Getting space-clever. Give your office the smartphone treatment...

If you were born before the turn of the century you will probably remember a time when your mobile phone was just that, a mobile phone. Today, these handheld devices are so much more. From calendars to daily alarm clocks, music stores to film collections and photo albums to street maps.

Efficient doesn't begin to describe it.

An infographic produced by Mashable in March considered what would happen to apartment space if someone condensed their living room down with a smartphone. By deleting bulky furniture and obsolete technology, it found that 62 cubic feet of space could be saved.

A new 64GB smartphone could hold a library of 6,400 books for instant viewing, removing the need for a chunky bookcase; more than 8,000 songs and 50 films could also be saved on the small device, replacing a large and expensive TV and desktop PC.

What we'd like to consider is just how much space we could all be freeing up in the workplace if we took the same approach. Is there furniture in your offices that could easily be removed?

Ok, so we're not talking about your chair - you can hedge your bets on a smartphone not transforming into something you can sit on, but it's the other kinds of office clutter that's lining walls and taking up space that could easily be freed up.

Heading up to the cloud

Old filing cabinets, housing projects and papers spanning past decades are, or should be, history in modern offices. With everything being cloud-based, files are kept online meaning not only is accessing them far quicker but also the vast cabinets and shelves are no longer needed.

That goes for other office bits like books and CDs and anything you might find in your drawers that actually could be provided via a neat piece of technology. Where storage is concerned, offices can become a bit obsessed, thinking they need more of it and trying to find new techniques of using all available space.

It's about reassessing the need for those boxes of 'very important' documents that are stored in cupboards and under desks, which no-one has looked at for years. Sound familiar?

So will a desk become a dispensable piece of office furniture as iPads become the lap-friendly device of choice? Possibly. Consider the amount of work done at the desk. It depends on the business and the role of each employee, but it may be that a lot of work is done while out and about.

It's all about mindset

Although a deskless office of chairs dotted around does seem bizarre, it's not a completely mad idea.

In a bold statement about the future of office environments, consultancy Accenture recently did away with the tradition of allocating a desk for every employee at its base in Charlotte, USA, and instead made employees use a booking system to reserve a desk as and when they would really need one.

For one of our clients, cloud computing experts Citrix, we changed the furniture itself to increase space-efficiency. Installing furniture that is flexible (i.e. can adapt to a number of uses: presentation area, meeting area, lunch area, etc.) removes the need for unnecessary sets of furniture that are tailored to a specific function.

Getting into the right mindset to make some furniture cuts might take a bit of prodding though, and a lot of office clutter comes from not really knowing what technology is out there that could offer a space-saving alternative.

But venture into the mobile apps market and you can find some quick and easy ways to start freeing up some space today.

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