At some point in their career, every business owner has to consider a new office space for their company.
Whether you're growing, moving to a better location or nearing the end of your lease, new office spaces are a natural part of the small business life cycle. While choosing a new location may not be difficult, finding the right one for your business and team can be. There are several important things to think about before choosing a space for your business, and your employees should be at the top of that list.
"When looking for a new office, the priority is how your team will feel in the new space," said Joe Lawlor, co-founder of Digital Dynasty.
How can you consider your team's attitude toward a new potential space? It's good to start with some common questions and blend your business's needs with the needs of your team. For instance, budget should dictate what office you move into, but location and proximity to mass transit or parking should be decisions made with your employees in mind.
Sandi Webster, managing director of C2G Partners, proposed some good questions to keep in mind when looking for new spaces:
- Do your employees come in every day, or are they working from home?
- What's the public transit or parking situation like?
- Does this office have space for your company to grow, or is it just enough space for right now?
- Is there a realtor involved? What is their fee?
These are some questions that may not be immediately on your mind when looking but are very important – especially in the age of remote work, when many companies have liberal policies on when employees need to be in the office.
Looking for the right office space for your company boils down to three important needs: location, size and office feel.
The driving force behind your office search is the need for a location that's convenient for your employees, clients and customers, and business reputation – these should be the pillars of your new space. By finding a space that's convenient for your employees, you can make coming to work easy. It also means that you won't have to build commute costs into compensation considerations.
"A central location saves significantly on both gas/vehicle-related costs as well as payroll costs, since we don't have to pay employees to drive as far in company vehicles," said Andrew Rohr, president of MSS Cleaning.
Your location should also be close enough to your clients and customers that you can get good foot traffic if you're a retail location and to make you easy to get to if you work with many local clients.
"A company should look hard at if they're creating an office to impress their clients or to attract and retain employees," said Walt Batansky, CFO of Avocat Group.
The other important factor in location is your business's reputation. By choosing the right part of town, you can communicate your business's story or set employment trends. If you're running an up-and-coming digital marketing agency, for example, a trendy neighborhood can also help with talent acquisition.
"We selected an up-and-coming neighborhood – now one of the hottest in Chicago – which helped us recruit rising creative talent," said Kate Weidner, co-founder of digital marketing agency SRW. "Where you plant your roots says a lot about who you are, and we want to be seen as trendsetters."
The next most important factor in deciding on a new location is the size of your company and how many employees will be present on a regular basis. With the rise of remote work, it's possible to have an office that's actually smaller than your total team, but this isn't ideal if you're poised for growth within the next few years.
Weidner said one of the reasons she decided to move into a WeWork coworking space was the room for company growth.
"We wanted to be able to scale up as soon as we added a new client or capability," she said. "It also helped us sleep at night to know we could scale down easily; luckily, we haven't needed to."
This is a major advantage to joining a coworking space. While major companies like WeWork and Regus drive coworking trends, there are several smaller coworking spaces throughout the U.S. that can accommodate a small business's needs.
The third important factor, which ties into location, is your new office's environment. Consider how it compares to your old office and whether it will reflect the company culture you want to create. People spend a lot of time at work, so it's important to build an office culture that breeds positivity. That starts with the physical office space.
"Choosing a rising trendy neighborhood has helped shape our image to our clients and our culture for our team," Weidner said. "An office environment that breeds creativity is also essential in our industry, since most people in advertising feel pretty stifled by cubicles."
Like location, your office environment and feel will affect how your customers and clients see your company.
As you consider new office spaces, don't be afraid to poll your employees on what they think. Keep in mind that moving to a new office space is an opportunity to further build out your businesses culture. By choosing the right one, you can set your business up for success.