We spent 2020 focusing on cleaning and disinfecting, and rightfully so after coronavirus ravaged not only our nation, but the entire earthly population. Then, earlier this year, we talked about ways to get into spring cleaning mode in January. Sure, it may have seemed a little premature, considering we hadn’t even seen the worst of our winter weather yet. Still, this was a strategic move because we were laying the foundation for discussing a minimalist workplace.
So, what exactly is a minimalist workplace? Well, let us explain. We think you’ll quickly see the benefits of adopting a renewed perspective on this ancient idea that less is more.
When people think of minimalism, it’s likely many of them imagine a cold, white room bereft of creature comforts and decorations. They might describe minimalism as “boring.” In the capitalist society we live in, minimalism doesn’t always resonate with consumers. Based on our spending habits, our society appears to believe more is more. More money buys a bigger house, a phone with more bells and whistles, and a car that can drive itself. Inside our house, we have more clothes than we know what to do with. Inside the fridge, we have too much food to eat in a week, and it’s rotting away. Our bank accounts show twenty subscriptions to streaming services we never watch.
Minimalism, however, is more than having no possessions and being bored. In art, the minimalist style is simple. In music, the minimalist movement consists of repetition. With this in mind, minimalism in life is largely focused on keeping things simple, and keeping only the possessions that we use repeatedly. Christopher Murray defines minimalism as “a lifestyle that is all about living with less.”
Benefits of Minimalism
Advocates of the minimalist lifestyle sing of the freedoms minimalism affords. Minimalism, a popular documentary, offers viewers a look at how uncomplicated life becomes when practicing a minimalist mentality. Some of the benefits of minimalism include:
- Fewer material objects to keep up with
- Easier home to clean
- Decreased expenses
- Less living space needed
- Less stress
Wow! Those benefits sure sound enticing. Just imagine spending less time cleaning and being able to save more of your hard-earned money.
The Minimalist Workplace
So, the minimalist lifestyle sounds good on paper, and for the home. However, could this concept translate to the workplace? If so, how would that look?
Without a doubt, businesses could benefit from moving toward a minimalist approach in the workplace. In fact, the same benefits minimalists experience at home could also occur within a business setting.
While the initial “buy-in” to becoming a minimalist at work may be a bit daunting, the end goal is to reduce stress. Besides this, businesses can expect to see reduced overhead costs, and potentially notice a shrinking environmental footprint. That all sounds nice, but how can business owners make this happen?
Creating a Minimalist Workplace
In order to begin creating a minimalist workplace, business owners need to get in the game mentally—that’s the buy-in. In other words, you need to think about your endgame. What is the goal of creating a minimalist workplace? Do you want to reduce costs? Are you aiming to become a “green” company? Or, are you simply trying to create a more enjoyable environment for your employees to work?
Most importantly, what are you willing to do to achieve your minimalist goals? Are you willing to do what it takes? Let’s see what your business could do in order to achieve each of the following goals through a minimalist approach.
Minimize and Reduce Overhead Costs
Since business owners focus so much attention on the bottom line, we’ll start there. There are many ways to improve the bottom line. For example, by selling more or expanding. Sometimes, however, growing quickly isn’t always possible, or even what’s best for the company. At that point, we have to ask ourselves if it is possible to find other ways to improve the bottom line.
The good news is creating a minimalist workplace could greatly aid in reducing overhead costs. Think about it this way: part of becoming a minimalist is reducing unnecessary stuff. Consider those large, bulky file cabinets many people keep in their paper files in. What if those were no longer necessary? Not only could you take obsolete items out of the workplace, but you wouldn’t have to deal with whatever is inside them. In other words, keep digital files, and ditch the file cabinet.
Here are some minimalist ways to reduce overhead costs:
- Furniture – First, don’t buy unnecessary office furniture. If you are starting a business, consider getting into the office space and feeling it out before picking out what you need. That will help keep you from overbuying. If you have an existing business, only keep as much furniture as you need. Once you no longer use it, give it away. Kind of like the getting rid of file cabinets and the paper inside them, you won’t feel the need to buy decorations to adorn the desk you don’t even use.
- Office Equipment – If you have old printers, copiers, or computer monitors, recycle them. There are many organizations ready to accept your used or outdated equipment. The best part is you might actually get a tax break for opting to recycle instead of throwing the old equipment into the dumpster.
- Office Supplies – Do you have so many staplers you can’t possibly use them all? Or a bazillion pens with your company’s logo on them? Memo pads galore? Rather than letting them sit collecting dust, use them! Sure, it’s fun to flip through a catalogue and place an office supplies order, and it’s even more fun to get a box of fresh office supplies. However, it’s a huge waste of money, if you do it when you don’t need to.
Become a Green Minimalist Company
Whether we see the depleting oil reserves, lumber shortages, or burning Amazon rainforest, it is clear human behavior is taking a major toll on this planet. Witnessing this, many people fear the future state of the world, specifically for younger generations.
Well, the cool thing about creating a minimalist workplace is your practices in business can help offset some of the negative effects, and here are some ways.
- Furniture – Here’s a thought—instead of buying a new piece of furniture to replace a broken one, you could actually repair the damaged item! This keeps you from adding large items to the landfills, and remember how you wanted to reduce overhead costs? Well, there ya go.
- Office Supplies – We talked about the pens, memo pads, and staplers. If after putting them to use you still have overstock, get rid of them. Keep only as many as you can realistically use, then drop off the remainders at a local school or a nonprofit. You’ll be surprised at how appreciative teachers are when they receive an unexpected box of supplies.
- Office Equipment – Besides getting a potential tax break for recycling old office equipment, going in this minimalist direction could result in you being considered a “green” business, because—again—becoming a minimalist doesn’t mean contributing to the landfills.
- Plants – Without a bunch of extra office furniture and knickknacks to boot, you might feel like your office is sad and empty. Well, no one said you shouldn’t have plants. However, if you don’t have a green thumb, maybe you should pick a plant you won’t have to water so much. Like a cactus! Plus, they can be dual purpose—decoration and air filter. Cacti are known for improving air quality by reducing radiation and eliminating bacteria. Be sure to keep the plant near window so it can get some good sunlight. Plants are just what the doctor ordered for our planet!
Create an Enjoyable Minimalist Workplace
Creating a minimalist workplace in order to achieve a more enjoyable workplace is the fun goal. This means, you customize your workplace to have it embody what best represents your values. You can use same premise as Marie Kondo preaches in her book The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up—if it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. While it may be hard to part with some of the items in your workplace, you will probably feel great relief once they are gone. In fact, you will probably wonder why you didn’t get rid of those things sooner! Like the giant broken down copy machine. Why, exactly, were you hanging onto it?
While your goal may be to hit one of the aforementioned targets by practicing minimalism, it’s quite possible you will achieve all three of these objectives in the process.
Minimalism Means Less Is More
Minimalists find a way to simply life. In doing so, they are able to achieve more with less. People can practice minimalism in their homes by doing away with unnecessary stuff. Business owners can do the same thing within the workplace. Practicing minimalism has many benefits, including decreasing expenses and stress. Furthermore, in a minimalist workplace leave a smaller footprint on our environment.
This, however, is just scratching the surface of what you can achieve in a minimalist workplace. What other things do you think might change for the better as you embody a minimalist mindset?