Part 1 — Deciding what You Need, Budgeting and Scheduling

Part 1 — Deciding what You Need, Budgeting and Scheduling

Finding and moving into an office space can have a significant impact on your business. It can help staff work more efficiently and collegially, inspire employees, and show clients you are organized and established. So, choosing a new office is an important decision for any business large or small in New York City. As you begin to consider a new space, here are some of the things you should consider.

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How much space do you need?

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The first thing you should do is figure out how much staff workspace you will need. You may want to have an architect or space planner help you calculate the needed space. If you decide to calculate the space yourself, don’t forget all of the other needs you will have in your new office. Here is a helpful checklist if you want to do this on your own.
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Individual Staff Workspaces An open workspace can be as small as 60 sf, while partitioned workspace areas are general calculated at 80 to 110 sf.
Executive Offices Individual executive offices are becoming less popular, but the nature of some businesses requires the privacy and confidentiality they offer. Such spaces typically require 150 to 250 sf.
Conference Rooms Office conference rooms are typically calculated at 25 to 30 sf per person, but this varies greatly depending on individual preferences. Ideally, the conference room should be able to accommodate all your employees for a staff meeting. Remember, you may need more than one.
Reception Area Typically, a reception area of 125 to 200 sf will accommodate a receptionist and 2-4 people
and a reception area of 200 to 300 sf will accommodate a receptionist and 6-8 people.
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The space required by the following common spaces will vary greatly depending on the nature of your business, number of employees and your budget.
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  • Closets
  • File Room(s),
  • Space for Copiers
  • Shredders for Copiers
    and Other Large Equipment
  • Mail Room
  • Library
  • Additional Storage
  • Server Room
  • Additional Storage
  • Lunch Room and Kitchen
  • Interior Restroom
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And make sure you provide for anticipated growth during the term of your lease.
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What are your functional requirements for your new office space and building?

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Make a list of all the special needs you have when looking for a new office space and ask the renting agent about them.
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What office plan works best for your business? Depending on the nature of the company’s work, your personality, and your staff’s personality, you should decide what plan will work the best. It could be a traditional arrangement with separate offices, a completely open office with a common workspace, or something in between, with modular furniture systems and cubicles.
Is your firm a small firm? You may want to consider the limited leverage you are likely to have with a large commercial leasing firm and think about the advantages of moving to a building with a smaller landlord who might be more responsive to your needs.
Do you need a/c on weekends or control of a/c? You may want to consider an older or loft building where you can install your own A/C units or if you are looking in larger commercial buildings ascertain if you can install supplemental A/C.
Do you bike or have a dog that you have to accommodate at the office? You will want to make sure the building you are considering allows you to enter with a bike or dog and what regulations the building has in place governing these.
Do you require 24/7 building access? Not all buildings are opened 24/7, and some offices do not have full-time security guards, even if they are. If your staff works late hours or generally spends some time in the office on weekends, you will have to make certain that the building offers 24/7 access and security service.
Are there other special amenities you need? Do you require running water in the office, special light or sunlight, ventilation, exceptional quiet, weekend access and services, unusual hours, cleaning services, etc.
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What type of building fits your business…a Chelsea Loft Building?
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What office and building type fits your company image?

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How important is appearance for employees and clients? In most industries, design and prestige are valued highly. The location and appearance of the building and your office space are of critical importance to your image, winning clients, and recruiting employees.
What neighborhood fits your employees and your client’s expectations of your firm? Choosing a neighborhood for your business is very important. You may want to consider the effect of the neighborhood’s image on the company’s image. For example, being in an elite or down-at-its-heels neighborhood can have an effect on recruiting and/or client perceptions of your financial condition and responsibility, i.e., A chief concern about smaller firms is whether or not they will be around in a year, and your location can affect your client and employees perceptions. Also, a neighborhoods vibe may fit the image of your firm or work against it, e.g., being in midtown may signal that a creative firm is not at the edge of what is happening now.
What type of building is right for your business? Should your office be in an ultra-modern building or are you in a creative industry where a historic or loft building might allow you to create a more interesting space and statement.
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What type of building fits your business . . . a High-rise Modern Building?
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Location, location, location?

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You should make sure your office location helps your business grow. Here is a checklist of some things to consider when choosing your location.
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Close to Clients Do you need to be in a specific location to be accessible to the main core of your client base? For examples: In the business district or near the financial industry.
Service Sources Does your company need special support services, such as photographers, financial printing firms, film editors, and are there parts of the city that would make coordinating these services easier, simply because they are concentrated there?
Near Subways Is the office accessible to bike lanes and to subway and bus lines? How do these routes align with the homes of your current employees and your clients’ offices?
Access from Outside the City Do you need to be accessible to firms outside of the city or do your employees live in the suburbs. What commuter lines would it be helpful for you to be near?
Amenities Would you like to be near a park, shopping, restaurants, nightlife, parking, etc.?
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Developing a Schedule

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Determining the time it will take to locate possible new office spaces, choose, negotiate, build and move into your new office is critical. Not developing a tight, realistic schedule can result in unnecessary downtime, lost rent, and disruption of workflow and income.
Typically you should allot approximately four to six months to locate and move into a new small office space (1,500 sf or less). For larger offices you should add additional months.
Many things can affect this timeframe:
  • Some people can make decisions quickly; others have to look at every possibility. You will have to determine what type of personality you are and adjust the typical schedule below.
  • Also, some changes in the schedule might have to be made during times of tight rental markets when there may be fewer available spaces.
  • Negotiations may take longer than usual, depending on your demands and those of the landlord.
  • If you are planning a major office renovation or build out you should add 2 to 4 months.
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What type of building fits your business . . . a Brownstone?
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Finding an Office Space 2 months Survey available spaces, narrow choices and begin to assess them against the criteria you have set.
Negotiation and Lease Signing 2 weeks to 1 month Allow time for landlord approval and negotiation. You do not want to put yourself into a situation where you must take a deal as presented.
Build Out 2 weeks to 3 months Simple renovations such as new carpet/refinished floors and painting can take 2-3 weeks, but a major build out with new walls, cabinetry, etc. can take upwards of 3 months even for an office smaller than 1,500 sf.
Ordering Furniture 2 months

(During build out)
If you are ordering new office furniture or lighting fixtures, you should do this as early as possible and plan for this to take 2 months to be safe. This can usually be done while the build out is occurring. If you are not doing a build out, you should order furniture as soon as you lease negotiation seems likely to conclude favorably.
Arranging Telecommunications and Computer Lines 2 – 3 weeks Coordination of phone lines and Internet connection should begin at least two months before a move. While set up time should take 2-3 weeks, allow time for missteps. Of particular concern, is that it sometimes takes weeks to complete an Internet connection.
Moving 3 days You should expect it to take 1 day to move and 2 days to set up and organize before work can begin as normal.
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What type of building fits your business . . . a Soho Loft Building?
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Planning a Budget for Your New Office Space

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Your budget will vary greatly depending on the size of your office space, the amount of construction work to office, and all the new furniture or equipment you are planning to buy. Make sure you allocate funds to the budget items in the chart below.
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Security Deposits Typically, 3 months security are required, but this may be reduced if you have an excellent credit rating.
Lease Contract Deposit Often deposits are required and these typically go toward the first months rent, but you should be aware that you will be responsible for this amount at the signing in addition to the deposit.
Moving Costs Include not only the costs of the moving company, but packing, notices to clients, change of address notifications, reprinting stationery items and new checks, temporary and new permanent signs, phone setup fees, IT setup fees, Web site changes, etc.
Build Out Costs The landlord will often complete cosmetic repairs as part of your negotiated agreement, but if you are planning major renovations, you should establish an overall budget for the build out, including new furniture, lighting, equipment, materials, contractor and any designer costs. Plan for $75 per sf for a modest build out, with furniture and equipment extra.
Downtime Consider that you or the person assigned to manage the move will be losing time in searching, planning and coordinating. Also you can project that staff will lose approximately a week of productive time in packing and setting up their working environment.
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New York City offers many choices from historic to Post-modern, small to large, no-frills to luxurious.
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