The thought of paying rent could make you want to ditch the corporate office altogether. That's what Janet Caswell did. As Caswell pondered space options for her accounting firm, Caswell & Associates, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., she thought about the staffing and technology changes that were transforming her $650,000 firm. Employees increasingly wanted flexible schedules, and clients wanted specialized knowledge that Caswell could get most efficiently from part-time outsiders. Caswell realized she "didn't need to spend $22 a square foot just to have file cabinets."
So Caswell quite literally sent her people home. She gave up the 1,700-square-foot space and set up each employee -- herself included -- with his or her own home office. The cost was $200 to $500 a head for modems and extra phone lines; each new employee also requires a computer and a fax machine, at a per-employee total cost between $2,000 and $3,000. Since the transition, Caswell's phone bills have doubled. But all the costs together don't begin to approach the $3,000-plus a month she used to pay in rent.
This article was adapted from material that first appeared in Inc. magazine in July 1997.