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A Comprehensive Guide to Opening an Office

By Bernardo Barbosa

Published on 9 January 2024

9 mins read

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Opening an office is crucial in establishing a productive and efficient working environment, as offices provide a dedicated space for you and your employees to collaborate effectively. They're the foundation of any successful enterprise, especially for startups and small businesses.

To drive your business forward, you should no doubt consider finding a new space for you and your employees to work on. But where do you begin?

To give you a clear idea of what opening an office requires, let's start by taking a look at the key factors to consider when setting up a new office:

Factors to Consider When Setting Up a New Office

When setting up a new office, consider the following:

  • Office layout: Determine the size and the layout of your office space based on the number of employees and the nature of your business. In case you're looking for something very specific, consider the advice of a commercial real estate agent.
  • Business location: Accessibility and transportation ensure convenience for employees and clients alike, and they depend on finding the ideal location for your business office. When you and your employees commute significantly longer, for example, your business's productivity goes down. A University of West England study even found that adding 20 minutes to a daily commute hurts job satisfaction as much as a 19% pay cut!
  • Business practices: Assess the local business environment to ensure that it aligns with your industry and goals. By that, we mean that office spaces should be contextualized according to their business practices. Opening a startup office in a business incubator, for example, can give way to more networking opportunities than opening a startup office in a remote location.
  • Hidden costs: Thoroughly estimate the "hidden costs" of setting up a new space, including not only amenities such as office furniture and office materials but also maintenance fees and other potential hidden costs. This is an essential aspect of budgeting for your office space layout, as we'll see in a second.

By carefully considering these factors, you can create an office layout that promotes productivity and success! But how much does it cost to get a new space for you and your employees?

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Budgeting For Your Office Layout

Budgeting allows you to allocate funds to different aspects of your office setup, such as office furniture, computer equipment, and other office supplies. In budgeting, it's essential to prioritize your needs and identify areas where you can save money without compromising on quality.

Most importantly, though, proper budgeting is about knowing how much you're going to spend beforehand, which in turn allows you to secure the necessary funding, create a solid financial plan, and set clear priorities. To help you with that, we have sketched an office checklist with most of the things small businesses need:

New office setup checklist

CategoryChecklist Items
LocationGeographical location; Floor plan; Lease and ownership documents
Furniture and EquipmentDesks and chairs for employees and team meetings; Storage equipment such as cabinets and shelves; Computers, monitors, keyboards, and other related items; All in one printer, scanner, copier, and other related items; Whiteboard for meetings
Technology and ConnectivityInternet connection; Network Infrastructure; Licensed software; Cloud and server storage; Backup systems
Office SuppliesPens, pencils, notebooks, and other related items; Print paper, ink, and toner cartridges; Folders and filing tools; Sticky notes, paper clips, and staples; Scissors and tape; Any other new office materials
Utilities and AmenitiesElectricity; Water; Heating and cooling systems; Proper lighting; Microwave, fridge, coffee maker, and other kitchen essentials; Other break room supplies
Safety and SecuritySmoke detectors and fire extinguishers; First aid kit; Emergency exit routes; Alarm, video surveillance, and access control
AmbianceDecorative items; Reception area; Board games, video games, and other entertainment items
Employee SatisfactionHealth and safety guidelines; Ergonomic furniture; Relaxation areas; Bathroom with all of the essentials
LogisticsMoving costs; Office space access
Legal and AdministrativeOffice licensing; Construction and real estate permits; Property and employee insurance; HR policies for employees; Other specific legal considerations

Advantages of budgeting for office spaces

Budgeting wisely when setting up an office provides several advantages, including:

  • Financial control: A well-planned budget ensures financial stability by preventing overspending and ensuring that funds are available for all necessary expenses.
  • Resource allocation: Budgeting assists in allocating resources appropriately to different parties and types of office, providing a framework for efficient decision-making from the get-go.
  • Risk management: Budgeting helps in identifying potential financial risks and preparing contingency plans for your business.
  • Improved efficiency: With a well-structured budget, resources are utilized more efficiently. This helps streamline processes, reduce waste, and enhance the overall operational efficiency of your small business.
  • Prioritization of needs: By setting a budget, you can determine what is essential for the office setup.
By budgeting wisely, you can create a functional and comfortable office space without breaking the bank. For more information, check out our 10 budgeting tips for your small business.

Choosing the Perfect Location For a New Office Space

Great office spaces depend on a great location, but what does that entail?

In short, there are three key aspects to choosing the perfect office location for your business:

1. Determining your office space requirements

When determining your office space requirements, it's important to consider the size and layout that will best accommodate your team. To do so, assess the number of employees you have or plan to hire, as well as any additional physical space needed for meeting rooms, storage, or company materials.

Efficiency is key. Ensuring that the layout allows for smooth workflow and collaboration and thinking about future growth and scalability are very important requirements for office spaces. Planning ahead of the actual move when setting up a new office is detrimental not only to saving money but also to ensuring everything runs smoothly.

To effectively determine your office space requirements, it's probably a good idea to compare the specific needs of your company with the items listed above, in our new office checklist.

2. Considering accessibility and transportation

When choosing the physical address of your new office, accessibility and transportation cannot be ignored. Easy access to public transportation and major roads can make commuting more convenient for your employees and clients. In addition, having sufficient parking options nearby ensures that everyone can easily reach the office, especially if your company relies on shipping services.

We cannot overstate the importance of connectivity in the context of office spaces. But don't just take our word for it, since scientific studies show that every $1 invested in public transportation generates four times as many economic returns. All things considered, proper accessibility and transportation can make or break your first startup office.

3. Evaluating the local business environment

When evaluating the local business environment, we recommend:

  • Researching the demographics of the area surrounding your new office to understand the target market and potential access to customers.
  • Assessing the competition to determine if there are similar businesses nearby that may affect your market share.
  • Analyzing the local economy to ensure it is stable and supports the growth of your business.

In addition to impacting the overall functioning of office spaces, local business environments can have a drastic impact on office costs. When selecting a new address for your office, don't forget to consult a real estate agent to carefully evaluate rental rates and other services.

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Designing Your Office Space

Designing new offices isn't just about making them pretty. Most importantly, it's about setting up a functional layout that meets the needs of your business and corresponds to the services set by your company.

There are probably a million different things business owners could consider regarding this subject, but the following are the ones that impact office culture the most:

1. Creating an ergonomic workspace

When designing your first office, it is crucial to prioritize ergonomics. This involves arranging furniture and equipment in a way that promotes comfort and reduces the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. 

Consider investing in adjustable desks and chairs that can accommodate different body types and provide proper support. Additionally, encourage employees to take regular breaks and stretch to prevent fatigue and improve productivity.

Incorporating ergonomic accessories such as wrist rests and monitor stands can also enhance comfort and reduce strain, especially in the context of small offices, which may lack the potential space your team needs.

2. Optimizing natural light and ventilation

Optimizing natural light and ventilation is essential for creating a positive, new workplace. Natural light not only improves the aesthetics of the workspace but also positively impacts employee productivity and well-being. Did you know that studies show the optimal amount of daylight can reduce headaches of office workers by 84%? In light of the facts, consider positioning workstations near windows to maximize natural light exposure and improve employee well being and productivity.

Ventilation is equally important, so ensure that the office space is properly ventilated to maintain a comfortable and healthy environment. This can be achieved through the use of windows (unless they cannot be opened) and ventilation systems.

3. Choosing the right furniture and office equipment

Comfort should be a top priority, as it can greatly impact productivity and employee satisfaction. Opt for ergonomic chairs and desks that provide proper support for long hours of work. Additionally, consider the functionality and durability of the furniture and equipment your space needs.

Versatility is key, as it allows for easy reconfiguration and adaptability as your business grows, but don't forget about style too! Create a workspace that reflects your brand and inspires creativity, as a well-designed office can make a positive impression on customers and employees alike.

Setting Up Essential Systems

Essential systems are pieces of equipment that virtually all offices need. In the 21st century, most businesses cannot do without a reliable IT infrastructure, communication systems, and a data security structure.

Below, we have listed some tips for getting your office's technology set in order.

1. Establishing a reliable IT infrastructure

Assess your technology needs and determine what hardware and software will be necessary to support your business operations.

Establish a secure network to protect your data and ensure smooth communication within your office.

Implement backup and data recovery systems to safeguard against potential data loss.

Consider cloud-based solutions that can provide flexibility and scalability for your IT infrastructure.

2. Implementing effective communication systems

Evaluate your team's communication needs and determine the best tools for the job. This could include email, instant messaging, video conferencing, project management software, and others.

Establish clear communication protocols and guidelines to ensure everyone is on the same page. This could involve setting expectations for response times, using standardized templates for emails, or conducting regular team meetings.

Regularly review and update your communication systems to ensure they are meeting your company and facility needs.

3. Ensuring data security and backup

Implement strong encryption protocols and multi-factor authentication to safeguard your data from unauthorized access.

Back up your data regularly to secure off-site locations or cloud storage services and ensure that you have copies of important files in case of any unforeseen events.

Train your employees on best practices for data privacy and security and conduct regular audits to identify and address any vulnerabilities in your systems.

Conclusion

We may live in the era of home-based businesses and remote work, but offices are still the backbone of most modern enterprises. Whether you're creating your first startup office or simply trying to scale an existing one, you should take into account everything we've learned about offices today.

Opening an office is a huge step in starting or growing any business, so take your time to think things through and carefully evaluate the needs of your employees and current customers.

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Written by Bernardo Barbosa

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