Stay vs. Go: Five step guide to navigating office lease expiry

Real estate lease or licence expiries seem to come around quicker than expected. 

Landlords in recent times have been keen to keep tenants by offering short term extensions. And tenants have been keen to take them up on the offer. 

This was largely a post-Covid reaction from landlords. More recently we have seen behaviour fall back in line with the traditional status quo. 

Most tenants are left with a simple proposition, do we stay in our current office space or do we go? It’s a difficult question to answer, with many variables, but hopefully this article and these five steps provide some assistance. 

 

Step 1 – Create an internal team with a team lead

 

Nothing to do with the workplace is particularly complex but it is often time consuming. We find our clients’ biggest obstacle is usually theirs or their team’s bandwidth. 

For some clients it may be worth looking for an external workplace project manager to come in for three months or longer to manage and handle the project alongside an internal team. 

Creating a team, a leader and a clear sign off procedure will save time at the backend when there is pressure to get leases signed. 

 

Step 2 – Create a high level programme

 

With the proliferation of working from home, we have seen a lot of clients’ urgency to sort their workplace situation wane. On a surface level, this is understandable. However, time is still money and the more time spent deciding or not deciding, the more resources and cash burnt. 

Create a firm timeline for the move and work to it. The following timelines, based on a 30-50 person office, should give you an understanding of roughly how long each part of the process will take:

Search – 3 months 

Heads of Terms – 1 month

Solicitors and Exchange – 1 month 

Fit Out – 1 month 

 

Step 3 – Budget!!

 

The procurement of a workplace is a niche undertaking. 

We work with many “first timers” and, in order to understand their budgets, they often have to do a bit of exploring. 

Understand what you currently spend all in! There are managed workplaces now that include service charge, drinks, teas etc. It is important to understand your total office costs prior to searching the market. 

It is also important to understand whether you are in grade A space, or something a little more budget driven. If you are paying below market value, or perhaps now above market value, this will help shape the decision. Take a look at our website and the websites of a few disposal agents specific to the area you are looking in. This will give you a better understanding of the level of workplace you currently have and potentially desire. 

 

Step 4 – Keep culture front of mind

 

Culture eats strategy for breakfast! Culture is incredibly important for any business particularly as the physical barriers of a workplace have slightly broken down with the impact of hybrid working. 

Does the workplace — the location, the look, the type, the fit out — reflect the culture you want and the talent you need to attract to drive the business forward and make people happy?

I believe most employees want a workplace that feels safe, energetic and allows them to do their best work, as well as improve and be paid fairly. It doesn’t sound too much to ask and the workplace does play a part in creating this environment. If your current space doesn’t do this then perhaps it is time to get looking. 

Sometimes an office fit out can lift a workplace to a higher standard and breathe a new lease of life into the space. If the location is good, the amount of space is correct and the team are happy with their commute and amenities, an in-situ fit out is most likely the way to go. 

If the problems with the space are more terminal then it is time for step 5. 

 

Step 5 – Try before you buy!

 

There are so many good options on the market that there is no harm in seeing some spaces and even working from them for a day or so to really test them out. 

Our first round of viewing with any client is non-committal and free of charge. We only ask that we are provided with a brief and a commitment to view. 

Seeing the spaces, experiencing the area at lunch time, being present and in the physical space will tell you all you need to know. As I said at the beginning, it’s not rocket science but it is time consuming. Viewings are always worth the time investment. 

 

If you feel a desire to talk further, fill out the form on our contact page or reach out directly to joe@soulspaces.london