How to Pick the Right Office Space for Your Business, Whether You Lease, Buy, or Go Virtual

Sean Lund-Brown

Businesses come in just about every form, structure, and industry, but they all have one thing in common — the need for more. More customers. More profit. More expansion. More office space. Everything has to keep improving if the business is going to thrive.

Of course, before any of these goals are met, your workforce has to be in full productivity mode.  After all, they're the ones who are on the ground floor, making the business run. And to increase their productivity, there’s nothing quite like the impact of a workspace you love.

Impact of office space conditions on employees

Unfortunately, many employers don't see this clearly, although the emergence of more recent data has been slowly reshaping this mindset. Take a study conducted by the Leesman Index, for example. They’re the most extensive resource on workplace effectiveness you'll find today.

According to their report, "The Next 250k," the average employee believes they could boost their performance in a higher-quality workplace. They tested the study in 67 countries, and of the close to 280,000 people interviewed, 85% said they would do better at work if their workplace improved.

The ScienceDirect article, "Overview of the Influence of Physical Office Environments Towards Employees," includes office space as one of the many things that impact productivity, especially in the following key areas:

● Physical layout

● Color

● Temperature

● Natural elements

● Noise

So, the next time you're looking for office space, you'll want to keep these things in mind. Here's how to pick the right office space for your business, whether you lease, buy, or go virtual.

What office space conditions affect employees

These days, practically every office is designed differently. From shared office workstations to cubicles and private offices, they’re about as unique as your hometown. A well-planned office structure positively correlates with increased worker collaboration, leading to better supervision and performance and an improved sense of well-being among employees.

Ultimately, all these add up to higher productivity, especially when it comes to personal workplaces, ergonomics, natural elements, and workspace types.

Organization

Workplaces that are simple and well-organized help employees finish their work on time. Good ergonomics helps prevent illness, stress, and fatigue. Adequate lighting, ventilation, and reasonable noise control can be very effective as well. And if the workplace offers different options of workspace types, including necessary technology and a positive organizational culture, employees are more likely to thrive.

Color

Color theory also has an effect on workers' moods in the workplace. Grey and muted shades are generally believed to cause increased feelings of depression, while light and bright colors tend to make people feel happy and optimistic. What's interesting about the impact of color on workers is its effect on their productivity.

In a report by Taskworld, an integrated management platform provider, red brings out passion and emotion, yellow fuels creativity, blue calms and stabilizes mood, and green relieves eye fatigue.

Temperature

Even temperature is a significant factor in matters of office spaces. According to a 2011 study, "An Overview of the Influence of Physical Office Environments Towards Employees," led by building expert Noorazlina Kamarulzaman, productivity declines by 2% with every degree higher than 25°C in the workplace. Air-conditioned workplaces tend to increase worker productivity by 15%.  

We all know that heat causes a variety of occupational illnesses and injuries, such as cramps, rashes, and even strokes. The discomfort and lethargy it brings can affect employees' well-being and, therefore, performance.  

Office plants

Plants are a classic office design element because they have a way of making people feel relaxed and content overall. Interestingly, the presence of a plant has also been found to refresh attention. In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied led by Nieuwenhuis et al., plants improve workplace productivity by as much as 15%.

Noise level

And then there's noise which, as we know, can be unsettling and distracting. However, there's so much more to that than what we can hear with our ears. Constant noise causes the body to release stress hormones and increases a person's risk of developing health issues, such as insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, ulcers, and so on. This happens more frequently in metropolitan cities where noise pollution is almost a given.

It's a part of taking care of your employees

Even nearly two decades ago, 97% of employees believed that the condition of their office was indicative of how much their employers valued them. Similar research shows that only 37% of workers believe their employers keep them in mind in the office space selection process.  

If you're a business owner or manager, not only are you responsible for bringing cash into your company but also for taking care of those who are making that happen. And ensuring good office space is one of the most important steps you can take to keep their performance top-level.  

What to consider before you start looking

The market supply isn't exactly dwindling when it comes to office spaces. Still, you shouldn't jump into a deal with your eyes closed. And when you need to start looking for viable office space options, there are a few things you need to examine first within your company.

Nature of the business

While many people are looking for office spaces today, not all of them have the same requirements. To know what you need, consider what type of business you do. Whatever office space you end up moving into, everything should coordinate. For this, you'll want to assess your long-term goals, what you're doing to achieve them, and who will be involved in operations. These key players are your employees, customers, suppliers, and so on.

At this stage, you should also identify your specific needs. For example, how big should your reception area be? Do you need a conference room? How many conference rooms? A media theater, perhaps? Equipment storage? Taxing as it may be, you need to create a detailed report so you can cover everything before looking around for options.

Reasons for moving

If you're not necessarily looking for your first office space, sit down and define why you're planning to move to a new one.

● Do you need something bigger?

● Were there issues with your past landlord?

● Was the property substandard?

How do you make sure that all the reasons for moving that you've listed won’t repeat themselves after you’ve moved? This can be critical because if you've made that decision but haven't really addressed all your issues with your last office, you would have wasted a considerable amount of your resources. This is one decision where there won't be any turning back. Make sure you've covered all bases before you sign your name on that dotted line.

Your company culture

Your company culture may not seem like a compelling factor when choosing your new office space, but it can be more vital than you think. Remember that this culture affects your workers' productivity, so you have to consider this as well when choosing a new office.

For example, if you've always allowed your employees to bring their pets, will moving change that? Will the landlord at your new potential office allow the same privilege? Do you prefer a more formal atmosphere and employee behavior in the workplace? Note that your employees spend a lot of time in your office, so again, it's going to affect how they perform one way or another.  

Key factors when choosing an office space  

We have established the importance of choosing the right office space for your business. While there are many options, it’s best to start with the basics.

Location

As you might expect, location is the first and foremost consideration when deciding on office space. It's important that the area is accessible to everyone who has a significant role in your business's success.

You may have noticed that workers and even employers themselves have had to contend with traffic and parking space issues in bigger cities. According to a KCAL Los Angeles report, almost 33% of workers come to work late at least once a month, with half of them blaming it on bad traffic.

If your office space is easily accessible by private as well as public transportation, you can manage this problem. Not to mention that your clients or would-be clients will find it more convenient to get to you. When they're happy, your business grows, right?

On top of that, choosing a location that’s close to popular stores, hospitals, government offices, malls, and more can be a bonus for everyone.

Cost

It's generally frowned upon to say that money is everything — but sometimes, this is what it all boils down to. After all, how can you pay for office space you can't afford? You can't escape the fact that the price of your office space will impact your income and profit, and of course, your reserves.

On the one hand, choosing an office space just because it's cheap can bring about a host of issues, from poor location to an overall substandard working environment. On the other hand, you don't want to spend more than you can afford on extra office space, putting unnecessary burdens on your business.  

The good news is, there's always that sweet spot between the most affordable property you can get that will not, in any way, compromise the welfare of your business.

Another thing to consider are hidden charges. If you plan to take a lease, for example, there could be hidden charges like association dues, parking fees, and so on. Of course, whatever the cost of the space, make sure the benefits are worth it.

Rate security

Rental rates are dynamic in any real estate market. There's no helping the fact that the place you moved into five years ago will cost substantially more today. Therefore, it follows that you should anticipate increases within the next few years before moving to your new space.

This way, you can avoid having to give up the contract just because you couldn't afford the rent hike. Nonetheless, you still have some form of protection if you insist on adding a clause that caps increases to 5% max.

Size

Size is another notable consideration when deciding on an office space for your business. You won't want to lump all your employees into an extra small space where they can't function normally and productively. Then again, you also don't want to have so much space around you that it ends up wasting your resources.

This is also important to consider if your business is primarily operating virtually. There's no need to rent an enormous office space if only a few people are there regularly.

As a general rule, each employee should have around 21 square meters to themselves, which means, if your team is ten people strong, you need office space with an area of about 210 square meters. But of course, this will still all depend on the type of business you have and what your employees usually do, as well as the equipment you'll be putting onsite.

In any case, when you know the right size to aim for, you won't have to move to a bigger — or smaller — space later on. If you're working towards growth and potentially hiring more workers (what company isn't?), you can decide whether you can afford to make that space investment now or if you want to expand as you go.

What's great is that some office spaces are actually more flexible regarding layout and features. This works when you won't actually need a physically larger office — just one that is more efficiently designed.

Technology

Technology is more vital today than it has ever been. Case in point: you need office space that will let you blend in seamlessly with their infrastructure. For example, while it seems like all office spaces offer Internet connectivity off the bat, that may not be accurate.

Considering how dependent you probably are on the web, as are most businesses, just make sure this won't be a problem. Additionally, do anticipate any infrastructure changes you might require in the future and whether the office you're considering is well-prepared.

Exit strategy

No matter how well you prepared for your move to your new office, some situations may leave you no choice but to terminate your lease contract. For example, if your business expands faster than you’d anticipated, you may immediately have to move to a larger space. For this and similar scenarios, you need to have a plan before these things have a chance to happen, especially for short-term leases.  

Compliance

Let's say you've finally found the office space you're looking for. It satisfies all your requirements, both aesthetic and functional. The question is, is it compliant with the law? Do they have fire exits or wheelchair ramps? Don't take this for granted.

While your building might be stunning to look at, it means little when you get shut down for not being up to code. Compliance issues are costly, time-consuming, and complicated. You don't want that kind of hassle. So, just before you make a final decision, make sure there are no obvious legal complications.  

Leasing vs. buying office space

Deciding between leasing or buying an office space generally boils down to location and cost. Say your business relies on foot traffic in a particular area. That means the availability of locations could be the deciding point for you.

Moreover, your ability to buy or lease space will come down to your capital and available financing. As expected, there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these choices, but your business, just like any business, will have its own needs and requirements. That means you have to meticulously evaluate the various issues that contribute to whether buying or leasing is the better way to go.

In any case, here are the essential considerations you need to make as you come to a decision.

Initial cost

Suppose you're thinking of buying office space. In that case, you will have to prepare to make a down payment, which is generally 20% of the total property value for a traditional mortgage, plus monthly payments. If you're looking to purchase a home with the intent to convert it into office space, you may be able to qualify for an FHA loan. Your total costs will, of course, depend on the terms that you and the landlord agree to.  

If you're a big and established brand worth multiple billions of dollars, buying your own office space is almost necessary for your social image. After all, you can afford it. Otherwise, a purchase would be downright impractical.  

Leasing is generally more affordable upfront and also gives you a lot of leeway to test new ideas. When revenue isn't rolling in, it won't be as stressful on you or your bank account as you try to recoup your investment. You also get that much-needed latitude that lets you focus on revenue-generating aspects of your enterprise.

Definitely, a lease won't be nearly as expensive as a purchase. Depending on your contract, you only have to put down a few months' rent and a deposit to start using the space.

Whether you're thinking about buying or leasing office space, it's important to plan your initial and ongoing cash outlays early on. It's no secret how some companies have purchased commercial properties while disregarding that they don't have enough resources to pour into maintenance and necessary improvements and repairs.

Business development

Your current stage in your business development journey is another critical thing to reflect on. Study your business plan and get grounded with your long-term goals. Are you thinking of buying equipment that may require a fixed location, or is at least a challenge to transport? Are you gearing towards a high growth rate?

If so, you might need to be more nimble in terms of location and facilities. You need to clear these things up before you decide to purchase or lease. That decision will align with the direction you want to go.  

Going virtual

A virtual office is pretty much like your regular office — you have amenities, support for small businesses, remote teams, etc. — except your space is in the cloud rather than stuck in the middle of a high rise. Another difference is there are no hard and fast rules when you go virtual. There's so much variation among different virtual office packages and big differences among the companies that provide them.  

Before you decide that a virtual office is for you, here are a number of things to think about.

Business needs

If you want a virtual office, you will usually get a bundle of services such as mail forwarding, live receptionist support, a business address, and so on. This is just perfect for some business models, but it would never work for others.

If you think about it, virtual offices are always created for adaptability, be it in terms of the cost, support, or the actual cloud space you occupy. There are also different types of virtual office plans, and whichever you choose must be the one that matches your needs to a T.  

Let's say you have an e-commerce business, and you want to attract and build loyal customers. You'll need a few tools for this, such as a virtual receptionist. On the other hand, if your business is client-based—it calls for a good amount of in-person presentations and meetings—you'll need an actual space where such activities can occur.

Certainly, this calls for a plan that includes exclusive use of a fully equipped room or even a multi-purpose theater if necessary. In most cases, such a plan will come with a fixed number of hours per month during which you can use the physical facility.

Ultimately, you'll need a virtual office that can roll with the developing needs of your business, especially accommodating growth when it happens.

Customer service

We all know the massive role customer service plays in the success of any business. Make sure you give this some thorough thought before choosing a virtual office provider. Be aware of the forms and levels of support your customers need and how a virtual office can help.

Say you need virtual receptionist services to receive calls and set appointments, but is that all? Will you need someone who has higher-than-average knowledge and experience in a particular subject matter? If that's the case, then your typical receptionist service will not be enough. Make sure their pool includes receptionists who have the expertise you need for your clients.

Business address  

Being assigned a business address is one of the most indispensable benefits of using a virtual office. Technically, this will be so much more than your mailing address — it's your company headquarters! It's what you put on your website, social media, letterhead, and all the rest.

If you have to do business with people outside your city, then you can use a virtual address in that area. The same thing applies if you're prospecting outside your actual location. You’ll also want to follow up on these questions before you move forward:

● How does your business address speak of your brand?

● Are they even consistent?

● Is it easy to locate?

● How about parking?  

Budget

While virtual offices are usually less expensive than physical offices, costs are still involved as you choose which virtual platform is best for your business. The cheapest offers are naturally tempting, but you need to remember that additional costs usually accompany these.

Say you get an offer for a private mailbox service that is advertised at $10 a month. That's quite attractive, but a deal like this will usually have hidden costs, such as handling and postage charges for each piece of mail. If you receive several pieces of mail in a month, that could rack up to over $50 per month.

As you look around for options, you will find that virtual offices will have different pricing tiers, so just be sure that you know what features and benefits you'll get at every level.

How about shared office space?

Shared office space is simply a commercially leased office shared by at least two different businesses. Although it can also mean a serviced or managed coworking office, it’s often used for privately leased offices where tenants rent unused spaces. It also means that all users of the space will share in paying the rent, bills, and other upkeep costs.  

Inclusions, terms, and conditions of shared office space are determined by the host and the business that wants to share the space. In most cases, the host will furnish and equip the area with whatever the sharer will need, such as furniture, phone lines, and internet.

The host will also provide a license agreement stating that the sharer has been granted permission to use the designated space, albeit without the tenant protections of a lease. With a license, the host can develop a package of services for each new tenant that can be accommodated.

Common users

The idea of sharing office space began as a solution for freelancers who felt isolated working alone in their homes. Since the first shared office space in 2005, the concept has become a trend not only in America but worldwide.

Offices are now commonly shared among remote workers who like to maintain healthy human-to-human contact instead of burrowing away into their laptops. Travelers who have to keep working during their trips and small business owners who want the flexibility and affordability of the shared office option might also find the idea appealing. Big organizations sometimes provide shared office space for their traveling volunteers and employees.

Benefits

One well-known benefit of shared office space is using a full-service workspace without the often-tedious concerns related to leasing. This option also opens you up to many opportunities, such as project collabs with other office mates or just learning from one another's successes.  

Moreover, the use of these offices is positively correlated with high employee engagement, thanks to the usually dynamic and empowering environment in these types of workplaces. And there are lots of operational advantages as well. Aside from using an office space without any long-term commitments or large costs, you only pay for the actual area you use instead of the entire floor.

Shared office space contracts are also known for being highly flexible and can even be renewed monthly. They help you build a professional business image with the impression that you’re established enough to lease your own commercial space.  

Although various serviced office spaces offer more or less the same facilities and amenities, shared spaces can be pretty unique — picture an Airbnb. When you decide to rent a hotel room, you usually know what comes with it: clean towels, made beds, cleaning services, and so on.

In contrast, just like every Airbnb is different, you have to check what's included in your package before you book. This concept applies to shared office spaces too. As a tenant, you’ll be using a space that’s legally under another business's name as a lessee. Take time to confirm whether or not they provide the very features and amenities you need.  

Smith.ai helps businesses grow and thrive

Whichever type of office space you’re looking for, focus on the one that works best for you and your team. Whether you go virtual or downtown, pick the space that balances function, fun, and productivity. No matter which type of office space you ultimately choose, Smith.ai can help. Smith.ai is a service provider that offers solutions such as virtual receptionists who convert leads, a 24/7 phone answering service (so you do not miss an important call), and outbound call-backs capturing leads from your website.

To find out how Smith.ai can help your business, simply book a free 30-minute sales consultation at https://calendly.com/smith-ai-intro/general. To inquire about our pricing and our 14 day, money-back guarantee, please visit https://smith.ai/pricing.

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

Try Smith.ai now

Accelerate growth with live receptionists and AI. Get started risk-free for 14 days!

Accelerate growth with live chat agents and AI. Get started risk-free for 14 days!

GEt Started NOWGEt Started NOW

Contact our sales team today at (650) 727-6484 or schedule a call.

sign up for our newsletter

Thank you!
Your submission has been received.
Yikes! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Categories