What do tiny homes and workplaces have in common?

Last summer, I found myself binge watching a series on Netflix called ‘Tiny House Nation’. What pulled me in wasn’t my dream to design and own a tiny home, but the designer’s innovative way to make use of all of the space (all 300 sq. ft of it) so that it suited the needs of their owners with charm and practicality. Now, what does this have to do with the workplace? Like the tiny house movement, a workplace needs to suit the needs of its ‘users’ – whether that’s staff, clients or stakeholders. With the rise of technology, flexible working approaches, and more diverse roles, how do we adapt to cater to the workforce? We take a look.

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What are the problems?

Let's start with why people want Tiny Homes. They save money on household bills, create more flexibility to move around, enable owners to challenge their creativity, and reduce their carbon footprint. Much like our adventurous home owners, if you’re thinking about making some changes in your workspace, then you’re likely seeking out ways to reenergise your environment or make changes so that it meets your changing needs. The first step to your refresh is to consider the issues. Are your staff feeling too isolated from each other, causing a dip in collaborative work? Has your team grown, and you can't accommodate them? Or have you become more eco-conscious? Consider what sparked your call to action in the first place and what those who use the space are saying.

How do we work?

Now we’ve identified our motivations, we can now think about how we work. There are lots of workspace models out there, but they’re not all going to work for everyone. Like a tiny home, you need to consider who is using it and what their needs are. Would you like to utilise your space more so you’re working more energy efficiently? Or are you in need of some more modern equipment to support the requirements of temporary staff coming in and out? Many working environments serve lots of different people – in-house staff, flexible staff, clients – and have multiple requirements – meeting rooms, hot desks, AV facilities. Think about engaging the people that use the spaces. And remember, we're in a time of the most generation diverse workforce we've ever seen, so they'll be a variety of experiences and interests at play. Celebrate the different perspectives they give you.

Let’s get creative

With our motivation and intentions by our side, it’s time to start designing a model that works for you. We’ve all heard of Google’s office slides and Apple park (AKA the spaceship), but for a small business these ‘office goals’ are unrealistic. Here are some examples from my own experience.

  • Multi-business offices. Back in 2017, a professional association I worked for, ARMA UK, moved to a multi-business office block in Edinburgh. We shared our open office with 2 other businesses that also worked in the higher education sector. Not only did this open up opportunities for collaboration, we also saved money on office rental, utilities and supplies. We shared facilities such as a fully functioning kitchen and access to multiple meeting rooms with AV equipment. Everyone had their own assigned desk and that worked for us at the time. But when we took on more staff, we had to come up with a hot desk model with some staff alternating from working in the office and working from home.

  • Incubators. These have become really popular in recent years and it’s easy to see why! While working at ARMA, I had the opportunity to work in a WeWork office in London simply because we were hosting a workshop there. Incubators like WeWork are multi-functional office spaces that are set-up to support small businesses that do not require a permanent let. They usually have a building management that supply amenities. And they offer a range of spaces – such as coffee lounges, meeting rooms and temporary office spaces – for different small business requirements. I love incubators because they’re usually really fun and inspiring spaces, encouraging people to be creative and collaborative.

  • Working from home. My current job at Lucidity Solutions has required me to work from home permanently since July. Supplied with the equipment I need to work and technology that supports real-time collaboration between me and my boss, working from home has been a great solution for both of our flexible working needs. We do make the time to meet once a week in a coffee shop, and we have regular video calls, but our model allows us to set a schedule that works for us and, instead of commuting, we can focus our valuable time on completing projects. It’s a great sustainably efficient way of working and has been my most suited style of working yet.

Whatever the size and needs of your business, there are lots of working solutions out there – so we recommend you spend a good amount of time consulting your co-workers and researching your options. Our workforce is ever-changing, and you may need to regularly review your priorities to embrace the changes.

And if you need help coming up with ideas or a fresh perspective, then get in touch with us. We'd be delighted to help!