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Renting your first office space is equally exciting and terrifying. If you’ve been working from home, where most small businesses start out, the added expense can be daunting. Leaving behind the distractions and demands of home and family, however, can make a big difference to your productivity, and give you space and freedom to hire more staff. Before you take the plunge and rent your first office space, you need to define your needs and your budget. Here’s what you need to consider.

Choosing the right location

Finding space in rural areas can be challenging. In cities, it can be expensive. If you already have a staff, you want a central location that’s easy to get to. City centres tend to be prestigious, upscale, and have advantages of convenient transportation, neighbourhood restaurants, shopping, gyms, and bars for unwinding and socializing after work. At the same time, traffic and parking can be a nightmare. Partly to avoid these issues, an increasing number of commuters are turning to cycling.

Size and layout

For a growing business, this may be the most difficult question to answer. How much office space do you need? You need enough space to accommodate the number of employees you’ll have through the end of the lease. If space starts getting tight and you’re locked into a long lease, you do have options today. To maximize a smaller space, consider flexible schedules and remote workers, which are attractive options, and might help you attract better talent.

Figure office expenses

Budgeting for your office can be tricky. In addition to the cost of the lease, you may have to put up deposits for utilities and services, purchase furniture, office supplies, and decor. Will you need office machines, such a commercial printer or fax? You’ll need to factor in the cost of purchase or lease for those as well. Signage and printed materials are another consideration.
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At a minimum, you’ll need a company name and logo sign on the door and business cards for staffers.

Customize your office space

It’s your space, and you want to be comfortable in it. Painting, papering, and hanging decorations are usually fine under most lease terms, but before you start ripping out walls and putting in crown moulding, check the lease and double-check with the landlord.

Lease length

You may save money by signing a longer lease as the landlord may charge a lower rate per month, but will the space be adequate in a year? Five years? If you’re confident that the space is sufficient (or if the exit terms are reasonable), a long lease can be a good strategy in the long run. If rents go up, you’re locked in, you avoid the expenses and inconvenience of moving, and who really wants to move, anyway?

Exit strategy

If your company outgrows its space before the lease is up, you’ll need to understand how you can legally break the lease. Often, leases contain provisions for exiting, just make sure you understand how much notice you are required to give and how much it will cost. If there are no provisions in the lease, be sure to ask about them before signing.

Choose wisely

If you decide to get an office space, do it wisely. Consider your workers, either who they are or who you’re likely to hire. Younger people may be more comfortable in a trendy open office concept where they can collaborate; older people may prefer the privacy of separate offices. Your company culture depends heavily on the configuration and ambience of the surroundings. The more comfortable and at home your workers are, the happier they will be. Their happiness will reflect in the quality of their work and in their overall health.

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