Determining your Office Space Needs

by CoyDavidson on April 17, 2010

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Taking your office space requirement from notion to motion with proper planning

The business decision to relocate or renew your office lease is a complex process and one that can significantly impact the performance of
your company. Leasing office space is a multi-phased process and making an informed decision about your office space first requires proper planning. Skipping the planning stage triggers a number of the most commonly made mistakes by office tenants. In order to make the best real estate decision, it is crucial to understand your property requirements through the process of evaluation and forecasting before considering specific properties.

Determine your future needs

Commercial leasing decisions should take into consideration medium- to long-range business goals for leases running three years or more. Guided by professional workplace strategists and space planners, the process of constructing a real estate brief to achieve your business objectives will consider questions including:

  1. Is your business growing or shrinking?
  2. What are your brand values?
  3. What are your preferred work settings?
  4. What type of employees will you have in the future?
  5. What will your technology requirements be in three years?
  6. Are you considering acquiring or merging with other firms?
  7. What effect will moving have on your customers and staff?

By working through this concept planning phase, you will achieve the maximum benefit—both financial and strategic—in a relocation or reconfiguration of your office space. If the workplace design happens solely during the design and construction phase, only minimal gains are possible.

Involve key internal decision-makers

Assemble a team with the breadth of skills to drive the project. Consider involving your experts in information technology, human resources and finance. They will be familiar with specific future trends that may influence your requirements and decisions. Their involvement from the outset will help clarify and focus your brief and achieve internal buy-in.

Be sure to appoint a project leader to connect with your internal stakeholders as well as your broker and consultants.

Create a real estate brief

The briefing process begins with the documentation of your workplace requirements.

  • Growth projections
  • Space budget
  • Space standards
  • Organizational vision and objectives
  • Cost parameters

A well-prepared real estate brief will synthesize these elements and translate them into your property requirements. The brief will expedite your decision-making process. You will save considerable time by inspecting and reviewing only suitable properties.

Your brief also creates a framework to evaluate and compare your options. An important element in developing this brief is to audit your existing premises—creating a clear understanding of what’s working, and what’s not.

What should be in your brief?

  • Your real estate brief should consider a wide range of criteria:
  • Size of space
  • Number of employees (maximum and minimum)
  • Location
  • Building services
  • Security and access
  • Technical requirements
  • Communications infrastructure
  • Environmental considerations
  • Signage / naming rights
  • Tenant improvement needs
  • Parking
  • Office hours
  • Lease structure preferences
  • Timing
  • Budget
  • Other unique needs
  • Term / renewals

Consider ranking each factor in terms of importance, as you may have to compromise on some items, depending on the options available. You can also assign a point value to each factor, with more points possible for the factors with greater importance. I can help guide you through this evaluation process.

Know your local market and commitments

During this phase, you should familiarize yourself with local office market conditions and existing lease commitments. By knowing the market vacancy rates, supply projections, current rental rates and tenant incentives, you will be in a better position to evaluate various proposals.

Colliers International can provide you with an office market presentation that describes these factors, both in your local market and in the specific submarkets you identify as most desirable.

Once you have a clear understanding of your property and space requirements you are ready to proceed to the inspection and evaluation phase of candidate properties that best match your specific needs.

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