By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing

Empty office space is only hurting your balance sheet. Every unused square foot is a lost cost. If you’re paying for office space, you should find a way to put it all to work. There’s no shortage of empty office space ideas, either.

Before you rush to fill unused real estate with desks, keep in mind that not every area needs to be a traditional workspace. In fact, empty office space can be a blessing in disguise. It allows you to introduce employees to new workplace concepts. Here are five creative, practical ideas for turning empty office space into usable, purposeful work areas:

1. Create a multipurpose area

The easiest way to turn an empty space into a purposeful one is to recognize its unlimited possibilities. With dozens of potential uses, creating a multipurpose area is a catchall option.

Make empty office space available on-demand, for any situation. In an instant, space becomes a conference room, a private meeting room, a project staging area, or a guest speaking room. For unenclosed space, create a lounge with a couch and a few chairs. It can double for a presentation space or collaborative meeting area.

Remember, space is valuable not just to you. If you let employees know there’s multipurpose space available, they’ll find a way to make good use of it. Others will follow. Soon, your unused space will take on a variety of uses.

high performing workplace tips

2. Transform it into an experiential space

Repurposing empty office space starts with the people who’ll use it. Experiential areas are a great option to boost morale, improve mental health, and foster collaboration.

A lounge, game room, movie room, mediation studio, or quiet nap room are superb ways to reinvest in your workforce. You’re already paying for the space, so a small investment in comfy chairs, a ping-pong table, or gaming system can make a huge difference in worker morale. Experiential spaces show employees you appreciate them and that you recognize their need for work-life balance. Plus, it ups your workplace’s cool factor as a way to attract and retain talent.

3. Explore hot desks and flexible seating

Empty office space is perfect for hot desking (read more on what is hot desking). Hot desk workstations allows for flexible work experimentation without interrupting the established office layout. Remote workers are the most-likely users, though flexible seating can benefit in-house staff. They can float between a “home” desk and flexible spaces depending on mood or a desire to collaborate with co-workers.

Perhaps the best reason to use empty office space for hot desking is to accommodate the unexpected. Previously unused space is great for accommodating visitors, new hires, and remote staffers.

4. Rent it out

If you’re at a total loss for what to do with unused office space, you can always offer it to other businesses. Renting office space is a creative way to recoup a little (or all) of the money you’re spending on it. Co-working spaces are all the rage for freelancers and remote workers.

The size of your unused space will dictate its rent potential. Offer larger areas for presentations, local organization chapter meetings, or a workplace for a smaller company. Use individual offices or smaller areas for temporary offices or private meeting rooms.

Before you sublet any space, make sure you’re lease agreement allows it.

5. Spread out a little

Ask yourself why your office space is unused. Do you have empty offices, yet employees doubled up at desks? Is your workforce constantly tripping over itself? Empty office space could be the answer to stretching your legs and spreading your wings.

Unused space may also present a growth opportunity. Evaluate different floor plans as your business grows. Utilizing empty office space makes the most of your existing lease and may delay a costly move—not to mention the productivity increase you may see by strategically using unused space.

Think outside the box

Not every empty space is meant to be filled with a desk. Look at your staff and business, then ask, “What types of spaces don’t I have in my office?” Put unused space to work in a way that offers the most for productivity, employee morale, and potential growth.

Empty office space checklist

Whether you’ve got a single unused conference room or several unoccupied offices, unused space is going to waste in your workplace. Don’t pay for what you’re not using. Instead, find a way to transform it into a valuable addition to your office.

Here’s how to make the most of unused space:

  • Identify unused space, including size, location, and features
  • Ask yourself what types of spaces your workplace is missing
  • Gauge demand for different types of spaces or environments
  • Explore the viability of different space utilization
    • Multipurpose (agile) workspace
    • Experiential space
    • Hot desks or hotel desks
    • Rent or sublet space
    • Growth and expansion opportunities
  • Determine where you can derive the most benefit
  • Effectively utilize reproposed space

Finally, ensure you’re effectively managing new spaces. Leverage workplace management tools, like those offered by SpaceIQ, to make the most of hot desks, multipurpose rooms, and rentals. Don’t let all the effort of repurposing space go to waste.

Keep reading: Learn how office workplace design provides a foundation for success.

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Jonathan writes about asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions in his role as a digital content creator at Eptura. He covers trends across industries, including fleet, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality, with a focus on delivering thought leadership with actionable insights. Earlier in his career, he wrote textbooks, edited NPC dialogue for video games, and taught English as a foreign language. He hold a master's degree in journalism.