Having the right working environment for your business is crucial to supporting its efficiency and growth.

The right workplace will make a positive contribution to a business: enhancing its dynamism and motivating staff. Being in the wrong space in the wrong place will create a drain on resources, limit the business’s potential and demotivate personnel.

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When sourcing a workplace for your business you need to answer, as a basic minimum, the following essential questions:

Location

This breaking down of barriers has become more common and today businesses are less likely to be influenced by a postcode and more by whether the workplace suits the operational needs of its business and helps to attract the required calibre of staff. Accordingly, close proximity to transport and amenities can also play a large part in the decision-making process.

When considering the location that is right for your business you have to identify if you do need to be in a "cluster" of similar businesses/close to clients or whether your operational needs/property costs mean that you can be more flexible with your search.

  • Where do you need to be? (Location).
  • How much space do you need? (Size).
  • What type of space do you need? (Configuration & Identity).
  • Should you rent, buy or take "serviced" space? (Tenure).

Answering these questions will give you the fundamental characteristics of the workplace that your business needs so it’s worth considering each area in some detail.

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Size

Commercial property which is available to lease is marketed by area (usually given in square feet/metres). This is not altogether helpful for businesses as many will not know exactly how much space – in square feet/metres – they need. Most businesses will know how many open-plan workstations, private offices, meeting rooms, kitchens, break-out areas, storage etc that they need but not what that adds up to in square feet/metres.

Once you have identified the amount of space you need (in square feet/metres) this substantially narrows the range of buildings which may be suitable for your business.

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Going through this "space planning" process will further refine the choice of appropriate space and you will begin to get a better idea of where your workplace may fit into the City/Town.

Making these choices about configuration and identity provides an outline of how your workplace will be configured and also what its look and feel needs to be.

Configuration & Identity

The configuration of a business’s workplace should reflect the day-to-day working needs of its personnel and how they interact with both each other and external business clients/contacts.

The identity of the workplace embodies the messages that a business wants to project to its personnel and the external parties it seeks to influence.

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The configuration of a workplace hinges on making some fundamental choices:

  • Where do you need to be? (Location).
  • How much space do you need? (Size).
  • What type of space do you need? (Configuration & Identity).
  • Should you rent, buy or take "serviced" space? (Tenure).
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The identity of your workplace will be shaped by answering the following questions:

  • Does your workplace need to make a statement about your business?
  • Do the people with whom you do business regularly visit your workplace and, if so, what impression do they need to get?

Tenure

The central choice facing every business is whether it should rent or buy its workplace.

An additional leasing option is to take "serviced" space where you pay an inclusive sum to cover all occupational costs typically including rent, service charge, rates, utilities, insurance, telecoms, reception services, furniture and office equipment.

This can be attractive to start-up businesses that want low capital expenditure and complete lease flexibility but may not suit more mature businesses that require more control over their workplace. If the serviced space option is of interest.

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Next Steps

Once you have decided on the best location for your business, the size of property you require, the property’s preferred configuration/identity and whether you want to rent or buy, you can identify a target group of properties that appear to be suitable.

The pricing of these suitable properties will also give an indication of what you can expect to pay for your new workplace. However, it must be remembered that the rent quoted for properties is only part of the total occupation cost. Prior to progressing the search, you should also get an idea of the typical business rates and service charges you’ll have to pay in addition to rent.

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Buying your workplace gives you the ultimate level of control but it may not be the best use of the business’s capital. However, in certain instances, ownership can best serve the business and it is certainly an option that should be explored if your operational requirements and financial situation indicate it may be appropriate.

For most businesses, the leasing option provides the flexibility and low capital expenditure that accords best with business planning. It also provides the widest range of choice as most commercial properties are offered to rent rather than buy.

The terms on which you rent a property are laid down in a lease. The structure and conditions of the lease are absolutely vital when it comes to getting the most from your workplace. How to approach this area of sourcing your workplace is dealt with in more detail in the Structuring your lease Section.

Whether you eventually rent or buy your workplace it is essential that either the lease or the ownership are structured in a way which provides the most positive contribution to your business. Professional advice should be taken as pursuing either route will have a long-term influence on your business.
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