One of the biggest challenges small businesses face today is controlling costs. A sizable portion of their expenditures go toward renting and maintaining office space. In fact, research shows they spend nearly 10 percent of their revenue on office space. Only employee wages and inventories rank higher.

In the past, office space for virtually any business was an essential requirement. But digital disruption and changing dynamics of the workplace, many small businesses are recognizing that they don’t need as much office space, and in some cases they don’t need it at all.

Even if you do determine that office space is a must for your business, there are ways to optimize its utilization. Here are a few ideas:

•   If you have underutilized office space, you may want to downsize the next time your lease comes up for renewal. Alternatively, you can also explore the possibility of sharing the office space with another company (subleasing it).

•    Institute a “green” office policy that reduces your cost on everything from paper to power consumption.

•    Consolidate your phone and computer networks by switching over to voice over IP (VoIP). In addition to cost savings, you will get added capabilities from the VoIP network.

•    Furnish your office with used or rental desks, chairs, filing cabinets, and bookcases. You may even be able to acquire some of the furnishings for free through online communities like Freecycle.

These are some great ideas and starting points for a business. But the opportunities for even bigger business outcomes exist. Small businesses are turning to virtual office solutions and renting meeting rooms, day offices, and co-working spaces to revolutionize their approach to workspace. The death of the 9 AM to 5 PM workday and deconstruction of the premise that work is completed when employees are sitting at their desks most certainly are aiding in this transformation.

The following are some of the ways that small businesses are thinking outside of the box when it comes to office space:

1. Eliminate permanent office space. With occupancy rates growing 1.3 percent faster than new supply, rents are skyrocketing in many locations. Twenty-two percent of companies that use rented office space – conference rooms, day offices, and/or co-working spaces – previously had permanent physical offices. In addition to foregoing leasing or purchasing increasingly expensive office spaces, these small businesses are able to avoid the associated costs of furnishing and staffing (e.g., receptionists). At the same time, even though they jettison the costs of office space, these companies are able to retain great addresses by leveraging virtual office addresses.

2. Reduce permanent office space. With workers spending less than half of the workday at their desks, much of office space goes underutilized. This affords companies an opportunity to drive cost efficiencies by reducing permanent office space. They can tap rented meeting space when they require additional office capacity – whether scaling up to accommodate influxes in employees or office utilization rates, holding internal employee all-hands meetings, or hosting external meetings with prospects, partners, and customers.

3. Expand virtually. Physical office space inhibits a business from expanding its operations and services into a new region or city. Virtual office and rented office solutions enable small businesses to secure great addresses and rent conference rooms, day offices, and co-working spaces for a fraction of the cost of a permanent office space. Great virtual office solutions come with mail receipt and forwarding, lobby and director listings, and a local presence for dropping off and picking up customers and prospects. They also should include the ability to rent meeting rooms and offices.

4. Give workers flexibility. Changing demographics and the emergence and evolution of new technologies make working 9 to 5 a thing of the past and tying workers behind desks is an aberration. The majority of businesses indicate offering flexible, mobile, and remote work options assists them in hiring and retaining workers. These companies also perform better, producing up to four times higher growth than companies that don’t offer their workers these options. In this scenario, rented meeting rooms play a critical role, even if the business elects to retain a permanent office space, as workers can have professional conference rooms and day offices where they can work either all of the time or part of the time.

Small businesses can start saving on their office costs today by utilizing virtual office addresses and rented meeting rooms. The business returns can be substantial.