Seven crucial questions to ask when choosing an office space
Leasing an office space is simplest when the tenant has a clear idea of their wishes and needs. These questions will help service providers and anyone looking for an office space to find the best possible premises for the company.
1. Where is the new office space located?
The location of the office space is the priority and the first thing that should be decided on. Consider the pros and cons of a location from the perspectives of your customers and your employees. It is worthwhile studying how and where your customers move and how your employees commute. You should also consider whether your business activities benefit from having competitors nearby or whether your company would succeed if it was located away from them? What about the adjacency of partners?
Location also plays a role in recruitment. Premises that are located in key positions close to a variety of services have an effect on job satisfaction, occupational well-being and even sick leaves. Companies are currently interested in traffic hubs that provide easy access with various modes of public transport. It is also a good idea to ensure that there are adequate parking spaces available for cars and bicycles. Of course, the choice of location depends on the company’s financial circumstances to a certain degree.
2. How will employees be working in the future?
The first question on most tenants’ minds is the office space’s rent per square metre. A more pressing matter, however, is to consider the number of employees in the company and how the nature of their work will change in the future: should you focus on more communal open-plan offices or silent rooms that are ideal for tasks that require concentration? The number of square metres required of the new premises is also affected by the types of working methods favoured in the company, be it remote work or participative teamwork. Once these questions have been answered, an expert partner can suggest suitable premises where every square metre is put to use as cost-efficiently as possible.
Office design is often based on the concept of multi-space offices, which involves offices with areas designed for each work phase. If your company’s current meeting rooms are used only occasionally, you should consider selecting a property where meeting rooms can be booked separately whenever you need them. You should also consult the office space provider about whether your company can move to larger premises as it grows.
3. What is the schedule for moving to the new office space?
The search for new premises becomes topical once the current lease agreement is expiring or the company has outgrown its current facilities. Ideally, the relocation project should be planned well in advance, preferably even a few years before the expiry of a lease agreement. However, the schedule of the move is greatly affected by the company’s circumstances. In major international corporations, the decision-making process may take months. Smaller companies can make more agile decisions on new offices and relocate more flexibly, even within a few months.
Internal communication on the subject should begin well in advance. It is worthwhile to invest in motivating your employees and providing them with related instructions. Sufficient time should also be reserved for any alterations and renovations at the new premises. Smaller alterations, such as painting the walls, can be completed in a matter of weeks, but certain supply deliveries may sometimes take several months.
4. What type of property does your company wish to work in?
Moving to new premises offers your company an opportunity to develop its corporate culture and to make radical changes. It is advisable to discuss the matter of which aspects of the current office space are optimal and what should be retained in the new premises with your employees. Pay attention to what could be improved in the current premises as well. In terms of the company’s brand and employer image, you should also consider whether it is more purposeful to reinforce the brand image with modern premises or whether you should select an older, historically significant property full of stories.
With the right renovations and furnishings, even older properties allow for creating various atmospheres and environments that emphasise the company’s identity. New buildings, in turn, are excellent for tailoring completely new office spaces according to the company’s needs. Environment-friendly operations may be more difficult in older, premium properties than in new buildings, but with the right choices and energy-efficient methods, it is possible to decrease energy consumption even in old, protected properties.
Floor plans and preliminary models may sometimes give a false impression, so you should visit the place in person in order to learn more about practical solutions. Visiting the location in person gives you an opportunity to see whether the space and the atmosphere of the premises match with your expectations or if the address, the view from the premises or the surrounding streets feel welcoming to your company and its personnel.
5. What kind of services and features are expected from the property?
Early on in the negotiations, it is useful to list any possible requests for support services and special requirements for the new facilities. Do you need lobby services, a lunch restaurant, secure areas, server rooms, goods lifts or other special solutions? Do you want to encourage biking to work with a bicycle parking area or showers? Does your company want to improve its corporate responsibility brand by selecting carbon neutral, energy efficient premises with an environmental certification?
Employees’ commuting and working habits have changed as a result of developments in work culture and increased awareness of climate change. The locations of services, workstations and departments should support the rapid flow of information and co-operation between employees.
6. How important are the premises to the company’s business strategy?
If the aim of the company is rapid growth, the office spaces should support this strategy fluently. Clear strategic objectives for the company’s office spaces also help the property partner determine the company’s needs and offer suitable options. A long-term lease partnership with a major partner facilitates growth and expansion of office spaces and is often the wiser alternative to several lengthy and expensive relocation processes.
The company’s expectations for the owner of the premises depend on the company’s initial circumstances. Consider the range of services you expect from your office space partner. A commercial property owners is the best expert of the property, and they can help in all questions related to the property. The office spaces of a company are a significant resource and a long-term decision. Therefore, it is worthwhile to consider choosing a partner who can help in all stages of the process of finding new office spaces, as well as in the event that new spaces are needed in the future due to, for example, growth and shortage of space.
7. How should the ideal rental price be determined?
You should keep an open mind when looking for new premises. In the early stages of negotiations, do not set excessively high criteria for the new premises or place too much focus on details, as this may rule out many potential properties.
Office spaces located in residential buildings may be the most inexpensive option, but the services are limited and the decision-making process can be slow. If your lessor is a professional property owner, help is always easily and readily available. Market prices vary between areas: city centres are more expensive, and the importance of location for your business should be considered carefully.
The primary function of office spaces is to serve as a productive, pleasant environment that gives customers a positive impression of the company. Price is secondary to finding the optimal environment for your business operations.
As the negotiations advance, it is important to discuss the details covered by the lease agreement. It is useful to remember that the rental price of office spaces always includes an extensive range of various energy and property maintenance services. The maintenance expenses of the office space comprise the costs of these services, and the majority of them are included in the total rent paid by the customer. Maintenance expenses typically comprise approximately 20–25% of the rent.
Sponda’s expert: Senior Manager, Leasing and Customer Success, Jenni Nivalainen