Choosing Office Space
Choosing new office space is a big decision, regardless of the size of business. You have to ensure that it will meet the needs of your business now and in the future. There are lots of things that you should consider before you even go and view premises.
When choosing new office space, firstly consider what kind of space is most suitable for your business and its growth? Are you going to buy a building or rent? If you rent will you take a lease, licence or make use of a serviced office? Leased space offers more value over the long term and you have more control over the facilities. Licenced offices provide security for short-term periods (i.e. maximum two years). However, a licenced is not up for renewal unless specified. Serviced offices are a good choice for short term space as they can be taken on shorter agreements. Plus, they often include business rates, utilities, insurance and general maintenance which can help you budget more easily.
The next thing to consider is budget. This is not just the budget for the rent but for other costs too. What will you have to spend on fitting out and decorating a space (if permitted)? What will be the budget for IT installation? What budget is there for insurance, utilities and maintenance costs? Don’t forget business rates too, and if running a small business ensure you check to see if you are entitled to small business rate relief.
When choosing new office space, you need to consider its location. It can be difficult to attract employees and clients if the location is hard to access. City centres are easily accessible by public transport and have better nearby amenities.
Business parks, industrial estates and locations on the outskirts can often be more cost effective and may have better parking facilities.
Once you have considered all these factors it is time to start viewing space. You must consider the practicality of each space you view. Is it suitable in size, layout and quality? What is the robustness and condition of the building and the facilities? Old buildings may have more charm but can be difficult to heat (check its EPC rating) and maintain due to inadequate or outdated facilities.
Wheelchair access and disabled facilities aren’t always provided in older buildings so you may want to consider the practicalities of adapting them. Take a check list around with you so you can benchmark each property you visit and can make notes against questions you ask regarding the property.
Have a priority/grading system in place before viewing the first property and stick to it. That way it will assist you in coming to an unbiased choice when choosing new office space.
You need to consider the flexibility of the space, and what you lease, licence or service office provider permits you to do. How easy is it to transform the space? Is the use of space efficient or is there lots of space that is unusable? How much will it cost to refit and redecorate? What are the IT and telecoms provisions? Is it possible to get the correct IT infrastructure into the building? Is the lighting and power adequate?
Don’t be “blinded” by new carpets and a fresh coat of paint the electrical and mechanical systems need to be robust enough for your business needs. These can be expensive to put right in the wrong building.
Once the new building has been assessed and chosen, the assets need to be evaluated and a maintenance strategy put in place to ensure that the facilities support the business. Workspaces need to be laid out to support the needs of the business and the employees. These need to be reviewed regularly.
Facilities management and space planning take time and organisation but are essential to ensure the business runs effectively and efficiently. Choosing new office space, and then moving into it should be both exciting and ultimately rewarding experiences when done correctly.
There are many considerations and it is important to evaluate all the options in terms of cost, location and suitability before making a decision. A facility manager can help with space planning. They will be able to collate all the necessary information and once a decision has been made they can plan the fit out, layout and moving schedule.
It takes time and resource to manage this processes, to collect the information and review it, but the benefits to your business could prove invaluable. If you don’t have the capacity to carry this out yourself then it is highly recommended that you seek advice from a professional facilities management consultant. They will be able to help you put the provisions in place for a successful project saving you both time and money.
“If you don’t know how, then find someone that does”