By Jami Gibson

Several years ago, Whittaker Associates was located in an airy, spacious office located on the fourth floor of a multi-use building in downtown Holland. Our suite and most other office suites located in the downtown area included a few private offices but consisted mostly of large, open space sectioned off by desks or cubicles. Back then, that set-up worked for us, as I’m sure it worked for many businesses. However, as the nature of work changes, the traditional layouts are becoming unnecessary and will often lead to long periods of vacancy for those offices.

Today, our office in Holland consists of a portion of a 2,600 sq. ft. suite with a kitchen, bathrooms, and conference room that is shared amongst other tenants who lease on a short-term or long-term basis. Prior to our moving in, the space had sat unoccupied for over a year. Our landlord has been progressive in noticing workspace trends and the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs. Many times, signing a three-year lease and renting thousands of square feet just isn’t optimal for small businesses as it’s more space than they require and more money than they can afford. Flexibility is key as work can be done from almost anywhere.

There are many opportunities to reduce vacancy and gain income just by making workspace more “user friendly” for smaller businesses. There are also synergies that could come about when people and businesses work together under one roof. For example, I was able to offer services to tenants in our suite. Whether they needed help with administrative tasks, QuickBooks lessons, or just signing for a delivery, it was helpful to them, and a source of income for our company.

Does your community realize this work trend? Are there vacant buildings that could be utilized as co-working space or divided up into smaller suites to appeal to a wider audience? Do you have space or an unused desk in your office to rent to a tenant on a monthly basis? Explore these possibilities to make the most of your community’s vacant space. It will benefit everyone involved!