The Problem With Offices
The office sector hasn’t evolved since the beginning of big business, leaving customers with a catalogue of overpriced and over-serviced workspaces that don’t suit their needs. Landlords continue to flog their glass-encrusted business boxes, as companies pay premiums for the right London location.
But this landscape begins to look warped and ridiculous when you consider the fundamental purpose of an office. It helps, I think, to consider the facilities that could be removed with little impact to a business’ operational efficiency.
Remove the stupid lobby, with its inexplicable artwork and idle reception crew. Get rid of the lift, guest facilities and dawdling security squadron. Unless your business is in architecture, tailoring or embalming, consider smaller table surfaces that fit only a laptop and notebook. Also remember that ‘meeting rooms’ are simply rooms, and contain no infrastructure to make them conducive to good meetings. They can be replaced, as can the ‘pantry’, which is corporate slang for microwave.
These features increase the cost of space, but don't help the business grow. Furthermore, businesses will pay for utilities, management fees, parking privileges, insurance, agent fees and other services that are typically redundant to everyone involved.
One may argue that these elaborate premises increase employee satisfaction, but one may also over-estimate the impact of shiny surfaces on job satisfaction. One may, in fact, be deluded. These features are only a means for justifying high rental prices and SMEs spend vast proportions of their budget on excessive office space.
We started Hermit when we realised that 90% of a small business’ workspace requirements can be provided by someone’s home. The extra 10% can be bought or outsourced. Home offices are more comfortable, convenient and cost-efficient. They are a better use of space and can help small businesses, rather than hinder them.