FreeCharge recently moved into a bigger office; this brought back fond memories of setting up the first Bangalore office.
Setting up an office might not seem a daunting task, but trust me, it is. A previous company that I was part of had opted not to set up its own office and worked out of an incubation center. I always used to wonder— why not move into a proper office space? After personally going through the hassles of setting up and maintaining an office, I appreciate their decision.
If you are a small company, try to avoid moving into an office space of your own as much as possible. Do it only if you should and must. There are other options available, like co-working spaces, incubation centers, etc. Despite this, if you want to get into the adventure of setting up an office, read on.
The first step of the process is prospecting potential office spaces. Office spaces in tech parks are expensive and come with long leases, but they are the most organized. If you are reading this, you probably do not fall into the category of people who can afford office space in a tech park.
Some of the things to keep in mind while prospecting:
- Keep enough leeway for growth for at least a year.
- Is there enough parking space? If there is a shortage of parking in the building and the building is located in a busy locality or road, your employees will curse you. You do not want people to be grumpy in the morning before they start their work. On the other hand, if the office space is in a residential area, this should not be a problem.
- Does the building have power back up?
- Do all the major internet service providers(ISP) serve the area? Confirm this before you sign on the dotted line as some areas have restrictions against digging etc., due to which ISPs refuse internet connectivity.
Once you zero in on the place, the second step of the process starts. Things to keep in mind:
- Interiors and furniture.
- Networking. Do you go for wi-fi or ethernet? If ethernet, you have to plan your layout. If wi-fi, you might not be able to get away with a home router as the signal strength may not be strong enough throughout the office, or the router might not be able to accommodate all the people in the office. In all probability, you need an industrial-strength router/switch and repeaters.
- Drinking water, do you buy a water filter or go for water cans?
- ACs, fans, etc. Do keep in mind that you do not have to buy these, you can also rent them.
- Cleaning and maintenance—best to outsource this to an external agency. Keep phone numbers of electricians, plumbers, etc. handy; you will need them all the time.
- Office keys—you might have to have a security guard 24/7 because you will have people coming in and leaving at different times, and coordinating the office key becomes a headache.
- Also, it is best to hire an office manager who can coordinate all these tasks for you. These tasks eat into your precious time, and I am sure your time is not well spent on these mundane yet essential tasks. If you are working out of an incubation center or co-working space, you get most of the above as part of the package. As I said before, try to push off moving into an office of your own as much as possible. Do it only if you must.