A great office space can wow visitors, increases employee productivity, and promotes your business’ image. Choose the wrong space and you may find yourself with lackluster sales, low employee morale, and a floundering business. The key to finding the perfect office space, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, is to perform a comprehensive assessment of potential locations. Make a list of “must have” attributes. Check out our office space planning checklist to help yourself focus your search.
Know the Zoning Laws
Zoning laws vary considerably by location, so it’s essential to become familiar with the regulations in your area. In general, you cannot construct a commercial building in an area zoned for residential property. To check how a potential property is zoned, contact the planning agency for your municipality. Work with city officials to pay necessary fees, apply for licenses, and complete other paperwork to comply with zoning codes. If you run into trouble, hire a land use attorney to help you navigate complicated local regulations.
Understand the State and Local Taxes
Make sure you have a clear understanding of the taxes that you will owe to both the state and local authorities. These can vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. You can usually find out information on the jurisdiction’s website or consult your accountant.
Consider Your Visitors and Clients
Think about what types of people will be visiting your space. Will the office be used solely by employees, or will you hold client meetings there? Do you need teleconferencing capability? Does it need to meet industry regulations (such as those set by OSHA or another agency) [Ed. This is especially important for nonprofits.]?
The answers to these questions vary widely based on your business plan, but they significantly influence the type of office space you need. For example, if you want to impress new clients, consider an easily accessible downtown location or a luxurious entrance with a blazing fast internet connection
Choose a Location That’s Convenient for Employees
Your business can only be as great as the people working for it. To retain the best employees, carefully consider your office location. If you live in a city with a strong public transportation network, choose an office space near prominent bus or train lines. To make your office commuter-friendly, find a location with ample parking. Also consider perks that improve employee satisfaction, such as an on-site fitness room or a well-equipped break room, suggests Forbes. Thinking about your employees’ needs before you hire them will allow you to attract and retain the best candidates.
Decide on a Floor Plan That Complements Your Business Model
When possible, find an office space that requires the least possible renovation to save on costs. To achieve this goal, think about the type of office floor plan that makes most sense for your company. A tech start-up developing a new smartphone app might benefit from an open floor plan that allows employees to easily share new concepts. In contrast, your tax accounting firm may require private offices for each worker in order to increase client confidentiality.
When touring a potential property, consider your desired floor plan and whether it is possible to execute in the space "as is" or if you will need tenant improvements. According to the Harvard Business Review, the most effective floor plans bring employees together to share ideas while providing some private space. [Ed. Not necessarily open space: See Harvard study http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/1753/20170239] Think about the placement of executive offices, conference rooms, bathroom facilities, the reception area, and break rooms. Consider hiring an industrial-organizational psychologist or consultant for tips on how to best use office space to maximize employee efficiency.
Get Help From a Professional
There are specialists in your market who specialize in helping business not only find the right space, but also ensure they negotiate the best possible deal. They are known as tenant representatives. Like residential real estate brokers, they represent the buyer (or lessee) who is looking for property, but get paid by the landlord. In other words, there is no cost to you for their services and they are looking after your best interest. They only get paid once you are happy with your selection and make a purchase or sign a lease. They are an invaluable asset and in important team member for any company looking for office space.
While these are not the only factors to take into consideration when looking for office space, taking these 6 factors into account will help smooth out the process.
A guest Post by James Osgood, President of OfficeFinder an network of office tenant representatives, executive suite and coworking spaces throughout the US and Canada.