Thursday, April 21, 2011

Designing and Thriving in a Small Office

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Part One – The Design
The digital age has changed the way we communicate and conduct business.  It’s not uncommon for a small, Mid-west company to have employees living in Callifornia or New York.  Using the web to interact with them works as though they are in an adjourning office. 
 The photography market is no a stranger to this trend.  Some are fortunate to have room for both an office and studio space at one location.  However, with the rising costs of rent and real estate, some photographers are running their businesses from home and shooting on location or renting studio space as required.  For now, I will focus on the small home-based office and then cover the studio design. 
I’ve been an apartment dweller since childhood, so I learned how to make the most of small spaces.  When I opened my retail business over 30 years ago, I still had the challenge of making every square foot profitable, consumer-friendly and inviting.  Now, like so many other self-employed business people, I work from a small home office.  Along with my photography, I’m also a professional illustrator, the two talents coming in handy with some commercial accounts.  Managing both from a small office could have been a major issue if not for one thing -- ORGANIZATION!  A place for everything and everything in its place.  To survive and maintain your sanity in a small place, you must be organized.  If not, you are lost before you begin.
I will cover ways the design and layout of your small office can assist in getting and staying organized.  Some suggestions may need to be adjusted in order to fit your particular situation.  However, I believe the following will provide some overall ideas and tips, no matter what the size of your space.
As it’s relatively small, I will use my space as a model and convey through photographs how I manage a business in limited space.  Refer to figure 1:1 for the layout and size of my overall office.  You will also notice from the accompanying photographs there is a lot going on.  Yet, it doesn’t look messy.  Everything flows in a way that makes sense.  In fact, two people can work in this space at once.  To accomplish this took planning and the use of materials that offer flexibility and growth.  

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