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THE INC. LIFE

The Surprising Perks of Having a Very Tiny Office Space

Tiny offices aren’t perfect, but they can lead to surprisingly fruitful ways of working and thinking.

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BY Wanda Thibodeaux - 09 Feb 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

There's a reason why spacious offices are oh-so appealing. Simply put, having control of more space makes you feel more powerful, giving you the sense of freedom, choice and dominance. Designers have known this for years and have incorporated it into their architecture, layout and decorating choices. And public speaking experts note the relationship between space and power, too, urging people to adopt great posture with broad shoulders to look bold and confident. The relationship holds in business hierarchy, as well. Only the most powerful people in a company, the senior level people who have "earned it", usually get any private accommodations. So it's easy to associate space with success, too.

In this context, in the United States, as Esther Fung of The Wall Street Journal reports, most workers get only about 150 to 200 square feet per desk. It's worse in other countries. Australia and New Zealand for example, give workers 90 to 150 square feet, while workers in China get only about 50 to 60 square feet. Additionally, many modern companies have adopted open floor plans in an attempt to promote transparency and good communication. These designs let companies put lots of workers together in a small area plus remove many privacy barriers. Research has shown this approach can backfire in regard to productivity, with workers stressed out by elements like constant noise, interruptions and easier spread of illness.

So let's accept for a minute that itty bitty, no-wall work spaces leave a lot to be desired, both physically and psychologically. You might not be able to grow more square footage, but that doesn't mean a small work area has to ruin your chances of success. In some ways, a smaller space might actually help you.

 

1. Organization

 

With lots of space to spare, it's easy to let books, supplies, folders and other office gear smother you. If you only have a few precious feet, though, you learn to prioritize what's most important to have around. You don't keep unnecessary junk or spend frivolously on items you "might" need. You learn to lean more heavily on digital, too, which can make sharing data easier and speed up projects overall. It's often easier for someone to cover a shift for you because there's not as much in a smaller work area to search through, too.

 

2. Focus

The temptation when you have a lot of space is to put stuff in it! All those things can be distracting when you need to put all your attention into your work. With a clean, small space, you might be able to resist the urge to multitask, which is actually healthier for your brain.

 

3. Creativity

Traditional office furniture and supplies might not work in a small office. Subsequently, you have to turn on your creative juices to find setups and designs that look good and are comfortable for you. You'll likely master the art of dual purpose or even come up with your own concepts to suit your needs. That type of thinking can carry over into any of your projects.

 

4. One on one

Walking into a huge office can be intimidating for a lot of people because, as outlined above, they perceive the person who occupies the space as being in charge. Take advantage of your smaller space to make yourself seem more your visitor's equal and invite more trust-filled conversation. It might be easier, for example, to sit side by side with nothing in between you and the other person. It's also easy to make the space feel homey and relaxing with just a few tweaks, such as a warm desk lamp or luxurious small rug.

Small offices have their limitations, but they don't have to be a death sentence for amazing work. They can prompt you to think outside the box, engage in positive communication, stay on task and get rid of unnecessary, costly "fluff" that slows you down. So make the most of the space you've got. You might just see the walls you've built for yourself crumble in the best of ways.

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