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If you’ve run your business from your home, opening your first office is a massive step, and it can be a scary one too.
Many people love working from home—for the comfort, low costs, no commute and nearness to family. Moving to an office may disrupt that harmony but most businesses will eventually need to do it. With an office, you can more easily hire staff, invite clients or customers to visit you, take on more work and ultimately grow your business.
Fortunately, moving into an office is easier than ever. Cloud file stores, Software-as-a-Service and mobile devices and apps all mean that businesses don’t have to worry about things that even five years ago would have been a major consideration (like how many deskphones you need—today the answer is often none).
But there are still a lot of questions to answer.
Which furniture do you need? How much of it?
How long is your lease? Do you trust the landlord?
What tech do you need? For how many people?
Does the space allow for growth? If so how much growth? For how many years? What’s the maximum number of people the space can comfortably handle?
All those choices can trigger real anxiety. It’s so easy to picture yourself at some point in the future, wishing you hadn’t made the choices you’re about to make. Should you have planned further ahead and got a bigger space? Are you really in the ideal area? Are those chairs comfortable enough, and the right colour?
We can’t take away all the anxiety. But we can help you focus on a few core decisions. So here are five big things to consider when moving to your first office:
If you’re no longer working at home, you probably want a place—both a building and an area—where you’ll be just as comfortable. Somewhere that’s easy to get to and nice to be in (you’ll be spending a lot of time there!).
Your location also affects the kinds of people you can attract—employees, customers and partners alike.
Is it the kind of place where you’d be happy to meet future clients and potential employees? Is it well-connected to transportation links? Are there good local food and drink options? (Don’t underestimate that last one – the longer you’re there, the more it’ll matter).
Think hard about where you want to be and narrow your search to those areas.
Okay, you know where you want to be. But what kind of office should you choose?
Companies like WeWork offer fully-serviced working spaces for small businesses, and although you pay a premium for the flexibility and convenience, it makes the move from home to office that much smoother. Just pop open your laptop and you’re ready to go. As you hire more people, just get more space.
The alternative is hiring your own dedicated office space, and this is where things can get tricky. You’re suddenly faced with lots of new decisions and the costs associated with making them. The main ones are the size of the office and length of the lease. The more confidently you can predict your rate of growth, the easier these decisions become.
An empty office space also means taking responsibility for your own furniture – think desks, chairs, storage. (fortunately, with less and less paperwork, you’ll need fewer filing cabinets than you think).
Can you rent furniture instead of buying it? What about meeting spaces. One big room? Two small ones? All open plan? Where will private conversations happen?
Cloud computing has made moving to an office easier than ever. Unlike things like physical servers, it offers exact scalability depending on the number of user accounts you need, and it’s easy to add or remove ‘seats’ as things change.
Cloud storage and backup will certainly give you enough space for your files no matter how big you grow. And most cloud services today are even more secure than any on-premises hardware.
For office productivity, Google’s G Suite and Microsoft 365 give you all the applications you’re used to (word processing, spreadsheets and presentations)—and do it all in the cloud. No matter what industry you’re in, there are lots of specialist business cloud apps available too, so all you need is a browser.
Your email, website management and security software are all now in the cloud as well. So there’s just not a lot of software to install and maintain.
In short, you don’t need to spend much up-front on hardware and software. Just a fast, reliable connection to the internet and computers (or tablets) with browsers.
Today, you don’t need to worry about desk phones at all. Your mobile devices can handle it all.
Solutions like Sprint’s Dial Pad mean your people get a single business number that rings wherever they like—smartphone, tablet, or laptop (you can still do things like transfer and record calls, use voice mail and things like that).
For your mobile devices—smartphones and tablets—a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policy for employees means you can save on up-front costs and let your people choose whatever devices they like. (Get shopping!)
Even with an office, you and your people will often be on the road. Mobile applications are great for that. Two cool examples: Mobile Forms and Fleet and Asset Management.
Insurance. Accounting. Energy. WiFi. Tech support. Security. Your business needs service providers who have extensive small business experience and are used to supporting small businesses through their early growth stages.
They won’t necessarily be the same providers you use at home.The simple fact is this: some are much better at working with small businesses than others.
Some may specialize in solutions for homes and families. Others may aim at serving large companies. You need service providers that serve lots of growing businesses and understand their needs and challenges.
Look for ones that offer good deals, flexible terms, scalability and dedicated support for small businesses. Those are the ones best placed to serve you well.
Moving to your first office space is a big deal. But it doesn’t have to be a big headache. In fact, it’s an opportunity to set yourself up to be an efficient, effective business that saves money, supports collaboration and makes productivity easier.
Start with the five things discussed here. Take it one step at a time. And research all your options to find the best fit.
Whatever choices you make, growing a business is an amazing adventure. Enjoy it!
From mobile devices and plans to mobile applications and security services, Sprint has everything a small business needs to make the leap from home to office. Contact us on 1-877-633-1102 for more information — or visit our small business website.