Study your existing office space before looking for a new home

When your office space becomes less compatible with the function of your business, your first inclination is often to start looking for a new home. But you may want to take a second look at what’s possible in your current space before you embark on a lengthy search for new real estate, says Eliot Kijewski, Senior Vice President at Cushman & Wakefield/CRESCO Real Estate.

“Let’s say you have a building that your company has called home for years and it’s a big part of your identity,” Kijewski says. “However, the space has become very inefficient. That’s the No. 1 reason to call an architect and look at what you can do to make the space more efficient. If you’re comfortable with your budget and the rent you are paying, you might be to able afford a little more. But you can get a lot more.”

Lighting, floor plan design and the setup of conference rooms are common areas where relatively small changes can make a big difference in how your team operates. In addition to giving your existing team a boost, an office redesign can become a strong recruiting tool.

“A refresh, a redo, or a new concept attracts talent,” Kijewski says.

Smart Business spoke with Kijewski about how architects and space planners can create momentum for your business.

Where do you begin in assessing your physical office space?

It’s typically about a 90-day process to have a professional look at your space and develop an initial plan. If you’ve been in business for a number of years, and in the same space, it’s likely that your company and its needs have changed quite a bit during that time. Is there space in your building that is rarely occupied or doesn’t fit its current use? Do you have unused space that you no longer need? Is the lighting appropriate for your work environment, both in terms of what employees require to do their work and the atmosphere you want to create for visitors to your company?

Talk to your team. Gather their feedback about what works and doesn’t work for them. Look at policies and procedures that may have become inconsistent with your company’s function. If you’ve moved away from big meetings around the conference room table and tend to have more “huddles” with smaller groups, you may want to create spaces that make those meetings more appealing and productive. This is an important step because you may not always be aware of what different employees need to be most productive. Is your firm moving with changes in the world? If you are hiring millennials, they don’t “office” the way Generation X offices. And Generation X doesn’t office the same as baby boomers. Companies that insist on doing things “the way they have always been done” risk becoming a less attractive place for prospective employees.

The analysis of your space can also be helped by tapping into case histories of other companies in your industry and talk to them about what they’ve done to make their areas more conducive to their work. In addition, you can talk to peers about what architects and/or space planners they consulted with as an initial step to consider who you might want to reach out to in order to remake your space.

What happens when you meet with the architect?

You will want to provide the architect with a sense of what you’ve got and what you’re trying to achieve. It’s an interview, a meeting to discuss the history of your business, your vision and what you’d like to do with your space. It needs to be a three-way partnership between your firm, the architectural firm and your real estate broker. It may turn out to be difficult to achieve the type of space redesign that you feel your company needs in order to be competitive in its industry. At that point, you could begin the process of looking for a new space.

But in many cases, as firms continue to decrease the size of individual offices and technology allows for more functional capacity with less space, companies find that they can use architects to achieve their redesign goals in their existing spaces.

Insights Real Estate is brought to you by Cushman & Wakefield/CRESCO Real Estate