I brainstormed this list of activities that normally take place in the office. I only found four that couldn't be completely addressed by the tools available to you today. For instance wi-fi and LTE devices, Bacecamp, Google Hangouts, Skype, SMS, chat, cloud storage, mobile phones and laptops. Throw Kinko/FedEx or your local repro house into the mix and everything is pretty well covered.
- Design reviewing
- Writing specs
- Discussing problems
- Asking questions
- Preparing proposals
- --Meeting [sometimes you just need to meet, but with a little creativity you can cover this]
- --Shop drawings [the paper ones need special treatment, but you can do it]
- Pay requests
- Client meetings (Ha, ha! Do clients ever come to you?)
- --Design team meetings [Think Google Hangout with its shared screen feature. Maybe not perfect, but close. Or go to your consultant's office.]
- --Sample storage [This would be a good reason to hire an interior designer. Getting the physical stuff in front of others and storing it needs a solution.]
Savings? Looks like at least $1,500 per month -- $18,000 / year
- Rent: at least $1,000/mo.
- Tenant improvement loan: varies, but say $250/mo
- Security: $20/mo
- Window washer: $20/mo
- Parking(?): we will assume $0
- Janitorial: an hour of your time or $200/mo
- Commute - time and money (quality of life): at least $3 and ½ hour / person / day.
- Furniture: too variable to say
- Computer equipment: does everyone provide their own?*
- Internet: does everyone provide their own?*
- Library: cost of shelving vs browser bookmarks
- Office supplies: does everyone provide their own?*
- Stationery: does everyone provide their own?*
- Fax/Copier/printer/scanner: does everyone provide their own?*
Can't cut loose from having an office? Have a mini-office of one room with two desks and supplies. Or a conference room with scalable tables (ref tables when not a conference table). Go in one day each in rotation. If five people, go in once a week. If seven or eight, go in every week and a half. Etc.
- OR -
Get an RV and drive it to sites and client meetings. ’Own’ your no-office, nomadic existence. Hold charrettes and bring the ’office’ to them. An intense hands-on experience like a charrette is just made for PR and marketing.
Think about it. This economy is going to give you plenty of time to right size yourself for survival. Be creative.