By: Brian Conroy, Senior Vice President, Jones Lang LaSalle
As a lease expiration date approaches, many mark their calendars in dread of the administrative tasks ahead. And although moving is complicated, it’s also a unique opportunity to reinvent your culture, address your space utilization and ensure your strategy is aligned with organizational objectives.
At Jones Lang LaSalle, my business partner, Scott Pick, and I follow a strategically crafted roadmap to guide our clients through the process. This is the second post in a blog series; each post will serve as a stop on the way to your destination – success.
First Stop: Set Objectives and Requirements
Once you have your lease-planning team in place, the first stop on the roadmap to success is to set meaningful objectives and requirements. All requirements must be driven by the vision and goals of the organization, or, as we call them, project deal drivers. These could be brand building, employee attraction and retention, expansion or growth flexibility, increased collaboration or client service requirements. Drivers are unique to each business and are critical to aligning the business with its real estate needs.
Below are five steps to efficiently set objectives and requirements for your next move. These pieces build a comprehensive foundation upon which to make smart decisions.
Step 1. Conduct Interviews
Quality office space should reflect the organization’s culture, while concurrently aligning with business objectives and enhancing daily productivity. We suggest conducting interviews to elicit firsthand feedback from those who work within your space and define the culture. You can conduct interviews with a select group, or send out electronic questionnaires—whatever works best for your organization. Ask pointed questions to various audiences, such as:
- What do you like about our current location? What do you dislike about it?
- How does your workspace contribute (or hinder) your daily productivity?
- Would you be willing to relocate?
- What are the factors important to recruiting and retaining employees?
- What image do we wish to portray to our customers?
- What should be our proximity to the commercial business district?
- What operational growth or flexibility needs do we have?
- How important are informal meeting areas?
- What are the strengths and weakness of the current space?
- What are our major growth markets?
- What internal factors could hinder our future growth?
- What are the infrastructure needs to meet and exceed customer expectations?
We recommend conducting a needs assessment early in the process, as it will assist in developing the deal drivers. This can include company-wide feedback; however, the small team of appointed experts should finalize priority needs moving forward.
Step 2. Complete Programming
After consulting all members of your team on your cultural and space issues, as well as assessing initial deal drivers, you are ready to address specific programmatic requirements, or specific spatial needs. A good architectural resource will assist with this process and defining the space needs; however, a key question to consider while programming: how does space utilization impact employee performance? Office design can truly impact productivity.
While brainstorming, evaluate operational efficiencies that enhance your experience as a tenant, as well as diminish the value of your space. JLL’s workplace strategy team recently ranked the top “eight workplace features shared by great places to work.” Incorporate these features where appropriate into your new space for enhanced workplace performance. A suitable program will address space needs, as well as cultural needs (collaborative space, teaming areas, etc.).
Step 3. Evaluate Your Current Situation & Develop a Custom Timeline
Take inventory of your present space to ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of your current situation.
Fully evaluate existing infrastructure and conditions, economics, how they compare to the market, and all critical dates like termination rights, expiration date, notice dates, etc. Examine baseline economic metrics and use that information to establish a preliminary budget. Having a strong understanding of current spend, as well as an anticipated budget, will help you assemble a real estate deal that aligns with these economic metrics.
After you have a firm understanding of your current situation, you want to assemble a preliminary timeline to follow and guide you through the process. The timeline plays a critical role in executing the right deal for your organization. A good real estate professional will assist with developing a timeline that accomplishes the deal drivers, minimizes risk and increases your leverage with the optimized location.
We will often ask our clients at the conclusion of the real estate process for feedback and have a stronger appreciation for the importance of having a true understanding of their current situation, and supporting a timeline, to help achieve their specific goals.
Step 4. Meet With Your Team to Develop a Summary of Requirements
Circle back and finalize your initial list of project deal drivers. Then, you can begin drafting a strategic list of requirements. Integrate the following into your initial list of objectives:
- Set economic parameters (per the above).
- Determine geographic preference.
- Establish image considerations.
- Pinpoint physical requirements (spacial requirements).
- Determine key deal points for leasing purposes.
Pinpointing spacial requirements is challenging. Be sure to include HR experts in the conversation; future growth (or downsizing) will play into forecasted square footage. A specialist can more accurately recommend required square footage as it relates to occupancy planning and space utilization.
Step 5. Maintain a Vision for Your Company’s Future
Follow the above initial steps and you will be on your way to identifying a space that emulates your business goals, brand, image, culture and style. Maintain your vision and find a strategic partner you are confident can assist in achieving the vision. An article from Harvard Business Review emphasized the importance of vision.
“Companies that enjoy enduring success have core values and a core purpose that remain fixed while their business strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world.“
The prime space will position your organization for present success, as well as future growth. Stay tuned for the third post in the step-by-step series to be presented by my business partner, Scott Pick.
Would you like to discuss your next move? Please contact me at email@example.com
About the Author
As Senior Vice President in the Great Lakes Region Corporate Services Division, Brian specializes in tenant representation. He has more than ten years of experience in commercial real estate and currently represents clients in Northeast Ohio. View Brian’s full bio to read up on his experience.