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Viewing potential offices

When viewing potential offices, you need to use a checklist to judge how well they would suit your requirements. If you are not systematic about this, you may forget to consider potentially important aspects, and be unable to compare offices by the same criteria. The questions below will help you to choose the office which is most suitable for you.

If you haven't already drawn up a brief, go to our guide to drawing up a brief for your search. 

Using your brief, either yourself or your agent will need to compile a shortlist of the office spaces that seem suitable, then arrange to view the properties. Remember that the pictures in the advert can hide a multitude of sins.

First Impressions 

  • does the exterior of the building and the surrounding area look cared for?
  • will the reception area give a good impression to clients and visitors? Is it step-free or is there adequate access for disabled visitors?
  • are the communal areas in a good state of repair? Are they well managed? A visit to the toilets can indicate if a building is well looked after – are they clean? Are toilet roll, soap and hand towels well stocked?
  • what is the quality of the accessible toilet like? Is it being used as a store cupboard?
  • what can the other tenants tell you about the landlord or managing agents (the company that manages the building on the landlord’s behalf)?
  • what are the other tenants like?  

Location 

  • how close is it to local amenities? How far will staff need to go to buy milk or lunch?
  • is the area safe? This may impact on the security of your office, and on employees’ personal safety. 

Transport 

  • is it convenient for public transport?
  • is there accessible public transport?
  • is the route from public transport accessible?
  • is there cycle storage provided?
  • what parking facilities are there? Are there accessible parking spaces?  

Building Design

Light 

  • is there good, even natural light?
  • what is the artificial light like? Will it cause computer glare? Is it energy efficient?
  • can daylight be controlled with blinds and so on?
  • note that old fluorescents interfere with hearing aids.  

Heat 

  • will the building stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer? South-facing windows give maximum light, but can cause overheating in the summer. Are there shades or openable windows to reduce overheating? North-facing windows can mean the office is dark in the winter, but will stay cool in the summer.
  • how is the building cooled? Is there good ventilation?
  • are the windows double glazed?
  • what type of heating system is in place? Is it energy and cost efficient – or is it going to bump up the service charge?  

Access

Can disabled people easily access the office? If you have a disabled member of staff, take them with you so that they can assess the access first hand. 
  • is the only option to access the building via steps?
  • is there a lift to upper floors?
  • are the doors wide enough for wheelchairs? Are they easy to open? Do they contrast visually? Do they have easy to use door controls and handles?
  • are there provisions for access by deaf or hearing impaired people such as induction loops?
  • are there provisions for visually impaired people such as tactile signage?
  • is there an accessible toilet?
  • what influence will you have over the communal areas? Are they accessible, or can the landlord make them so?  

Structural condition

  • does the building itself look in a good state of repair?
  • are the windows and brickwork well maintained?
  • are there any signs of the building being in poor condition, such as damp or cracking?
  • who is responsible for maintenance of the inside and the outside of the building?

Decoration

  • what is the condition of the décor and who is responsible for its maintenance?
  • will the office need repainting?
  • will the carpets need replacing?
  • is there sufficient visual colour and contrast?
  • are the carpets easy to walk/wheel on?

Security 

  • are the windows and doors securely locked? Can they be opened from the outside?
  • is there an alarm system?
  • in a shared building, can you secure your area without having to rely on other tenants?
  • can you have 24 hour access to the building?  
  • are neighbours in the building or close by compatible with your client group?

IT and telephones 

  • are there enough electrical points, well laid out around the office, for computers, phones, fax, photocopier and other electrical equipment?
  • is there any cabling to allow you to network your computers together?
  • are there phone lines or an internet connection provided or will you need to install these?
  • are any communal IT or phone services provided such as access to a phone system or ADSL line?  

Emergency Exits 

  • what is the fire escape procedure like?
  • is there a fire evacuation strategy for disabled people? 

Checklist

It is important to record your thoughts on each office so that you can remember exactly what you thought when you come to review your options. You might want to use a checklist like the one below so that it is easy to compare your possible choices.

You are unlikely to get everything that you want in an office. Rate each criterion from 1 to 5 depending on how important they are to you and enter this in the ‘Ideal Rating’ column. Print the list off, and take it with you to each office, noting how well you feel each office fulfils the criteria. You can then match up the best fit between your ideal and the reality.

Remember that your criteria may change in the process of looking for a new office. Review your criteria after looking at several offices to ensure they still meet your needs.

 

Criteria

Your Ideal Rating

 Office 1

 Office 2

Office 3

 First Impressions

 

 

 

 

 Location  

 

 

 

 

 Transport 

 

 

 

 

 Office Size and Layout

 

 

 

 

 Natural Lighting 

 

 

 

 

 Heating and Ventilation

 

 

 

 

 Disabled Access

 

 

 

 

 Good structural condition and decor

 

 

 

 

 Security 

 

 

 

 

 IT and Telephones