Wednesday 5th October 2022

How To Find An Office: The Step-By-Step Guide
Emma Campbell 11 minute read

How To Find An Office
So… you’ve been tasked with finding your team a new office.  If you’ve never done this before it can be daunting knowing where to start. This guide will walk you through all the different things you should be thinking about and how the process of finding an office works. But, remember, you can also reach out to Tally Workspace and we’ll take you through the whole process. 

We've also turned the guide into a handy infographic, which you'll find at the bottom of this page.

Step 1: What are your deal breakers/non-negotiables? 

From dog-friendly to disabled access to bike storage, it’s worth establishing the things that your team 100% can’t live without. Maybe send a survey around to get a better understanding of what everyone needs? We’ve broken down a few of them here: 

Disabled Access

When searching for a new office, this is something that should be kept at the forefront of your mind. You may think you’ve found the perfect office for your team, but if it is on the 3rd floor of a building which has no lift access then you need to think again. 

This should be one of your non-negotiables when searching for a new office space. Make sure your broker is aware of this so you can filter out any offices that aren’t suitable before you even get to the viewing stage. 

Bike Storage 

It’s highly likely you’ll have members of your team who cycle into work. If your goal is to encourage people back into the office then why place a blocker on those who prefer to commute by bike? 

Most office providers nowadays have bike storage in their buildings (especially in London). Usually, alongside bike storage, there will also be showers (and if you’re really lucky a towel service too). If there isn’t bike storage then it is always worth considering, do you have room for bike racks within your private space? If not, then back to the drawing board to find a space that does! 

Meeting Rooms

Chances are you’ll want a separate space from the main office to host meetings. It’s important to figure out how many meeting rooms you require, the size of them, as well as whether they need to be private or just available to book within the building. 

If you only need them infrequently, then it’s often more cost-effective to use shared meeting rooms and most offices have rooms available to book. Many of the providers will even include credits that you can use to book their meeting rooms. However, with others, you’ll be required to pay every time. If you think you’ll be heavily relying on booking communal meeting rooms, make sure you have either factored this into your monthly budget or selected a space that is generous with their meeting room credit allowance. 

Other common deal breakers include; 
  • Natural light 
  • Phone booths 
  • Manned reception 
  • Dog friendly

It’s always worth having these set before you start searching for spaces. You can let your broker know so they only send you spaces that match these requirements exactly.

Open plan meeting room in an office space

Some of these facilities you might be able to negotiate with the office e.g. installing a bike rack in your own private space or allowing a nice well behaved dog into your office.  But it’s worth working out what these deal breakers are from the start so you don’t waste time considering offices that will never work for your team. 
 
We’ve included a quick checklist here for facilities that we’ve seen other teams prioritise.

Office-requirement-check-list

Step 2: Work out your budget

You should really work out your budget before you start looking for office space.  There are amazing office spaces out there with everything from free bars to access to Pelotons to climbing walls - but before you (or members of your team) start looking at offices (and getting over-excited) it's worth really thinking about how much you are willing to spend. 

Also, decide what will be your main factor when searching for the space. Will you be looking at cost per sq.ft? Cost per desk? 
 
Private offices in London are typically £600 per desk but can range from £300 - £1,000.  Whilst the average price in Manchester is £350 and in Glasgow is £300. 
 
If you want to chat about this further or get an average for a specific area, do get in touch.  
 
What if we can’t afford an office?

At Tally Market, we’ll be honest with you from the get-go about what your budget will be able to get you. If you’re coming to us with a tight budget-to-desk ratio, we’ll suggest perhaps you look at different areas etc.

Having looked at the prices you may worry that you can’t afford an office at all! Feel free to contact a member of our team if this is the case, as whilst the office of your dreams might be unaffordable, the team at Tally Market can help you find a cheaper solution whether that be an office on a discounted deal or an alternative solution such as a part time office or access to coworking space. 

It is worth noting as well when you look at the price of an office space, you may think you have stumbled upon the deal of the century. A 60 desk office for £10k per month? Wow, sign me up. But, please ask what this includes? For serviced office providers (the WeWorks and TOGs of the world), the price you see is all inclusive of just about everything you can think of. Your rent, rates, service charge, utilities, WiFi, tea, coffee, mail handling etc is all factored into one monthly cost. With other providers, this isn’t always the case. You will have to organise and pay all of these on top of the rent (which is usually the only cost advertised to you). 
 
Step 3: How many desks and meeting rooms?

Desks

Most companies no longer have a fixed desk for everyone which makes determining an office size a little bit tricky! 
 
  •  Are you going to have fixed desks for everyone in the team? i.e team members who come in everyday  
  •  How often do team members come in?
  •  Is your team growing and if so, at what rate?

Start with an idea of how many you want but prepare for this to change as you get out there and start searching. Nine times out of ten requirements change as you go along, so just embrace this and keep an open dialogue with your broker. If you’ve found a good one they’ll be ready and waiting to adapt the search for you as your requirements change.

Office space with plants and a lounge area

Space for meetings and calls

Since Covid, the requirements for meeting rooms and phone booths have shot up massively. People find it much harder to take calls in shared space having got accustomed to the silence of home working, so it’s worth bearing this in mind. 

Phone Booths

To resolve this issue, lots of office providers have built phone booths into the communal areas which are free to use and are done on a fair use basis. 

However, you can very easily buy your own one and put it into your space. There are loads of amazing phone booh companies out there. We like Room as they come Ikea-style, flat packed and easy to build. Once you move again at the end of your tenancy, they can be easily taken down, brought with you and popped back up again in your new space. Brand new, typically, you’ll be looking at ~£4k for a decent, soundproofed and well-ventilated booth. 

It’s worth asking your network and Slack groups to see if anyone else has any spare they’re trying to get rid of as well so you can get yourself a bargain.  

Meeting Rooms

Do you want your own private meeting room(s) or are you happy to share? 

If you want your own private meeting room, this is something that can quite easily be accommodated. Some providers will have vacant offices with internal meeting rooms already in place, which is more common for larger spaces. However these typically don’t come soundproofed as standard (we’ll always do a test for this on viewings) and it can be costly to add this in. So keep this in mind for confidential conversations, you might always want to have another room external to your office for this. 

There are however many other solutions as well if you do want your own private meeting rooms. Here are a few things you can do: 

Build one 

You’ve found your perfect office, but it doesn’t have an internal meeting room, or perhaps you would like another added in? Well all of the providers can facilitate adding meeting rooms in for you. 

However, this usually will come at an extra cost. Depending on what you want (glass or stud wall etc) will determine how much it costs. We’ve seen quotes for £30k plus so just bear this in mind! This cost will either be paid up front or spread out across your agreement and added on top of the monthly agreed price. What you're allowed to do will depend on the provider. Tally Market can advise you on the specifics for each provider and will also be there to make sure you’re getting a fair deal. 

Other solutions 

There are a few other things you can do if you don’t want to go through the hassle of having a meeting room built into a space. 

It’s highly likely there could be a small 4-6 person office also available at the same time so you could take on this space as well and turn it into your own private meeting room. If you’re taking on two spaces at the same time, you’re also coming in strong from a negotiation standpoint! 

Meeting room pods. You can buy meeting room pods which can come flat packed just like phone booths. These will probably cost you the same amount as having one built into the space but remember, they can be taken down and brought to all your future spaces as well. 

What square footage does your office space need to be?

If you have answered the questions above on how many meeting rooms, phone booths and desks you need – you’ll be able to use our handy calculator to estimate the size of the office you need. Or check out this full article on how to decide how much office space you need.
 
Step 4: Determine your location

Typically, if you have had an office in one location it can be difficult to change this. Everyone is used to their commutes and you have your favourite local that you head to every Thursday.  
 
If you’ve never had an office before this can be a little bit trickier! Your team’s preference may be next to a convenient, central station but this could significantly impact your budget.
 
Not sure where is best for your team? Send us a list of your team's postcode areas and we’ll send you a list of the best locations. 

Step 5: Understand your team’s “vibe”

One of the most underestimated things that needs thinking about when choosing an office space is the culture of the company and the ‘vibe’ you’re after for your new space. Do you want something super sleek and impressive for clients? Are you after a more industrial feel (think lots of exposed brickwork and open ceilings)? Or are you after somewhere super sociable and communal like a WeWork? This is something we keep at the forefront of our minds when searching for suitable spaces for you! 

Remember, this can very much be attuned to the area as well! An office in Shoreditch is going to have a very different vibe to one over in Mayfair.

Office space filled with plants

Step 6: Decide who will be involved in the decision-making process

The phrase too many cooks spoil the broth springs to mind here!

If you’re reading this as the final decision maker make sure you are heavily involved in the process from the start, even if you have delegated the leg work to another trusted member of your team. Having too many people involved makes the whole process messy and more time-consuming. You can’t ever please everyone, so don’t try to! 

For small teams, we recommend having the Founder/CEO involved plus a Head of People/HR or Operations. For larger teams, we would recommend having only the senior leadership team involved with one person delegated to take charge of the project. The final decision maker(s) should always be involved from the very start. 

Step 7: Work out your timeline

If you are going to do a customised design or any building work your timeline could be 3 months plus.  Work out with your team if there is a hard deadline for when you want to move into the office as this could impact which offices are a suitable match for you. 

For standard serviced enquiries (i.e. I want 30 desks in Paddington with access to communal breakout space and meeting rooms) you could technically find and move into a new office within a week depending on the availability at the time. However, we would recommend at least one month and no longer than three months to conduct the search. This way you can be sure you have seen everything available to you. 

If you’re after a more bespoke option which involves a custom fit out then you really need to allow anywhere between 4 and 6 months for the search. Lead times for furniture can be anything up to 12 weeks just now and that only gets ordered once everything is signed and the deposit has been paid. Getting to this point can often involve considerable back and forth and legal work so there needs to be a bit of leeway factored in. 

When you give us your timeline, we’ll be realistic with you about what is possible given the timeframe and offer alternative solutions if needed. 

I’ve worked out what we need…. Now, what do I do?
 
Step 8: Produce a long list

The office market is huge and finding the perfect office can feel a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.  Whilst you can search online and find millions of options, we typically find this can be a frustrating process with offices advertised no longer available, incorrectly priced or not responsive to enquiries (or the opposite and you’ll find yourself being hounded for weeks). 
 
With Tally Market, we’ll do all the legwork for you.  We have a huge database and long-established relationships with offices across the UK which we are constantly updating.  We’ll produce a long list with you and then walk you through the advantages and disadvantages of the different spaces and which we believe will be best suited to your team based on what you have told us as well as our knowledge of the different spaces.

Office space with people
 
Produce a shortlist

Once you have got a long list of options that fit (or almost fit) your requirements, it’s time to start narrowing these options down into a shortlist.  We recommend doing this with the key decision makers involved as we often find that in this process you start to see where the real priorities for the company lie and where there are disagreements. 
 
Visit 2-5 offices

Once you’ve agreed on your shortlist it’s time to start viewing the spaces.  Again, if possible, it's worth getting decision-makers along at this stage so as not to waste anyone’s time. 

Tally Market will put together a viewing schedule for you. We advise blocking out either a morning or afternoon to see all the spaces you have shortlisted. Seeing more than 5 at once is a pretty bad idea, as they can all blend into one and you want to remain as objective as possible throughout this process. 

One of the Tally Market team will also accompany you on the viewings and arrange transportation between them all. We’ll make sure all the important questions are being asked and keep everything running on time.  

Next Steps 

You’ve found the perfect office- woohoo! Now, we’ll negotiate on your behalf to secure you the best deal possible. Typically, we will negotiate a 10-20% discount on all our deals or arrange for other things to be thrown in for you (anything from a month free, some phone booths or extra meeting room credits). 

For serviced spaces, once we have everything agreed in principle, we will ask for a licence agreement to be drawn up and sent across for you to sign.

Once this is signed and the deposit paid (typically two months rent upfront) the space is taken off the market and is yours! Until this is finalised, someone can technically come along and ‘steal’ the space you’re interested in. We keep an eye out for these things for you and make sure you can secure the space you want. 

Well, there you have it. The complete step-by-step guide for how to find an office. By now, you've probably realised that there's quite a lot involved, so if you're interested in finding out if the office experts at Tally Market can help, then you can enquire here.

Alternatively, find out more about our fee-free service here.

You can download the printable designed version of the guide for free here.

And finally, here is our handy infographic. You can save this and refer back to it as you go through the process...

How to find an office infographic

Written by Emma Campbell

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