Don't sign that lease

48 factors to consider when choosing a new office space

If you're in charge of finding the right office space to lease, there's a lot of heavy lifting in your future (hopefully only metaphorically). Make the right choice of neighbourhood, building and space using these 48 factors.

Location, location, location

It’s an overused real estate adage for a reason—location is critical to any place that people will live, work or play. Factors to consider for your office relocation choice are convenience, nearby amenities, safety and options for travel other than by car.

What to consider

1    proximity to current and future employees

2    accessibility by public transit, walking or cycling

3    safety of neighbourhood

4    proximity to suppliers

5    convenience for clients

6    local amenities (such as restaurants, shopping, hotels etc.) for employees and clients

7    major construction projects that may be planned for the immediate vicinity

8    proximity to other company locations

Building amenities

Consider what the building you're thinking of moving into offers in terms of amenities such as a gym, showers, secure bicycle storage, parking, and security. What kind of an experience will your employees and visitors have when they walk in the front door, ride in the elevator or take the stairs, and walk into your office?

What to consider

9    availability of parking

10   showers for cyclists, runners or lunch hour yoga enthusiasts

11    secure (preferably indoor) bicycle parking

12    charging stations for electric vehicles

13    building security, particularly after hours

14    the fit between the overall experience of the building and your company's brand

15    planned building upgrades (and the potential for disruption during this time)

Space needs

Consider needs for privacy, meetings, eating, collaboration, reception, work stations, restrooms and storage. A great place to start is with the complaints you've heard. Do employees have to hold meetings at their desks because the only boardroom is always booked? Does everyone eat at their desks because there's nowhere else to dig in? Is the company encouraging collaboration, but lacks a place for it to happen? Get out your crystal ball, since your move will need to serve you well for years to come.

What to consider

16    complaints about regarding the current office space

17    changing expectations of clients and employees

18    the effect of the direction of your industry on your space needs

19    company growth

20    change in product or service

Cost

When comparing the cost of two or more locations, make sure you're factoring in the space you're paying for that you can't actually use, for example, for washrooms, elevator lobbies and hallways. Two properties may both offer 12,000 square feet of space, but one has 12 per cent that's unusable, and the other has 20 per cent that you can't use as productive work space. You'll also want to consider the costs of utilities, internet and custodial services, if these will be passed on to you. Some costs you'll incur regardless of which office space you choose. Other costs will vary depending on the location and configuration of the new office, and the timing of the move.

What to consider

21    space you would be paying for that you can't use

22    costs that get added to your rent, such as utilities and janitorial

23    moving costs

24    insurance costs

25    furniture costs

26    costs for storage during the move

Relocating offices? Read our relocation checklist now.

Building infrastructure

If you're in the technology or communications business, you'll need to confirm that the building can handle your needs for power, cooling, security, backup power generation, and lightning fast data transfer. All businesses will require reliable internet connection and phone service.

What to consider

27    HVAC needs

28    technology needs (capacity and speed)

29    backup generation needs

30    security needs

31    results of a speed test of internet service

32    mail delivery

Property management

If you already lease space, you'll know that the property management company has the ability to make your life easy or a living hell, particularly if you're the one who receives the employee complaints. Make sure you talk to other tenants at the building you're considering leasing, to find out the good, the bad and the ugly about the building and its management.

What to consider

33    how quickly the property management company responds to a complaint

34    what the heating and air conditioning are like

35    what is the elevator like

36    what arrangements have been made for recycling and composting

37    what is parking like

38    quality of custodial services

 

Flexibility

Take a look at the lease to determine whether it offers you the flexibility you need in terms of occupancy date, length of lease, and other requirements you have. Are there limitations on what you can do with or in the space?

What to consider

39    needs for customizing the space

40    when you want to move in

41    how soon you may need to move out

42    what is permitted and forbidden in terms of modifying the space

43    the process (and cost) to modify the space

44    the terms of the lease, including any penalties for breaking it early

 

The neighbours

Who else is renting in the building, and is this a strategic advantage or a situation to be avoided? Aligning yourself with likeminded, well respected or cutting edge businesses can be a plus both in terms of public perception and opportunities for collaboration. Depending on the kind of business you operate, you may also want to consider your neighbours outside the building, too. Is the space you're considering leasing in an industrial area? A residential area? Would either have an effect on your business?

What to consider

45    who is renting in the building already

46    the businesses that are in the neighbourhood

47    the area the building is in

48    whether anything in or around the building would be an advantage or disadvantage to your business

 

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