Over the last few years of my career, I’ve been asked all types of questions when it comes to leasing office space. For people interested in leasing property, some questions I commonly hear are things like: How far in advance should I be looking for a new space? What are the benefits of starting early? How can I grow my office space to fit the needs of my company?
Layout, location and quality of space – all make an impact on your business. I’m a firm believer in that the planning phase doesn’t stop when you sign the lease papers – in good businesses it’s constantly occurring. As you begin your new office space search, you may want to consider a few of these ideas:
Negotiate early on for flexibility as your business needs change. One of my favorite parts of real estate planning, is the flexibility. Sometimes you have to be ruthless and negotiate tons of things within the lease. Anything from the term length, to utilities, to upgrades should all be on the table prior to signing a contract.
Think about what you need now… And evaluate what you’ll need later. It’s perfectly fine to consider your company’s growth plans – just be realistic about those numbers. When you’re at the negotiation table, be confident in the size space that will currently fit your business. Don’t base your leasing rights and fees based on wild predictions. A helpful way to control costs is to take what you need and negotiate for the rights to additional space if and when you need it – later.
Consider the interests or needs of your employees. Before signing any agreements, get feedback from your employees. Whether it’s in-person, or anonymous, their feedback matters. If the majority of them commute in from one side of town, it may be worthwhile to look for office space closer to them. Happy employees make successful companies, and if you’re able to cut down commute times, you will raise office morale.
Your business extends outside of the building’s walls. Think of your surroundings as an extension of your business: One thing some clients don’t focus enough on is the location. Most companies want to have a 50th story high-rise downtown, but be realistic about it. If many of your clients are in the suburbs, then you may want to consider an area closer to a major highway.
Technology’ impact on your organization. As we’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post, the “work from home” trend is growing – in fact, 2014 boasted a 26 percent increase in open remote job postings over the year. If your company is a proponent of working from home on certain days, then it may not make sense to have a big office. With growing technology to enhance remote work, you will definitely have to take this into consideration. Additionally, look for green buildings who promote energy efficiency. Buildings that have better ventilation can cut electric costs by a large margin.
Be present, act now. Procrastinating on making future decisions is a very bad idea. Setting growth expectations should be at the forefront when looking to lease a place. As mentioned before, look at your current space usage. From there, set a 5 year plan as to where you want to be. If you’re comfortable moving around a couple of times, then this may not be as important to you. However, if you’re a bigger company and in the tech industry, then moving is an enormous pain.
The vision and plan of the owner determines everything. As you enter into new lease negotiations, always discuss with a trusted broker or advisor in your area to determine the right property for your needs.
P.S. There are four reasons why you should re-consider your traditional office space. Find out what they are in our previous post.
For many Millennials, the word “office” drums up visions of 1970s wood-paneled walls, fluorescent lighting and an endless maze of cubicles. While we’re just starting to understand what lies in the future of the “office,” the truth is, it’s changing quickly. If you’re thinking about leasing a property or a new office space, you may want to pay attention to a few new office space trends:
1. Working Remotely. The “work from home” trend is growing- in fact, 2014 boasted a 26 percent increase in open remote job postings over the year. Mobile and desktop apps like Slack or Asana make it so easy to communicate with team members whether sitting at a desk or poolside in Cabo. If you’re investing in property keep this trend in mind – with more employees working away from the office, it means companies can shave off valuable square footage of used office space. Just be aware that there can be cons to working remotely – brainstorming sessions may be harder to come by, and training new employees can always become an obstacle without face-to-face interaction. Always take the time and evaluate the space you need.
2. Everybody’ working for the weekend. Or are they? The traditional 9-to-5 is becoming less of the standard. Like it or not, work happens whenever, wherever. With smartphones in the hands of thousands of workers, it’s almost impossible to be unavailable. I’m not sure I can name a single commercial real estate agent who works a typical 9-to-5 job – when we’re not in the office making calls or brokering deals, we’re out at client dinners, showing properties, attending networking events – all which extend past 5pm and into the weekend. If you plan on having people coming in and going out at odd hours, you may want to consider buildings or spaces with 24/7 access, security and amenities.
3. Redefining “working together.” According to an INMAN 2012 poll, “92 percent of successful agents are in their brick-and-mortar offices fewer than 15 hours per month.” That’ a lot of wasted space. An interesting trend, especially for the commercial real estate markets (and similar) is a shift into co-working spaces. Incubators have started to house all types of startups and freelancers in one space. Benefits of these spaces include working alongside similar like-minded individuals, entrepreneurs – all from different disciplines (agents, brokers, lenders) – and in an environment that promotes working together and encouraging each other to work their best. If you are a small team or a freelancer, you may want to consider setting up shop at your local co-working space to save space and money.
4. New amenities. Parking spots, flex-time and”…bike racks? New needs are emerging, and real estate is rushing to meet them. LEED efficient building standards are more about environmental management – buildings are being designed specifically to encourage healthy habits among employees. Bike racks, gyms or rooms large enough to accommodate stand-up desks are new resources offered to employees. The sky’ the limit in any office these days. If you’re a business owner, consider adding a few of these non-traditional amenities to boost morale, productivity and encourage healthy lifestyle habits.
As companies invest in mixed in-office and remote work environments, the physical location is still a strong element of work that we need to keep track of and better understand. If you’re thinking about leasing a property or even investing in new buildings, consider these trends as we move towards the new office workplace.
Are you a recent graduate or a couple of years into the profession? Check out our previous post on the seven habits of highly successful real estate agents.