Searching out office space

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Gone are the days when office space was just a practical place to work. Now the workplace and its location are pivotal factors in attracting and retaining employees.

Employees want a pleasant workspace just as much as a boss wants a bigger office. But considering interior design or green friendliness may not be as important as deciding on location. The location of a startup, for example, may mean success or failure.

For executives, there are a lot of questions to consider: Should I lease or buy? Where and for what reason? Who can help me find the space? Before you set loose a real estate broker on your behalf, be sure they’re helping you answer these questions first.

A prudently chosen workplace and location can improve a company’s ability to recruit a quality and ethnically diverse workforce, says Scott Andrews, a senior executive at Portland-based Melvin Mark Brokerage Co.

Increasingly, a company’s sustainability initiatives are being reflected in their locations and office spaces, too. As gas prices rise, many companies are looking to move out of suburbia to downtown areas. For Andrews, demand is high but space limited, so depending on size requirements a company should plan for at least three months of looking for a smaller space, and up nine months for a larger space. “You need to get started relatively early,” he says.

Not all commercial real estate brokers are alike. Some specialize in a certain industry and others have more experience, and success, in others. Before choosing one, ask your business peers for recommendations, says Andrews. If a firm doesn’t have a website, find out why. When consulting with a broker, ask them for examples when they succeeded in helping their clients get exactly the space they needed.

A good broker just doesn’t cater to your immediate space needs. They anticipate future ones as well.

Avoid older buildings that are often equipped with outdated energy technology. These buildings will be “functionally obsolete” as overall energy prices rise and more certified, energy-efficient buildings come into the commercial real estate market, says Jeff Borlaug, vice president at Portland-based commercial real estate firm Norris, Beggs & Simpson.

Parking needs are one thing, but company image must also be considered. A company’s location and office space often represents the culture and goals of the business. Make sure the broker knows what kind of spaces your competitors are seeking and what industry standards are being set. As a business, you may be able to one-up your competitor with a classier office.

“[Employees] want to be proud of their space,” says Borlaug.

JASON SHUFFLER

 
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