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The Ultimate Guide to Opening Your First Office

Opening your first office is about a lot more than finding office space and signing a lease. In fact, that’s usually the easiest part of setting up your first office. There are a bunch of things to do before, during, and after opening your new office to make sure that everything goes well.

Here’s a list of 20 tactics that can really help when opening your first office.

Get professional help

An attorney and a commercial office leasing broker can provide invaluable assistance with opening your new office by helping to navigate the office market and understand complex leases for office space.

Put your budget together

The monthly expense of leasing office space can have a major impact on the financial performance of a business.  Because an office space lease is usually the biggest fixed cost that a business has, it’s important to know what you can afford before looking for office space to lease.

Select online apps for back office functions

Using online applications for tasks such as bookkeeping, payroll, and marketing reduce the need for bulky computers and servers, freeing up valuable office space for more productive uses.

Make a list

Spend some time brainstorming and make a list of everything you need to open your first office.  Include common things such as supplies and furnishings as well as items specific to your business, such as maintenance providers and employee perks like coffee bars or pet-friendly space in your office.

Know your office space design options

A good office space floorplan will mirror the image of the business and make employees feel like they’re part of the team.  Some popular office space designs are open floorplans, traditional closed-door private offices, or a balanced blend of both.  Be sure to allow room for secure storage areas, and common space for shared electronics like printers or scanners.

Understand your employee work modes

A good office floorplan boosts creative business solutions and employee productivity by making it easy for employees to focus, collaborate, learn, and socialize with one another.

Hire an office leasing broker to represent you

A tenant’s broker will represent you – and not the landlord – to help you find the best deal on office space for lease.

Remember that first impressions matter

Your office is the image of who you are and what your business is all about. Class A office space might be perfect for a professional service business, while a warehouse that’s been converted into mixed-use office space is a better match for others.

Know your neighborhood

Parking, security, walkability, restaurants and retail, gyms and spas, and easy access to the office for clients and employees all factor in to finding the right space to open your first office.

Beware of hidden costs in the office lease

Office leases aren’t all the same.  A gross office lease includes everything in the monthly rent.  Net office leases don’t include any extras, and a modified gross office lease falls somewhere in between.  Negotiating a good office lease can help to avoid unexpected costs that can affect the bottom line.

Choose a phone system for your new office

Basic landline systems, VoIP, or systems that work anywhere such as Skype or Google Voice are some of the many choices available.

Focus on connectivity

The availability of quality internet service is another major factor in choosing where to open your first office.  A good internet connection should support the work flow of the business and take peak usage times into consideration.

Secure your data

Speaking of work flow, it’s important to know exactly where all of that hard work is flowing to.  A secure data system for your office prevents data loss due to power outages, hacking, and supports the most up-to-date virus checkers.

Secure your office

Systems for securing your office include 24/7 lobby reception and building security, common area surveillance systems, night-vision cameras, key card access, and security system monitoring that allows remote access via the internet.

Decorate your new office space

Employees are happier, healthier, and more productive working in office space that’s pleasing to the mind and the eye.  Natural lighting, live plants, private places, areas to collaborate and socialize, and paint color all enhance the image of the business and energize employees to do their best work possible.

Buy your office supplies

The list that you put together when brainstorming about what you need when opening your first office included office supplies.  Now is the time to buy them.  Don’t overdo it at first – although office supplies are inexpensive the cost can rapidly add up and excess supplies can lead to waste.

Find the best furniture

Items like desks, chairs, and work cubes should be functional and ergonomically designed.  It’s better to invest in quality furniture for your new office upfront if your budget allows.  Not only will good office furniture improve productivity, but it will send a positive image to your workers and customers.

Hold a grand opening

Now that you’ve moved into your new office, go ahead and show off your new space by having an office grand opening party.  It’s a great way for clients to meet your staff face-to-face, and hopefully to generate a feeling that you’re poised for success.

Update all contact info

Don’t forget to let the world know where your new office is by updating all your contact info on your web site, social media sites, as well as with professional associations and government offices.

Reassess your first office

Bill Gates once said that Microsoft would spend millions of dollars on product development and focus groups – only to find that people buying the company’s software used it in ways that Microsoft hadn’t even thought of.

Even if you’re not leasing office space in Seattle it’s always a good idea to reassess your first office from time to time.  Make sure that the furnishings, floorplan, and image of the office are allowing employees to do their best work possible and helping your business to prosper.

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