Expanding and moving into a new office? While this is an exciting change in scenery and lifestyle, it can also be an overwhelming process. Before you get burdened by it all, make sure you have all your bases covered. Here are 9 things you absolutely must ask about your new office space before moving in your desk:
1. Rent / lease terms, fixed rate: When the lease of the office is extended, can the rent be reviewed? Is the rent fixed? Is there usually an increase after a year?
2. After-hours costs: If you plan on staying after normal business hours, make sure you ask whether this comes at an extra cost. Some buildings, for example, charge for air conditioning after the standard work hours, which can be a hefty bill to pay if you live in hot and humid city like Hong Kong!
3. Post-rental obligations: Are you planning on sprucing the place up with your own artwork and hanging vases? Be careful, as many buildings require that condition when you leave be the same as when you took lease of premises. That means you should check the contract of what can (and can’t) be done when you’re renting. Put down that paint brush and sandblaster until you’re sure!
4. Utilities bill: Check what the rent actually covers. Are you responsible for only paying your portion of the building operation costs? Is it included or a flat rate? What about the shared utilities? It also does not hurt to ask about the energy performance of the building if you were to pay for the utilities – is the building “green” and energy friendly? This could add a lot to your bill, and also your conscience, if not.
5. Parking space (if needed): Parking is a finicky and expensive thing to consider especially if you’re renting an office in a city. It might also be completely unnecessary though, if no one drives to work. Check to see what everyone’s choice of transportation is, just in case some colleagues need to drive in.
6. Added Incentives: In lieu of a reduction on rent, are there any incentives that the landlord can throw in? I.e. Extra furniture, discounted parking space, temporary storage during the move, etc. It never hurts to ask!
7. Other premises available for use: Say you have to accommodate a meeting for 50 executives coming in from out of town. While there is no way that your office can accommodate this meeting, is there anything in the building itself that is available for use or for rent? See if there are potential patio / rooftop spaces or shared and spare rooms available.
8. Equipment, furniture and systems available for use: Similarly, check to see if there is extra furniture that may come along with the lease – even if it’s just temporary. Headcount may change in an office, and it never hurts to have a few chairs or rubbish bins around, eliminating that last minute trip to IKEA. Verify also what telephone or IT system the building has in place, lest you need to buy a router or phone system on your own!
9. Broken clauses policy: Say something happens unexpectedly and you must break your lease. What are the terms and conditions? Can you sublet to another tenant? Or is the only option to pay the fine?