Written by, Christina Ott
How do you know that you have found the best home for your business? Commercial business owners often focus on the cost of their retail or office location — but there is more to choosing your space than just numbers. When you are choosing your business location, consider the way in which your company will operate. Focus on setting a strong foundation for your employees and business to thrive by considering the “soft” qualities that come along with your potential office or retail space
Choosing an interior environment that suits your business model
The layout of your business location is almost certain to affect the way your employees do their work. For instance, newsrooms function best with an open layout because workers need the ability to quickly communicate with their colleagues. Tech startups and other highly collaborative companies may also value from an open floor plan, which is beneficial for:
- Flexibility in implementing creative furniture layouts
- Closely supervising employees
- Impromptu conferencing
- Improving communication within and between teams
- Eliminating barriers of “the hierarchy” by reducing the status that comes along with earning an office
- Teams that require ongoing collaboration and the ability to quickly consult other staff members
On the other hand, “closed concept” offices can provide the privacy and solitude that are necessary for some corporate operations. Law firms, for instance, must have private offices for confidential client discussions. Organizations that prioritize information and material security may also benefit from the ability to close and lock office doors.
Consider the fact that the average square footage per employee has decreased from about 225 square feet in 2010 to about 150 square feet today. In other words, you may need less office space than you think. Make sure that you are also planning for the future, considering calculations for employee growth and business expansion. Choosing an office space with adjacent vacant suites may be a wise choice for rapidly growing business operations. Head count projections can help you calculate the exact amount of space you need for your office.
Ultimately, business owners need to consider workflow, processes and the nature of their work in order to choose the best fit in interior spaces.
Considering building amenities
The building you choose for your office or retail operation can also have a major effect on your business outcomes. For example, businesses that host frequent in-office meetings with clients, partners, or subcontractors will want to make sure they have adequate, comfortable conference room space. This conference space could be located in your office suite, or you could save money by considering a building with shared conference facilities.
Your building is your brand — outdated or worn conference facilities are unlikely to impress. Business owners should also ensure that conference rooms and other shared spaces are outfitted with the technological amenities — televisions, computer hook-ups and even speakers — that are necessary to efficiently conduct business.
Your business’ building needs to make a good impression on your employees and clients, alike. Employees can benefit from amenities such as on-site dining, gym facilities and on-site daycare facilities.
Finally, be sure that you ask about any planned updates or construction to the building of your choice. Construction projects in your building may disrupt your business operations, so it makes sense to stay informed.
Exterior features that could make or break your location
When you are choosing the exterior features and general location of your building, you need to consider your employees, competitors and clients. Finding top-notch employees is challenging enough — if you locate your business in an inconvenient location, you may struggle even more with recruitment.
Make sure that you have identified the general locations from which your staff members will be commuting to work. You may think about:
- How long your employees will have to commute to work
- Whether public transportation is available at or near your building
- Safety of the neighborhood
- Whether parking facilities are easily accessible from your business, and whether they require a fee for use
- How much parking you need, and whether it will be readily available
- Whether employees with large trucks will require special parking considerations.
Next, make sure that you are considering your competitors’ locations. This is particularly important for retail establishments, or those who are looking to capture market share through foot traffic.
Are there competitors within the same building complex, and how could that affect your business? Have your competitors congregated in another part of town? If so, why?
Finally, business owners should choose their business location based on the needs of their clients. Accessibility to the location is critical — if your office is too far out of the way, you may miss out on big sales. This is even true within the building.
Can your clients easily find your office? Should you select an office that is immediately visible from the elevator or entryway? A premium location may seem like too much up-front expense, but it can pay for itself through increased productivity or sales. Accessibility is absolutely crucial for your clients, customers, vendors and employees.
A building that aligns with your brand
Ultimately, your chosen office or retail location should reflect your brand priorities and values. A traditional law firm would not necessarily fit in an art deco building, even if the location is convenient. When you are looking for the right fit in a business space, make sure that you are considering the personality, amenities and neighborhood surrounding the building. Taking the time to thoroughly investigate your business location before you make a decision will lead to better business outcomes.