9 Things To Do When Checking Out Your New Space
9 Things To Do When Checking Out Your New Office Space
Very few things affect picking a new office like where its located. Everyone starts their search with something like "Offices to rent in Manchester" or "Offices to rent in Kings Cross" but there are a few things you should do when you visit your shortlist, every building is different even if the surrounding area is the same.
1: Check out the communal space
Communal space serves two purposes when you have an office: its extra workspace, which is great when you’ve go different team members working on different things, or you need to get out of the office to make a call.
Its also a refuge. Everyone needs time away from their screen or somewhere to eat their lunch. The opportunity to get some separation from the task at hand can have a positive impact on productivity and stop people feeling stuck in one place.
Its also a great way to meet other people in your building, if its communal space on the floor your office is on then its likely they’ll be your neighbours but if you go elsewhere in the buildings you’ll also get the chance to meet other people.
The ability to change your surroundings during the course of your work day is one of the positives of serviced office space that shouldn’t be overlooked.
2: Are there meeting rooms?
You might not usually use them or you might use them all the time but there’s no denying that meeting rooms are a huge advantage to businesses and a common feature of the majority of modern serviced office providers. If they aren’t available, you might want to build one in your own space.
Cost is generally the first consideration with meeting rooms. Many providers now offer inclusive hours for your team to use as part of your agreement, which can take the pressure off of having to figure out if your ROI of using meeting rooms is worth it.
Asking about the building’s visitor policy and hospitality options is worthwhile too. Often the reception staff are the first people your visitors will see when coming to meet with you, its likely they will show them down to the room and let you know your visitors are there but every service is different. Providers will also be able to let you know what food and beverage options they will be able to offer you are too.
3: The Office itself
So you’ve found the perfect office, now what?
I could write a paragraph on all the things that you need to look out for, but everyone loves a checklist, so here is a short one on what to look for or ask about:
- Where are the plug sockets? Will you need extension leads?
- Where are the Ethernet ports?
- Your office door access. Does it have access control or do you need keys?
- Is there aircon? If there is, how do you control it?
- Windows are great, but do they open?
- Likewise, are there blinds? How do they work?
- How do you control the lights? Is it bright enough?
- Check the condition of the carpet, it is likely to be on your inventory!
- What furniture is included?
- Can you put things up on walls? If you can, do you have to use their in-house team?
- Phone coverage: If you are using mobile phones do you have signal?
My personal final check would be what backs on to every wall? Your neighbours are likely to be great but I’ve come across spaces previously where toilets and more importantly hand dryers are on the other side of the wall. Unfortunately, hand dryers are louder than you might think.
4: Budget for your move
There are always things that cost more than you think when moving offices. Managing your finances is crucial for any business and one of the best ways to do that is to plan ahead.
There are a few things to consider before you move: Who’s going to move your stuff? Are you hiring a van or a company? Will you need crates and packing materials? And who’s going to pack all of your stuff?
The reason these things are important is because they will effect how much downtime you have when you move. If you’re doing things yourself, it might be worth having the team work from home while the move happens if they’re not helping out.
The other consideration that could potentially effect your ability to run your business is moving your IT setup. If your setup is more complicated than just connecting everyone to the internet then you should get your IT team involved sooner rather than later.
Most providers have dedicated networking teams and setups that make moving in as easy as “plug and play” but planning ahead can be the difference between the team coming in and starting at 9 am Monday morning just like they did in the old office and them sitting around twiddling their thumbs while people run around trying to fix things. Every minute they are twiddling their thumbs is a minute where your business is not running.
5: Ask about access
“You can only move-in between 3 am and 4 am on a weekday”. It might sound utterly ridiculous but I’ve come across a couple of spaces with these kinds of rules in place and that rule may or may not apply to at least one office building in central London. While this might be compatible with your business, the likelihood is that you and your team will be firmly tucked up in bed at this time, just as any moving company you’ve hired is likely to be too.
Different buildings will have different access procedures and security policies so it is always worth checking what these are when you visit. Will you have 24-hours access? If you do, will reception be open 24-hours? Most modern buildings will have some form of swipe card access but many offices still have their own keys.
If you’re moving your own furniture or any large equipment, its always a good idea to check out any lifts in the building, just to make sure you’ll be able to move everything in comfortably.
Even if it is only for the initial move, check on loading bays and parking. Trying to park in the centre of a city without dedicated parking can be a nightmare.
6: Work there
Seriously, grab a laptop and spend a day in the communal area! There are very few providers that will say no and many will even invite you to try it out.
Whenever you view a space, you’ll be able to get a good idea of how it is but nothing beats actually working in the space itself to give you a real sense of how working there would be.
You’ll be able to talk to your future neighbours and coworking members and get the low-down on the building and surrounding area. Being able to work from communal space before committing is one of those unique opportunities that seems silly to pass up on. You don’t need to do it for all of the buildings on your short-list but a couple of different spaces could present you with a whole new angle on the space and you’re still being productive while you do it.
Nope, I’m not talking about the critically acclaimed BBC sitcom created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant but I am talking about all the extra bits that come with the office. Gyms, Cafés, Meditation Rooms etc.
One of the biggest advantages of modern serviced office spaces is access to shared facilities that may be out of reach in leased spaces, either due to budgetary or space constraints. Most of these perks are great added value for businesses but they’re also often great added productivity. Nipping down to the building lobby for a coffee run is considerably quicker than going round the corner to the nearest Starbucks after all.
The list of extras available varies quite a lot from Wework’s well known beer on tap to The Office Group’s Music room, its definitely worth finding out what is available to you and your team, especially as you might not be restricted to using only those that are in the building your office is in.
As providers attempt to differentiate their product, the list is only going to grow.
8: Outdoor space
Working in the sun, impressing clients, instagram photos or just for after-work beers, outside space is a great thing to have access to, especially if you’re based in a city. There’s nothing quite like having the option to be outside when you’re at work, especially if the outdoor space is a roof terrace with a view.
If your team is laptop or mobile based, accessible outdoor space that you can work in is a wonderful thing. Even if they’re not, just being in the sun while making a phone call or eating your lunch will improve anyone’s mood.
Most providers will also let you use their outdoor spaces for events, so if you’re looking to impress, or just unsure of where to have your Christmas party this year, its worth checking with them on what they can do for you. They often have dedicated events teams that can organise everything from music to canapés.
Its also worth checking that you can connect to the WiFi out there but otherwise, its worth checking out at least for the opportunity to spend a few minutes outdoors.
9: Check out the ‘facilities’
Toilets are usually the one of the first or last things any visitors you have will see and are crucial for making a good impression. Its not often you’ll come across anyone that brags about their toilets (or discusses them at all) but its also unlikely that everyone you meet doesn’t have at least one communal toilet horror story. The condition of the loos can tell you just how effective the building team are at caring for the building.
Showers are another thing to consider. They are essential for anyone on your team that runs or cycles to work (or on their lunch). Its also worth checking if there is space for hairdryers, hair straighteners etc. Being able to get ready for the Christmas party together is great for team bonding and you never know when you might need to quickly fix up before a client meeting.
Its not fun, it might not even be pleasant (in the worst case) but it is important because toilets matter to people. No-one wants to come to work everyday and feel like it 02:30 on Friday night in the local pub and all it takes to make sure they’re up to scratch is popping your head in on the way out.
and if you have the time:
Take the team for a look around. Just because you love it doesn’t mean they will, and there’s nothing worse than an unhappy team!