4 Things to Look for When Viewing Potential Office Space

When you start viewing office spaces for your business, make sure to keep these four important points in mind.

Phone conversations with the property owner, pictures, or even video can’t give you a true appreciation of the unit. You need to stand in the potential space to understand its size, smell, and feeling.

During your office search, there’s a good chance you’ll make the same mistake many small businesses make: You’ll overestimate your needs. (You might make some other mistakes too.)

Many people think an employee needs far more work space than they actually do. Once you stand inside a unit, however, you’ll probably say “Wow, this is more space than we need.” That’s not something you can learn from a photograph.

(Tenant Advisors has a handy calculator to help you discover how much space you need.)

But one viewing isn’t enough. You have to view multiple properties before you can confidently rent one. This is especially important for businesses who have never rented space in the past. There’s no way to know what’s available or what you want without touring around a bit.

A viewing can be an exciting moment for you. You’ll feel like your business is growing right before your eyes. Don’t become overwhelmed with excitement and forget to thoroughly investigate the potential space. Enjoy the hype in the car ride, but when you step into the unit, it’s time to focus.

As you view office environments, make sure to carefully consider these factors.

Make sure to bring our office viewing checklist with you to each walkthrough so you don’t forget anything!

1. Common Areas

office-space-common-areas

It’s important to consider hallways, walkways, patios, courtyards, rooftops, lobbies, and other common areas of a potential office. You can use them as a meter to determine how well the property owner cares for the individual units.

Are the common areas clean and free of clutter or debris? Are there any ongoing projects that look like they’ve been in-progress for a while? Are there any easy-to-fix blemishes (like scuffs or dents in the walls, worn carpeting, or broken fixtures) that haven’t been repaired?

The office environment may have shared spaces that are included in your rent as well. For instance, you might have rights to use the conference room on your floor, but so does everyone else. There’s likely a shared bathroom. In some cases, you might share a receptionist with several units. (He/she will answer your phones in your name and transfer calls accordingly.)

Make sure these spaces are appropriate for your business. For example, an accessible conference room may sound useful, but if your three-person team can easily meet within your unit, is it worth paying extra for the space?

What about the other units on the floor? If the conference room is shared between twenty businesses, how often will you get to use it? If there’s a reserve schedule for shared spaces, examine it briefly to see how often it’s used.

2. Infrastructure

office-space-infrastucture

The beauty of a turnkey space is that you can start working on the first day of your lease. The leases are simple, written in plain language, and the units often come with their own amenities.

Most businesses need a reliable Internet connection (and you’re probably one of them). Don’t be satisfied with the property owner’s opinion here. If a connection is important to you, ask the other tenants about it. If you really rely on your connection, ask a tenant if you can plug in for a few minutes and test your most taxing task.

Second, test your cellular service in the building. Even if you can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi, you’ll still want the ability to make phone calls.

If having mail delivered is important to you, you’ll want to make sure the postal service delivers to the building. Or will you have to rent a PO Box across town?

3. Space

turnkey-office-space

Source: BAKOKO/Flickr

I don’t recommend stressing over the square footage of a potential unit. The exact footage is important if you have a lot of employees or bulky equipment, but if your business is just a few people and their computers you can get all the information you need by standing in the space.

Keep in mind that your business may grow. You don’t want to move in a year or have to break your lease because your team expanded suddenly. Think ahead: Will you be hiring more people soon? If so, does the unit make room for them?

Consider the acoustics. Is there a lot of ambient noise that would disrupt your work? Does sound echo within the unit? Can you hear traffic, other businesses, or machinery?

Finally, make sure you’re happy with the layout. Smaller turnkey spaces can have interesting layouts because a property owner is attempting to use every nook and cranny in his building (but most are laid out reasonably). Do you need an open plan or office separation? HubSpot has a great guide on determining the right layout for your team.

Don’t be afraid to consider the style of the unit. With a turnkey space, you don’t have a lot of leeway to customize the unit (plus wall art and new carpeting are unnecessary expenses for growing businesses). Do you enjoy sitting in it? Does it make you feel productive? Will you be comfortable bringing clients or customers in? Would you be proud to show pictures of your office on social media?

4. Location

office-location

It’s important to investigate the area before or after your viewing. Take a walk or drive around the neighborhood to get a feel for where you might be working.

What’s nearby? Are there places to eat lunch, or maybe a nice restaurant to take clients/customers? Everyone has basic needs, so check for a supermarket or convenience store if you need a stack of napkins or tin of coffee. Your employees would love it if their new office came with a nearby bank, pharmacy, post office, or dry cleaners.

Is the neighborhood trendy, casual, family, or business-orientated? Will the scene hurt or help your business in anyway? For instance, a disruptive startup would benefit from a trendy entrepreneur scene, but not from an old town center.

Is there any construction in the area? Look for crews breaking ground on big projects. You might prefer a quiet setting, but it won’t be if a mall or shopping center is built nearby. (If you’re especially concerned about this, big projects are pretty easy to look up online.)

Finally, check the commute situation. Is there enough space for your entire team (and future team)? If you rely on public transportation, is it adjacent to any hubs? If you plan to have clients or customers stop by, make sure directions to the location are easy to explain.

(Ideally you should have considered the length of the commute for you and your employees before you arranged the viewing. If you didn’t, track the time it takes to arrive at the property from your home. Don’t forget to take into account traffic conditions.)

Don’t miss anything by keeping our handy checklist nearby when you view potential office units.

Making a Decision

Try to make a calculating, objective decision, but don’t rent any space that doesn’t feel right. Tenants rarely learn to love their office space. If you aren’t happy with what you see at the viewing, you won’t be happy in a few months or a year.

That said, if you do like the unit you’ve viewed, don’t sit on the decision too long. Turnkey spaces are rarely held for tenants. The property owner will still show it to other people, even if you verbally express interest. Sign the paperwork and get back to growing your business.
If you’re ready to find your next office, start your search here.

The Briefcase Replacement: A Low Down

These days fashion is synonymous with office culture. Does your getup match your furnished office?

Maybe you need to take a harder look. Sick of throwing on that backpack every morning? Perhaps you wish you had something more sophisticated to tote on the subway on the way to work. With the evolution of technology comes the evolution of fashion. At Turnkey Office Space we’ve synthesized a list of the best designed bags that look great in any environment but especially thrive in the office. Check ‘em out!

Tubo Rayado Duffle by Mafia (Starts at $99) Mafia is Paz and Marcos Mafia, a brother and sister team from Argentina. Marcos is a kitesurfer and Paz was a banker, the two merged their passions for sustainable product design and watersports to create Mafia, a company that produces a variety of bags made from recycled sails. Mafia works with Argentina and San Francisco-based NGOs to sew and produce the bags. They’re in the midst of their Kickstarter campaign to raise money to expand their San Francisco production shop. Our favorite is the Tubo Rayado Duffle, not only does it have a special, secure space for your laptop but its size allows it to double as a weekend and travel bag.

Waxed-Canvas Weekender by L.L.Bean. ($179) This is the perfect bag for both flying and regular ground commuting. It’s timeless beige and tan color palette with leather trim gives the owner a glow of sophistication and business credibility. There’s an option to add monogramming, but we don’t recommend that because its look is so unique that it’s difficult for anybody to forget that it belongs to you.

WWII Bags by Temple ($250-650) Does your office need a history lesson? Maybe your executive suite needs more of a ‘general officer’ feel? These duffel bags from Temple will give your workspace that regal presence its been lacking. Each bag is uniquely made from authentic World War II field wool blankets, bags and camp packs. Although the price is a little steep, knowing that your bag has survived an epic 6 year battle is pretty much worth it.

Ultra Light Cargo Duffel by Brics ($200). Teddy Minford, an editor at Fodors tested this light and breathable duffel and said, “The size was great for packing the necessities and still being able to navigate crowded subways and trains, and I actually felt quite fashionable with it.” This bag will brighten up your desk or workstation, and it also fits great in overhead bins on airplanes.

Starting Your Business in Two Places at Once

It’s no secret that cities dominate areas of industry.

If you want to get into publishing, come to New York City. For film, move to Los Angeles. That’s not to say that there aren’t pioneers of industry starting up businesses in Portland or Springfield, but for now it’s safe to say that the old realtor motto, “Location, location, location” still very much applies.

But what if there was a way to have multiple offices for half the price of one? Let’s say one in New York and one in California. I know it seems costly and impractical, but trust me it’s very much what people are doing these days. Imagine your business card with multiple office numbers and addresses. Potential clients and investors would certainly be impressed to see you expanding so quickly. Your presence will be established within multiple communities and your business has the potential to come up more frequently in search results.

No, it’s not a trick. It’s not just paying for a local phone number. It’s actually having an office in multiple cities. Your company’s name will be on the door in two or more office buildings.

It’s called a Virtual Office – although despite it’s name there’s really nothing virtual about it. With a Virtual Office you get: a receptionist, a mailbox address, call forwarding, a furnished conference room professionally decorated, a phone number, wifi, and more. The reason this option is cost effective, especially for startups, is because it’s pretty much everything you need of an office minus…the actual office.

In generations previous, the office served as a way of defining your business. It was often your first impression of a company, and typically a company would stay in one place for many years. Things have changed, and the need for an actual office space is dwindling. A Virtual Office is for the 21st century business.

Unlike a traditional office, a Virtual Office has a short lease term. Whereas if you were going to move to a major city and sign a lease, you were expected to be committed for five years (sometimes more!), a Virtual Office provides you with immense flexibility.

With thousands of new businesses starting every year, the choice to have a Virtual Office is definitely on the rise. Some companies opt to have one central location and then multiple Virtual Offices scattered throughout the country.

We can help you decide if a Virtual Office is right for your business. Just give us a call at 888-282-8555.