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Updated July 2019
Defining and deciding the right rental space for your company is rarely a unilateral decision. It requires input and consideration from multiple stakeholders along the way, including fellow executives, employees and your broker. A true team effort.
And as much time as finding suitable space can take, the smallest gaps in communication between parties can cost you precious time as well. It can be the difference between landing the ideal space and just barely missing out.
Here are six suggestions for facilitating the smoothest possible path to finding your next rental space.
Get feedback internally
You may have a firm understanding of what your company needs in its next office space, but involving other members of your team in the discussion can yield major benefits later in the process.
For one, it helps establish common priorities among the staff, which in turn establishes positive sentiment toward the search and the eventual destination you choose as your next address.
Are people most worried about the commute? Proximity to clients and partners? More meeting space? Of course it’s impossible to satisfy every opinion, but the more inclusive you make the process, the more pride and ownership your team will take in the new office. Plus, they may have some invaluable suggestions.
Your criteria and preferences can (and likely will) change once you hit the market, but the more accurate criteria you can give your broker to start, the more efficient the process.
Appoint a lead to maintain continuity
Appoint someone you trust to spearhead your office search. If you are the only person matching that description, just be mindful of the time commitment you’re taking on, in addition to your already extensive list of commitments. Consider delegating it to an established right-hand resource.
This person should attend all the office tours, handle communications with the broker, and facilitate all the feedback from internal stakeholders.
If on occasion the point person can’t meet these commitments, they should in turn appoint someone else to substitute and provide a crystal-clear update on the status of the search and priorities.
What you don’t want is several different people looking at several different spaces and reporting back with their own take on the front-runners for rental space. That’s a recipe for a confused, prolonged search.
Come to commercial lease terms
Decide early how long you want to rent your next space. This decision will influence the rest of your search. In a commercial real estate market like New York, a standard lease term is 3-5 years, but for many, such a long-term commitment is impractical for their business.
Spaces available for shorter or more flexible terms are certainly available, but your options are a bit more limited.
If you’re looking for rental space on 2-year terms or shorter, you should consider space on the sublet market.
Keep your real estate broker(s) in the loop
Looking for rental space with multiple brokers is quite common. In fact, it can be hard to avoid when looking online and making multiple inquiries.
It’s also understandable that you might feel protective over the information you share between brokers.
Don’t. The more a given broker knows about your requirements, the current stage of your search, and what kinds of spaces you’ve already seen, the faster she can pinpoint the most helpful next step in the process.
Use collaborative tools
Touring is one of the most time-consuming steps in the rental process. It demands time. patience and faith that it’ll uncover the right space for your business. Furthermore, it yields a ton of information difficult to keep straight, let on alone share accurately with other stakeholders.
Thankfully, technology is starting to change that. SquareFoot, for example, has developed a free collaborative tool that organizes tours, lets tenants take notes on each space and easily share those notes with other people in the org. SquareFoot brokers also use this tool so you can screen listings together and get updates on available spaces.
But technology on its own doesn’t make touring rental space more efficient. That begins with clearly defined office criteria and close communication with your broker, one who is willing to thoroughly vet spaces before taking you to see them.
Debrief after touring rental space
After the information overload that can occur with touring space, taking time with your broker afterward, even for just a few minutes, can help you process immediate feedback, ask timely questions and decide on appropriate next steps.
A common thread between all these steps? Taking a collaborative, transparent approach to your office space search.
A willingness to delegate, communicate and organize your efforts internally before hitting the market can make finding your next office that much more enjoyable.