We’re preparing for the Christmas holiday business-wind down, with a difference. It is time to leave our (somewhat grotty) office. If you’ve been in the same location for a decade and decide to move, you know you will have a lot of accumulated stuff to sort, and that certainly has been the case here.
Old records and files from the late 90s and early 2000s tell the days of the business when the fax rather than the internet was the primary means of communicating with clients — and the phone had much more importance than it does now, for business in-bound and outbound calls. Piles and piles of paper have been bagged and deposited into the dumpster, and we have piles more to go.
We elected to go to the “home office” model. I had some concerns about this decision, especially for the one employee who always needed to report to the business office; our administrator. I believed that this individual needed to be at a central, office location to give the business cohesion. But, in light of my decision to allow the staff to recommend and determine the business direction as we transform the enterprise, I accepted that the office rent overhead (and related phone and internet systems charges) would need to go.
The solution to the “but there are some things which still require a physical office” turned out to be, of all things, the modern storage locker service. The locker service has an enclosed climate-controlled drive-in entrance, allowing our printers to temporarily deposit the printed issues of our publications in a secure environment before we have our driver deliver local copies, and our administrator picks up the invoicing copies, to process at her home. The storage locker staff will sign for courier packages and accept deliveries.
The locker place rents mailboxes at $13.00 a month, so we can have a street address for our postal mail. And it has a boardroom (available for free) and workstation areas in the lobby so we can have formal meetings, when required, and informal connection sessions when we just need to be together. Total rent: less than $180 a month — just a few dollars more than we paid for our old, outdoor records storage locker and far less than our previous real office.
In some ways, it seems strange to move our business to a storage locker — but in another, it makes perfect sense. Most of us have worked from home over the years, and our client relationships are conducted by phone, email, association meetings and client offices. So the physical office represents more overhead than substance. (Obviously your circumstances could be truly different — I doubt a business that has significant equipment, tool and maintenance requirements could become “virtual” and in many cases, client relationships and face-to-face peer-to-peer communication are essential.)
I expect there is a good chance that, at the end of the 2015 storage locker lease, we’ll be ready to move back to a real office. In the meantime, however, our business will live on in the locker. The adventure continues.