How to choose the right office space

How to choose the right office space

January 27, 2020

If you are looking for new office space, or if your start-up has strong legs under it and you are ready to expand there are two things you need to arm yourself with to go office shopping.

1. A budget. This needs to be well researched, workable and realistic.
2. Space awareness. By this I mean you have a solid feel for what your working requirements will be and how you want your staff to operate.

The right office space will be efficient, offer great communication between staff members and easy to access facilities. Most commercial lease terms sit between 3 and 10 years in length, commonly with more perks offered the longer the agreement, which means you want to be confident about your choice before you sign the dotted line and commit to a lease term.

Here are some things you want to take into account for an office space that will bring healthy returns.

1. Be organised

If you are looking for office space in Sydney or Melbourne CBD be warned, good vacancies are notoriously hard to come by. If you leave your search to the last minute you may be caught out and forced to take something not suitable just to get a foot in the door.

To help get around this start your search early; 12 to 18 months ahead of your move isn't too soon to start looking. As well as starting your search early, have everything for your application on hand and ready to go. Get familiar with the application requirements and as much as possible prepare your bank guarantees and documentation so that you can jump ahead of any other offers.

2. Know what you are looking for

Having your business plan and goals outlined are important for future growth projections to enable you to get a clear picture of what your business direction will be during the lease. Some of the impacting directions to consider are location and costs of the premises, including parking, security, and quality of the amenities. For some business owners luxury appeal will meet their goal to attract and keep high-quality staff and wow clients whereas, for others, high running costs will detract from the goal of cutting costs. The fit between the building and your business is unique so understanding what your business is and where it is going will enable you to match well.

3. Space

The amount of space you need in your office will depend entirely on your type of business and the way you want your business to run. Layout options are just about endless and you can put in offers to the owner for a refit before you move in. Share desks, a mix of sitting and standing desks, cubical, individual spaces, meeting rooms, private offices, rooms for relaxation, rooms for guests and clients. It's entirely up to you to mix and match to create the work environment that will work efficiently for the business you want to run.

4. Understand the lease

Make sure you have your conveyancer or legal representative on board early to discuss your needs and look over any potential property paperwork. They can help you understand the legal aspects of the lease so you don't get caught out by annual increases you weren't expecting or expensive fit-out agreements. You also want to see about options to renew and options to relocate down the track that will work in your favour. Ideally, you want to stay in your building for the long term so anything that helps you do that will assist your business growth and stability.

5. Budget

When you are factoring your budget it's important to make sure you capture all the details as well as the obvious costs of the lease payments. If not, those hidden, secondary and overlooked costs can quickly add up and swamp you. Relocation costs will differ depending on where you are currently working and how many staff you have or will have, so you must look deeply into all factors for your business and detail an accurate budget for your unique situation. Move-in costs include IT and internet connections, buying and/or moving furniture, multiple keys and access cards and refitting the space. If your landlord is not willing to refit the office space for you, you will either have to pay the refit costs yourself or look exclusively for offices that have an existing fit that matches your needs. It may be worth the extra searching as you can expect to pay anywhere from $700 to $1550 per metre in refit expenses. Be sure you know your budget limits and factor in the whole cost so you go in with eyes wide open.

6. Location

It goes without saying that the better the location the more competition for space. That typically means higher prices and fewer vacancies. When you are looking for great location some of the deciding factors that make it easier for staff and clients are close public transport, parking, exercise space, so a park or gym and choices for café's, restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies and post offices. Your staff will want to use their lunch break to get out of the office and maybe run some errands so having those facilities close at hand is attractive.

7. Wellness

A really big thing many offices are factoring in now is wellness. Because such a huge amount of our time is spent at work, and often that experience is stressful. Creating ways your office can provide wellbeing to your workers can go a long way towards improving the workload efficiency and staff morale and limiting sick days and staff turnover (both of which are costly).  Wellness factors can be in the natural lighting and air quality, state of the art facilities, showers, as well as dedicated rooms for meditation or a private conversation.

8.  Access and Security

Staff safety is a serious issue you need to factor in. How much access and security you need will depend on several factors including the sensitivity of medial you are working with, staff working hours and working times, the number of staff in the office and their transport needs. Identifying any security issues and addressing them early is critical for providing your staff with a safe and secure workplace.

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