shipping container offices

4 Big Ideas for Small Shipping Container Offices

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Have you started your own business and need a space for it? If you’re on a budget but you’re still hoping to expand and grow your entrepreneurship, then finding a cheap alternative to building from scratch can help.

When you want to save money on office space, using shipping containers can be a big help as you design the space, given their standard sizing. Yet even within that framework, you still have a lot to work with.

For some big ideas on using a small shipping container as the basis for your office space, try these 4 unique options.

1. Stack Containers Together

One way to maximize the budget and the space in your shipping container office is to stack them together. Find hardware to attach multiple containers, or hire someone to weld them together for a safer approach. Either way, your container office design gets an upgrade when you can build up, not just out.

Get creative with the design by adding patios, staircases, and balconies to give the space some of the comforts of a traditional building. And to help with the cost, you can loan or lease each extra space to specialists or professionals in similar fields.

You could even set up the whole complex to be a co-working space, where anyone who wants some office space can rent from you for a month at a time. Or lease them by the hour, too, the way a library rents study carrels or conference rooms. It’s a good way to bring in extra income, as well as help each other’s small businesses get off the ground and share advertising potential.

2. Use One Small Shipping Container

If all you need is a small office space that’s separate from your home, then using one shipping container can work for you.

You get out of the house and avoid distractions, and you can even install a separate driveway so customers feel a professional distance from your home. If you share the work with someone, a small shipping container is still big enough to house two desks if you’re sharing the actual office space.

Another design that works even with only one small container is creating a waiting area for your customers if you usually see multiple clients in one day. That gives your actual office less square footage but can help you facilitate growth easier as you add more clients, preventing them from waiting outside in their cars.

These small containers on their own can also house a half bathroom for your needs or for your customers’ use. That way you don’t have to send them to the main house and mix your personal and professional worlds together.

If you want the best of both worlds, line up two containers end to end, and put the bathroom and the waiting area in one, with a large office in the other. Shipping containers make customizing your space easy.

3. Use Several Containers Under One Roof

While stacking containers makes for an interesting design, it involves making each separate space weatherproofed and insulated. One solution to this is to build a warehouse or pole barn, then use the containers to divide the interior space. They end up being an alternative to framing and putting up walls, more like importing a whole room to set into your already constructed building.

When constructing a container home this way, each container ends up being a different room in the house, like the kitchen, bedrooms, and laundry space. For an office building, the individual container spaces could be leased like with the stacking containers (above), but this way ties the businesses together a little more. It works well for a business with more employees, and each area could be a different person’s office.

More and more professionals are opting to work from home when possible, according to a study quoted by CNBC. Many of those people may not have the professional space to meet clients at their homes, but renting space like this gives a central location with business-style furnishings and without the threat of little kids interrupting. This way, their clients have a professional impression of their business.

4. Use Containers to Frame an Atrium

Another big way to use shipping containers is to surround a nice outdoor space for work breaks. Putting 4 or more containers in a square shape creates an atrium where employees and clients can enjoy soaking up the sun. Encourage your people to embrace the outdoors with picnic tables and other accommodations for the staff and you might get better productivity from them.

This space could also be a designated smoking area or a way for eco-friendly offices to compost their garbage or collect rainwater to use in landscaping. Decorate the space with items like a bird feeder, fountains, and seasonal flowers and plants. Don’t forget an umbrella or awning for shade from the sun or protection from the rain.

Capitalize on the atrium idea by giving the container walls that line the space plenty of windows. Then even workers inside can appreciate nature and get some much-needed sunlight. Some could even have patio doors in their offices to walk outside for a short recharge outside, before getting back to their projects.

Your Unique Design

Using a small shipping container on its own or with others like it can make your office space unique and inviting for your customers. Whether you choose to stack the containers, use only one, capitalize on their ready-made room option, or create an atrium, your space will be a great way to expand your business. 

Think of the containers like building blocks, and get creative with your design. You can use them to accommodate all your needs for a cheaper budget than building an entirely new space from the ground up.

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