For many growing businesses, there comes a time when their existing office space no longer suits their needs and they need to move to a new one. You can’t just rush into the first property within your budget, though. Before you sign a long-term contract with a commercial property owner, it’s important to think through certain details about your employees, your growth goals and your overall company structure.
According to members of Forbes Real Estate Council, here’s what business owners need to consider when they’re seeking a new office space. Follow their advice to ensure that the space you choose not only works for your budget and business goals, but for your team members, too.
Commercial real estate experts weigh in.ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF FORBES COUNCILS MEMBERS.
1. Building Amenities
Office space has become a recruiting tool. Landlords are stepping up and offering creative amenities to their tenants. Now smaller companies can offer perks that were once exclusively available to the larger companies with corporate campuses. By officing in buildings with onsite daycare, dry cleaning, gyms, green spaces, cafes, etc., tenants can feature these amenities as a recruiting tool. – Bethany Babcock, Foresite Commercial Real Estate
2. Fine-Print Terms You Agree With
A mentor told me years ago that “no good entrepreneur ever rented an office too big.” As the company has grown, we always look for multiple bathrooms, a two to four-year lease, no personal guarantees, ability to sub-lease and, last but not least, ability to bring animals in. – Joshua Fraser, Data Nerds
3. Employee Commute Time
All businesses using real property as an integral component to their businesses should determine the commute time their employees will have to be at their optimum performance. It also helps you know the labor pool you can draw from in relation to your facility. How you plan to grow or contract must be considered here also. It helps with lease strategy and space acquisition, etc. – Michael J. Polk, Polk Properties / Matrix Properties
4. How A Space Reflects Your Culture
Are you going to be following the old office model or are you wanting to create a team culture of open office space with no closed doors? Many successful CEOs are opting out of the traditional landscape of closed doors and depressing cubicles. The important thing when choosing a space is making sure its all on one floor as we can all agree time is money and tackling stairs or elevators waste it. – Chris Ryan, BEYOND Properties Group / eXp Realty
5. Growth Accommodation
Two factors are often overlooked when finding office space are future growth and culture. Growth is hard to predict but you don’t want to outgrow your space. Look for 20% larger than you need. Next is culture. Do your employees need a quiet space to make calls? Big tables for collaboration? Everyone appreciates a break room. Consider the culture of your office and how the space will play a role. – Katie Brown, Together For Vets
6. A Good Walking Neighborhood
When looking at a new office space, the biggest consideration needs to be the commute times of your employees. You should map out the home addresses of where your employees live to check what their average commutes will look like if you move. Also, it’s important to look for company locations within walking distance to restaurants, gyms, etc. — you don’t want your office to exist in a vacuum – Nathaniel Kunes, AppFolio Inc.
7. Appropriate Spaces For Employee Movement
Our tech people need an environment that allows them to move around during the day for their physical well-being. This means we use a movable desktop. During the day you can sit, stand, whatever works for them. There must be a quiet environment for concentration while at the same time, an inviting conference room equipped with telecommunications. Also consider room for a foosball table! – Rita Santamaria, Champions School of Real Estate
8. A Variety Of Open And Private Spaces
Keep in mind that the “open working space concept” might be great for building rapport within a team, but long-term employees tend to get frustrated by the distractions from a completely open working space and the lack of productivity. Allow for private spaces for calls, to dial in and get work done on a tight timeline as well as open areas to work as a team. – Megan Jumago-Simpson, Keller Williams Realty Portland Premiere
9. Whether Your Existing Lease Can Be Altered To Suit Your New Needs
First, have an open conversation with your property manager. Often they will have something available that they are already managing and/or will make a deal for your existing lease terms. Always stay alert to what is going on in your local commercial real estate market. Do you need the new office? It can actually help with creativity and growth if you offer employees the ability to work from home. – Elliot Bogod, Broadway Realty
10. Potential Costs If You Grow Or Downsize
Be prepared for two scenarios. First, if you grow faster than planned, will your new space grow with you? At what cost? Second, if you need to downsize (it happens), can you minimize the associated costs? You may be able to mitigate costs in both scenarios by having employees work remotely and hiring contractors. Hope for the best and plan for the worst. – Dave Zirnhelt, Snap Up Real Estate
11. Your Company Identity And Employee Work Styles
Who are you as a company? What is your identity? What are your values? Take into consideration all of these things when considering office space. Find a location that will stay true to your brand identity and values, but also accommodate the work style of your employees. Sometimes open concept or co-op work spaces are great for some while others prefer traditional space. Self-awareness is key. – Brian Lawton, Property Revival Realty