, others will require you to renew the lease at the end of your term.

5. Is the space accessible to public transportation?

man waiting for public transportation
Photo source: Canva

When you're choosing an office location, you should also think about the kind of amenities that are nearby. For example, whether you want an office in a bustling city or a rural setting, you should ensure there’s easy access to public transportation. 

Final thoughts

The type of office your business needs will depend on multiple factors. The kind of business you run and how fast you plan to expand play important roles in your office setup. These are essential considerations when deciding whether alternatives to a traditional office setup are practical. 

Be sure to do your research and think outside the commercial real estate box when searching for an office. This will help you save money and meet the changing needs of your organization.

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