Like almost every industry, the legal profession has encountered numerous difficulties during the global pandemic brought about by COVID-19. Some of these challenges include transitioning to remote work, converting to remote litigation, and facing higher competition for talent.
Moving offices is all too often the reluctantly taken route.
This influences the way we think about moving – we push it down our agenda until we have so little time to act that we either stay put in a location that doesn’t suit our requirements, or we are forced to move at short notice to a space that is available, without first considering is this the right space for us?
The result is being stuck in a less than ideal office space until such a time as the law of contracts allows us to exit.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s all about carefully planning and selecting the criteria you require for your office, and partnering with a reliable advocate to ensure you find the best possible match for that criteria.
Here are the ideal steps to take to find the right building in your office space search:
1. Know how much space you need
How much office space do I need? You probably assumed you needed a particular area based on your existing floorspace, yet the best way to find out how much space you need is to engage with a designer as early as possible and ensure you are not wasting office space and ultimately tens of thousands of dollars per year.
2. Compile a list of key criteria
Key criteria should always include good access for staff, good natural light, good amenities and good location. But there will be many more that are specific for yourself. Where are your clients based? Do you need to be located directly above a good doughnuttery? Does a gym need to be nearby? Childcare? Parking? The list goes on. It’s a good idea to sit down with a workspace consultancy partner in the industry to challenge some assumptions you may have and provide insights into what you may not have thought of.
3. Shortlist options conservatively
If you choose to run with a tenant rep, be sure to look through all submissions carefully. If something seems way out of the ball park, remove it. But don’t wield the axe too quickly without having a look at a minimum of 10 options. Your tenant rep may suggest a couple that you didn’t shortlist initially, but it’s definitely worth having a look.
4. Visit your top 3 sites at least 3 times
It’s a good idea to visit the spaces at different times of day and on days where weather is different to ensure you get a look at your space ‘warts and all’. This will enable you to see if the natural light and the environment is right whatever the situation.
5. Get your money’s worth out of your tenant rep
Your tenant representative is an invaluable asset throughout any office relocation project as they have access to a huge range of office spaces, but they also have incredible knowledge of clauses throughout your lease that may impede your activity, such as a demolition clause. It is possible at times to get enough of an incentive to cover the cost of your office fit out project.
6. Get to know your new landlord
You must retain a good relationship with your landlord throughout your lease term, so it’s imperative to start that relationship as early as possible. While maintaining a good relationship with the landlord is a two-way street, you actually have a chance to get to know your landlord during the ‘courting’ period, so if you feel you can’t get along with a particular aspect of the landlord and building, it’s better to look elsewhere.
7. Have test-fits and budget estimates done
Of the final 3 spaces, you should have tailored office design and high level office fit out budget estimates to assist you with the decision making process. There is no point achieving less than your ideal office space, so it’s best to find out early that what you want to achieve can be achieved.
As you approach your next lease expiry, by considering these points, you are better armed to make your office work. You know you deserve a great office space, and you know it will help you develop your business into an amazing space to work.
The concept of flexible working is here to stay. As a result of COVID-19, every organisation has been thrust into a position where they will