How to choose the right office to lease

When looking for office space to lease it’s important to get the mix right between affordability and the ideal premises. It’s best to get it right the first time, as your business will have to live with this decision for the life of the lease. You also want to have happy and productive staff that can enjoy the space, and access work with ease.

At first it can seem daunting, with many different people to please and dozens of options to consider. By asking the right questions from the start you’ll be able to find an office for lease that is not only great to work in, but also cost effective and right for your business.

While not all these points will be relevant to your business, this is hopefully a useful guide to help evaluate the offices to lease on your shortlist:

The Location

Public transport and links

How easy is the commute for your staff and clients? For city center offices how close is the bus or rail system? Are there suitable bike and car routes? Staff may be open to different commuting options if say, there are no trains but a great bus service. Help them look at their options and how it may affect their daily commute. If you have lots of visitors consider how this may affect them, some customers may not want to travel across town.

If your business has staff or visitors that regularly fly or need taxis, consider accessibility to the airport and quality and availability of local taxis.

Traffic patterns

With staff or visitors driving to the office, consider the local traffic patterns. When are the busy times, how congested are the streets during staff drive times? How will this affect the journey to your new office? Long or stressful commutes can put employees in a bad mood before they've even reached the office.

The Neighborhood

What’s the image and reputation of the area like? This can have a big impact on the way potential clients see your business. Your staff and visitors need to feel safe visiting your offices.

What about the neighbors; existing and potential, both in and out of the building? Are they competitors, or do they compliment your business? Could they cause problems? A noisy gym, bar or nightclub next door may not work for your business.

Employee Security is paramount – is it a secure neighbourhood where your employees feel safe leaving at night? Consider the route staff will need to travel to and from local transport, especially if travelling by foot.

Local amenities

Is the area well serviced? Employees will have errands to do during lunch break; is it close to banks, the pharmacy and general shopping?

Are there places to eat? How far will staff or your visitors need to travel during their lunch break? Are there suitable Lunch bars and Cafes where people can meet up and have a coffee or bite to eat?

What’s the future of the neighborhood?

Some areas attract Lawyers, Accountants, hospitality, start-up businesses or technology based companies. Consider the benefits of setting up in an area with a reputation as a hot spot for up-and-coming companies like yours, as such businesses can have a positive effect on how clients and staff view your company, as well as on hiring—not to mention being more likely to have a thriving social scene.

The Building

Modern or old?

Older buildings can look great but may have higher maintenance bills and be more difficult to heat; in some cases there can be use or fit-out/alteration restrictions especially if it’s listed as a heritage building. It’s best to ask the vendor or landlord about any restrictions.

It is also important to see if the space meets current building codes and regulations, whether it’s been earthquake strengthened, and what percent of code it is? Are the fire, lighting, heating, and ventilation systems compliant and suitable? These can be costly to rectify, so make sure you check them out. Is the building in a flood prone area? Does it get good sun, and is this well managed with screens, double-glazing or window treatments?

Older lifts can be restrictive and slow, so ensure they meet your needs. Also any shared power and / or Air conditioning, plumbing, heating and waste disposal will need investigation. Ensure you know what the joint services are and how they work.

Ensure all the power, telecommunications and data cabling are adequate for your needs. Is it serviced with a high-speed internet connection?

Is it well maintained and secure?

Poorly maintained buildings can be a source of frustration. Talk to past or some of the other tenants to find out how well managed the building facilities are, and if the management company is quick to respond. Ask how secure is the building is and if you need extra security for different areas. Is the area vulnerable to vandalism, and will you need to do additional security work on moving in?

What about car parking and bike storage?

Are there sufficient parking spaces? If your building doesn’t come with car parks, are there parking options nearby for employees and visitors? For those that wish to bike, is there suitable bike storage and amenities like showers?

Your future needs?

Factor in the future growth of your business. Moving offices is disruptive, and breaking a lease because the space is to small can be costly. Does the new space allow for your projected growth, and increasing staff numbers over the term of the lease?

Is the landlord planning work?

Does the landlord have any plans to update the common areas (especially if they are tired)? This is the ideal time to negotiate and have the landlord commit to refurbishing reception and amenity areas. They may also have some long-term building plans that could be highly disruptive, and best completed prior to moving in.

Does the building suit?

Check out the lease (use your lawyer here), is it reasonable and does it have enough flexibility should your requirements change? Are signage, use, access and fit out conditions acceptable? Is there a possibility a competitor or un-desirable neighbour could move in next door, or can some controls be put in place to protect you from this? What does the building look out onto, and will the building have a positive effect on clients and staff?

The Office Space

Is there enough space?

Your best options are to use a commercial designer to check out your fit, or to mock up a scaled layout with desks, chairs, equipment and people to see how it all fits together. Visit the space with a tape measure to help visualize and check how you'll use the space.

What can you change?

How much freedom will you have to make the space your own? Are there any restrictions? You may have to return the space to neutral decor before you leave.

What’s the lighting and acoustics like?

This is easily missed, and you might have to visit the office two or three time to investigate this. It could be there is too much glass that faces north resulting in excessive heat gain in the summer and a computer screen glare issue. Conversely, too little natural light or sun could make the space dull of depressing. Noise can be an issue, so try and check out the acoustics of the internal space. Too many hard services can create high clatter or echoing, and watch for external noises too; check what it's like at rush hour, if it’s under a flight path, and the noise at night, especially if you intend to open any windows.

Will the layout work?

Look at how your business will fit into the space and check out work group interaction. Will this layout work for you? Are the spaces big enough or too big? Can areas be divided or modified? Are there sufficient power outlets, windows, heating units, etc. and are these in the right places?

Is the space over one or several floors? Larger floor plates that are rectangle in shape are usually more cost effective because they offer a better space utilisation and lessen the need for multiple office amenities.

Ensure the space will work with your company's existing work style, and that there is sufficient room to grow.

Once you have confirmed the space is suitable, checked out the paperwork and identified all costs, you are then in a position to negotiate the leasing of office space that’s right for your business. In choosing the right office to lease it's important to list what's important and ensure it meets your needs. Check out other offices to lease or offices for sale on

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