For most people who work a 9-5, the office is where you spend almost half of your waking hours. If you’re at a startup, trying to get a company off the ground, that figure could be even higher.
In contrast to the humble beginnings in garages and basements that they’re known for, a lot of modern startups are now working out of incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces. After building a foundation, many find themselves transitioning into an office. However, as buying or leasing office space is uncharted territory for most novice entrepreneurs, there’s a lot that goes into the process.
From pricing and location to the amount of space needed versus how much you’re growing, there are several factors that go into picking the perfect office. Finding a location your team won’t mind having as their home away from home is vital. That’s why we’ve decided to bring you a few helpful questions to consider when choosing an office space.
Let’s dive in:
How Much Space Do You Need Right Now?
The first question you should address is how much space you need per employee, and how quickly you’re projected to grow. The square footage per person can vary by industry, with some occupations requiring much more space for their equipment. As noted by SpaceIQ (a workplace operations platform), the average square footage needed for industries like technology and finance is around 110 to 250 USF (usable square footage), while biotech, science, and legal require square footage all the way up to 525 USF.
Beyond just making your employees comfortable, your business could also have future needs for space that includes storage or new amenities. For example, including a kitchen for a team that’s grown out of eating around a common area, or having a space for IT and security equipment. While you don’t want to get into too much future spending, another initial step is assessing how fast you’re scaling, as well as what’s reasonable surrounding that.
How Fast Are You Scaling?
Scalability is a startup’s capability to meet growing demand.
When it comes to office space, the biggest question surrounding how fast you’re scaling is what demands need to be met in terms of human capital, as well as production. For example, if having a larger customer support team to maintain your reputation is imperative, then including additional space for them will be helpful in ensuring that you have the proper environment to grow. Alternatively, if your startup is still a small operation, but you need more privacy, then perhaps getting a smaller office in a coworking space that accommodates the executive team is a smart in-between, especially if the rest of your team can work in the common area.
What’s Your Budget Like?
Your budget is going to be one of the most significant driving factors behind your decision making. For a lot of companies, the COVID-19 pandemic has left them considering how much of an office they really need, as working remotely has enabled them to save money on office space. Thankfully, most startups don’t need to make a major commitment like renting out an entire floor of a building, which puts them at risk of being tied to a lease even if the startup dissolves. Renting an office in a coworking space not only provides you with conference rooms, amenities, and privacy, but also a flexible rental situation that’s much more startup-friendly.
With coworking, you’re paying for more than just space. Your team will have access to meeting rooms and other perks, such as coffee and beer. Additionally, coworking can be a good option to network and outsource freelancers for projects, hosting a budget-friendly talent pool to pull from. Yes, coworking can provide a great ROI for startups, establishing a foundation for growth that’s flexible, but also includes all the amenities of other top-tier offices.
What Would Be The Best Cultural Fit For Your Company?
Another big consideration is cultural fit.
No matter if it’s choosing between sprucing up an old cubicle farm or paying extra for a hip, industrial space, every option is going to have its pros and cons. Assuming you’ve already established what type of budget you have, looking into the type of space your team would enjoy versus would be the most productive in is a crucial part of establishing a balance. As the physical workspace is a significant part of how culture is formed, it often can affect the attitudes of employees; for example, not having proper natural light or constantly having to listen to the loud hum of antiquated lights can contribute to negative employee attitudes at work. That’s why it’s smart to ask your team what’s most important to them when it comes to the culture of their space.
One strategy for discerning how your team feels about a new office is simply by sitting them down individually to ask what their wants and needs are for a workspace. While suggestions like natural light sound like an amenity to some, for others it’s essential to managing things like Seasonal Affective Disorder. Not only does that affect the overall morale of an employee, but also the long-term happiness they experience at your workplace. For this reason, it’s important to run through a few common questions to get a good idea on what type of culture you should develop:
- What do you need out of a workspace?
- How important are perks and amenities to you?
- Do you enjoy working collaboratively or perform better alone?
- What would be your goal for an office?
You can build on these questions and account for your pre-existing knowledge of your team’s needs, but the goal is to start a dialogue on what you all want to get out of a space. After all, since you’re going to be spending at least 1/3rd of your waking hours here, it should be a space you’re comfortable and productive in, fostering an environment that allows you to be your best.
What Type Of Place Would You Call Your Company’s Home Away From Home?
Your office is the foundation of your company’s community.
While no workspace can cancel out bad leadership or faulty team dynamics, teams can suffer from being subjected to working in a place that’s distracting. Ultimately, we want to be proud of the office we work out of. We want to be confident showing it off to friends and family so they can see how we engage in our day-to-day. In order to find that, your team needs to agree on a space to be your ‘home away from home.’
In your search, be patient with your approach. Especially if you find yourself growing quickly, it’s imperative you get down the logistics of your needs before even establishing your budget. If you find yourself in flux but have severely outgrown your current situation, then perhaps coworking could be beneficial given that you can scale employees at whatever pace you need. As most startups are looking to bootstrap a budget-friendly office, balancing price point and comfort may require some compromises. Ideally though, asking yourself these questions should help you find a place you’ll want to stay for at least a year...if not several. Remember, this is the physical space that embodies your company’s culture, which is why it’s something people should feel integrates into their life seamlessly, providing something that makes everyone truly feel like they’re in a place to grow.
If you’d like help finding out if an office at Gather is right for your startup, don’t hesitate to reach out for an appointment below. With access to six locations across Virginia, Gather has plenty of options for wherever you need to be, whenever you need to get things done.