Some business people will tell you that the right office space can make or break a small business. It is not always easy getting the balance between affordability and the perfect office premises, but not taking the time to do your research can be a costly mistake. Here is checklist of basic considerations for your preliminary search for new office space. It is important to understand that not every suggestion will be relevant to your business type or situation.
1. The location
Is the office in an area that is known for doing business? Setting up in an area that is not considered a business area may give your clients a feeling that you are not that professional of an organization. A prime business location that is professional, such as in a downtown core, can have a positive effect on how clients and staff view your company.
Is it in a safe area of town? It is important that your staff and visitors will feel safer visiting your office if the area is both safe and well lit. Consider that yourself and/or employees may have to work at night or arrive early before the sun comes up. Lighting is even more important during the winter months when the days are shorter.
Is there easy access to public transportation? Not only might you or your staff need easy access to public transit, but you also will want an area with frequent service. If you will be hosting clients and customers in your office space, you will want to make sure the public transit directions you give them are not complicated.
What are the nearby amenities? Are their nearby restaurants to get lunch or to entertain clients? You may want to have your office nearby a convenience store, an ATM or even a full-service bank or credit union with teller services to make deposits. Remember that the amenities you demand may also be those your clients may require – such as parking facilities if your office space does not provide them.
2. The Actual Building
Is the building well-maintained? There is nothing worse than having clients visit your offices, only to get a bad first impression by the outside of the building or the main lobby. Even before inquiring about office space, take a close look at the building. Go inside the main lobby to see if it is clean and well maintained. Also look to see if there is a security desk that has a guard of concierge. Ask to use the restroom. One sign of a well maintained building is clean, modern restrooms.
What are the hours of access? Some office buildings have set hours of operations and do not allow for after-hours access. Having an office space in a building with 24-hour, 7-day-a-week access may not be important to your business model – but knowing you have access when you need it is. You may want to find out if there is self-access or if there is access granted by a security guard.
Is there parking in or around the office building? You want to know if there is parking available for yourself, your employees or even your visiting clients. Find out how much the parking costs and how many spaces you are able to rent. If the building does not offer on-site parking, what easily accessible parking is available nearby?
3. The Office Space
Is there enough space for your needs or is there too much? Knowing your needs and the number of offices, cubicles or workstations you require now is important. However, know your needs for the length of the the lease term you are signing. Renting too much space that is not needed will cost your business money and hold up budgetary funds that could be allocated to other things your business requires.
Can you decorate? Knowing what, if any, decoration restrictions there are before you sign a lease is important. But it is also a factor you should consider when you are doing your search. If you can decorate as you see fit and have to return the space to neutral decor before you vacate, you have to factor that into the costs. You do not want to waste time considering an office space if you require decorating and are not permitted to do so.
What are the acoustics like? No one wants to work in noisy office spaces where sounds echo or are carried easily because of the space design or configuration. When viewing an empty office this may be hard to determine, so ask if you can visit the space or a similar office space in the same facility. Also consider the sounds coming from outside and adjacent offices.
4. Other Needs of Employees and Visiting Clients
Are the building and office spaces disability accessible? You will want to find out if the building has accessible parking spots, wheelchair ramps, automatic doors, accessible washrooms and any carpeting that is less than 1/2 pile. Other considerations are the elevators. Most modern elevators have braille buttons and call-out floor numbers for the blind – but this is not true of many older office buildings.
Does building security offer escorting to cars after hours? When people are working past dark or having to go into an empty underground parking facility, they feel much more secure when they are being escorted.
How clear are building directions to your office space? Having a listing on the building directory is a good start, but it may not always give important directions. Some building complexes with separate wings or different elevators for different floors require additional directions. Either the building director should have addition directions, or a concierge/security desk in the lobby should give visiting clients proper directions.
5. Come up With Additional Items on Your Checklist That are Important to Your Business
Do you or your clients need easy access to commuter rail systems or airports? Can you rent addition space if you need to expand? Are there kitchen facilities? Is there a preferred office cleaning company? What IT or Internet infrastructure currently exist?
Once you have conducted your preliminary office space search and narrowed down your choices to a handful of promising offices, be sure to visit each of them and take a full tour of the facilities and the building. And don’t forget to take your checklist along.