If you’ve followed this Startup Strategy series to the T, then you’re through most of the work involved in setting up an office. You’ve now got business funding through the business loan and you’ve got an accountant to manage that funding, now all that is left is choosing the right office space.
The problem with choosing the right office space is the definition of ‘right office space’. There is no clear definition of this phrase that you can follow. The ‘right office space’ is different for every startup and indeed every business. The reason for this is that their requirements and needs are different.
In fact, the ‘right office space’ will be unique to your business from virtually every perspective anyone can come up with. While choosing the right office space for your startup, you’ll have to consider everything from the size of the office space to how much it will cost your business.
Choosing the Right Office Space: Location, Neighbourhood, Area, Infrastructure
When choosing the right office space, you have to think of your employees first. This means considering the location from their perspective. For instance, after you’ve created a shortlist of potential properties, you need to evaluate each option from the angle of safety.
You need to consider if the neighbourhood is safe because your employees will have to travel to and from the place on an everyday basis. In fact, they may even have to come in early sometimes or leave late which increases risks in dicey neighbourhoods.
Therefore, consider transport related logistics very carefully. As a matter of fact, choosing the right office space could even lead you to picking a neighbourhood where accommodations are affordable and high quality for the sake of your employees.
Similarly, you may have to consider your clients’ location. Certain businesses depend heavily on direct interaction and engagement with clients. This could mean anything from sending regular consignments to clients’ place or even holding regular meetings with them. If this scenario fits your business, then choosing the right office space means being near your clients.
You should also realise that your employees will be spending the better part of 10 hours in the area five days a week. Effectively, you should also check if all the basic amenities are available near office space you’re considering. You should ideally look for nearby banks, restaurants, bars, pharmacies, shopping area, and even supplies stores when choosing the right office space.
Choosing the Right Office Space: Building, Office, Workplace, Floor
You and your employees will travel through the neighbourhood to the location but the actual work will be done behind four walls. This means that you need to evaluate the actual office space as well.
The foremost variable to consider here while choosing the right office space, as in the case of the location of the office space, is security.
Your employees and your office equipment will be kept in the building you will be working in. You absolutely need them to be as safe as possible.
Thus, you should check whether the building you’re considering is generally safe or if there have been break-ins there in the past. You should also consider all the entry and exit points from the angle of security i.e. if you’ll need to do something extra like installing special locks or even hiring security guards.
While you’re considering security from the perspective of animate risk, you should also consider inanimate risk. Assess the stability and maintenance levels of the building. While choosing the right office space, you should ideally find a building that is maintained well. You should also avoid buildings where some kind of a construction or renovation project is planned in the future as this will make it very uncomfortable for you and your employees.
Noise can be a major factor in work efficiency. Most seasoned architects and interior designers try to sound proof any offices they are commissions to work on. External noise or poor internal acoustics can be very distracting.
These types of disturbances can prevent your employees from getting the right focus and excelling at their work. Hence, you should analyse whether external noise will be a problem and the nature of the acoustics of the spaces you’re considering before choosing the right office space.
You should also look into the other occupants of the building. You neither want pesky and annoying neighbours nor competitors in the same building. In the perfect world, choosing the right office space means picking a building where you have no competitors. Why is this important?
Well, you don’t want your competing firm to either steal your star employees or your key clients. Besides, you’ll want things to be calm and assured as opposed to high tension through intense rivalry with someone because it will affect your business’s productivity.
Choosing the Right Office Space: Size, Scale, Logistics, Style
Different office sizes suit different types of businesses. For example, manufacturers usually need larger sized offices than service providers. Other factors such as equipment and workforce strength also come into play when it comes to choosing the right office space with respect to size.
Typically, it is recommended to assign around 70 square feet per employee. However, this is a highly generic number that may not be suitable for all businesses. A good way to figure out if the office space you’re considering is of the right size is by doing a mock-up with the help of some newspapers and tape. This will help you visualise the entire office space.
Also, consider if you’ll need a separate storage area in your office space. Look for false flooring as well because that will make it easier and more flexible to establish workstations anywhere in the office space.
Choosing the right office space doesn’t only mean that you find an office space that meets your size and layout requirements. Instead, it means finding an office space that is actually bigger. The reason for this is that you need to have space for meeting with clients, recreational areas, and the option for scaling up.
You should also look at the style aspect. This is especially true if you’ll be operating in an industry where branding and business image is important. You want to pick the right style for your office space. For instance, if you’re in the fashion industry, you may need something swanky to truly reach your potential.
Choosing the Right Office Space: Cost, Contract, Agreement, Terms
As is obvious, pricing is a significant factor to consider also. You should neither be willing to pay too much nor too little. The whole project of choosing the right office space would be a failure, if you end up paying too much.
Even if you’re optimistic about your business’s future, make sure that you don’t go out on a limb too much. You don’t want to scupper your business’s chances even before it gets to take off. One way to tell if the office space may be beyond your financial reach is to calculate if you’ll be able to pay a three month deposit right now.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t pay too little either. You’re most probably wondering why we’ll give such an advice. There will always be a reason why an office space is cheaply priced.
There may be hidden charges, the locality may be poor, property ownership may be questionable, or any number of other reasons. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true!
You should also always get the agreement or contract whetted by a professional lawyer or real estate counsellor. After all, you don’t want to get stuck with a contract that has unfair terms, conditions, and clauses.