Gab Aghion, director of BRM Projects, says similar trends can be seen in the workplace...
Technology and flexibility are also playing a part – modern computer systems and remote working technologies simply require less space. The impact of disruptive innovation is another factor, says Aghion. "Stable industry may not be stable in one year's time; we're in an era of rapid change and I think that's impacting decision-making when it comes to the size of workplaces."
While upheaval and caution force some organisations to downsize, tiny spaces can be an attractive option for others. Recent reports indicate that the demand for small spaces in Melbourne's laneways precinct is strong
Measuring just under 10 square metres, the tiny size translated to a big opportunity for Chrystal. "It's always been a dream of mine to open a cafe, and being such a small space it's enabled that process to happen quicker rather than having to work for years to save money to do it. It was a lot cheaper to fit out and the lower level of risk made it very attractive."
With crisp white subway tiles, a concrete bench and plenty of glass, the size and design of the space has proved to be a drawcard. "The first reaction people have is how cool the space is, and when they get talking to me they often ask why I opened such a small cafe."
"The upside to downsizing is creating interesting flexible spaces and better matching business tasks to the workspace."
Reduced space also demands precision. "With only a small fridge and limited space, I need to understand my sales and ensure my orders are timed correctly so I don't run out, while also not overstocking in a perishable like milk – it's an ongoing challenge!"
Along with clever design, Chrystal says technology has helped him meet challenges involved in limited floor space. His point-of-sale software, Square Register, lets him run the business from an iPad while also keeping track of all sales and inventory.
Building relationships with neighbouring businesses has also been helpful, especially when a milk crisis hits. "There are a few operators who I exchange milk with; I can run up and get some milk or soy milk and vice versa. We all help each other and benefit."
While Chrystal has made the most of a tiny space, even organisations reluctantly forced to shrink can find benefits, says Aghion. "The upside to downsizing is creating interesting flexible spaces and better matching business tasks to the workspace."