When you’re crunched for space, follow these tips to make the most of your workspace.
Many small business owners struggle to find the space to work when their homes lack a dedicated office. Fortunately, there are countless ways to maximize the use of whatever legroom you have. The National Association of Home Builders even coined the phrase “pocket offices” to describe all the makeshift offices popping up in pantries and other nooks around homes.
If you’re short on space, consider these innovative space-saving practices helping other home-based businesses:
Linsey Knerl, owner of Knerl Family Media in Omaha, Neb., works in a garage attached to her house. A recent flood threat forced Knerl to move her files into storage and completely rethink her use of space. Gradually, she rid her practice of paper—and with it, two ceiling-high filing cabinets, which she replaced with two desks.
Two factors enabled her transition:
Portable scanner—Using a $199 Doxie Go scanner that fits in her purse, Knerl started scanning receipts and other documents, converting them to searchable text PDFs for future reference. The scanner allows her to store documents online and make backup copies for her computer.
The cloud—Knerl tracks invoices and handles payroll through Freshbooks, an online service, and encourages her contacts to send things paperless. Meanwhile, she generates contracts through EchoSign, a web-based electronic signature service.
“Not only do I have things better organized for tax time,” Knerl says, “but the stacks of magazines, bills and invoices are gone.”
RELATED: How to Make Your Office Go Paperless
Adhesive Dry Erase Boards
While downsizing your office furniture, ditch the cumbersome white board in favor of removable adhesive white sheets. Many companies make rolls or precut sheets that function like dry erase boards. They can be applied directly to smooth wall surfaces for your note-taking and brainstorming sessions. They cost about $20 to $25.
“Offices are becoming more and more mobile as most people use laptops or iPads instead of desktop computers,” says Bonnie Dewkett, a professional organizer in Ridgefield, Conn.
Meanwhile, designers are finding increasingly creative ways to package key office elements within confined spaces. Your options include a $10,000 “flexible” workstation equipped to support monitors, keyboards and lighting, and foldaway offices ranging from $465 to more than $3,000. Picture a large, standup suitcase that opens to reveal a desk, chair, shelves and LED lighting.
People with a bit of extra yard space (and temperate weather) could build an office booth outdoors for a few hundred dollars—or spend $7,000-plus for an open air “officePOD” of officePOD Limited that comes with a desk, lighting, power and ventilation.