Office Fitout Guide | Finding the Right Space in 2024
Moving office should be fun, and a change of office is as good as a holiday. Unfortunately, there are a million tasks that need to be completed to ensure you have your bases covered well before your relocation.
Finding the right spot with the right terms is tricky, it's easy to find a space that is almost suitable, but it is challenging to find the perfect spot that is available when you need it. And that's after you consider the money that you want to spend, the number of car parks, access to the right kind of facilities and that the perfect size.
Pre-relocation and lease negotiation
The last position you want to get yourself into is to wait until your current lease is up before you start looking. You need to start looking for your new office at least 6 months before the termination of your current lease; this will give you enough time to negotiate your term from a place of strength, not from one that is desperate as you have waited too long. There is some excellent property advice out there, and it is important to use everything at your fingers to get the best outcome. Below is a bit of a guide on the time it takes to find and secure a new property.
Site inspections - as I mentioned above, it is hard to find the "perfect" place, so be clear on your brief. Set a clear line between the 'must-haves' and the 'nice-to-haves'. A clear brief should contain the below:
Size of space you are looking for
While this depends slightly on your business, a capacity of about 1 person per 12 sq meters is a really good guide. One person per 10 sq meters is ordinary how the Australian standards design buildings, but a call centre would usually have about 1 person per 7 sq meters. In comparison, a generous office would have 1 person per 14 sq. We think 12 is the lucky number and a good target for most businesses.
Key target locations
Consider what location you need to be and the impact this may have on the business and your staff if you went to a different area. Be open-minded about the location you choose. This is a great way to widen your search. Consider how your team may commute, and how leaving an area might impact the team's culture. On the other hand, you may want to consider the benefits you might have to your clients if you were in a different location.
Keep this in mind as it will help narrow the properties. Remember there are many different ways to structure a lease, the incentive payments, and your fitout costs, so it is a good idea to understand your ongoing costs and fitout budget.
Your ideal lease term
This is a very important one. The longer the lease, the more likely for a favourable fitout incentive. However, remember that when planning for your business growth, it's worth thinking about what the business looks like not just now, but at the end of your lease term. Making sure you balance getting enough space versus not getting enough for your future growth is a delicate one- it's a juggle that is worth pursuing and trying to get a gauge of prior to running out and trying to find a space.
It's good to have a bit of a basic plan of the requirements you need, something as basic as knowing how many offices, meeting spaces, and workstations will help keep it front of mind when inspecting properties. Have a look you are aiming for. Do you want to be seen as cool/edgy? Or are you after a modern/corporate look? Even a couple of ideas for look will help narrow a space. Check out our Pinterest if you're stuck for ideas.
Make sure the building has the IT infrastructure you need. This can be costly and time consuming waiting for the Telcos to connect you. Consider how your IT infrastructure works. The ability to get online now is critical to how businesses work and is key to your transition. Ensuring you have the connectivity at your new site is crucial and needs to be considered right away. Some lead times for the connection of fibre can be as long as 8-12 weeks. Get both your sites to run side by side well in advance. This dramatically limits any risk in trying to scramble to put a service together or trying to run from costly 5G services.
Once you have managed to get a shortlist of spaces together, it is vital to make sure it is actually going to stack up. Just because the space might have the correct square meters, it doesn't exactly mean you will fit. No two buildings are the same, and no buildings will have the same amount of usable area. And so, you must engage with someone to get a couple of test fit plans to work with the basic requirements that you've prepared. There is a huge advantage in doing this upfront, and actually knowing the basics of what your fitout will look like will enable you to make better decisions on the final space. Additionally, it gives you something to engage with the landlord about. Having visibility on how you are going to use the space will give the landlord confidence you are committed to working with them. More importantly, it gives you documents to outline in your lease to avoid costly make goods at the end of your lease. There is a perfect summary of this here.
You should always be aiming for "Removal of Detachable Property Only" or as close as possible to ensure you aren't caught with expensive make good works when exiting the property. Once you have your shortlist and test-fit plans, you should have a great idea of what the space will look like, the most efficient, and the most cost-effective. It's wise at this point to get your ideal (or a couple) of the site inspected by someone who can give you a fixed fee for the works. This allows you to set a budget for your fitout and start the final stage of negotiation.
Landlords vary dramatically from mum and pop investors to sophisticated property organisations. It's important that you recognise that the drivers for these landlords will be totally different. It's important that you are flexible with your money. Larger organisations might have the budget to give you cash upfront as an incentive, and others might have no ability to pay cash upfront and prefer you to take the incentive in a rent-free period. If you are flexible, you will be able to negotiate better terms. There will always be a bit of give and take, but remember there is always a way to stack and change a deal to work for both parties.
Lastly, remember to negotiate a rent-free period and early access for provision. At the early stages of a negotiation, early access doesn't seem all that important to either party. But when it can save you double rent while you're spending money on your relocation, it is an amazing gift!