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Five things to consider when choosing your new office

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By Joff Sharpe, Head of Operations at British Land and Co-Head of Storey

Choosing an office location can be a frustrating and intimidating process. The sheer array of options available is often overwhelming: how do you know which solution is best for your business – especially when there are so many that are wrong for your needs, and so few that are just right?

Your office isn’t just where you and your employees sit and do work: it’s an extension of your brand identity. When you have the right environment, your team becomes more engaged, more productive and more attractive to prospective employees and clients. Consider Google: its office spaces around the world are full of company logos, nap pods, beanbag chairs, and other funky accoutrements for a reason: it demonstrates pride in the brand, it improves staff wellbeing, and in doing so it helps business productivity.

If you want to find an office that works for you and your business, here are five things to focus on.

Location, location, location

This is the most obvious, and in some respects the most important consideration. It doesn’t matter if your office is full of beanbag chairs, chocolate fountains or ping pong tables, if getting to it is a nightmare for employees and clients, it’s going to cause problems.

Convenience for commuters and visitors should be a priority. Many employees are accustomed to the idea of travelling a fair distance to work, but the journey is made much easier if the office is located near a well-connected transport hub. More than that, though, is the importance of the local area. The modern employee is increasingly discerning about where they want to work. An office building and desks will only go so far. Bars, restaurants, events, landmarks, venues: these things convey a sense of life, community, and excitement. A boring environment will lead to bored workers.

And though it might seem contrary to conventional wisdom, it’s actually a good thing if you have a cluster of business rivals in the local area: it shows that you’re in their league, it offers opportunity for partnerships, and it helps you stay competitive. The best work is done in dynamic, collaborative environments: modern workspaces can offer a customisable private space within a wider community of philosophically and culturally similar businesses. This ‘campus’ setup typically shares services and access to public realm, while allowing you to carve out a distinct brand identity as you build your business.

Environment

Once you’ve found an area, you’ll need to decide on a space. Here you should prioritise – for want of a less woolly way to put it – the ‘feel’ of your office.

Does it give off the right impression? Does it reflect your brand and its values? If you’re looking to cultivate a more formal feel, you shouldn’t look for an office with AstroTurf and graffiti murals. If you’re actively seeking a relaxed, fun vibe, you’ll obviously want something more relaxed.

Being able to customise your space to suit your needs and the working habits of your employees is essential, but when scouting for a new office, you’ll need to consider the things that can’t be changed simply and inexpensively. If you need a large meeting room for collaborative work, or a dedicated quiet space, it’s easier to have one in place as early as possible. If you anticipate wanting to change things later on down the line, make sure you have the rooms and flexibility of space to do so.

Your office communicates your brand identity to everyone who enters it. Make sure you’re sending out the right message.

What’s included?

It’s useful to consider this question for several reasons – not least because the answer might be ‘next to nothing’. While telecoms, furniture, post boxes, and manned reception areas might be included as paid-for managed services, you may have to set these things up yourself. This takes time and money. In co-working spaces, for example, even if these services are available, you may find yourself contributing to other companies’ perks through various hidden costs.

Don’t go without vital services – and certainly don’t pay for another business’ beer o’clock.

Legal requirements

This consideration is a little tricky because, technically speaking, the bulk of it should be handled by a lawyer. Nonetheless, before you hand your contract over to a solicitor for thorough review, you’ll want to look at the basic terms of your lease.

Is the office flexible enough to accommodate further business growth? Is the lease the right length for your company? What are your obligations in terms of repair, cleaning or maintenance – if there are any – and are you happy to fulfil them?

Growth

Every business has to grow into its office to some extent or another. In fact, if it’s perfect for your company as it is, then you’ll likely run into trouble down the line as you grow. The last thing you want or need is to go through the hassle of finding another office in a few months.

So, find a space that suits your current needs – and whatever future needs you might anticipate. Better to have more room than you need than too little.

Finding the right office space is a crucial part of maintaining and fostering productivity. It affects client and investor perceptions, employee wellbeing, and your ability to grow.

It can be a long, time-consuming, and energy-sapping process; one full of false dawns and mounting frustration. It is nevertheless well worth doing it right.

Contact the Storey team today to discuss how flexible workspaces could benefit your business.

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