Both residential and commercial rent can be high, so it’s understandable to want to find affordable options for your business. Because of this, you may feel tempted to rent a storage unit and use it as an office.
Is this advisable? Is it allowed? The answer to both questions is no.
That's the truth, but there are some alternatives and one big exception at some self storage locations.
Comfort and Zoning
The major reasons it’s a bad idea to use a self storage unit as an office are because it’s terribly uncomfortable and self storage isn’t zoned for human occupancy. By occupancy, we mean habitation, of course, but also spending a significant amount of time in a unit.
Let’s start with comfort. “What about climate-controlled units?” you may wonder. Well, these units keep your stuff in excellent condition, but they don’t keep people comfortable. The facility will keep the temperature between 50 and 80 degrees, so it can easily be too warm or too cold. Also, storage units don’t get natural light, unless perhaps you have a drive-up unit, but with the door rolled up, you’d sacrifice privacy and get caught working in your unit.
A building zoned for human occupancy would have sinks and restrooms available and windows providing natural light. A storage unit simply doesn’t have these things. If the facility manager becomes aware you’re working out of your unit, they will end your lease.
While saving money is great, getting kicked out and possibly banned from renting at other facilities isn’t worth it. The discomfort and resulting stress isn’t worth working out of your storage unit, either.
Find a Specialized Storage Facility
A few self storage companies offer rooms zoned to act as commercial workspaces. These rooms rent for more and have to be up to code for occupancy. Some even have wifi available. What you can do in one, however, is likely limited to fulfilling orders. You could come in, set up your laptop, and pack items for shipment inside, rather than spending the day marketing or doing other work. You would need a proper office for that.
Declutter Your Home Office
Start by decluttering your office. You may have things in there that you don’t need at all, but you also likely have business-related items that are simply taking up too much room. Pack up the things you need sometimes, but not all the time, and put them in a self storage unit. Rent a smaller unit to save some money. Storage units are excellent for business records, overstock, signs and items for conventions or trade shows, and more. Plus, many facilities accept deliveries for business customers. They’ll even put your packages in your unit for you.
Rent a Shared Office Space
COVID made it unsafe to work around others in many situations, but now we have three highly effective vaccines. The more people get fully vaccinated, the more society opens up. The CDC is now saying it’s safe in most situations for fully vaccinated people to not wear masks or social distance in most situations. Because of this, it’s a good time to look for a shared office space.
These are also known as communal or coworking offices. Most areas have them, places where you can rent space with a desk, so you can go to work, even as an entrepreneur. Do a Google search, or visit sites like Regus, WeWork, and International Workplace Group (IWG) to find coworking spaces near you. Yes, this will cost more than renting a self storage unit, but you won’t be at risk of eviction and you’ll be in a comfortable building with access to restrooms, a break room, conference rooms, and a lot more. Plus, you might just make some friends or find new people to do business with.
Treat your self storage unit like, well, a storeroom for your business, and your home office, or office in a shared work environment, as your workspace. You’ll feel comfortable, get a lot more accomplished, and have a place to put your important documents, inventory, and more where they won’t distract you.