Axel Kapinga

12 november 2018

How to pick the right workspace for your business.

A workspace is a big factor in a company’s success. It impacts costs, branding, and culture. Here are some basic principles that’ll help you pick the right workspace for your business.

 

A workspace and its location.

Location, location, location. We’ve heard it ad nauseam: the location is one of the most important features of a workspace. Here’s why.

 

Keep your clients close and your colleagues closer.

You want your office to be easily accessible to your colleagues or employees. 78% of professionals under 35 are willing to accept a lesser wage if they get the opportunity to work close to their homes. They want to limit their commute to 30 minutes or less. A longer commute would decrease their satisfaction and happiness at work, and therefore their productivity.

 

Since most young professionals live in or close to the city,  you might have to set up shop in the in one. You could have your headquarters in a major city and a couple of satellite offices in other, smaller cities. Or vice versa.

 

Another determinant factor is the location of your clients. Software companies that provide financial software to banks might prefer to have their office close to the business area of the city. A factory that provides parts for boat manufacturers will prefer to be close to a port.

 

A 3rd reason is proximity your peers, competing and collaborating companies and important institutions. Having your office in or just outside the city offers many opportunities to meet those peers, mingle with competitors and network with members of said institutions.

 

Your workspace should be a landmark. Or situated next to one.

The area your office is located in, says something about your company. It’s like a very expensive and geographic business card. So, ask yourself: would I be proud to post pictures of my office on social media? What other businesses operate in this area? Is it in line with the industry I’m in? If the answer to all these questions is ‘Yes’, you’ve found yourself a gem.

 

But make sure that gem is memorable. Whether due to your interior design (we’ll get back to this later) or due to the proximity to a landmark. The closer your office is to a landmark, the better. That landmark will make your office location memorable and easy to recognize for your clients.

 

Go ahead. Judge the book by its cover.

 

When it comes to office spaces, you can definitely judge the book by its cover. Avoid offices that aren’t aesthetically pleasing and aren’t adjusted to recent trends. Keep in mind that well-being and flexibility are key when choosing an office space.

 

Well-being at the workspace.

When designing some of our own offices we heavily relied on Nathalie Kiekens’ expertise. She’s our go-to Interior Architect and Co-Founder at Detail Concept. Here’s what we learned from her: “Employees are increasingly demanding. Including about their workspace. They want their workspace to be something they can be proud of and where they can feel at home”

 

Why? Studies show that well-being at work is a priority for employers and employees alike. A happy employee is more loyal and productive. “When designing a workspace, one has to keep in mind this mantra: ‘Everyone should feel at home’. Long gone are the days of a one size fits all office”, Kiekens explains.

 

Trying to make everyone feel at home can be daunting.

 

“The easiest way to achieve that is to mix styles in an office. Luckily companies are no longer hesitant to push the envelope in terms of design which makes my task easier. Companies used to copy-paste an interior, you’d often find two different banks, with exactly the same interior in a different color. Nowadays, companies dare to mix it up. A corporate office, with a picnic table where you can meet or a workspace filled with beach chairs to brainstorm, is not that uncommon anymore."

 

Flexibility

The most significant office trend in recent years has been flexibility.

 

Flexibility in terms of where you work and when you work. The fewer people in an office space at the same time, the less square meters you need to rent”, says Kiekens.

 

The office is dead, long live the office. With rising rent, companies often cut back on the amount of space they rent.

 

“It’s up to me to create an office space that’s more than just beautiful. A workspace has to be efficient and inspiring. The best way to achieve those goals is by creating an office space where a specific area can be used for more than just one thing. A lunchroom has to be more than just that, you can easily turn it into a meeting room."

 

Flexibility in design has more benefits than just cost-cutting. Make your interior as diverse as possible. Having diverse area’s in your workspace can improve focus as it breaks the monotony. For example, when students are revising, they are encouraged to move around and change their scenery in order to revive their minds. This kind of thinking can also be applied in the workspace, as it can help to keep your staff engaged.

 

Sitting in one spot in front of a computer screen all day can have a negative impact on your overall health. According to Harvard Health, excessive sitting has been linked to a wide range of health problems, from osteoporosis to diabetes. You should encourage employees to walk around, take regular time away from their desks, and make use of any communal space you might have.

 

When looking for a new office, try and pick one with a scenic walking route, as opposed to a workspace in an industrial park. This can encourage staff to go for quick walks during break times, giving them time away from their desks as well as some fresh air. You can also invest in standing desks, giving staff the option to sit or stand while working.

 

A workspace and the company's culture

Having said all of that, the idea that the design of a workspace dictates the culture of a business and vice versa doesn’t seem far-fetched. Having an open-plan workspace leads to more communication and openness. Communal areas encourage employees to speak to each other and give them a place to relax and take breaks during the workday, which helps to establish a collaborative, social company culture.

 

Acoustics, lighting, and visual stimuli, interior space and design can direct human behavior and the work you do. Consider your company culture when choosing and decorating your office space, as it could hinder or facilitate productivity.

 

It’s worth thinking in advance about how you would decorate and arrange the layout in any location you consider, which can take time. Spend at least three months preparing your move to a new office, including spending time working on the ideal office layout.

 

Get value for money

 

The price is most definitely the most important to most companies when they’re choosing a new office. If you spend too little, you’ll end up with an office space that doesn’t fulfill your needs. And paying too much is quite simply never good, you might struggle to pay the rent or have to move shortly after to downsize.

 

Ask yourself these questions when considering how much to spend on your next office space:

 

  • Could I afford to pay 3-month rent deposit right now?

  • Are there any hidden costs?

  • Is this workspace priced in line with similar office spaces in the area?

Question 1 and 2 give you an indication of affordability and help you protect yourself from charges you didn’t expect. The 3rd question is a way to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Always compare with other spaces in the vicinity of your workspace.

 

State of the workspace

 

Safety first

After you went through all the trouble to pick the perfect office, the last thing you want to encounter is a lack of safety. Make sure your workspace is up to code.  It will enhance the sense of security of your employees and have a positive impact on their productivity.

 

A green workspace

Nowadays sustainability is a real issue. Young professionals, in particular, are consciously making efforts to make our world a more durable place. Don’t lag behind on your employees. Be at the forefront. Go to extra lengths to make your building as sustainable as possible.

 

The newer the better

The best way to counter any issues when it comes to safety and sustainability is to rent a recently built or renovated workspace. A new office is often built along the most recent guidelines and requirements. So, rent a new workspace, it’ll save you a lot of headaches.
 

IT Infrastructure of a workspace

Technology will become increasingly important in an office. Imagine working with lagging internet connections or having to rely solely on USB-sticks and hard-drives. IT-clouds are essential, they allow you to work anywhere and at anytime.

 

This ties into another recent and unstoppable trend. Remote working. More employees tend to work from home, a coffee shop or in a different workspace. The IT infrastructure plays a big part in this trend and will continue to do so.

 

Since a rising number of workers will be working from home, they will have to meet several needs. The number of virtual meetings will rise. They are quite common now, but ask yourself: do they feel like real meetings to you?  Who hasn’t had the urge to meet someone in person instead? Peter Roelens, founder of Nextel, considers this to be one of the biggest challenges and a soon-to-be requirement of a business: offering technology that would make it possible to meet in person without being in the same room. i.e. Virtual Reality.

This may seem far-fetched, but will become common sooner rather than later, according to Roelens.

 

Peter Roelens, Founder of Nextel

“A second challenge and requirement is the personalisation of technology”, says Roelens “Employees choose to work where they want, but they also have their preferences when it comes to devices they use. Make sure that your business can meet those preferences.”

 

But there are other, more basic requirements you need to consider when choosing your workspace. These are some good questions to ask: Is the internet access part of the rent or not? This is the case in some workspaces. Particularly managed or serviced offices. If you’re leasing somewhere privately though, you’ll need to factor in the cost of getting a line connected and the monthly payments for access.

 

Is the service reliable? There’s no point paying for a service that is being interrupted constantly or cracks under the strain of a, particularly busy day. If your internet service fails, you should know who to call.

 

And last but not least: speed and safety. Make sure that the speed and safety of your connection are topnotch. If you’re not sure, have the owner of your workspace conduct a speed and safety test. The numbers won’t lie.

 

Conclusion

 

Well, we hope we’ve answered some crucial questions you might have had. It all comes down to choosing your workspace carefully. A workspace has a massive impact on you, your employees and your company. Do you have any additional questions? Don’t hesitate to call us, email us or to pay us a visit. We’ll gladly give you extra info or show you around our recently expanded Brussels EU District Business Center.

 

 

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