Looking for new office space can be a daunting task filled with many questions. Should you stay in your current building? Should you expand into a new location? Will renovating your existing space provide you with the attributes you need to be successful?
No matter your situation, one thing is true: it’s important to plan for the future. Typical leases can be three to five years—sometimes as long as ten years—and a lot can change in that amount of time. Employee count changes, the market fluctuates, new workspace trends and technology emerge. All of this can affect how you utilize your space. The following is a three-step process to help you prepare for such changes and find an office space that is right for you.
Phase 1: Planning
Planning is essential because it’s important to know your business goals and values. Only once you figure out who you are as a business can you design a workplace to support you. After all, your office is more than just an office. Your space can affect productivity, revenue, employee happiness and wellbeing, sustainability and your overall success. Ask questions such as:
- What are your company’s business objectives?
- How fast is your company growing?
- Who are my employees and how do they work productively?
- How can current operations improve?
- What style of building and workplace is needed?
There are a variety of tools you should utilize during the Planning Phase:
- Leadership feedback – Gain insight form your company’s leadership on the functionality of your current office space and wish list items.
- Commute analysis – Analyze the traffic patterns of your employees to determine the optimal location for average commute times.
- Demographic analysis – Determine who your workforce is and their needs.
- Headcount growth and space analysis – Determine your counts of leadership, sales rep, engineers, etc. and determine the square foot needed by each.
Completing the steps in Phase 1 are extremely important to the success of your office space and it is important to complete this phase early (ideally, 6-9 months before your lease expires). Procrastinating is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make when considering a move.
Phase 2: Selection
Once you’ve completed the Planning Phase, it’s important to take your time and explore a spectrum of spaces. Even if you plan to renew, the biggest threat you can make to your landlord is the idea that you will leave. Having to replace an existing tenant with a new one is the last thing a landlord wants. Furthermore, knowing your options will help you create “competition” with your landlord and having ongoing market awareness ensures you know what terms are reasonable when it comes to negotiating your space. During the Selection Phase, you should:
- Tour the market
- Request and compare proposals
- Conduct test fits
- Build consensus among your team
If you’re planning on relocating, it is important to have an open mind during this phase. Too often, tenants let real estate become too much of an emotional decision and put all their hopes into one space they think is perfect only to have the deal fall through for some reason or another. Always identify a backup option so you don’t have to start from the beginning if this happens to you.
Phase 3: Buildout
Planning your buildout should be a highly detailed process. No detail is too small to evaluate in this phase. During buildout, you should:
- Begin coordination of the move-in process as early as 24 weeks before your move-in date
- Build a team of construction experts
- Prioritize stakeholder communication
- Beware of risks such as cost escalation
- Inform employees of the process
It can be easy to get overwhelmed during the Buildout Phase, as it can take up a lot of time. Don’t take on more than you can handle and think about hiring a project manager. A project manager can oversee your entire construction and move in process so you can focus on your daily business responsibilities. Not only will a project manager coordinate the entire team on your behalf, they will oversee the budget and schedule to ensure your project is completed as expected.
At the end of the day, finding your perfect office space doesn’t have to be an unpleasant and daunting task. If you begin early and follow these steps, you’ll be in great shape to achieve your goals. Learn more Site Selection tips on JLL’s Office Renew website. In our next article, we will offer insight on how hiring a broker can offer a seamless process to help you achieve these goals.