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How can I work out how much office space I’ll need in the future?

Friday, 26 August 2011 | By William Willems

This article first appeared August 29, 2011.

 

How can I best work out the office space I’ll need in the future? We’re looking to move our start-up into an office but we are expecting to grow strongly in the next six months. How can I factor this in when choosing an office?

 

When it comes to office space, forward planning is a hell of a headache, not just for smaller businesses like yours, but even for the largest companies in Australia.

 

The growth of our economy, coupled with the various ups and downs of the global markets over the past few years means that it’s hard enough to know how many people you’ll have on board in six months let alone two or three years.

 

The traditional office lease, which is generally fixed at three to five years, is almost designed to make your life harder.

 

Committing to a set space for long-term and then paying to build it out is a big investment risk for your business.

 

Basically there are two worst case scenarios in this situation: Either you’ll be paying through the nose for space you don’t need, or your future growth will be hampered by space to sit bums on.

 

Luckily, there are a range of alternatives which you can consider. The most obvious is flexible serviced options, such as our own or a host of smaller local competitors.

 

Here the benefit is that you are not tied to one space for five years, you can upsize or downsize as necessary.

 

If you do have your heart set on a traditional approach, design flexibility as much into your space as possible.

 

Find a landlord who will allow you to share the space, and find a co-tenant to share the rent until you grow into it.

 

Lay out your office with ample meeting and reception space at the start, which can then be easily converted into desk space if you take on more people.

 

Be prepared to spend valuable time on managing your office however, and don’t let it distract you from your most important role: Developing your business.

 

Another approach could be to adopt a flexible style of working, allow your team members to work on the road, or at home, and share desks.

 

Global studies suggest most desks are empty as much as 60% of the time, so use this fact to your advantage.