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Things to Consider When Choosing Office Space for your Startup
by Startacus Admin
It’s going to happen sometime: you will need to downsize, upsize, change location, or perhaps, as happened to us recently, find yourself suddenly office-less. Certainly you could work from home, or Dave’s mum’s garage, but it’s not ideal. While plenty of people make home offices work, if you’re in a team you most probably need an office office, unless remote working and management of a team is an option.
Anyone who has been through the process of looking for an office will know from experience, or with the benefit of hindsight, that it isn’t as simple as finding somewhere convenient that has chairs and electricity. So what are some of the things to consider?
Office vs desk space
What we mean by this is, are you going to go all-out and rent an entire office, or are you going to rent desks in a shared office space? There are plenty of complications to renting an office yourself, and a lot more outgoings. Electricity, rates, water, phone lines, insurance, furniture, that one where you pay for the bin men, and so many other little things that will pop up along the way. It’s safe to say that unless you have a very large team, or are already making an impressive turnover, this route may be more hassle than it’s worth.
Desk space in a co-working / shared office, on the other hand, might seem a more expensive route at first glance – after all, you’re only paying for a desk and internet, or so it seems. But of course, you are also paying for someone else to handle all of the above hassles. All you have to do is walk in the building, sit down and start working. Of course, shared office space has its own unique set of potential issues, some of which will be mentioned later on, so you need to think carefully about this.
This will be one of the first considerations. Your team might be spread out, so trying to find somewhere that fits your needs while keeping the location convenient to everyone could be difficult. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be equidistant from every team member. Are there bus or train stations nearby? How is the parking? What will it be like to get to in bad weather? Even smaller things could be taken into account, such as local places to eat. Are you going to make your lunch every morning? Probably not, so it would be good to know that there are places you can have a decent lunch to keep you going, even if taking or leaving the office is unlikely to hinge on what the nearest cafe is like.
The location isn’t just a consideration when it comes to your team, but also to any clients that you meet in person. If your meetings are conducted over the internet, you can be anywhere in the world, but if you meet physically, an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere might not be the best location for your business.
If you are looking at a co-working / shared office space, consider the other occupants. Are they direct competition, and does it matter to you or them if so? Are they compatible with your business in some way? Finding yourself sharing an office with another business that can compliment yours, or send work your way, become a mentor, etc., could transform your new office from somewhere to keep the rain off your computer to a gold mine.
You might need to think about their personalities too, however. Are other teams in there too loud for you, or is your team too loud for them? Perhaps their penchant for running about with Nerf guns at lunch time won’t be compatible with your need to work through lunch. Or perhaps your team’s love of death metal as background music won’t mesh with your neighbours’ frequent Skype calls. Many things can be got around easily enough – how hard is it, really, to just talk a bit more quietly and wear headphones – but other things might not be, so consider your neighbours well.
Does your office afford you the room to grow? Presumably, the idea is to develop your business, so there is at least the possibility of taking on new employees in the future. Will you have space? How will this affect your contract?
Again, your business might not meet clients in person. If this is the case, you might not need to worry about ensuring your new office space has meeting rooms. However, even if this is the case, there is a decent chance that something will come along at some point to make you regret not having one. Where will you interview your new team member? Where will you discuss sponsorship of your event with that millionaire from LA?
We might be stretching this heading here, but what about a personal touch? Are you allowed to paint the walls of your office space? Put in a carpet, rugs, chairs, lighting, signs, whiteboards, posters, etc.? Are you able to make your mark on this space, personalise it and make it yours?
Think carefully about the contract/lease agreement before you sign. Make the obvious checks to ensure the necessary things are laid out, and there is nothing hidden in there that you didn’t expect. But also think about what happens at the end of the lease period. What happens if you have established yourself in this location, and then find yourself on the street once again after the lease is up? What happens if you were to sell your business in the middle of the lease? Does the contract require you to continue to have liability? The last thing you want after selling your business is to find the landlord coming after you for the rent that your company’s new owner hasn’t paid.