The Definitive Guide For Startups Looking For Their First Office

The Startup Struggle: Finding the Perfect Space

Like selecting an apartment or a car, finding the right office space can be very personal. There’s no one-size-fits-all, and as a result, it’s a decision that’s easy to agonize over.

Even if no one else can make the decision for you, you can simplify the decision by breaking it down to a few basic components. We’ll go over the main factors you should look for when shopping around for an office space for your startup.

1) Length of Lease

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This is probably the most obvious factor, but it’s one of the most important. Plenty of landlords prefer longer leases for office spaces, often in the range of 5+ years. 5 years is huge for your startup; there’s no telling how much your team could grow by then. You’ll always have to assume some risk when renting space, but the shorter the lease, the easier it’ll be to predict where you’ll be in that time.

The ability to sublease could be a major factor in your decision. Remember, teams don’t always grow—if your company pivots and your needs change, you might end up having to downsize. The ability to sublease your extra space might be your saving grace if that situation arises.

On a more optimistic note, subleasing could also be valuable in that it allows you to rent a larger space than you need. If you can sublease the extra room while you’re still small, you’ll be able to gradually grow into the space over the years instead of having to move again.

2) Layout

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Physical layout guides the way we interact in the office. On a basic level, you can’t collaborate with coworkers if your space doesn’t allow you to. For creative companies that require a lot of informal meetings and brainstorming sessions, a cubicle setup simply wouldn’t make sense. You would need enough open space to comfortably talk to your colleagues. Better yet, the layout would be conducive to impulsive conversations (we all know that the forced creativity of brainstorming sessions doesn’t always work out).

On the other hand, if your company requires you to have frequent one-on-one conversations with clients, you would have to opt for a space that provides a bit more privacy. The needs of a small law firm are different from the needs of a tech company.

3) Amenities

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On a practical level, we need office amenities to survive. You can technically get by without a kitchen and with slow wifi, but it would be terrible for productivity. It wouldn’t make sense to be greedy, either, so it helps to make a list of which amenities you think will be essential for productivity. If your employees live out of town, you’ll definitely need parking; if your office isn’t surrounded by good food options, you’ll want a sizeable fridge and maybe a couple microwaves. The last thing you want is for your employees to waste time lining up to heat up lunch.

4) Price

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Price is always the dealbreaker—either you can afford it or you can’t.

When calculating your budget, make sure to include overhead costs like utilities and snacks. You would naturally want to keep the price as low as possible, but you don’t want to jeopardize productivity just to save $100 a month.

As always, you have to strike a balance: find the cheapest place that still allows your employees to work to their full potential. Or, put another way, find the point of diminishing returns, where an increase in amenities won’t meaningfully increase worker productivity or the talent pool available for hire. By doing this, you’ll be sure to make the most of your resources (and probably become a happier company in the process).