Officially, the U.S. has recovered all the jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic, and in record times – almost three times faster than after the Great Depression. However, the job market looks a lot different now compared to before 2020. We’re very close to having almost 20% of all U.S. employees working from home, with the trend poised to continue as flexibility, personal comfort and cost efficiency are great bargain points working in its favor.
Naturally, the remote or hybrid work setting doesn’t apply to all types of businesses. But many can benefit greatly from giving up the store or office space entirely and some might even thrive using this new model.
Here are five types of activities that can allow you to do operations remotely, partially or in full, all while saving physical office space and operating costs.
Repair and remodel
These are the businesses that do most of their work at other people’s houses. Paperwork takes up a very small part of their daily business and is mostly invoices and contracts.
What a repair and maintenance business needs is equipment, and depending on the work they do, it can get bulky. If you’re the owner of such an enterprise, your garage may do as a storage space at the beginning, but it will quickly become insufficient once your company starts to expand. Generators, water pumps, jacks, pipes and cranes are just some of the bulkier equipment a repair business might use daily.
But instead of renting an entire office with storage space as an afterthought, repair businesses can now do away with the office completely, manage their accounting digitally or with a certified public accountant (CPA) and store all their necessary equipment in a nearby storage unit. For bulkier equipment that you need to move in and out of storage, make sure there is drive-up access available.
Cleaning and maintenance
Similar to the previous entry, cleaning businesses often rely on specialized equipment like power washers, industrial vacuum cleaners and floor buffers which take up valuable space. Keeping them in storage is a great and cheap alternative to having a physical office and paying for utilities on it. The average price of a 10’x10’ storage unit in the U.S. is currently $129 per month, which is much more affordable than having an office to drive to every day just to clock in.
The paperwork can stay in your home office, as it’s very unlikely it’ll take up as much space as the cleaning equipment ever could. If it does become a nuisance at home as well, it can always join the equipment in storage, just make sure to store it safely.
One of the biggest expenses a retail business owner incurs is rent for their physical store. The pandemic has shown that ecommerce can be resilient and cheap and data projects that it will exceed 20% of all retail sales in 2023. It’s no wonder that many business owners have decided to put their money elsewhere, investing in online marketing and social media rather than a pretty window to show off their products.
That said, logistics are still a challenge, and even a small online retailer might still have to deal with keeping their stock in a safe place. Self storage can help greatly, as it acts like your own personal warehouse, and there are many self storage sizes available depending on what you store and sell.
Accounting and legal
The stereotypical image of the accountant laboring away in a cramped office with piles of documents overflowing from every corner was once a staple of the accounting industry. Similarly, the old-school lawyer always seemed to have shelves upon shelves of old leather-wrapped legal tomes, and a big pile of documents spread across the desk.
The reality is that you can digitize many of the day-to-day documents that circulate around the office, so they take up virtual instead of physical space. Any other paper archives or records that these businesses legally have to keep can either sit in an office or in a climate-controlled storage unit for extra protection. One of those two options is cheaper, and you can trust an accountant to know which one makes better financial sense!
Here’s another enterprise that will have you working more around other people’s houses. Real estate agencies deal with lots of clients, and their employees are very often out of the office, driving around to attend showings and open houses.
A real estate agency, therefore, doesn’t need much office space. Of course, there are some physical items that employees use – the first that might jump to your mind are the “For Sale” signs. However, there are other items that they can use to stage a house, and they can keep all of them securely in a self storage unit to which every agent has access.
With 360° virtual tours and online client meetings becoming commonplace, the future of real estate agencies is shaping up to be an interesting one. What’s certain is that remote work is here to stay!
Adopting a remote or hybrid business setting is not an easy decision and it can come with its own downsides, not the least of which is the psychological impact of such a fundamental change in daily life. Ultimately, though, it’s a matter of what you envision for your business, your goals and whether the pros of going remote outweigh the cons.