When hunting for a new office, there’s a slew of basic questions you need to ask before signing on the dotted line. Are there any hidden costs? Is there enough parking? Will the rent increase? Is the location suitable?
But as the workplace evolves, there are some often-forgotten things tenants should consider asking their leasing consultant or leasing agent.
So, before investing in new plants and swivel chairs, here are five of the top questions to tick off.
1. Does your lease give you room to grow – or shrink?
The size of your organisation is likely to change over time, so your
office space may need to as well, says Michael Greene, head of tenant representation at JLL.
“An important question to ask is, does the lease allow for the expansion or contraction of your space?” he says.
“Instead of being stuck down the track with a large amount of space, or not enough, landlords are increasingly coming to the party and offering more flexibility.
“Landlords can offer a third space, such as project spaces and town-hall spaces, that you can add on or take off during the term of the lease.”
Consider the green credentials of the building you are eyeing. Photo: iStock 2. Going green: Will the building accommodate your environmental targets?
If you are looking to reduce your environmental footprint or even go carbon neutral, you’ll need to investigate the
green credentials of the building you are eyeing.
“This is an area that’s really coming into its own, as organisations increasingly commit to being more
sustainable,” Greene says. “But it’s something that’s not always dealt with before a lease is signed.”
A landlord and tenant can sign a “green lease”, which aims to minimise environmental impact in areas such as waste and
recycling, and commit to sourcing renewable energy.
Research by JLL found that sharing data on energy, water and waste, and energy-efficient fit-outs were among the most popular inclusions.
3. Are there existing wellbeing programs and employee perks available in the building?
In a talent-starved employment market, an attractive workplace with extra benefits such as wellness programs can make all the difference in retaining and recruiting staff. Greene says it can be particularly beneficial for smaller businesses to leverage existing offerings in a building, saving time and money.
“This is all about getting people back to the office – the big question for employers at the moment,” he says.
“A lot of landlords now are taking a holistic approach and have already set up things like exercise classes, yoga and mindfulness programs, and offer them to all tenants in the building.
“For small to medium-size businesses, this means they don’t have to expend the time and resources to organise classes themselves.”
Ask who the other tenants are to avoid uncomfortable situations in the lift. Photo: Greg Briggs 4. In a post-lockdown world, do you still need a wow factor to impress your clients?
As the workplace adjusts to a new normal as we move out of the COVID-19 crisis, tenants may need to rethink their needs.
Is it crucial to have a swanky reception area, stunning waterfront views or a grand boardroom if most of your client meetings have moved online?
Some companies no longer have a receptionist stationed behind the desk all day, experts say.
In another sign of the changing times, kitchens are being built at the front of the office now, with the regular flow of staff allowing a presence for any visitors.
But if you still regularly host clients in the office, there are many ways to wow them, such as an outdoor deck or rooftop.
“An office with a view is certainly hotly sought after, but those buildings that don’t, usually have more emphasis on the fit-out, amenity, retail, bars,” says Tim Molchanoff, Cushman & Wakefield’s head of office leasing.
5. Do you know who your potential neighbours are?
Make sure you ask who the other business tenants are to avoid uncomfortable situations in the lift, unwanted disruptions from a noisy neighbour or even having your direct competition in the next office.
“When you begin looking, ask the question, are we happy to be in a building with other companies in our industry?” Molchanoff says.
“In some instances, firms will negotiate non-compete clauses into their leases, whereby other businesses of the same nature are forbidden from taking space within the same building.”
Equally, you might be able to benefit from your neighbours, particularly for B2B businesses. Molchanoff says that, for some companies, there are opportunities in being surrounded by potential or existing clients.