Growing pains: questions to ask when thinking of moving offices
You grew your business from a basement and quickly moved into an office space you thought was far too big. Now, after a hiring surge, your team is so cramped the head of sales takes calls in the stairwell. You want to move, but cash isn’t a guarantee. Do you bite the bullet and sign a lease at a new space, or stay and get cozy with your team? Answering these questions can help you decide:
Q: Are visitors comfortable in your space?
Appearances matter to clients and vendors. Aalap Shah and his co-workers at SoMe, a Chicago-based social media agency, spent nearly five years sharing a small office and shuffling between co-working spaces. As the company grew, so did the need for space to bring in clients. Shah knew it was time to make a move.
“We knew it was the right time because we wanted to create a stronger identity for the company and a welcoming space for our clients,” he says.
Companies that don’t bring in outside visitors needn’t worry about public perception. But they may still want to survey employees on their level of environmental comfort when making a decision.
Q: Can you get beyond the cost?
Sticker shock is understandable when looking at a lease agreement, but as Alex Cohen, lead and commercial specialist at CORE, a real estate firm in New York City, says, it can be shortsighted to focus only on dollar signs.
“In today’s tight labor market, the choice of a neighborhood and the appeal of a firm’s office may be critical to attracting and retaining talent, particularly if a firm seeks to appeal to Millennials,” he says. “The quality of a space can also generate important productivity advantages.”
Q: Could you utilize your current space better?
Renovating or redesigning your space may be the perfect solution if moving is out of the question. David Ciccarelli, CEO at Voices.com, a voice-over marketplace, says when considering a move, talk with a third-party design company to get a fresh perspective.
“They will be able to tell you whether your current office can be rejigged in a fresh and efficient way for your team, or if you need to consider a new space altogether,” he says. “Their recommendations may be based on numbers and factors that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.”
Q: What kind of growth are you expecting?
Take a serious look at your future projections. Are you planning to hire more people in the coming year? Will you need more space for office equipment or product? If so, start looking for a new space, says Alex Kamergorodsky, co-founder of San Diego-based Bright Ideas Lighting Solutions.
“If you’re in a space that currently holds six people and you’re looking to grow at 50 percent per year and maybe your lease is ending,” he says, “get a new space with a three-year lease so it can hold at least two years worth of staff comfortably. Then, ask your neighbors about their lease timelines. There could be the potential for taking on a neighbor’s lease after they leave if it aligns with your growth.”
Ultimately your decision will be influenced by a mix of these factors, but if your business is outgrowing its current location, you will have to make some changes. Client perception, attracting and retaining talent, and your ability to grow is influenced by where you chose to do business. Even if your lease has several years left, making a decisions early can make you comfortable in the long run.
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