There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) November 06, 2012
Thanks to advanced technology, working in a traditional office is no longer the only alternative for many service professionals, independent contractors, and small businesses. The strong trend towards working at home is increasing, and the International Data Corporation forecasts the U.S. home office market to grow by 5 million home-based businesses and corporate offices between 2011 and 2015. The workspace spectrum between a home office and a traditional office, however, includes various other options such as virtual office, executive office suite, and subleased space. Intelligent Office San Francisco, which officially opened in June, provides virtual office solutions and executive office suites to meet the needs of those seeking an alternative to working in a traditional office.
A new survey by Intelligent Office finds that people are choosing where they want to work rather than being assigned a standard work place location. There is a culture shift taking place in which today’s worker is personalizing and customizing where they work, and they want to be flexible, mobile and independent.
The choice of workspace depends on the specific individual and business. There is no one-size-fits-all solution: everyone has his/her own unique work style, preferences, budget, schedule constraints, business needs, and other considerations. “The first step is to assess your needs,” says Wilson Tandiono, President and CEO of Intelligent Office San Francisco. Some of the important questions, he clarifies, include: How much time do you need to spend in an office versus elsewhere? How often do you meet your clients, and where do you meet them? In what work environment are you most productive? How much you are willing to spend? Also worth considering are whether you have coworkers and what their work preferences are, and whether you need a support staff. “The next step is to understand the pros, cons, and costs of the various options,” Tandiono explains.
Working in a home office has many advantages and can be very appealing, especially for those seeking a better work/life balance. There is no daily commute, no expensive office lease, no dress code, and more flexibility to manage personal activities such as errands, appointments, chores, exercise, daycare, and family time around the workday. This option is good for the independent professional that can work alone or remotely with others.
However, a home-based workstyle requires discipline to set working hours and stay productive without slacking off, getting distracted, or even putting in too much extra time. Potential isolation may be detrimental to business communications, networking, and social interaction. In addition, it can be inappropriate to meet clients at home for a variety of business reasons, such as lack of professionalism, security, and privacy; legal restrictions like residential zoning laws; or practical concerns like limited meeting space and parking capacity. A home office is also not ideal if you need on-site support staff, although outsourcing or using virtual assistants is an option.
A virtual office can consist of a rented business address, a rented phone number answered by a virtual receptionist, hourly rented meeting/work space, and pay-per-use business amenities. This option can work very well for the mobile, independent, or home-based business/individual that needs to project a professional presence and/or to use a temporary office space periodically. Virtual office services are turnkey so they typically are very quick, easy, and cost-effective to set up. Some virtual office providers, such as Intelligent Office, offer à la carte services that are customized to the user. The costs usually scale with usage levels, which can be suitable for businesses that are growing, in transitional phases, or experience volatility or seasonality.
The virtual office user, however, should pay attention to details such as hidden charges (if any), variable costs, contract terms (especially renewal and cancellation policies), quality and capabilities of the virtual receptionists, and availability and ease of reserving meeting rooms or work space. Without a permanent physical location, it is important for the virtual office user to be organized and plan ahead.
Executive Office Suite
An executive office suite like Intelligent Office provides a full-time office space, business amenities such as a reception area, conference room(s), printer/copier, and kitchen, as well as support staff like receptionists and assistants. An upscale office environment at a prestigious, convenient location, paired with friendly, professional receptionists to answer calls and greet clients, can project a first-class image for a business. Office suites are usually move-in ready with furniture, phones, and Internet, so setting up one’s office is relatively easy. In addition, there is no ongoing office upkeep other than paying rent. Executive office suites provide flexibility for growing companies that will need more space and services over time but do not want to tie up resources in unutilized space, equipment, or staff.
Over the long run, however, executive office suites can be more expensive than a traditional office lease for bigger firms, and users need to watch out for variable costs, hidden charges, lease terms, renewal notices, and quality of support staff. In an improving economy, one can also expect periodic price increases with short-term leases. Executive office suites are shared office facilities, and some businesses may prefer to have a more permanent office of their own.
Subleasing can work well if one can find the right space and a good deal, but this option can be fraught with challenges. Subleasing is a much less transparent market so prospective tenants are advised to use good brokers to find a suitable space and qualified attorneys (with real estate experience) to review the master lease and sublease agreements. Subleasing can be cost-effective and some spaces may already be fully furnished. Some sublandlords may even share office amenities and support staff at a cost. Client referral opportunities may also exist if the sublandlord and subtenant are in the same industry. Because the subleased space tends to be larger, it is more suitable for a business with at least a couple employees.
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of subleasing is that the subtenant has no control over the master lease. If the sublandlord terminates or defaults on it, the subtenant may lose the space. A careful review of the master lease is required as the sublease is subordinate to it. The subtenant should understand his/her rights, such as exclusive use rights, furniture use, condition of space, sharing of utilities, and non-disturbance; as well as recourse and obligations under the master lease and sublease, for example, maintenance and services. A good real estate attorney can review and negotiate terms of the sublease.
Traditional Office Lease
A traditional office lease provides the tenant with a sense of ownership, exclusive use of the premises, and more control over the design, layout, and ambiance. This option projects the image of an established business and can be attractive to clients and employees. It is especially suitable for larger firms that can commit to the space for the long term.
It can take several months, however, to find and negotiate a lease for office space, and a few more months to set it up, depending on the existing condition of the space and desired build-out specifications. Moreover, determining the right office size can be challenging for a growing firm, which has to balance the cost of unutilized space (subleasing is an option but not without its hassles) with the capacity to accommodate new employees. Retaining a qualified real estate attorney to review the lease is also highly advisable, because specialized knowledge is required and tenants need as much protection as possible (since commercial leases tend to favor the landlord). Landlords usually provide some tenant improvement allowance, but tenants can expect to put a large, upfront investment into the build out, furniture, fixtures, and office equipment. In addition, traditional office space tenants are responsible for ongoing costs like rent, insurance, and support staff payroll.
In downtown San Francisco, one can expect virtual office services to start at a couple hundred dollars a month for a basic package of mail, meetings access, limited office suite use, and call answering. Executive office suites range from $800 to $2,000 per month per person. A sublease or traditional office space at a Class A building currently goes for the high $40s per square foot, and one can expect to pay more for higher floors and nice views.
This evaluation of different office options is not meant to be exhaustive; rather it highlights some key pros and cons. The office space user should consider various factors, such as cost, convenience, flexibility, and image to determine the best option. It is also important to realize that a workspace need not be an actual physical office. As the mobile and home-based workforce has demonstrated, one can be productive outside a traditional office.
Intelligent Office’s executive office suite, virtual office, conference room rental, and virtual receptionist solutions provide support for entrepreneurs, mobile executives, professional services firms, independent contractors, satellite offices, non-profit organizations, and small and home-based businesses. Virtual office services help businesses save on overhead costs and gain flexibility while projecting a professional presence. Visit Intelligent Office’s Virtual Office San Francisco location at 100 Pine St, or call 415-745-3300 for more information.
About Intelligent Office
Intelligent Office is the leading virtual office service provider for mobile executives and small businesses in North America. The company is headquartered in Boulder, Colo., and has over 50 locations in North America. Intelligent Office helps clients grow their businesses and work smarter by combining professional staffing with the physical and technological infrastructure of a virtual office. For more information on services, go to http://www.intelligentoffice.com/locations/california/san-francisco/san-francisco.aspx.