You’ll need to tour each of the viable alternatives which can be time-consuming and non-productive if the space doesn’t meet your business and real estate objectives. There are several key variables/criteria that can impact the quantity and quality of your space alternatives and help refine your search to a manageable list of alternatives.
Choose a Class of Office Building.The office building class designation is a way of differentiating buildings of the same building type into different categories of quality. The three classes of office buildings are:
Class A Officebuildings are extremely desirable properties with the highest quality construction and workmanship, materials and systems, significant architectural features, the highest quality/expensive finish and trim, abundant amenities, first rate maintenance and management.
Class B Officebuildings offer more utilitarian space without special attractions. They will typically have ordinary architectural design and structural features, with average interior finish, systems, and floor plans, adequate systems and overall condition. They will typically not have the abundant amenities and location that a class A building will have.
Class C Officebuildings are no-frills, older buildings that offers basic space. These properties have below-average maintenance and management, a mixed or low tenant prestige, and inferior elevators and mechanical/electrical systems.
Term.There is a direct correlation between the lease term you are willing to commit to and the quantity and quality of options you will have. The longer your lease term, the more choices you will have. Yet, the last thing any business wants is to sign a 5-year lease only to realize in 12 months that the space doesn’t actually meet your needs. Landlords typically ask for five to seven year lease terms but if you can’t make that commitment some landlords have more flexible (but unpublished) lease terms and may accept a shorter than 5/7-year term on a direct lease. Be steadfast in your need to lease only for the length of term that suits you.
Price. Rather than focusing on rent per square foot, determine up front what your budget is for rent and office related costs including but not limited to parking, utilities, janitorial, relocation, tenant improvements (if responsible), insurance, furniture and other office fees. Focusing only on the alternatives that don’t exceed your budget will help refine your search to a manageable list of alternatives. A building with a higher asking price per square foot does not necessarily guarantee it is a higher quality office space. Be firm in your requirement to stay within a budget that suits you.
Layout. No two spaces with the same square footage are the same. For example, a 5,000 square foot rectangular space is much more efficient and will support more people than layouts with round or angled corners. And, no two companies have the same requirements for a space plan. Do you require open space for collaboration or enclosed offices for privacy? Make sure the alternatives you select have layouts that support your business requirements.
Office layouts are dramatically different now than even 10 years ago. The open design has replaced a cube farm which years ago replaced enclosed large office designs. This willingness to make change has also encouraged boldness amongst companies to change their layout and space design, and many old space-consuming parts of an office are now considered out of style. For instance, it wasn’t long ago that every office had a receptionist and a dedicated reception area at the entrance. Very large lobbies or waiting areas were also standard. Most companies have re-engineered that space and made the overall office layout much more efficient and right-sized. Gone also is the oversized conference room. It wasn’t long ago that if a space had 12 employees it very likely could have a 12-person conference room. All these variables impact the efficiency of the office layout and your cost of office space.
Amenities. A kitchen, break room, shared conference room, food options, transportation, parking ratios, security, high speed internet, quality of bathrooms or even the number of electrical outlets can be differentiators between two similar space alternatives. Maybe these are not all deal breakers for you but if you identify those that are up front, you’ll more quickly be able to refine your search to a manageable list of alternatives.
Parking. Because some buildings have free parking and some have paid parking, really studying the cost, access and the actual spaces your employees and customers will park in is key. If you ask a landlord about parking and you’ll usually get a ratio, and a comment that there’s plenty of parking. Before you sign a lease you need to walk the parking lot, identify your parking spaces and count them. Stay away from buildings where parking is difficult or costly for your employees and customers.