If your employees are stepping on each others' feet, conferencing in the hallway, or parking in the next zip code because there's no other place to leave their car, it may be time to expand your office space. Cramped working quarters can be a signal that your business is growing, but they're also a warning sign that your business could be in jeopardy. Employees who feel they have no privacy or room to breathe easily become distracted and less productive. Unproductive workers can be a death sentence, even for a business with promise. Here are three important questions to ask yourself if you think it might be time to add on to your office space:
Question #1: Can I lease more office space in my existing building?
If you're currently leasing office space, it may be possible to simply start renting more square footage if it’s available. This would be the least complicated, and least expensive, expansion option. Determine how much money you are willing to wager on expansion and ask your landlord what options are available (if any) and what their current quoted lease rate is. If you have a commercial realtor work with them to open up discussions with the landlord.
Question #2: Would it be more practical to relocate my office?
If you're not lucky enough to have space nearby to rent, you might need to move. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's more of a hassle. Contact a knowledgeable commercial real estate agent and describe your situation and needs. Provide him or her with a detailed list of the features you require: more office space, a larger parking area, an increased amount of open square footage, and so on. Based on your budget and office needs, the agent can help you find the best , negotiate the best possible lease rate and terms, and help you decide which is the better option: renew your existing lease or relocate.
Question #3: Should I sign a short or long lease term?
The required lease term contract depends on a number of things (e.g. your needs, market conditions, available space, landlord preference, etc.). First and foremost, you need to really think about your current and future office space needs. If you are not sure about your current needs then only consider properties that will allow you to sign a shorter lease contract (e.g. 1-2 years). Most landlords will push you to sign a 3-5 year contract however it has to make sense for your business. If you think you will eventually hire more employees make sure you lease enough space now to accommodate them or negotiate with the landlord to get first rights of refusal or guaranteed must-take space. In a hot market office space will get leased up quickly so if you think you will for sure need it then do what you can to secure it. If you find a great deal however the landlord does not have any other expansion space then stick to a short term lease.
No matter what your situation, it's important to recognize the benefits and limitations of your current office space. Be honest with yourself: change may be expensive, but it may be your only option to keep your business thriving. Once you examine your needs and budget, you'll have a better idea what you can do to increase elbow room and improve productivity in your office.