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A smart way to lease an office

Finding new premises is a large, complicated task for any company. Once the boxes have been carried in, it is too late to regret your choice of office. Avoid the five most common mistakes with these tips from experts.

The premises of a company affect each employee. Leasing new premises is a great opportunity, but many things can also go wrong. The Sponda guide for office lessees provides excellent instructions for leasing a suitable space, and experts of business premise leasing are happy to offer advice.

1. Know your needs in advance

“The use of business premises often involves assumptions that may not be true,” says Katri Lehtonen, Head of Leasing at Jones Lang LaSalle. That is why a company should not go directly seeking new premises. They should first examine how the current premises are actually being used.

“A company move is the most effective time to influence the workings of the personnel and the culture at the workplace. Strategically, a move is a great opportunity for a company, and investing in the planning process really pays off,” says Eero Junni, Account Manager at Sponda for those who are planning to move their facilities.

The results may come as a surprise. For instance, the actual need for conference rooms in terms of number and size may be quite different than expected. The same goes for parking spaces, etc.

Companies should also consider the benefits of multi-purpose offices; as work methods constantly change and develop, an optimal office offers flexibility according to various needs. For example, people often think that companies need a large room to fit the entire personnel. However, this does not mean a conference room is a must; instead, spaces such as a cafeteria can act as a temporary meeting area. Remember to also consider the expansion needs for possible future employees.

2. Make use of professionals and experience

Changing premises is a complicated, multi-step process. Poor solutions may result in years of issues. The challenge is increased by the fact that the person running the office project often has no previous experience of office selection processes and company moves as companies move quite rarely, usually every 3–10 years.

That is why we recommend seeking stories of experience and advice. Help can be found from Sponda’s guides for office lessees, another office lessee or an external consultant, for example. Skills and knowledge are required at the very start of the process when considering the spatial and functional needs of the company. If there is in-house experience, it is definitely worth utilising. Siili Solutions, for example, has utilised Sponda experts in examining its spatial needs throughout its history. According to Seppo Kuula, formal CEO of Siili Solutions, Sponda has been able to flexibly organise premises for Siili and has been involved in brainstorming the spatial needs of future expansions.

3. Moving time is renewing time

The change of premises may mean a new start for the company. In addition to current needs, it is advisable to think about the future development of the company.

Do not make decisions concerning new premises until you know what is needed and pursued. Changing the basic office type, for example from separate office rooms to a multi-purpose office, can influence the entire operations and atmosphere of the company.

Even if there are no radical changes, a move still enables even minor adjustments, and this opportunity should not be wasted. The placement of the employees, for instance, can influence cooperation between departments. Elina Samila, Sweco’s Facility Manager working at Sponda’s premises, encourages companies to ask their employees for ideas: “The more people feel that they can make a difference, the better their attitude towards the change.”

4. Calculate workstation costs, not prices per square metre

The rent of business premises is made up of various figures, but attention is often paid to the wrong things when planning a new lease. People often focus on the square metres and the prices per square metre when monitoring the workstation costs would yield more accurate results.

Some premises may come with affordable prices per square metre but require the use of a larger space due to poor spatial solutions. Open-plan offices and separate office rooms, for example, differ greatly in how efficiently square metres can be used.

Even the workstation costs do not reveal everything. Poor premises or a disadvantageous location can also weaken the comfort of the employees and make recruiting harder. Each company has unique needs and the key goal is to find premises that best serve those needs. If this goal is not achieved, the planned savings can be lost through the company’s declining operations.

It is also worth noting that the rent consists of more than the square metres. Area-specific real estate taxes and property heating costs are some of the maintenance costs that make up about 20–35% of the rent.

5. Start your search early

The lease periods of offices may vary greatly but the search for new premises should always be started well in advance.

If the search starts when the previous lease is about to expire, the process must be completed in haste. Identifying the company’s needs, finding new premises and carrying out the necessary alteration work is surprisingly time-consuming. Long leases are often more affordable than continuously renewing the lease because, to begin with, it takes time to find new premises, move the office and organise the new premises.

The time to complete a renovation may be surprisingly long. Smaller companies should reserve about six months for the process of changing their premises. Medium-sized companies need six to twelve months and large companies even more than that. Starting the process late may result in poor results or a moving date which overlaps with an ongoing renovation.

The location of the premises is vitally important, especially in the trade industry. When the optimal premises have been found, reserve it with a long, fixed-term lease.

Print the guide for finding an office as a checklist for your move.

Published 23.1.2018