Are you ready to take the next step for your business development but wondering how to find office space to rent? Or maybe you’re looking to relocate to an office space that’s better suited for your growing company? For some businesses, the swanky top-floor office in the center of town in a building with a gym and a coffee shop may be ideal. For others, the budget-friendly 20-year-old building on the outskirts of town could be a better fit.
Finding the perfect office space for your company starts with identifying your unique needs. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a quick guide on how to find office space to rent in 10 steps. Learn all you need to know, from figuring out square footage to getting the commercial property insurance you need.
How to find office space to rent in 10 steps
Wondering how to lease an office space? These 10 steps will help you navigate the process.
1. Find out how much space you need & what you need it for
One of the most important factors when choosing office space is ensuring you will have the amount of square footage you need. But how do you know how much office space you need to rent? A good place to start is thinking about how many people will be using the office. Will it be just you, your current staff, or will your clients be visiting? Further, do you want to have enough space for growth? Once you have the number of people in mind, you can figure out the square footage you want per employee. When looking at the average amount of square footage per person, here are some estimates to keep in mind:1
- A dense office space gives 80-150 square feet per person.
- A traditional office space gives 150 -250 square feet per person.
- A spacious office gives 250 -500 square feet per person.
Beyond square footage, consider the type of layout you want and the space you need for clients. For example, do you need conference rooms, a break room, a lounge, or a waiting room?
Maybe you want to take advantage of the benefits of an open-space office? Also, what is your desired ratio of private offices to open space? Write down your space and layout needs.
2. Find your ideal location
Location is the next important aspect to consider. But what should you think about when choosing a location? Here are a few factors:
- Accessibility for clients: If you plan to have your customers or clients visit the location, it’s important to consider if the area will be somewhere that is easy to access for them. For example, if you are a marketing firm for banks, being near the central financial district may make sense.
- Accessibility for employees: The office should also be located in a place near where most of your employees live. Relocating your business far from where your current employees live could lead to higher attrition rates. Safety: The crime rate in the area is something to consider for the safety of you, your clients, and your employees, as well as all the business assets kept inside the building.
- Parking: Ensure the building has enough parking for your team and clients (if they will be visiting). Also, consider any parking costs that will apply and the distance from the parking area to the office.
- Brand match: You will also want to consider the impact of the building on your brand. Does it align with who you are as a company and your mission? Does it represent the image you are trying to create? This will be especially important if clients are visiting.
- Vendor/supplier access: If you will have vendors or suppliers delivering goods to your office, it’s also important to consider how easy the building is to access for them. When access is difficult, you could run into delays or higher costs.
- Building type: Consider what type of building you want the office to be in (high-rise, mid-rise, strip mall, standalone, etc.), as that will dictate where you should look.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a location. Be sure to view them all to find the location that checks off all of the necessary boxes.
3. Determine what type of office space you need
When looking for an office building to rent, you’ll come across three types: Class A, B, and C space.2 The category a building falls into depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Building amenities
- System standards and efficiency
- Architectural design
Here’s a closer look at each of the class types and what you can expect from them.
Class A space
Class A space is the crème de la crème. Class A offices are located in premier locations, often in main business districts, and are built to impress. You’ll find premium amenities like restaurants, gyms, and coffee shops within the buildings. They’ll also have the latest technology and finishes along with professional management.
Class A office space is typically the right fit when prestige is a valuable currency in your industry. Common tenants include financial, legal, and marketing firms. However, for all the bells and whistles, you’ll pay the highest rent.
Class B space
Class B space provides a middle ground. It’s often found on the edge of financial districts or in the suburbs. It’s still nice but is a step down from the luxury status found in Class A space. It will likely have some amenities, but they won’t be as nice or new.
Class B space may be intentionally designed to fall under the classification or may have been a Class A space that retired to Class B after a decade or so. A sensible choice, this office space class typically appeals to the largest number of businesses and offers average rent levels.
Class C space
Class C space is functional with no frills. The buildings are often 20+ years old and located in less desirable neighborhoods. They may need maintenance or renovation to be usable.
Further, the finishes are usually rougher, while the infrastructure and technology can be outdated.
Class C office spaces may have once been Class A or Class B buildings that became outdated over time. While you will likely make some sacrifices on comfort and elegance here, you can find below-average rental prices.
The right fit will depend on your priorities and vision for your office. Are you a scrappy startup that just needs a place to work with your partners? Class C may do the job. Are you a swanky media company that needs to impress clients that come to your office? An investment in Class A might offer you returns that make it worthwhile. Are you somewhere in between?
Then, Class B would probably be the way to go.
4. Figure out your budget
Your budget is going to play a key role in the office space you can get. Review your business’s finances to decide what amount you can spend on your office space expenses. Experts recommend spending 5% to 10% of your gross sales per foot on rent.3
Keep in mind that you may need to pay for a variety of expenses beyond the rent, such as a security deposit, utilities, IT systems, insurance, furnishings, and decor.4 Be sure to estimate all of these costs when determining what amount makes sense for your budget.
5. Do your research
With an idea of what you want and a budget in mind, it’s time to figure out exactly how to find office space to rent in your area. Here are a few places to look:
- Online: A great place to start your search is by looking at local commercial real estate listing websites for your desired location. These can give you a general idea of what’s available in your area and contact information for agents that can help you.
- In your network: Do you know other business owners in the area who already rent office space? They can be a great resource to get the down-low on local office spaces and who helped them.
- Driving around: If you live near where you’d like to rent office space, drive around and look for rental signs on commercial properties. One of the best ways to discover all that’s available is to have feet on the ground.
Use these tactics to gain some background knowledge of what’s available in your area.
6. Hire a commercial real estate agent or broker
Next, it’s time to hire a commercial real estate agent or broker. A real estate agent is an individual who is licensed to sell property in their state. A broker, on the other hand, has met additional licensing requirements so that they are able to own their own real estate firm. Real estate agents cannot sell properties on their own. They are required to work under a broker.5
Both agents and brokers are fully qualified to help you find available space that fits your list of requirements, set up times for you to tour available spaces, and answer questions so you can benefit from their expertise on the local commercial market. You may want to ask your network for recommendations or contact a few professionals to see what they have to offer.
7. Tour the office space
Once you find a broker and set appointments for tours, you’ll be able to see first-hand if a property meets your needs or not. Before you go, create a checklist to help with your analysis. For example, you might include questions like:
- Is the location good for your business?
- Does the parking fit your needs?
- Does the facade of the building give the impression you want?
- Does that matter?
- What security does the building have?
- How many floors are in the building?
- Is there a working elevator?
- Do you need one or can you use the stairs?
- What is the square footage of the available space?
- How is the space laid out?
- Does it fit your needs?
- What amenities does the building offer?
- How are the finishes of the building?
- Will you need to make any improvements as a tenant?
- What is the overall cost of using the space?
By going in with a checklist, you’ll have a structured approach to analyzing the spaces and how they will satisfy your needs. Then, it’ll be easier to compare and contrast the various office spaces you are considering.
8. Get your documents in order
Did you find “the one”? Great! The first thing to do is to get your documents in order. Before a property manager approves you, they will assess your ability to pay rent and fulfill your end of the lease. As part of your office rental application, you’ll need to provide proof of your identity and show a record of your business finances.
To do so, you’ll often need to provide your company’s balance sheet, business plan, and income information. Additionally, you’ll need to provide identification documents for the company owners, contact information for previous landlords, and credit references.6
9. Negotiate your lease & sign the papers
Once you’re approved, it’s time to negotiate your commercial lease. You and the landlord will need to agree on various terms, including common areas vs. leasable areas, the rent amount, what the rent includes, maintenance fees, the length of the lease, the security deposit, use restrictions, and more.
Upon reaching an agreement, you’ll be presented with a legally binding lease agreement for the office space. Before signing it, be sure to review the terms and conditions carefully. You may want to consult an attorney to ensure your interests are protected. Once everything looks good, you can sign the papers and get your move-in date!
10. Get insurance!
Lastly, with your office space rental squared away, it’s time to ensure you’re protected with the necessary insurance. Our team at Thimble recommends a business owners policy (BOP) that combines general liability and commercial property coverage in an affordable and convenient policy.
- General liability insurance helps to protect you against financial consequences if you are found liable for a third party’s bodily injury or property damage. For example, if a client comes into your office space and gets injured, general liability can help to cover the resulting medical costs.
- Commercial property insurance helps to protect you from a financial loss due to your business assets being lost or damaged. That means if something like a fire or burglary occurs and destroys your office equipment and furniture, you can file a claim to receive compensation.
A new office space comes with many perks but also some potential liabilities you want to be ready for. Thimble is here to help with general liability insurance and professional liability insurance for your small business. Just click “get a quote” or download the Thimble mobile app, answer a quick set of questions, receive your quote, and click to purchase, all faster than you can sign a lease.
- Aquila, How Much Office Space Do I Need?
- BOMA International, Building Class Definitions.
- Commercial Brokers, How Much Rent Can I Afford?
- LoopNet, How Much Does It Cost to Build Out Office Space?
- G2 Learn Hub. Real Estate Broker vs. Agent: What’s the Difference?
- UpCounsel, Commercial Lease Application: Everything You Need to Know