How Subleasing Can Future-Proof Your Office
There’s a way to grow your team without hopping offices every year
Let’s say you’re not big on communal work. People constantly tout the life-changing benefits of coworking spaces, but maybe they’re just not your thing—you’re an entrepreneur, and you go into the office to get work done.
If that’s the case, finding an office is still incredibly hard. It might seem simple to just sign a lease and move in, but office hunting is fundamentally more uncertain than apartment hunting (signing a one-year lease for your apartment is hardly a commitment). Worse yet, office leases often require more commitment than home leases. You might fashion yourself a high-profile CEO, and maybe you have the bankroll to back it up, but the private office in a high-rise you’re dreaming of probably wants a 5-year lease.
Every new business suffers from uncertainty; funding and profits aside, it’s impossible to know how much your team will grow and what location will work best for you. If you rent an office that suits you today, you might find in a year or two that you’ve outgrown the space. Not only do you have to waste valuable work hours arranging your move, but you also have to figure out what to do with your old lease if it hasn’t expired yet. You might have to sublease it to another company who wants the space.
But what if you went for a smaller office to begin with, and you subleased the extra space?
Sharing your office by subleasing it offers the best of both worlds. So long as you’re not pushing your budget to the limit, you can rent your dream office today, even if it’s too big for you. Plan out which rooms and desks you’ll designate as “extra” and find platforms to list them on. If you live in a city with a competitive office market, you’re sure to find early-stage startups who want low-commitment office space. If you can keep a steady stream of sublease tenants coming in, you can offset the cost of the space, giving your team time to grow into it.
Like any solution, this one is not foolproof. For one, depending on subleases to cover your rent is risky business. Office supply and demand fluctuates constantly: it might be easy to sublet your office today, but that may change in a year or two if the economy cools down or if new offices are built.
It’s also true that the terms of a sublease aren’t as friendly as you might hope. You’re liable for both your own lease and your sublease, so you have to play landlord and conduct proper background checks. A troublesome tenant could spell trouble for your relationship with your landlord.
Worse yet, in many cases, the main tenant is not allowed to profit from the sublease—or if you do, you’ll have to share those profits with the landlord. You’re essentially taking on the stress and responsibility of being a landlord without the financial upside. This extra stress can take attention away from the business that you’re supposed to be building.
But let’s face it: sorting out office space is stressful one way or the other. Whether you’re uprooting your company and moving across the city every year or you’re fussing with sublease agreements, it’s going to waste a bit of time. The takeaway is that you should remember that subleasing your office is a valid option. For some, subleasing will be more efficient (or simply less distracting) than moving offices as the team grows. It can save time and money, so it’s an option worth considering.