There’s no doubt that the physical work environment can have a big impact on productivity and the success of your business. An inadequate work habitat can affect both the emotional and physical health of your employees, which might ultimately lead to high turnover and even higher costs for your company. Consequently, it’s very important that you choose your office space wisely, considering the needs of your employees and the overall purpose of your business. Whether you choose to go with private offices, cubicles, an open-office environment or a co-working space, it’s important to make sure your corporate home meets the needs of your employees, and that it encourages wellbeing and creativity, instead of hindering it.
We thought the best way to figure out the dos and don’ts to consider when looking for a new office space was to get advice and insight from those who have gone through it—successfully. We’re conducting a series of Q&As with industry professionals who have gone through the process of finding the right office space for their small-to-medium-sized business needs. Obviously, the criteria that influences your choice of an office will depend on a variety of factors, including: the size of your business, the industry or niche it operates in, and the potential for expansion.
How Boston-Based Startup CollegeVine Found Its New Corporate Home
For the first interview in this new series, we sat down with Jon Carson, CEO at CollegeVine, an online provider of services catering to high schoolers who plan to enroll in a university program. Services provided by the company include mentorship programs, college application guidance, SAT tutoring and test prep, and much more. The company also created Zen, the first-ever free media publication dedicated to addressing the issue of students’ mental health and coping mechanisms during the college admissions process. CollegeVine also operates a blog that offers tips and advice for high school students looking to apply to college.
We asked Carson about the process of finding an office space suited to the needs of CollegeVine employees. Founded in 2013, the company grew quickly after obtaining $5 million in Series A financing. In its early years, the business set up shop at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Kendall Square, but soon enough it needed more office space to accommodate its growing employee base. CollegeVine is now located at 125 Cambridgepark Drive, a 201,922-square-foot office building in North Cambridge.
Read Carson’s tips on finding the right office space below:
Q: Tell our readers a little bit about your business: what industry are you in and what services do you provide?
A: CollegeVine is a virtual guidance company connecting motivated high schoolers to talented college students who serve as near-peer mentors and college placement advisors. Our space needs were impacted by an 11x top-line growth rate over the last two years, and securing $5 million in Series A financing.
Q: Where is your office space located and what did you consider when searching for it?
A: We are located in the Alewife section of Cambridge. We considered affordability and being on the MBTA Red Line.
Q: What do you think is the most important thing when searching for office space?
A: Being near public transportation and cost.
Q: What challenges did you encounter in the process of leasing/buying the office space and how did you deal with them?
A: The challenge was finding the right-sized space at the right price that was not a dump. We dealt with it by being patient (we were at CIC so we had that luxury), and using a broker I had worked with in the past.
Q: How do you feel about co-working spaces?
A: CIC did us well for the time we were there, but on a per-square-foot basis it was quite expensive. However, the convenience and ability to expand by the seat are very valuable in a company’s early days.
Q: What would you recommend to other start-ups looking for office space?
A: I would recommend something like CIC, WeWork, or one of the academic incubators (e.g. Harvard Launch Lab).
Q: Are there any other things you want to share with us? Feel free to add any other information, tips & tricks, or anything else you think start-ups should look out for.
A: Get a good broker who can be ‘your eyes and ears.’