Now that a light seems to be appearing at the end of the shutdown tunnel, it’s time to think beyond business survival, and on to future growth. Still, your company has probably taken a significant financial hit in recent months, and growth can be expensive.
The good news is that there are ways to do more, even if you think that more workers and other resources would cause your company to burst at the seams. When planning for growth, you need to keep some creative solutions in mind to free up existing space before expanding it.
Re-Think How You Use Your Facility’s Space
Chances are that many of your employees have been working from home. Since some personnel have been out of the workplace for a while, you’ve already seen and corrected most shortcomings, so why not make it permanent? Of course, it’s still important for team members to spend some time together, but that doesn’t mean that they need their own desks. Designate some extra desks for common use if they need a temporary home.
Some employees need to meet with clients, and their home offices would not be appropriate for this purpose. You might consider arranging for co-working facility space that is appropriate for conducting meetings while having all needed amenities available. These facilities also help to prevent feelings of isolation since your employees will likely get to know people from other businesses in building cafeterias or other common areas.
Find the Best Ways to Expand Your Team
You have a number of options when it comes to hiring employees. Think over the long-term to ensure that you choose the best approach to meet your needs — and your space. The goal is to make sure that all employees are busy most of the time, without being overwhelmed. Answering these questions might help:
- As post-lockdown business ramps up, what are your expectations for future business? Customers may need to place unusually-large orders right now, but they may reduce future order sizes. Adding more full-time employees might not be appropriate.
- What are your marketing plans? Do you just plan to support existing customers over the short-term? Or, are you ready to release a gangbuster marketing scheme that’s guaranteed to bring throngs of new people to your door? If you plan to be really busy for a long time, then maybe hiring full-time employees makes sense.
- Is your business largely seasonal? If the answer is “yes,” then perhaps temporary workers is the way to approach hiring right now.
Naturally, employees take up more space within your company in many ways, including the cubicles that they occupy, the supplies and equipment that they require, and even the number of stalls needed in the rest rooms. By supplementing your core team with contractors or temporary employees on an as-needed basis, your current workspace may be usable for a longer time period.
Make Full Use of Technology
When it comes to saving space, the right technology can make a major difference, while adding efficiency to many areas of your operation. With a little forethought and planning, you are likely to discover that certain types of equipment can enable you to achieve the expansion that you need.
Here are just a few examples to get you thinking about the possibilities.
- Automate repetitive tasks: When a relatively-small machine can replace humans, you can save the space that some employees occupy, including some of the amenities that people need within the workplace. Even if customers want human contact when ordering the burgers in your restaurant, they don’t really care if a robot is flipping those burgers behind the scenes.
- Conduct virtual meetings: There are times when it’s important to gather a group in one room, but how many conference rooms do you really need? There have been so many improvements in video conferencing that many meetings are actually more effective and efficient on-screen.
- Use software to hold on to accounting functions longer: You don’t have to hire an in-house bookkeeper when you set up the books and maintain them from your computer. When it’s time to get your financial information to an accountant, the information will be easy to transmit and well-organized.
- Take full advantage of digital storage: Depending on your industry, you might be required to maintain certain documents in paper format. But, you can reduce the need for storage space by scanning many documents into digital format, where they can be printed on an as-needed basis. As long as you diligently back up your documents, they can be safer and easier to find than if they were located in space-hogging file cabinets.
- Replace some computers with tablets … or even smart phones: This option does not work in all cases, but you might eliminate a desk or two in situations that are better served by mobility. For example, if your employees regularly have to take customers to a computer to check availability of products, then a portable device saves space, time, and customer effort. As a side benefit, those customers will be impressed by your high-tech acumen.
Nothing is Forever
Periods of growth can be full of mayhem and confusion, not to mention spending more money during a time when you have no guarantees that your growth plans will work exactly as you hope. While it’s natural – and even necessary – to assume that the money you make later will compensate for today’s expenses, there’s always a risk that sales will not increase as quickly as you anticipated.
Expanding your current facility or moving to a new one is an expensive proposition. If you can delay these decisions until you start to anticipate that your current facility will soon burst at the seams due to increased business, your risk will be reduced. Granted, the physical expansion process will be more challenging as you attempt to simultaneously meet customer demands. But, preparation for this disruption is part of the growth planning process. Anyway, that’s a nice problem to have, right?