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Need More Work Space? Why You Should Start Looking Sooner Than You Think

February 2, 2018 | by
Reviewed by real estate expert Jonathan Wasserstrum

Whether you’re a fledgling business thinking about your first office, or you’re a trendy tech company adding new employees by the day, it’s never too early to start exploring your options for more work space.

Here’s why.

Finding work space takes time

From the moment you start browsing listings online to the moment you think you’ve found the perfect office, it can be a matter of months.

That may not come as news. After all, renting a new work space is a significant decision for your company, one you don’t want to rush if you can help it.

What may come as news is that, if you can’t help but rush, it can still be a deliberate process. Right from the beginning. Here’s an example of why.

While the commercial real estate industry has made recent strides to modernize, the mechanics of, say, browsing spaces online before you venture out to see them isn’t as simple as browsing for apartments.

For one, quality pictures of available office space are hard to come by. In a market like New York, a high volume of commercial spaces don’t come “prebuilt,” meaning they haven’t been constructed as a functional office space yet. So it can be hard to pre-visualize which spaces will work for you simply by browsing online, and that can make it hard to generate any momentum in your office search.

Commercial building with work space

Hence, the importance of finding a tenant broker up front if you want to find relevant spaces faster.

Brokers know the commercial buildings in their market very well, they’ve toured the spaces within them many times. If you mentioned an address to them, they could probably tell you what the built-out spaces in the building are like. They can find the gems fairly quickly, including more temporary, flexible options should you need them.

Negotiating a commercial lease takes time, too

Once you submit an offer on a space you like, you enter the next phase of the leasing process, one equally deliberate as the last.


As you can imagine, renting an office entails countless details, beyond just the rent, worth negotiating in your favor. Before you even see a draft of a lease.

The points of commercial lease negotiation are many, but as an example, you’ll need to come to an agreement with the landlord on the degree of construction you’re allowed to perform on the office, who pays for it and who manages the project. This build-out process not only determines what your office will look like, it impacts your move-in target, too. If you’re in a hurry, relying on a swift build-out can be a dicey proposition.

The basic parameters for an agreement like this are usually outlined at the Letter of Intent stage. So before you lay eyes on a lease, you could be dealing with weeks of back-and-forth.

The office build-out takes time

Once you’ve negotiated a lease to both parties’ satisfaction, it’s time to get the space ready for move-in.

Depending on the space’s condition and your plans it will likely require construction on walls and partitions before it’s ready for decor and basic systems infrastructure. On the brief end, you can expect a process of a couple months before your new space is ready for operations. For more extensive work, it can take as many as 3 months or longer before your new office is ready.

So working backwards from a 2-3 month build-out, the time it takes to negotiate and agree to a lease, and the process of finding the optimal space, six months before you need is a safe window in which to begin your search.

If that seems like a long time to be searching for your next office, it is. But it’s time you’ll be glad to have.

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