If you’ve made the decision to move your business, you might be thinking that’s half the battle won. However, the effort you’ll need to put into searching for – and kitting out – your next office space shouldn’t be underestimated. Choosing the right offices can make all the difference when it comes to recruitment and retention, productivity and in some cases, your ability to bring in new business. In this guide, we’ll take you through some of the key things to look out for when searching for your next commercial premises and point out some common pitfalls to avoid along the way.
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re probably not going to find it. As such, it pays to be laser focused on your needs. This means knowing exactly where your businesses is now, where you want it to be and how you plan to get there. Needless to say it’s best to plan ahead and act early. The search itself will be stressful enough, without adding a looming deadline to your worries. Be prepared for the search itself to take some time as well. You’ll be incredibly fortunate to stumble upon your ideal place immediately and if you choose in haste, you’ll have plenty of time to repent at leisure. On the other hand, it’s important to have a deadline firmly in mind. Since the move is a task that’ll intrude upon your day-to-day work, it’s all too easy to put off until the last minute.
If you’re in it for the long-term and have the capital available, it might make sense to purchase your property outright. If not, a lease is the most popular way to go. And if the space is just serving as a stop-gap, you might be able to find a short-term licence. Each option comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, with licensed office space often offering shared facilities, like meeting rooms, printers and kitchen facilities.
While leasing and buying provides you with much more control over the space, you’ll also take on more responsibility for the maintenance and day-to-day upkeep. The arrangement you opt for will also dictate the amount of flexibility you’ve got in terms of moving. Licensing offers the greatest flexibility, letting you move on with a minimum of notice. Leasing tends to have pre-defined periods when you can opt to renew or move to pastures new (known as ‘break clauses), but you’re likely to be in for a few years at a bare minimum.
Buying offers the most control, but also comes with the greatest amount of responsibility. While you’ll be able to move out whenever you see fit – you’ll have to arrange to sell the property (or manage it as a landlord). Either way, you’ll have appoint commercial agents and pay the legal fees involved in transferring the property.
Depending on the market conditions, you could find yourself waiting for quite some time for a buyer, which can pose issues in terms of cash flow.
While you might have a vague idea of what you want in your head, putting this down on paper can be a great help when it comes to articulating your desires.
It’s a good idea to section things into three columns – the things you need, the things you’d like and the deal breakers. While each company has its own specifics, some things to look out for include:
Space:Is it big enough to accommodate your business right now and does it offer sufficient room to expand?
Serviced or self-managed: Will you have to pay for cleaning and sort out your own kitchen space, amenities and maintenance? And if not, what are the service charges?
Rules and regulations: Are you allowed to redecorate and will the landlord quash your dreams of an office dog?
Fiscal facts: How will the premises affect your insurance policy? What are the business rates and what terms does the lease offer?
Logistics: How are the public transport links and will you have to pay for parking?
Security: How’s the local area and building security? If you need a lock-up for bicycles or business-related items – is this provided?
Infrastructure: If high-speed internet is a must-have, will there be any issues in installing the necessary alarms? If it’s an old building – will the walls interfere with wi-fi signals? Similarly, if you’re using desktops – are there sufficient data ports and plug sockets?
Heating: Are the windows double-glazed and how is the office heated? Older buildings can be especially susceptible to heat-loss and under HSE regulations you’re obliged to maintain a minimum temperature.
Surroundings: Are there shops and good places to grab lunch nearby? Are building works currently ongoing or scheduled to take place?
Open plan or encapsulated? While open-plan offices are all the rage, is there a defined space to hold meetings or will they be broadcast to the office as a whole?
City centre or out-of-town: Either option comes with a huge list of pros and cons, but if you need to have your proverbial finger on the pulse and won’t balk at the extra costs involved – the city centre might be right for you.
If you’ve recently moved and want to share your experiences, or have questions about any of the topics we’ve covered above – leave us a comment below, or get in touch via Twitter. And if you’ve already found the perfect space for your company, be sure to take a look at the range of projects we’ve completed for businesses of every shape and size.