5 questions to ask yourself before signing your next lease
So, you’re about to sign yourself and an office load of people into a new space you’ve just found… “Yep, looks great, hand me that pen”. Hold up. There are a few pertinent questions to ask yourself before you close the door on negotiations – and on an office that you may still be in for years to come.
1 Is there enough room to grow into?
Odds are you’re moving because you need more space. Odds are also that your new landlord will expect you to sign a minimum three-year lease. So you need to ensure you have enough room for today and in 1095 days – all without paying for space you don’t need in the meantime! So, before you look at leases, you should study your business plan. Then allow for around 10 square metres (including all your office furniture) for every employee you have and every employee you plan to have in the next three years.
2 Is it the right kind of space?
When scanning commercial listings, you’ll find yourself discounting spaces you deem too small or too large. But don’t be too quick to do this without at least looking at accompanying pics – and, preferably, the floorplan. Layout is paramount. If several of the square feet you need form an odd alcove unsuitable for anything but a few plants, you can’t count them in your seating arrangement. Conversely, a smaller, rectangular space may fit more desks in a more Feng Shui kind of way.
3 Is it the right space for your top employees?
An office move often starts in your head, months before you let anyone else know about your plans. But maybe you should invite your key employees into your thoughts, so as to get their own thinking on the matter. Why? Because a move will only be beneficial if you don’t lose these people on the way to your new office. It’s literally worth consulting those who are essential to your business – not only on the kind of environment that they’d like to work in, but where they would like it to be located. At the end of the workday, your new office should primarily be both a space and in a place that works for the people who are working in it.
4 Is it right for your clients?
In an age where you can get everything done between email, Google Docs and Dropbox, it’s quite possible to find out six months down the email thread that your client Sam is not the man you thought he was – he is, in fact, a woman christened Samantha. If you run your business like that, there’s no need to keep your clients in mind when setting up a new office – especially if you can’t even picture them. For everyone else, there are a few things to consider. One: is your new place easily accessible and do you have parking when they get there? If not, is there a parking building nearby that you can negotiate to get cheap rates? (Which you should pay, BTW). Then, once they get inside, is there space to create somewhere comfortable for them to wait? And further space to make a simultaneously impressive and comfortable meeting space – whether that be a board room or covered deck?
5 Does this office reflect your brand?
You probably put a lot of thought into your business name, signwriting, website and Facebook page – because these things tell people what you’re all about. But do you know what else gives away your company culture? Carpet ‘preserved’ from the 80s and fluorescent lights. And “we don’t care” is not a good message to send. Don’t fall into the trap of creating a great reception and boardroom and ignoring the rest of the office either. Clients will notice your poor sardined, fluorescent-lit workers and will still glean that “we don’t care” message. At a bare minimum, make sure your new office is a nice environment for everyone it will house – whether it’s every day or once a month. Then take your key brand values and reflect them in your interior design – if you’re all about fun, don’t paint everything in shades of black and boredom.