There can be many feelings when searching for your very first workplace as a business.
You may feel pangs of nostalgia about leaving your shared or home office space. Or, you may be incredibly excited at the thought of no longer working amongst the breakfast dishes.
When looking for commercial units to let, there are all manner of things to consider.
As well as the size, shape, and style of your new office, you’ll also need to take into account practical elements like location, amenities, services and legal requirements.
Here is a complete checklist of what to consider when choosing your new workplace.
The most obvious starting point, the location will determine a lot of other aspects about your workspace.
You probably already have an idea of what town or city you’d like to be based in. But you should also think about:
- Distance to public transport (including taxis, and airports, if relevant)
- Car parking (for those who may drive to work)
- Local services such as emergency, food, retail, leisure and short stay accommodation
- Image and reputation of the area, should clients come to visit
- Traffic patterns, for yours and your employees’ ease of commute
- Neighbouring businesses – including potential competition!
- Courier services (if this is relevant)
- Any planned closures or construction work, around the start of your tenancy.
2- Square Footage
Naturally, it’s important to ensure your office has enough space for all employees to safely and comfortably work in.
The reason measuring commercial spaces by square foot and not by the desk is because this gives a much clearer picture of how much space you’ll have. Remember that your colleagues will need space to move around, take a break and prepare/eat food, as well as work and sit at their desk.
The accepted standard in London is currently 100 sq ft per employee – down from 176 sq ft in 2012 and 225 in 2010.
However, 100 sq ft only involves the workspace itself – 50 sq ft for the desk, and 50 for the chair and legroom surrounding it.
It’s important to bear this in mind therefore as an absolute minimum you should be providing for your colleagues. If you can supply more, do, and remember to allow space for communal areas and meeting spaces, even if small.
If it’s within your budget, it would be an advantage to get an office suited to a couple more employees than you current have. That way, you’ll be prepared for any new hires you may take on over the next year.
And of course, the location in which your office is based will determine your budget, and therefore how much square footage you can afford.
Studies have shown a distinct link between an employee’s satisfaction with their lighting and their productivity level (the amount of light being different for everyone; more is not always better).
Therefore, it’s essential to ensure every employee is satisfied with the lighting in which they have to work.
Of course in any workspace, natural light is always best. Bear in mind that workstations must be within 20-25 ft of the peripheral walls that contain the windows.
However, this isn’t always possible; at least it’s not always possible to get enough.
Artificial light can be used to provide a well-lit, comfortable working environment that will not cause headaches or eye issues. It’s always much better to use daylight-simulating bulbs or lamps when possible, as some types of electric lighting cause issues.
It can always take a bit of time to get the lighting right, as every person is different, so don’t be afraid to keep experimenting, and ask your team for feedback.
Remember that the finer the detail, the higher luminance needed, and all lighting should be in line with WHSW regulations.
4- Communal/Meeting Spaces
As mentioned earlier, it’s ideal if your commercial office has space for communal areas and/or meeting rooms.
You may not need a dedicated meeting room just yet, but it may be worth thinking about if you plan on expanding your team.
However, it’s always great to have a place where employees can get away from their desks for a while. The square footage of this will depend on the number of employees, of course, and the type of business you run.
If you’re currently a small outfit of say, five people or fewer, you may be able to combine your communal and meeting space for convenience.
Meanwhile, if you’re going to have clients visiting, it may be beneficial to have somewhere for them to sit when they arrive.
Depending on the type of commercial space you’re leasing, amenities included may vary.
A serviced office, for example, may include heating, electricity and an internet and phone line. Other units may only provide some of these, and other types of spaces, especially industrial units, may require you to provide everything yourself.
Some serviced offices may also provide a cleaning service each day or week.
It’s important to evaluate what services and amenities will be included with your lease, in order to make your final decision.
Another important factor when deciding on an office space is the lease term. Are you looking for a short-term workplace or long-term?
Many commercial spaces involve long-term contracts of at least 2-5 years. Therefore, it’s important to identify your future business goals and see how your budget fits with that.