From the décor to the floor plan, whether you’re a brand new start-up or a small business owner looking to expand, your first office space can heavily influence the shaping of your company culture.
For example, research suggests that offices with scenic views help productivity and staff well-being, while open office spaces are actually detrimental to morale due to their higher noise levels.
But setting up your first office is about more than the view. Here are five common mistakes business owners make when setting up their first office and tips on how to avoid them:
Not considering company culture
Pinning down the values and personality you want for your company is necessary to guide your first office set-up.
If you’re not sure what you want to offer job candidates, have a look at what your competitors and other organisations are offering that inspire you are doing.
For example, influencer marketing agency The Social Chain wants to attract young talent, so the company offers unlimited leave with no notice period as well as a host of office perks:
There’s no need to go all-singing, all-dancing facilities with your office space to attract the talent you want, as long as the perks you offer serve a purpose and contribute to the productivity of your team.
For example, wall quotes and white boards with charts and schedules can inspire people for work the second they walk through the door, while yoga balls and standing desks can help employees work on their health and well-being without losing out on their leisure time.
Whatever image you choose to portray to employees and the public, consider your new office space carefully to ensure it reflects your brand values.
Skimping on the budget
As a small business owner it can be tempting to save your capital for advertising and other costs, but there are numerous studies that show your office environment plays a critical role in the success of your company.
There will always be compromise, and you might not be able to afford that mini basketball court right away, but to hold onto the culture you want for your company it’s possible to budget accordingly and find a comfortable middle ground.
For example, renting a managed office like the one below from i2Office can be a flexible and cost-effective way to set up an attractive office in a prime location:
Sunny City views from our 15th floor business lounge at i2 Bishopsgate pic.twitter.com/WnOWWJrwbZ
— i2Office (@i2office) February 24, 2016
Just be aware of what is included with serviced offices and find out what additional costs you will need to cover.
See your first office space as an investment in your company’s future; a good way to budget for this is to think about where your company is right now and where you would like it to be in the next year or two.
Buy the best that you can afford when it comes to the essentials and remember that you can always apply for an unsecured business loan further down the line for the nice-to-haves.
Choosing a bad location
Just because an office is within your price range and driving distance of your house, doesn’t mean that it’s the best place to attract the talent you’ll need as your business grows.
The last thing you want is to be sitting alone in a gorgeous office that nobody can get to, so before you do anything else look into where your ideal employees live as well as locations that would appeal to them.
Not every business can afford to be in London and luckily not all employees want to commute, so don’t be afraid to consider aerial towns or up-and-coming cities.
For example, ‘Tech Cities’ outside London are becoming more attractive to job seekers, so setting up near a labour pool can help you to attract and poach existing talent.
Commutable areas, such as smaller towns and even villages, could be another option. With people becoming more concerned about their health and well-being, countryside locations with access to nature are increasingly popular:
There is also of course rail access and free nearby parking to consider, which all help to draw talent to you.
Wherever you decide to be, make sure you base your decision on who you want to attract and where those people want to be.
Assuming all employees work the same
Whether you believe the studies claiming open plan offices are bad for employee productivity, or you think that Facebook’s got the right idea, everyone likes to work differently and it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your business.
While your eye may be drawn to big, open spaces with floor to ceiling windows, you might want to consider the glare your employees will have to deal with.
Equally, this doesn’t mean you have to cast everyone to confinement in windowless cubicles.
As with everything else, there’s a balance to be had. Ultimately you need to think about what your employees will be doing when you’re viewing office spaces; will everyone need to constantly communicate with each other or will one department need to spend a lot of time on the phone while another needs to focus on writing tasks?
Try speaking to companies similar to yours and keeping in mind what works well for them and what doesn’t when picking your new office space.
Forgetting the legal stuff
Besides working out whether you’re in a strong enough position to commit, you should view a number of properties and ask each landlord as many questions as possible.
Investigate each building and ask to speak to existing or previous tenants. Seek advice from a commercial property agent to make sure your lease agreement suits you as a tenant and that the landlord’s terms are within the law.
You should also get a few quotes for business insurance and make sure your company is protected from legal repercussions in the event of workplace accidents, injuries and even natural disasters.