Looking for office space?
30th November 2017
Looking for office space? Finding the right office space for your business can be a tough decision to make and the choices out there are varied. Whether it's a move to your very first office or to your twentieth, there are essential questions you need to ask. Here are some pointers that you'll be wise to consider when making your decision....
- Is it a safe neighbourhood? If the premises seem cheap, there's often a very good reason. Is the area safe? Your staff and visitors will feel safer visiting your office if the area has a good reputation, employees spend in excess of eight hours a day in the office, so having a secure neighbourhood where your employees feel safe should be a priority. Consider the route staff will need to travel to and from, local transport, especially if travelling by foot.
- Are there good transport links? How easy are the premises to commute to? The obvious question for big city centre offices is how close the nearest tram, bus or rail line is, but consider cycle routes, too. We'd suggest sitting down with staff to look at their options. Map your employees' new journeys to work to assess how the move will affect their daily commute. If relevant, visitors' and clients' access should also be a consideration. You may wish to pull together a travel plan to identify alternative routes for visitors. If you struggle to make such a plan, then maybe it's not the location for you.
- Are there amenities nearby? Are there places where staff can buy their lunch? Where you could take clients for drinks or a meal? Where you can buy essential supplies for the office? Life carries on when you are in the office, your employees will have errands to run after work or during lunch. Find an office close to a bank, pharmacy and shopping area and your staff will thank you forever.
- Is it a trendy neighbourhood? Setting up in an area with a reputation as a hot spot for up-and-coming start-ups or promising young businesses can have a positive effect on how clients and staff view your company, as well as on hiring, not to mention being more likely to boast a thriving social scene.
- Is the building secure? Nobody likes to work in an unsecure environment, and your staff are no different. How secure is building? Do you need extra security for different areas? Have there been any recent break-ins? Are windows, skylights and doors secure or will they need to be altered upon occupation?
- Is there a manned reception? If so, what's the customer service like? Does the building provide a manned reception, and even more importantly, does it provide good customer service? Is it manned by security types or more traditional receptionists? Even if staff at the front desk aren't your own, they will still be the first impression a client or other visitor has of your company.
- Is the building well-maintained? Does the company that manages the building do a good job? Find out who is managing the day-day operations, security and services of the building. Is it a credible firm? Maybe ask other tenants about the quality of service.
- Is there out of hours access? If you'd like access at all times, this is essential to determine. If your staff are likely to need access to the building outside of normal office hours, you'll need to consider how easy it is for them to do so. Is there 24 hour access and security?
- How about parking or bike storage? There's no point analysing how long it takes to drive or ride to the office unless you also consider what you're going to do with your car or bike when you get there. Are there enough parking spaces? If your building doesn't have its own car park, is there sufficient parking nearby for employees and regular visitors?
- Are there competitors in the building? It may seem an odd consideration, but you don't want staff from a rival firm lingering in public spaces where they can overhear going-ons at your company, or worse still, elevator-pitching your potential new clients.
- Is there enough room? As a very general rule, it's normally recommended to have 70 square feet per person. However, you know your business best. If your employees need bigger desks or more storage for example, then up this figure appropriately. There's no doubt that a cramped office reduces productivity, so don't skimp on floor space.
- Can you decorate? You need to ascertain how much freedom you have to make the space your own. Are there any restrictions? If you decorate as you see fit, will you have to return the space to neutral decor before you leave?
- What are the acoustics like? There are things to consider which are easy to miss when viewing an empty office with the windows closed. A noisy office is one of the most common complaints from staff. Check the acoustics of the internal space. An echoing space can be very uncomfortable to work in, and be sure to consider the external sound too. It's worth visiting the premises at different times of the day to check what it's like a rush hour, at night, etc.
- Will the layout work for your business? Take a long, hard look at the layout. It's easy to be wowed by a clean, empty space or a tidy suite of offices, but how will the layout work for you? Is it on just one floor? Are there separate offices? Are they big enough or too big? Is is an open floor plan? Can areas be easily divided if needed? Will this work with your company's existing style of work? Is it possible to carry out modifications on the space? And, if you are planning to divide the space (even temporarily), are there enough outlets, windows, heating units, etc. in each area? We'd give two pieces of advice on this topic: Larger floor plans are more cost effective because they lessen the need for break rooms, copy points, etc. And if facilities such as meeting rooms, kitchen areas are available to you may be able to save costs by going with a smaller space and making use of these facilities.
- Is there room to expand? Finally, it's an obvious one, but if you're hoping for growth, then make sure that there is room to grow.
- Hidden Extras. Are there any hidden extras? Cost of parking, telecoms services, service charges. Is the price inclusive of everything, in which case you may be paying for more than you require or need or are these added extras? Asking about hidden costs helps you protect yourself against being stung with charges you didn't expect.
- Bond payments. What is the bond/deposit payment, are you guaranteed this to be returned upon vacating or would certain costs such as final cleaning, decoration charges be deducted from this?
- Compare with local availability. Is the office priced in line with similar office space in the area? Always do a quick comparison with other offices spaces in the area to make sure you're getting value for money.
- Price increases. Will the price increase annually or it is guaranteed for a period of time? If annual increases are expected, are these in line with inflation or should you expect a steeper increase without warning?
This is a more important feature for some businesses than others. Nowadays however, there aren't many businesses that can function efficiently without a reliable internet connection.
- Broadband & Telecoms connections. Some offices, particularly managed or serviced offices, may include internet access as part of their rent. Is the level of service right for your business, you may be paying for more than is needed or is a tailored connection available? If you're leasing somewhere privately though, you'll need to factor in the cost of getting a line connected and the monthly payments for access.
- Quality of service. The quality and reliability of the service matters too. There's no point paying for a service that is being interrupted constantly or cracks under the strain of a particularly busy day. Find out who is the service provider and do some research or enquire with current tenants as to the quality of the service offered. Can I ask the owner for a speed test to ensure that the ISP is providing sufficiant service? The speed test is a really simple thing you can do to try and get real data that answers your question. If the service is good, the owner isn't going to think twice about providing it.
- Additional services offered. Infrastructure doesn't just mean interent either. What about postal or secretarial services? With mobile phones so prevalent these days telecom services might not be that important to you, but postal services are still crucial for signed documents or other physical items. And for new and smaller businesses, the addition of secretarial services as and when offers much needed support.
Choosing office space for your business is a big decision, with many factors to consider. Here at Aizlewood's Mill we hope to provide you with the answers to any questions you may have, but these pointers will get you started on narrowing down the options. Our friendly and knowledgeable team will be more than happy to help give answers to your queries.
Aizlewood's Mill 0114 2823123 firstname.lastname@example.org www.aizlewoodsmill.com @aizlewoodsmill.com