Is it time to open up a satellite office for your business?
COVID-19 has shown many Colorado business owners that satellite offices may be the best option for their business
Many Colorado companies in urban areas have found themselves dealing with employee commutes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees are not able or willing to travel due to government restrictions, and employers are having to adjust to offices needing to have limited workspace due to social distancing requirements. More and more companies find that satellite office spaces are a great fit for their business structure but is opening a satellite office the right choice for your business? There are a few things to know when considering this option:
1. Employee Locations
As previously stated, many employees live in the suburbs, so satellite offices are a great way to lessen their commute times, especially if government ordinances only allow a certain travel distance. You will be able to have face-to-face interactions with your employees while still following COVID-19 safety protocols; however, you will need to take a good, hard look at where your employees are located to choose the most accessible location. There is no reason to choose an office that’s near a handful of employees’ homes when the majority of your workforce lives across town. If your budget allows for more than one satellite location, great, but most small business owners will need to choose a suburban area where the highest number of employees are located.
2. To Drive, or Not to Drive
More executives and employees don’t want to drive much. Commute times in most areas are shorter than they used to be, as many people have discovered they can work from home—or wherever their laptop is. If your business allows employees to work completely remotely, you will need to think about whether a satellite office is even necessary for your business. If you work in a field that requires a lot of face-to-face interaction or specialized equipment, a satellite office is a great option.
3. Making a Commitment
Remember that you’re going to need to commit a landlord for your office location just like your regular office space. Luckily, business owners are better positioned to negotiate with landlords than ever before due to the increase in vacant commercial space available in many markets. That being said, many landlords are still looking for businesses to sign long term deals that are 12 months or longer. If you don’t foresee a need for a satellite office for 12- months or longer, you may have to seek other options, such as a sublease.
Luckily, more and more landlords are slowly warming up to the idea of shorter-term lease agreements—look at the popularity of pop-up shops—and may be willing to work with you towards a creative solution. There are also a fair amount of business spaces that offer month-to-month options that can range from your business, only receiving a single room to a whole building. Once you find a business space you think will work for you, it’s best to talk with a local commercial real estate attorney to make sure there are no hidden clauses (we’ve seen a few unscrupulous landlords try to sneak in year-long agreements under the guise of month-to-month before) or surprise rules to abide by.
4. Consider the Cost
Let us say you’ve found the perfect office space, and it’s right within your budget. Great! However, there are other costs to take into consideration, as well. Not only will you need to pay for utilities, but you need to think about the cost of furnishing the new space. Office furniture, amenities, and usable technology all need to be taken into consideration. Some locations may offer turnkey, furnished office space for you, albeit these opportunities go fast. If the office is certainly going to be temporary, you will need to think about what you would be willing to spend that is not a guaranteed recoup. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with making your employees bring company provided laptops or storing portable technology in the office.
5. Make Sure You Understand All Legal and Financial Laws
Your satellite office is most likely in a different municipality than your headquarters, and you must understand the laws of the land. Some suburban office spaces may have location-specific regulations you will need to abide by. You will soon discover that experienced attorneys and accountants can be your best friend when figuring out how to navigate an office in a new area best. These professionals can end up saving you thousands of dollars in the long run. If you find your business is subjected to complicated local rules and regulations, you may want to consider hiring a few local experts to ensure everything is being run correctly.
COVID-19 has shown many Colorado business owners that satellite offices may be the best option for their business; however, there are many factors to consider when deciding to open new office space. This is just the tip of the iceberg of items to consider when opening a new location. Working with a local professional during the idea stage of opening your satellite office will pay off in the long run.
Robert Fischer is an attorney at the Fischer Law Office. With two decades of experience, Fischer is one of Colorado’s leading commercial real estate attorneys. He provides a full range of transactional legal services for professionals looking to buy, sell or lease commercial real estate.