Setting up a new office is both a challenging and rewarding process. If you are considering setting up your first office, you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer size of the project. However, it is possible to successfully accomplish this task by breaking it down into stages. There are a number of important things you should consider before setting up your first office.

Choosing the right office

In order to choose the most adequate office for your needs, you will need to consider elements like facilities, price, and convenience of location. In terms of facilities, you will need to decide whether your needs are best suited by conventional office space (which often does not include any equipment) or by serviced offices (whose benefits include flexible lease terms and all-inclusive prices).

You will also need to consider whether parking facilities are available, and if your prospective office is located in an office building, you may want to make sure that no competitors are based there too. Other things to consider would be the surrounding area and what first impression would the a visitor or a client have.

When it comes to deciding on office space, you should calculate that employee will require a minimum of 80-90 square feet. Do you plan on having an open-plan office? Check for space distribution. Will you need a separate meeting room? Do you need space for a staff room?

Your first office: essential equipment

Depending on the type of office facilities you choose, you may need to invest in basic office furniture, including desks, chairs, workstations, and filing cabinets. You may also need meeting room equipment (projectors, whiteboards, and appropriately-sized chairs and tables). If your office includes a reception area, make sure that this is welcoming and provides an impeccable first impression to visitors by purchasing good-quality furniture and by tastefully decorating the reception area.

Although good-quality office furniture may not be the cheapest, you should consider it a long-term investment. Things like ergonomic chairs or foot rests may not seem essential, but having them can contribute to the overall productivity of your staff. If costs are an issue, you could consider buying second-hand office furniture.

Most offices need basic communications equipment like telephone lines and broadband. Will you need a switchboard? Will you need a fax machine or a scanner? Are you going to equip your first office with desktop computers or with laptops? How much photocopying are you going to be doing? Depending on the volume, you may want to lease a copy machine instead of purchasing it.

Two more things to consider are office supplies and security equipment, including CCTV systems and burglar alarms.

Legal aspects to consider when setting up your first office

Regardless of which type of office space you choose, you will want to obtain detailed legal advice before signing any lease agreement. Remember that your signature is legally binding for the duration of the lease, so if you are setting up your first office you may want to choose a short-term lease. Ensure sure you understand every clause in the contract, and make sure the contract specifies things like future rent increases, limitations on use of the space, and whether building and contents insurance is inclusive or additional.

Additionally, you must ensure that your facilities, office layout, and access systems comply with the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act, as otherwise you might be held liable for fines and other penalties. If you need to make any adjustments to your office so that it complies with legal requirements, make sure these are allowed in your lease terms. Lastly, consider what your legal options are should you want to terminate your commercial property lease earlier than agreed.