Start Now — The Best Time to Look for Office Space

Posted on December 20, 2017

searching for office space

The best time to look for new office space depends on your company’s size, needs and location. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for determining when the search for office space should begin. Commercial real estate becomes available at all different times during the year, so you don’t have to be concerned with meeting any seasonal deadlines.

For most businesses, the stakes for choosing an optimal location are high. Settling on an office space in the wrong location could be costly to a business, while not accurately planning for growth could mean moving again in a few years, which strains both budget and productivity. The moving process itself can be expensive and time consuming, which is why it’s important to begin the search early. Office space costs are generally the second biggest cost to a company (preceded by employee costs), so it’s important to spend enough time evaluating your needs and options.

Moving into a better office space can improve workflow, productivity, and employee satisfaction, but finding the best space for your business is only half the challenge.

The Size of Your Company

Determining the spatial requirements of your business’s current and future needs can be one of the most challenging assessments you make. Businesses should rent for the company’s present and future plans. Companies should ask themselves where they expect to be in three to five years. Is growth expected? Will additional workspace be needed?

Generally, the smaller the office space, the less searching time is required. Usually, if you require less than 2,000 square feet of space, a four-month search may suffice. Remember that planning, construction and your company’s relocation will add additional time to the process. If your business needs up to 5,000 square feet with some specific additions to the office space, it may be wise to begin your search at least six months in advance.

Many businesses hire architects or brokers to help estimate their space requirements, but you can begin by gathering baseline information about your existing facilities. Ascertain your current office’s square footage, cubical or space requirements, as well as current problems and potential solutions. When assessing potential office spaces, the following metrics may be helpful:

Your future office is priced by the square foot, so you need two pieces of information to work on the equation: How many employees do you have? And, how much space does each employee need? Hopefully, you know the answer to the first question and can find some helpful industry standards to answer the second one.

An average office dedicates 125 square feet per person. If that sounds like a lot, it’s not. It’s average (though if you need to be more economical with space, you can certainly downsize to 100 square feet).

At this juncture, you face a few decisions that will affect not only how you allocate office space but also how you define your company’s culture. Do you allocate the same amount of space to each employee, or do some need/deserve more space than others? That’s a philosophical question as much as a logistical one. Do the senior members of your team really need private offices? Naturally, that will affect the calculation.

Furthermore, your future office needs to house future employees. With most commercial spaces running on multi-year leases, you may not be able to forecast headcount precisely; and that’s okay. But, as a general rule, you should accommodate future employees with something in the vicinity of 10 percent to 20 percent more space than the current workforce needs.

The Complexity of Your Business Needs

If your business requires high security or specific technological features, finding a space and a landlord to accommodate your needs may require more time. If you expect the space to need alterations to meet special technical or security demands, it’s necessary to take that into consideration.

The more complex your business needs, the longer your search may be to find the optimal office space and landlord. Make an extensive list of your specific business needs before beginning your office search. Gather input from your employees about the types of workspaces they prefer and the factors that they deem important in an office environment.

Locational Requirements

Waiting until the last minute to begin your search for office space can have detrimental effects, such as causing your business to miss out on prime locations or being forced into a sub-optimal leasing situation. The location of your office can have an impact on recruitment and retention; employees value proximity to amenities and public transportation, while convenient access may be an important aspect for your customer base. It’s crucial to consider how location can affect your business early on; waiting until the last minute may cause your business to miss out on a more optimal office location.