An Expert Look at How to Drastically Reduce the Cost of Your Office

Helena Sampayo
Helena Sampayo|

So, you’ve been tasked with creating and implementing your company’s workspace strategy, and you’ll know there’s a lot to consider. From maintaining company culture to cutting costs, the stakes can feel pretty high — especially when you’ve got employees to please.

But the good news is that deciding whether to ‘office or not’ doesn’t have to be binary. From renting a spacious full-time office to going completely remote, there’s a workspace strategy for every business — no matter the budget. You just need to know where to look… 

Luckily, we hosted a “Lunch and Learn” to help cut through the noise. Two expert Hubblers: Joe Batten, Commercial Operations and Charlie Bastier, Head of Account Management, shared their expertise on the lesser-known ways of adopting a more cost-effective approach to workspace.

Missed the discussion? Fear not; it’s available on demand! Simply sign up, and the whole webinar will be available at your fingertips — all for free. But if you’d prefer to read some of the key takeaways, Hubble’s got you covered.

Below, we summarise the key learnings on how you can seriously reduce the cost of your office, without losing out on the magic that comes with everyone working under the same roof.

How has the role of ‘the office’ changed?

First things first, let’s briefly recap how the office has changed. After all, it’s experienced quite the transformation over the past few years.

Before the pandemic hit, it was normal for most companies to be office-first. We knew we’d always need a full-time office and that it would be the second-highest fixed cost after employee salaries.

So, when we’d kickstart the search for a new office space, our options mainly centred around how much we could spend on an office that would hold the majority of our workforce.

But now, it’s common for companies to operate on a hybrid workspace model with different workspaces for employees to access — whether that’s the HQ, home or on-demand workspace.

So, it’s no surprise that the questions look a little different. For example, how often do we need an office? How many days a week? How big should the office be? And how often will people be using it?

Here are two key differences to keep in mind:

1) There are different spaces for different tasks

“The way we like to think of it is there are different spaces for different types of work”, says Joe. “While working from home may be fantastic for deep work where you need to problem-solve, the company office has a different role when it comes to collaboration.”

“Some companies are even stripping out desks and chairs, and are putting in more open spaces for brainstorming and breakout sessions. Think digital whiteboards, additional lighting and couches”, says Joe. “It’s this that plays a huge role in fostering collaboration.”

There are also the company away days to think about. “Most of our remote-first customers are keen to get the whole team together every 6 months to a year”, says Charlie. “And since it’s the big event of the year, it’s so important that you’re in a suitable environment.”

“These could include venues such as presentation spaces with AV equipment, meeting rooms for strategising or entire cafes with bars and barista services.” The venue that’s going to align closely with your away day goals, the better.

2) It’s more important to succeed in those workspaces

For remote-first companies who don’t have a company HQ, there’s even more importance placed on when you do use a workspace — whether that’s an on-demand meeting room or a private office for the day.

“There’s fewer days, so the times that you are in a workspace, you really want to make the most out of it”, says Charlie. “If your team only uses the office once a week, once a month — you’ll need to ensure you’re doing everything possible to help your team succeed in these spaces.”

“For example, if you’re a fully-distributed workforce, the expectation is that your team works from home. But you may have individuals in your team — such as recent graduates or those in a flat share — where that environment isn’t conducive to top end productivity.”

In this case, giving your remote employees access to on-demand workspace may be the best option. “By allowing those people to have additional places to work, they’ll be much more productive and have a better experience working with you”, says Charlie.

What are some of the main challenges?

If you’re looking to drastically reduce the cost of your office, it’s natural to run into a few challenges. But luckily, there are plenty of solutions to consider. Here are just a few:

1) You may feel overwhelmed with options

When you’re seeking a cost-effective solution to workspace, there are so many factors to consider. “As a decision-maker, you’ll need to ask your team a bunch of questions to really establish what’s going to be the right setup for your business”, says Joe.

“Their answers can pull you in all sorts of directions, and this has added layers of complication to the process.” “But plenty of options means you can customise it to yourself. It’s like building Lego; you can reshape and mould how you see fit — and this is what Hubble can help you with.”

2) You’re trying to predict what your team wants

“One of the main challenges customers experience is trying to predict what their team are going to do — and actually, you don’t need to be doing that”, says Charlie. “Instead, it can be useful to allow your team to tell you what they’re going to do through action.”

“For example, if you provide them with access to different types of workspaces, they’ll show you what they want simply through going to these workspaces in the areas they like, doing the jobs they need to do.”

And luckily, this process takes just a fraction of the time. “It typically takes between one to three months to end up on a configuration that works for you”, says Charlie. “And while you still can’t put a finger on it straight away, this method is cheaper than immediately going for a full-time office.”

3) You end up paying for desks that go unused

However, if you go down the employee survey route, there’s a risk of paying for unused desks. “Out of all the companies we’ve spoken to, I don’t think anyone hasn’t said their survey overestimated how often people were going to be in the office”, says Joe.

“This happens quite a lot, so it’s always something to keep in mind. People will always vote one way and then act differently when push comes to shove.”

For us at Hubble, a good rule of thumb is to expect 25 to 50% less usage than what the survey results suggest. “I think that’s the most frustrating risk when opting for a full-time office on the basis of an employee survey”, says Charlie. “While on-demand products offer more flexibility, renting a full-time office for the long-term can come around and bite you.”

What are the best options for businesses looking to decrease their office spend?

So, with all this in mind, what are the best options for businesses looking to significantly save on office rent? There are plenty to choose from, and each one is customisable, but here are the top three options we commonly see at Hubble:

1. Take a smaller full-time office

There’s no denying that renting a full-time office still works well for most businesses. “It’s still a popular option”, says Joe. “The only thing I’d say is be careful with the amount of space you take.”

“You can make huge savings by speaking to the team and finding out what they want. From there, pull back a little bit in terms of how often people say they’ll use the office, and then you’re in a good position to take a smaller office on a flexible lease and avoid overspending on desks.”

2. Opt for a part-time office

But if you’re not quite ready to commit to a full-time office, you could explore whether a part-time office is a more suitable option.

“A part-time office means you’ll only rent the same space for a few days per week”, says Joe. “It’s an ideal solution for companies whose employees use the office but only on certain days.”

Hubble has been working closely with a bunch of workspace providers to bring this offering to life, and it’s generated plenty of excitement in the industry. But it’s also a huge way to save money”, Joe says. “For example, if you decrease your office days from 5 to 2, you can save up to 65% on the cost of a full-time office.”

3. Go fully remote and utilise on-demand workspace

However, if your workforce is distributed or you’d like to save significant amounts of money on office rent, then another option is going fully remote. Plenty of Hubble customers have opted for this strategy — Taskrabbit being one of them.

In 2021, the Taskrabbit team made the big decision to ditch the office altogether and have all employees work remotely. But to give their team access to great places to work, Taskrabbit decided to use the Hubble Pass — a workspace membership giving teams access to a global network of coworking spaces, meeting rooms, private day offices and event spaces.

In doing this, Taskrabbit is saving an estimated 87% versus having a desk for every employee in a full-time office. Their employees have also accessed 37 different top-quality workspaces across 4 countries, including the UK, US and Portugal!

It’s this on-demand workspace solution that’s helping companies of all sizes bring their teams together to connect, collaborate, and build team culture in person without needing a permanent office.

How do you know if your chosen workspace strategy is successful?

So, for decision-makers tasked with implementing a new workspace strategy, how can you tell whether the strategy you’ve decided on will actually be successful?

In the early stages, here are a few telltale signs that you’ve landed on the right strategy for your business and employees!

1) You see a boost in productivity

As a decision-maker, you want to ensure that your people feel productive while they work. So, if you’re considering opting for a fully-remote strategy and your team has expressed this will help them get the work done to the best of their ability, it’s a good sign you’re on the right track.

“The types workspaces your team will be accessing are set up exactly for what your team needs”, says Charlie. “For example, they’ve got huge whiteboards and equipment for presentations to better facilitate tasks you wouldn’t be able to do as effectively at home.”

“So, if you ask your team whether they can do certain types of work better in different environments and their answer is ‘yes’, it’s a good indication that giving your employees access to a wide range of workspaces is a smart move.

2) You see a boost in employee happiness

Employee happiness is also a huge factor. “Recently, we’ve had a few of our customers ask about how they can improve employee mental health”, says Charlie.

“When your team are strictly working from home, there’s an element of loneliness that can creep up on them — even if you’re having regular video calls with people, or you’re living in a flat share with people you don’t know too well.”

So, if you’re also a company that’d like to ensure their teams’ general welfare and mental health are a top priority, giving your team the option to socialise with team members and get a change of scenery is a great way to support that.

Keen to learn more about how you can build a ‘mentally healthy’ hybrid workplace? Check out our ultimate guide!

3) You’re saving money in the right places

Last, but certainly not least, we’ve got saving money in the right places. “A common anecdote we hear is the Head of Finance or the CEO walking through the office on a Monday or Friday, and seeing rows of empty desks”, says Charlie.

At Hubble, we call this “empty desk syndrome”, and it happens when companies commit to a larger, full-time office that rarely gets used. “This couldn’t be more of a waste of money, so moving from that to a more flexible, on-demand solution is common for our customers”.

Olio is another prime example. By not taking a full-time office for the whole team and, instead, opting for a fully-remote workspace strategy, Olio has saved an estimated 95% — all via the Hubble Pass. Click here to read the full case study!

“And by managing to claw back on the cost of a full-time office, some of our customers are able to invest more into things like company offsites and making it the social event of the year”, says Charlie. “In some cases, they fly the whole team over to Lisbon for a two-day retreat where they work, host seminars and bond over lunches, dinners and team activities.”

“Office isn’t the only way to build culture”, says Joe. “By saving a lot on the office, you’re able to reinvest into other elements of team culture — and it’s this that can help you hit happiness quotas and ensure people feel connected to one another and the company.”

Introducing: Part-time Offices

Your very own office 1-3 days per week. Save up to 75% compared to a full-time office.

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Prefer to chat? Get in touch with our team of expert advisors:

Hubble Advisor
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