Why flexibility is the magic word for scaling up your business, sensibly
Johnathan Bulmer, MD at Cleveland Containers, discusses how to be more flexible for people when you haven't employed others before, and how to be flexible in terms of your office when you're unsure how fast you will grow.
It can be hard to coordinate a significant scale-up - especially one where you’re taking the leap from home office to external base. But once you start to grow, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to make the move. Maybe you need more space, more people, or just need to separate your home life to your work life more. Your commute will be longer than walking across the hallway, and your overheads will increase, but with more employees, you’ll gain more knowledge and expertise and your revenues are likely to grow proportionately.
From one-man-bands working from home who need space to employ one more person, or those planning to expand for different logistical or business reasons, scaling-up is a good choice, but flexibility is key. You don’t want to commit to a new 30 sq ft office, only to find you don’t need the much extra space which will come with the higher costs. Flexibility will also save time and money if you’re looking to expand your team. It leads to greater cost-effectiveness and efficiency, such as savings on overheads when employees work from home, or have less downtime.
There are a number of financial benefits to offering a flexible working policy (working from home, flexitime, etc). It reduces the costs to businesses which are associated with levels of sickness and tardiness - arguably because they can work from the comfort of their own home if they’re under the weather, and they’re never ‘late’ because they can just finish work later, as long as they prioritise their diary around meetings. Recruiting costs are also reduced because you’re less likely to have people leaving.
If you offer a work from home policy, you should, however, make sure that you take into account IT arrangements - both in the office and via the cloud if employees will be accessing documents over a different network. On the matter of the cloud, robust security policies are also crucial.
Not all employees will take advantage of flexitime - but if you give them the option, it can’t be a bad thing. Employee satisfaction is key to recruitment and retention - optimising your quality employees will see better productivity - it’s found that employees having better control over their own working day is actually more important than pay in terms of productivity.
Of course, you may think, we’re a new business, we need to team-build and that comes from working together. But just offering one work from home day per week has its benefits. It reduces stress as they need to be home for a doctors appointment or for a delivery, they can without worrying they’ll be penalised at work.
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Flexible Office Space
You may also want to consider a short-term lease or temporary office space. This is ideal at the start, incase your new arrangement doesn’t work out as planned. It’s especially handy if you need more space or staff in a shorter time than you had imagined, and need to move speedily as you don’t want your staff sitting on top of each other.
Safe, secure and affordable office space can be hard to come by - this is where container spaces can thrive and offer flexibility. You can design your office for every anticipated need and want - whether you need a storage facility or a full office. It has a spacious interior, can be transported easily, and most importantly - it can be permanent or temporary. They don’t involve a huge commitment and financial deposit, and can be expanded as and when you need to.
Bespoke containers can be the perfect answer to office and studio space needs. Whether you need a small studio space at first or want to expand into a multi-room operation, containers allow this. They are built to suit your own requirements, and they’re incredibly affordable. Sizes can range from a compact 6ft, which could be ideal for storage, to a huge 45ft, giving you plenty of space for all equipment - and you don’t have to stop at just one - modular building advancements mean they can be conjoined into larger buildings.
Worried about the weather? Insulation and heating means you can stay warm or cool all year round.
Things can be up in the air when you first expand your business, and you might not know how fast you will grow, or have much guidance on retaining your staff, or appealing to new people to apply to your business. Employee happiness, productivity and flexibility go hand in hand. When these things go well, your business can only flourish.
For more information on all business in Europe, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Europe.
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