How to downsize an office without killing morale

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By Samantha Cortez

The coronavirus pandemic has sent traditional work paradigms out the window. Office dynamics are changing rapidly, even as public spaces reopen and life returns to a new sort of “normal.” Some of these changes are here to say.

Office spaces serve a lot of different purposes. Some of the effects of contemporary office dynamics contribute to things that are not obvious at first glance. Aside from the convenience of a central meeting place for coworkers and bosses to congregate and communicate more seamlessly, the office serves an important psychological function.

Many employees report that their brain turns “on” over the course of leaving for the workspace, pulling into the parking lot, settling into their office, etc. There is a sense of comfort to be found in the ritualization of getting into a working headspace, and an employer worth their salt will be cognizant of this.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given employers a glimpse at reduced overhead through remote work. While a lot of businesses are not able to make this shift for practical reasons, much demand for goods and services can be met remotely or at least partially remotely. This has drastically reduced demand for office space.

As a result, employers have been put in impossible positions in the pandemic regarding what to do regarding office space. What is the point of paying so much money for a space that is barely occupied? On the other hand, giving up these spaces could potentially rob the office team of a shared camaraderie.

With some planning and compassion, you can ease your employees into your new normal together. Here are tips for preserving morale during a downsize.

Invest in smaller coworking spaces

There is a wealth of smaller office spaces available for rent. Usually, these types of coworking spaces are geared at individuals. But that is a relic of the distant past. As we know, vaccination rates are climbing, so we can expect some degree of normalcy to return.

Just how much is up to each and every one of us as individuals. But some people in your company might work better if they have a set office to travel to each day. A downtown coworking space in LA and an entire office in the same neighborhood can accomplish the same goals at wildly different price points.

That said, entire departments might need to function as a cohesive unit in person. That does not necessarily mean you need to allow them an entire office space.

Cohort system

In fact, some departments and project groups might benefit from the shared sense of space in a rented office. Regardless of size, the psychological effects of simply going to a separate location each day can be a profound boost for productivity.

Plus, some jobs just require in-person collaboration to be efficacious. Consider implementing a cohort system, whether it be in an office space or a smaller space to help ease the transition. That way, coworkers can lean on one another for support. A cohort system splits people up into groups that they can interact in, with no cross over between groups. These groups are referred to as cohorts.

Offer flexibility—not restraints

When it comes to making remote working, well…work, you need to keep in mind the changing nature of the times means that your coworkers are dealing with uncertainty in every aspect of life. Things are changing rapidly. Families are being forced to make hard decisions, and oftentimes they are put between a rock and a hard place when it comes to work and their health.

If you want your employees to put your business on their priority list, then you need to take care that their health and wellness is on yours. Be extra forgiving in these trying times. Focus on cultivating a positive environment that your employees feel sharing in. Speaking of which…

Keep a line of communication open

Those in management positions have extra burden over the course of transitioning to a new space or workflow. They are responsible for the psychological and physical safety of everyone even just tangential to the move.

When you are trying to communicate positivity to your employees, take a step back every so often and make sure you are not trying to impose your own sentiments on them. Communication is necessarily a two-way street: if you expect your subordinates to respect your decision-making process, then they need to be heard over the course of it.

Keeping a line of communication open is a basic necessity for any good boss or entrepreneur. After all, after so many years with a one track mind establishing a business, you might need some fresh perspective to offer constructive critique.


Samantha Cortez is managing editor for, an influencer marketing SaaS & marketplace. She has written for some of the largest publications in America, including Business Insider & 20/20 Magazine. Sam loves to travel, often working remotely from Europe.

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