If you’re researching modular offices, you’re not alone. Business owners and warehouse supervisors across the nation are discovering just how inexpensive and efficient it can be to create offices, break rooms, shipping stations, and so much more in a variety of locations. Whether it needs to be out of the way of forklifts or have supports installed so that it can be raised above the pallets to create a bird’s eye view, we can make it happen.
Modular warehouse structures, also called prefabricated offices or portable offices, can be put up in about a quarter of the time of a traditional stick-built construction. And while they’re often called prefab offices, these modular buildings-within-buildings are actually customized for a great variety of uses. Let’s take a look at the most common ways they can be used to increase the comfort and efficiency of your warehouse space.
What Are The Most-Common Uses For Prefabricated Offices?
At DAK Equipment and Engineering, we’ve been called upon to install a great variety of pre-engineered structures inside warehouses. Here are some of the most common configurations, but prefabs are by no means limited to these uses.
Management or Staff Offices
We’ll start with the most obvious use of modular warehouse structures: offices. When people go online searching for them, the word office is the term most commonly used. These modular offices give the higher-ups in the warehouse a place to use the computer, engage with employees, and fill out their paperwork. It also offers privacy when they need to make business-related phone calls or have meetings with staff.
Of course, it’s not just warehouse managers who might need a relatively-quiet place to go in a warehouse. Sometimes it’s those who are in charge of inventory, other times it could even be salesmen. After all, some warehouses contain everyone who is employed by the business; the modular office might be the only place where all of the staff, including HR, works on a daily basis.
Staff Lunch and Break Rooms
Modular offices can also create a friendly break room for employees that helps them get away from work for a while. These prefab office structures can also be customized with comforting lighting and other amenities such as refrigerators, microwaves, toaster ovens, and vending machines. Fill it with tables and chairs and you have a great place where workers can congregate.
Here’s a little secret that we suggest you keep to yourself. Yes, these warehouse prefabs create a place for employees to relax. But it also keeps them on-site. Instead of leaving the warehouse and heading to the local Applebee’s (where they’ll probably spend more than their allotted hour-long lunch break), they’ll be more likely to stay in the break room and be more apt to get back to work on time.
Quality Assurance and Testing
You want to make sure that whatever is going out of your warehouse or assembly stations is up-to-snuff. But in many cases, you want to provide a set-aside space so that tested and untested products can be kept separate. The more delineated those spaces are, the greater the chance that you’re actually providing proper quality assurance.
If you are in need of a clean room, prefab offices can accommodate. There are a variety of levels of clean rooms; not all of them have to be up to the level for a satellite going into space! Some can simply be a dust-free environment that a product enters before it is cleaned, sealed up, and shipped.
Shipping and Receiving
Businesses require different levels of shipping and receiving. Those that need carton flow racks might have an entire section of the warehouse devoted to picking and packing, something that tends to be too big for a modular. But other businesses might be more focused on bulk shipments, meaning that a smaller space for shipping and receiving of a considerably smaller number of packages. Prefab interior buildings and stations can provide the right place for this type of works, away from the hustle and bustle of the warehouse floor.
You Don’t Have To Choose Just One Purpose
A modular structure in a warehouse doesn’t just have to be one thing. In fact, one structure can play many parts in improving the efficiency and privacy of a warehouse.
Here’s the perfect example. We worked with a custom die manufacturer in order to make the most of their space. This custom-prefab (as oxymoronic as that phrase might sound) actually fulfilled three separate needs. First is the employee break room, complete with comfortable lighting, coffee, refrigerators, and a Pepsi machine. On the other half was office space, giving multiple people a place to work with the door closed. Finally, there is covered area that’s still open to the warehouse, making it easily accessible for testing and inspection.
Click that link to see pictures of it from every angle and find out just how eclectic a modular office/break room/workstation can be!
What Are The Advantages of Using Modular Offices?
The list of advantages that you’ll get with a modular office space or portable break room (or whatever else you decide to use it for from the list above) is long. Let’s get started.
Let’s start with one of the biggest advantages you’ll get when you choose a prefabricated office over a permanent building: how quickly it can be constructed. Prefab offices can be put up in around a quarter the time of even the simplest stick-built building.
The speed at which a modular office can be added to your warehouse ensures that you’ll have less disruption to your normal warehouse operations. Prefab offices and break rooms can often be constructed over a weekend; if your warehouse isn’t open during the weekend, you could leave on a Friday and come back to a wonderful new space on Monday morning. There will be some difference in the amount of time it takes, of course, due to the particular modular structure’s size and complexity, but we guarantee you’ll be impressed with how quickly the job can be accomplished.
But what if your warehouse is as busy on a Sunday night as it is on a Wednesday morning? Because our modular office assembly workers are used to working in an active space, they will do everything they can to not disrupt the normal flow of your warehouse machinations. We’ll be out of your hair before you know it, and you’ll have a new modular construction within your warehouse that can make it work even more efficiently.
One major selling point of a modular office or break room is that it doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture in the warehouse. While it’s certainly sturdy and could remain in place for the entire life of the warehouse, they’re relatively easy to take down as the need arises. If at some time you order a professional warehouse optimization report and find that the modular structure needs to be moved, that won’t be much of a problem for professionals like us. It’s certainly exponentially easier than moving a permanent structure, whether it’s inside or outside the warehouse!
No Need To Cut New Doorways
When many warehouse managers want to create a new space for employees, such as an office for the managers or a break room for employees, they often think of construction a stick-built auxiliary building right next to the warehouse and then connecting the two, whether it’s directly attached or connected via an enclosed walkway.
Instead of constructing a new building and cutting a doorway in your warehouse wall, why not just build the needed modular space inside the warehouse? Not only does it lower construction costs, but it also frees up space outside your warehouse. Speaking of which…
It Frees Up Land
If you construct a traditional building outside your warehouse, that space is now in use and can’t be used for anything else. If you want to build an adjoining warehouse in that space 10 years down the line, you now have to demolish the smaller building to make space for it. At that point, the initial cost of that “permanent” building is now lost with no means of recovery.
When you decide to use a modular office and utilize currently-unused space in your warehouse, you’re never making use of that land outside in the first place. Most warehouses can find a corner in which to build a modular office or break room, meaning that the property surrounding the warehouse doesn’t have an unnecessary-permanent structure erected upon it.
But what if you decide you need that space in your warehouse? No problem, thanks to the ease of disassembly that comes with prefabricated offices. When the time comes, these types of interior structures can be completely taken apart and sold or stored. They can also be relocated to a different part of the warehouse, even put up on a mezzanine or reassembled above pallets and have a stairway added.
Prefabs Are Less Expensive
If you are a business owner or warehouse manager, no doubt you’re always looking for ways to save money. We’d like to help you.
Prefab break rooms and offices are one of the fastest, easiest, and, importantly, least expensive ways to delineate space in a warehouse. You don’t have to build a new foundation for an exterior building, you don’t have to create a new entrance into the warehouse to join those buildings, and you don’t have to build a brand new building that will cost considerably more.
While we’re talking about money savings associated with these prefab structures, let’s discuss another way it can save you money.
It Provides a Tax Benefit
If you’re interested in saving money on taxes (and who isn’t?), module offices make much more sense than building a standalone building elsewhere on the property. While it might sound strange, we’ve seen it work in the real world and save the companies we work with thousands of dollars.
The difference is in how real property and tangible property are classified. When you build an auxiliary building outside of the warehouse, even if it’s attached in some way, it’s considered real property and is depreciated over 39 years. But prefabricated offices and modular spaces are considered tangible property, because it is moveable and doesn’t necessarily always occupy the same space. It’s therefore depreciated over 7 years. This can lead to big tax savings, all while getting you high-quality office space or break room that can be moved if necessary.
Prefabs Are Resellable
Let’s say that you no longer need your modular office. Maybe your business has grown so much that a brand new office is being built where all of the managers are expected to have their offices close to each other, not in the warehouse. Or perhaps the new office has a cafeteria and the warehouse workers are making more use of it than an indoor break room. Maybe your warehouse is getting so full that the space occupied by the modular will soon be filled with new pallet rack shelving, and for now, everyone’s just going to have to make-do without it.
No matter the reason, if you need that space back, we can come and take it down. If you think you might need it again, we can help you put it into storage. If not, we’re happy to report that prefabricated structures keep their value rather well. Selling it shouldn’t be a problem and we can guide you on the sale.
Avoid Electric Problems
If you decide to build a new standalone building or one that’s attached to your warehouse, you’ll have to extend electricity to it. That’s a much bigger deal than simply building a prefab office in the warehouse and using its already-existing electrical setup to power everything the module might have it in, from computers and printers to refrigerators and soda machines. (You could even have an open ceiling if the warehouse lights would provide adequate light from above, saving the need for interior lighting. This might not be a good idea, though, as harsh shadows can be created by light that is so far away.)
Save On Heating and Cooling
If your inventory doesn’t require heating and cooling and your workers don’t need to access the inventory very often, you might be able to get away with not conditioning the air in the warehouse. But if you do need heating and cooling in the warehouse, it can be a huge expense. While we can’t help you with that expense, we do have some excellent news for you: heating and cooling a module office is essentially free!
When you heat and cool a warehouse, you’re heating the entire space. That means you’re already heating and cooling the empty space that the modular unit is about to be installed on. Putting a portable office or prefab break room on it simply means that you’re making better use of the space and keeping the temperature just right…for free. If you build a free-standing structure outside the warehouse, you’re going to have to heat and cool it separately. That not only increases the initial cost with additional HVAC equipment, but it also increases the long-term energy cost.
They’re Protected From the Elements
One reason that prefabs remain sturdy despite their innate mobility is that they don’t have to be constructed to hold up the elements like an exterior building has to. Because prefab modular structures are protected by the warehouse, they’re not battling hail, rains, high winds, or UV radiation. This also shows why they are so much less expensive than an exterior standalone structure: prefabs don’t need shingles, double-pane windows, or insulation in order to perform properly.
Extra Eyes and Fast Response
Warehouse modular structures can have as many — or as few — windows as you need. In this case study, six-foot windows were used in order to give the break room portion an open, airy feel.
This open feel can also provide fast response time if something goes wrong. Imagine an employee who’s on their lunch break and glances up to look out the windows. If they see something that someone else doesn’t — a forklift about to hit a pallet rack or someone oblivious to an open gate on a mezzanine — they can race out and yell to the parties in question, warning them of the danger.
You might think these scenarios unlikely, but we bet that having employees being aware of warehouse operations even when they’re on a break will lead to increased safety. Efficiency is going to be increased if an employee simply sees the person they’ve been looking for all morning walk outside the break room. These are all situations that wouldn’t happen if a traditional structure was built outside of the warehouse.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Modular Spaces?
As many advantages as prefab offices and modular spaces have, it’s important to ask if there are any disadvantages. Let’s take a look.
Break Rooms Need To Provide Breaks
One point of using an interior modular room as a break room or lunch room is that it’s giving employees a chance to get away from work for a while. In fact, we just finished talking about how the big windows can make them more aware of safety concerns while they’re at lunch.
But if the prefabricated module space has big windows that look out into the warehouse, employees might not feel that they’ve truly gotten away from work. The type and placement of windows in that space will be important to help employees feel that they’re really away from work when they’re in the space.
Boomin Business Can Squeeze Them Out
The only other disadvantage of having a modular space that we can think of is minor and is the byproduct of a growing business. If your business continues to thrive and the inventory in your warehouse increases, you’re eventually going to crowd out the modular offices in lieu of more pallet rack systems or industrial conveyor systems. A growing business is a good problem to have, for sure, but then you have to decide where that office or break room is going to move to. Modular offices have considerable resale value, so you could sell it if you find another space that satisfies the same needs. You could also put it on a platform and raise it above your storage racking. (Of course, you could also just leave it where it is and improve the efficiency of your pallet rack shelving. Contact our experts in warehouse layout design; you might just need a better-optimized workspace, and it could be the cheapest option available.)
We’ll Help You Decide!
There are quite a few modular office and prefabricated break room suppliers out there, and not every one will work in every warehouse. Because we work with all of them and have built strong relationships with them over the years, we can not only offer options you might never have thought of but get you a great price at the same time. Not only can we provide the actual modular space, but we’ll construct it in a short amount of time that we bet will surprise you.
If you’re ready to make full use of your space while saving money and time, we’re ready to talk. Our warehouse layout optimization experts will take a look at your space and suggest the best way to utilize it for a modular office. Sometimes the solution is obvious, other times ingenious! Either way, you’ll get the best products from DAK Equipment and Engineering, so contact our warehouse system professionals today!